'Titans' Debate Presidential Powers, Obamacare

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From health care to government shutdowns to the NSA scandal, the political wars are played out 24 hours a day in the national media.

In the midst of it all, Regent University hosted the 11th annual Clash of the Titans debate.

Two warriors from the left, Obama advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe, faced two warriors from the right - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow.

Former White House press secretary Dana Perino served as moderator. The topic: the power of the U.S. presidency and the executive branch.

According to the latest Rasmussen poll, 75 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. Republicans are the most upset, followed closely by independents and then Democrats.

In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Axelrod dismissed the intense criticism of Obamacare, perhaps the leading point of conflict in the nation's capital.

"I'm proud of the health reform and I think ultimately it's going to prove to be a major step forward," Axelrod said.

But Gingrich told CBN News the health care fight will get even more intense.

"Obamacare is such a disaster," Gingrich said. "And it's not going to be two weeks or three weeks or four. It's going to go on and on and on."

The Democrats defended the president, claiming he must take the lead in today's government because in times of national crisis Congress can't move quickly.

"The gridlock doesn't seem to be getting any better," Plouffe reasoned. "Presidents from Clinton to Bush to Obama's agendas continue to, if not be thwarted, severely undermined."

But Gingrich says the founding fathers deliberately put Congress ahead of the presidency in the Constitution.

"The presidency despite modern television is in fact second. Congress is first, and executive branch second... This is deliberate," the former speaker said. "(The) founding fathers wanted to avoid dictatorship."

All the participants know they'll be back in the intense political fray, but everyone from the debaters to the audience to the moderator seemed to enjoy the breath of fresh air provided by the civil discourse.

"I daresay it will go down in history as the best Clash of the Titans," Perino closed the debate. "Thank you for being here this afternoon. Give yourselves a round of applause."

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