Obama camp allows 'off-the-record' interview to go public
October 24th, 2012
10:13 AM ET
1 year ago

Obama camp allows 'off-the-record' interview to go public

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's campaign agreed Wednesday to allow the Des Moines Register in Iowa to publish an interview with the president that was previously established as off-the-record.

A transcript of the interview was posted the morning after the newspaper's editor wrote in a blistering blog post Tuesday that representatives for Obama refused an on-the-record conversation with the newspaper's editorial board, which is preparing to endorse a candidate for president in the coming days.

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In the interview, the president went farther than usual in expressing his goals on immigration, saying he felt "confident" about accomplishing immigration reform in a second term and credited a potential election night win to what he described as the GOP's alienation of the Latino community.

"I'm confident we'll get done next year is immigration reform," Obama said. "And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."

"And this is a relatively new phenomenon," he continued. "George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they're going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it's the right thing to do and I've cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008."

Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee, conducted an interview with the paper's editorial board earlier this month. The audio of his comments were recorded and posted on the Des Moines Register's website.

In his post, Editor Rick Green said Obama's team should have granted his organization the same type of interview, saying the president's remarks in the off-the-record conversation, which took place Tuesday morning by telephone, would have helped undecided Iowa voters make up their minds.

"Just two weeks before Election Day, the discussion, I believe, would have been valuable to all voters, but especially those in Iowa and around the country who have yet to decide between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent," Green wrote.

In a letter to Obama's Iowa campaign organization, which Green included in his posting, the editor wrote that Obama didn't have anything to lose by making his comments public.

“What the President shared with us this morning — and the manner, depth and quality of his presentation – would have been well-received by not only his base, but also undecideds. From a voter standpoint, keeping it off-the-record was a disservice," Green wrote.

A representative for Obama's campaign did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday regarding the Des Moines Register's statements. According to the Des Moines Register Wednesday morning, campaign officials released the interview "without comment."

The Republican National Committee used the posting to suggest Obama was hiding something from voters in battleground states.

"Two weeks out from an election concealing this interview from Iowa voters both raises questions about what he was hiding and betrays the President’s lack of confidence about his failed record and lack of a vision for a 2nd term," RNC spokesman Tim Miller wrote.

"In short, President Obama is telling Iowans that if they want to hear him answer some tough qs before Election Day, they’ll have to hope for a rerun of ‘The View,’" he added, making reference to the president's appearance on the daytime talker earlier this fall.

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Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • President Obama
soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. z2cents

    its Iowa..who cares..

    October 24, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. xxx

    Lots of papers out there. Why not an off the record interview? It's a privilege to interview the president of the US. The Des Moines Register sounds like a whiny baby.

    October 24, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. lizz01

    If they have endorsed Romney than what would be the point, except to twist everything Obama said to them. Republicans are a snarky bunch, talk about entitlement.

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. Yet Again

    what's he hding?

    October 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Dr.Cole

    hmmm...like we are surprised at Obama for doing this??? He's been doing this kind of stuff for the past 4.5 years. I know that they ask tough questions on David Letterman, Jay Leno, Rolling Stone Magazine, The View, etc. We should all be chastised for thinking that we deserve to ask tough questions for such an important position as President of the United States of America...what were we thinking???

    October 24, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. wahlabing

    Didn't they watch the debate?

    October 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. jpmichigan

    Why are they surprised? Obama has more than enough words spoken, recorded from back even before his 2008 campaign run, that shows what a liar he really is. He distortes Romeny vision, because as he said in 2008, "If you don't have a record to run on, you use fear and distortion.

    October 24, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. right

    Another day in the transparent administration of obama.
    I will be voting NO to obama!!!

    October 24, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. tsenator

    Typical strong arming deceitful Chicago Politics at its finest– Does America really want 4 more years of this crap

    October 24, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Yankees fan

    @Tim Miller – you really want to talk about hiding things. Where are Romney's tax returns? Where are his details to any of his plans?
    Glass houses, dude!

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. Steve

    The only reason for it to be off the record is to hide something. Obama has never been open, honest. What happened to the transparency he promised?

    October 24, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. Dan

    Of course Obama wants to go off the record. HE has no record to run on! He outlines a little book of plans 3 weeks from the election when Mitt Romney has been touting his plans the whole campaign? Ridiculous.

    I voted Obama in 08, I am switching to Mitt in this election. Romney-Ryan 2012!

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. desertcities

    The Obama campaign has 3 times more campaigning offices in Ohio, and more trained people canvassing the state, sharing with voters all about President Obama. Once national GOP figure in Ohio commented off-record that Mitt Romney's campaigning efforts in Ohio were compared to that of a high school civic class.

    Obama's campaign knows exactly who is for, or against, his re-election. If this Ohio blog got upset, it probably had everything to do with the fact they endorsed Romney and would probably use the opportunity to hurt Obama. Smart decision to blow them off.

    October 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. jake2247

    In other words, the paper was obviously out to do a hatchet job, the O team figured it out, and denied them the opportunity to complete their mission.

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Bob

    He's running the free world, and you're complaining because he didn't have time for a formal interview?

    And, of course, the Republican Party has to jump in with its standard nasty comment. You know, they're like that kid you knew in school who was generally just a jerk about everything - and so even if he happened to be right about something (which he rarely was), you still just wanted him to shut up.

    October 24, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. BigSir

    Ya can talk, ya can talk, ya can bicker ya can talk, ya can bicker, bicker bicker ya can talk all ya want
    but is different than it was. No it ain't, no it ain't, but ya gotta know the territory (IOWA).

    October 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. lindaluttrell

    Newspaper flip-flops like Romney...it will go for the story/candidate that can sell the most papers!

    October 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. nofluer

    ROTFLMBO!!! An ultra-liberal "news paper" in an ultra-liberal State is surprised that the Obama camp won't allow them to freely publish his comments. Ummm... hey there DM Register? Get a clue. It's not about what he said, or who he said it to. It's all about CONTROL!!! As long-time Liberal Democrats, I'd have thought you'd know that by now.

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Joyce

    Really,are we suppose to believe that an interview was given that was never going to see the light of day?Great buildup before your endosement.Lets see if anyone is surprised by it!

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Big Bob

    The national nightmare will be over soon....

    October 24, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. RevRon

    Inasmuch as the paper has already endorsed Romney, there is no viable rationale for the president to acquiesce to their request, since the ensuing article would undoubtedly be slanted in favor of his opponent.

    I find it humorous that the RNC is claiming that the president has something to hide, or is fearful of readers' responses, when their candidate has evaded every request to offer details about his own dramatically-shifting policies and platform. Spin they must, but readers should take the situation – and the ensuing spin – in its proper context.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Realist

    Yeah, it's important that the right-wing Iowan publication have another interview .. because none of us have ever heard Obama's position on anything.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. high way

    "The newspaper backed Obama ahead of the general election in 2008. It endorsed Romney in December of 2011, before Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses."

    What is Iowa newspaper complaining about? They turned their back on Obama this election.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Coast Ranger

    He probably had something important that conflicted with a 5 minute phone call at any time he chose.

    October 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Critical Thinking

    Off the record? What does he have to hide?

    October 24, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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