Live blog: President Obama's news conference
November 14th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Live blog: President Obama's news conference

(CNN) - President Barack Obama heads to the podium Wednesday at the White House for the sixteenth formal, solo news conference of his presidency.

The likely topics? Expect to hear questions about the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who stepped down last week and revealed he had an extramarital affair with his biographer. Another four-star general, John Allen, is also implicated in the complex scandal.

READ MORE: Scandal ensnaring Petraeus, Allen focuses on e-mails

Another expected line of questioning will focus on the upcoming "fiscal cliff" - and how Obama plans to work with Republican lawmakers on avoiding it. But with the political environment largely unchanged since his last news conference, many of the key issues remain the same: the ballooning national debt, the tepid economic recovery, unrest in the Middle East and the specter of a nuclear Iran.

WATCH: What is the fiscal cliff?

Full live coverage of Obama's news conference, led by Wolf Blitzer, is on CNN TV. You can watch the conference itself here, and be sure to refresh this page for constant updates as the action gets underway.


2:28 p.m. ET:
Jessica Yellin and Wolf Blitzer breaking down the most explosive moment of the press conference: his defense of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. See Sen. Lindsey Graham's response to the president's remarks here:

2:26 p.m. ET: A reporter tried to shout a question as Obama was wrapping up. While Obama listened to the reporter ask the question (which was about the fiscal cliff), he said he wouldn't answer it since it was shouted out of line.

Here's an explanation:

2:24 p.m. ET: Obama says he's "encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition has formed an umbrella. That they had more cohesion than they had in the past."

But, he says, "we're not yet prepared to recognize them as some sport of government in exile."


2:22 p.m. ET:
Question on Syria's civil war: "The Assad regime (in Syria) has engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. France has recognized the opposition coalition. What would it take for the United States to do the same? And is there any point at which the United States would consider arming the rebels?"

2:21 p.m. ET: Obama says "We can't attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know that the weather around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted 10 years ago."

2:19 p.m. ET: Question on climate change (a topic that wasn't discussed in depth during the presidential campaign): "In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, (New York City) Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent...What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change, and do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?"

2:17 p.m. ET: Obama says he wants to see a "diplomatic resolution to the problem" of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"We're not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. But I think there is still a window of time to resolve this diplomatically," Obama says, adding that "I can't promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk through."

2:16 p.m. ET: Question on Iran: "Are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue and are we headed toward one-on-one talks?"

2:14 p.m. ET: Need some reminders on what's included in the fiscal cliff? Read more from CNNMoney:

What is the fiscal cliff? (VIDEO)

Obama brings CEOs in for fiscal cliff talks

What spending cuts are included in the 'fiscal cliff'?

What's really in the fiscal cliff?

2:12 p.m. ET: Obama, asked if he can image a scenario where the country goes off the fiscal cliff, says "we can all imagine going over the fiscal cliff...if there's too much stubbornness."

2:09 p.m. ET: Answering a question on whether he has a mandate following his re-election, Obama says he didn't "get re-elected to bask in re-election; I got re-elected to work."

2:07 p.m. ET: Asked a follow up on Benghazi, Obama says he told American security personnel to do "everything they needed" to keep diplomats safe.

2:04 p.m. ET: Obama gets fired up defending his ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (who is considered a top choice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.)

"She has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill… and grace. As I said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided before. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone they should go after me."

2:01 p.m. ET: Question on the attack in Benghazi, Libya: "Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. Sen. Graham said he simply doesn't trust Amb. Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I'd like your reaction to that. Would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?"

2:02 p.m. ET: Asked about his ability to forge relationships with lawmakers, Obama says in his first term he's "gotten a lot of good relationships with people in the House and the Senate, with people on both sides of the aisle."

"It hasn't always manifested itself ... there are probably going to be some very sharp differences."

2:00 p.m. ET: Obama says no meeting is scheduled yet with Mitt Romney, but says he still hopes to work with the former GOP nominee in the future. Obama praised Romney for his running on the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

1:59 p.m. ET: Next questioner asks: "On election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with Governor Romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation's problems. Have you extended that invitation? Has he accepted? And what ways do you think you can work together?"

1:58 p.m. ET:
Obama says he doesn't "expect Republicans to adopt my budget."

"That's not realistic. So we're going to have to compromise."


1:57 p.m. ET:
Obama answering a question now on the fiscal cliff. Is there no deal if tax rates aren't increased?

1:56 p.m. ET: Who knew what, when, on the Petraeus scandal? Read a timeline here.

1:55 p.m. ET: Obama says on the timing of his Petraeus knowledge: "I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. We don't have all the information yet, but I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI and they have a difficult job. It is also possible that had we been told, that you would be sitting here asking why are you interfering in a criminal investigation."

1:54 p.m. ET: Another question on the Petraeus scandal: Do you believe you should have known sooner about the investigation?

1:52 p.m. ET: Obama says of immigration reform, "We need to seize the moment."

"Some conversations are already starting to take place among senators, congressmen, and my staff."

1:49 p.m. ET: Question on immigration reform: "On immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the Hill. This time around you have said again that this would be one of the top priorities for a second term. Will you then send legislation to the Hill? Exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? Does that include a legalization program. Also, what lessons of any did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?"

1:48 p.m. ET: Obama: "There is a package to be shaped and I am confident that folks of goodwill in both parties. But what I'm not going to do is extend [the] Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent that we can't afford and according to economists will have the least positive impact on the economy."


1:45 p.m. ET:
Yellin follows up: Would closing loopholes as a way of raising revenue be a satisfactory compromise?

This is a solution House Speaker John Boehner has floated: Read more here.

1:44 p.m. ET: Obama says the "most important step" is to promise Americans that 97% of them won't see taxes rise.

1:43 p.m. ET: Question from CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin: "You said you wouldn't extend the Bush era tax cuts but at the end of the day, you did. So respectfully sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won't cave again this time?"

1:41 p.m. ET: Obama uses part of his answer to praise Petraeus for his long military career: "I do want to emphasize what I said before. General Petraeus had an extraordinary career. … By his own assessment he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as director of the CIA. … We are safer because of the work that David Petraeus has done. … this ends up being a single side note on what has been an extraordinary career."

1:40 p.m. ET: Here's the latest CNN reporting on the scandal that took down former CIA Director David Petraeus.

1:39 p.m. ET: Question on the Petraeus affair: "Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals David Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you as commander in chief and the American people should you have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?"


1:37 p.m. ET:
Obama is injecting some urgency in his push for a resolution to the fiscal cliff: "We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, which is to keep middle class tax rates low."

1:36 p.m. ET: Obama: "As I've said before I'm open to compromise and I'm open to new ideas and I've been encouraged this week to hear Republican after Republican expressing their openness to more revenue."

1:35 p.m. ET: Obama said the American economy "is still recovering" and that his priority as president "has to be jobs."

1:34 p.m. ET: The president walked out to the podium and is beginning his opening statement.

1:33 p.m. ET: Wolf Blitzer offers an insight from his days as a White House correspondent: the president will have a list of reporters he'll call on in preparation for today's news conference.

1:30 p.m. ET: Jessica Yellin reports Obama will deliver a brief statement before taking questions from the press.

1:27 p.m. ET: Reporters, including CNN's Jessica Yellin, are reporting live from the East Room of the White House, where Obama's press conference is scheduled to begin in minutes.

1:25 p.m. ET: In preparation for negotiations over the fiscal cliff, Obama met with leaders of labor groups on Tuesday at the White House.

1:22 p.m. ET: CNN's panel is discussing why Obama wasn't notified of the FBI investigation into David Petraeus ahead of his resignation.

Heads of the House and Senate intelligence committees have raised similar questions. Read more here.


1:17 p.m. ET:
What else could come up during today's news conference? Aside from the Petraeus scandel and the fiscal cliff, the attack in Benghazi, Libya will likely be a topic of discussion. The president hasn't held a full-blown news conference since the attack on Sept. 11, 2011 that left four Americans dead.

1:14 p.m. ET: Ali Velshi is explaining the "fiscal cliff" on CNN right now - it's the large package of budget cuts and tax increases that would go into effect at the beginning of next year if Congress and Obama can't strike a deal on reducing the federal debt.

Click here for a primer on what's included in the fiscal cliff.

1:06 p.m. ET: Following today's press conference, the president will meet with business leaders to discuss the upcoming fiscal cliff. He met with labor leaders on Tuesday.

1:02 p.m. ET: Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin reports the president will take eight questions during his news conference, which is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. and last one hour.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. Nick

    No of course its not Obama's fault everything that goes wrong is Bush's fault. Everyone knows that! Duh?

    November 14, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. True Blue

    Obama is a joke. Obama has no disire to help only those that contribute to the downfall of America.

    He may have "won" but is worthless shallow "win" as Obama is a socialist, anti-american puppet of the radical left and his main goal, and that of the liberals is to destroy the America and replace it with a Socialist State.

    November 14, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Anthony in California

    @just askin
    can somebody please ask obama why he has lead us and the country to a fiscal cliff?? and if his motto is forward does he intend to throw us all off that cliff?"

    You do recall Boehner saying he got 98 PERCENT of what he wanted out of the Fiscal Cliff Deal right?
    Oh, you conveniently left that part out of your Obama complaint...

    Just asking (or Four and the Door or Truth Hurts, you guys all sound the same nowadays) why don't you give it a rest.

    November 14, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. petemg

    He is not considered to be my president. He reminds me too much of Clinton when he stated, "Read my lips, I did not have sex with her (Monica)." I do not trust him whatsoever.

    November 14, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    "Our 'top' priority has to be 'jobs and growth'. So let's make sure we pass legislature that generates thousands of regulations that businesses have to struggle with and requires the expenditure of millions of dollars to comply. Yeah...that makes sense. More empty words...more "Dem" agenda...more Big Government...more taxes.

    November 14, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. MikeB

    If Obama isn't taking questions, it's not a News 'Conference'.

    November 14, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. MMM

    How much of the government benefit spending does the rich use? Right, pretty much none! Why then should the top 3% have to bear the burden, without any "skin in the game" for everyone else? Smells like socialism.

    November 14, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    His first priority is jobs? Is he pivoting to jobs again? Or maybe he's focusing laser-like on jobs again. Wait, I know, he's going to "jumpstart job creation"! Or EVEN an "unrelenting, unyielding day-by-day effort"! After all, he's got a "relentless

    I think he's starting to run out of metaphors to describe his complete failure to actually, you know, help the economy create jobs.

    November 14, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Mike

    4 years to late. How about jobs then health care.

    November 14, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. conformist

    Media is going to destroy this Country

    November 14, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. GwenB

    They're not asking tough questions, and the luke warm ones they are asking, he's not answering. I can't believe I'm wasting my time watching this. Petraeus is going to take the fall for this Benghazigate. obama is untouchable.

    November 14, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. JD

    Why are his successes overwhelming continuations of Bush policies.

    November 14, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. neal

    Obama must be speaking the market is going back down....just like clock work

    November 14, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Texas MD

    How did someone running on the platform of higher taxes even get elected. We are all for the middle class being successful but isn't it time to cut government spending. Taxing 39% of someone's income regardless of how much money they make seems excessive to me.

    November 14, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. conformist

    The issue is jobs & moving the Country forward. Let's leave the non-sense-non-sense. All these people playing politics & stirring emotions GOT TO GO!

    November 14, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Bob

    What about the 47% who do not pay taxes? Where's that question.

    November 14, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. GwenB

    If Romney was smart he'd say "you're on your own Mr, President" I'm not getting you out of this mess you made.

    November 14, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. JD

    And people gig romney and Ryan for specifics? Where are the specifics. Oh. Tax the rich. Wow.

    November 14, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. conformist

    Let's not fuel the fire by bringing the Country down but bringing it up. There is no time for fun & games.

    November 14, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Pat

    Obama is a corrupt liar!

    November 14, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Glenn juvinall

    The real news is BENGHAZI . 4 dead patriots . A slap in the face to the families,the Americans who care. Let the cards fall where they may , but please pull your heads out of the sand . It is not political , it is right .

    November 14, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. GwenB

    Thank GOD he doesn't have another election

    November 14, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. conformist

    I will give the President a 2nd chance-

    November 14, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. just sayin

    obama admistration on fire at home and around the world... scandals everywhere, americans dying, and he calls a news conference to ignore it all and pretend he is focused on jobs and the economy. americans have been conned into another 4 years of this nincompoop at the wheel. i guess 4 years of incompetence just wasn't enough.

    November 14, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. JohnWH

    Of course House Republicans will not agree to a no tax increase for the middle-class...like all terrorists they need hostages as bargaining chips...

    November 14, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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