Just shy of six weeks after the protests began in Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street has become a worldwide phenomenon and everyone has weighed in from the White House to ghosts of New York politicians past. Here’s our roundup of reactions to Occupy Wall Street from political figures. (All images via Getty)
What Politicians Are Saying About Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street protesters have been camped out in Zuccotti Park since September 17. Responses to the movement from political figures have ranged from support, to revulsion and just plain bewilderment.
In an interview that aired by ABC News last Tuesday, President Obama said he thought Occupy Wall Street had the same roots as the Tea Party.
“I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests. … In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them,” Mr. Obama said
President Obama also took the opportunity to plug his jobs plan suggesting it would address a lot of the protesters' concerns.
Vice President Joe Biden
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's relationship with Occupy Wall Street has been hot-and-cold, but ultimately, he expects the protesters will chill out--literally.
Mayor Bloomberg hasn't tried to kick Occupy Wall Street out since he gave up on a recent effort to evict them to clean Zuccotti Park and it's been about a week since the last time his cops got cracked some heads, but he's hardly a supporter of the movement. Mayor Bloomberg sounds like he's just shying away from taking drastic measures to end the protests, because he thinks the coming winter weather will do it for him. At the Columbus Day Parade, Mayor Bloomberg said he has “no idea” when the occupation will end, but added, “I think part of it has probably to do with the weather.”
“The bottom line is – people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we’ll allow them to. … If they break the laws, then, we’re going to do what we’re supposed to do: enforce the laws,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
New York's ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani has no doubt about how he would have handled Occupy Wall Street. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Giuliani said he'd tell the protesters "You are not allowed to sleep on the streets."
"I had a rule and I enforced it as best I could and pretty effectively. The rule was: You’re not allowed to sleep on the streets. Sorry, not allowed to sleep on the streets. Streets are not for sleeping," Mr. Giuliani said.
President Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton wants the Occupy Wall Street protesters to get focused. In an appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show" October 12, Mr. Clinton said he thinks Occupy Wall Street is "going to have to kind of transfer their energies at some point to making some specific suggestions, or bringing in people who know more" if they want to make a difference.
"They need to be for something specific and not just against something, because if you’re just against something, somebody else will fill the vacuum you create,” Mr. Clinton said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo
In his initial reaction to Occupy Wall Street, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed divided loyalties between the protesters and the bankers. Governor Cuomo said he understood the "frustration" people feel with Wall Street, but he also pointed out that New York State relies on tax revenues from the financial industry. More recently, Governor Cuomo said he doesn't need the protests to tell him which way the wind is blowing.
“On the main point that there is frustration with this economy, you don’t have to go to Occupy Wall Street hear that, you will hear it from anyone,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Senator Chuck Schumer
New York Senator Chuck Schumer warned Occupy Wall Street to behave themselves in a statement he sent to Channel 13.
“The right to protest has always been a part of American political tradition and should be protected, but protestors should make sure they don’t get in the way of every day New Yorkers getting to and from work and going about their daily business,” Senator Schumer wrote.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Our junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, stated the obvious October 10 when she told The National memo she thinks Occupy Wall Street. "has become a vehicle for people to vent their frustration with the economy.”
"I share the frustration at how broken Washington has become in forging solutions," Ms. Gillibrand said.
Earlier this month, supposedly inevitable Republican nominee Mitt Romney called the Occupy Wall Street protests, "dangerous … class warfare" earlier this month. Mr. Romney clarified those comments at Tuesday night's debate criticizing the protests as being "about what happened three years ago" rather than what Mr. Romney sees as the more recent problem--the Obama administration. "We've had a president responsible for this economy for the last three years, and he's failed us," Mr. Romney said.
Surging Republican Presidential candidate and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has a lot of questions about Occupy Wall Street including whether the movement might be a White House plot.
Mr. Cain explained his Occupy Wall Street conspiracy theory in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
"I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama Administration," Mr. Cain said.
At Tuesday night's debate Mr. Cain said explained that he's skeptical of the protests because he's not sure why they would target bankers instead of President Obama.
“They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. … They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration,” Mr. Cain said.
He added that he has no idea what the protesters really want.
"What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street, to come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don't understand," Mr. Cain said.
Rep. Ron Paul
Texas Congressman Ron Paul feels protesters' pain, but the staunch libertarian wants people to aim their recession anger at the Federal Reserve rather than Wall Street banks. Mr. Paul described why he thinks the Fed gets much of the blame at Tuesday night's debate:
"There's a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can't blame the victims. But we also have to point -- I'd go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I'd go over to the Federal Reserve. They -- they create the financial bubbles. And you have to understand that you can't solve these problems if you don't know where these bubbles come from. So the banks were involved, and the Federal Reserve was involved. … But who got stuck? The middle class got stuck. They got stuck. They lost their jobs, and they lost their houses. If you had to give money out, you should have given it to people who were losing their mortgages, not to the banks."
G.O.P. candidate Michele Bachmann thinks Occupy Wall Street are a bunch of dirty hippies. Last Thursday, Ms. Bachmann told an audience in San Francisco how she thinks Occupy Wall Street is different than the Tea Party.
“The Tea Party picks up its trash after it has a demonstration, there’s a difference. … The Occupy Wall Street is asking for more spending and more government as the answer to their problems. The Tea Party movement, in high contrast, is calling for less government and less spending, so that individuals can solve their own problems. There’s a 180 degree difference between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Previously, Ms, Bachmann speculated that Occupy Wall Street might be a nefarious scheme crafted by left wing billionaire George Soros during a "tele-townhall."
“I think people are looking at this trying to figure out if this a George Soros protest going on down there. Are these legitimate grievances? … My opinion is, we see that the federal government really was backing a lot of this mess,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Rep. Chuck Rangel
Harlem House rep Chuck Rangel, who was the first member of Congress to awkwardly visit the protests, told The Root Occupy Wall Street makes him think of a classic movie moment.
"I was very surprised, but very pleased, that this group of people just came out. I don’t really think that they have to have any solutions for the problem. It reminds me of the movie “Network,” where the guy just yells out his window, 'I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!’” Congressman Rangel said.
Former New York Governor David Paterson made a visit to Occupy Wall Street at the end of last month. Mr. Paterson, who told AM New York he was there "reporting on things" for his radio show, said Occupy Wall Street reminded him of the good old days.
"They're still at a point where they are conferencing and organizing exactly what their point of view is, so it's hard for me to talk about that. But the fact that people, particularly a lot of young people are organizing themselves and this whole image of young people as being self indulged you know tweeting back and forth, 'I'm taking a shower,' 'Now I'm going to school' and 'Now I'm at school,' this is totally a lot different. They obviously care about the society they live in. … This is really the type of grassroots organizing that I used to see a lot when I was younger and I wondered whatever happened to it," Mr. Paterson said.
Rep. Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wondered why we we can't all just get along when he spoke about Occupy Wall Street at the Values Voter Summit in Washington earlier this month. Congressman Cantor criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement as "pitting of Americans against Americans" that was being "condoned" by "some in this town."
"I, for one, am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country," Congressman Cantor said.
Last Friday, Congressman Cantor canceled a planned speech at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business because of fears the event would be overwhelmed by Occupy Wall Street protesters.