President Obama’s reelection campaign strenuously defended the administration’s work on gay-rights issues on Tuesday and tried to turn the focus on Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s record after the Obama campaign was knocked on its heels over the weekend by Vice President Joe Biden’s unexpected endorsement of same-sex marriage.
In a firestorm that showed no sign of letting up, the Obama campaign attacked former New York Gov. George Pataki, a Romney surrogate, for calling the president a waffler on gay marriage.
“Governor Pataki must not be familiar with either the president’s record or Governor Romney’s,” wrote Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt in a statement. “The president has done more to advance gay rights than any other president – from securing hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights for gay partners, to repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ to advancing equal rights and benefits for gays and lesbians.”
By contrast, LaBolt said, Romney has backed the federal marriage amendment to the Constitution and said he would not have supported repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ LaBolt added, “He would turn back the clock on all of the progress this president has made to advance equal rights. On the issues important to gays and lesbians, Governor Romney hasn’t evolved – he has regressed.”
However, LaBolt did not address Obama’s stance on gay marriage, which the president has said in the past is “evolving.” Biden’s comments Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press in defense of same-sex marriage moved the issue front and center, putting an awkward spotlight on Obama’s ambivalence.
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Pataki said: “Either you’re for something or you’re against it, and Vice President Biden has made it plain he’s for it. President Obama on the other hand is looking to have both sides.”