Former USA Today WH Correspondent: 'Obama Played the Press Perfectly on Gay Marriage Announcement'

So you think Barack Obama's flipflop on same-sex marriage Wednesday was all an accident caused by Vice President Joe Biden opening up his mouth when he wasn't supposed to on Sunday's Meet the Press?

Not according to former USA Today White House correspondent Richard Benedetto who wrote Thursday, "If you buy that, I have a bridge I want to sell you":

Little happens by accident in the Obama White House, or the Obama reelection campaign for that matter -- if there even is a difference between the two. And the dramatic decision by the president to come out Wednesday in support of same-sex marriage is no exception. Contrary to what many in the news media would have us believe, the decision was carefully planned and timed.

One thing it was not: It was not the forced result of public pressure coming from others in his administration, starting with Vice President Biden. Biden, who said Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, was merely playing the role of John the Baptist, preparing the way for Obama’s coming.

Benedetto cited the Washington Post's Dana Milbank as an example of media members he believes were duped by the President on this one and then exposed what he thought was foolishness:

We should have been tipped off that Biden’s position was prophesy when a day later Education Secretary Arne Duncan, one of Obama’s Chicago cronies, said on MSNBC that he too supported same-sex marriage. Also on Monday, Caroline Kennedy, co-chairman of the Obama reelection campaign said she would push to have a same-sex marriage plank put in the Democratic Platform at the party’s national convention in September.

That did seem pretty orchestrated when you think about it:

Rather than being “forced to focus,” it is apparent that the Obama team was focused all along. Its strategy clearly was to make the controversial decision early in the campaign, giving the inevitable dust kicked up plenty of time to settle.

Wednesday presented the opportune time to come out because it was a day after North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Obama’s support, which came in a staged interview with ABC News, overshadowed news coverage of that vote and helped him look like a hero to same-sex marriage supporters demoralized by the North Carolina defeat.

Indeed. And what happened Thursday?

Obama campaign was already shoring up that support with a video against Republican rival Mitt Romney, depicting him as out of touch on the same-sex-marriage issue. Romney is opposed to same-sex marriage as well as civil unions.

And talk about coincidence: Obama will take a victory lap among many same-sex marriage supporters Thursday evening at a star-studded fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of actor George Clooney. It is expected to raise nearly $15 million, a record for a single political-fundraising event.

It turns out Obama did raise $15 million at Clooney's, a record one day haul for any candidate ever in America.

After discussing why he thinks polling data gave the White House reason to think this is a winning issue for them, Benedetto concluded:

In a segment of that same ABC News interview, which was taped on Wednesday afternoon and aired Thursday, on "Good Morning America," Obama said Biden’s coming out on Sunday with his own support of same-sex marriage was premature and only forced him to move up his timetable, which was to do it some time prior to the Democratic National Convention in September. In other words, it was just Joe being Joe.

“He probably got a little bit over his skis,” Obama said with benevolence. “Would I have preferred to have done this in my own way, in my own terms, without there being a lot of notice to everybody? Sure,”

If you buy that, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

Is Benedetto right? I'm not sure, frankly.

To begin with, this is exclusively an opinion piece without any sources backing up Benedettos' theory.

Secondly, if this had all been planned, White House press secretary Jay Carney would have been far more prepared Monday when Biden's comments came up during his briefing. Instead, he looked like an idiot.

Did they plan for him to look like a fool or was that an accident.

Maybe more importantly, this same-sex marriage issue could end up being a huge loser for Obama, but not necessarily due to how it impacts left-leaning voters.

Rasmussen Reports revealed Friday that Romney now has a seven point lead over Obama:

This is the first time Romney has reached the 50% level of support and is his largest lead ever over the president. It comes a week after a disappointing jobs report that raised new questions about the state of the economy.

Depending on when this survey was done, it could also be impacted by Obama's same-sex marriage flipflop.

As Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress told MSNBC's Martin Bashir Thursday, this issue could fire up conservative evangelicals that up to this point haven't bought into Romney for a variety of reasons including his Mormonism.

Now that Obama has come out in favor of same-sex marriage with Romney being against it, that could be enough to get religious conservatives that were thinking of sitting this election out to the polls instead.

With an election that is sure to be quite close, this could tip the balance in key battleground states that both candidates need for victory.

As such, although I like Benedetto's theory I still lean towards Biden opened up a can of worms Obama would have preferred remained closed until after Election Day.

Lucky for the two of them, the media gushed and fawned over the flipflop as they do everything with this couple.

Getting old, isn't it?

USA Today Richard Benedetto
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