Obama adviser answers for 'divisive' campaign

Ben LaBolt addresses the vicious tone of the President's re-election effort


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS HOST: Hi. I'm Juan Williams in for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

Let's get right to our "Top Story" and our lead guest, Ben Labolt, the Obama campaign spokesman. I have a lot to talk about with Mr. Labolt including the nasty tone of the Obama campaign and its supporters. Complaints from the White House Press Corp that Mr. Obama is avoiding them, instead choosing softball interviews. And increased speculation that Vice President Biden has made one too many gaffes and Hillary Clinton has been asked to replace him.

Joining me from Chicago, Ben Labolt. Ben, thanks for coming in. We appreciate it. Let's start with the news.


WILLIAMS: You've heard about the author Ed Klein, the author of "The Amateur", a book that absolutely castigates the President. He says that he has it on sworn word from his sources in the Hillary Clinton camp that she has been asked to replace Vice President Biden on the ticket. Is that right?

LABOLT: That information is about as credible as Mr. Klein's book. You know Mr. Klein's latest book, he's invented an entirely fictional dialogue that President Clinton and Secretary Clinton had in their home in Chappaqua where he wasn't present. Everyone has -- has denied the substance of that book.

Look, this is a media-driven narrative. The Vice President has been absolutely essential governing partner for the President and running mate out there on the campaign trail. He can lay out the stakes for the middle class in this election like few others and he's absolutely essential to our ticket.

You've seen him campaigning all around the country, laying out the choice in this election between a ticket that's committed to building the economy from the middle class out and Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan's plan which is extending and expanding tax cuts for the wealthiest on the backs of seniors and the middle class.

WILLIAMS: Well Ben -- but Ben, Ben, hold on. This is a No Spin Zone here. What you've seen this week in the eyes of most Americans is a gaffe- prone Vice President who has introduced charges of racial politics into the campaign, who doesn't know what century he's in, talking about changes for the 20th century I believe we're still in the 21st. And this is a man who it seems is bringing distraction and even some criticism from Democrats.

Doug Wilder, former black governor of Virginia criticizing him for his reference to chains and slavery. Ben, isn't that hurting your campaign?

LABOLT: Look, what the Vice President was talking about is something that Speaker Boehner has talked about, that Congressman Ryan has talked about. They've talked about unshackling business and unshackling Wall Street. And the Vice President was pointing out who pays the price for that when Wall Street is allowed to write its own rules. It's the middle class.

And ultimately that's the debate that I think voters want to have. And they're going to side with the President and the Vice President on that. They don't believe Wall Street should be allowed to play by one set of rules where they can pursue risky financial deals that puts the middle class at risk.

WILLIAMS: Well everybody understands --


LABOLT: They don't agree with Governor Romney --


WILLIAMS: -- I understand if that's what you're saying, I understand it. But I don't understand why you had or Vice President Biden I should say had to bring race into it. It didn't help your campaign and it started a wave of criticism and allowed -- and it allowed Mitt Romney to then say this is a divisive campaign being run by President Obama, a campaign that seeks to divide America, does not live -- live up to the promise of hope and change.

Instead, what Mr. Romney said was, President Obama is trying to divide us and simply cobble back together 51 percent of a divided country. That's what he said based on the actions and words of Vice President Biden.

LABOLT: That's certainly not what the Vice President was referring to. He was referring to the comments made by Speaker Boehner and Congressman Ryan about unshackling business and unshackling Wall Street.

You know, I think that's an interesting comment from Governor Romney. Somebody who's running almost an entirely negative campaign over the course of the past year, tearing down his opponents and then telling them to stop whining.

If you spend a day on the campaign trail with the President, you'll hear him lay out the stakes in this election between an economy built from the middle class out and the top down.

If you were in Iowa this week on the campaign trail, he was calling for the immediate passage of the Farm Bill which Congressman Ryan has held up, which would provide immediate relief to the farmers and ranchers in the Midwest who are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years.

He's calling for the extension of production tax credit so that all the wind energy jobs tens of thousands that have been created over the country, over the course of the past few years don't go away. That's something that Governor Romney has opposed.


WILLIAMS: Well let me -- but wait a second. Let's get back to what we're talking about here, Ben. Ben, I have heard you say that Governor Romney is unhinged for saying that President Obama is running a divisive campaign. So you're calling the man unhinged.

I have also seen an ad run by an Obama support PAC that accuses, basically accuses Governor Romney of being involved in a woman's death because of cancer. And on top of that, of course, we have the constant badgering of Mitt Romney to release taxes as if he is a criminal. In fact, someone in your campaign said he may be guilty of a felony. Now isn't that divisive?

LABOL: Well, in terms of unhinged, you know Governor Romney, this past week and after running an almost entirely negative campaign, said that he wanted to have a debate about the economic choice vetting vote -- facing voters this November.

That's what the President has said this election is about all along. Yet a few days later he abandoned that pledge in which he accused the President of -- of running a hateful campaign. And as I said, if you spend a day on the campaign trail, I don't think those remarks had any bearing on that. We spend a lot of time debating an ad that our campaign didn't produce, but every day on the campaign trail, Governor Romney questions whether the President really understands America --


WILLIAMS: Well, are you going to apologize for that ad? Do want to disavow any association with that ad? Do you want to apologize for it right here, right now tonight?

LABOLT: We -- we -- we didn't produce that ad and we have made a different argument. Governor Romney is campaigning on his experience as a corporate buyout specialist and he said that during his tenure at Bain Capital, he was a job creator. But the fact is he profited off of bankrupted companies --


LABOLT: If he's going to campaign on that then it's irrelevant.

WILLIAMS: Ok, ok. But Ben -- Ben you're not answering the question. You won't say if you'll apologized all right. Ben, look, thanks.

LABOLT: It is not an ad that we produced.

WILLIAMS: All right, well look.

LABOLT: And we have made -- we have made a different case.

WILLIAMS: Ok. I -- I hear you. I think everybody hears you wouldn't -- ok, but Ben look, thanks. I think you were a real stand up guy for coming in tonight and being on THE FACTOR. We appreciate it.

LABOLT: I'm happy to do it. Thanks Juan.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

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