The Obama campaign on Monday lashed out at Republican challenger Mitt Romney for failing to immediately condemn the "hateful" and "extreme" remarks of an African-American supporter.
"We have a president right now that is operating outside the structure of our Constitution," the woman said at a campaign event in Cleveland, going on to suggest that President Obama should be "tried for treason."
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Though Romney said afterward that he "of course" did not agree with the woman’s statement, the Obama campaign sent out an official statement criticizing the GOP candidate for not standing up "to hateful and over-the-line rhetoric."
Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt also challenged Romney on Twitter to "stand up to the extreme voices in his party."
President Obama himself has declined to address controversial remarks from supporters in the past. In September 2011, Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa introduced the president at a union rally, saying: "This is your army…Let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong [sic]" –referring to Republicans. Obama took the stage shortly after Hoffa’s remarks, but did not address the provocative rhetoric.
Following the controversial event, senior White House advisor David Plouffe said in a radio interview that politicians should not be responsible for everything said at their events, or act as "speech police."
The Obama campaign’s response to the Romney supporter’s remarks came hours after senior campaign spokesman David Axelrod likened former Bush adviser Karl Rove and libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch, and their respective Super PACs, to "contract killers."
A spokesman for Rove’s Super PAC, American Crossroads, slammed Axelrod’s remarks.
"Calling a political opponent a contract killer may be the Chicago way, but it's beneath the dignity of the office Mr. Obama holds," the group’s communications director Jonathan Collegio told the Washington Free Beacon in an e-mail. "Obama has failed to change Washington and unite the country, and instead engages in bitter and unbecoming attacks on his opponents."
President Obama, who had previously denounced Super PACs as a "threat to our democracy," has begun to solicit donations to liberal Super PACs like Priorities USA.
Left-wing social commentator Bill Maher, who often uses words like "c–t" and "dumb t–t" to describe female politicians, recently contributed $1 million to the pro-Obama group.