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. SuperD

    The thing that makes me sick is hearing a Liberal say, "The rich don't pay their fair share" Just jump in your time machine and go back 50 years. The Liberals then were all saying "The rich don't pay their fair share" Same old garbage then, same old garbage now. When does it end with these "Vulture Capitolists?"

    His tax hikes will not dent the deficit, and taxing the job creators in this country will simply make them hold on to their money. There will be no jobs, in fact, we assured that Nov 6, when all the takers and the stupid college kids all decided we needed 4 more years of this despicable administration.

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

    >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...

    the obama economy has been steadily declining the last 4 years and will continue to decline. it hasn't worked because fewer and fewer people have full time jobs. obama has turned working into a dirty word. sitting at home and collecting all the government benefits is worth 30-40k a year. why work? live in the government hammock and enjoy life while the suckers who do work pay for your existence.

    November 14, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Dan Clayton

    Obama Talks and the Market falls... Now that is leadership...

    November 14, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Lots of vacuous post by the GOPers. When do you guys ever learn the lesson? The country is not interested in your 1950s-based reality. Move forward with the rest of us or shut up. No one is interested in you anymore.

    November 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. Brian Freeman

    Could we shut him up the market is tanking with every word

    November 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Ben Dover

    This page is proof we must retain the Electoral College to offer this country some protection from "we the people".

    November 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Cleveland

    He's been dealing with the fiscal cliff coming for the last two years and it's simple math..... Mr. President, your two budgets presented to the house and to the senate were defeated with not one single vote in favor. 414-0 and 99-0. That speaks volumns of how the people feel about how you want to spend our money!!!!

    November 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Dan Clayton

    We are morons for voting Obama in again

    November 14, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Liberal Nutjob

    Obama starts his liberal nonsense and the Dow drops.

    November 14, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Chad

    The press should be disgusted with themselves over this fiasco. Whatever you do, don't upset the man.

    November 14, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Sarah J

    He couldn't even answer a random question at the end. It's all a show.

    November 14, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Aerin

    The President is doing the right thing. The wealthiest can afford to pay a bit more. Stop whining like a bunch of babies! You'd swear your first born was being ripped from you when you are asked to just do you fair share.

    November 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Ralph Dahm

    Well Obama seems to be playing the "Blame Bush" card again, still... When the Bush tax cuts expire many low income folks will be surprised at their higher tax bill....$500 alone for children (was $1,000), the extra 2% for Social Security (which never should have been cut in the first place), etc.etc. Just wait until the low/middle income folks see the $2000 tax "penalty from Obamacare in 2014. I would suggest just letting the country go off the fiscal cliff and save the $700 billion (per the congressional budget committee). Plus tax the "rich" another 2% and see what happens. Once the real impact sets in there is nobody to blame other than Obama and Democrats. Personally until the Govt. cuts spending there should be no tax increases....the extra tax money will just result in more spending.

    November 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. D447

    I read all these comments and wonder if some of you ever had a math class. How does $100 billion in spending cuts help a $1.6 trillion deficit? Oh, I forgot....there is that other $16 trillion that we are already in the hole. Oh, then there is the $1.7 trillion that it's gonna take to pay for Obamacare...just this year.
    If we stopped the bleeding now (which would mean getting rid of ALL government spending), it would still take us 50+ years to pay off our debt.

    November 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Blah – blah – blah. One of his top priorities – addressing the immigration issue. Why Mr. President – oh, that's right more votes for 2016. How this clown got back in – I do not know. What a joke.

    November 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. JohnWH

    I think people are forgetting that the "fiscal cliff" was created by Republicans seeking to keep the bush tax cuts in place last year.....The taxcuts had a sunset clause for a reason and now its 2 years past time for them to exit. Kiss em goodbye and lets move on.

    November 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. Pete

    If you republicans don't think taxing the 1-2%ers more than step up to the plate people because your taxes have been the lowest in over 50 years.Reagan your idol raised them11 times and Bush 41aroung 6 so quit crying a river of tears especially when it was your republicans president in Bush that gave away a surplus Pres.Clinton had before leaving and yes he did straighten out the budget something again your Bush screwed up!Reagan also stole from SocialSecurity to balance the budget with Allan Greenspan,the same goes for your Nixon two crooks in a pod,right!!Or compare Reagans two embassies attacked leaving over 70 dead and a marine barricks destroyed killing over 240,any comebacks on how historicly ignorent you've been when its your party that's really done worst and that's fact you'll see every time!!And chime in if you still think you want your state to suceed so I can have a good laugh because the states that do won't survive on their own because they get more from government than give in revenue and most red states are generally broke as well because of their ignorent republican governors, truth does hurt but if you post ignorently I'll go at you everytime because facts do overcome your crap you spew and you know it!!

    November 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. JD

    I have tremendous respect for president Obama. He has lead in a way that makes sense. As he's covered today, there are very few differences between him and president bush's policies.

    It's all these emotionally based voters that support him and they don't know why other than he makes them feel good.

    November 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Dan Clayton

    Southern, Its about financial reality, the Federal Government is holding all of the cards, telling us all they need more of our money but not showing us specifically how they have spent it, and how much we the people have gotten from their excellent leadership... Its because they are protecting the Government union and have the power to continue to feed themselves off our innovation and hard work until we the people check them. Most GOPers are not greedy, they simply want the accountability to be transparent.

    November 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. DeeDee

    The man is such a boob. I pray we survive four more years of his gross incompetence, overspending, lies and coverups.

    November 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Matt C

    MJ. Sadly, you are 100% correct. I don't understand why CNN cannot even cover and produce what will benefit the Country and not the idiotic uninformed public who do not understand the economic news because the public changes the channel to something they can relate with. That's why all Obama has to say is, "I'm going to tax the rich" and all cheer and shout like little hearts desired.

    November 14, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    this guy is going to destroy america....

    November 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. WiseUp

    BTW – Let's confirm what percentage Obama and Buffet pay in taxes in 2013 & 2014. I bet percentage wise it will still be the same because the loopholes will remain in place for the "rich".

    November 14, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    McCain and the silly incompetent repugs are still attacking Ms. Rice for her assessment of what may have motivated the Benghazi attacks. So does Ms. Rice's assessment of what may have motivated the attacks based on information she was getting actually CAUSED the attacks? Did her assessment of what happened in Behghazi actually CAUSED the attacks? Let's face it, it this one sided bias and bigoted type of right wing leadership that hjas caused you repugs the White House in the first place and it would be your demise in future elections to come. Racist bigots!

    November 14, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Bregginkrak

    Current Administration will go down as the most brilliant government administration in history. They are absolutely amazing in their ability to manipulate short and long term scenarios to build their vision of the future. Absolutely amazing! The Republican party looks like children in comparison. You may disagree with the future they are building, but they are extremely good at doing what they do.

    November 14, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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