The Morning Line: President Obama Condemns Pastor’s Plans to Burn Quran

BY Quinn Bowman and Terence Burlij  September 9, 2010 at 9:22 AM EST

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President Obama, file photo, Getty Images
The Morning Lne

President Obama denounced a Florida pastor’s plan to burn the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this Saturday.

Mr. Obama called the proposed burning “a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda” in an interview with George Stephanopolous that aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

Rev. Terry Jones said Wednesday his Gainsesville church, the non-denominational Dove Outreach Center, would proceed with its “International Burn-a-Quran Day” as planned despite pleas from Gen. David Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others to cancel the event, citing the potential risk to Americans abroad.

The president referred to the burning as a “stunt” that could “greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform” in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also warned it “could increase recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities.”

But, Mr. Obama also said that burning the Quran was “contrary to our values of Americans – that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance.”

He said he hoped Jones would “listen to those better angels” and call off “the destructive act he is engaging in.”

The other headline to come out of the interview was the president’s acknowledgment that the Democrats’ majority control of Congress could be in danger if the midterm elections become solely about the state of the economy.

“If the election is a referendum on are people satisfied about the economy as it currently is, then we’re not going to do well,” said Mr. Obama.

In July, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs angered some Democrats by saying there were enough seats in play for Republicans to re-gain control of the House. But with November now less than two months away, and with polls showing the public increasingly pessimistic about the country’s economic future, it’s unclear if the president’s comments will produce the same level of party in-fighting or simply be accepted as political reality.

ALASKA WRITE IN?

Speculation is mounting about Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s political future as several news outlets are reporting about whether she will try to keep her Senate seat in Alaska by running a write-in campaign after losing her party primary to challenger Joe Miller.

Murkowski is left with the option to drop out or convince voters to write her name into their ballots after the Alaska Libertarian Party refused to allow her onto their ticket. Her loss to Miller shocked the Washington, D.C. political establishment.

Miller is already receiving money, to the tune of $212,000 from the National Republican Senatorial Committee – the same committee that Miller once criticized and to which Murkowski’s political action committee gave $15,000 in May, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Murkowski has more than $1 million in her campaign account for a write-in bid.

Fox News posted a story Wednesday quoting an anonymous Murkowski aide who said Murkowski will likely stay in the race, but the Daily News reports the campaign’s spokesman said they do not know what she plans to do.

“It’s fair to say we’re in a moment of pause but no firm decision has been made yet,” said Steve Wackowski, Murkowski’s campaign spokesman.

Miller told the Hill newspaper that he expects Murkowski to stay out.

“The last time we addressed this issue was during a forum before the primary and the senator said unequivocally that she would honor the primary results,” Miller told the Hill. “We expect her to keep that commitment and we look forward to working with her.”

ROUGH RECEPTION

“The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, popular among the Obama-voting younger demographic, seemed an ideal place for Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine to roll out his party’s 2010 message. Instead, Jon Stewart just gave
Kaine a really hard time.

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Stewart didn’t waste any time, immediately asking the chairman of the party that might lose control of both houses of Congress in November if he felt like Sean Penn in “Dead Man Walking.” Kaine made an effort to explain that Democrats had passed landmark health care reform and rescued the American economy from the brink and that it would be foolish to “give back the keys” to the Republicans.

Perhaps echoing the nonchalant base of the Democratic Party, Stewart responded that he was bored with the explanation of health care policy and that maybe Kaine’s base felt estranged from the soaring rhetoric of the 2008 Obama campaign, with the president’s party reduced to citing the results of the politics of the possible. Somehow, the message of what President Obama and a Democratic Congress has been lost on voters, Stewart argued.

The interview served as a marker among several news cycles in which Democrats have seen nothing but bad news: professional political race handicappers are predicting the party will lose the House and polls are showing voters are less trusting of the party to lead on economic issues.

“Have you ever had a bad day?” Kaine asked Stewart during the appearance. “Not as bad as a one you’re going to have in November,” Stewart replied.