Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Buckley Air Force Base
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado
12:34 P.M. PST
MR. CARNEY: Okay. Thank you all for joining us here today as we make our way from Nevada to Colorado. I know you were there. The President had an excellent event at the UPS facility just now talking about the lease in the Gulf, and now we’re going on to talk about in Colorado at Buckley Air Force Base the commitment that the Department of Defense is making towards clean energy.
It’s part of the President’s overall approach, which is an all-in, all-of-the-above approach to our energy security. It means developing oil and natural gas here at home. It means doing everything we can to make sure we’re investing in clean energy technologies of the future. And the result has been great strides in our clean energy production. It has also meant that we’re producing more oil than we have in years, and that we’re relying less on foreign oil than we have in years. Those are obviously good developments.
With that, I will take your questions.
Q Jay, can you tell us the President’s version of what happened with the Arizona governor yesterday?
MR. CARNEY: I’m glad you guys are important -- focused on the important things.
The President was very excited to be in Arizona. When he arrived, the governor was there to greet him; he appreciated that. She handed him a letter which she described as an invitation to have a meeting. The President said he’d be glad to meet with her. He noted that their last meeting, which was very cordial, was reported differently in her book.
But the President is focused on what he can do to help the country’s economy grow, and that includes Arizona. He is obviously also focused on the issue of immigration and illegal immigration, which is why he -- under his administration we have more boots on the ground and fewer illegal crossings. And that track record is very important.
Q Was the President expressing frustration about her account in the book, or was that about the immigration policy, or do you think that the representation that it got testy is not accurate?
MR. CARNEY: I think that there is -- that some of this is political theater to some degree, I guess. But the President simply noted -- because when her book came out it was -- it got a lot of attention, I assume for the same reasons that this is getting attention.
And her description of that meeting was not accurate, did not reflect what happened in the meeting in the Oval Office, which, by the way, the governor, as I understand it, herself, immediately after the meeting, described it as cordial to reporters.
So the President works with all governors across the country on the important issues that they face and that he can help them with in terms of growing the economy and helping with specific issues.
Q Republicans have criticized the President with this tour and other events, saying he’s going out on the campaign trail too early. And not to over-broaden the Brewer incident, but does that indicate that the partisanship is beginning too early, that it’s going to be too hard to work together?
MR. CARNEY: I think -- look, I think this thing is getting overblown. It’s not a very big deal at all. The President is out traveling to five states here in the country to talk about the issues, about putting out a blueprint to build an America economy built to last. And he’s discussing specific initiatives involving American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers. And he’s going to take that message around the country.
As I noted before, if you took off the map of the United States every state that’s supposedly a battleground and said the President for a year, or for however long, can’t travel there, it would restrict him to a very small portion of the country.
The fact of the matter is, Arizona and Michigan -- I think in the 2008 election, the President lost Arizona by seven or eight points, six or seven points; he won Michigan by 17 points. So is that the range between the President can’t travel? I mean, it’s crazy.
So he’ll go all around the country to states to talk about the important initiatives that he’s put forward to grow the economy and create jobs, to build a foundation, an economic foundation for an America built to last. And that’s what he sees is his responsibility.
Q Jay, to belabor the Brewer point, she’s been on TV and on radio and giving interviews today saying that the President essentially cut her short and walked away yesterday during their conversation. Was the President frustrated with this discussion?
MR. CARNEY: I think you guys are giving this incident far too much importance. They talked at the -- on the tarmac. He was glad that the governor was there to greet him. Received her letter, they had a brief discussion. There were people he went to shake hands with, as he does everywhere he lands. I really assume you guys have more important issues to cover than this.
Q Well, Jay, as you know, one of the reasons we’re giving this so much attention is because it was an unscripted moment and we have very few of those covering Obama anywhere. John McCain went on FOX this morning and said that the interchange was an example of Obama’s prickly personality. Do you guys have a response to that?
MR. CARNEY: I have no response to that.
Q Could you talk a little bit about even though the message has been the economy, it’s kind of post-State of the Union, he did do some outreach to Hispanics. These are heavy Hispanic states. He gave an interview to Univision. What’s he trying to do and trying to accomplish with that kind of outreach, particularly in states like this, and while the Republicans candidates are campaigning in Florida, another state with high Hispanic --
MR. CARNEY: The President speaks with Univision or Telemundo and other Latino reporters --
Q He talked to Telemundo today, right?
MR. CARNEY: A Telemundo affiliate -- with some regularity and he’ll continue to do that. It’s an important community in this country, and he’ll continue to have those kind of interactions.
Q A Pew poll today says that Hispanics feel that they are hurt the most by the economic downturn than any other group. Is that something that concerns the President specifically? And can it affect his support among Hispanics?
MR. CARNEY: Well, there is no question that Latinos were hard hit, especially by the bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting steep decline in construction work. Latinos are overrepresented in the construction industry, and it’s one of the reasons why -- well, certainly Latinos would greatly benefit from infrastructure investments that put construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and schools -- because as I say, Latinos are overrepresented in the construction industry.
So there’s no question that the bursting of the housing bubble and the foreclosure crisis had significant and deep economic impacts around the country and communities of all kinds, but particularly in the Latino community.
Q There are some reports that Iran has signaled an interest in negotiating with the United States. Can you confirm that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’ve seen the reports. I can just say that our position is as it always has been, which is that the Iranian regime needs to live up to its obligations to the international community. There is a process by which talks could take place. And Lady Ashton has -- there is a letter out there from Lady Ashton that the Iranians could respond to. There’s just no question that the sanctions regime that has been put in place is having significant impact on Iran, on the Iranian economy, putting pressure on and isolating Iran and the Iranian regime. It reflects the broad unity among the international community about the need for Iran to abandon its nuclear weapon ambitions and to live up to its obligations. And the avenue open to Iran -- or the avenue that has always been open to Iran remains open today, which is through negotiations -- through discussions, rather, through talks. Iran has the opportunity to live up to its obligations. But I have nothing new -- no new developments on that to report from our end.
Very exciting. I’m done if you are.
Q Thank you.
12:44 P.M. PST