Fw: Travel print pool report 13: tarmac + gaggle

From: Evan McMorris-Santoro [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, March 13, 2015 11:44 AM
To: Allen, Jessica
Subject: Travel print pool report 13: tarmac + gaggle

POTUS appeared to have an intense but brief conversation with Gov. Doug Ducey on the tarmac. POTUS was using his hands while talking, Ducey was too. None of the theatrics of previous AZ tarmac chats though; it ended with a handshake and a nod from both men.

Catching you up on the gaggle, here's a long readout thanks to fellow pooler Sarah Wheaton, who assisted with the transcription:

Shortly after takeoff, Deputy White House Press Secretary Eric Schultz gaggled with the press corps for about 10 min. Putin rumors, Guiliani’s comments about Ferguson, the VA, Iraq and FLOTUS’ concurrent travel to California when POTUS was there

were on the agenda.

Check the quotes against the transcript, as always.

On Russia, Schultz did not say much about the Putin rumors flying around today. “I have enough trouble keeping track of one world leader,” Schultz said. “I would refer you to Russia for questions on theirs. I’m sure they’ll be very responsive.”

Schultz did not say if POTUS had been specifically briefed about the rumors. Asked if the U.S. government is operating under the assumption that Putin is alive, Schultz said, “I’d say so, yes.”

FLOTUS was in California yesterday, just as POTUS was. She was in Burbank for an appearance on Ellen Degeneres’ show but came on a different flight on her own and left on her own before the president’s overnight in LA. She is not joining POTUS at the PHX stop. A few questions were asked about the travel arrangements and the cost of flying both POTUS and FLOTUS to California on separate planes vs. trying to coordinate both onto one plane.

“I did see the tease for the first lady’s appearance on ‘Ellen.’ It looks great,” Schultz said. “I believe on this occasion the schedules were not in sync in order to travel together.”

Schultz said “I don’t believe so” when asked if FLOTUS and POTUS saw each other IRL yesterday. “I’m not even sure they overlapped,” he said.

In reference to problems at the Phoenix VA – highlighted by whistleblowers that are not included in the roundtable, Schultz said the “VA has made some significant progress since the episodes you’re referring to” and cited figures that were released by the administration earlier about efforts to reduce wait times.

Amid reports that an Iraqi victory over ISIL in Tikrit could be imminent, Schultz was asked about how the U.S. might be coordinating with the Iraqis.

“As you know this is an Iraqi operation,” Schultz said. “There’s no question that the Tikrit operation is a major front in the fight against ISIL, and we’re pleased to see the advances that the Iraqi forces have made.”

He added, “This operation remains ongoing. We understand Iraqi forces have now entered parts of Tikrit, and there are reports that some ISIL fighters are actually withdrawing from the area in the face of this offensive.”

Schultz was asked whether there’s been an increase in government agencies seeking guidance on email archiving guidelines recently.

“We’ve released updated guidance to the agencies throughout the past few years. I don’t know of any new developments on that” he replied. “I’d assume that if any agencies were unclear on the guidelines, they now know them.”

He was pressed on whether the president and first lady have considered tweaking their schedules by a few hours so they could overlap in LA and save the taxpayers from paying for two trips.

“I’m not sure it’s just a difference between a few hours,” Schultz said. He noted that Michelle Obama is not going to Phoenix and is back in DC.

On former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s latest criticism on how Obama set the tone in Ferguson, Schultz said, “I have nothing for you on that.”

On the first lady’s upcoming trip to Asia to promote a women and girls initiative, and the extent of coordination with the with NSC and POTUS, Shultz said:

“This is an issue that’s important to the president,” adding, “The president does believe there’s no better voice for this than the first lady.”

He added, “we are closely coordinated, I don’t know the extend of sort of resource allocation internally.”

Week Ahead:

Monday: President will hold meeting with leaders of great city schools leadership

Tuesday: Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland comes to White House, with St. Paddy’s reception in the evening

Wednesday: Obama goes to Cleveland to talk middle class economics

Thursday: Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit White Hous

Friday: Student Film Festival; POTUS remarks on goal of My Brothers Keeper initiative

Tomorrow: Obama does Gridiron Dinner. “It’s gonna be very good,” Schultz assures.


Evan McMorris-Santoro
BuzzFeed News White House Reporter

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