----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew BEATTY [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2015 12:28 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP
Subject: Travel pool report 2
Air Force One landed at is Armstrong International Airport at 12:09 CT, after a flight that offered spectacular views over Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi river, and a blissfully green New Orleans.
The President walked down the steps at 12:20 CT to greeters Governor Bobby Jindal, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Senator Bill Cassidy.
A very quick handshake greeting between POTUS and Gov. Jindal, one of the many GOP presidential candidates. A longer handshake with Sen. Cassidy. And then a very enthusiastic handshake and then bro hug with Mayor Landrieu.
Two lawmakers on the flight -- Congressional baseball star Cedric Richmond (D-LA 2nd District) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY 8th District) joined in a chat with elected reps at the bottom of the steps.
(Also aboard was, HUD secretary Shaun Donovan.)
POTUS then worked the rope line, thanking the group of around 100 for coming out.
News from a lengthy gaggle:
SAUDI - Josh Earnest confirmed that Saudi Arabia's King Salman will visit the White House on September the 4. "His visit underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia. The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counter-terrorism efforts. They will also discuss regional topics including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran's de-stabilizing activities in the region."
CHINA/CR - Earnest answered a question about China by pointing to the latest GDP revision, calling it "an additional data point to indicate the ongoing strength and resilience of the U.S. economy," and is "reassuring even in the midst of some significant volatility in markets overseas." He pivoted then to call on Congress to pass a budget "on time that properly and fully funds our economic and national security imperatives."
"While we continue to be very focused on the Iran deal, this is another priority that will require Congress' urgent attention and action in September." He would not weigh in on whether the White House would accept a continuing resolution if that was put forward to avert a shutdown, only that the "mindless" sequester cuts should not be extended. . He said Republicans should sit down with Democrats as they did two years ago to broker a bipartisan agreement. He said leaders in Congress have procrastinated, as they frequently do. "We're now getting close to the deadline. And that is something we are not pleased about. We are hopeful that when Congress gets back to work after Labor Day that Republicans will accept the invitation that they've received from Democrats in Congress to negotiate a bipartisan solution that reflects the economic and security needs of the country." BIDEN - In light of his comments to members of the DNC yesterday: "The decision that anyone makes to run for president of the United States is an intensely personal one. And certainly the president - this president - understands that. And that's why we have gone to great lengths to try to give the vice president the time and space that he has earned to make this intensely personal decision. That is, as he told the DNC members yesterday, exactly what he's doing right now. But for any conversations between the president and the vice president I'm going to protect their privacy."
Asked if the offer of time and space is indefinite, Earnest answered: "The vice president has earned the right to make this decision on a timeframe of his own choosing. Now, I think the vice president has also acknowledged some of the time limitations associated with that. And it takes some time to build a viable and even successful national campaign. The vice president is somebody whose mounted two national campaigns himself and he's been on the national ticket twice. So he understand that. But he'll make those decisions about what pressures he feels as it relates to timing based on his own experience and on his own analysis of the current situation.
KEYSTONE - On a report that a decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, Earnest said he wasn't familiar with the report and that he was not aware of any decision the State Department has forwarded to the White House, or any update on timing.
KATRINIA - Walter Isaacson and Donna Brazile, came back for the gaggle, both from New Orleans and both served on the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
Brazile began by saying that "Katrina was more than just a natural disaster, it was in every way a personal tragedy."
"It has taken us more than, I think, ten years to finish up some of the recovery, I still think we have a long way to go. We proud of all the work that has been done."
Both agreed that President George W. Bush got a bad rap for his handling of the recovery.
Brazile: "I'm one of those individuals that believes that under President Bush's leadership we got it right. It was slow. Remember, the state and local government was overwhelmed. The federal government had to step in. The federal government had to figure out its role. It took a while for the federal government to really figure out how to help us. And I think once the president made the decision that New Orleans would be rebuild, despite some of the conversation on Capitol Hill that didn't believe that the federal government should invest hundreds of billions of dollars into the recovery effort, the president made a commitment and I think he kept his word."
Brazile also praised Laura Bush for her commitment to rebuild the city's libraries.
She said President Bush would receive "a warm welcome" when he visits the city on Friday, as would President Clinton when he visits Saturday. She and Isaacson noted the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund and its role in raising private money.
Both also went out of their way to praise the work of former first lady Laura Bush.
Getting to some of the issues facing the city today, Isaacson addressed the issue of gentrification, calling it intellectually difficult.
"A lot of hipsters are moving in," he said. "Many people are saying 'wow' people are sitting out on their porches at midnight with a laptop, I wouldn't have even walked down the street at midday five years ago. At the same time others are saying, hey I can hardly afford to live in my own neighborhood."
"If you had asked me ten years ago what would be the biggest problem... and people would say gentrification of Treme, Bywater and the (faubourg) Marigny, I'd say 'you're out of your mind'"
He singled out the health and education system as examples of the city is better than it was even before Katrina.
"The school system in instead of being rebuilt was reinvented." He tried to dispel the notion that it's now a system of public charter schools, "what it is is a system of autonomous schools."
He admitted that at the beginning schools would just "skim the cream" of students from within the central applications procedure. But he said that had been addressed and the authorities had encouraged the take up of students with learning problems and
He described New Orleans as having a "middle class problem." "We don't have a lot of corporations that moved headquarters back, we don't have a lot of big firms."
But he said "there's twice as many restaurants as there was before the hurricane, these are jobs but they are not high paying jobs."
"I think our challenge in the coming years is to reduce the poverty rate and figure out how to bring middle class jobs to the city."
Brazile said that rebuilding the education system, the health system, housing, help people come back home would in short order recreate "that old mixture of gumbo, where all the roux and the sausages and okra comes together to make this delicious creamy delightful dish that will return to the Big Easy."
-- We are now rolling in the motorcade.
Many thanks to Mike Memoli for help in breaking out some of the quotes.