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September 6th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Obama Campaign's Stephanie Cutter: President Obama to explain path to moving forward in speech, may lay out his plan for balanced deficit reduction

Four years ago Democrats nominated Barack Obama for president, put him on the pathway to the White House. Tonight he will accept the bid once again while making his case for another four years. Of course he follows the former president Bill Clinton's rousing speech last night.

Obama Campaign Deputy Manager Stephanie Cutter tells Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" explains how President Obama will take the message from Clinton's speech and move it forward when he speaks at the convention tonight.

"Elections are about choices," Cutter says. "We know what to do because we have done it. This is exactly what President Obama is trying to do. Let's continue moving forward and build this economy meant to last where everybody can get ahead or the other side is saying, hey, let's go back and double down on trickle-down economics and see what that's going to bring us. We know what that's going to bring us. It crashed our economy. Why would we want to go back there? So that is essentially the argument, do we move forward to building this economy that we know we can build because we've done it, or do we go back to the same policy that is punish the middle class and crashed the economy?"

Cutter also previewed that President Obama will discuss in his speech tonight.

"I think you will hear him talk about the types of decisions that we need to make as a country. If we want to get our debt under control and do it in a way that will unleash growth and help the middle class grow," she says. "I think you will hear the President lay out his plan of balanced deficit reduction where everybody pays their fair share. We cut what we don't need and include entitlement reform and it is a path forward, and I think that we're looking forward to it."

September 6th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Sen. Schumer says President Clinton was 'teaching America' in speech, calls controversy over platform omissions 'tempest in a teapot'

Tonight, President Obama will accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president with a highly anticipated speech. Last night, former President Bill Clinton delivered a stirring endorsement, calling for another four years.

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shares his impression of Clinton's speech at the DNC convention and role in the platform party change.

President Clinton “hit it out of the park," Sen. Schumer says. "If every American watched that speech the election would be over, and he perfectly teed it up for the president with all of this talk. You had Michelle Obama talking about what the president believes in and who he cares about. President Clinton explained the past. Now it is just ready for Barack Obama to explain what he will do in the future.”

Sen. Schumer also addresses the confusion over voting for the party's platform last night at the convention. Democrats voted to update their party's platform to include a reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, as well as the insertion of the word "God," neither of which was included in their platform this year but was in previous platforms. Senator Schumer says that he brought the missing elements to the attention of the DNC.

“Look, on the Jerusalem issue, which I have had some involvement in and did yesterday, it has always been the position of the Democratic Party, of the Democrats overwhelmingly that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Why it wasn't in the platform, who knows, but when I brought it to the White House's attention and others, the president himself intervened and said put it in. It was in the 2008 platform,” he says.

See more from the interview in the clip below.

September 6th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

CNN contributor David Frum to DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz: 'President Obama does not feel strongly about Jerusalem'

Tonight, President Obama will accept the Democratic Party's nomination. But Democrats hit a snag on the floor yesterday. They amended their party platform, re-inserting language on "God" and Israel that was in the 2008 platform, but missing this year. They had to vote three times by voice, with many delegates yelling "no" with teach attempt.

This morning on "Starting Point," DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) explains to Soledad O’Brien what happened that led to a change in the party platform language.

“When President Obama realized that an important issue like Jerusalem, which he believes is and should remain the capital of Israel, when he realized that that omission was there, unlike Mitt Romney, who says that he opposes his party’s platform on human life, and that he wants an exception for rape, incest and the life of the mother, never insisted, never did anything about it, didn’t even try to change it, President Obama, when he realized there was this omission, said this platform should reflect my personal view and now it does,” she says.

O'Brien countered, saying it appears to be a pretty big issue to mess up on. "I mean of all the issues, of all of the things that you could have a mistake on, this particular one seems like a really big one to be like ‘Oh, technical issue.’ That’s why I think people are a little cynical about that,” O'Brien says.

Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist and CNN contributor David Frum jumps into the conversation, claiming that the explanation for the omission wasn't good enough.

"The reason what you’re saying is so non-credible is because we all know that President Obama does not feel strongly about Jerusalem. He walked back his APAC speech in 2008. In his Middle - big Middle East final status speech. He made a commitment on borders. He did not make a commitment on Jerusalem. We all know he doesn't feel stronger about it, that’s why this is explosive," he argues.

“I strongly - strongly object and disagree with you,” Wasserman Schultz responds. “President Obama as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said has been a strong friend of Israel.”

See an extended clip of the interview segment in the video below. See the full transcript after the jump.


September 6th, 2012
08:12 AM ET

Newark Mayor Booker: Tells people to 'hold on to their seats' for President Obama speech, says platform omission 'unfortunate'

This morning on "Starting Point," Newark Mayor Cory Booker says fmr. President Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention was one of the best outside of candidate speeches. He also previews President Obama's speech tonight on the last night of the convention. He tells the "Starting Point" team "hold on to your seats" for when President Obama delivers his speech tonight.

He also addresses the confusion last night over voting on the Democratic party platform. Booker insists that the platform omission of the word "God" and naming Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel as an 'unfortunate' oversight.


September 6th, 2012
05:42 AM ET

PREVIEW: Will.I.Am on 2012 presidential election: ‘We gotta remix America’ – airs on 'Starting Point' Friday, 9/7 at 7am Eastern

President Obama will officially accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term tonight at the Democratic National Convention, attempting to once again win over the nation since first sending the message of “hope” and “change” in 2008. The president’s 2008 campaign was party defined by the anthems “Yes We Can” and “It’s a New Day” written by Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am. A major proponent of the president, Will is at the Democratic National Convention this week to once again garner the vote for Barack Obama.

He talks to Soledad O’Brien on “Starting Point” about the tone of the campaign this election year.

“Today’s message should be ‘we are one,’ ‘we are united,’” he says. “We need to forge a whole new energy and American Dream.” Will questions what the American dream is today, considering that it has changed since the 1940s. “We gotta remix that dream,” he says. “We gotta remix America.”

Check out this preview clip above. Watch the rest of the interview on "Starting Point" Friday, Sept. 7th at 7am Eastern.

September 5th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Patrick McHenry analyze opening night DNC speeches, rebut the Democrats' message

On Tuesday, Democrats capped the first night of their convention with a speech from First Lady Michelle Obama which spoke to the President’s character and accomplishments over his term in office. Earlier, rising-star San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address, praising the current president and taking jabs and Mitt Romney on health care. Other Democrats like Fmr. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland went so far as to compare Romney to a fictional character saying, ““If Mitt was Santa Claus he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

Democrats however are not the only ones in town for the convention. Republican teams are out in full force around Charlotte to counter the messages from the DNC and spread support for GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Two of those Republicans – Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and hometown Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) talk with Soledad O'Brien and the "Starting Point" panel about the DNC’s opening night.

Romney Campaign Surrogate Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) says the greatest weakness for opening night speeches at the DNC was not mentioning any “record of achievement for people getting back to work.” McHenry adds, that people from his district are “not talking about the issues that were brought up last night – they’re talking about whether they have a job.” The North Carolina congressman went on to say “everyone loves” First Lady Michelle Obama and “she’s a fantastic speaker” but Ann Romney is also a good choice for the role of First Lady.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) agreed with McHenry’s earlier comment saying, “For six hours worth of speeches no one overtly said ‘you are better off now than you were four years ago.’” “Of course they’re going to play to their base and get rousing applause in that arena,” says Chaffetz. “The reality is you have 23 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed.”

Panelist and CNN contributor Ron Brownstein weighs in and asks if “Obama is in position to hold those suburban voters in North Carolina that he won last time?”

"If you look at the suburbs of Charlotte, you’ve got a great example of one of my colleagues...Larry Kissel. He has refused to come to this convention. He’s one of the host Congressman," McHenry responds.“Larry Kissel is a vulnerable member of Congress because of those collar communities around Charlotte, suburban areas, folks that have simply rejected the president’s policies.”

Chaffetz concludes by saying he himself was inspired by Obama’s 2008 campaign centered on hope and change but “there is nothing you can point to to look at President Obama and say ‘oh my goodness, he actually did bridge places that were difficult.’”

September 5th, 2012
12:48 PM ET

TIME's Joel Stein crashes the caucuses at the DNC, says LDS for Obama was 'kind of amazing'

TIME columnist Joel Stein takes on the "Starting Point" challenge to visit all of the official DNC communities.

September 5th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

Despite record fundraising month, Priorities USA strategist Bill Burton says Democrats 'starting to wake up' to 'threat' of being outspent in election

On "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Priorities USA Action senior strategist Bill Burton discusses how Republicans have raised more money than Democrats and what that means for President Barack Obama’s re-election chances.

“More money means that they have a lot more cash to spend in these targeted states, but keep in mind that, even though Republicans are going to out-raise Democrats, they need a lot more money,” Burtson says. “Having an impact on what voters think on someone like President Obama, who’s lived in their living rooms for the last six years basically on their TVs, costs a lot of money whereas for Mitt Romney he’s really a blank slate.”

The pro-Obama superPAC Priorities USA has raised $35 million compared to pro-Romney superPACs, which have raised more than $100 million.

“I think Democrats are really starting to wake up and see that there’s a real threat from Karl Rove, from the Koch brothers, and from people who are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to have a huge impact on this election to drive a very right-wing ideology,” Burton says.

September 5th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Castro brothers on DNC message: 'Latino identity is interwoven with US identity'

At the Democratic National Convention Tuesday, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was the first Latino ever to give the keynote speech at the convention. He's a rising star in the Democratic Party, and his speech hit Mitt Romney as hard as a man of privilege who doesn't understand the struggles of average Americans.

He was introduced by his identical twin brother, Texas state representative and U.S. Congressional candidate, Joaquin Castro. Both Castros talk to Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning about the importance of the Latino vote.

"There's no question that the Latino community is absolutely important to the election," Mayor Castro says. "More importantly than that, the destiny of the Latino community is interwoven with the destiny of the United States. As you know, it's the fastest-growing community. It's a young community. When we think about the talent and the brain power that we need to keep America competitive in the 21st century global economy, the Latino community is a great reservoir for that. So, my keynote speech, I think, was one more signifier of how significant and important the Latino community is to the future of the United States."

Soledad asks them if it's hard to sell President Obama's message with unusually high unemployment numbers in the Latino community.

"I don't think it is a tough message for President Obama, because when they look at the progress that has been made, the Latino unemployment rate has dropped by about two percent under this president's watch...more than 150,000 Latinos now are able to get Pell Grants because of investments that the president pushed. Nine million Latinos are going to be able to avail themselves of good healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. For many Latinos, the emergency room literally is their primary care physician. So, that's a huge deal. On immigration policy, that's been talked about tremendously," he says.

"The president is the only one in Washington that's trying to do anything positive with his administrative decision on the dreamers and prioritizing deportations for criminals and then on tax policy," Mayor Castro adds.

Soledad also asks if they're worried about a bump in polls for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney with Latino voters after the Republican National Convention.

"I think some of it was exposure, because a lot of people still didn't know, including a lot of Latinos, who Mitt Romney is. But also, because they put their best face forward at that convention and didn't talk about a lot of the very extreme policies that many in the Republican Party are taking towards the Latino community," Joaquin says.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Democratic National Convention • Latinos • Politics
September 5th, 2012
11:37 AM ET

Obama Campaign's Robert Gibbs: RNC selling tired ideas and slogans, predicts Bill Clinton's DNC speech will be 'terrific'

First Lady Michelle Obama was front at center at the Democratic National Convention last night with a personal pitch for her husband and an appeal to women. The keynote address by Democratic Party rising star and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s speech about living the American dream was also a major highlight of day one at the Convention. Obama Campaign Senior Advisor and Fmr. Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs joins Soledad O’Brien on “Starting Point” this morning to weigh in on the opening night of the DNC.

“I think we had a terrific night last night,” Gibbs says. “Mayor Castro and the First Lady did a remarkably great job, I think, in setting the tone and talking about the president.”

Gibbs also shares his thoughts on tonight’s upcoming speech by Former President Bill Clinton. "I think he's going to be terrific," he says. But RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who appeared on "Starting Point" earlier this week, says Clinton’s speech would help the Romney campaign, “because he’s going to illustrate to the American people that Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.”

“Certainly Barack Obama’s not Bill Clinton,” Gibbs responds, “but the theory of the case that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had were, everybody needs to pay their fair share and we need to invest in middle class security.” Gibbs says Preibus is “selling a series of tired ideas and tired slogans” once again giving “more tax cuts to the rich” and letting “Wall Street write the rules,” in hopes for different outcome than in the eight years under the previous administration.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz totally disagrees with Gibbs. “There’s more systemic risk with what President Obama has done,” he says. “We have less big players out there.” The two spar on air over legislation regulating Wall Street until CNN Congressional Correspondent asks Gibbs about the irony in running a campaign against the Clintons four years ago and relying on Bill Clinton today.

“We got over that a long, long time ago,” Gibbs says. He also tells CNN Sr. Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, “I think the challenges that Barack Obama had the very first day, and the challenges, quite frankly, that had been neglected for eight years, needed to be addressed and needed to be addressed in a way that transformed the country and moved it to a different place.” “Look,” he says “this race is about whether or not we’re going to stay on that path moving forward or we’re going to go back to what we tried for eight years that never worked.”

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