Fwd: Travel Pool report #3 -- Gaggle aboard AF1

Begin forwarded message:

From: Michael Shear >
Date: May 4, 2016 at 12:08:26 PM EDT
To: "Gabriel, Brian A. Jr. EOP/WHO" >
Subject: Travel Pool report #3 -- Gaggle aboard AF1

Josh Earnest gaggled on the flight, mostly about Flint and a little bit about Trump & Cruz. No news, so check transcript for fuller quotes.

Earnest said the message from POTUS is that "he cares deeply about the challenges facing the community of Flint."  He said POTUS will press Republicans to do more to make sure that other communities don't face similar situations.

Asked about the frustration from some Flint residents about the federal government's responsibility, Earnest said that  "Considering that many of the people in this community were serving poison water to their children for a year and a half or two years, their frustration is entirely justified."

Earnest said the situation in Flint reflects "the dangers of government at all levels losing touch with the people they are elected to serve." But said that POTUS is "quite serious about making sure that the federal government is living up to its obligations to its citizens."

Earnest said POTUS will be meeting with local and state leaders to get an update on the situation and said those leaders will include Gov. Snyder and the mayor of Flint. He said it was unclear whether POTUS will drink filtered water in Flint.

Earnest took a dig at the president's political rivals: "The president does not believe that eliminating the EPA, for example, I going to prevent this from happening in other places. We need an EPA that is properly funded and operating effectively. ... Eliminating that agency,  as many Republicans advocate, is not going to contribute to that goal."

(on Trump)  "There are six months until election day and I'm confident president will spend many of those days making a strong case about the progress the country has made in the past seven years. ... It is undeniable our country is stronger, our economy is stronger than it was eight year ago. The question voters will have to ask themselves is do we want to scrap the strategy that has worked so effectively or do we want to build on the progress that we made?"
Earnest called a contested Dem primary unlikely. He said Obama did not have a reaction to Cruz dropping out of the GOP race and said he was confident Obama did not watch the election results come in last night.

On Obama addressing the APIACS gala tonight honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Earnest noted that Asian Americans are the fastest growing voting bloc and said Obama certainly will make case that his policies have helped APAs.

Thanks to co-pooler David Nakamura for help with the gaggle.

Michael D. Shear
White House Correspondent
The New York Times

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