White House Press Briefing Live-blog [5 Feb. 2009]

Update: The highlight thus far is the testy exchange between Gibbs and Tapper. Checking the tape again it appears he did answer Tapper's second question, albeit tersely muttering the response, before turning to Chuck Todd of NBC.

Gibbs starting press conference about 10 minutes late, at 2:10. Says was late getting started due to news about Associate Justice Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer surgery.

[N.B.: I'm watching via Fox News ]

14:10, Jennifer Loven, AP: question about stimulus size.

14:13, Loven question about potential conflict of interest for Obama's Labor Sec. designee, Rep. Solis.

14:14, female reporter notes more "combative" tone to Obama's talk on stimulus, asks if he's "given up on bipartisanship"

sorry for the gap, had Internet connection problems for a few minutes.

14:19, Ed Henry: President talked about the trillion dollar deficit, why then if that's a failure does he want to add $8 or $9 billion on top of that?

14:20, Henry: Paid for with a cigarette tax but we're not sure how many are going to buy cigarettes

14:22,Henry: Notes Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis's husband's reported tax liens, asks if White House knew about it.

14:24, Jake Tapper, ABC News: Can we get copy of the waivers for former lobbyists given by the OMB. It's not available by email or the Web, can we get them. 

Gibbs has testy exchange with Tapper. Might get video later

14:24, Tapper notes that a majority of the American people want major changes to stimulus, according to Gallup, asks if he's concerned the White House has lost control of defining the debate.

Gibbs mutters answer, turns to Chuck Todd, NBC

Todd asks his question.

14:26, Todd asks followup

14:27, Todd asks questions about U.S.-Russia relations

14:27, Chip Reid notes moderate Republicans say they can't support stimulus bill as expensive as the House bill. Notes he needs their votes for passage, has he agreed to keep it under the 819.

14:29, Reid asking on strategy for stimulus, if White House should be more active in stating its objectives, desire for legislative direction of the stimulus.

14:29, Helen Thomas, Hearst columnist: Does the president believe in the separation of church and state?

Gibbs: Yes he does.

14:29: Then why does he keep this religious office open (referring to faith-based initiative)?

14:31, Thomas: Are they [faith-based initiative programs] competitive with govt. programs?

14:32, male reporter: Does the president believe he needs 60 votes for does he think the Republicans will let this go to up or down vote? Any plans by the president to address the public about the stimulus?

14:33, same reporter: An Oval Office address?

14:33, Mark Knoller, CBS Radio with question about whether Obama is impatient with progress on the stimulus bill.

14:34, Knoller asks if its accurate reports that the administration is trying to come up with a phrase to replace the term "war on terrorism"

14:35, female reporter asks what other moderate Republicans besides Snowe and Collins is Obama reaching out to.

14:36, same reporter asks how Obama is deploying Judd Gregg to lobby for his legislation

14:36, Major Garrett: Who does the president believe is more productive, this group of 17 or the majority leader?

14:38, Garrett asks about faith-based policy change regarding waiver of anti-discrimination laws: Why do you believe these faith-based initiatives can succeed when they have to bring in people they aren't comfortable working with?

14:39, Garrett asks question about possible closing of base in Kyrgyzstan.

14:39, male reporter: Does he believe the approach on the stimulus is successful? Is it as effective to sell the stimulus from an op-ed in the post as from the ground [traveling the country, promoting the stimulus]?

14:41, male reporter question on hiring practices

14:41, same reporter with followup

14:42, Mara Liasson, NPR: Can you at least talk about the kinds of improvements he wants to see specifically or is that something he's waiting to do?

14:43, Liasson with followup, challenging Gibbs's answer

14:45, female reporter:  At the MARC station earlier today,Biden said of stimulus, it's not our moment [to weigh in the legislative battle.] When is it your moment, when will the president step in?

14:46, male reporter with questions on tax dedux for sales tax, cars and if Obama supports that in the stimulus bill.

14:46, same reporter follows up asks if Obama would like to see something like a tax credit in the bill for car purchases.

14:47, female reporter noting Hilda Solis's husband just yesterday paying back liens, asks if he did that at White House behest

Gibbs: He paid them because he owed back taxes

14:48, same reporter: But he owed them for a long time

Gibbs: ...but she's not a partner in the business, we're not going to hold her responsible

14:48, same reporter: Will she have trouble getting confirmed?

14:48, April Ryan, citing talk that faith based initiative backers urged to push the stimulus package: Is there a line crossed with issue of church and state as many of these committee members are church leaders?

Fox News cutting away from briefing, switching to MSNBC

[14:50] Gibbs answering question apparently about what church Obamas plan to attend or if they have found a church home yet

MSNBC cutting away from press briefing, switching to CNN

Gibbs answering question apparently about Obama's relationship with former British PM Blair

14:51, female reporter: Is there still a special relationship between U.S. and Great Britain?

14:51, male reporter: How important is Biden's trip to foreign policy, how is president handling more conciliatory signs from Moscow?

14:52, Gibbs wraps up briefing.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.