ABC's Moran asserted some Obama "friends" said his house purchase "looks like a sweetheart deal," but quoted no one saying that

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On Nightline, Terry Moran reported, "The Obamas got the home [their house in Chicago] for $300,000 below the original asking price. To critics and even some friends, it looks like a sweetheart deal." Moran later added that Obama's campaign "insists that the Obamas' purchase and the Rezko purchase were not contingent on each other and were made at fair-market prices." But Moran cited no one saying the home purchase "looks like a sweetheart deal" and did not note that, according to Bloomberg News, "[t]he couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

In his February 25 report on ABC's Nightline, co-anchor Terry Moran reported, "The Obamas got the home [their house in Chicago] for $300,000 below the original asking price. To critics and even some friends, it looks like a sweetheart deal." Moran later added that Obama's campaign "insists that the Obamas' purchase and the Rezko purchase" -- the purchase of adjoining property by the wife of indicted businessman Antoin Rezko -- "were not contingent on each other and were made at fair-market prices." But Moran cited no one saying the home purchase "looks like a sweetheart deal" and did not note that, according to Bloomberg News, "[t]he couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid 'was the best offer' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

Moreover, Moran featured commentary about Obama from two Republican state senators from Illinois, Dan Cronin and Kirk Dillard. Moran noted that Dillard, who spoke of his "respect" for Obama and of working together with Obama on legislation, is "a [Sen.] John McCain supporter." But at no point did Moran note that Cronin is also a McCain supporter and a member of McCain's "leadership team." Moran aired clips of Cronin attacking Obama's voting record, and saying of Obama's accomplishments in the Illinois Senate: "You know, I hate to burst the bubble, but there's been a lot of hype. And, you know, when he served down here, his career was not particularly distinguished. ... There were no bold solutions. There were no creative proposals to take on the establishment. He's a Cook County Democrat, and he went along with the program." McCain's campaign website lists both Cronin and Dillard as members of his "Illinois leadership team" and as "Illinois delegates."

From the February 25 edition of ABC's Nightline:

MORAN: So, he was a young politician on the make. But his colleagues -- Democrat and Republican -- say he was also eager to get things done. Kirk Dillard is a Republican state senator and a John McCain supporter, but he worked closely with Obama and has even appeared in an Obama campaign ad this year.

[...]

MORAN: There were other accomplishments during Obama's years in Springfield: expanded health care for Illinois children and reform of the state's death penalty laws. On that issue, Obama persuaded prosecutors and police chiefs to videotape interrogations and confessions, after they had declared their opposition.

But not all of his former colleagues are impressed.

CRONIN: You know, I hate to burst the bubble, but there's been a lot of hype. And, you know, when he served down here, his career was not particularly distinguished.

MORAN: Dan Cronin is a Republican state senator. He says he likes Obama, but argues that his record in Springfield is being exaggerated.

CRONIN: There were no bold solutions. There were no creative proposals to take on the establishment. He's a Cook County Democrat, and he went along with the program.

MORAN: The program, Cronin and others argue, was a traditional liberal agenda. And, in fact, Obama was considered a reliable, liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, for instance, voting for most gun control measures; opposing efforts to ban so-called partial-birth abortions; and supporting hundreds of tax increases.

DAVE McKINNEY (Chicago Sun-Times reporter): Generally, that was his voting record here. And I don't think he would shy away from that, necessarily.

[...]

MORAN: Sometimes, though, Obama wasn't there. Or rather, he was present, but not voting yea or nay. One hundred and twenty-nine times in his eight years as a state senator, Obama refused to cast a vote for or against a bill, but instead simply voted "present." It's a fairly common tactic in Illinois, but Obama used it a lot, and sometimes on issues that could have cost him politically. For instance, Obama voted "present" rather than support or oppose a bill to ban sex shops and strip clubs near schools, churches, and day-care centers, and a bill to allow juveniles who committed a crime with a gun near a school to be tried as adults.

The Obama campaign says he was trying to avoid burdening local authorities on the sex shop measure and did not think the other bill would reduce crime.

CRONIN: You really, you don't want to be recorded as a guy that can't make up your mind. I mean, there's a reason why the "present" button is yellow. Whatever it is, he didn't want to stick his neck out; he didn't want to risk alienating some group.

MORAN: The Obama campaign says that Cronin himself voted "present" 101 times while they served together. And other former colleagues dispute his characterization.

[...]

MORAN: Obama has known Rezko for almost 20 years, and Rezko has contributed mightily to his campaigns, though Obama has now given that money to charity. But Obama did buy his $1.6 million home in Chicago on the same day Rezko's wife bought the adjacent lot for more than $600,000 -- a deal that satisfied the seller, who wanted to sell both properties at the same time. The Obamas got the home for $300,000 below the original asking price. To critics and even some friends, it looks like a sweetheart deal.

MORAN: Bother you?

DILLARD: Certainly bothers me. Clearly a lapse of judgment. And, you know, if you're going to be the governor of a major state or the president of the United States, you've got to be very careful who you surround yourself with.

MORAN: Obama has called the house deal a boneheaded mistake, and his campaign insists that the Obamas' purchase and the Rezko purchase were not contingent on each other and were made at fair-market prices. But the issue is unlikely to go away.

Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
Terry Moran
Show/Publication
Nightline
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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