Axelrod: Limbaugh Markets the "Outrageous"

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod on "Face the Nation," November 1, 2009. CBS

Last Updated 1:44 p.m. ET

In response to criticisms of President Obama made in a TV interview this morning by conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh - who accused Mr. Obama of engaging in a "photo op" when he attended the return of American war dead from Afghanistan - White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod dismissed the comments as those of an "entertainer."

On "FOX News Sunday" Limbaugh said the president's attendance at the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers at Dover Air Force Base early Thursday morning was staged "because he's having big-time trouble on this whole Afghanistan dithering situation."

He also suggested the "syncophantic media" covering the ceremony at Dover was used to "create the impression that he has all this great concern."

"He's marketing the outrageous," Axelrod told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer Sunday. "And he does very well with it. But as I said, he's an entertainer."

On Mr. Obama's viewing of the return of war dead, Axelrod said, "The President of United States went to Dover to represent the American people and pay his respect to the families who had made so much of a sacrifice to those brave service people who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was the appropriate thing to do, and I think most Americans appreciate that.

"We'll let Mr. Limbaugh fulminate, but I think the American people are well-served and believe they're well-served," Axelrod said. "We've got bigger responsibilities, [and] we're going to discharge those responsibilities."

When asked to respond to other adjectives used by Limbaugh to describe the president, including "immature, "inexperienced," and "very narcissistic," Axelrod would only say, "I think it's a surreal day when you're getting lectures on humility from Rush Limbaugh."

Axelrod alluded to the heavy hand of Limbaugh and other conservative Republicans in sidelining the GOP candidate, Dierdre Scozzafava, in New York's 23rd District Congressional race. Scozzafava withdrew from the campaign Saturday after polling third in the race and seeing many party heavyweights throw their support to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. The RNC has since announced it will support Hoffman with money and get-out-the-vote efforts for Tuesday's election.

"Certainly Mr. Limbaugh and others were behind that," Axelrod said. "I think it sends a clear message to moderates within that party that there's no room at the inn for them."

Axelrod assured Schieffer that the White House is not at war with FOX News.

"We're at war only with people who represent mistruths as truth. And that's true of any network, whether it's FOX, CBS or any other network. When errors of fact are stated or when opinion is offered as fact, we will challenge that," he said.
  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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