Fwd: Out-of-town pool report #2: gaggle

Begin forwarded message:

From: Darren Sands >
Date: August 23, 2016 at 11:47:59 AM CDT
To: "Gabriel, Brian" >
Subject: Out-of-town pool report #2: gaggle

Josh Earnest gaggled onboard AF1 en route to Baton Rouge. Here are some highlights and notes. Check quotes against the official WH transcript.

Earnest stressed the administration's understanding that the focus needs to and will shift to long term recovery, and that POTUS will encourage the American people to consider what they can do to support the people of Baton Rouge.

-Earnest said POTUS' will echo that message today. He'll also discuss with state and local officials on the ground if there's more FEMA can and should do. POTUS will also thank first responders, many whom have logged long hours in the recovery effort, which has $120 million in federal assistance had been approved, helping people with groceries, urgent repairs and temporary housing assistance.

The immediate response's "speed and effectiveness" is a "strong and early indication that the United States government is determined to support the people of Baton Rouge in their time of urgent need," Earnest said.

-Earnest had a response to a question regarding whether the president had been annoyed or dismayed by people playing politics with the relief effort.

"I think the president is used to people trying to score political points even in situations where they shouldn't. The president certainly believes this is the kind of situation where...we're talking about lives lost. We're talking about a community being upended. And [he believes] that it's an appropriate time to put politics aside, and actually focus on our responsibilities as Americans."

Earnest again cited Louisiana's lieutenant governor's comments that he's been pleased with the federal response.

"I think he's taken the right approach," said Earnest, 'which is to say 'I've got lots of political disagreements with the President of the United States, but what I'm most interested in is seeing the president...prioritize the safety and livelihood of the people of my state.'"

He also fielded a question about whether the administration thought it appropriate for Vice President Joe Biden to inject presidential politics into an official visit. (Biden suggested that a presidential candidate didn't understand Article 5 of the NATO treaty, committing the U.S. to the defense of the three Baltic states from adversaries.)

Earnest reiterated the commitment NATO allies and to Article 5 is "ironclad."

"I did not see the entirety of the vice president's remarks but I am confident that his remarks were an effort to clear up any confusion that may exist on this front - and some of that confusion may stem from some of the rhetoric that we've seen on the campaign trail."

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Darren Sands | BuzzFeed | Reporter, Politics | xxx-xxx-xxxx | @darrensands

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