Live blog: President Obama's news conference
November 14th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
1 year 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. Bob

    Taxing the top 2%, doesn't do anything to the deficit. He continues to play the class warfare card.

    November 14, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. trapperx

    I'm fine with raising taxes, as long as the money is used wisely. What unneeded government programs are going to be cut to help bring down the debt?

    November 14, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Sarah J

    When will Obama answer random questions from reporters? Ever? He always has a pre-planned list of 6 or 8 reporters from whom he'll take questions. So much for a transparent administration.

    November 14, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. oddjob3422

    Time to sum it up, again.

    "Tax someone else."

    November 14, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Carrie

    Blah...Blah...Blah...same old song and dance Mr. President!!

    November 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. just sayin

    >Texas MD
    >How did someone running on the platform of higher taxes even get elected

    to be accurate, he ran on the platform to raise somebody elses taxes. those that already pay far more than they should while a huge number of americans pay nothing or very little to support the government. so give him the higher tax rates on the evil rich and then see what he complains about and who he attacks next. let me guess, the rich still aren;t paying enough! we are all just dying to know his plan to raise the other 920 billion in taxes he will need to balance the budget. oh yeah, and it is all bushs fault. almost like obama doesn't exist, like an empty suit.

    November 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. conformist

    I know what you hold in your heart for those of you who didn't want to Re-elect the President. Let it go! Let's move forward & concentrate on bringing the Country up not down. All these people stirring up controversies is only a detraction to the President & those who want to move the Country forward. Everybody work together. Love one another & let's move forward!

    November 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. steve

    hey john dont say terrorist when connected to Obama...he states there is no terrorist in the world just u poor people that the USA has been harming all these years...U are a joke if u believe this about republicans...remember back 6-7 years ago what u were calling Bush and Petraus (betrayus)..oh thats right it is alright for u dems to bash the country and the prez but when republicans do it it is racist and un-american wake up

    November 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. it must be said

    where are the details of obamas plan to cut spending over the next year? we need cuts now, not 10 year sfrom now. not cuts in the rate of growth. we need real cuts and we ned them now. where are all the details? doesn't obama have any details and plans for the next 4 years?

    November 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Fortinbras

    The nonpartisan congressional budget office estimates that the budget deficit will be cut by 700 billion dollars if we go over the fiscal cliff. The Bush tax rate expires and most of the spending cuts are military spending cuts... I know the president wants to avoid the cliff but this is actually a win/win situation. The Bush tax cuts produced no jobs! Let them expire. And let the republican congress bear the huge backlash they will have coming to them in 2014.

    November 14, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. Matt C

    Why can he never answer a question and will only respond with his same two cliches every time! And yet this country wants this man running the country.

    November 14, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. Leeford

    Giving 100 million americans a thousand dollar tax break will grease the economy alot more than giving 10 thousand millionaires a 10 million dollar tax break...

    November 14, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Loylyn

    The President will do well in addressing jobs and the economy given bipartisan rethinking that will look beyond self-interests in those economic inefficiencies perpetuated by corporate greed of local and the global economies.
    Our country has changed over 200 years, yet we still use the age of Industrial revo lution in competitive markets beset by mergers and deceptive practices
    Which have devastated multiple markets and valuable commodities. The vilest greeds have profitted through irresponsibility and loopholes of our economic systems where the welfare and safety of citizens paid in lives and livelihood. We are in the throes of not having knowledge as laborers and consumers and misinformation

    November 14, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. lanbruiser

    Why does he continually promote class warfare. He says this is easy to fix, yet is already shunning ideas like tax loopholes. Folks....we are in deep trouble with another 4 years of this. God watch over all of us.

    November 14, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Bob

    How is $250k wealthy? $250k in NY is it wealthy.

    November 14, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Guest

    now he's doing stand up comedy and not just liberal talk shows.

    November 14, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. why can't we all pay for the government we demand?

    why is the big deal about letting al the tax rates expire and go up? democrats have been screaming we need more tax money. well come january 1 you will have a lot of it. but don't be surprised if it comes with a recession attached. nahhh, that can't happen. democrats say more taxes are a good thing. they'd never tank the economy just to pursue their class warfare schick would they?

    November 14, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Matt C

    Yes, let's worry about climate change right now. Please, let's waste time worrying about that.

    November 14, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Ed

    Don't see a big problem if the "fiscal cliff" does indeed happen. Federal income Taxes will go up on all Americans (the 53% that pay Federal Income taxes) which is fair since it makes everyone pay their "fair share" for run away Federal spending. The mandatory spending cuts will inflict pain on some Federal Agencies – but it will force Federal Agencies to finally cut all the fat and become more effective and eficient. OBM and economists claim it could cause a new recession with unemployment up to 9% – well we have had unemployment above 8% for 4 years and a very weak recovery. Seems reducing the deficit 800 billion dollars this year and forward is well worth a longer recovery and 1% higher unemployment in the short term to make things much better in the long term. Over $1 trillion yearly deficits are much more dangerous than a possible recession and a 1% increase in unemployment in the short term.

    November 14, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. JV12

    Still the same absent lala land dribble. Raising taxes wont do anything.. All he is doing is scaring the mess out of businesses. The market is crashing, jobs are being purged and business will not hire under this president. Slashing taxes for everyone and, cut spending. Its as simple You all are fools for electing this clown. You were bought like slafes

    November 14, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. MJ

    What a farce and joke this presidential news conference was – but who didn't see that coming? Wat I have learned (and for quite a while) is that my opinion and vote count for NOTHING! The mainstream press and sadly CNN is and will always been in the tank for Obama. It is a national and historical disgrace. Now I finally understand what it was like to be a Black man before 1970. America – love it or leave it. Always believed it. Now more than ever.

    November 14, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. lanbruiser

    Bob is right....$250k is not wealthy, especially on the east and west coasts. What do you say to somebody who worked hard their entire life to actually finally make it to a fantastic income, only to be now told that you did too good, so we are going to tax you more? Socialism does not work. It un-inspires all of us.

    November 14, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. lanbruiser

    Matt – agree 100%.....however, there are at least 5 trees on my street that need hugged....lol

    November 14, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Chuck

    Same old Same ole, avoid answers, blame others

    November 14, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Kathy

    He keeps saying not to increase taxes next year. The taxes should not be increased to middle class for the next 4 years. He should make it where the rich pays more in taxes then they have ever had in ths past 10 years. Then are debt will go foam to where we can handle it better.

    November 14, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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