Pressed during today’s briefing to White House reporters about President Obama’s campaign pledge to have health care discussions broadcast on C-SPAN, spokesman Robert Gibbs first dodged the question and then responded by saying, “The president wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.”
Gibbs also referred reporters to the transcript of his remarks on the C-SPAN question yesterday, but yesterday’s briefing happened before a closed door meeting in which Obama urged Democrats to bypass a formal conference to merge the House and Senate health care bills and negotiate behind closed doors.And at that time, his response was that he hadn’t read the letter C-SPAN sent requesting that the meetings be broadcast.
Here’s my transcription of Gibbs’ exchange on the C-SPAN question:
Q: During the campaign, President Obama on numerous occasions said words to the effect of, quoting one, “all of this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public.” Do you agree that the President is breaking an explicit campaign promise?
GIBBS: You know Chip, we covered this yesterday and I would refer you to yesterday’s transcript.
Q: (Inaudible) today?
GIBBS: The answer I would give today is similar to the one…
Q: There was an intervening meeting in which it’s been reported that the President, the President pressed the leaders in Congress to take the fast track approach to skip the conference committee. Did he do that?
GIBBS: The President wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.
Q: In spite of the fact that he promised to do this on C-SPAN?
GIBBS: I would refer you to what we talked about in this room yesterday.
Q: But the President, in this meeting yesterday, pressed for something that’s in direct violation of a promise he made during the campaign.
GIBBS: And I addressed that yesterday.
Q: Well does the President believe it would be more helpful if this process were more transparent, that the American people could see…
GIBBS: How many stories do you think NBC has done on this?
Q: Speaking for myself, hundreds…
Q: That’s not the issue, the issue is whether he broke an explicit campaign promise.
GIBBS: So the answer is hundreds. Is that correct?
Q: Well that has nothing to do with it. I deal with the information, however much or little of it there is. I’m saying, would people benefit from more information?
GIBBS: Have you lacked information in some of those stories? Do you think you’ve reported stuff that was inaccurate based on the lack of information?
Q: Democrats ran against the very sort of process that is being employed in this health care debate.
GIBBS: We had this discussion yesterday. I answered this yesterday. Is there anything else?
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