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How damaging is the Catholic Church's Obamacare lawsuit for the president?
FILE PHOTO: The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
May 23rd, 2012
03:48 PM ET

How damaging is the Catholic Church's Obamacare lawsuit for the president?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Catholic Church is suing President Obama for violating the freedom of religion that is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

In what's being called the largest legal action of its kind, 43 separate Catholic institutions filed lawsuits in a dozen different federal courts this week.

They are challenging the federal mandate in President Obama's health care law that requires employers to cover contraception in their employees' health plans.

These Catholic groups include the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of America, the archdioceses of New York and Washington - along with those serving Dallas, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

The lawsuits say that the health care law violates the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.

The Obama Administration tried to smooth things over with the church when the issue first bubbled over.

As a compromise, they said insurance companies would have to provide contraception for employees who wanted it - so Catholic employers could avoid directly providing birth control.

But that wasn't good enough for the church.

So far, the White House isn't commenting on these lawsuits, although one official told The Wall Street Journal that they're still trying to work things out with Catholic leaders: "Lawsuits or no lawsuits, our doors remain open."

Experts are split over whether these lawsuits will succeed, but either way it can't be helpful for the president in an election year.

For those keeping track, President Obama has managed to anger both the black churches - over his support of gay marriage - and the Catholic Church over birth control.

Here’s my question to you: How damaging is the Catholic Church's Obamacare lawsuit for the president?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago?
May 22nd, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's the economy again, stupid; and this time around it just might sink President Barack Obama's re-election chances.

A new poll shows the president and Mitt Romney locked in a dead heat over who could better fix the economy, the top issue on voters' minds.

The Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows Obama with a three-point lead over Romney if the election were held today – 49% to 46%. But on handling the economy, the two are tied at 47%.

Despite the recent hoopla over other issues ranging from birth control to gay marriage, more than half of Americans say the economy will decide their vote. Issues such as health care, taxes and the federal deficit only rank in the single digits.

Late in the campaign in 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked Americans: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Turns out they weren't. There was a sudden 10-point swing in the closing days of the campaign, and Reagan defeated the incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide.

So how about in 2012? Some 30% of those surveyed say they are worse off financially today than when Obama took office in January 2009, only 16% say they are better off. This might make Obama-land nervous.

Obama's numbers on this question resemble those of George H.W. Bush. He lost his 1992 re-election bid in a rough economy.

However it's not all bad news for Obama. The poll shows voters are evenly split on who could better create jobs, and the president tops Romney on the question of who better understands people's economic problems.

Yet at the end of the day, many Americans might look in the mirror and ask themselves this question.

Here’s my question to you: Are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Obama W.H. change official biography pages of past presidents?
May 17th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Obama W.H. change official biography pages of past presidents?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Barack Obama is under fire for adding his own policy plugs to the official biographies of past presidents on the White House website.

Here's how it works: The White House added blurbs to the end of these biographies. These "Hey, did you know?" factoids appear on nearly every president's bio page going back to Calvin Coolidge.

For example:

"In a June 28, 1985, speech, Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multimillionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule."

These added links plug everything from Obama’s health care overhaul to Social Security, Medicare and the repeal of don't ask, don't tell.

Republicans are having a field day with this.

The RNC created a hysterical "Obama in History" website. It shows the president as part of other historical events like the moon landing and the Declaration of Independence and with historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon and Elvis.

The White House insists that the biographies themselves weren't changed. They tell Fox News they "simply added links at the bottom of each page." They say this is a commonly used Internet practice to encourage people to explore further.

Maybe so.

However, one expert tells ABC News that while these additions didn't "cross the line" by changing the presidential biographies, the White House could have made it clearer that they weren't part of the official White House presidential biographies.

Here’s my question to you: Is it appropriate for President Obama to change the official biography pages of past presidents on the White House website?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Is former President Carter an effective weapon in Mitt Romney's campaign against President Obama?
May 15th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Is former President Carter an effective weapon in Mitt Romney's campaign against President Obama?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Mitt Romney is hoping Jimmy Carter can help him win the White House.

The likely Republican nominee has been comparing President Barack Obama to the former Democratic president on the campaign trail.

For example, when Romney was asked if he would have approved the bin Laden raid, he answered "even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."

And when talking about the economy, Romney described the Obama White House as "the most anti-small business administration... probably since Carter."

For many, the name alone evokes an incompetent, liberal commander-in-chief and a time of recession, inflation, unemployment, high taxes and gas prices, more government and a sort of national malaise..

And, as Politico points out, by framing yourself as Carter's enemy, you can try to make yourself Ronald Reagan. Brilliant. If it works.

Meanwhile Michael Barone suggests in a column on "Real Clear Politics" that the 2012 election could mirror what happened in the 1980 race between Carter and Reagan. There was a late break away from the incumbent that year.

Jimmy Carter actually led Ronald Reagan in the polls for much of the race. His job rating was kept higher by attempts to free the Iran hostages even though voters were unhappy with the economy and other issues.

But during a debate just days before the election, Reagan famously asked: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Suddenly the polls took a 10 point shift in Reagan's favor. He won in a landslide.

Barone suggests that despite economic concerns and opposition to Mr. Obama's policies, voters might be keeping his ratings artificially high for fear of rejecting the first black president. They might change their support to Romney at the last minute.

Here’s my question to you: Is former President Carter an effective weapon in Mitt Romney's campaign against President Obama?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

How big is President Obama's Wall Street problem?
May 14th, 2012
03:09 PM ET

How big is President Obama's Wall Street problem?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

JPMorgan Chase’s $2 billion trading loss highlights what could be a huge Wall Street problem for President Barack Obama as he faces re-election.

Nearly four years after the financial crisis, little appears to have changed on Wall Street.

These guys can still play fast and loose with whatever rules there are and in the process risk huge losses.

JP Morgan's CEO Jamie Dimon was on "Meet the Press" on Sunday doing damage control. There have already been several resignations at the company.

Dimon acknowledges the $2 billion loss was due to a series of massive bets placed through credit default swaps - which is what nearly brought the country to its knees in 2008.

In other words, what happened at JP Morgan, one of the largest banks in the U.S., is exactly the kind of thing the president's financial law was supposed to stop. But it didn't.

Working in Obama's favor - he can paint his opponent, Mitt Romney, as a big business guy who would slash financial regulations.

But voters will hold up the president against his record - and ask how this could happen again. In light of the mess at JP Morgan, it will be nearly impossible for Obama to run as the president who got tough on Wall Street.

Critics of the president say the White House should have pushed for stronger legislation - and that financial reform took a back seat to the health care and stimulus bills.

They say the president had a historic chance to bring real reform to Wall Street since there was such intense public anger toward the banks.

Administration officials argue Obama pushed for the toughest financial reform law that he could get through Congress.

Here’s my question to you: How big is President Obama's Wall Street problem?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Will President Obama's support of gay marriage cost him black votes?
May 10th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

Will President Obama's support of gay marriage cost him black votes?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While President Obama's support for gay marriage is sure to fire up parts of the liberal base, it could alienate others - including black voters.

In other words, backing same-sex marriage might be a risky position for the president in an election year when it comes to one of his core voting blocs.

In 2008, African-Americans were crucial in making Mr. Obama the nation's first black president. Exit polls showed 96% of black voters supported him and they made up 13% of the electorate.

Fast forward four years: While polls suggest America on the whole is moving toward support of same-sex marriage, ABC/Washington Post polling shows 55% of black voters are still against it. That compares to 43% of whites.

And this opposition from blacks could hurt the president - particularly in the South.

Just this week in North Carolina, blacks voted two-to-one in favor of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

North Carolina is a swing state where near-unanimous black support for Mr. Obama secured his 2008 victory.

So what if even some black voters in a state like North Carolina choose to sit this election out due to the president's support of same-sex marriage?

Groups on both sides of the issue like to compare gay marriage rights to the struggle for civil rights; but many blacks don't like that comparison. And black churches tend to see the issue in religious terms, with ministers playing a big role in the opposition to gay marriage.

While it's unlikely blacks will suddenly decide to vote for Mitt Romney over this, if some of them decide to stay home, it could make a difference in the outcome of the election.

Here’s my question to you: Will President Obama's support of gay marriage cost him black votes?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Is President Obama simply using gay marriage for political gain?
May 9th, 2012
04:52 PM ET

Is President Obama simply using gay marriage for political gain?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Today's definition of political opportunism? Gay marriage.

President Obama has been in office for 3 1/2 years and has artfully dodged the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Suddenly his vice president, Joe Biden, comes out publicly and says he doesn't see anything wrong with gay marriage.

And right away people want to know where the president stands.

Then the voters of North Carolina go to the polls and overwhelmingly pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Again the questions: Where does the president stand?

Suddenly at 3 o'clock this afternoon, after 3 1/2 years of not answering the question, Mr. Obama decides to take a position.

All of a sudden he thinks same-sex marriage is a good idea.

He's locked in what promises to be a close race against Mitt Romney.

So picking this moment to pander to the gay and lesbian community on the issue of same-sex marriage suits his political purpose, which is to be re-elected.

One of the major broadcast networks interrupts programming to breathlessly report that the president has decided that it's OK for same-sex couples to marry.

Pardon me if I don't hyperventilate over all of this. We have real issues in this country for which President Obama has been glaringly short on answers.

We have more than $15 trillion of debt, an unemployment rate that's an embarrassment for the largest free-market system in the world, a Congress that refuses to agree on whether it's daylight outside or not, and the country is supposed to come to a screeching halt because President Obama was pressured into taking a position on a wedge issue. I'll pass.

Oh, and at the end of the day, it's still up to the states.

Here’s my question to you: Is President Obama simply using gay marriage for political gain?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

How much has America's first black president changed race relations?
May 7th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

How much has America's first black president changed race relations?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite the election of America's first black president more than three years ago, the nation still has a long road to travel when it comes to race relations.

The New York Times reports that race remains a powerful factor among a small minority of voters - particularly in poor areas with a lot of white working-class people.

That includes places in the battleground state of Ohio, where a few votes could make a big difference.

In 50 interviews in one such Ohio county, five people raised race directly as a reason they will not vote for President Obama. Some of them said the only reason the president won in 2008 is because many blacks voted for the first time.

Others didn't mention race directly, but indirectly hinted at suspicions of Obama's background and faith.

The president recently described race in America as still "complicated." He says he never bought into the idea that the country was entering a post-racial period by electing him.

Maybe so - but a lot of people did. More than half of Americans in 2008 said that race relations would improve as a result of Obama's election.

Fast forward to 2012 and that view has changed dramatically.

A recent Newsweek poll shows only 32% believe race relations have improved under President Obama, while nearly 60% say race relations have either stayed the same or gotten worse. Whites are especially critical of Obama in this department.

Some suggest racism surfaces during tough times like the recession, high unemployment or the wars overseas - and can serve as an excuse for social anxieties.

Here’s my question to you: How much has America's first black president changed race relations?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?
May 2nd, 2012
02:33 PM ET

President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was masterfully done, the result of political instincts seldom seen except in Chicago.

But it was also blatantly transparent.

If President Obama had simply gone to Afghanistan to sign the document with Hamid Karzai, give the troops a pep talk and address the nation on winding down the war there - the rest of it would likely have taken care of itself.

But the chest pounding over killing Osama bin Laden that preceded the trip, the use of Navy SEALS as chips in a sinister game of political poker, the questioning of whether Mitt Romney would have made the same call if given the chance to take down the Al Qaeda leader, cheapened the whole thing.

There's a difference between classy and cheesy, and this came off as cheesy to the max.

After telling the country "You don't spike the football," you come off as a hypocrite when you go out of your way to spike the football.

And as far as winding down things in Afghanistan, where we have been spending somewhere around $2 billion a week for years. That's very much an open question.

The document Karzai and Obama signed was an agreement to work on an agreement to keep an American presence in that sand pile until 2024. For what?

The Karzai government is corrupt, and can barely stand us. Look at the Afghan leader's body language with Obama.

The rest of the country is a tribal sewer that for thousands of years has been a no man's land for invading armies - and we want to remain there for another decade?

I don't get it. And 72% of Americans don't get it either. They want us out of Afghanistan.

In the end, I'm not sure President Obama didn't do himself more harm than good with this little stunt.

Here’s my question to you: President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Should President Obama use Osama bin Laden's death in his campaign?
April 30th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

Should President Obama use Osama bin Laden's death in his campaign?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is sounding more like the hypocrite-in-chief.

Contrary to statements he's made in the past, he's using the one year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his re-election campaign.

A web video narrated by former President Bill Clinton praises Mr. Obama's decision to order the killing of the Al Qaeda leader.

Vice President Joe Biden used a bumper sticker slogan that thanks President Obama, "bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive." Biden suggests it might have been the other way around were Romney president.

So much for what the Obama White House was saying when bin Laden was killed.

In the days following the bin Laden raid, President Obama said he decided not to release photos of the terrorist's corpse, saying "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies" and "we don't need to spike the football."

What's more - four years ago, then-candidate Obama slammed his opponent Hillary Clinton for using bin Laden in a political ad. He accused Clinton of playing "the politics of fear" like George W. Bush.

None of this is lost on the president's critics. Republicans are blasting him for turning a unifying event into another way to divide the country. They call it desperate and cheap.

The real tragedy here is that President Obama, by politicizing the raid that got bin Laden, is upstaging the Navy Seals who are the real heroes who conducted the mission.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama use Osama bin Laden's death in his campaign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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