White House Press Briefing Live-blog [2 February 2009]

Update (14:33): News conference just ended. Gibbs faced numerous questions on Tom Daschle, including one from each major broadcast network's correspondents. [audio excerpt available here]

Live blogging the press briefing. Official WH ranscript available here.

13:47 CNN cuts to Brady briefing room, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs making opening announcements before questions. Announces Obama event to commemorate 200th anniversary of birth of Abraham Lincoln.

13:52, female reporter: On Tom Daschle, if you could take a step back, we have two nominees paying back taxes. An awful lot of money... what kind of a message does it send?

Robert Gibbs says Daschle discovered a mistake and paid for it, including penalty fees. Says he hopes Senate will examine not just "one mistake in a career" but Daschle's whole career in public service. 

13:54, same female reporter: Are you at all embarrassed by this? Do you see any problem in your vetting [of Cabinet designees]?

13:55, male reporter, question on agenda of President's meeting with SecDef. Gates.

13:56, Ed Henry, CNN: Is there a gulf between what President and Republicans are saying about stimulus package? Are there specific things you want to keep or take out of the stimulus package?

13:57, Henry: Notes Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) wants to turn stimulus into a jobs bill.

14:00, Henry presses Gibbs on shifting numbers on jobs to be produced as result of Obama policies/stimulus package

14:01, ABC's Jake Tapper asks if tax issues plaguing Cabinet picks Geithner and Daschle undercut Obama's talk of era of responsibility or that tax plans going forward ask Americans pay more taxes. What would the president like to see added to stimulus package to attract Republican supporters since Dem leaders in House and Senate not doing so?

14:03, Tapper re-asks question of Gibbs: almost $200k in unpaid taxes, will this undercut era of responsibility talk or call for more taxes?

14:04, Chip Reid CBS News asks about what Gibbs means by the president leaving the legislating to the legislators, is he pulling out of active role in negotiating the stimulus?

14:06, Reid on Daschle: Does the president consider a failure to pay over $100,000 in taxes a bump in the road?

14:07, Chuck Todd, NBC: Your opening statement seemed reiteration of stimulus talking points? Do you think you're losing? That Republicans have done a better job of framing your bill?

14:08, Todd, NBC News:  On Sen. Daschle, does it concern the president that an ex-senator like him can turn around so easily, become a lobbyist?

14:09, Todd: Picking up on Jake's question, do you worry Daschle undercuts your message?

14:10, male reporter Jonathan ?: You said Geithner was the only one capable, now you say Daschle best suited for this job, when does Obama say I campaigned against the ways of Washington, it's time to take a stand.... this wasn't a question of vetting, but a question of deciding the infraction wasn't worth pulling the name. When is it worth pulling the name?

14:11, Peter Maer, CBS Radio: When was the last time the president spoke to Daschle about this tax mistake? 

14:12, male reporter with stimulus package question

14:12, male reporter with followup.

14:14, Helen Thomas: How far is the president willing to go to appease Republicans? He doesn't seem to be concerned about poor homeowners.

14:14, Thomas: They dropped it from the stimulus bill.

14:15, Thomas: But it won't be in this package.

14:16, Major Garrett, Fox News: Is there an amount of money in unpaid back taxes in a Cabinet pick that would make that person unqualified? Is there any thing you can tell the public make them comfortable that he made speeches from companies related to health care that he'll be regulating?

14:17, Garrett Fox News: Why is Judd Gregg at the top of the Commerce list and does the president believe that governors should pick replacements from the same party?

14:18, reporter named Jeff: Is the president personally lobbying senators on the finance committee for Daschle? Is he making phone calls?

14:19, male reporter: How do you know the bill will save or create 3-4 million jobs?

14:20, same reporter: Can you ever retrospectively measure which jobs have been saved?

14:21, same reporter: Who can tell exactly why some people are let go and what the causes are?

14:23, reporter jokes about if there's a bill in the works to save journalists's jobs

14:23, another male reporter: Does the president believe all jobs created are equal? What I mean is this, he's talked a lot about public sector jobs. If at the end of the day a lot of public sector jobs created as opposed to private sector jobs, is that okay?

14:25, male reporter asks: Would some of the controversial items to Republicans, natl. endowment for the arts funding, for example, but up for discussion?

14:26, same reporter: new chairman for GOP says abolition of cap gains tax to free up capital, or at least suspend for two years should be up for discussion, is that something president would consider?

14:26, female reporter: quotes Mitch McConnell from earlier today on stimulus plan. I guess I was just wondering, does the president plan on putting the Democrats in line on the stimulus?

14:28, female reporter: But you don't think the President is closer to the Republicans on the stimulus than the Democrats are?

14:29, April Ryan: Are the members of the congressional black caucus on the president's schedule. Ryan lists issues they want to talk to Obama about.

14:30, Ryan: There was no white house statement on steele. Is there one coming out? He is an African-American leading the other major party

GIBBS directs Ryan to talk to the DNC for comment.

14:30, male reporter with stimulus package question

14:32, male reporter asks follow-up.

14:33, news conference closed.

Government & Press Video Audio Judd Gregg Roberts Gibbs Chip Reid Chuck Todd Michael Steele Tom Daschle