The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Charlotte, North Carolina, 3/7/2012

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Charlotte, North Carolina   

10:52 A.M. EST

MR. CARNEY:  Welcome aboard Air Force One for our flight to North Carolina.  The President today, as you know, is visiting Mount Holly because he laid out a blueprint for a new era of American energy in his State of the Union address, an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed in America and produced by American workers.

Today the President will visit Daimler Trucks North America Mount Holly Truck Manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina, to deliver remarks on American energy.  He'll talk about the need to take a sustained, all-of-the-above approach on energy, responsibly expanding domestic production of natural gas and oil, improving the efficiency of our cars and trucks, and making the long-term investments in alternatives to oil to provide American families the choices we all deserve.  It's a strategy that is a win for the economy, a win for energy security and a win for national security.

In Mount Holly, the President will announce a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of clean, advanced vehicles in communities around the country.  The President will also announce a set of incentives to help consumers and businesses purchase new advanced trucks and cars, including increasing and expanding the current tax credit for advanced vehicles from the $7,500 credit that currently exists up to $10,000, allowing the credit to be applied to the different types of technologies not currently covered.

In addition, the President is announcing a new research challenge that invests in breakthrough technologies to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own and operate as gasoline-powered vehicles are by the end of the decade. 

Q    Jay, does the President think that Mitt Romney is inevitable as his opponent in November this morning?  What is his message to Mitt Romney?  Does your message change at all today?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, we don't have a -- and the President doesn’t have a message for any particular candidate running for this office, and we don't presume to know who the nominee in the Republican Party will be.  That's up to the voters in the various states across the country who will be participating in Republican primaries. 

As I've pointed out in the past, the President is grateful for the support within his own party, the breadth and depth of which allows him in this primary season not to have an opponent, which means he can focus his energies on his job as President -- working to take the right actions to help our economy grow, to have an -- increase job creation, and to ensure the national security of Americans as well as of our allies.

Q    Jay, with the President going in today to North Carolina and Friday to Texas, why no stops to visit, tour the  tornado victims?  I know North Carolina was hit by some of the tornadoes -- not as devastating maybe as some other states -- but he'll also be flying over some other states that got hit fairly hard.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, as you know, the President has spoken with the governors of all the states that have been affected by the terrible storms of the last week or so, and he has instructed his FEMA Director to ensure that FEMA is positioned and prepared to provide whatever assistance is necessary and requested by the states that have been affected by these terrible storms.  The President has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of these storms and will certainly instruct his administration to work with the states as they rebuild after the damage that was caused.

Q    Jay, Iran's return to the negotiating table -- of the P5-plus-1, what kind of demands are going to be made of Iran?

MR. CARNEY:  We will demand that Iran live up to its international obligations; that it provide verifiable assurances it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.  I think it's important to reemphasize what the President made clear yesterday, that part of our dual-track approach here is to engage in talks with the Iranians, with the P5-plus-1, but to do it fully aware of the approach that, unfortunately, the Iranians have taken in the past.  We are very clear-eyed about the way that Iran has approached negotiations in the past, and we will not relent in our efforts through sanctions and other measures to isolate and pressure Iran. 

Actions are what matters -- actions are what matter here, and we will judge Iran by its actions.

Q    GM had to suspend their Volt production because of low sales.  Is the President sort of bucking consumer demand with these new incentives for alternative-fuel vehicles?

MR. CARNEY:  I have a great deal of data here that I can provide to you about the enormous benefits of, and significant demand for, the kind of fuel-efficient trucks and cars that the President's visit today will highlight.  With regards to heavy trucks and the -- I think there's something like -- they account for 5 percent of the traffic on our roads and 20 percent of our oil consumption or gas consumption nationally.  Those are rough stats.  I can get you the specifics.

And it is simply a fact that these technologies are going to be developed somewhere, and where they are developed there will be good jobs associated with the development of those technologies.  The countries that best develop these technologies and utilize them will enhance their energy independence.  And the President is absolutely committed, as part of his sustained, all-of-the-above approach to energy, to ensuring that we do not, in the United States of America, simply throw up our hands and cede the industries of the future to other countries, our competitors around the globe, including China, India, Spain, other European countries, Brazil. 

The President believes that for our economy to flourish in the 21st century, we need to be leaders in the alternative energy field, and that's part of what this visit will highlight. 

Q    The $10,000 is for passenger cars as well as heavy trucks?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m sure we’ll get paper to you.  It’s the current tax credit for advanced vehicles, so that would be, I believe, both cars and trucks.  I’ll make sure we get the specifics for you.

Q    Jay, back to Iran, the President spoke about the drumbeat of war.  What impact will the resumption of talks have on that?  Do you expect this sort of to discourage speculation that any sort of military action against Iran is imminent?

MR. CARNEY:  We’ll have to see how those who beat the drums of war proceed in reaction to the President’s remarks and in reaction to developments.  I want to reiterate that simply by responding to the letter from Lady Ashton and engaging in the P5-plus-1 talks, Iran has not by any means satisfied its obligations.  And it is only by satisfying its international obligations and assuring in a verifiable way that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons that they can rejoin the international community and get some relief from the sanctions -- the economic sanctions and the isolation that they’ve been enduring as a result of U.S. leadership on this effort. 

But the President, I think -- the point the President was making was I think vividly clear, which is that there is a great deal of discussion about approaches to Iran as part of the political debate in the United States, but if you look at what is actually being proposed, the President is doing all of those things and leading the effort for three years.  And all that remains, the implication is, is the launching of a war.  And as the President said yesterday, if the folks out there who are beating the drums of war are seriously calling for that kind of engagement, they ought to make it clear to the American people and they ought to explain why, why now, and what the consequences of that action would be.

Q    What about Prime Minister Netanyahu also not maybe getting as far as some of the Republican candidates but certainly expressing severe concern about Iran --

MR. CARNEY:  The President was referring to the --

Q    I know he was referring to the Republicans.

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not sure what your point is.  The President made clear in his discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his speech to AIPAC, in his press conference yesterday, that he is -- he absolutely shares the concern that the Israeli government, the Prime Minister, have about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  We coordinate at a greater level than any other previous administration with Israel -- Israeli military and Israeli intelligence -- and we do not -- we see eye-to-eye on what’s happening in Iran and what the threat is. 

The fact of the matter is, as the President has made clear on a number of occasions, the surest way to be confident that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is through a diplomatic solution to this problem.  It is through Iran -- because of the pressure of the international community, the pressure of economic sanctions, the isolation that it is enduring -- makes a decision to give up those ambitions.

Q    After these meetings do you still think the Israelis have not made a decision on whether to launch a military strike?

MR. CARNEY:  The Israelis themselves said so.  So, yes. 

Q    Did the President stay up for Ohio results?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t believe he did, since -- no, I don’t believe he did.  Based on our conversation on Marine One he was not up.  As you know, he had events last night, so he wasn't paying very close attention.

Q    Jay, on Syria.  Dempsey was before the Senate this morning.  He said that -- he says a no-fly zone is possible over Syria.  Is there military planning toward that end?

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you to the Defense Department.  My sense, based on what you just described and my understanding of what he said, is that was a statement of logistical possibilities, not a statement of the policy we're currently pursuing.

Q    Is there a reaction to the Department of Education report yesterday that black and Hispanic kids are three times more likely to get expelled from school and overall face a disproportionate amount of punishment in schools than white --

MR. CARNEY:  I'm afraid I didn’t see that report, and I haven't heard anyone discuss it in the White House.  My guess is the Department of Education would be a good place to start for a reaction to that. 

Q    Any reaction on the ADP numbers this morning, 216,000?

MR. CARNEY:  What we look at, Roger, as you know, is not any individual number in the data that comes out regularly about our economy.  What we look at are trends.  And it certainly represents another indication that we're moving in the right direction, that the economy is creating jobs, that it's continuing to grow.

But we don’t put much stock in any individual figure.  We look at the overall progress we're making.  And so when we have a really good number we don’t over-interpret it, and when a number is disappointing we don’t overreact to it.  We look at what we can do to help the economy grow, the actions we can take around the things that we can control, working either administratively or with Congress, to make sure this recovery continues, and to insulate ourselves from some of the factors that we can't control in the global economy.  So that’s the approach we'll continue to take.

Q    Jay, the billion-dollar community program, is that administrative or is that something that needs congressional action?

MR. CARNEY:  I'll have to get back to you.  I believe it's administrative.  Hold on one second.  Yes, let me get back to you.  Sorry, I should have come more prepared on this subject.  I'm glad you're interested, though.

Q    You haven't gotten the fact sheet yet either.  (Laughter.) 

Q    Do any of the other -- need congressional approval?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that’s what he just asked.  Let me check on the specifics.  I apologize for not having more, but we'll get you more information on it. 

Q    Is the President interested in this new iPad that’s coming out today?  Does he want one?  Is he paying attention to the announcement?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven't had a discussion with him about the announcement today, the iPad announcement today.  He is, as I think is now well known, an avid user of his iPad.

Q    Did he get an advanced copy?

Q    Yes, like he did the last one?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t believe so.  But he thinks, as I think a lot of users do, that the iPad is a great product, and I'm sure would -- like a lot of us, he looks forward to seeing what the new one has to offer, assuming there is a new one.  I don’t have any inside information.  (Laughter.)

All right.  Thanks, guys.

Q    Thanks, Jay.

END
11:08 A.M. EST

White House Shareables