Obama moves to soften 'enemies' comment in face of GOP criticism

Posted Nov 2, 2010 by Michael Krebs
Facing stiff Republican criticism over Obama's characterization of select American voting populace as "enemies," President Obama sought to ease the impact his commentary might have on the mid-term elections.
President Barack Obama opens a door in the Oval Office to greet children from the education document...
President Barack Obama opens a door in the Oval Office to greet children from the education documentary "Waiting for Superman,"
White House Photo by Pete Souza
Mid-day on November 1, I received an email from the Conservative group, Americans For Prosperity. The tone of the message - sent to me by Communications Manager Tim Phillips - was one of outrage, and the issue for Mr. Phillips and the AFP organization centered on President Obama's characterization of a segment of the American people as "enemies."
"Our brave troops are fighting real 'enemies' in Afghanistan and Iraq," Mr. Phillips wrote. "Terrorist 'enemies' are constantly attempting to kill Americans on our home soil. Yet, the President chooses to use the word 'enemies' to describe fellow Americans opposing his agenda."
It is this passionate reaction to the president's choice of words that has put the Obama administration on the back foot during a critical mid-term election that is certain to be troubling for Democrats nationally.
Obama told talk radio host Michael Baisden on Monday, "I probably should have used the word 'opponents' instead of enemies," according to a Reuters report.
President Obama had suggested that Latino voters "punish our enemies and reward our friends," comments that were reported widely in the general media.
The Republican leadership appears to have every intention of driving this issue home with American voters.
"Today, sadly, we have president who uses the word 'enemy' for fellow Americans ... fellow citizens. He uses it for people who disagree with his agenda of bigger government ... people speaking out for a smaller, more accountable government that respects freedom and allows small businesses to create jobs," Reuters quotes Republican John Boehner as planning to say publicly.