White House pool report

Subject: WH Pool Report No. 1 – AF1 Dakar to Johannesburg area arrival

WH Pool Report No. 1 –
AF1 Dakar to Johannesburg area arrival
December 10, 2013

AF1 was wheels up at 9:35 PM local time Monday in Dakar and landed at 7:02 AM local Tuesday at Waterkloof Air Force Base in the town of Centurion, roughly halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

With about a half hour left in the flight, POTUS did a brief well-being check on the pool, but said nothing of substance. Said, generously, that poolers were looking better than he expected after the long flight.

As we taxied in Dakar, a relaxed-looking Hillary Clinton stopped by the press cabin for a few minutes. She recounted various meetings she, President Clinton and Chelsea had with Nelson Mandela over the years in South Africa and in other venues. She also pronounced herself a big fan of Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel.

Less than two hours into the flight, Ben Rhodes visited the pool to disclose that–during the refuel stop in Senegal Monday–President Obama recorded an audio message to the people of the Central African Republic. The message will be distributed by radio in that region and through Voice of America, he said. (Pool did not witness the message being recorded.)

Text should have reached you by now but here are some excerpts from the message:

“The awful violence of recent days threatens the country you love. Innocent men, women and children have been killed. Families have fled their homes…..Today, my message to you is simple : it doesn’t have to be this way. You—the proud citizens of the Central African Republic—have the power to choose a different path. Respected leaders in your communities—Muslim and Christian—are calling for calm and peace. I call on the transitional government to join these voices and to arrest those who are committing crimes…..Meanwhile, as forces from other African countries and France work to restore security, the United States will support their efforts to protect civilians.”

The Pentagon had announced earlier Monday that, in coordination with France, the U.S. military would be providing airlift assistance to move African troops from Burundi to the C.A.R. A resolution supporting the French-African Union effort passed the U.N. Security Council last week.

Josh Gerstein

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