the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One en route Reno, NV

En Route Reno, Nevada

11:01 A.M. PDT

MR. CARNEY:  I have no announcements, so let’s do questions.  Rapid fire.  Yes, ma’am.

Q    Can you talk a little bit about the President’s mood during this trip?  He seemed to be enjoying himself last night.  Is he enjoying getting back into campaign mode, talking to his supporters?

MR. CARNEY:  He is in a good mood, there’s no question.  I think he likes getting out of Washington.  It’s not a sort of anti-Washington thing so much as he just really enjoys getting beyond the Beltway, interacting with people.  I think he -- this trip in particular he’s been happy about because of the town hall at Facebook, the town hall he’s doing today.  Those kinds of events really I think give him some energy.

He likes to -- he often takes questions from you and questions from his staff in policy meetings and all that kind of stuff, and it’s nice to do it directly with other Americans.  So, yes, he’s in a good mood.

Q    How did that Gen 44 event go last night?

MR. CARNEY:  It was great.  I mean, he definitely -- he clearly had fun and there was a lot of energy in the room.  He clearly enjoyed it and had some good lines.

Q    -- enjoy today’s fundraiser?

MR. CARNEY:  He did, actually --

Q    What was his reaction --

MR. CARNEY:  He was talking about it when he came out.  He was  -- he said, “You don't get that every day,” I think was the quote when he came out.  And he thought it was kind of funny.  And like he said after, it sort of broke his flow a little bit, but he took it, as I think Carol wrote in her pool report, took it in stride.  It certainly perked up the morning.

Q    Jay, can you describe a little about what he’s doing to keep up with Libya, given that the -- the ongoing events in Misurata are about what you’d expected when he went into Benghazi?  And is he doing -- is the United States likely to do any more to help out there?    

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I mean, we're doing quite a bit, working with our -- as part of the coalition, to answer your last question.  And he has obviously national security staff with him and he’s briefed regularly, and he -- I mean, I don't have any specifics on the phone calls he’s made, but he’s in touch with senior staff back at the White House pretty regularly.  So he’s gotten a lot of updates.  He was updated obviously on the loss of two journalists yesterday, the terrible loss, including an American.  But he is constantly updated on that.

Q    Will the President meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he comes to Washington to address Congress?

MR. CARNEY:  I don't have any scheduling updates.  I can check.  There may be a firm answer to that, I'm just -- I'm not sure.

Q    Jay, the President often talks about disagreeing without being disagreeable.  How do you reconcile that with calling Republicans “shortsighted” and “radical”?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I think it’s important to note that the speech the President gave on Wednesday and every time he speaks about it, he always calls for and describes the need for bipartisan cooperation and compromise, and expresses optimism about the willingness to do it.  And I think sometimes what’s absent -- and then he also goes on to describe the stark contrast between his vision and the vision outlaid in the House Republican budget proposal.  But -- and both are true.  He thinks there are stark contrasts, but he thinks that because the times demand it, the economy demands it, the budget demands it, the deficits demand it and the people demand it, that we need to and can find some common ground.

That part of -- that observation you don't often hear when some lawmakers in Congress are critical of the President’s approach.  All you hear is the criticism, and you don't hear the acknowledgement that the only way to get this done is through bipartisan compromise.  There is not an option to do a “my way or highway.”  It’s not -- the President is not going to get everything he wants and the Republicans are not going to get everything they want, and they're certainly not going to get the House Republican budget passed and made law.

Q    On the debt ceiling, Cantor, who was just recently appointed to be part of the group that will negotiate this with the President, said yesterday that small concessions are not going to be enough by the Democrats, by the President.  Can you tell me what’s going on as far as negotiations now between now and May 5th?  And also are you -- what is your response to that, that more needs to be done in terms of spending cuts?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, two things.  One, obviously, Congress is in recess and a number of leaders are in various places around the country and the globe, so the first major meeting will be May 5th.  But there’s a lot of contact with -- if you guys feel like you’re in danger, just let me know -- with the turbulence.

But there’s a lot of contact among staffs and obviously the phones work around the world, so those conversations continue.

On Congressman Cantor’s statement, I would simply say that  -- I would point to the fact that he and other leaders from both parties have made clear that the debt ceiling has to be raised, that there isn’t an option.  And I think it’s risky to suggest that if he or others did not get what they wanted, they would then throw the government into default.  I think that's a pretty bold assertion.  And it’s not consistent with statements that Speaker Boehner, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, or others have made.

And we think the preponderance of statements by Republican leaders has been in accord with what the President has said, which is that we have to raise the debt ceiling no matter what -- even as we pursue, in the same time frame, aggressively bipartisan negotiations on reaching some sort of agreement on deficit reduction.

But what the President has said and others said is you cannot hold one hostage to the other.  We certainly think it’s possible and it can be done to get that kind of agreement by June.  But if something happens and it’s not, you can’t say, well, then we’re just going to let the United States government go into default, tank the economy, send the economy into recession, not just domestically but globally.  I think that’s -- that would be the height of irresponsibility.

Q    -- like an agreement on that.  You just said by June.  Do you want to --

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I mean, these are tough issues, but obviously we look forward to the first meeting that the Vice President will oversee on May 5th.

Q    I mean on the debt ceiling, though, specifically.

MR. CARNEY:  Oh, on the debt ceiling?  Well, we’ve been calling for timely -- a timely vote.  Congress is obviously in recess, but we hope they would act expeditiously.

Q    Has he laid the groundwork with the Vice President in the past few days, or talked with him to lay the groundwork for the talks that start on May 5th?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I haven’t had any readouts of specific conversations they’ve had lately, but they obviously talk about this a lot and meet about it a lot.  I don’t have any specifics on that.

Q    Well, when you say that the President is engaged and phones work around the world -- you’ve said that a few times -- what do you mean by that?  Who is he talking to?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that the fact that Congress is out of session and, in this case, at least several days the President isn’t in Washington doesn’t mean that if a decision has to be made or a discussion has to take place between the President or the Vice President and congressional leaders -- it can happen.  But I’m not saying that --

Q    You’re not saying that any of that has happened?

MR. CARNEY:  No.

Goodness gracious.  I hope people were counting on holding onto their breakfast.  (Laughter.)  But any other questions, guys?

Q    In terms of the fundraiser, can we use that audio from the fundraiser, given that there was news in that fundraiser?

MR. CARNEY:  I think whatever the rules basically are we’re going to stick to them.

Q    What are the rules, because it doesn’t seem to be clear?

MR. CARNEY:  You’ve been doing this longer than I have, but I believe -- I’ll check.  It was print only, right?  I’ll get back to you.

Q    Audio for note-taking and transcription.

MR. CARNEY:  We can talk about it afterwards.

Q    You’ll get back to us?

MR. CARNEY:  Yes.  All right, guys, strap in.

END
11:09 A.M. PDT