The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton en Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

12:05 P.M. EDT

MR. BURTON:  All right, I’m just going to start out with the week ahead.  Hey, Bill.  On Monday, the President will host the White House Science Fair, celebrating the winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math -- that’s STEM -- competitions.  In the evening the President will attend an event for the DSCC in Rockville, Maryland.  

On Tuesday, the President will sign the Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Executive Order at the White House.  On Wednesday, the President will meet with his national security team for his monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room.  Later the President will travel to Portland, Oregon, to attend a fundraiser and rally for gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber.  The President will then travel to Seattle where he will spend the night.

On Thursday, the President will hold an event in Seattle and then attend a rally for Senator Murray. Later the President will travel to San Francisco, California.  In the evening, the President will attend a dinner for the DNC.  The President will spend the night in San Francisco.

On Friday, the President will travel to Los Angeles, where he will attend events for Senator Barbara Boxer and for the DNC.  Later the President will travel to Las Vegas, where he will attend an event for the DNC and later an event for Senator Reid and the DSCC.  The President will spend the night in Vegas.

On Saturday, the President will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, home of the mighty Golden Gophers, and attend an event for Mark Dayton, and then will attend an event for the DCCC.  The President will return to Washington, D.C., in the evening.

And as a final note, on the week ahead, today is Ben LaBolt’s last day, who in his tenure at the White House was energetic and spirited and pioneered an effort to communicate with colleagues and reporters using just pictures of mimes, which everybody was really impressed with.

So with that, I will be happy to take your questions.

Q    So can you tell us about this meeting with Condi Rice today, why the President is meeting her, what they’re doing?

MR. BURTON:  Sure.  She was going to be in town, and the President obviously couldn’t make her book party later today.  But he wanted to bring her in and have a chat with her.  I’m sure they’ll talk about a wide range of foreign policy issues.  

Q    Afghanistan, Iraq?

MR. BURTON:  A wide range of issues, I’m sure.

Q    Will we get a readout after the meeting?

MR. BURTON:  I think there will be some information made available.  I’m not sure exactly how that will be provided just yet.

Q    How long are they scheduled to meet for?

MR. BURTON:  I think it’s on his schedule for about 30 minutes.

Q    Bill, do you have any comment to make on -- I don’t even know what the final figure is on the deficit for fiscal 2010, but do you have any statement to make on that?

MR. BURTON:  Well, those numbers will be released later today, and I’ve seen the reports that the number is going to be lower than previously estimated.  And even though that suggests that we’re moving in the right direction, the President thinks we still need to do a lot of work in order to get our fiscal house in order.

He’s taken a number of steps to do that already.  And he’s going to continue to work hard to make sure that we’re on the right track.

Q    How concerned are you about the fact that giving special attention to these outside Republican groups like American Crossroads, the Rove-led groups, is actually helping them raise funds -- raise tons of funds, they say?

MR. BURTON:  Unless a bright light is shined on the shadowy activity of these outside groups, people aren’t going to know the facts, which is that with their complete lack of transparency, lord knows who’s participated in these races.

And the President thinks that if you’re going to participate in politics, you ought to be transparent about it.

Q    Aren’t you concerned that they’re helping them raise tons of money, as they say?

MR. BURTON:  You know, I think a lot of that is overhyped and the sort of thing that you hear in political seasons.  But the President is committed to making sure that we have a political system where folks are being transparent.

Q    Bill, the foreclosures -- how concerned is the White House?  There’s still a lot of turmoil in the markets about it.  And what is being considered, if anything?

MR. BURTON:  Well, the President is, of course, engaged and wants to make sure that these servicers live up to their obligations.  And we’re obviously supportive of the efforts that are happening in all 50 states by the attorneys general to investigate what’s going on in their own states.  

The fraud task force over at the Department of Justice is, of course, looking at this.  And the Attorney General himself said that if wrongdoing is found, appropriate action is going to be taken.  So the President is engaged and watching very closely.

Q    Why would you spend so much time today for a candidate who is 20 points ahead in the polls?

MR. BURTON:  Well, I’m not going to get into specific politics of any of these individual races while we’re on Air Force One.  But I will say that the President and the Vice President are going around the country and working very hard to elect candidates who will help to push forward on an agenda that’s going to keep our economy moving in the right direction.

He doesn’t think that -- the President doesn’t think that we ought to be taking any race -- or any voters ought to be taking any situation for granted.  But he’s happy to go out and wear his hat as leader of the Democratic Party here and around the country.

We’re going to Ohio, of course, this weekend.  We’re going up to Boston this weekend.  And I just read you a range of places that we’re going next week, so the President and the Vice President are going to quite a few different places.

Q    Does it have anything to do with the Vice President being from Delaware and also the Tea Party side of it?

MR. BURTON:  I think the fact that the state of Delaware is near and dear to the heart of Vice President Biden is certainly a factor; also near and dear to the heart of Dan Pfeiffer, who is on board with us today.

Q    I don’t have the details on it because I just saw news of it as we were taxiing, but there’s some sort of action that you all have taken regarding allegations of unfair trade in China regarding the clean energy industry.  You may know more about it than I do.  What are you doing --

MR. BURTON:  I know enough to tell you that --

Q    What’s the reason?

MR. BURTON:   -- your colleagues ought to check in with USTR on that one.

Q    Does Christine O’Donnell being a prominent face of the Tea Party, does that have anything to do with today’s visit?

MR. BURTON:  I think -- like I said, I think I just want to leave it at what I said, that the President and the Vice President are going places where they think that they can be helpful.

All right?  See you guys in Delaware -- or Philly and then Delaware.

Q    Thank you.

12:11 P.M. EDT

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