President Obama’s fancy footwork on a gay marriage stance is becoming harder and harder to sell. Even worse for the Obama campaign, it’s opening up space for Republicans — who are much further to the right on matters of gay rights — to attack Obama on his own turf.
The fallout from Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday, where he expressed public support for gay marriage, has made it much tougher for the Obama campaign to keep up its awkward position that the president is moving toward support for gay marriage but still against it officially.
On Monday, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter struggled to define the difference during an appearance on MSNBC.
“Is the president of the United States comfortable, as the vice president said, with men marrying men, women marrying men and heterosexual men and women marrying each another?” asked Andrea Mitchell.
“I’m not going to make news on the president’s beliefs on gay marriage today,” Cutter said. “I am going to say that the vice president was detailing and describing the very policies that he and the president have implemented together to ensure that these same-sex couples do enjoy the same rights and protections as any other couple.”
The interview was at times awkward, as Cutter tried to tout the president’s long record of advancing LGBT rights while in office (the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell being the most prominent example), while trying to stick to the official line that Obama is personally opposed to gay marriage but is “evolving” on the topic.
Gay rights groups seized on Biden’s comments Sunday. They urged Obama to join Biden in support for same-sex marriage. Obama has courted the LGBT vote, pushing his record on expanding LGBT rights at the federal level and publicly expressing opposition to state constitutional amendments like the one on the ballot in North Carolina Tuesday, which would ban marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Republicans, who have supported similar amendments to the U.S. Constitution, are also seizing on Obama’s “evolving” view and using it to poke holes Obama’s contention that he’s a straight shooter.
“I told you in 2008 that I wasn’t a perfect man, and I would never be a perfect president,” Obama said at his first 2012 campaign rally in Ohio Saturday. “But I promised that I would always tell you what I thought. I would always tell you where I stood.”
Republicans say Obama’s gay marriage stance proves he’s not the person he says he is.
“I think his biggest vulnerability is he’s not authentic anymore. People aren’t buying what he’s selling because they don’t believe he’s real anymore,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, said on MSNBC, following Cutter’s appearance. “He has become the ultimate Washington politician and this latest episode in regard to gay marriage is a great example of that.”