Bill Burton: Romney ‘a Phony’; Pawlenty ‘Not the Kind of Steward You Want’

Jun 8, 2011 4:40pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:

Bill Burton left his post as deputy White House press secretary this spring to head up a new outside group dedicated to President Obama’s reelection – the same kind of group, it should be noted, that the president says should not exist because it doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Burton previewed some of the messaging that Priorities USA Action is likely to use in taking on the president’s possible challengers.

“One thing that we've learned as we go around the country and we conduct some research talking to voters, it’s very clear that voters don't have a clear sense of who Mitt Romney is, they certainly don't know who Tim Pawlenty is,” Burton told us. “But the more that they learn about the fact that they would both like to bring about Paul Ryan's budget plan, which would essentially end Medicare, they find it pretty shocking, pretty disgusting.”

“Mitt Romney's positions, which have changed throughout the years, I think will help to make the case that he's a phony, he hasn't said anything that he's really stuck by on any issue that matters over the course of his decades running for public service.

“And Tim Pawlenty, you know, look at the mess he left in Minnesota. He left a $6.2 billion deficit that came about as the result of the fact that all of his budgets had all of these hidden tricks and gimmicks where he tried to hide problems. And that's not the kind of steward you want at the forefront of your economy.”

Burton defended his decision to form an outside group that’s organized legally in similar ways to ones the president has blasted as a “threat to our democracy.” Priorities USA was formed to respond to groups formed by Karl Rove and the billionaire conservative Koch brothers, Burton said. 

“Our view is that we don't think that they should be able to go unfettered and be able to go and spend all this money without any response whatsoever. We may not like the rules, we may … think that there should be reform, but we're not going to let Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers and right-wing conservatives dictate the terms of this election.”

Burton said his groups’ focus will primarily be on the presidential race: “There's other groups that are going to be taking up the mantle of Democratic House and Senate members. But we're really focused on seeing to it that … the hard-core right-wing money is answered in the presidential race.”

Burton declined to say whether he thinks Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., should resign in the wake of the “sexting” scandal, but turned the tables on Republicans who want Weiner out but have protected Republicans such as Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

“What's appalling is the selective outrage that you hear from the right,” he said. “No one party has monopoly on people who do stupid things. If you ask Anthony Weiner today, ‘did you do a stupid thing,’ he'd answer, ‘yeah.’ But you know what, Sen. David Vitter is still Sen. David Vitter, Senator [Larry] Craig never resigned, Governor {Mark] Sanford never resigned.”

Watch the interview with Bill Burton – including his promise that “Top Line” will get the first booking with 2-month-old Oscar Walter Burton – HERE.

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