Jon Karl Presses Earnest: Is Obama ‘Toxic’ for Campaigning Senate Democrats?


Lots of grilling during Monday’s White House press briefing. Fox’s Ed Henry questioned the administration’s Ebola response abroad; and ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl used his Q&A time to press the White House flack Josh Earnest on whether President Barack Obama disappeared from the campaign trail this weekend because he is “toxic” to Senate Democrats.

“We are eight days out from midterm elections that could be highly consequential for this president,” Karl began. “Why is he here without any public schedule at the White House, why did he spend the entire weekend completely outside of public view? How can he is not out campaigning with and for Democratic candidates in these races?”

Earnest pushed back that the president has “so many stops” scheduled in the coming week that “I have to look up exactly where the president’s traveling.” The itinerary he read off included stops in Maine, Rhode Island, Michigan, Philadelphia, and Connecticut, all in support of Democratic candidates.

A skeptical Karl pushed back, saying, “You’re not going to stand there and tell me the president’s been actively campaigning in these midterm elections.”

Earnest’s reply: “I think any examination of the president’s schedule would indicate a serious commitment to supporting democratic candidates on the ballot.”

Unconvinced, Karl pressed further, asking Earnest to name the Senate Democrats with whom the president has campaigned in this cycle. The White House spox cited Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters and Minnesota incumbent Al Franken as examples.

“What you’ve seen the president do is dedicate his time to doing what he can to support Democratic candidates,” Earnest stated, “and he’s spent a lot of time raising money and that reflects, I think, a significant commitment of this president’s time and energy to supporting democratic candidates.”

To end the to and fro, Karl pointedly asked: “You don’t agree the president’s been considered politically toxic to many of those Democrats running?”

And shocker, Earnest said: “I do not agree with that assessment.”

Watch below, via C-SPAN2:

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