White House Aide: Obama Not Blushing Over Not-For-Media GOP Comments

Apr 15, 2011

When President Obama criticized Republicans in comments to Democratic donors in Chicago, remarks that were unintended for the media, he said nothing he hasn't said publicly, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday.

And the president certainly wasn't embarrassed, Carney said, after a reporter asked if Obama was chagrined by the fact that the White House press corps could still hear his pointed comments about congressional GOP leaders when they weren't supposed to.

Reporters were ushered out of the room after Obama made comments for the record. But he apparently didn't realize that even after reporters left the room, they could hear his on-mic comments over an audio feed in the press area.

Carney's exchange with reporters:

REPORTER: Does the President believe Paul Ryan is a sincere person? I mean, his comments in the public were very different than the comments when the reporters left the room, were very pointed in saying does he think — you know, implying that Ryan was not serious about the deficit, he voted for two wars, that kind of thing. Is there a difference between what he said in public and what he said when we thought he was not in public?

MR. CARNEY: Actually I think what he said in that session you're talking about and the things he's said in more public forums have been entirely consistent. And you can't in one breath criticize him for being pointed in his comments about the House Republican budget plan in public and then say, my gosh, he was pointed and so different in private, because he is making clear that the visions are quite different.

He does believe that Chairman Ryan is absolutely sincere and that he believes that this is the right — that that's the right path, the one he put forward is the right path for America.

The President simply disagrees because he doesn't think that it's balanced. He doesn't think that we need to — that the price of deficit reduction needs to be ending the guarantee, the health benefits that Medicare has provided our seniors, cutting energy — clean energy investment by 70 percent, cutting education by 25 percent, cutting infrastructure by 30 percent — and all so that we can not just reduce the deficit but so that we can extend tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans and give new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That's just not — that's just — it's a different vision.

And then — and I think the point he's making is that there is more here than a goal of deficit reduction. It's a vision of government and what — and the way our system should work and what America should look like.

And when he talked about those votes under the previous administration, he was making the point that that's evidence that this is more than — this is not just about deficit reduction. If it were just about deficit reduction, you wouldn't vote for --


MR. CARNEY: — an entitlement, a brand new entitlement without paying for it. You wouldn't vote for two massive tax cuts without paying for them, or for the funding of two wars without paying for them, which is what happened in the first decade of this year.

REPORTER: How did it happen last night that those remarks were piped back into the press room?

MR. CARNEY: It was a miscommunication, nothing more than that. But we've — it's not a problem, not an issue.

REPORTER: Is the President embarrassed about anything that he said --

MR. CARNEY: Not at all.

REPORTER: — or regret --

MR. CARNEY: Not at all. There's nothing --

REPORTER — might have clarified them differently if he had known they were for public distribution?

MR. CARNEY: He obviously — that was meant to be a closed-press event. He was taking questions from supporters. But there's nothing — nothing he said that contradicts anything he said in public.

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