Report upon landing …. (and look who has a new overcoat!)

Subject: WH Travel Pool #14 – Schatz Q+A


After POTUS departed on Marine One for the White House, your pooler spoke with Sen.-designate Brian Schatz of Hawaii on the windy, cold tarmac at Andrews.


He was wearing a brand new overcoat that he said he just purchased yesterday in anticipation of the DC weather.


Schatz said he was informed of his appointment by Gov. Abercrombie yesterday at about 1pm. He didn’t know he’d get to fly to DC on AF1 until later in the day – the rest of his family, including his parents, wife and children, were flying commercial.


His understanding was he’d be sworn in today at 2pm. “That’s my understanding. The only concern is that we have to aggregate the family and make sure they’re in the same room.”


On his flight on the presidential aircraft: “It was a lovely flight. I slept almost the whole way,” he said.


Asked about his conversation with the president, he said: “We had a brief chat. We’re anxious to get to work, and see what we can to try to avert the fiscal cliff and I’ll be looking forward to supporting the administration’s priorities.”


Schatz served as the chairman of Obama’s 2008 campaign in Hawaii. Asked about his relationship with him, he said, “I’ve been a supporter of his from the very beginning. For Hawaii it’s not just a matter of him being from Hawaii but we feel that he represents our values on the national stage. That’s what I’m looking forward to supporting.”


Pool asked about his reaction to the appointment process worked, noting it was something of a surprise since Sen. Inouye had expressed a different preference.


“No one can fill Senator Inouye’s shoes, but we’ll all try to walk in his footsteps together,” Schatz said, echoing remarks at the news conference yesterday. “His humility, his service to his state and his country, his kind demeanor — we’ll all try to emulate that. But certainly no one can fill his shoes.”


Asked for his views on the fiscal cliff as someone who has been somewhat outside the process looking in: “It’s at this stage difficult to understand why we would inflict this on ourselves. And so I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail and we will be able to avert this disaster.


“Everyone seems to agree that we want to avoid this. There are some practical balanced approaches that have been set forth. And now it’s time, and we’re really running out of time, to negotiate a settlement, which I believe no one will be thrilled with. But the only thing worse than a solution to the fiscal cliff would be actually going over it.”


And with that signing off travel pool duty.




Michael Memoli

Tribune Washington Bureau