Fwd: Travel pool report #3 - gaggle

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jordan Fabian >
Date: October 20, 2016 at 1:28:02 PM EDT
To: "Allen, Jessica" >
Subject: Travel pool report #3 - gaggle

Principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz gaggled on board Air Force One.

A special thank you to the NYT’s Mark Landler for the assist. As always, please check quotes against the transcript.

Schultz began by offering a preview of POTUS’ healthcare speech at Miami Dade College (MDC), said he will “discuss what more can be done to advance quality, affordable, accessible healthcare in this country” and “the robust enrollment period” beginning Nov. 1.

WH picked MDC because of the college’s enthusiasm about the open enrollment period; in the past it has held dozens of “enrollment days” with in-person assisters helping people sign up.

Schultz also announced the WH has launched a new online feature that highlights letters POTUS has received during his time in office. The first set posted today are about the healthcare law, they can be found at whitehouse.gov. He said future batches will be on different topics.

Question topics:

* On the debate

Schultz noted the president’s tweet this morning that HRC is “3 for 3” in the debates. Said the debates have been a chance for Americans “to see what the president knows first hand, which is that Secretary Clinton is the most qualified nominee ever to be running for president in our nation’s history.”

* On Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting election results

Schultz referred to POTUS’ remarks during Tuesday’s Renzi presser, in which he called on Trump to “stop whining” about the possibility of a rigged election.

“First, he said the peaceful transition of power in our nation is a hallmark of our country,” Schultz said. “This is what makes America great. I’m not sure there’s anyone more diametrically opposed to what the Republican nominee stands for than this president, but even he said that, if this country chooses to elect Mr. Trump, he will pursue a peaceful transfer of power. He will escort him to the Capitol.

“That will be some car ride,” Schultz quipped. “But that’s in the best interests of our nation. And that’s consistent with hundreds of years of tradition.”

Said that the administration has been transition planning for months. Noted that CoS Denis McDonough called both campaigns after the conventions to accelerate the process. “Our approach has been evenhanded … that work is going to continue unabated.”

*  On possible administration actions to ensure the country accepts election results.

Schultz said there are no new actions to announce. He repeated that a candidate complaining about the toughness of the race “doesn’t portend well for the presidency.”

Also said that “right-wing allegations of voter fraud” have never “withstood scrutiny.”

* On comparisons of Trump’s position to Al Gore’s handling of the 2000 election.

Schultz basically dismissed the comparison.

“I guess my response is, in 2000, there was an automatic recount triggered in the state of Florida based the margins of the result,” he said. “After that was litigated, the vice president conceded the election gracefully and with dignity. And he did so because it was indeed in the best interest of the country. So I’m not sure this is Republicans’ best argument. In fact, it seems to argue to the contrary.”

Asked why it’s a point to the contrary, Schultz repeated that once the Florida recount “was decided” Gore, “much to the dismay of some on the left who were urging him to continue the fight, went ahead and placed his own political self-interest behind the interests of the country and conceded the race to then-Gov. Bush.”

*  On Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks about aligning the Philippines with China

Schultz said,  “the U.S.-Philippine alliance is built on a 70-year history, rich people to people ties and a long list of shared security concerns.”

“We have not received any request from Philippine officials to alter any of our many issues, where we bilaterally cooperate,” he said.

Schultz noted that “we continue to be the Philippines’ strongest economic partner,” with foreign direct investment of $4.7 billion, more than any other country.

“We have always believed, the president has said repeatedly, that it’s in our interest for countries in the Asia-Pacific to have strong relationships with a responsible China,” he said. “We don’t consider this a zero-sum game.”

Schultz noted that President Obama cancelled a one-on-one meeting with Duterte during his trip to Asia, after a previous set of provocative remarks by the Philippine president.

Schultz reiterated the WH view that the U.S. does not take a side in the dispute between China and its neighbors over islands and reefs in the South China. “Our view is that these disputes need to be handled through multilateral adjudications and according to rules based on international norms,” he said.

*    On Robert Creamer’s visits to the White House

When pressed for further clarity on the nature of those visits, Schultz first expressed gratitude for the opportunity to reply, citing the administration’s release of visitor logs and its broader commitment to transparency.

Schultz then explained that the WAVES logs “don’t always reveal real-time information,” meaning that a person might have been cleared to enter the WH, but did not actually enter the complex.

“I don’t know if we’ve had the time to go back and look at every individual visit,” he said, adding that a lot of the visits for which Creamer was cleared were large events, “more than 1,000 people.”

“This idea that there were intimate meetings in the Oval Office,” Schultz said, “I don’t think is consistent with where the data is.”

“But if we have more information about the visits, we’ll let you know,” he added.

* On North Korea’s failed missile launch

Schultz said the U.S. military’s Strategic Command concluded it was an intermediate-range ballistic missile. The launch did not pose a threat to North America, according to the military.

“We strongly condemn this and North Korea’s other missile tests, which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Schultz said. “We believe this provocation only serves to increase the international community’s resolve to counter the DPRK’s prohibited activities, including through implementing existing U.N. Security Council sanctions.  It also underscores the need for the U.N. Security Council to impose additional strong sanctions in response to the DPRK’s nuclear test on September 9.”

Jordan Fabian | White House Correspondent | The Hill | 1625 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 | xxx@email.com | Desk: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Mobile: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Twitter: @Jordanfabian

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