Axelrod: Warren invitation 'a good thing' for the country
David Edwards and Andrew McLemore
Published: Sunday December 28, 2008

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Update: Axelrod says Obama admin will push forward tax cuts despite economic crisis.

Obama adviser David Axelrod defended the president-elect's selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation on Meet the Press, calling it a "healthy thing" and a "good thing."

Obama's choice of Warren prompted a backlash from liberals and the gay rights movement because of Warren's strong opposition to same-sex marriage and support of California's ballot measure creating a state amendment banning it.

In an interview with David Gregory, Axelrod said Warren is an example of Obama's promise to reach across the aisle.

"You have a conservative evangelical pastor who’s coming to participate in the inauguration of a progressive president," Axelrod said. "We have to find ways to work together on the things on which we do agree, even when we profoundly disagree on other things."

Asked by Gregory about televangelist Pat Robertson's praise for Obama's cabinet selections, Axelrod said Americans needed to begin working together.

"We gotta get beyond this sorta politics where ... we’re each on the jagged edge of a great divide, shaking our fists at each other," Axelrod said. "We do have a great Cabinet – we’re proud of that Cabinet."

Axelrod also said that the incoming administration would press for middle-class tax cuts despite the economic crisis gripping the nation.

"We feel it's important that middle class people get some relief now," Axelrod said. "This package will include a portion of that tax cut that will become part of the permanent tax cut that he'll have in his upcoming budget."

The incoming administration is considering tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals that will be delivered by reducing the tax withheld from paychecks. That plan, which would cost about $140 billion over 2009-2010, would put more money in paychecks.

"People need money in their pockets to spend," Axelrod said. "That'll get our economy going again."

Wire services contributed to this report.

This video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Dec. 28, 2008.

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This video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Dec. 28, 2008.

Download video via