What Obama said on Syria, Boston, and more
April 30th, 2013
10:30 AM ET
5 years ago

What Obama said on Syria, Boston, and more

(CNN) - President Barack Obama is holding a press conference Tuesday in the White House briefing room. His press secretary announced the session early in the day:

Refresh this page for updates as the president's news conference gets underway.

11:35 a.m. ET: According to Obama, Collins told him he was still a competitor, "seven feet tall who could still bang with Shaq."

11:33 a.m. ET: "I told him I couldn't be prouder," Obama said of Collins, who he called a "terrific young man."

11:32 a.m. ET: A senior administration official announced the president's conversation with NBA free agent Jason Collins late Monday afternoon, saying that he called Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage." The First Lady also tweeted out her support of Collins' decision to come to Sports Illustrated by writing, "So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back!"

NBA Center Jason Collins (Getty Images)

11:32 a.m. ET: Obama started to walk off, but came back to answer a shouted question on Jason Collins, the NBA center who came out as gay in a Sports Illustrated essay on Monday. Obama spoke with Collins Monday night.

11:31 a.m. ET: Obama says it's still too early to tell how immigration reform would affect relations with Mexico and other Latin American countries. He'll determine that further on his trip later this week.

11:29 a.m. ET: Obama says again he's confident that immigration reform can pass Congress and make it to his desk for approval. He says if there are discrepancies between House and Senate bills, those can be resolved.

11:28 a.m. ET: Rare that the president holds a press conference without calling on a single wire service or U.S. newspaper. So far he's called on every TV network and then calls last question as he goes to a reporter from El Pais just days before he heads to Mexico and Costa Rica.

11:27 a.m. ET: Final question is from El Pais, one of the highest-circulation Spanish-language papers in the world. The question in on pending comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

11:25 a.m. ET: Obama is touting an announcement his administration made today, that a 21-page form necessary to apply for insurance under the ACA has been shrunk down to three pages. A senior administration official pointed out that the average private insurance form is "about 17 pages long, but we want our enrollment to be easier than dealing with the health insurers."

11:23 a.m. ET: There will always be "glitches and bumps" in implementing government programs, Obama said.

"If you stay with it, and understand what our long term objective is," Obama said, "we're going to be able to drive down costs" and "improve efficiencies in the system."

11:20 a.m. ET: Obama notes that "All the implementation issues that are coming up" for his sweeping health care law are issues that are "related to the narrow group who don’t have health insurance right now."

Earlier Tuesday a White House official told CNN that applications for health insurance coverage under the law will go from 21 pages to three as part of an effort to simplify the implementation of Obamacare.

11:18 a.m. ET: Fifth question is from NBC, who asks how the complicated implementation of Obama's health care law.

Chuck Todd's question invoked retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus' recent comments criticizing the Affordable Care Act. The president released a statement when Baucus announced his retirement, but didn't mention the senator's role in drafting or spearheading passage of the ACA.

11:17 a.m. ET: Obama seemed to justify continuing to force feed prisoners at Guantanamo who are engaging in a hunger strike, by saying "I don't want these individuals to die."

11:14 a.m. ET: Obama says he will try again to close the military facility at Gitmo.

"It's a recruiting tool for extremists," he said.

Closing the Guantanamo Bay was a campaign promise Obama made in 2008 that went unfulfilled in his first term.

A photo shows a detainee inside the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2009. (Getty Images)

11:12 a.m. ET: Fourth question is from CBS, on the ongoing hunger strike at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The number of striking detainees has risen sharply in the past few weeks to include more than half of those held at the military-run facility.

11:10 a.m. ET: "I cannot force Republicans to embrace those commonsense solutions" on deficit reduction, Obama said, noting he would continue putting pressure on them by speaking directly to the American people.

11:09 a.m. ET: Jump ball question from ABC's Jon Karl allows the president to lay out his priorities after the first 100 days of his second term. He's focusing mostly on the forced budget cuts known as sequestration, once again blaming Congress for not taking action on a grand bargain-type solution. This has been the president's common refrain on these budget cuts, and he once again calls on Congress to work with him on a "broader deal" rather than passing patchwork fixes like the recent FAA bill.

11:07 a.m. ET: Obama said he's still confident a bipartisan immigration bill will hit his desk in the near future. And he said he's continuing talks with Republicans on a way to reduce the federal deficit.

11:04 a.m. ET: Obama - who responded to the question with an exasperated "Golly!" - said that "rumors of my demise are a little exaggerated."

11:02 a.m. ET: Third question is from ABC. Jon Karl asked "Do you still have the juice" to get your agenda through Congress?

11:03 a.m. ET: About Obama's call with President Putin, yesterday the White House said the two leaders discussed "the close cooperation that the United States has received from Russia on the Boston marathon attack." They also discussed "cooperation on counterterrorism and security issues going forward," including in the run-up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

11:02 a.m. ET: Americans won't be intimidated after terror attacks like the Boston bombings.

"We're going to do what we do," he said.

11:01 a.m. ET: This is the first time the president has addressed the chain of intelligence in relation to the accused Boston bombers. In defense of his intelligence community, Obama calls Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's review of that intelligence "standard procedure." The president alluded a phone call placed yesterday to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the two discussed Russia's role in the previous investigation of the older brother accused of the bombing.

10:59 a.m. ET: An inquiry into how intelligence was shared ahead of the Boston attack by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is a normal step, Obama said.

10:57 a.m. ET: Obama praises the immediate investigation in the bombing, and says criticism of the FBI for not further investigating one of the suspects prior to the attack is unfounded.

"It's not like the FBI did nothing," he said.

10:55 a.m. ET: Second questioner is CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. She asked about the ongoing investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings, and whether any part of that probe has been mishandled.

10:53 a.m. ET: A second question from Fox, on whether survivors of the Benghazi attack have been blocked from testifying, doesn't get much of a response from Obama.

"I'm not familiar with that report," Obama said.

10:52 a.m. ET: The president's first answer on Syria is consistent with the cautious answer he gave to a shouted question last Friday during a bilateral meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan. He continues to call chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime a "game changer," but says the intelligence needs to be solid before any decision is made.

The site of a car blast in Damascus on Tuesday, April 30. (Getty Images/AFP)

10:52 a.m. ET: If further evidence emerges of chemical weapons use in Syria, "that is a game-changer," Obama said. He won't go into potential military options, however.

10:50 a.m. ET: Obama, noting that intel on chemical weapons is still preliminary, says when he makes a decision, "I have to have to facts."

"It's important for us to do this in a prudent way," he said, noting his team has to "establish with some certainty" what has actually happened in Syria.

10:48 a.m. ET: Obama notes that chemical weapons allegations aside, what's happening in Syria is unacceptable.

"The only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is for Assad to step down and to move forward on a political transition," he said.

10:46 a.m. ET: The president joked that this press conference was sparked by Fox News' Ed Henry's departure as president of the White House Correspondent's Association. The Associated Press always gets the first question, so calling on Henry first is definitely a departure from precedent.

He asked about Syria chemical weapons, and a follow up on survivors of the attack on the Benghazi consulate last September.

10:44 a.m. ET: The White House has given a two minute warning to the president.

10:40 a.m. ET: What will Obama be asked in his news conference today? Reporters could ask anything, but expect a question on chemical weapons in Syria. Last week the White House said U.S. intelligence, with "varying degrees of confidence," confirmed sarin was used in the country, which Obama has said is a "red line" for greater U.S. involvement in the conflict.

He could also be asked about the ongoing investigation in the Boston Marathon bombings, which some Republicans have said is being mishandled.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Steve

    I agree with the POTUS, why should he rush to judgement based on the political agenda of war. There are to many people eager to engage in the interference of the political agenda of others. We have time, and time again listened to the war mongers who want war at all cost without caring about the consequences, even when it means innocent lives are lost, and the economies of the nations involved might suffer a tremendous blow, such as what we, and Iraq are going through because of the Bush administration. This action of supplying groups of people with weapons to influence the out come for one side over the other has in the past been a big mistake. If such actions are to take place, it needs to be with the combined agreement of other nations, not just our own.

    April 30, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ The right wing Benghazi sympathizers...

    First and foremost, an inquiry has already been done on the Benghazi attacks. Sec of State Hillary Clinton, David Petreaus and many others in the intelligence community within the CIA has already deliberated on what happened in Benghazi. O' and by the way, during the last Presidential election the Father of the Ambassador and the mother of one of the Marine killed complained that their sons deaths are being politicized too much and they asked that their sons names not be mention anymore during the campaign.

    But if you righties still insist that another investigation be openeed up, how bout we start to address why our Twin Towers in NYC and our Pentagon and national as a whole came under attack on 9/11/01? How bout we first discuss by the Bush administration fell asleep on the job and did not do anything to prevent al Qaeda from using our jumbo jets as WMD's to strike the heart of our mainland? let's face it, lore Americans died on 9/11/01 than at Pearl Harbor. Furthermore, before you continue to ramble about Benghazi, how bout we discuss how GWB lied and misled the United States, the UN and the world community and dragged us into an illegitimate Iraqi war? And last but not least, how bout you righties discussed how GWB and the GOP deliberately and recklessly abandoned and prolonged the Afghan war to invade Iraq, the lives lost and the $5.5 trillion wasted on those wars and directly impacting our economy? Too much for you to chew? Then go crawl under a rock and stay there.

    April 30, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Cathy

    The Press should ask the President why in what he calls a recovering economy has the Food Stamp participation increased 48% in the last 4 years? This is unsustainable, we, the working taxpayers cannot afford to continue to support people who refuse to help themselves. Some are entitled to it, most are not. Tie the welfare and food stamps to mandatory community service – bet the number of "takers" would decrease tenfold!! No one, unless disabled, should receive the money I worked for by sitting back and doing nothing. Fairness for all? This is not fair for those of us working hard.

    April 30, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "CNN you are shameless, biased partisans who sound like White House spokesmen for Obama. So much for independent opinions and journalism. I know that this is a meaningless complaint to you because you just DO NOT CARE ABOUT FAIRNESS."

    Good luck getting CNN to become more conservative than they already have become. They've gone so far right now, there isn't room for those Democrats you rail against day after day to even be invited on CNN anymore. It's quite disgusting actually how far right GOP partisan CNN has become. Just my opinion mind you.

    But I do understand you would like nothing better than to have conservative talking points 24/7 on ALL networks. Including the GOP talking point memo's that are faxed to networks daily with the understanding that only GOP slanted idea's should be discussed 24/7.

    Ah well. Such is life in America's new and in my opinion less intelligent news media outlets.

    April 30, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. Pete

    @Charlie and others,I like how our El Presidente Obama threw congressional republicans under the bus..Telling them the way it really is not what republicans lie about like the sequester that went sour on them because they not only almost unanimously voted on it but figured they could fix it after defeating Pres.Obama,how wrong they were!! Whating to make mountains out of molehills republicans say the sequester is not hurting anyone when in deed it is .Republicans crying foul wanting Pres.Obama to rush a bill covering FAA air traffic controllers simply because republicans crying to fly home unobstructed this past weekend but don't give a rats ass if anything benefitting Americans ever get done with cuts across the board on discretionary spending like SocialSecurity,Medicare and TSA screeners at airports just to name a few!Charlie tell your republicans who work for you to either get off their asses or find employement elsewhere because after midterms it'll be that way for many of them as well and you know it!!Pres.Obama isn't playing around people he's got 4 years,a lot more than most republicans have here I can tell yah!!

    April 30, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Sniffit

    "Because all the real journalists are on The View and The Tonight Show. It amazes me how far gone some of Obama's fans are."

    Not sure what you're getting at with your random attack here. There are NO real journalists left. Journalism is dead and buried. The desire to know and understand and then inform the public accurately has been completely supplanted by the desire for generating ad revenue, the new and improved arbiter of truth. BTW, I don't watch those freekin shows you mentioned and your assumption that there was some sort of implicit approval of those shows in my attack on the state of "journalism" in 'Murika revealed more about your own flawed and vapid thinking than it did about any flaws in what I said. Grow up.

    April 30, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. eric

    As a small business owner I can't wait for this. Buying your own insurance on the open market is TERRIBLE, expensive and not much better than having no insurance at all. My republican friends should be more open to helping business owners (especially small ones), we are the free market! Certainly as a nation we can make health coverage affordable for all.

    April 30, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. widow

    Wish he would have made sure about the facts of his healthcare bill that he rushed through congress. Now mre than a few years after it passed he says it is going to cost another $250 – $300 billion. Our great laughable leader has no clue how much his own healthcare bill will cost.. I could understand being a little off but 300 billion? he is the biggest joke of a president.. at least as bad as bush.. 7 trillion wasted with zero sustainability. money just thrown away. pathetic excuse for a man

    April 30, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Watching the White House briefing and holy cow is this President lost and clueless! We are in big trouble!

    April 30, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Christopher McCrary

    No one has asked the real core question, where does this man figure the funding for this is going to come from? I know more people than not who have lost hours from their current jobs as a direct result of the Health Care Policy as employers are not responsible to either partially or fully fund those who are working "part time".. and those who are working part time produce lower taxable incomes, and lower expendable incomes to pay fully for their Health Care Plan, mandated by the White House.

    April 30, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. aj

    Hery Mr President what do you think of Al jazeera and Russia Today news websites spewing anti west propaganda?

    April 30, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Lance Rose

    I agree with the close Gutonamo.
    I be leave your care will an have to pull from Taxes. Point the other Countries work for half there pay check. Italy workers get paid ect. US $100000 a Month an pay $50000 in tax. Canada is about the same. Germany is the same as I have worked in an paid myself.
    Trucking, across border trucking will allow more Problem for us. I have Driven into Mexico when it was allowed an I had escort, but I still had riders in the trailer which entered via hole in top of trailer. Point EsCORT. What else will come?

    April 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Cathy

    Please ask why, under this administration the number of people on Food Stamps has increased 48% in 4 years? I'm tired of working way beyond age 65 to support my family so others can sit back and do nothing!! Why is this administration promoting this entitlement mentality? I'm not talking about the disabled, I'm talking about the 75% of recipients that are as able to work as I am. Tie their welfare, housing, food stamps and cell phones to mandatory community service! Believe me...bet they'd find a job then! Please ask the President when he says he wants "fairness for all" – what is fair about taking my EARNED money and giving it to someone for doing nothing? Don't kid yourself, this abuse IS happening and is rampant. Journalists, ask about this!

    April 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. sly

    It is refreshing to have a highly intelligent President with excellant common sense. America is in good times – we've ended the Bush Oil wars, killed our 2 biggest enemies, our stock market is headed to 16,000, we have good health care reform and immigration reform is coming soon.

    Good times Americans. Thank you Mr. President.

    April 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. JLM

    There are so many people dying in all the various areas, all over the world – including in our own country from starvation, poor health care, and of course the bombing and fertilizer plant blow up. Why do Repubs only care about the 4 people who died in Benghazi? Were there lessons to learn from that situation, of course! But there was no big plot or huge negligence they can find, so move on. Our representatives in other nations take those jobs knowing full well how dangerous they are and the risk. They wouldn't want it any other way! Wish people would stop trying to make a mountain out of a sad but realistic risk. What is important today is getting our Congress to do its job and getting America on its feet. Syria is a war we can't afford to fight and plenty of countries besides America have a vested interest.

    April 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Matt

    Well Golly. This guy just never seems to know anything when it comes to Benghazi. ...and the press doesn't really seem to mind.

    April 30, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "The Press should ask the President why in what he calls a recovering economy has the Food Stamp participation increased 48% in the last 4 years?"

    Did you sleep through the recession caused by Bush and GOP economic policies and their deregulation and lax oversight of Wall Street?

    April 30, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Thomas

    Benghazi , 4 Americans lost.

    Bagdad , How many Americans lost ?

    It galls me !

    April 30, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    The majority of people on food stamps in this country are in your red states and most of them voted for Mitt Romney and by the way, they always vote republican. let's face it, two stimulus bills passed to recover and stabilize an economy and put millions of Americans back to work is NOT food stamps. Please google "The Stimulus Plan: How to spend $787 Billion – The New York Times" or the 1010 Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Jobs Creation Act (a bi-partisan bill) and then decide for yourself if those bills are "FOOD STAMPS" or see if that qualifys our President for being called "Food Stamp President." Well, that is if you can read!

    April 30, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. MalibuChick

    When asked about the sequester, Obama basically responded with "That's not my job." Way to be a leader!!

    April 30, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Js

    Journalism is now scripted questions that the untrustworthy President must approve so he'll know how to scam his answers off his teleprompter. SCAMerica – with its never ending 'illusion bubble' perpetrated by the most corrupt Government in the world continues on and on – unbeknownst to the brainless citizens of the SCAMerica-

    April 30, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Barry G.

    Dear President Obama:
    Why are our senators and representatives (both parties) allowed to take money, in exchange for preferential treatment, political favors, votes, and support? How is this not bribery and corruption? Will not such corrupt practices ultimately weaken and destroy our nation? I am told that such practices began during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant and have continued and accelerated, since then. Is there anything that can be done to correct this?
    Barry Gaynor
    Claymont, DE

    April 30, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. Jim

    Benghazi – No surprise he had NO answer. Its been 8 months and no arrest, nobody punished within the white house AND we still dont know who told rice to go on national TV and tell a bold face lie. If the prez knew it was a terror attack as stating in debate, why did rice go on national TV a week later and lie about a protest that got out of hand??? A painful coverup, try to hide the fact there was a terror attack. Never sent any help, what a disgrace. Now they want to shut people up who were there withing their own state dept and CIA. WOW!!

    Health insurance – No mention on how high peoples insurance premiums have went up since obamacare was passed and how many people will lose their healthcare when it fully kicks in. NOBODY has a clue how it will work, but I can assure you it will be a disaster, only 8 months to go.

    Who gave a judge the go ahead to stop interrogations of the Boston bomber? Like Benghazi, WE STILL DONT KNOW! IMO The reason they did it was to stop the teen from talking, it made them look bad and they shut him up after 16 hours. Insane!! How people can sit back and not be horrified is beyond me, an insult on the intelligence of the American people on a scale never seen before!!

    April 30, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. jaron kadek

    Just play acting. They are all just playing a game. An Insider's Game.

    April 30, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Luis Wu

    Still badgering Obama about Benghazi? Funny, I don't remember Dems badgering Bush about 911 or about people that were killed in US embassies under HIS administration. Typical.

    April 30, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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