The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Gaggle aboard Air Force One en route Colorado Springs, CO, 8/9/2012

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Colorado Springs, Colorado   

12:50 P.M. MDT

MR. CARNEY:  Welcome aboard Air Force One for this short flight to Colorado Springs.  I have no announcements at the top. I don't know if Jen has any.

MS. PSAKI:  I don't.

MR. CARNEY:  Neither of us have announcements for you, so let's get started.

Q    Jen, it feels like this week has sort of devolved on the campaign trail into a lot of back-and-forth, name-calling, both sides accusing each other of running ads that are dishonest. And yet in the President's remarks today, he only singled out Republican super PACs for sort of perpetrating that.  Does he feel like his campaign and his supporters bear any responsibility for the tone of the race the past few days?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would say two things.  One is, as the President is out there on the campaign trail, he's talking about what people in this country care about.  So yesterday it was access to affordable health care, ensuring people have the tax cut that they are relying on and worried about.  Today he talked about making sure people in Colorado have the benefit of the wind tax credit that we know hundreds, thousands of jobs in this state rely on.  That's what he's focused on. 

We know that there's a debate that's going on out there between ads on the airwaves.  But I'll say there's been -- if you bear with me while I use a fruit analogy -- but there's been a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison here, when we're comparing an ad that has not even run, by an outside group we have nothing to do with, with an ad that is the basis of Mitt Romney's campaign right now, that is a bold-face lie about the President's record on welfare.  And I think that's frustrating to us because they're being compared at the same level.

So I will say that the President is out there -- you'll hear him talk again this afternoon about what the American people care about.  We'd love to be focused on that.  But at the same time, we know when there are ads on the air that are distorting his record, we do have to clarify and put out the accurate information about what's the truth.

Q    Jay, did the President receive a new National Intelligence Estimate, and does it show that Iran has advanced its progress toward a nuclear weapon?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, you know I don't comment on intelligence matters or intelligence reports the President may or may not have received.  I can tell you that the President remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and that we are leading an international effort to -- yes, something exciting happened in soccer.  Sorry, excuse me, now I'm distracted.

But we're leading an international effort to impose upon Iran what even the Iranian President has identified as the most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country.  And that effort is designed to take advantage of what we believe remains to be a window of opportunity to persuade Iran through these sanctions and through diplomatic efforts to forego its nuclear weapons ambitions and live up to its international obligations. 

Q    Is the White House at all irked that what appears to be some kind of intelligence is being discussed by the Israelis publicly?

MR. CARNEY:  I would simply say that I won't discuss intelligence assessments or intelligence matters.  But I will discuss the fact that this President has led an effort to isolate and pressure Iran that is unprecedented, that we absolutely share Israel's, as well as other countries' concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.  And that is why we are engaged in this concerted and unprecedented effort to bring about the change in behavior that must occur by Iran. 

Q    Is there any mood to increase or step up sanctions?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think, as you know, this is a process that is ongoing and hardly a week goes by where there isn't some development that has the effect of increasing sanctions on Iran. I think it was just last week where we announced a new round of sanctions, including of a third country bank.  And we are continuing in that effort both unilaterally as the United States, but collectively with our partners.

Q    Jay, does the White House feel like the meetings that Iran is holding with Syrian allies to talk about any of the violence there are credible and a helpful part of the process of trying to seek a resolution?

MR. CARNEY:  No.  I think there is no evidence that Iran has been playing a constructive role in Syria -- in fact, quite to the contrary.  There's vast evidence that demonstrates that Iran has been engaged in an effort to prop up Assad as he brutally murders his own people.

Q    Will we get a chance to ask you more tomorrow about the weekend in Iowa, or do we need to do it now in the next four seconds before we land?

MR. CARNEY:  We'll have -- you'll have that opportunity tomorrow. 

Q    Jen, you said yesterday the campaign wasn't aware of Joe Soptic's background and it turns out there was a conference call about it.  Is that still the case?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, it's worth repeating, just so everybody is reminded, that we had nothing to do with the ad.  We can't speak to what they were trying to convey by the ad or communicate.  No one is denying that he was in a campaign -- one of our campaign ads.  He was on a conference call telling his story, which speaks to what many, many people in this country have gone through as there have been layoffs and they've had their benefits reduced.

So I think what's clear here, again, is that we are -- hold on, we are about to land -- what's clear here, again, is that we're focusing so much on an ad that has not run yet, that is done by an outside group.  One thing I failed to mention -- I was getting so excited about affordable health care -- was that I saw an ad yesterday that is being run by the Republican outside group that questions whether the President was born in the United States and shows a picture of his birth certificate with a question mark on it.  No one is asking the Romney campaign about that ad and what they think about that ad.  So as we talk about apples and oranges, that's the apples-to-apples comparison I'll leave you with.

MR. CARNEY:  I think that's a kiwi.  That's so far afield.  And can I just add that on the issue -- as a matter of policy, that there have been numerous, now, testimonials by a variety of people, both Democrats and Republicans, to the fact that the ads put out by the Romney campaign on the President's policy is blatantly false.  Even Newt Gingrich, whom I referenced yesterday, said that there's no proof that the policies that we are engaged in would in any way weaken the work requirements in welfare reform.  In fact, as you know, the truth is the opposite. 
And to go to Jen's point -- and this is a matter of policy  -- it is rather striking that the central engine at this time of that political campaign, and all the money that is fueling the engine, is going towards an advertisement that is provably and demonstrably false.

Q    Thanks, guys.

MR. CARNEY:  Thank you.

MS. PSAKI:  Lovely landing.
 
END  
12:58 P.M. MDT

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