From: John Stanton [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 12:26 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO
Subject: In town pool report 1
President Obama, Vice President Biden and King Abdullah of Jordan’s hour long bilateral meeting wrapped up just around 11:45. While Obama and the King sat, Biden stood behind the press and listened to the brief remarks from the two leaders.
Obama praised the King’s efforts in fighting ISIS and acknowledged the “enormous challenges his majesty and the Jordanian people face” and called Jordan an “outstanding partner … Jordan is a country that punches above it’s weight.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Obama said Jordan has played a “critical” part in “reducing some of the immediate tensions around the Temple Mount” and called the King a “voice of reason … and tolerance. We’re lucky to have a friend like Jordan.”
For his part the King praised President Obama, saying he is “so grateful for the support you’ve shown … no country other than the United States has given us so much support” in the fight against ISIS. The King also appeared optimistic about the peace process in Syria, saying “the political process is the priority at the moment” and that it is important for all parties to understand that “at the end of the day Daash [ISIS] is the enemy for all of us.”
The president was asked about Senate Republicans’ decision to not hold hearings on any nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama said he remains hopeful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will reverse course and hold hearings, though he conceded “I don’t expect Mitch McConnell to say that today.” He also insisted Republicans do not seem fully committed to their decision to not hold hearings. “They’re pretty sheepish about it.”
He also indicated that he will wage a public relations fight for his eventual nominee, and will take it to the public so that “the American people will have the ability to judge” the qualifications of his nominee, and argued “it will be very difficult for Mr. McConnell” to maintain a blockade if the public backs him.
Obama also rejected efforts to use past statements by Biden and Sen. Chuck Schumer calling for a block on election year nominees to the high court, insisting “it has no application to the actual situation we have right now” because in those instances, Democrats were speaking about a hypothetical nominee.
Obama warned that if Republicans do decide to block a nominee, “then invariably what we’re going to see is a further deterioration of [the ability of] any president to make any judicial appointments,” and that “the credibility of the court itself is diminished because it is seen as an extension of our politics.”
DC Bureau Chief