N2K Presidential Race: Gaffes Sting, Investigations Bleed

National Journal Staff
National Journal

Gaffes come and go during political campaigns, usually in a couple of days. But investigations can feel like they go on forever.

Inquiries into the failed solar-panel firm Solyndra, for example, produced hearings and reports that kept the issue alive for months. Now, the Obama administration faces investigations at the Justice Department and perhaps hearings in Congress over whether sensitive national security information was leaked to reporters. Some say it was done for political reasons, to polish the president’s image.

Investigations do not always resonate with voters, but no matter what is found in this case, it is not good news for the Obama campaign. Investigations and hearings bring disclosures: information leaks, documents and emails are disgorged, witnesses are called and lawmakers make comments on television. The resulting coverage puts campaigns in a reactive mode that can pull them far off message.

The president has denied that his administration deliberately leaked information, and some lawmakers seem content to let the inquiries play out. But others are already saying the Justice Department probe is not enough, calling for special counsel to investigate.

More will have to come out before Obama sustains any real damage. But this much is clear: it will take more than a couple of days for this to blow past.

—Glen Justice


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Obama Bristles When He Is the Target of Activist Tactics He Once Used

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Romney Adviser Slams Obama's Eurozone Policy
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Obama's Campaign Asks Supporters to Grade Its Performance
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