‘Top Line’ -- Obama’s Gitmo End-Around?

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

Republicans are reacting angrily to the Obama administration’s move to transport a Guantanamo Bay detainee to New York City, where he’s set to stand to trial in federal court.

On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Tom Price, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said the move puts the “cart in front of the horse” on Gitmo, since President Obama hasn’t articulated a plan to fulfill his goal of closing Guantanamo Bay.

“I’m not sure if I feel safer with a terrorist on American soil even though they’re . . . held in prison right now,” Price, R-Ga., told us. “What it’s done is resulted in giving this individual all of the rights and privileges of the United States Constitution. I don’t know that the American people feel safer when that is accorded to a terrorist who isn’t involved in a crime.”

“This is not the kind of individual that ought to be exposed to our court system,” Price said. “It begs the question . . . ‘What are we going to do in Guantanamo. What are we going to do with the individuals there. Should in fact Guantanamo be closed?’ The American people have spoken loudly, and that is, they don’t believe it ought to be.”

Price and other Republicans are continuing to use issues surrounding Gitmo to attack President Obama on national-security grounds: “Does he truly believe that America is safer by bringing the terrorists to the United States? . . . Any prisoner of war that we apprehend on the battlefield, are we going to bring them to the United States and try them?”

On healthcare, Price, a medical doctor, said he has little hope of bipartisan support being generated for the president’s proposals, which he called a “government-centered plan.”

He attacked the notion of an “individual mandate” for health coverage, saying it would “make illegal all sorts of types of wonderfully robust health coverage out there in the market place.”

Price was slightly more amenable to the concept of taxing employer-provided health benefits, a concept Obama rejected as a candidate but that some Democratic leaders insist is on the negotiating table.

“I think it’s important that we have a system, a proposal that can be paid for,” Price said. “Now the president said that was a radical idea, as you recall, during the campaign. And he demagogued Sen. [John] McCain’s proposal in that. So if that’s what they want to do, what the president needs to do is stand up and say, ‘No, I was wrong, and this is what we need to do.’ We’re not going to jump out in front of that. . . . The president needs to lead on this. And so far we haven’t seen him leading.”

Watch the full interview with Rep. Tom Price HERE.

Also today, we spoke with Republican consultant Kevin Madden, on the gubernatorial election in Virginia, the timeline for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation, and the latest news involving Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.

Click HERE to see the interview with Kevin Madden, our resident sovereign of strategy.

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