President Obama’s chief spokesman deflected questions about the president’s support of the death penalty, which conflicts with the position taken by political leaders in Illinois, where he was a state lawmaker.
The issue was raised by Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House and the second most-senior reporter on the beat behind only Connie Lawn of USA Radio Network.
“The Democrat governor of the president’s home state of Illinois, Pat Quinn, signed a bill abolishing the death penalty because, he said, ‘I am deeply concerned that an innocent may be executed.’ Does the president still disagree with this?” Kinsolving asked today.
“I haven’t heard him discuss this,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “I would – his position is what it is.”
Kinsolving continued by citing Page 57 of Obama’s book, “Audacity of Hope.” That’s where Obama writes, “I believe the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism, the harm of childnen in which it may be appropriate.”
“I have no announcement to make about a change in any position of the president’s on this issue,” Carney responded.
“All right, he has not changed,” said Kinsolving, “What is the president’s opinion of the mayor-elect of Chicago’s agreement with Gov. Quinn and with previous governor, Republican George Ryan, who commuted 167 death sentences in Illinois?”
“I don’t have an answer for you on that,” Carney said.
The exchange continued:
Kinsolving: You just rather…
Carney: I haven’t discussed the president’s opinion of the mayor-elect’s opinion of a former governor’s position.
Kinsolving: Well, he likes the mayor-elect, doesn’t he?
Carney: He does, indeed, yes.
That mayor-elect is Rahm Emanuel, former Illinois congressman and former Obama White House chief of staff.
Quinn’s signature on Senate Bill 3539 earlier this month eliminated the state’s death penalty. It commuted the sentences of 15 inmates on the state’s death row to life in prison without parole.
Quinn said his worry was that innocent people may be on death row, as past cases have documented.