Political Headlines April 30, 2013: Ed Markey, Gabriel Gomez Win Senate Primaries in Massachusetts

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Ed Markey, Gabriel Gomez Win Senate Primaries in Massachusetts

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-30-13

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez are the winners in Tuesday’s primary for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated when John Kerry became Secretary of State….

Markey and Gomez will face off in the general election on June 25….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 30, 2013: President Barack Obama in Second 100th Day Press Conference Defends FBI Over Boston, Won’t Commit to Action Against Syria

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Defends FBI Over Boston, Won’t Commit to Action Against Syria

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-30-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

In his first press conference since the Boston Marathon bombing, President Obama defended the FBI and said Americans will continue to go on about their lives.

During the wide-ranging question and answer session with reporters, he also said more investigation is required to determine if it was the Syrian government that used chemical weapons on its people….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 30, 2013: President Barack Obama’s White House Press Conference on the 100th Day of His Second Term — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Barack Obama’s White House Press Conference April 30, 2013 (Transcript)

Source: Time, 4-30-13

U.S. President Barack Obama responds at a press conference in the Brady Press Breifing Room at the White House in Washington DC, on April 30, 2013.

SHAWN THEW / EPA

U.S. President Barack Obama responds at a press conference in the Brady Press Breifing Room at the White House in Washington DC, on April 30, 2013.

Remarks Provided by the White House Press Office

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon — or good morning, everybody. I am here to answer questions in honor of Ed Henry, as he wraps up his tenure as president of the White House Correspondents Association.

Ed, because of that, you get the first question. Congratulations.

Q Thank you, sir, I really appreciate that. And I hope we can go back to business and being mad at each other a little bit. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not mad at you.

Q Okay, good. Thank you, I appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT: You may be mad at me. (Laughter.)

Q I’m not. A couple of questions on national security. On Syria, you said that the red line was not just about chemical weapons being used but being spread, and it was a game-changer — it seemed cut and dry. And now your administration seems to be suggesting that line is not clear. Do you risk U.S. credibility if you don’t take military action?

And then on Benghazi, there are some survivors of that terror attack who say they want to come forward and testify — some in your State Department — and they say they’ve been blocked. Will you allow them to testify? 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, on Syria, I think it’s important to understand that for several years now what we’ve been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people. And this is not a situation in which we’ve been simply bystanders to what’s been happening. My policy from the beginning has been that President Assad had lost credibility, that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians, and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and to move forward on a political transition.

In pursuit of that strategy we’ve organized the international community. We are the largest humanitarian donor. We have worked to strengthen the opposition. We have provided nonlethal assistance to the opposition. We have applied sanctions on Syria. So there are a whole host of steps that we’ve been taking precisely because, even separate from the chemical weapons issue, what’s happening in Syria is a blemish on the international community generally, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the Syrian people.

In that context, what I’ve also said is that the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer not simply for the United States but for the international community. And the reason for that is that we have established international law and international norms that say when you use these kinds of weapons you have the potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most inhumane way possible, and the proliferation risks are so significant that we don’t want that genie out of the bottle. So when I said that the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer, that wasn’t unique to — that wasn’t a position unique to the United States and it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don’t have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts. That’s what the American people would expect.

And if we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community to support what we do. There may be objections even among some people in the region who are sympathetic with the opposition if we take action. So it’s important for us to do this in a prudent way.

And what I’ve said to my team is we’ve got to do everything we can to investigate and establish with some certainty what exactly has happened in Syria, what is happening in Syria. We will use all the assets and resources that we have at our disposal. We’ll work with the neighboring countries to see whether we can establish a clear baseline of facts. And we’ve also called on the United Nations to investigate.

But the important point I want to make here is that we already are deeply engaged in trying to bring about a solution in Syria. It is a difficult problem. But even if chemical weapons were not being used in Syria, we’d still be thinking about tens of thousands of people, innocent civilians — women, children — who’ve been killed by a regime that’s more concerned about staying in power than it is about the well-being of its people.

And so we are already deeply invested in trying to find a solution here.

What is true, though, is, is that if I can establish in a way that not only the United States but also the international community feel confident is the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, then that is a game-changer because what that portends is potentially even more devastating attacks on civilians, and it raises the strong possibility that those chemical weapons can fall into the wrong hands and get disseminated in ways that would threaten U.S. security or the security of our allies.

Q By game-changer you mean U.S. military action?

THE PRESIDENT: By game-changer I mean that we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.

Now, we’re already, as I’ve said, invested in trying to bring about a solution inside of Syria. Obviously, there are options that are available to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed. And that’s a spectrum of options. As early as last year, I asked the Pentagon, our military, our intelligence officials to prepare for me what options might be available. And I won’t go into the details of what those options might be, but clearly that would be an escalation, in our view, of the threat to the security of the international community, our allies, and the United States, and that means that there are some options that we might not otherwise exercise that we would strongly consider.

Q And on the Benghazi portion, I know pieces of this story have been litigated, you’ve been asked about it. But there are people in your own State Department saying they’ve been blocked from coming forward, that they survived the terror attack and they want to tell their story. Will you help them come forward and just say it once and for all?

THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying. So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you’re referring to. What I’ve been very clear about from the start is that our job with respect to Benghazi has been to find out exactly what happened, to make sure that U.S. embassies not just in the Middle East but around the world are safe and secure, and to bring those who carried it out to justice.

But I’ll find out what exactly you’re referring to.

Q They’ve hired an attorney because they’re saying that they’ve been blocked from coming forward.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not familiar with it.

Jessica.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. There’s a report that your Director of National Intelligence has ordered a broad review — this is regards to the Boston Marathon bombing — that your DNI has ordered a broad review of all the intelligence-gathering prior to the attack. There is also a series of senators — Susan Collins, Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham — who allege that all these years after 9/11, there still wasn’t enough intelligence shared prior to the attack. And now, Lindsey Graham, who is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, has said that Benghazi and Boston are both examples of the U.S. going backwards on national security. Is he right? And did our intelligence miss something?

THE PRESIDENT: No, Mr. Graham is not right on this issue, although I’m sure generated some headlines.

I think that what we saw in Boston was state, local, federal officials, every agency rallying around a city that had been attacked — identifying the perpetrators just hours after the scene had been examined. We now have one individual deceased, one in custody. Charges have been brought.

I think that all our law enforcement officials performed in an exemplary fashion after the bombing had taken place. And we should be very proud of their work, as obviously we’re proud of the people of Boston and all the first responders and the medical personnel that helped save lives.

What we also know is that the Russian intelligence services had alerted U.S. intelligence about the older brother, as well as the mother, indicating that they might be sympathizers to extremists. The FBI investigated that older brother. It’s not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity. So that much we know.

And the question then is was there something that happened that triggered radicalization and an actual decision by the brother to engage in the tragic attack we actually saw in Boston, and are there additional things that could have been done in that interim that might have prevented it.

Now, what Director Clapper is doing is standard procedure around here, which is when an event like this happens we want to go back and we want to review every step that was taken. We want to leave no stone unturned. We want to see, is there, in fact, additional protocols and procedures that could be put in place that would further improve and enhance our ability to detect a potential attack? And we won’t know that until that review is completed. We won’t know that until the investigation of the actual crime is fully completed. And that’s still ongoing.

But what I can say is that based on what I’ve seen so far, the FBI performed its duties, the Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing.

But this is hard stuff. And I’ve said for quite some time that because of the pressure that we put on al Qaeda core, because of the pressure that we’ve put on these networks that are well-financed and more sophisticated and can engage in and project transnational threats against the United States, one of the dangers that we now face are self-radicalized individuals who are already here in the United States — in some cases, may not be part of any kind of network, but because of whatever warped, twisted ideas they may have, may decide to carry out an attack. And those are in some ways more difficult to prevent.

And so what I’ve done for months now is to indicate to our entire counterterrorism team, what more can we do on that threat that is looming on the horizon? Are there more things that we can do, whether it’s engaging with communities where there’s a potential for self-radicalization of this sort? Is there work that can be done in terms of detection? But all of this has to be done in the context of our laws, due process.

And so part of what Director Clapper is doing, then, is going to be to see if we can determine any lessons learned from what happened.

Q Are you getting all the intelligence and information you need from the Russians? And should Americans be worried when they go to big, public events now? 

THE PRESIDENT: The Russians have been very cooperative with us since the Boston bombing. Obviously, old habits die hard; there are still suspicions sometimes between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years, back to the Cold War. But they’re continually improving. I’ve spoken to President Putin directly. He’s committed to working with me to make sure that those who report to us are cooperating fully in not only this investigation, but how do we work on counterterrorism issues generally.

In terms of the response of the American people, I think everybody can take a cue from Boston. You don’t get a sense that anybody is intimidated when they go to Fenway Park a couple days after the bombing. There are joggers right now, I guarantee you, all throughout Boston and Cambridge and Watertown. And I think one of the things that I’ve been most proud of in watching the country’s response to the terrible tragedy there, is a sense of resilience and toughness, and we’re not going to be intimidated. We are going to live our lives.

And people, I think, understand that we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent these kinds of attacks from taking place, but people also understand — in the same way they understand after a shooting in Aurora or Newtown or Virginia Tech, or after the foiled attempts in Times Square or in Detroit — that we’re not going to stop living our lives because warped, twisted individuals try to intimidate us. We’re going to do what we do — which is go to work, raise our kids, go to ball games, run in marathons. And at the same time, we’re going to make sure that everybody is cooperating and is vigilant in doing everything we can, without being naïve, to try to prevent these attacks from happening in the future.

Jonathan Karl.

Q Mr. President, you are a hundred days into your second term. On the gun bill, you put, it seems, everything into it to try to get it passed. Obviously, it didn’t. Congress has ignored your efforts to try to get them to undo these sequester cuts. There’s even a bill that you threatened to veto that got 92 Democrats in the House voting yes. So my question to you is do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through this Congress?

THE PRESIDENT: If you put it that way, Jonathan — (laughter) — maybe I should just pack up and go home. Golly.

I think it’s a little — as Mark Twain said, rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point.

We understand that we’re in a divided government right now. The Republicans control the House of Representatives. In the Senate, this habit of requiring 60 votes for even the most modest piece of legislation has gummed up the works there. And I think it comes as no surprise not even to the American people, but even members of Congress themselves that right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill.

Despite that, I’m actually confident that there are a range of things that we’re going to be able to get done. I feel confident that the bipartisan work that’s been done on immigration reform will result in a bill that passes the Senate, passes the House, and gets on my desk. And that’s going to be a historic achievement. And I’ve been very complimentary of the efforts of both Republicans and Democrats in those efforts.

It is true that the sequester is in place right now. It’s damaging our economy. It’s hurting our people. And we need to lift it. What’s clear is, is that the only way we’re going to lift it is if we do a bigger deal that meets the test of lowering our deficit and growing our economy at the same time. And that’s going to require some compromises on the part of both Democrats and Republicans.

I’ve had some good conversations with Republican senators so far. Those conversations are continuing. I think there’s a genuine desire on many of their parts to move past not only sequester but Washington dysfunction. Whether we can get it done or not, we’ll see.

But I think the sequester is a good example — or this recent FAA issue is a good example. You will recall that even as recently as my campaign, Republicans we’re saying, sequester is terrible, this is a disaster, it’s going to ruin our military, it’s going to be disastrous for the economy — we’ve got to do something about it. Then, when it was determined that doing something about it might mean that we close some tax loopholes for the wealthy and the well-connected, suddenly, well, you know what, we’ll take the sequester. And the notion was somehow that we had exaggerated the effects of the sequester — remember? The President is crying wolf. He’s Chicken Little. The sequester — no problem.

And then in rapid succession, suddenly White House tours — this is terrible! How can we let that happen? Meat inspectors — we’ve got to fix that. And, most recently, what are we going to do about potential delays at airports?

So despite the fact that a lot of members of Congress were suggesting that somehow the sequester was a victory for them and this wouldn’t hurt the economy, what we now know is what I warned earlier, what Jay stood up here and warned repeatedly, is happening. It’s slowed our growth. It’s resulting in people being thrown out of work. And it’s hurting folks all across the country.

And the fact that Congress responded to the short-term problem of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that’s designed to repair and improve airports over the long term to fix the short-term problem — well, that’s not a solution. And essentially what we’ve done is we’ve said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we’re going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades.

Q Why’d you go along with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second.

So the alternative, of course, is either to go ahead and impose a whole bunch of delays on passengers now — which also does not fix the problem — or the third alternative is to actually fix the problem by coming up with a broader, larger deal.

But, Jonathon, you seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They’re elected — members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people.

So if, in fact, they are seriously concerned about passenger convenience and safety, then they shouldn’t just be thinking about tomorrow or next week or the week after that; they should be thinking about what’s going to happen five years from now, 10 years from now, or 15 years from now. The only way to do that is for them to engage with me on coming up with a broader deal. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do — is to continue to talk to them about are there ways for us to fix this.

Frankly, I don’t think that if I were to veto, for example, this FAA bill, that that somehow would lead to the broader fix. It just means that there would be pain now, which they would try to blame on me, as opposed to pain five years from now. But either way, the problem is not getting fixed.

The only way the problem does get fixed is if both parties sit down and they say: How are we going to make sure that we’re reducing our deficit sensibly? How are we making sure that we’re investing in things like rebuilding our airports and our roads and our bridges, and investing in early childhood education, basic research — all the things that are going to help us grow? And that’s what the American people want.

Just one interesting statistic when it comes to airports. There was a recent survey of the top airports in the country — in the world, and there was not a single U.S. airport that came in the top 25. Not one. Not one U.S. airport was considered by the experts and consumers who use these airports to be in the top 25 in the world. I think Cincinnati Airport came in around 30th.

What does that say about our long-term competitiveness and future? And so when folks say, well, there was some money in the FAA to deal with these furloughs — well, yeah, the money is this pool of funds that are supposed to try to upgrade our airports so we don’t rank in the bottom of industrialized countries when it comes to our infrastructure.

And that’s what we’re doing — we’re using our seed corn short term. And the only reason we’re doing it is because right now we’ve got folks who are unwilling to make some simple changes to our tax code, for example, to close loopholes that aren’t adding to our competitiveness and aren’t helping middle-class families.

So that’s a long way of answering your question, but the point is that there are common-sense solutions to our problems right now. I cannot force Republicans to embrace those common-sense solutions. I can urge them to. I can put pressure on them. I can rally the American people around those common-sense solutions. But ultimately, they, themselves, are going to have to say, we want to do the right thing.

And I think there are members certainly in the Senate right now, and I suspect members in the House as well, who understand that deep down. But they’re worried about their politics. It’s tough. Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They’re worried about primaries. And I understand all that. And we’re going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what’s going to be best for the country. But it’s going to take some time.

Bill Plante.

Q Mr. President, as you’re probably aware, there’s a growing hunger strike on Guantanamo Bay among prisoners there. Is it any surprise really that they would prefer death rather than have no end in sight to their confinement?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is not a surprise to me that we’ve got problems in Guantanamo, which is why when I was campaigning in 2007 and 2008, and when I was elected in 2008, I said we need to close Guantanamo. I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo.

Q — can do it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.

Now, Congress determined that they would not let us close it — and despite the fact that there are a number of the folks who are currently in Guantanamo who the courts have said could be returned to their country of origin or potentially a third country.

I’m going to go back at this. I’ve asked my team to review everything that’s currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively. And I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interest of the American people. And it’s not sustainable.

The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan — the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.

Now, it’s a hard case to make because I think for a lot of Americans the notion is out of sight, out of mind. And it’s easy to demagogue the issue. That’s what happened the first time this came up. I’m going to go back at it because I think it’s important.

Q Meanwhile we continue to force-feed these folks…

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can. But I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this? We’ve got a whole bunch of individuals who have been tried who are currently in maximum security prisons around the country. Nothing has happened to them. Justice has been served. It’s been done in a way that’s consistent with our Constitution, consistent with due process, consistent with rule of law, consistent with our traditions.

The individual who attempted to bomb Times Square — in prison, serving a life sentence. The individual who tried to bomb a plane in Detroit — in prison, serving a life sentence. A Somali who was part of Al-Shabaab, who we captured — in prison. So we can handle this.

And I understand that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, with the traumas that had taken place, why, for a lot of Americans, the notion was somehow that we had to create a special facility like Guantanamo and we couldn’t handle this in a normal, conventional fashion. I understand that reaction. But we’re now over a decade out. We should be wiser. We should have more experience in how we prosecute terrorists.

And this is a lingering problem that is not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. It’s going to fester. And so I’m going to, as I said before, examine every option that we have administratively to try to deal with this issue, but ultimately we’re also going to need some help from Congress, and I’m going to ask some folks over there who care about fighting terrorism but also care about who we are as a people to step up and help me on it.

Chuck Todd.

Q Mr. President, thank you. Max Baucus, Democratic Senator, referred to the implementation as your health care law as a potential train wreck. And other Democrats have been whispering nervousness about the implementation and the impact — and it’s all self-centered a little bit — the impact that it might have on their own political campaigns in 2014. Why do you think — just curious — why does Senator Baucus, somebody who ostensibly helped write your bill, believe that this is going to be a train wreck? And why do you believe he’s wrong?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that any time you’re implementing something big, there’s going to be people who are nervous and anxious about is it going to get done, until it’s actually done.

But let’s just step back for a second and make sure the American people understand what it is that we’re doing. The Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — has now been with us for three years. It’s gone through Supreme Court tests. It’s gone through efforts to repeal. A huge chunk of it has already been implemented. And for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, they’re already experiencing most of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act even if they don’t know it. Their insurance is more secure. Insurance companies can’t drop them for bad reasons. Their kids are able to stay on their health insurance until they’re 26 years old. They’re getting free preventive care.

So there are a whole host of benefits that, for the average American out there, for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, this thing has already happened. And their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before. Full stop. That’s it. They don’t have to worry about anything else.

The implementation issues come in for those who don’t have health insurance — maybe because they have a preexisting condition and the only way they can get health insurance is to go out on the individual market, and they’re paying 50 percent or 100 percent more than those of us who are lucky enough to have group plans; people who are too poor to get health insurance and the employers don’t offer them. Maybe they work for a small business and this small business can’t afford right now to provide health insurance.

So all the implementation issues that are coming up are implementation issues related to that small group of people, 10 to 15 percent of Americans — now, it’s still 30 million Americans, but a relatively narrow group — who don’t have health insurance right now, or are on the individual market and are paying exorbitant amounts for coverage that isn’t that great.

And what we’re doing is we’re setting up a pool so that they can all pool together and get a better deal from insurance companies. And those who can’t afford it, we’re going to provide them with some subsidies. That’s it. I mean, that’s what’s left to implement, because the other stuff has been implemented and it’s working fine.

The challenge is that setting up a market-based system, basically an online marketplace where you can go on and sign up and figure out what kind of insurance you can afford and figuring out how to get the subsidies — that’s still a big, complicated piece of business. And when you’re doing it nationwide, relatively fast, and you’ve got half of Congress who is determined to try to block implementation and not adequately funding implementation, and then you’ve got a number of members of — or governors — Republican governors — who know that it’s bad politics for them to try to implement this effectively, and some even who have decided to implement it and then their Republican-controlled state legislatures say, don’t implement, and won’t pass enabling legislation — when you have that kind of situation, that makes it harder.

But having said all that, we’ve got a great team in place. We are pushing very hard to make sure that we’re hitting all the deadlines and the benchmarks.

I’ll give you an example, a recent example. We put together, initially, an application form for signing up for participation in the exchanges that was initially about 21 pages long, and immediately everybody sat around the table and said, well, this is too long. Especially in this age of the Internet, people aren’t going to have the patience to sit there for hours on end. Let’s streamline this thing. So we cut what was a 21-page form now down to a form that’s about three pages for an individual, a little more than that for a family — well below the industry average. So those kinds of refinements we’re going to continue to be working on.

But I think the main message I want to give to the American people here is, despite all the hue and cry and “sky is falling” predictions about this stuff, if you’ve already got health insurance, then that part of Obamacare that affects you, it’s pretty much already in place. And that’s about 85 percent of the country.

What is left to be implemented is those provisions to help the 10 to 15 percent of the American public that is unlucky enough that they don’t have health insurance. And by the way, some of you who have health insurance right now, at some point you may lose your health insurance, and if you’ve got a preexisting condition, this structure will make sure that you are not left vulnerable.

But it’s still a big undertaking. And what we’re doing is making sure that every single day we are constantly trying to hit our marks so that it will be in place.

And the last point I’ll make — even if we do everything perfectly, there will still be glitches and bumps, and there will be stories that can be written that say, oh, look, this thing is not working the way it’s supposed to, and this happened and that happened. And that’s pretty much true of every government program that’s ever been set up. But if we stay with it and we understand what our long-term objective is — which is making sure that in a country as wealthy as ours, nobody should go bankrupt if they get sick, and that we would rather have people getting regular checkups than going to the emergency room because they don’t have health care — if we keep that in mind, then we’re going to be able to drive down costs; we’re going to be able to improve efficiencies in the system; we’re going to be able to see people benefit from better health care. And that will save the country money as a whole over the long term.

Q Do you believe, without the cooperation of a handful of governors, particularly large states like Florida and Texas, that you can fully implement this?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s harder. There’s no doubt about it.

Q But can you do it without them?

THE PRESIDENT: We will implement it. There will be — we have a backup federal exchange. If states aren’t cooperating, we set up a federal exchange so that people can access that federal exchange.

But, yes, it puts more of a burden on us. And it’s ironic, since all these folks say that they believe in empowering states, that they’re going to end up having the federal government do something that we’d actually prefer states to do if they were properly cooperating.

Let’s see how we’re doing on time here. Last question. Antonieta Cadiz — where’s Antonieta? There you are. Tell those big guys to get out of your way. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions. There are concerns about how the immigration bill from the House has complicated chances for immigration reform in the Senate. It seems to be a more conservative proposal. Is there room for a more conservative proposal than the one presented in the Senate? That’s immigration.

Second, on Mexico — yesterday, the Mexican government said all contact with the U.S. law enforcement will now go through a single door, the Federal Interior Ministry. Is this change good for the U.S. relationship with Mexico? Do you think the level of security and cooperation can be maintained?

THE PRESIDENT: On immigration reform, I’ve been impressed by the work that was done by the Gang of Eight in the Senate. The bill that they produced is not the bill that I would have written, there are elements of it that I would change, but I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out from the start, which is: We’ve got to have more effective border security — although it should build on the great improvements that have been made on border security over the last four to five years. We should make sure that we are cracking down on employers that are gaming the system. We should make the legal immigration system work more effectively so that the waits are not as burdensome, the bureaucracy is not as complicated, so that we can continue to attract the best and the brightest from around the world to our shores in a legal fashion. And we want to make sure that we’ve got a pathway to citizenship that is tough, but allows people to earn over time their legal status here in this country.

And the Senate bill meets those criteria — in some cases not in the way that I would, but it meets those basic criteria. And I think it’s a testament to the senators that were involved that they made some tough choices and made some tough compromises in order to hammer out that bill.

Now, I haven’t seen what members of the House are yet proposing. And maybe they think that they can answer some of those questions differently or better. And I think we’ve got to be open-minded in seeing what they come up with. The bottom line, though, is, is that they’ve still got to meet those basic criteria: Is it making the border safer? Is it dealing with employers in how they work with the government to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of, or taking advantage of the system? Are we improving our legal immigration system? And are we creating a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million or so who are undocumented in this country?

And if they meet those criteria but they’re slightly different than the Senate bill, then I think that we should be able to come up with an appropriate compromise. If it doesn’t meet those criteria, then I will not support such a bill. So we’ll have to wait and see.

When it comes to Mexico, I’m very much looking forward to taking the trip down to Mexico to see the new President, Peña Nieto. I had a chance to meet him here, but this will be the first, more extensive consultations and it will be an opportunity for his ministers, my Cabinet members who are participating to really hammer out some of these issues.

A lot of the focus is going to be on economics. We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be talking about security. I think that in my first conversation with the President, he indicated to me that he very much continues to be concerned about how we can work together to deal with transnational drug cartels. We’ve made great strides in the coordination and cooperation between our two governments over the last several years. But my suspicion is, is that things can be improved.

And some of the issues that he’s talking about really had to do with refinements and improvements in terms of how Mexican authorities work with each other, how they coordinate more effectively, and it has less to do with how they’re dealing with us, per se. So I’m not going to yet judge how this will alter the relationship between the United States and Mexico until I’ve heard directly from them to see what exactly are they trying to accomplish.

But, overall, what I can say is that my impression is, is that the new President is serious about reform. He’s already made some tough decisions. I think he’s going to make more that will improve the economy and security of Mexican citizens, and that will improve the bilateral relationship as well.

And I don’t want to leave out that we’re also going to be talking to, during my visit to Costa Rica, Presidents of Central American countries, many of whom are struggling with both economic issues and security issues, but are important partners for us — because I think that the vision here is that we want to make sure that our hemisphere is more effectively integrated to improve the economy and security of all people. That’s good for the United States. That will enhance our economy. That can improve our energy independence.

There are a whole range of opportunities, and that’s going to be the purpose of this trip. And I’m sure that those of you who will have the chance to travel with me we’ll have a chance to discuss this further.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you, guys.

Q Jason Collins? Do you want to say anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I’ll say something about Jason Collins. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. He seems like a terrific young man. And I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him.

One of the extraordinary measures of progress that we’ve seen in this country has been the recognition that the LGBT community deserves full equality — not just partial equality, not just tolerance, but a recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family.

And given the importance of sports in our society, for an individual who has excelled at the highest levels in one of the major sports to go ahead and say, this is who I am, I’m proud of it, I’m still a great competitor, I’m still seven foot tall and can bang with Shaq — (laughter) — and deliver a hard foul — and for I think a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues, to see a role model like that who is unafraid, I think it’s a great thing.

And I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly, and everybody is part of a family, and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance and not their sexual orientation. So I’m very proud of him.

Political Headlines April 29, 2013: President Barack Obama Meets 7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Turned Football Star Jack Hoffman at the White House Oval Office

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Turned Football Star Meets Obama

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-29-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Jack Hoffman, the Nebraska boy who captured national attention after running a ceremonial 69-yard touchdown during a University of Nebraska spring football game earlier this month, visited the White House on Monday.

The 7-year-old, who is battling pediatric brain cancer, met with President Obama for about 15 minutes in the Oval Office….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 29, 2013: President Barack Obama Nominates Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for Transportation Secretary

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Taps Charlotte Mayor for Transportation Secretary

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-30-13

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

President Obama announced his nomination for Transportation Secretary on Monday, calling Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx a “friend” and an “impressive leader.”

“I know Anthony’s experience will make him an outstanding Transportation Secretary.  He’s got the respect of his peers, mayors and governors all across the country.  And as a consequence, I think that he’s going to be extraordinarily effective,” the president said a White House ceremony….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 28, 2013: President Barack Obama Mixes Serious Tone with Humor at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Mixes Serious Tone with Humor at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-28-13

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Amid the glitz and glamour, humor and levity normally surrounding the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama injected a somber tone to the annual soiree as he invoked the memories of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing and West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion earlier this month and praised not only the work of the first responders in each of those tragedies but also the journalists dedicated to covering them….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 27, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Excerpts

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner one-liners

Source: WaPo, 4-27-13

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles during the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington April 27, 2013.(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles during the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington April 27, 2013.(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“I look in the mirror. I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be. . . I still make rookie mistakes though. Out in California I said Kamala Harris is the best looking attorney general in the country. I got in trouble back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?”

“David Axelrod works for MSNBC now. Which is a nice change of pace, considering MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod . . . I remember when BuzzFeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.”

“My job is to be president, yours is to be humble. Frankly, I think I’m doing my job better.”

“That’s Oprah money! You could buy an island and call it Nobama. Adelson would have been better off calling me up and offering me $100 million to drop out of the race. I probably wouldn’t have taken it. But I’d consider it.”

Full Text Obama Presidency April 27, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by The President at The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Source: WH, 4-27-13

Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington, D.C.

10:14 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. (Laughter.) How do you like my new entrance music? (Applause.) Rush Limbaugh warned you about this — second term, baby. (Laughter and applause.) We’re changing things around here a little bit. (Laughter.)

Actually, my advisors were a little worried about the new rap entrance music. (Laughter.) They are a little more traditional. They suggested that I should start with some jokes at my own expense, just take myself down a peg. I was like, guys, after four and a half years, how many pegs are there left? (Laughter.)

I want to thank the White House Correspondents. Ed, you’re doing an outstanding job. We are grateful for — (applause) — the great work you’ve done. To all the dignitaries who are here, everybody on the dais — I especially want to say thank you to Ray Odierno, who does outstanding service on behalf of our country, and all our men and women in uniform every single day. (Applause.)

And of course, our extraordinary First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.) Everybody loves Michelle. (Laughter.) She’s on the cover of Vogue, high poll numbers. But don’t worry — I recently got my own magazine cover. (Laughter.)

Now, look, I get it. These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be. (Laughter.) Time passes. You get a little gray. (Laughter.)

And yet, even after all this time, I still make rookie mistakes. Like, I’m out in California, we’re at a fundraiser, we’re having a nice time. I happen to mention that Kamala Harris is the best-looking attorney general in the country. (Laughter.) As you might imagine, I got trouble when I got back home. (Laughter.) Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive? (Laughter and applause.)

And then there’s the Easter Egg Roll, which is supposed to be just a nice, fun event with the kids. I go out on the basketball court, took 22 shots — made two of them. (Laughter.) That’s right: two hits, 20 misses. The executives at NBC asked, “What’s your secret?” (Laughter and applause.)

So, yes, maybe I have lost a step. But some things are beyond my control. For example, this whole controversy about Jaz-Z going to Cuba — it’s unbelievable. I’ve got 99 problems and now Jay-Z is one. (Laughter and applause.) That’s another rap reference, Bill. (Laughter.) I’ll let you know. (Applause.)

Of course, everybody has got plenty of advice. Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in “The American President.” (Laughter.) And I know Michael is here tonight. Michael, what’s your secret, man? (Laughter.) Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? (Laughter.) Might that have something to do with it? (Applause.) I don’t know. Check in with me. Maybe it’s something else. (Laughter.)

Anyway, I recognize that this job can take a toll on you. I understand — second term, you need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it. We were willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle’s tricks. (Laughter and applause.) I thought this looked pretty good, but no bounce. (Laughter.)

I want to give a shout-out to our headliner, Conan O’Brien. (Applause.) I was just talking to Ed, and I understand that when the Correspondents’ Association was considering Conan for this gig, they were faced with that age-old dilemma: Do you offer it to him now, or wait for five years and then give it to Jimmy Fallon? (Laughter.) That was a little harsh. (Laughter.) I love Conan.

And of course, the White House press corps is here. I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate. (Laughter and applause.)

Some of my former advisors have switched over to the dark side. For example, David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod. (Laughter.)

The History Channel is not here. I guess they were embarrassed about the whole Obama-is-a-devil thing. (Laughter.) Of course, that never kept Fox News from showing up. (Laughter.) They actually thought the comparison was not fair — to Satan. (Laughter and applause.)

But the problem is, is that the media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can’t keep up with it. I mean, I remember when BuzzFeed was just something I did in college around 2:00 a.m. (Laughter.) It’s true. (Laughter.)

Recently, though, I found a new favorite source for political news — these guys are great. I think everybody here should check it out, they tell it like it is. It’s called whitehouse.gov. (Laughter.) I cannot get enough of it.

The fact is I really do respect the press. I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be President; your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I’m doing my job better. (Laughter and applause.)

But part of the problem is everybody is so cynical. I mean, we’re constantly feeding cynicism, suspicion, conspiracies. You remember a few months ago, my administration put out a photograph of me going skeet shooting at Camp David? You remember that? And quite a number of people insisted that this had been photoshopped. But tonight I have something to confess: You were right. Guys, can we show them the actual photo? (Laughter.) We were just trying to tone it down a little bit. (Laughter.) That was an awesome day. (Laughter.)

There are other new players in the media landscape as well, like super PACs. Did you know that Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million of his own money last year on negative ads? You’ve got to really dislike me — (laughter) — to spend that kind of money. I mean, that’s Oprah money. (Laughter.) You could buy an island and call it “Nobama” for that kind of money. (Laughter.) Sheldon would have been better off offering me $100 million to drop out of the race. (Laughter and applause.) I probably wouldn’t have taken it, but I’d have thought about it. (Laughter.) Michelle would have taken it. (Laughter.) You think I’m joking? (Laughter.)

I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. (Laughter.) Hello? Think of me as a trial run, you know? (Laughter.) See how it goes. (Laughter.)

If they won’t come to me, I will come to them. Recently, I had dinner — it’s been well publicized — I had dinner with a number of the Republican senators. And I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. I proposed a toast — it died in committee. (Laughter.)

Of course, even after I’ve done all this, some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. “Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?” they ask. Really? (Laughter.) Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? (Laughter and applause.) I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.

I am not giving up. In fact, I’m taking my charm offensive on the road — a Texas barbeque with Ted Cruz, a Kentucky bluegrass concert with Rand Paul, and a book-burning with Michele Bachmann. (Laughter and applause.)

My charm offensive has helped me learn some interesting things about what’s going on in Congress — it turns out, absolutely nothing. (Laughter.) But the point of my charm offensive is simple: We need to make progress on some important issues. Take the sequester. Republicans fell in love with this thing, and now they can’t stop talking about how much they hate it. It’s like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift album. (Laughter.)

One senator who has reached across the aisle recently is Marco Rubio, but I don’t know about 2016. I mean, the guy has not even finished a single term in the Senate and he thinks he’s ready to be President. (Laughter and applause.) Kids these days.

I, on the other hand, have run my last campaign. On Thursday, as Ed mentioned, I went to the opening of the Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It was a wonderful event, and that inspired me to get started on my own legacy, which will actually begin by building another edifice right next to the Bush Library — can we show that, please? (Laughter.)

I’m also hard at work on plans for the Obama Library. And some have suggested that we put it in my birthplace, but I’d rather keep it in the United States. (Laughter.) Did anybody not see that joke coming? (Laughter.) Show of hands. Only Gallup? Maybe Dick Morris? (Laughter and applause.)

Now, speaking of presidents and their legacies, I want to acknowledge a wonderful friend, Steven Spielberg, and Daniel Day-Lewis, who are here tonight. (Applause.) We had a screening of their most recent film, Lincoln, which was an extraordinary film. I am a little nervous, though, about Steven’s next project. I saw a behind-the-scenes look on HBO — well, let’s just check it out. Roll the tape.

(Video is shown.) (Laughter and applause.)

It’s a remarkable transformation. Do I really sound like that, though, honey? (Laughter.)

Groucho Marx once said — and, Senator Cruz, that’s Groucho Marx, not Karl. That’s the other guy. (Laughter.) Groucho Marx once told an audience, “Before I speak, I have something important to say.” (Laughter.) And along those same lines, I want to close on a more serious note.

Obviously, there has been no shortage of news to cover over these past few weeks. And these have been some very hard days for too many of our citizens. Even as we gather here tonight, our thoughts are not far from the people of Boston and the people of West, Texas. There are families in the Midwest who are coping with some terrible floods. So we’ve had some difficult days.

But even when the days seemed darkest, we have seen humanity shine at its brightest. We’ve seen first responders and National Guardsmen who have dashed into danger, law enforcement officers who lived their oath to serve and to protect, and everyday Americans who are opening their homes and their hearts to perfect strangers.

And we also saw journalists at their best — especially those who took the time to wade upstream through the torrent of digital rumors to chase down leads and verify facts and painstakingly put the pieces together to inform, and to educate, and to tell stories that demanded to be told.

If anyone wonders, for example, whether newspapers are a thing of the past, all you needed to do was to pick up or log on to papers like the Boston Globe. (Applause.) When their communities and the wider world needed them most, they were there making sense of events that might at first blush seem beyond our comprehension. And that’s what great journalism is, and that’s what great journalists do. And that’s why, for example, Pete Williams’ new nickname around the NBC newsroom is “Big Papi.” (Applause.)

And in these past few weeks, as I’ve gotten a chance to meet many of the first responders and the police officers and volunteers who raced to help when hardship hits, I was reminded, as I’m always reminded when I meet our men and women in uniform, whether they’re in war theater, or here back home, or at Walter Reed in Bethesda — I’m reminded that all these folks, they don’t do it to be honored, they don’t do it to be celebrated. They do it because they love their families and they love their neighborhoods and they love their country.

And so, these men and women should inspire all of us in this room to live up to those same standards; to be worthy of their trust; to do our jobs with the same fidelity, and the same integrity, and the same sense of purpose, and the same love of country. Because if we’re only focused on profits or ratings or polls, then we’re contributing to the cynicism that so many people feel right now. (Applause.)

And so, those of us in this room tonight, we are incredibly lucky. And the fact is, we can do better — all of us. Those of us in public office, those of us in the press, those who produce entertainment for our kids, those with power, those with influence — all of us, including myself, we can strive to value those things that I suspect led most of us to do the work that we do in the first place — because we believed in something that was true, and we believed in service, and the idea that we can have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of the people around us.

And that’s our obligation. That’s a task we should gladly embrace on behalf of all of those folks who are counting on us; on behalf of this country that’s given us so much.

So thank you all, to the White House Correspondents for the great work you do. God bless you all. May God bless the United States of America.

END        10:36 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 27, 2013: Highlights From the White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2013

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2013: It’s time

Source: Politico, 4-27-13

Play Slideshow
Like it or not, it’s here.

The annual White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner tonight is Washington’s biggest night, even if it’s not really about the White House correspondents anymore. After plenty of tidbits about which celebrity is coming and which news outlet is throwing an after-party and which politicos did (and did not) get invited to the various soirees around town, the “nerd prom,” as its come to be known as, is upon us….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 26, 2013: President Barack Obama on Syria: ‘We Have to Act Prudently’

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama on Syria: ‘We Have to Act Prudently’

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-26-13
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama Friday said the U.S. is conducting a “very vigorous investigation” into the use of chemical weapons in Syria and reiterated that the use of such agents would be a “game changer.”

“We cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations,” the president told reporters in his first public remarks since the administration revealed Thursday that the Syrian government has likely used chemical weapons against its own people….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 26, 2013: House of Representatives Approves Bill to End FAA Federal Aviation Administration Furloughs with a Vote of 361-41

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Goodbye, Flight Delays? House Approves Bill to End FAA Furloughs

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-26-13

The House of Representatives gave overwhelming support Friday to a bill that will ease the furloughs of air traffic controllers.

On a vote of 361-41, the House followed the Senate’s lead and rolled back the Federal Aviation Administration’s sequester that had been causing flight delays across the country this week….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Memorial Service for Those Who Died and Were Injured in the West Texas Plant Explosion at the University of Baylor, Waco, Texas

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Memorial Service — Waco, TX

Source: WH, 4-25-13 

University of Baylor
Waco, Texas

3:54 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Please.  Thank you, Senator Cornyn, Governor Perry, President Starr, gathered dignitaries, the community of Baylor and Waco — most of all, the family and the friends and neighbors of West, Texas.

I cannot match the power of the voices you just heard on that video.  And no words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night.  What I can do is offer the love and support and prayers of the nation.

The Book of Psalms tells us, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.  “We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

For this state, for our country, these have been trying and difficult days.  We gather here in Texas to mourn the brave men who went through fire and all those who have been taken from us.  We remain mindful of our fellow Americans in flooded states to the north who endure the high waters.  We pray for those in Boston who have been tested, and the wounded whose greatest tests still lie ahead.

But know this:  While the eyes of the world may have been fixed on places far away, our hearts have also been here in your time of tribulation.  And even amidst such sorrow and so much pain, we recognize God’s abundance.  We give thanks for the courage and the compassion and the incredible grace of the people of West.

We’re grateful for Mayor Muska and Mayor Duncan, and all those who have shown such leadership during this tragedy.  And to the families and neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say, you are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors, too.  (Applause.)  We’re Americans, too, and we stand with you, and we do not forget.  And we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.  Your country will remain ever ready to help you recover and rebuild and reclaim your community.  (Applause.)

Until last week, I think it’s fair to say that few outside this state had ever heard of West.  And I suspect that’s the way most people in West like it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Now, it is true that weary travelers, and now the wider world, know they can rely on the Czech Stop for a brief respite in the middle of a long stretch of highway.  I want to say, by the way, all the former Presidents in Dallas send their thoughts and prayers, and George W. and Laura Bush spoke longingly about the kolaches — (laughter) — and the even better company, as they’ve driven through West.  And what they understand, and what all of you understand, is what makes West special is not the attention coming from far-flung places.  What makes West special, what puts it on the map is what makes it familiar:  The people who live there.  The neighbors you can count on.  Places that haven’t changed.  Things that are solid and true and lasting.

Most of the people in West know everybody in West.  Many of you are probably descended from those first settlers — hardy immigrants who crossed an ocean and kept on going.  So for you, there’s no such thing as a stranger.  When someone is in need, you reach out to them and you support them, and you do what it takes to help them carry on.

That’s what happened last Wednesday, when a fire alarm sounded across a quiet Texas evening.  As we’ve heard, the call went out to volunteers — not professionals — people who just love to serve.  People who want to help their neighbors.  A call went out to farmers and car salesmen; and welders and funeral home directors; the city secretary and the mayor.  It went out to folks who are tough enough and selfless enough to put in a full day’s work and then be ready for more.

And together, you answered the call.  You dropped your schoolwork, left your families, jumped in fire trucks, and rushed to the flames.  And when you got to the scene, you forgot fear and you fought that blaze as hard as you could, knowing the danger, buying time so others could escape.  And then, about 20 minutes after the first alarm, the earth shook, and the sky went dark — and West changed forever.

Today our prayers are with the families of all who we’ve lost — the proud sons and daughters of West whose memories will live on in our hearts.  Parents who loved their kids, and leaders who served their communities.  They were young and old, from different backgrounds and different walks of life.  A few were just going about their business.  An awful lot ran towards the scene of disaster trying to help.  One was described as the kind of guy whose phone was always ringing with folks in need of help — help he always provided.  That’s just who these folks were.

Our thoughts are with those who face a long road — the wounded, the heartbroken, the families who lost their homes and possessions in an instant.  They’re going to need their friends in West, but they’re also going to need their friends in Texas, and their friends all across this country.  They’ll still need you to answer that call.  They will need those things that are lasting and true.  For, as Scripture teaches us, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

To the people of West, just as we’ve seen the love you share in better times, as friends and brothers and sisters, these hard days have shown your ability to stand tall in times of unimaginable adversity.

You saw it in leaders like Mayor Muska, who lost close friends.  And you saw it in the hospital staff who spent the night treating people that they knew — toiling through their tears as they did what had to be done.

We saw it in the folks who helped evacuate an entire nursing home, including one man who drove an elderly resident to safety and then came back to do it again, twice.

We saw it in the people so generous that when the Red Cross set up a shelter for folks who couldn’t go back to their homes, not that many people showed up, because most had already been offered a place to stay with their friends and family and neighbors

Complete strangers drove from hundreds of miles to donate supplies.  Firefighters from surrounding communities manned the stations so surviving volunteers could recover from their wounds.  Right here at Baylor, students stood in line for hours to give blood.  And a nearby school district opened its doors to the students who can’t go back to their classrooms, putting welcome signs on lockers and in the hallways.

So that’s the thing about this tragedy.  This small town’s family is bigger now.  It extends beyond the boundaries of West.  And in the days ahead, this love and support will be more important than ever, because there will be moments of doubt and pain and the temptation to wonder how this community will ever fully recover.  And the families who have lost such remarkable men of the sort that we saw in that video, there are going to be times where they simply don’t understand how this could have happened.

But today I see in the people of West, in your eyes, that what makes West special isn’t going to go away.  And instead of changing who you are, this tragedy has simply revealed who you’ve always been.

It’s the courage of Deborah Sulak, who works as a cashier just around the corner from the fire station.  She said, “It’s going to be tough for the families.  But we’re going to rebound because we’re fighters.”  And that courage will bring West back.  (Applause.)

It’s the love of Carla Ruiz, who used to live in West but now lives in Austin.  And last week, she drove all the way back.  “I had to be here,” she said.  “You have to be here for family.”  That love will keep West going.

It’s the faith of someone like Pastor John Crowder that will sustain the good people of West for as long as it takes.  His church was damaged in the explosion.  So on Sunday, the congregation assembled outside.  “What happened Wednesday was awful,” he told them.  “But God is bigger than all of this.”  (Applause.)  God is bigger than all of this and he is here with you in West.  He is bigger than all of this and he is here with you.

Going forward, it’s not just your town that needs your courage and your love and your faith.  America does, too.  We need towns where if you don’t know what your kids are up to, then chances are your neighbors do too, and they’ll tell on those kids in a second.  (Laughter.)  America needs towns that holds fundraisers to help folks pay the medical bills and then take the time to drop off a home-cooked meal, because they know a family is under stress.  America needs communities where there’s always somebody to call if your car gets stuck or your house gets flooded.  We need people who so love their neighbors as themselves that they’re willing to lay down their lives for them.

America needs towns like West.  (Applause.)  That’s what makes this country great, is towns like West.  “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us.  We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”

You have been tested, West.  You have been tried.  You have gone through fire.  But you are and always will be surrounded by an abundance of love.  You saw it in the voices on those videos.  You see it in the firefighters and first responders who are here.  (Applause.)  All across America, people are praying for you and thinking of you.  And when they see the faces of those families, they understand that these are not strangers — these are neighbors.  And that’s why we know that we will get through this.

God bless West.  (Applause.)  May God grant His peace on those that we’ve lost, His comfort to their families.  May He continue to bless this great state of Texas, and may He continue to bless these United States of America.

END                4:11 P.M. CDT

Political Transcripts April 25, 2013: Former President George W. Bush’s Remarks at His Presidential Library Dedication

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

George W. Bush’s Remarks at His Presidential Library Dedication

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

The following is the text of former President George W. Bush’s remarks at his presidential library dedication in Dallas on Thursday, as transcribed by Federal News Service.

MR. BUSH: Thank you all. Please be seated. Oh, happy days. (Laughter.) I want to thank you all for coming. Laura and I are thrilled to have so many friends — I mean, a lot of friends here to celebrate this special day. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one. (Laughter.)

Beautiful building has my name above the door, but it belongs to you. It honors the cause we serve and the country we share. For eight years, you gave me the honor of serving as your president, and today I’m proud to dedicate this center to the American people. (Applause.)

I am very grateful to President Obama and Michelle for making this trip. (Applause.) Unlike the other presidents here, he’s actually got a job. (Laughter.) President, thank you for your kinds words and for leading the nation we all love. (Applause.) I appreciate my fellow members of the former presidents club — 42, 41 and 39. I want to thank you all for your kind words and the example you have set. (Applause.)

Alexander Hamilton once worried about ex-presidents wandering among the people like discontented ghosts. (Laughter.) Actually, I think we seem pretty happy. (Laughter.) One reason for that, we have wonderful first ladies at our side. (Applause.)

Hillary and Rosalynn, thank you for your service and your generosity.

Mother and Laura, you know how I feel. (Laughter.)

Condi introduced the world leaders with whom I had the privilege to serve. You’re good friends, and I’m honored to have you here in the Promised Land.

I want to welcome the members of Congress — Mr. Speaker, appreciate you coming — and the diplomatic corps. I know you will all be happy to hear that this speech is a lot shorter than the State of the Union. (Laughter.)

I thank the governors, governor of our own home state and the other governors, mayors, state and local officials who have joined us.

I welcome members of my Cabinet, the White House staff and administration, especially Vice President Dick Cheney. (Applause.) From the day I asked Dick to run with me, he served with loyalty, principle and strength. Proud to call you friend. (Applause.)

History’s going to show that I served with great people — a talented, dedicated, intelligent men — team of men and women who love our nation as much as I do.

I want to thank the people who have made this project a success. President Gerald Turner runs a fantastic university — (applause) — a university with active trustees, dedicated faculty and a student body that is awesome. (Cheers, applause, laughter.)

I want to thank David Ferriero, Alan Lowe and the professionals at the National Archives and Records Administration who have taken on a major task, and I am confident you all will handle it.

I appreciate the architects, landscapers and designers, especially Bob Stern, Michael Van Valkenburgh and Dan Murphy. I want to thank the folks of Manhattan Construction as well as all the workers who built a fine facility that will stand the test of time.

I thank the fantastic team at the George W. Bush Center, headed by Mark Langdale and Jim Glassman and my longtime pal Donny Evans. Much to the delight — much to the delight of the folks who worked on this project, we have raised enough money to pay our bills. We have — (applause) — we have over 300,000 contributors from all 50 states, and Laura and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. (Applause.)

This is the first time in American history that parents have seen their son’s presidential library. Mother, I promise to keep my area clean. (Laughter.) You know, Barbara Bush taught me to live life to the fullest, to laugh a lot and to speak my mind, a trait that sometimes got us both into trouble.

Dad taught me how to be a president. Before that, he showed me how to be a man. And ’41, it is awesome that you are here today. (Cheers, applause.) I welcome — I welcome my dear brothers and sister, as well as in-laws, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles — all of you for joining us. Our family has meant more to me than anything, and I thank you for making it so.

Not so long ago this campus was home to a beautiful West Texan named Laura Welch. When she earned her degree in library science, I’m not sure this day’s exactly what she had in mind. (Laughter.) She’s been a source of strength and support and inspiration ever since we met in the O’Neills’ backyard in Midland, Texas. One of the joys of the presidency was watching Laura serve as first lady. The American people rightly love her, and so do I. (Applause.)

Laura’s going to be even better in her next role: grandmother. (Laughter.) It was a joy — I can’t tell you what a joy it was to hold little Mila, and I am really happy that Mila’s mother and father, Jenna and Henry, could make it here today. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)

So if you don’t have anything to do in the morning, tune in to the “Today Show.” Jenna’s the correspondent, thereby continuing the warm relations the Bush family has with the national press. (Laughter, applause.)

And I’m really proud of Barbara, who’s with us, for her incredible work to serve others and to save lives. (Applause.)

Today marks a major milestone in a journey that began 20 years ago, when I announced my campaign for governor of Texas. Some of you were there that day. I mean, a lot of you were there that day. I picture you looking a little younger. You probably picture me with a little less gray hair. In politics, you learn who your real friends are. And our friends have stood with us every step of the way.

And today’s a day to give you a proper thanks.

In democracy, the purpose of public office is not to fulfill personal ambition. Elected officials must serve a cause greater than themselves. The political winds blow left and right. Polls rise and fall. Supporters come and go. But in the end, leaders are defined by the convictions they hold.

And my deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom. (Applause.) I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart. Freedom inspired our founders and preserved our union through civil war and secured the promise of civil rights. Freedom sustains dissidents bound by chains, believers huddled in underground churches and voters who risk their lives to cast their ballots. Freedom unleashes creativity, rewards innovation and replaces poverty with prosperity. And ultimately, freedom lights the path to peace.

Freedom brings responsibility. Independence from the state does not mean isolation from each other. A free society thrives when neighbors help neighbors and the strong protect the weak and public policies promote private compassion. As president, I tried to act on these principles every day. It wasn’t always easy, and it certainly wasn’t always popular.

One of the benefits of freedom is that people can disagree. It’s fair to say I created plenty of opportunities to exercise that right. (Laughter.)

But when future generations come to this library and study this administration, they’re going to find out that we stayed true to our convictions — (applause) — that we expanded freedom at home by raising standards in schools and lowering taxes for everybody — (applause) — that we liberated nations from dictatorship and freed people from AIDS and that when our freedom came under attack, we made the tough decisions required to keep the American people safe. (Applause.)

The same principles define the mission of the presidential center. I’m retired from politics — happily so, I might add — but not from public service. We’ll use our influences to help more children to start life with a quality education, to help more Americans find jobs and economic opportunity, to help more countries overcome poverty and disease, to help more people in every part of the world live in freedom.

We’ll work to empower women around the world to transform their countries, stand behind the courageous men and women who have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the United States to defend our flag and our freedoms here at home.

Ultimately, the success of a nation depends on the character of its citizens. As president, I had the privilege to see that character up close. I saw it in the first responders who charged up the stairs into the flames to save people’s lives from burning towers. I saw it in the Virginia Tech professor who barricaded his classroom door with his body until his students escaped to safety. I saw it in the people of New Orleans that made homemade boats to rescue their neighbors from the floods, saw it in the service members who laid down their lives to keep our country safe and to make other nations free.

Franklin Roosevelt once described the dedication of a library as an act of faith. I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country. It was the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead. God bless.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Source: WH, 4-25-13

Bush Presidential Center
Dallas, Texas

10:42 A.M. CDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Please be seated.  To President Bush and Mrs. Bush; to President Clinton and now-former Secretary Clinton; to President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush; to President and Mrs. Carter; to current and former world leaders and all the distinguished guests here today — Michelle and I are honored to be with you to mark this historic occasion.

This is a Texas-sized party.  And that’s worthy of what we’re here to do today:  honor the life and legacy of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.

When all the living former Presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy.  We’ve been called “the world’s most exclusive club” — and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse.  But the truth is, our club is more like a support group.  The last time we all got together was just before I took office.  And I needed that.  Because as each of these leaders will tell you, no matter how much you may think you’re ready to assume the office of the presidency, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours, until you’re sitting at that desk.

And that’s why every President gains a greater appreciation for all those who served before him; for the leaders from both parties who have taken on the momentous challenges and felt the enormous weight of a nation on their shoulders.  And for me, that appreciation very much extends to President Bush.

The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity.  For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned — that being President, above all, is a humbling job.  There are moments where you make mistakes.  There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock.  And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.

Now, in the past, President Bush has said it’s impossible to pass judgment on his presidency while he’s still alive.  So maybe this is a little bit premature.  But even now, there are certain things that we know for certain.

We know about the son who was raised by two strong, loving parents in Midland, famously inheriting, as he says, “my daddy’s eyes and my mother’s mouth.”  (Laughter.)  The young boy who once came home after a trip to a museum and proudly presented his horrified mother with a small dinosaur tailbone he had smuggled home in his pocket.  (Laughter.)  I’ll bet that went over great with Barbara.

We know about the young man who met the love of his life at a dinner party, ditching his plans to go to bed early and instead talking with the brilliant and charming Laura Welch late into the night.

We know about the father who raised two remarkable, caring, beautiful daughters, even after they tried to discourage him from running for President, saying, “Dad, you’re not as cool as you think you are.”  (Laughter.)  Mr. President, I can relate.  (Laughter.)  And now we see President Bush the grandfather, just beginning to spoil his brand-new granddaughter.

So we know President Bush the man.  And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin.  He knows who he is.  He doesn’t put on any pretenses.  He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  He is a good man.

But we also know something about George Bush the leader.  As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.

We remember the compassion that he showed by leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, helping to save millions of lives and reminding people in some of the poorest corners of the globe that America cares and that we’re here to help.

We remember his commitment to reaching across the aisle to unlikely allies like Ted Kennedy, because he believed that we had to reform our schools in ways that help every child learn, not just some; that we have to repair a broken immigration system; and that this progress is only possible when we do it together.

Seven years ago, President Bush restarted an important conversation by speaking with the American people about our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And even though comprehensive immigration reform has taken a little longer than any of us expected, I am hopeful that this year, with the help of Speaker Boehner and some of the senators and members of Congress who are here today, that we bring it home — for our families, and our economy, and our security, and for this incredible country that we love.  And if we do that, it will be in large part thanks to the hard work of President George W. Bush.  (Applause.)

And finally, a President bears no greater decision and no more solemn burden than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military that the world has ever known.  As President Bush himself has said, “America must and will keep its word to the men and women who have given us so much.”  So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families.  And we are united in our determination to comfort the families of the fallen and to care for those who wear the uniform of the United States.  (Applause.)

On the flight back from Russia, after negotiating with Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy’s secretary found a small slip of paper on which the President had written a favorite saying:  “I know there is a God.  And I see a storm coming.  If he has a place for me, I believe I am ready.”

No one can be completely ready for this office.  But America needs leaders who are willing to face the storm head on, even as they pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that they can do what they believe is right.  And that’s what the leaders with whom I share this stage have all done.  That’s what President George W. Bush chose to do.  That’s why I’m honored to be part of today’s celebration.

Mr. President, for your service, for your courage, for your sense of humor, and, most of all, for your love of country, thank you very much.  From all the citizens of the United States of America, God bless you.  And God bless these United States.  (Applause.)

END
10:50 A.M. CDT

History Headlines April 25, 2013: Convergence of Presidents at George W. Bush Library Dedication

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY HEADLINE NEWS

History Buzz

HISTORY MAKING HEADLINES

Convergence of Presidents at Bush Library Dedication

Source: NYT, 4-25-13

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

From left, President Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Thursday in Dallas.

President Obama joined all of his living predecessors on Thursday to pay tribute to George W. Bush….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 22, 2013: President Barack Obama & Michelle Obama to Attend Memorial Service for Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Obamas to Attend Memorial Service

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-22-13

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Waco, Texas, Thursday afternoon to attend a memorial service for the victims of last week’s massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

White House press secretary Jay Carney made the announcement on Monday….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 21, 2013: President Barack Obama & National Security Team Meet After Arrest of Bombing Suspect

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, National Security Team Meet After Arrest of Bombing Suspect

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-21-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama and his national security team met on Saturday in the wake of Friday night’s dramatic arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect of the terror attack at the Boston Marathon.

The weekend meeting lasted 90 minutes and was attended by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA director John Brennan, Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the National Security Council, according to a White House statement….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: America Stands with the City of Boston

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: America Stands with the City of Boston

Source: WH, 4-20-13

In his weekly address, President Obama spoke to the American people about the act of terror at the Boston Marathon that wounded dozens and killed three innocent people on Monday, and said that through it all, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted and Americans have proven they refuse to be terrorized.  This past week, first responders, race volunteers, doctors and nurses, and the good people of Boston joined together to show the world how Americans respond to evil: with resilience and resolve, and without fear.  And that’s the way Boston and America will move forward together.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
April 20, 2013

On Monday, an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three innocent people at the Boston Marathon.

But in the days since, the world has witnessed one sure and steadfast truth: Americans refuse to be terrorized.

Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week.  That’s what will remain.  Stories of heroism and kindness; resolve and resilience; generosity and love.

The brave first responders – police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and National Guard – who ran toward danger to help their fellow citizens.

The race volunteers, spectators, and exhausted runners who rushed to help, including troops and veterans who never expected to see such scenes on the streets of America.

The determined doctors and nurses at some of the world’s best hospitals, who have toiled day and night to save so many lives.

The big-hearted people of Boston – residents, priests, shopkeepers – who carried victims in their arms; delivered water and blankets; lined up to give blood; opened their homes to total strangers.

And the heroic federal agents and police officers who worked together throughout the week, often at great risk to themselves, to keep our communities safe.  As a country, we are eternally grateful for the profound sacrifices they make in the line of duty – sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice to defend the people they’ve sworn to protect.

If anyone wants to know who we are; what America is; how we respond to evil and terror – that’s it.  Selflessly.  Compassionately.  And unafraid.

Through days that would test even the sturdiest of souls, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted.  America’s spirit remains undimmed.  Our faith in each other, our love for this country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences we may have – that’s what makes us strong.  That’s why we endure.

In the days to come, we will remain vigilant as a nation.  And I have no doubt the city of Boston and its surrounding communities will continue to respond in the same proud and heroic way that they have thus far – and their fellow Americans will be right there with them every step of the way.  May God bless the people of Boston and the United States of America.

###

Full Text Obama Presidency April 19, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement Following the Capture of the Second Suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: “We’ve Seen the Character of Our Country Once More”

Source: WH, 4-20-13

President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House (April 19, 2013)President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House following the capture of the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, April 19 2013. Seated in the background are Jay Carney, Lisa Monaco, Christine Abizaid, and Ben Rhodes. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After a daylong manhunt that saw police searching door-to-door through Boston, law enforcement officials captured the remaining suspect believed to be responsible for Monday’s bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He was ultimately found in Watertown, Massachusetts.

In a statement from the James Brady Briefing Room after the arrest, President Obama commended the response from the state and local police and federal investigators….READ MORE

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 4-19-13

10:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts.  After a vicious attack on their city, Bostonians responded with resolve and determination.  They did their part as citizens and partners in this investigation.

Boston police and state police and local police across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts responded with professionalism and bravery over five long days.  And tonight, because of their determined efforts, we’ve closed an important chapter in this tragedy.

I’ve been briefed earlier this evening by FBI Director Mueller.  After the attacks on Monday, I directed the full resources of the federal government to be made available to help state and local authorities in the investigation and to increase security as needed.  Over the past week, close coordination among federal, state, and local officials — sharing information, moving swiftly to track down leads — has been critical to this effort.

They all worked as they should, as a team.  And we are extremely grateful for that.  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals.  These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe — and as this week showed, they don’t always know what to expect.  So our thoughts are with those who were wounded in pursuit of the suspects and we pray for their full recovery.

We also send our prayers to the Collier family who grieve the loss of their son and brother, Sean.  “He was born to be a police officer,” said his chief at MIT.  He was just 26 years old.  And as his family has said, he died bravely in the line of duty, doing what he committed his life to doing — serving and protecting others.  So we’re grateful to him.

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions.  Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?  How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?  The families of those killed so senselessly deserve answers.  The wounded, some of whom now have to learn how to stand and walk and live again, deserve answers.

And so I’ve instructed the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and our intelligence community to continue to deploy all the necessary resources to support the investigation, to collect intelligence, and to protect our citizens.  We will determine what happened.  We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.  And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.

One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not — cannot — prevail.  Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they’ve already failed.  They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated.  They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized.  They failed because we will not waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us as a country.  Nor will we break the bonds that hold us together as Americans.

That American spirit includes staying true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong — like no other nation in the world.  In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions.  But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right.  That’s why we have investigations.  That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.  That’s why we have courts.  And that’s why we take care not to rush to judgment — not about the motivations of these individuals; certainly not about entire groups of people.

After all, one of the things that makes America the greatest nation on Earth, but also, one of the things that makes Boston such a great city, is that we welcome people from all around the world — people of every faith, every ethnicity, from every corner of the globe.  So as we continue to learn more about why and how this tragedy happened, let’s make sure that we sustain that spirit.

Tonight we think of all the wounded, still struggling to recover.  Certainly we think of Krystle Campbell.  We think of Lingzi Lu.  And we think of little Martin Richard.  Their lives reflected all the diversity and beauty of our country, and they were sharing the great American experience together.

Finally, let me say that even as so much attention has been focused on the tragic events in Boston, understandably, we’ve also seen a tight-knit community in Texas devastated by a terrible explosion.  And I want them to know that they are not forgotten.  Our thoughts, our prayers are with the people of West, Texas, where so many good people lost their lives; some lost their homes; many are injured; many are still missing.

I’ve talked to Governor Perry and Mayor Muska and I’ve pledged that the people of West will have the resources that they need to recover and rebuild.  And I want everybody in Texas to know that we will follow through with those commitments.

All in all, this has been a tough week.  But we’ve seen the character of our country once more.  And as President, I’m confident that we have the courage and the resilience and the spirit to overcome these challenges — and to go forward, as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END     10:11 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: Bipartisan Gang of 8 Senators Unveiled Historic Immigration Bill

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Bipartisan Senators Roll Out Historic Immigration Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-19-13

There they stood: four Democrats and four Republicans, the Senate Gang of 8, publicly promising to fight for an immigration reform bill introduced Tuesday.

The bill would beef up border security with $4.5 billion worth of drones, sensors and border patrol agents, while offering America’s undocumented a 13-year path to citizenship if they undergo background checks, pay fines, keep clear of felonies, and learn English and civics….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Harry Reid to ‘Hit Pause’ on Gun Background Check Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-18-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that it was time to take a breath and regroup in the wake of a sweeping defeat on gun legislation this week.

“I’ve spoken with the president,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “He and I agree that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit a pause and freeze the background check bill where it is.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: How much grief can we and President Obama take?

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

How much grief can we and Obama take?

Source: Washington Post (blog), 4-18-13

How many times has President Obama had to do this? How many times has he had to console a grieving community and a shocked nation?…READ MORE

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: House Speaker John Boehner & Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Upcoming Congressional Showdowns

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner, Pelosi on Upcoming Congressional Showdowns

Source: ABC News Radio, 4-18-13

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

After a “rough” week across the country, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both addressed tragedy and strategy in their weekly news conferences on Thursday, offering their condolences to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

“Words alone cannot console the loved ones, but we will do what we can to care for them,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “With the investigation ongoing, we will make sure that justice is done.”

“Our hearts go out to the victims and the people of Boston,” Boehner, R-Ohio, added. “[I’m] glad the president’s up there today, and I add my prayers to his.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to First Responders and Volunteers About their Response to the Boston Marathon Bombing, at Cathedral High School, Boston, MA

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to First Responders and Volunteers in Boston, MA

Source: WH, 4-18-13 

Cathedral High School
Boston, Massachusetts

12:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Well, listen, we just had a wonderful interfaith service, and I want to thank Governor Patrick for helping to organize that.  I want to thank both the Governor and your extraordinary Mayor, Tom Menino — (applause) — for the incredible leadership and cool under pressure, the organization, the mobilization and the courage that they have shown reflective of this great city and reflective of this great Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Now, I’m not going to speak long.  I’m just — he started calling me Reverend Obama, so I know — (laughter) — I know I was — I don’t want to go on any longer than I need to.  The main message, in addition to just giving — having a chance to shake some hands and give some hugs, is just to say how proud the whole country is of you — (applause) — how grateful we are — how grateful we are that in the face of chaos and tragedy, all of you displayed the very best of the American spirit.

You displayed grit.  You displayed compassion.  You displayed civic duty.  You displayed courage.  And when we see that kind of spirit, there’s something about that that’s infectious.  It makes us all want to be better people.  You’ve inspired the entire country.  You’ve inspired the world.  And for that, you should be profoundly proud.

But as Deval and I were talking as we were driving in from the airport, the key is that we hang on to a little bit of that, because it’s right there under the surface every day.  And it expresses itself, obviously, in the Marathon.  It expresses itself in Patriot’s Day.  It expresses itself in all the small interactions, the gestures of kindness and generosity and tolerance and compassion that make up the fabric of our lives.  And we don’t always pay attention to it, and we don’t always celebrate, and it’s certainly not usually on a television screen, it’s not always reported on.  But that’s who we are.

And if there’s anything that was a theme in that interfaith service it’s that out of these ashes, out of the blood that’s spilled and the injuries borne, out of that, we get a chance to see and highlight and appreciate that spirit.  And we’ve got to sustain it, because in all of our lives at some point there are going to be some troubles, and there’s evil in the world, and there’s hardship.  But if that spirit is evident and manifest, and that’s what we’re teaching our kids and that’s what we’re embodying in our own lives, then who can stop us?  Who can touch us?  (Applause.)

So thank you, everybody.  I’m proud of you.  I’m proud of Boston.  And as I just said, I’m looking forward to the 118th Boston Marathon.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
12:39 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines April 18, 2013: President Barack Obama to Boston at the Memorial Service for Boston Marathon Bombing Victims: ‘You will run again’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama to Boston: ‘You will run again’

Source: Politico, 4-18-13

President Barack Obama delivered a message of resilience and recovery as he renewed his pledge that the country would stand by this city still recovering from Monday’s Marathon bombings — and that those responsible would be found.

“We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up, we’ll keep going. We will finish the race,” he said, speaking at the end of the interfaith “Healing Our City” service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross….READ MORE

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