One of Barack Obama’s closest former advisers claims in a new book that the president misled the country when he claimed he didn’t support same-sex marriage.
David Axelrod, the former adviser, said Obama actually supported legalizing gay marriage since at least 1996, when he filled out a campaign questionnaire that addressed the issue. Axelrod’s comments were first flagged by Time magazine on Tuesday.
“Obama had felt a tug between his personal views and the politics of gay marriage,” Axelrod wrote in “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.” “As a candidate for the state senate in 1996 from liberal Hyde Park, he signed a questionnaire promising his support for legalization. I had no doubt that this was his heartfelt belief.”
Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, however, Obama insisted he only supported civil unions and not full marriage rights for same-sex couples. According to Axelrod, Obama “never felt comfortable” misleading the public about the subject.
“I just don’t feel my marriage is somehow threatened by the gay couple next door,” Obama allegedly told Axelrod.
“Yet he also knew his view was way out in front of the public’s,” Axelrod added. “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 gay marriage.”
After he won the presidency, Obama told reporters his position on same-sex marriage was “evolving.” But Axelrod said that claim was also not true. If “Obama’s views were ‘evolving’ publicly, they were fully evolved behind closed doors,” he wrote.
It was Vice President Joe Biden who ultimately forced Obama’s hand on the issue during their 2012 re-election campaign. In a “Meet the Press” interview in May of that year, Biden declared he was completely comfortable with same-sex marriages; Obama revealed his support for them soon after.
“I would have preferred doing this on my own terms, but it is what it is,” Obama told Axelrod, according to the book. “I know Joe screwed up, and when I have lunch with him tomorrow, I’m going to talk to him about it. It was sloppy. But you know, I can’t be too hard on him. He was speaking from a bigheartedness.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.