ABC’s Jonathan Karl has always been known as a hard-nosed and fair reporter. He’s also one of the few in the White House Press Pool willing to take the Obama administration to task for their failures, and willing to ask the embarrassing questions that need to be asked.
On Friday, Karl lived up to his aggressive reputation and went hard after the Obama administration for their failure to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to the Democrats and for their inability to get everyone on board with the reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Karl went so far as to say (paraphrasing) ‘after all of the President’s recent failures in leading, it’s clear that he’s not in charge of the Democrat Party. So… who is the leader of the Democrat Party, right now?’
Again, I say – Oh. Snap.
Jonathan Karl: A question on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). You laid out a forceful case that the White House has previously laid out why the president would veto that bill that passed the House. Fourty-one Democrats voted for that bill, a third of the Democratic caucus. The president’s also made the case very forcefully for the trade promotion authority bill, the TPP, and your hard-pressed to find more than a dozen Democrats in the House that are willing to agree with the president and vote in favor of that.
So my question is simple: who right now is the leader of the Democratic party? It doesn’t seem like the president is really showing persuasive power with Democrats on Capitol Hill right now.
Eric Schultz: Jon, I’m not sure that’s true. The president is the leader of the Democratic party. If you look at the legislative priorities, the public policy priorities over the past six-and-a-half years now, they enjoy broad support within the Democratic party, even those who disagree with him on this specific issue of trade. But the president has not allowed his party affiliation to preempt him from working across the aisle on issues that enjoy bipartisan support.
He’ll be the first to admit that trade is a difficult issue for Democrats because of past trade agreements not living up to the type. That there’s a residue of bad feelings and he’ll be the first to admit that. That’s why he’s insisted to make sure that we learn from the past and that’s also why he believes that not passing this trade in would lock in the status quo and that’s why he believes that doing that would be a bad. So he’s willing to work with Democrats on this, he’s willing to work on Republicans on this.