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The third-ranking Senate Republican said Wednesday the Obama administration appears to be launching a Richard Nixon-like political strategy of making an “enemies list” of people who disagree with the president.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who once worked in President Nixon’s administration, warned the White House that such a “street brawl” approach of attacking political opponents “can get you in a lot of trouble.”
Alexander offered no evidence that Obama is developing an actual list, as Nixon famously created for his opponents. But, he said, “I have an uneasy feeling only 10 months into this new administration that we’re beginning to see the symptoms of this same kind of animus developing.”
“It’s a mistake for the president of the United States,” he said. “Let’s not start calling people out and compiling an enemies list.”
White House spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai responded that it’s Republicans who “seem to be formulating lists of people and policies to oppose” while the president “is focused on tackling the list of critical priorities that Washington has ignored for too long.”
The president “remains committed to working with Republicans to include their best ideas, even if he doesn’t get their support,” Tseggai said.
Alexander’s criticism, which echoed weekend remarks from Karl Rove, the former adviser to President George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor, comes amid an unusual public feud between Fox News and the White House. Alexander also cited widening disputes between the administration and business groups such as the insurance industry, Wall Street banks and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Several top administration officials have sharply criticized Fox News in recent days, saying the cable television channel acts like a wing of the Republican Party and shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate news organization.
The president bypassed “Fox News Sunday” during a string of appearances on news shows recently, and Fox News officials have said the White House threatened a boycott. The White House has denied that and says it will book administration officials on Fox News shows.
The administration also has taken on the Chamber of Commerce, for example, suggesting the group is out of touch with the business community on health care, climate change and other issues.