The White House
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One
Aboard Air Force One, En Route Richmond, Virginia
10:40 A.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Thank you for joining us here this morning. This will be a quick flight, and therefore a quick gaggle. As we have done in the past, Jen and I will brief together. I can answer your questions on policy and other matters related to the presidency and the administration. Jen can take your questions on the campaign. I'm just guessing where your interests lie this morning.
I have no announcements to make. And with that, we'll take your questions.
MS. PSAKI: Two pieces I just wanted to highlight for you this morning -- one, you probably saw overnight that we have a new ad running in nine states, called "Firms." It highlights Mitt Romney's record of outsourcing. It also highlights his ownership of offshore accounts in tax havens. That will be -- that's out this morning, again running in nine states.
Also when you land, in your in-box will be a new web video that I wanted to highlight and actually play for you here today.
Q Does it have singing?
MS. PSAKI: It does not have singing, but I still think you'll find it entertaining. Mitt Romney, I just want to remind you, is the same candidate who questioned whether the President understood America, questioned whether he understood freedom. He spent a lot of time asking for apologies, but he spends a lot of time attacking, as you can see in this ad.
So let me play it here. You'll have it in your in-box -- one second.
Q So that's obviously a response of a sort to the call for apology he did last night on all of the interviews that he did?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that we felt it was important to remind people that Mitt Romney is the same candidate who just a few months ago was questioning whether the President understood America, understood freedom, and spent a lot of time -- and a lot of time on his campaign still to date -- attacking him. And that was maybe forgotten over the last couple of days.
Q How big is the ad buy for those nine states?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have a number specific for you. It is running in nine states.
Q Can we get a range? Is it more than a million?
MS. PSAKI: I don't think we're going to have that information for you, Hans.
Q Less than a million?
MS. PSAKI: I will let you know if there's more to report.
Q Are they in major media markets in each of those nine states?
MS. PSAKI: I don't have more specific details for you. I'm sure smart people at Bloomberg can find that information --
Q Or CMAG, which we're --
MS. PSAKI: Or CMAG.
Q Did you get music rights?
MS. PSAKI: The music rights over the --
Q For the singing.
MS. PSAKI: For the singing? That is an excellent question I'm going to have to get back to you on. I would assume so, and hope so.
Q It could be a policy question we could toss to Jay because it could involve copyright. Does the President believe in copyright?
MR. CARNEY: He certainly does. As you know, he's fought hard for copyright. But on this specific issue, I'll have to take the question.
Q Seriously, why choose the -- why kind of mock his singing in that ad?
MS. PSAKI: The ad was a light way of highlighting Mitt Romney's record on outsourcing, his ownership of offshore accounts and tax havens. It was meant to take a light approach to it.
Q On a serious note, though, does the President have concerns about the tone on both sides? I mean, we've all written over the last several days how intense it's become, both sides accusing folks of lying and all of that. Is there a concern the President has? And if so, what does he do about it unilaterally?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think when you see the President speak today, and when you saw -- anyone saw him speak yesterday, the President does focus his remarks on laying out the vision -- the differing visions that he has from Mitt Romney for the country -- what he wants to do for health care, what he wants to do for the economy, what he wants to do for education. And he knows that's what the people of Virginia care about. If you look at the front pages and coverage of his trip yesterday, that's very much what it's focused on.
Of course the President wants to have a highbrow debate about these policy issues and what the American people actually care about. We know that Mitt Romney is leading with his business credentials as his top qualification for being President. And we think that it's completely justified to raise questions -- we have, many outside groups have, many media outlets have -- about why he had an account in Switzerland, why he had investments in the Cayman Islands, what exactly this corporation was in Bermuda. And the American people deserve to know more about it.
Q But that doesn’t define a highbrow debate, does it?
MS. PSAKI: Those are raising questions about the qualifications he is putting forward of why he should be President.
Q Is the President comfortable that some people imply that Mitt Romney may have committed a felony?
MS. PSAKI: If you would look -- I would encourage everybody to look -- I know we've been talking about this for a couple of days, but to look at specifically the transcript of what was said. What was said was either he was misleading the American people, or he was misleading the SEC, which it would be a felony. Nobody -- she, Stephanie Cutter did not accuse anybody of taking -- of committing a felony. She raised the issue that you can't have both.
MS. PSAKI: No, she raised the issue of you can't have it either way.
Look, at the end of the day, we're kind of missing the point of what this whole debate is about. You may have seen, or I encourage you to read the Boston Globe story today, which raises additional questions. The evidence is mounting. And that's really what we should be talking about. What is -- where are Mitt Romney's investments? What is the truth? Why can't we have more details? And that's what we want to have a conversation about.
Q Well, why is that relevant to a conversation about getting America working, as the Romney campaign wants to talk about? That's changing the subject.
MS. PSAKI: Because Mitt Romney is using his business credentials, his time at Bain, his time as governor, as the reason why he should be President. So was he or wasn’t he there? Can we learn more about which decisions he was involved in? Can we learn more about his investments? And those are the questions we're raising. All of that tells a story of who someone is and who they'll be as President.
MR. CARNEY: As a matter of policy, Alister, you know what the President's position is on the choice between providing incentives to companies to outsource, or providing incentives to companies to insource, to help grow the economy in the United States and help it create jobs -- American jobs here at home. That's a position the President has fought for throughout his presidency. It's one that is pending before the United States Congress as part of his congressional "To-Do" list.
And unfortunately, there's been widespread Republican opposition to the simply proposition that we should alter our tax code in a way so that it no longer rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas. And there's pretty uniform Republican opposition to that position of the President. And that's a concrete matter of policy that affects what everybody agrees is the number-one issue facing the country today, which is the need to grow the economy and create jobs.
Q We're about to land in Eric Cantor's district. Did the President or anyone from the White House given Eric Cantor a heads-up that the President is coming down? Has the President had any recent conversations with the Mr. Cantor?
MR. CARNEY: I don't know that he's had any recent conversations with the Majority Leader, and I'll have to check on it in terms of notifications. We put out word that the President was making this trip. I don't know that we -- I'll have to check to see if any direct notifications were made from the White House to the --
Q He won't be greeting us on the tarmac?
MR. CARNEY: We'll have to see.
Q A quick question on Syria -- reporting that -- there's a flash report from the United Nations observer force in Syria that U.N. staff were physically prevented by the Syrian army from rescuing civilians from Tremseh where the massacre took place. Is the administration aware of that?
MR. CARNEY: I'm sure that the national security staff and the overall national security team is aware of this report. I don't have any confirmation of it. It sounds like yet another affirmation of the fact the Bashar al-Assad continues to do everything he can to brutalize his own people, murder his own people, all with the goal of retaining power. And it's just another indication of how, no matter what he says and no matter what promises he makes, we have to see what he does and judge him by his actions, and thus far his actions have been revolting and heinous. And it's just another indication of why the international community needs to unify behind the proposition that a transition in Syria needs to take place without Assad in power.
Q Jen, what's the title of the web video? Does it have a title -- snappy, one word?
MS. PSAKI: "Mitt Romney Asking For Apologies While Launching Attacks."
Q What else will the campaign be doing to promote that?
MS. PSAKI: They'll be sending it out via social media. You'll see it in your in-boxes.
Q Will the President tweet it?
MS. PSAKI: I don't know. Twitter is something that should be a surprise, really keep you on your toes. I will be tweeting it -- is that exciting? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Thanks, guys.
Q Thank you.
END 10:52 A.M. EDT