9:58 A.M. EST
Q Mr. President, what do you make of the fight for Speaker right now?
THE PRESIDENT: With regards to the fight over Speaker, I — that’s not my problem. I just think it’s a little embarrassing it’s taken so long in the way they’re dealing with one another. And the rest of the world is looking. They’re looking at, you know, can we get our act together.
And — but I — what I’m focused on is getting things done. And one of the things I’m going down to Kentucky and Ohio today is to demonstrate we can get things done. We passed an enormous bill bipartisanly, and it works. And we’re starting off — the first major initiative we’re announcing today is a billion dollars.
Listen, we can’t be the number-one economy in the world unless you have the number-one infrastructure in the world.
Q When should we anticipate an announcement on your reelection?
THE PRESIDENT: In time.
Q In time?
And why is it so important to go to Kentucky today?
THE PRESIDENT: Why is it so important?
THE PRESIDENT: We worked like hell to get the most significant infrastructure bill in our history of the United States, other than the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.
And we’re about to cha- — look, I think our administration has begun to move the economy in the direction where we’re investing in America again. We’re the leading economy in the world. How can you remain the leading economy in the world absent having the greatest infrastructure in the world? And it’s just the beginning.
Q And how worried would you be if the stalemate in the House goes on after today about the ability of Congress and you to govern?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, not me. Congress to govern. Congress.
Q On Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict. What did he mean — what did Pope Benedict mean to you as a Catholic?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — I had an opportunity to spend some time with Pope Benedict, a couple hours. And — and he was a great — and it reminded me of going back to theology class. We spoke about Aquinas and about “Summa Theologica” and the whole litany. I found him to be relaxing and very rational.
And he was a more conservative view within the Catholic realm than I have and (inaudible) Pope — the present Pope, in terms of his philosophy, his view. But I — I admired him. I thought he was a fine man.
Q You’re not attending his funeral tomorrow though. Why?
THE PRESIDENT: No. Well, why do you think?
Q Well, you tell me.
THE PRESIDENT: You know why. I can’t —
Q You can tell me, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: No, the reason I’m not attending the funeral tomorrow is because it takes an entourage of a thousand people to show up — not literally. But we would — we would move everything in the wrong direction.
I inquired about that. And they’re — people are sending mostly their apostolic delegates, their — the folks in Rome. That’s what we’re going to do. We would just get in the way.
But I — I’ve made my views known. I’m — at any rate, I think he was a fine man.
Q Thank you, sir.
Q Does any part of you — well, first of all, who do you think the Speaker is going to be?
THE PRESIDENT: I have no idea.
Q Okay. Is any part of you enjoying seeing the other party having such a hard time right now?
THE PRESIDENT: No. And I really mean this. Look, how do you think it looks to the rest of the world? We’re finally coming out of — you know, the first time we’re really getting through the whole issue relating to January 6th. Things are settling out. And now, for the first time in 100 years, we can’t move?
I mean — I really mean it. I know you know international relations. It’s not a good look. It’s not a good thing. It’s the United States of America. And I hope they get their act together.
10:01 A.M. EST