April 29, 2009: President Barack Obama’s 100 Days Press Conference

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


White  House Photo collage


In Focus: Stats

  • CNN Poll of Polls compiled early Wednesday: 63 percent say they approve of how Obama is handling his duties
  • Doing the math on Obama’s 100 daysAP, 4-29-09
  • Key events in Obama’s first 100 daysAP, 4-29-09
  • Delivering on Change, an Inside Look: Pete Souza and the White House Photo Office bring us an exclusive, massive, unique look at the President’s term so far. Take a few minutes to get a different perspective from the images on television every day.- WH, 4-28-09
  • Barack Obama’s First 100 DaysTime, 4-29-09
  • 100-Day Diary: Making New Policies, Reversing Old OnesNYT, 4-29-09
  • Photos: Behind the Scenes with Obama: TIME photographer Callie Shell documents the President’s historic start on the job – Time, 4-29-09
  • FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape: “That wasn’t me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One. It actually was him _ and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years _ who shaped a budget so out of balance…. – Rapid City Journal, 4-29-09


Jim Wilson/The New York Times President Obama conducted a prime-time news conference on his 100th day in office. More Photos >

The Headlines…

  • Live Blogging the President’s News ConferenceNYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama ‘Gravely Concerned’ About Pakistan: President Obama said Wednesday that he was “gravely concerned” about the stability of the Pakistani government but that he was confident Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would not fall into the hands of Islamic militants…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Analysis: Obama channels FDR amid crises: Banks failing and the economy in shambles, the new U.S. president reassured a nationwide audience that his administration was putting America back on the right track. “It was the government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in the first of a series of radio addresses dubbed fireside chats, “and the job is being performed.”
    More than seven decades later, Barack Obama borrowed heavily from FDR’s playbook as he tried to slip as effortlessly into the role of comforter in chief. “Every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations,” Obama said of the flu outbreak Wednesday night…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • The President’s 100th Day: NYT, 4-29-09
  • 100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility: Barack Obama opened his presidency by drawing an unflinching portrait of the challenges. Then he set about turning those perils into possibilities.
    In a dizzying dash to the 100-day mark, Obama made a down payment on the changes he’d promised and delivered a trillion-dollar wallop to wake up the moribund economy. He put the country on track to end one war, reorient another and redefine what it means to be a superpower…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama proud of his first 100 days: Though he will tell the nation he is ‘pleased with our progress,’ according to advance excerpts from the White House, he will acknowledge there are challenges ahead. – LAT, 4-29-09
  • Obama “Pleased” but “Not Satisfied” With Progress: President to Look Ahead to the Next 100 Days in his Prime Time News Conference – ABC News, 4-29-09
  • 100 days in, Obama is a man of many hats: From reluctant CEO to chief U.S. medical adviser, President Barack Obama showed how many hats he wears at a news conference marking his 100th day in office on Wednesday. Shrugging off critics who say he has taken on too many tasks in his young presidency, Obama said all the issues had landed in his lap at the same time and had to be dealt with simultaneously…. – Reuters, 4-29-09
  • Obama returns to theme of hope on 100th day of presidency: He says he is ‘pleased . . . but not satisfied’ with his administration’s progress in the face of major issues including the economy and swine flu…. – LAT, 4-29-09
  • Obama calls first 100 days tense but fruitful: Marking his symbolic 100th day in office, President Barack Obama told Midwesterners Wednesday: “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made but I’m not satisfied.” “I’m confident in the future but I’m not content with the present,” the president told a town-hall style event in a St. Louis suburb… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama Marks First 100 Days, Defends Changes to Interrogation Policies: President Obama held the third prime-time press conference of his term after holding two other high-profile events, to mark the end of the opening phase of a presidency that has pressed an ambitious agenda even as it has been hit with mounting domestic and international challenges…. – Fox News, 4-29-09
  • Michelle Obama’s first 100 days: Michelle Obama’s first 100 days certainly seem to have been fun, be it spent opening the White House Easter egg hunt, or walking Bo the dog. Mrs Obama has played the role of the President’s wife in a traditional manner, accompanying him at state functions and, like many First Wives before, she has spoken out on issues she feels passionately about. But she has put her own twist on some of those moments; placing her arm affectionately around the Queen at a Buckingham Palace reception, and getting on her hands and knees to show her support for organic foods in a practical way, by planting vegetables in the White House garden…. – BBC News, 4-29-09
  • Congressional Spouses Join First Lady at Food Bank: First Lady Michelle Obama handed out packages of whole grain rotini to the eager volunteers while Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed out organic fruit snacks. They were joined by a veritable service brigade of Congressional spouses, more than 150 in all, who gathered on Wednesday to fill grocery bags with canned corn, canned chicken, granola cereal, spaghetti sauce and other items to help feed hundreds of hungry children in the Washington area. The human assembly line of service was organized by Mrs. Obama, who decided to spend her 100th day as first lady volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank and got a little help from the wives and husbands of the nation’s lawmakers…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Jonathan Alter “Scoring Obama’s First 100 Days”: With all that the president has done, he’s in league, so far, with FDR and LBJ. But early success is just that…. – Newsweek, 4-29-09
  • Obama ‘hopeful’ for resolution for Chrysler: President Barack Obama says he is “very hopeful” for a resolution that keeps Chrysler a viable auto company. Chrysler has borrowed $4 billion from the government since the beginning of the year and could soon be in danger of running out of cash without more help. The government in March rejected Chrysler’s restructuring plan and gave it 30 days — until Thursday — to make another effort… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama says waterboarding was torture: President Barack Obama said Wednesday night that waterboarding authorized by former President George W. Bush was torture and that the information it gained from terror suspects could have been obtained by other means. “In some cases, it may be harder,” he conceded at a White House news conference capping a whirlwind first 100 days in office…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama say tough economy means ‘more will be lost’: President Barack Obama is warning that “more will be lost” during a recession that has already cost millions of Americans their homes and their jobs…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Congress adopts budget plan endorsing Obama goals: Democrats in Congress capped President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office by advancing a $3.4 trillion federal budget for next year — a third of it borrowed — that prevents Republicans from blocking his proposed trillion-dollar expansion of government-provided health care over the next decade….
    “It’s a budget that reduces taxes, lowers the deficit and creates jobs,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “It honors the three pillars of the Obama initiatives: energy, health care and education.” – AP, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “We’ve begun the work of remaking America,” he says in Missouri…. Obama warns that progress comes from “hard work, not miracles”…. He held a prime-time news conference later Wednesday…. – CNN, 4-29-09
  • In a Mo. school, Obama delivers 100-day report card: Visiting the only battleground state he lost on election day, President Obama told an adoring crowd in this St. Louis suburb that he was glad to be back in middle America “where common sense often reigns.” Obama held a town hall-style meeting in the gymnasium of Arnold’s Fox Senior High School. Several hundred supporters greeted him with ovations and cheered as he took questions, outlined his policies and joked with audience members…. – USA Today, 4-29-09
  • White House Welcomes Specter: Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican-turned-Democrat, received a hearty welcome at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a high-level show of unity for the newest member of their caucus. In an unexpected calendar moment on the 100th day of Mr. Obama’s administration, the three officials all reminisced about their work together in the Senate just a short while ago. The vice president opened the embrace, noting that he and Mr. Specter had long talked over issues while riding the Amtrak trains together in their commutes to and from their respective homes in Delaware and Pennsylvania…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Obama: The 99th Day: Welcome to The Oval. It’s Day 99 of the Obama presidency. Just a few days of 100-day stories left! This is also the birthday of former President James Monroe…. Obama — who on Wednesday’s 100th day holds a town hall in Missouri and a news conference at the White House — has a relatively low key agenda today, at least publicly… – USA Today 4-28-09


The President at a town hall in Missouri
(President Barack Obama addresses a town hall at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri on April 29, 2009.
White House Photo, Pete Souza)

Political Quotes

  • “We are off to a good start. But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied.” — President Barack Obama, 4-29-09
  • “I have the best job being first lady. I think I have the best job in the White House because… I don’t have to deal with the hard problems everyday….but I get to do the fun stuff. And there’s so much fun to be had with service.” — Michelle Obama response to questions from the children of White House employees on what it is like to be the First Lady. BBC News, 4-29-09
  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Text of Obama’s news conference Wednesday: Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Wednesday at the White House, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
    OBAMA: Before we begin tonight, I just want to provide everyone with a few brief updates on some of the challenges w’re dealing with right now.
    First, we are continuing to closely monitor the emergency cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
    Our public health officials have recommended that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of this flu strongly consider temporarily closing. And if more schools are forced to close, we’ve recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home.
    I’ve requested an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress to support our ability to monitor and track this virus and to build our supply of antiviral drugs and other equipment. And we will also ensure that those materials get to where they need to be as quickly as possible.
    And, finally, I’ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick.
    We’ll continue to provide regular updates to the American people as we receive more information. And everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus.
    The second thing I’d like to mention is how gratified I am that the House and the Senate passed a budget resolution today that will serve as an economic blueprint for this nation’s future.
    I especially want to thank Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, all of the members of Congress who worked so quickly and effectively to make this blueprint a reality.
    This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
    We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
    But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I’ve also said that we can’t go back to an economy that’s built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of all.
    We have to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do.
    It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
    I also campaigned on the promise that I would change the direction of our nation’s foreign policy. And we’ve begun to do that, as well. We’ve begun to end the war in Iraq, and we forged with our NATO allies a new strategy to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.
    And we’ve renewed our diplomatic efforts to deal with challenges ranging from the global economic crisis to the spread of nuclear weapons.
    So I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s just a start. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I’m not content. I’m pleased with our progress, but I’m not satisfied.
    Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high, and government is still not as efficient as it needs to be.
    We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, as well as pandemic flu. And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security in the second hundred days, in the third hundred days and all of the days after that.
    You can expect us to work on health care reform that will bring down costs while maintaining quality, as well as energy legislation that will spark a clean-energy revolution. I expect to sign legislation by the end of this year that sets new rules of the road for Wall Street, rules that reward drive and innovation, as opposed to shortcuts and abuse.
    And we will also work to pass legislation that protects credit card users from unfair rate hikes and abusive fees and penalties. We’ll continue scouring the federal budget for savings and target more programs for elimination. And we will continue to pursue procurement reform that will greatly reduce the no-bid contracts that have wasted so many taxpayer dollars.
    So we have a lot of work left to do. It’s work that will take time, and it will take effort. But the United States of America, I believe, will see a better day.
    We will rebuild a stronger nation, and we will endure as a beacon for all of those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that there’s a place where all of this is possible.
    I want to thank the American people for their support and their patience during these trying times, and I look forward to working with you in the next hundred days, in the hundred days after that, all of the hundreds of days to follow to make sure that this country is what it can be.
    And with that, I will start taking some questions…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Retrospective in Missouri: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your President. (Applause.) One hundred days. It’s a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
    Now, back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place. (Laughter.) They didn’t give us much of a chance. They didn’t think we could do things differently. They didn’t know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
    But here’s the thing — my campaign wasn’t born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America; rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children — future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
    “I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them.”… – WH Blog, 4-29-09
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09
  • NYT Interview with President Obama: After the Great Recession: This was the NYT third interview about the economy, the first two occurring during last year’s campaign. And while the setting was decidedly more formal this time — the Oval Office — the interview felt as conversational as those earlier ones. The NYT sat at the far end of the office from his desk and spoke for 50 minutes. None of his economic advisers were there. As the conversation progressed, Obama spoke in increasingly personal terms….. – NYT, 4-28-09
  • White House Welcomes Arlen Specter: “I was unwilling to subject my 29-year-record in the United States Senate to the Pennsylvania Republican electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania and I will continue to do just that.” – NYT, 4-29-09


Michelle Obama and lawmakers' spouses pack bags of food for needy  families.Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press Michelle Obama and lawmakers’ spouses pack bags of food for needy families.

Historians’ Comments

  • Anthony Badger: Why Use 100 Days to Evaluate a New President? From rescuing the U.S. from a deepening recession to re-examining U.S. strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has set a busy agenda — earning praise from some and questions from others on its ambitious scope: Anthony Badger, Paul Mellon professor of American History and master of Clare College at Cambridge University and author of “FDR: The First Hundred Days” expands on the importance of a president’s first few months in office.”The president has his greatest power coming out of his electoral mandate on day one. And how you establish priorities in those first few weeks are very important for your entire presidency,” Badger said…. – PBS Newshour, 4-29-09
  • David McCullough “Author warns against ‘instant history’ of Obama’s first 100 days during Drew U. speech”: If it takes at least 50 years to fully appraise history, as historian and author David McCullough told a classroom of Drew University students this morning, then using the first 100 days of a presidency as a benchmark for performance is futile. But even as McCullough, speaking on the 100th day of President Barack Obama’s term in office, called the 100-day assessment “contrived,” he had high praise for the commander-in-chief.
    “I think we have an extraordinary president. He has the makings of one of the most remarkable presidents ever,” said McCullough, 75, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his books on American history. “The man is amazing… He has the capability to move people with words.” – The Star-Ledger, 4-29-09
  • Andrew Polsky “100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility”: “You’d be hard put to find another president facing those kinds of challenges who has acted as intelligently and aggressively to meet the challenges head on,” said presidential historian Andrew Polsky, a professor at Hunter College in New York. “He hasn’t pushed things to the back burner. Of course, whether any of this works is another question, and it’s too soon to know that.” – AP, 4-29-09
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Obama’s first 100 days So far, this president gets strong marks”: But you won’t hear much about race in the 100-day assessments even though that is what makes his presidency historic. “Americans of all colors can get used to an African-American president to the point where that is not what they are thinking about,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a presidential expert at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. “A Republican may hate him because he is a Democrat and too liberal. But it is not race that is the issue.”… “We’ve seen him maintain the tone and demeanor of his campaign,” said Zelizer. “Cool, collected and deliberative have remained pretty much what we’ve seen of him now that he is president.” Importantly, said Zelizer, “This is not a president struggling to find his way. . . . In general, he is in control of what is going on in the White House and in Washington.” – Sign on San Diego, 4-29-09
  • David Greenberg “Obama’s first 100 days So far, this president gets strong marks”: Historian David Greenberg of Rutgers said that “the real post-racial moment began on Jan. 20.” No one, he said, can contend it is racist to oppose Obama’s economic policies or appointments. Instead, those are being debated on their merits…. Most presidents have dreaded that first report card. Johnson, Nixon and Reagan were “obsessed by it,” said Greenberg. – Sign on San Diego, 4-29-09
  • Donald Ritchie “History’s Verdict: What 100 Days Can Reveal Past Presidents Have Veered From the Course They Set at the Start, but Their Early Days Still Provided Lasting Clues”: The idea that a president’s first 100 days are significant arose in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, as he pushed through a flurry of bills during the Great Depression. Ever since, presidents have been judged against that useful, if somewhat arbitrary, benchmark. Mr. Roosevelt “set an impossible standard,” says Donald Ritchie, a Senate historian and author of “Electing FDR.” “He was batting a thousand in his first 100 days.” – WSJ, 4-29-09
  • Richard Norton Smith “Obama Overthrows Reagan’s Government-Bad Dogma to Rescue Market “: “It’s profound,” says presidential historian Richard Norton Smith of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “There are very clearly taking place some long-term, even transforming shifts in priorities and resources.”…. – Bloomberg, 4-29-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “Obama’s 100 Days: Start of a journey”: Obama is “unflappable no matter what static or noise seems to surround him. He stays in a Zenlike mode,” – presidential historian Doug Brinkley…. Chicago Sun-Times, 4-29-09
  • US media on Obama’s first 100 days: Nearly every newspaper columnist, blogger and feature writer has had something to say about Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office…. – BBC News, 4-29-09
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