Tales from the Trail

White House hits back at Cheney “dithering” comment

October 22, 2009

AFGHANISTAN-CHENEY/The White House is firing back at former Vice President Dick Cheney who accused President Barack Obama of “dithering” and being “afraid to make a decision” on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

The First Draft: No Decisions

October 15, 2009

Beau Biden, son of the vice president, says he is considering running for his dad’s Senate seat but hasn’t made a decision yet.

Has stimulus become a dirty word at the White House?

October 7, 2009

If it walks like a stimulus and quacks like a stimulus, is it a stimulus?

NUCEAR-IRAN/MISSILES-USAThat’s the question being thrown at White House spokesman Robert Gibbs this week. And he has so far refused to bite.

Grayson sweet-talks Republicans on healthcare reform

October 1, 2009

In the never-ending Democratic struggle to win bipartisan support for healthcare reform, Representative Alan Grayson is probably not the guy to send to the House floor to woo Republicans.

White House waffles on Guantanamo Bay closing deadline

September 28, 2009

President Barack Obama is finding out what his predecessor experienced — closing Guantanamo Bay is easier said than done.

Cheney touches a nerve at the White House

August 31, 2009

Well there he goes again. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has got ‘em all riled up again at the Obama White House over his Fox News Sunday interview. GUANTANAMO-CHENEY/

Three strikes for Obama — at the bowling alley

August 3, 2009

President Barack Obama may be struggling to boost a weak economy and push through healthcare reform, but he is making undisputed progress in one area — he’s raised his bowling score from an embarrassing 37 — out of a possible 300 — to a 144.

Who’s in the tank at Obama’s White House luau?

June 25, 2009

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs barely got a foot through the door of the White House briefing room Thursday before being hit by the full force of a press corps demanding information on the big news of the day.
 
Not Iran or healthcare, of course, or even the energy bill that President Barack Obama had discussed earlier in the White House Rose Garden.
 
Nope, the big news Thursday OBAMA/was who on the White House staff would take a turn in the dunk tank at the Hawaiian luau being thrown by Obama for members of Congress and their families on the White House south lawn. 
 
“I went out there to see it. It’s out there,” Gibbs said in response to questions about the tank — one of those amusement park devices where someone sits suspended over a huge tub of water while others hurl balls at a trigger in an effort to dunk him.
 
“Rahm is going to be in it. Phil Schiliro’s going to be in it,” Gibbs said, referring to Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, and Schiliro, the president’s assistant for legislative affairs.
 
“Robert Gibbs is going to be in it,” he added, referring to himself.
 
News that Emanuel and Schiliro would be targets in the dunk tank set off speculation on Capitol Hill that Obama was deviously trying to round up more support for an expected vote in the House Friday on the energy bill.
 
News that Gibbs had volunteered set off a round of journalistic pleading for news coverage, or perhaps an opportunity to try it out on White House spokesman.
 
Offers of fundraising for charity were made — $5 or $10 per reporter in exchange for a throw and a video of the results.
 
“I’m happy to. You guys collect the pot of money, you guys pick your best arm, and we can — you can have a shot at it. You can throw it (at) me and I’ll get you the video,” Gibbs said. 
 OBAMA/
He did express one reservation. 
 
“My only concern at this point is that the water gets a little warmer maybe before we start throwing.”
 
And so at the appointed hour a little past 5 p.m., the press corps filed out for the dunking shortly before the start of the luau, cheered on by Obama, who poked his head out a West Wing door and shouted: “Go get him! Go get him! You can do it!”
 
Gibbs went into the water twice in five minutes — once at the hands of AP’s Ben Feller and a second time on the pitching of CBS’s Bill Plante, who’s been covering the White House for nearly 30 years.
 
Gibbs was still drying off as the luau got underway.
 
“Bill Plante,” he said. “Who’d have thought?” 
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Elections in Iran, Illinois? Obama very busy not picking sides

June 19, 2009

If you ever wondered what Illinois and Iran might have in common, here’s one answer: President Obama is most definitely not picking sides in their elections.
 
So insists the White House.
 
OBAMA/“Our response … on this has been, from the very beginning, consistent,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing Thursday when asked about the post-election turmoil in Iran.
 
“The American people and this government are not going to pick the next leader of Iran,” he said. “That’s something that the Iranians have to do.”
 
That doesn’t mean they won’t tsk-tsk loudly from the sidelines as the opportunity permits.
 
The administration has voiced concern about how the election was conducted, but shied away from suggesting any fraud was involved in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defeat of challenger Mirhossein Mousavi.
 
They say they don’t favor either candidate, but insist the challenger’s supporters have a right to continue their protests a week after the vote.
 
“We have to ensure that we express our views, as I’ve said, about ensuring that people can demonstrate, have their causes and concerns heard,” the White House spokesman said.
 
Obama’s also steering clear of the U.S. Senate race in Illinois, Gibbs said, even though he met last Friday with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
 
Chicago papers say the Obama administration is pushing her to run for the president’s former U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but the White House begs to differ.
 
“Let me be explicit,” Gibbs said. “The president is not going to pick a candidate in the Illinois Senate race.”
 
And the meeting at the White House with Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarret? Why, Madigan and Obama are just old friends and Obama has “enormous respect for what she accomplished,” Gibbs said.
 
And oh, by the way …
 
“I think she’d be a terrific candidate. But we’re not going to get involved in picking that candidate in Illinois.”
 
For more Reuters political news, click here.

What if a Gitmo detainee is acquitted? It’s hypothetical …

June 9, 2009

The Obama administration doesn’t want to talk about what might happen if a New York court acquits a Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspect.
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Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian, Tuesday became the first Guantanamo prisoner sent to the United States for trial. He pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court.