Barack Obama was “bullshitting” his opposition to gay marriage and support for civil unions during his 2008 presidential campaign, according to a new book authored by former senior White House adviser David Axelrod.
Time magazine reported Tuesday that the longtime Obama confidant said in his new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” that he counseled then-senator Obama to soften his position on gay marriage for political reasons.
“Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’” Axelrod wrote, as quoted by Time.
Obama had stated his support for legalizing gay marriage on a 1996 questionnaire while running for the Illinois state Senate. But he said repeatedly on the campaign trail in 2008 that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Publicly stating opposition to gay marriage took its toll on Obama, who Axelrod wrote “routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.”
“I’m just not very good at bullshitting,” Obama told Axelrod after one of those events, as quoted by Time.
Later in his first term, the President said his position on the issue was evolving. He then publicly stated his support for gay marriage in a 2012 interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, after Vice President Joe Biden pre-empted him on the subject.