August 8th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

White House, Obama campaign distance themselves from Super PAC ad

One day after refusing to answer questions about a television ad put out by pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA, on Wednesday both the White House and the Obama campaign distanced themselves from the new attacks on Mitt Romney’s record.

The ad ties the actions of Romney’s old financial firm Bain Capital to the 2006 death of factory worker Joe Soptic’s wife. Soptic, an employee of GST Steel in Missouri for nearly 30 years, was laid off in 2001 when Bain closed the factory where he worked. This caused him to lose his health insurance, which also covered his wife Ilyona.

Years later Ilyona died rather suddenly from stage-four lung cancer that had gone undiagnosed, a situation that Soptic told CNN was caused by Bain’s decision to shutter the Kansas City steel mill where he had worked.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that he had not seen the ad, quickly brushing aside repeated questions about whether or not its allegations are appropriate.

“I still haven’t seen the ad,” Carney said. “I’ve read about it. I don’t speak for a third-party group. I speak for the President and the administration, and I explain and defend his policies.”

Traveling campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki was even blunter.

“We have nothing - no involvement with any ads that are done by Priorities USA,” Psaki said. “We don’t have any knowledge of the story of the family. As you know, campaign finance rules in that regard are in place for a reason. At the same time, while we’re talking about this ad, which we all know we had no involvement in, Mitt Romney’s team is running a dishonest ad, an ad that is a big, bold-faced lie that even President Clinton has said was disappointing and inaccurate. And that’s an ad that they should be held accountable for and on the facts, because right now they’re out there running it across the country as if this is a true policy when in fact it’s not. So that’s a conversation we feel like we should be having.”

Topics: 2012 Election • Campaign • Gaggle Notes • President Obama • Super PAC
Obama Calling Vladimir Putin
March 9th, 2012
11:48 AM ET

Obama Calling Vladimir Putin

Update:  The White House Readout of the president's call:

President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election.  President Obama highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past three years with President Medvedev, including cooperation on Afghanistan, the conclusion and ratification of the START agreement, Russia’s recent invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on Iran.  President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed that the successful reset in relations should be built upon during the coming years.  The President said that he looked forward to hosting President-Elect Putin at the G-8 Summit in May at Camp David.  The two leaders outlined areas for future cooperation, including strengthening trade and investment relations arising out of Russia’s pending accession to the WTO. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue discussions on areas where the United States and Russia have differed, including Syria and missile defense. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue their efforts to find common ground and remove obstacles to better relations.


Aboard Air Force One just now Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced that President Obama would be placing a call to President-elect Vladimir Putin during his flight to Virginia this morning.

"Technology-willing it's probably occurring right now," Earnest said just before 11:30 AM.

He did not provide a preview of what the two leaders would talk about on the call, but he did say that the White House would be providing a read out later this afternoon. So stay tuned.

Gaggle notes: so what does the president watch on tv?
January 27th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Gaggle notes: so what does the president watch on tv?

In today's meeting with reporters White House spokesman Jay Carney responded to questions regarding President Obama's opinions about the recent GOP debates. So what does the president think? Not much. Apparently he doesn't watch much television – except when it comes to sports!

Q: When the President watches this bruising Republican primary contest that’s going on, has he expressed any concern that he might be stepping into a general election that will be equally as rough-and-tumble?

MR. CARNEY: He hasn’t to me. As you know, because you've heard him say so, he doesn’t really watch the Republican primary. He reads about it, he just doesn’t - you haven't asked me yet if he watched the debate last night, but he didn’t. Not because, again, it’s just he doesn’t watch a lot of TV.

Q: He hasn’t watched a lot of the debates?

MR. CARNEY: He hasn’t watched any of them. He doesn’t watch a lot of TV, except for sports. But he certainly reads about and keeps up with what's going on.

For the complete transcript of the press gaggle transcript, read the full post.

Gaggle Notes: West Coast edition
(Emily Schultze/CNN)
October 26th, 2011
04:59 PM ET

Gaggle Notes: West Coast edition

On the flight back to Washington D.C. today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One and pushed back on a couple of stories in today’s papers.

One by McClatchy claimed that President Obama and Vice President Biden hadn’t talked to Iraqi leaders in the months leading up to a troop withdrawal decision. The article itself says that it’s drawn from an embassy report based on postings on the White House website, and Carney called the piece entirely incorrect, saying that the administration does not provide read-outs for every call that’s made from the White House, and thus not every correspondence would appear on the White House website. National Security Staff Spokesman Tommy Vietor is even quoted in the story saying that the article is “totally wrong.”

Another push back was on reports that U.S. embassies around the world spent more than $70,000 collectively on Obama’s autobiographies as gifts and for their libraries. Carney referred people to the State Department saying that this was an “embassy by embassy based decision.”

“Obviously the White House didn't have anything to do with this,” Carney said. “I think this is an embassy-by-embassy-based decision based on what they think is – in buying books – makes sense for them in terms of advancing American foreign policy interests. I've just seen in some paper that a lot of these embassies have books by Colin Powell, George W. Bush, other – Ronald Reagan, but again in terms of this particular – this story I would refer you to the State Department.”

He also pushed back on Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech this morning at the Heritage Foundation, and rolled out what sounded to me at least to be a new line of attack on the GOP argument against raising taxes on the wealthy. FULL POST

Topics: Gaggle Notes • Jay Carney
August 18th, 2011
06:15 PM ET

Gaggle Notes: Martha's Vineyard edition

The president has just landed in Martha's Vineyard for a 10-day vacation with his family. While the president has no public events on his schedule during his time away from Washington, during this afternoon’s flight Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest gaggled with reporters on Air Force One and previewed the president’s week ahead.

On the president’s vacation:

"The President of the United States is the President of the United States wherever he goes. That's the job that he ran for, that's the job the American people expect and it's the job he's doing. You saw that John Brennan is traveling on Air Force One today. He will be providing regular updates to ensure that [the president’s] fully briefed on national security issues."

On criticism that the president is taking a vacation during such tumultuous times for the country:


Topics: Gaggle Notes • President Obama • Syria
Gaggle Notes: President's jobs proposals and next week's Midwest bus tour
(AFP/Getty Images)
August 12th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

Gaggle Notes: President's jobs proposals and next week's Midwest bus tour

There was no on-camera briefing at the White House today, but Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest held an off-camera gaggle and laid out some of the details of the president’s bus trip next week.

Earnest also downplayed President Obama’s promise yesterday that in the coming weeks he would be laying out new proposals “week by week, that will help businesses hire and put people back to work.”

Here are some of our notes from the Earnest’s gaggle:

– The president was speaking more “broadly” yesterday when he said he would be rolling out new jobs proposals week by week.

“I don’t think he was committing to a 9:30 a.m. Monday morning announcement for the next several weeks.  But rather I do think that he was talking about …that there are a number of things that the American people expect of their President in these difficult economic times.”

– The president’s plan to roll out new proposals is not a sign that his current proposals are insufficient. In other words, he’s not looking for “different economic proposals,” he’s looking for “additional economic proposals, additional things that we can do to get our economy moving again.”

– The president did not watch last night’s GOP debate, but has probably read some of the news coverage.

– The moment that caught the White House’s attention was when all the candidates raised their hands to say they would reject a deficit reduction proposal that contained a 10-1 spending cuts to tax increases ratio. "That's clearly not where the American people are.” FULL POST

Topics: Gaggle Notes • The News
Carney gaggles
July 6th, 2011
12:52 PM ET

Carney gaggles

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney held an off camera briefing with reporters Wednesday (known around these parts as a “gaggle.”) President Obama's meeting Thursday with congressional leaders mostly dominated the discussion.

The highlights:

- Even though CNN has confirmed President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner over the weekend, the White House still won’t say if the meeting occurred:

"[An] hour by hour narrative is...outweighed by [our] higher interest of trying to accomplish [an agreement.]"


Topics: Gaggle Notes • Jay Carney