RNC: Obama hasn’t answered for Fast and Furious ‘scandal’

Republicans are hammering President Obama over his handling of a failed gun-tracking operation and the ensuing contempt vote of his attorney general, even as national polls show that the majority of voters see the moves as largely political.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) hit Obama Friday for not taking more responsibility for the problems in his administration, saying that he’s unfairly attacking GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s record as a chief executive of a private equity firm when he has “scandals” of his own.

“Obama says he is responsible for what happens under his watch, but won't answer for the scandals that have plagued his administration,” said the RNC in an e-mail blast.

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The RNC pointed to “Fast and Furious” as a key example. The botched operation was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and authorized the sale of nearly 2,000 weapons to known straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels. It may have contributed to the killing of a Border Patrol agent.

House Republicans placed Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress late last month for not meeting a congressional subpoena demanding internal Justice Department documents that pertained to “Fast and Furious.” Obama, in a last minute attempt to stave off the vote, claimed executive privilege over the documents.

House GOP leaders said the contempt move was based solely on the need to enforce the Constitution’s design of congressional oversight of the White House. The Obama administration balked at the Republican justification, calling it political gamesmanship.

In a series of polls released this week, the majority of voters said they too view the contempt proceedings as carrying political motivations, though some favor the unprecedented move.

Out of nearly 3,000 voters polled by Quinnipiac, 64 percent said they had heard about the contempt vote. Of those who knew about the move, the poll asked half of them whether they thought it was “a legitimate attempt to get information or was it politically motivated.”

Forty-two percent of those voters said they thought it was “politically motivated” — 16 percent of those voters were Republicans and 77 percent were Democrats — while 36 percent of voters said they believed it was “a legitimate attempt to get information” —61 percent of those respondents were Republicans and 5 percent were Democrats. Twenty-one percent of voters said they had no opinion. 

In a separate CNN/ORC International poll released this week, 61 percent of voters said they felt Republicans were using the contempt vote was motivated by politics, while only 34 percent said they had any real ethical concerns over Holder’s handling of the documents.

However, about 53 percent of respondents said that the House did the right thing in the contempt vote, while about one-third of voters disapproved of the move and 13 percent said they were unsure.

Republicans have aimed to make “Fast and Furious” a national issue for voters, as was made clear in the RNC’s e-mail this week that set it beside other political debacles for the administration, such as the failed solar company Solyndra that received millions of dollars in government funding, the lavish perks doled out by the General Services Administration at a Las Vegas meeting on the taxpayer dime, and the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia earlier this year.