Subject: Travel Pool #2
AF1 landed at Charlotte at 11:15.
Josh Earnest gaggled shortly after take off. Please check all below against transcript:
Started with a preview of the veterans measures being announced in the speech today, saying veteran care “Not just a policy priority, it’s also a moral obligation”
Re Surveillance over Syria: The president still has not made any decisions about any military options in Syria, not in a position to discuss details of intelligence operations. Repeated many of the points on ISIL he made at Monday’s briefing.
“As a matter of US policy, we have not recognized” Assad as the leader in Syria. “There are no plans to change that policy and there are no plans to coordinate with the Assad regime”
“At the risk of putting too fine a point on it,” Earnest pointed to what came of the military efforts in Iraq of the “previous administration”
Current action in Iraq, Earnest said, is not based on an AUMF, but on the president’s inherent powers as commander in chief. “We have not speculated” about what would be required if the president decides to act in Syria.
Re possible Congressional authorization of Syria action: “The goal of the mission from last year was aimed squarely at the Assad regime … The situation a year later is markedly different.”
“Not in a position to get into the details” of the president’s meeting with Hagel at the White House Monday, or whether military options were presented to the president as part of it
Called repeated Russian incursions across Ukrainian border “a pretty flagrant escalation,” adding “pretty disappointed” that Putin hasn’t done more to stop them. Indications that the Russians are continuing to move military hardware across the border, and that the pace has increased.
Compared Biden doing unannounced photo lines with Democratic candidates to the president doing roundtables with donors, said they’re not public because there are no remarks. All part of what he said was a closely coordinated effort between the Vice President and White House to help Democratic candidates this year.
Asked if the president has done unannounced photo lines with donors, Earnest said: “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an example where the president has done a photo line not in conjunction with a more formal event,” though added that this is “not definitive” necessarily
Called NC Sen Kay Hagan a “Dedicated advocate for America’s veterans” despite her criticism of Obama
Asked if Obama will be a drag on Hagan: “The president over the last two elections has outperformed expectations in North Carolina”
Thanks to co-pooler Katie Zezima for gaggle help
Senior White House reporter