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White House

 

« VA Gov Dem Primary Poll: Moran +5 | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Good Friday »

Briefing Notes: When Is A Bow Not A Bow

Today's White House press briefing was the first in more than a week, owing of course to the President's overseas travel. It will also be the only one this week.

*First question: AP asks about the ongoing situation with pirates off the coast of Africa. Press secretary Robert Gibbs says that Obama "has followed the situation closely," and that his main concern "is for the safety of the captain and the rest of the crew on the ship." Mentions that the White House has an interagency task force focused on maritime safety.

*Immigration: Following up on a New York Times story, Gibbs says that any immigration proposal will closely mirror what he talked about on the campaign trail, when he promised a new immigration push in his first year. "Obviously there are a lot of things on his plate, a lot of pressing issues relating to the economy. I don't think he expects that it will be done this year," he said. He added that he would pursue a comprehensive approach that includes increased border security, and requiring immigrants "going to be back of the line, learning English, paying a fine."

*Supplemental War Funding: Gibbs explains the president's request for a supplemental appropriation to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan only have funding through half the fiscal year. So the budget and appropriations process, the honest budget and appropriations process that the president has talked about, falls somewhat victim to the fact that this is the way the wars had been funded previously," he said.

*Dodge of the day: Robert Gibbs denies that the president bowed to Saudi leaders at the G-20 conference, explaining that he simply bent down "to shake his hand." As CNN's Dan Lothian followed up, Gibbs sarcastically adds: "I can only imagine that this is a great cause and concern for many people struggling with the economy."

*Guns: Helen Thomas presses Gibbs about what the president is doing in response to last week's massacre in Binghamton, N.Y. The press secretary avoids discussing specific measures, or whether he will push for a new assault weapons ban. Later, Gibbs declines to address a gun provision in legislation to give the District of Columbia a voting representative in Congress.

*Easter Services: Gibbs says the Obama family will attend church services on Easter Sunday, but won't say where. Later he also dodges questions about whether the church he heads to Sunday will be a permanent spiritual home during his time in DC. Other Easter news: Gibbs has no update on whether a dog is coming for the Obama girls.

*Scheduling Announcements: The Philadelphia Phillies will visit the White House next Tuesday, on an off day between games against the Washington Nationals. The White House still hasn't confirmed whether the president will throw out the first pitch at the home opener Monday afternoon, but that day he will hold a transportation event in nearby suburban Maryland.

*Jet Lag Alert: Of the network White House correspondents, only NBC's Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie were present today. CBS' Chip Reid, it should be noted, is with family after the death of his father.

*Phone Home: You'd think reporters would know by now to turn off their cell phone ringers. Not so -- John Gizzi's phone loudly played salsa musing not only during a Gibbs response, but later on as Gizzi himself was asking a question. "Just turn the thing off," Gibbs said, half frustrated, half joking. "This is like the bar scene in Star Wars."