"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry … The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I'm not at all sure that that's what the Obama administration believes."Axelrod didn't mince words in responding.
"If respect in the world is what we're after, I'm not sure that that cause was advanced by some of the things that the vice president has said and done over the last eight years, and what he said here is really irresponsible," Axelrod said. "The fact is that the president has announced a very methodical system for evaluating how we close down Guantanamo, how we're going to deal with those detainees, and he's proceeding in a thoughtful way. He believes — and I think most Americans do — that we can protect the American people and be consistent with the values that have animated this country for over two centuries.
"The vice president seems to think it's a zero-sum game. I think that's one of the things that was on the ballot last November. It was decided. Apparently the vice president is having a hard time dealing with … the verdict of the American people."
Axelrod had more positive remarks for former President Bush: "President Bush could not have been more generous in the transition, in every conceivable way. And when he left, he said, 'I'm rootin' for you guys, and I hope you do well.'
"Apparently, the memo didn't go down the line," Axelrod said.