White House Sidesteps Question on Obama and Alinsky

January 23, 2012 - 8:23 PM
Alinsky book

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says President Obama’s views are influenced by Rules for Radicals author, radical community organizer Saul Alinsky.

(CNSNews.com) – The White House did not even attempt to shoot down the assertions by new GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich that President Obama is deeply influenced by the radical Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky.

White House press secretary Jay Carney replied to a question on the subject at Monday’s press briefing by saying the president’s time as a community organizer was “well documented,” and adding, “his experience is a broad-based one that includes a lot of other areas in his life. I’ll just leave it at that.”

The former House speaker has said on the stump that his campaign will represent the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. By contrast, he said, Obama’s campaign is based on Alinsky’s views.

During a CNN debate last week in Charleston, S.C., Gingrich said of Obama, “This is, I believe, the most dangerous president of our lifetime, and if he is reelected, after the disaster he has been, the level of radicalism of his second term will be truly frightening.”

He continued, “I believe the only way to create the momentum is to be able to overcome his billion-dollar campaign with a series of debates which decisively convince the American people that a Saul Alinsky radical who is incompetent cannot be reelected.”

Gingrich has made similar statements at other campaign stops.

At Monday’s White House briefing, a reporter asked Carney about Gingrich’s claims that Obama’s vision comes from Alinsky.

“Have I said how much fun I had as a reporter covering Congress from 1996 to 1998?” Carney said, referring to a time when Gingrich was speaker. “There was a certain bombast to it at the time, a lot of colorful things to cover,” added the White House spokesman, a former congressional correspondent for Time magazine.

In his reply Carney did not specifically address the question of whether Alinsky influenced the president.

“Look, the president’s background as a community organizer is well documented in the president’s own books,” he said. “His experience in that field obviously contributed to who he is today. But his experience is a broad-based one that includes a lot of other areas in his life. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Alinsky (1909-1974) identified a set of specific rules for citizen protesters to follow in order to exercise political power.

In 1946 he wrote Reveille for Radicals and 25 years later produced his best-known work, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.