The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One, 7/16/2012

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cincinnati, Ohio

10:25 A.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Welcome aboard Air Force One as we make our way to the great state of Ohio.  Thank you for joining us.  As we have been doing of late, Jen and I will be briefing together.  I can take questions related to policy, the presidency, the administration, et cetera.  Jen can take your questions on the campaign.  Where questions contain elements that each of us can respond to, we’ll do that accordingly.

Before I turn it over to Jen to give a topper, I just wanted to mention that today the World Trade Organization is announcing another clear win for the United States in a trade dispute with China -- this time over so-called “electronic payment systems” like credit and debit cards. 

The Obama administration launched this case in 2010.  Today’s win highlights that tackling unfair Chinese trade practices has been a priority of this President throughout his term in office.  That is precisely why 3.5 years into the President’s first term we have doubled the rate of WTO cases against China versus the prior administration.

I can answer more questions about that, the details of which may be interesting to you.

With that, I will turn over the top to Jen.

MS. PSAKI:  In his remarks today in Cincinnati, President Obama will highlight a new report that it was issued in tax notes -- I have copies of it here if anyone doesn’t have a copy -- that indicates that Mitt Romney’s support for a tax system that would eliminate taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits would create 800,000 jobs overseas.  This could impact places like Cincinnati.  And as I mentioned, the President will be talking about it in his remarks today.

MR. CARNEY:  And with that, we’ll take your questions.

Q    The Romney campaign is upping the heat about so-called crony capitalism.  They’re talking not only about familiar cases like Solyndra, but also some other cases like Westly and First Wind.  Is the President vulnerable on that?

MR. CARNEY:  I’ll take a -- can I just do the policy part first?  This President will not concede the industries of the 21st century to China, India, Europe and elsewhere.  The investments made in the Recovery Act have already helped renewable energy production double in the United States.  They have helped created thousands -- tens of thousands of jobs in the United States.  And they have helped build a foundation for competition in vital industries in the 21st century, for competition that will allow for the creation of American jobs in the United States. 

The alternative is to cede those industries to other countries, because the 21st century will be very much focused on the development of clean energy technologies and the utilization of the clean energy technologies.  So you have a choice.  You either make the investments to ensure that those jobs are created in the United States, or you don’t.  And if you don’t, you decide that you’re going to be importing not just foreign oil but foreign clean energy technologies.  This President will not do that.  And I’ll turn it over to Jen.

Q    Are you saying that people who contribute money to the campaign or help the campaign in other ways are rewarded with loans and grants for these types of energy programs?

MS. PSAKI:  I’ll take this.  President Obama has set a bar of transparency that Mitt Romney has not met, cannot possibly meet even on his tippy toes.  We have released bundlers regularly.  We release people who visit the White House.  We release far more than Mitt Romney has come close to.  I would encourage anyone to ask the Romney campaign to provide a list of their bundlers.  The only reason we’re discussing this is because of President Obama’s high level of transparency. 

I will say that on the points that Mitt Romney is attempting to make, these are old, tired, haggard attacks, and they -- we know what tactically they're trying to do, which is change the conversation, because he doesn't want to answer questions about his time at Bain Capital, as over the weekend new information continued to come out, raising additional questions.

For Mitt Romney, as well, it should not come as any surprise either that given President Obama’s strong record on clean energy, which Jay touched on, that there would be supporters who have contributed to the campaign.  This is an area, as Jay touched on, that we’re committed to not only pushing forward, but the President will be talking about his commitment to clean energy on the campaign trail.

Q    But just because you reveal or divulge donors doesn’t mean that there’s not a connection between federal grants and loans and help for the campaign.

MR. CARNEY:  I was just going to say there’s been a substantial amount of time and energy spent in the House of Representatives investigating this, and they have come out with exactly zero evidence of any kind of improper behavior with regards to this.  And rather than focusing on creating jobs and helping the economy grow, the House of Representatives, in particular, has spent a great deal of time focusing on these kinds of investigations that have led nowhere.

When they haven’t been doing that, they’ve been voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act 33 time -- again, a use of their time as America’s representatives in the House and in Congress that I think most Americans would think was ill spent. 

MS. PSAKI:  And just one thing to add.  I would encourage also anyone to take a look at Mitt Romney’s record when he was the governor of Massachusetts.  He’s treading on thin ice here, and I would encourage all of you to take a look at the kind of bundler -- the kind of donors he had, the contracts that were given, and take a look and see what you find there. 

Just to add to what Jay said, in addition to the congressional investigation, there’s been countless fact checks from media organizations about these accusations over the course of the last six months that we’re happy to provide as needed.

Q    Just a quick change of subject before you come back to this, I’m sure -- North Korea, one of the top military officials in the country has been pushed out of -- pushed out.  What’s the White House reaction to that?  Do you see any significance that the new leader there is beginning to assert himself?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don't have any comment on the specific personnel move that you referred to.  And I think that the way we address the issue of policy towards North Korea has to do with holding North Korea accountable to its international obligations and judging North Korea by its actions, and not spending a lot of time trying to read into personnel moves in what is one of the world's most opaque governments and societies.

Q    Jen, the Romney campaign’s poster has a memo out saying that despite all of the attacks -- and they’ve been pretty relentless -- that the race is tightening, not widening; the gap is tightening in his favor, therefore they're not working.  Do you have evidence to the contrary?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we've all known that once Mitt Romney became the nominee that there would be a bump in support for his candidacy.  Obviously, we're a couple weeks into that.  We've always known the race would be --

Q    But you’ve been saying that for a while now.

MS. PSAKI:  -- the race would be close.  We've always said that. 

We're exactly where we want to be.  We're traveling to Ohio today, where if you talk to people in the crowd I will promise you people will bring up outsourcing and Mitt Romney's record on outsourcing and their concerns about that.  We're focused on running a state-to-state campaign.  That’s why we're in Ohio today, that’s why we're going to Florida later this week.  And I will tell you, we're exactly where we want to be, which is with field organizers on the ground, volunteers building, opening more offices.  And that’s where our focus is.

Q    Can you point any evidence that these questions that you're raising about Romney is taking a toll on him?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we have seen in state-by-state polls, especially in places like Ohio, that people have started to question Mitt Romney's business credentials, which he's been leading with, as the reason -- the number-one qualification for his presidency.  People are questioning what he did at Bain, what these investments were.  People want to know more about his time there and what decisions he was involved in.

We saw over the weekend that Bill Kristol and Haley Barbour both suggested, called on him to release his tax returns.  And he's created this cloud of secrecy around his campaign that I promise you people in states across the country are very concerned about.

Q    Jay, you started off giving us a -- sort of highlighting a WTO decision against China, I think you said on debit and credit cards.  Of course, the last time you guys were in Ohio there was a WTO complaint that was filed by the U.S.  Do you all see that the message of wins -- these are clear wins against China resonate particularly well in a state like Ohio that has strong auto industry ties?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President feels very strongly that taking action to ensure that American companies and American workers are able to compete on a level playing field with China and other countries is something that resonates across the country with Americans. 

This particular announcement that I brought up at the top of the briefing was made by the WTO.  It has nothing -- the timing is not ours, but it is newsworthy today.  And this relates to one of the six prior cases that the United States has filed at the WTO against China under President Obama.  The other action that you referenced refers to the seventh new initiative that this administration has filed at the WTO against China.

MS. PSAKI:  I just wanted to add one thing about the town hall today -- this is the first town hall.  Some people have asked me this.  So first town hall of the general election.  The tickets were distributed at three field offices around Cincinnati, free and open to the public.  Let me know if you have any other questions on that front, but just so you're all aware.

Q    Three field offices?

MS. PSAKI:  Three field offices in Cincinnati.

Q    -- first come, first serve?

MS. PSAKI:  Yes, exactly.

Q    Jay, is the White House putting out some information on the WTO case?

MR. CARNEY:  I’ll see if we can get more information available to you.  I'm not sure that we have a lot more on it.  It has to do with -- I can tell you this, that the heart of the case involves a Chinese prohibition on foreign companies handling credit and debit card payments in China, instead requiring that they go through one single domestic entity -- China Union Pay. 

Today's win shows our determination to go after China's efforts to distort global trade rules, including by creating domestic "national champions" like China Union Pay.  And it will benefit jobs and companies here at home.  So this is -- the case itself was filed in 2010.  This is another judgment in the U.S.'s favor with regards to this case.

Q    The field office -- if someone walks in off the street who has not worked for the campaign and the campaign is not familiar with them, they could get a ticket?

MS. PSAKI:  Yes.  I don't know the numbers yet, but we'll get you that information as soon as we get there. 

MR. CARNEY:  Thanks, everybody. 

10:38 A.M. EDT

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