Robert Gibbs attended the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire Monday night, but the longtime Democrat made clear his candidate wasn’t among those up on stage.
The former White House press secretary makes clear that he is rooting for his old boss, President Obama, and he says he doesn’t like what he saw at the first GOP candidates’ debate.
Seven contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination faced off in what is likely to become a long series of encounters between now and next year. Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota used the event to officially kick off her presidential candidacy.
Each member of the GOP field “nodded along when one called the Obama administration a ‘destructive force,’ and they said nothing when another said the President has ’embraced our enemies,'” says Gibbs, who left the White House earlier this year.
“Last night was a wake-up call to anyone who thinks they can sit tight while the Republicans battle each other for the nomination: The campaign to defeat Barack Obama and roll back his entire record is well underway. And that’s the one thing on which all of their potential candidates agree,” says Gibbs in an email which also served as a fundraising appeal for the Democratic National Committee.
“It was seven against one,” Gibbs says. “Since the President won’t be speaking for himself at one of these debates until next year, our best response is to show the Republicans that when they attack Barack Obama, it only makes us fight back harder.”
Viewed from Democrat’s eyes, Monday’s debate was about “about which of their candidates would turn back the clock the farthest,” Gibbs says.
“They came out for re-fighting the battles they lost on Wall Street reform and the health care law. They backed reinstating ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” he says. “They even talked about abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency — and phasing out Social Security and Medicare.
“They actually spent time debating whether they think Sarah Palin would have made a better vice president than Joe Biden (spoiler alert: They still think so!).”
The debate also was notable for what wasn’t discussed, Gibbs adds, saying “the words ‘education’ and ‘middle class’ were never uttered even once.
“If you were watching at home, you might have thought it was a re-run from four or eight years ago,” he says. “Most of these people are full-time candidates with nothing to lose and nothing to do but keep pushing to take us back to the failed policies of the past.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.