the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One en route Paterson, New Jersey

En Route Paterson, New Jersey

11:44 A.M. EDT

Q    Good morning, Jay.  How are you?

MR. CARNEY:  Good morning, everybody.  How are you?

Q    Good.

MR. CARNEY:  Welcome aboard.  Thanks for coming on this trip.  As you know, the President is going to visit New Jersey to view some of the sites that have been affected by Hurricane Irene, the flooding damages, and the recovery efforts underway.  He will be joined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, FEMA FCO Bill Vogel, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Governor Chris Christie, Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, Representative Bill Pascrell, Representative Steve Rothman, Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones, and Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano, as well as Red Cross CEO and President Gail McGovern.

With that, I will take your questions.  Associated Press.

Q    Why Paterson as opposed to some other place, maybe North Carolina or Vermont, that also had a lot of damage?

MR. CARNEY:  Obviously -- a lot of affected areas, and so this is not a choice of lesser or more damage, it was simply this was a place he could visit that was -- had some particularly severe impacts, and the President looks forward to hearing from both his -- the federal response team as well as local officials about what happened on the ground and the response effort.

Q    Will he make a statement to the press while he’s on the ground or --

MR. CARNEY:  I believe so, yes.

Q    Marty Nesbitt is on board.  Is that just because they’re friends, or does he have a Paterson connection?

MR. CARNEY:  I’ll have to check on that for you.

Q    And jobs speech -- ready?

MR. CARNEY:  The President has spent certainly a part of the weekend putting the finishing touches on his proposals and the speech, and I think that that process continues over the next few days, but he’s very far along.

Q    Representative Walsh of Illinois says he won’t attend, says it’s too political in nature.  Do you have a response to that?

MR. CARNEY:  The idea that the President of the United States giving a speech about the need to grow the economy and create jobs is political -- I’ll let you judge that for yourself.

Q    Jay, could you talk about the President’s decision to pull back the ozone regulations?  The President, as a candidate, talked about the importance of protecting clean air.  Does this show that that commitment might be wavering?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, you saw the President’s statement; that suggestion, that question is ridiculous given all the amazing steps he has taken to ensure that we enforce the Clean Air Act, including steps on mercury, as well as historic standards for -- new standards for fuel efficiency for cars and trucks.  The President, as he said in his statement, had to look at the fact that the new standards are being reviewed and will be out 2013, on ozone, and that he did not feel at this time that it was wise to add to regular -- regulatory uncertainty.  So he asked the EPA administrator to withdraw that as we wait for new science and new standards.

Q    Governor Christie, will he be accompanying the President on all of the stops?  And does the President believe that some of Governor Christie’s comments are the sort of bipartisanship that he’d like to hear from Republicans in the last few days?

MR. CARNEY:  I believe the Governor will be with us today, but I'll double check that throughout the visit.  I think the broad point is that when disaster strikes, Americans suffer -- not Democrats, not independents, not Republicans -- Americans suffer, and that we come together and put politics aside to ensure that those Americans are -- get the assistance that they need.

Q    Can you talk a little bit about Louisiana, the tropical storm down there?

MR. CARNEY:  We are obviously monitoring that, concerned about the -- what will be -- has been and will be a significant amount of rainfall.  The President is obviously in close contact with FEMA Administrator Fugate.  He is traveling with him today and he is providing him updates on that tropical storm.

Q    Any update on Libya or Syria that you can share with us?  Do you know where Qaddafi is?  Are there any conversations today with foreign leaders that the President is having that you can tell us about?

MR. CARNEY:  With regards to Libya, no in terms of conversations with foreign leaders that I’m aware of, but I could get an update.  There’s no change on our view that Colonel Qaddafi remains in Libya.  Beyond that, there is no particularly new information to provide.

Q    And can you tell us anything about that jobs speech coming later this week, anything new?

MR. CARNEY:  I think everyone understands that we are at a time in our economy when we need to do something.  We need to take action to spur growth and accelerate hiring.  The President will put forward a number of proposals that have historically enjoyed bipartisan support and will, without question, if enacted, positively affect growth and job creation.

He looks forward to Congress returning from its recess with the same sense of urgency that he feels about the need to take these kinds of measures and will call on Congress to do that.

Q    Is the administration making any progress with the Palestinians and the statehood U.N. vote issue?

MR. CARNEY:  The administration believes, as you know, that the Palestinians cannot achieve statehood through a U.N. mandate, that the only way to do that -- or U.N. vote.  The only way to do that is through direct negotiations.  And the administration has continued to urge both sides to negotiate a peace that will lead to Palestinian statehood.

Q    Thank you.

MR. CARNEY:  Sorry?

Q    Will we see you again?  Will we see him, or is it going to be, like, statement on the run?

MR. CARNEY:  I think he will probably be standing still when he makes a statement.  But thanks, guys.

Q    Thank you.

END
11:50 A.M. EDT