David Axelrod Joins War of Words Between Issa, White House

President Barack Obama's adviser responds to Darrell Issa, who called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar."

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Former senior advisor David Axelrod and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough walk in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on May 2, 2013.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, risks taking his Republican party "over the cliff" with his inflammatory remarks about possible White House involvement in scandals that Issa's panel is investigating.

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This was the assessment of David Axelrod, a prime surrogate for the White House, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday. Axelrod said Issa is going too far and will come across as over-reaching. Axelrod was reacting to Issa's latest volley in which he called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar." Issa, a California Republican and a chief critic of the Obama administration, argued Carney was misleading the public as he defended the White House in a scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status.

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Carney declined to respond to Issa. But Axelrod's remarks signal the war of words between Obama defenders and Issa is just getting started. Axelrod was Obama's chief political strategist and is now in private life but still informally advises the administration.

He has some support from prominent GOP Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both said Issa's rhetoric about Carney went too far.

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.