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. Nodems4mee

    It was 3 AM in the morning and tha Americans in Benghazi called Hillary and Barry for help. They all died.

    April 30, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. jaron kadek

    These things are just a joke.

    April 30, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. hjfarmer

    Blah blah. How far back do you want to go? 9/11 was well into planning long before GWB was president. Why didn't Clinton and Gore stop it in its tracks. Clinton had his chance at Bin Laden at Tora Bora and didn't take it. Mistakes were made but it is disingenous to blame just GWB. Can you imagine what the media among others would have done to Bush if he had the strict airport security we now have before 911, which is what it sounds like you expect. And there you go again with "lied about WMD". Once again be reminded that we know Saddam had them at one point – he used them on his own people. Be reminded that both Bill and Hillary Clinton said they were there, not to mention many other lefties. Bottom line there was and is no evidence of any type of cover-up. If there was, democratic congressional committees and left leaning media would have been all over it with GWB. Here we are over seven months later and we are still learning of inconsistencies between what happened and what we have been told on Benghazi. Why should we believe a review done by this administration of itself? That's right, they promised to be the most transparent in history. Healthcare discussions would be open and discussed on CSPAN.

    April 30, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair


    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.
    An America where the labor participation rate is at it's record low, 8% unemployment and $4 gas are "new normals". Yeah, good times. Live it up. Thank you Mr. President.

    April 30, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. g

    shipping jobs over seas= food stamps

    April 30, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. raymond

    everything is his job ...terrible leader

    April 30, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Nodems4mee

    Too bad no one bothered to ask him why his union buddies and the democrat conrgress are exempt from obamacare.

    April 30, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. JLM

    If you don't like our countries politics, gotta look at campaign finance and political donation reform. Corruption comes from people like the Koch Brothers and Murdoch as well as oil companies, the NRA, big corporations (list could go on and on..) being able to buy their way to votes in our Congress. They dictate the legislation as well as the news media coverage. It isn't about the people of this country and what we all need to make America healthy and strong – it comes down to big money and lobbyist buying what they want to build their wealth – and to heck with the working hero who buys their goods.

    April 30, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    Had there been credible intelligence on the actual people or group who carried out the Benghazi attacks, we would have gone after them. No person or group claimed responsibility for the attacks. Jim, a better question to ask is WHY when Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda stated to the United States and the entire whole world community that they were behind the 9/11 attacks on our homeland, GWB weavered and said I'm not concerned about Bin Laden? Why when Bin Laden and his al Qaeda regime were cornered in Tora Bora in 2003, GWB weavered and said "the terrain is too tough and the mission too risky," and then advised Gen Tommy Franks to abort the mission and let the local Mugahardeen persue the world's number one terrorists? And why did GWB not psesue OBL and why did he allow OBL to escape into nuclear-based Pakistan to regroup, recruit and threaten the United States once again? Care to elaborate Mr. Benghazi?

    April 30, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. JLM

    Nodems4mee – I sure hope you realize that all of Congress is exempt from Obamacare – why? Because they already have a BETTER govt run healthcare package that is better than anyone else has and they get it for LIFE! They have what Americans deserve, but can't get Congress to let us have.

    April 30, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Marty, FL

    God bless Pres. Obama, a leader who actually cares for all Americans and with a sense of humor to boot.

    April 30, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. ghostriter

    Wow, still running with Benghazi. Sorry conservatives. With the latest "report" having even less substance than the 2 year investigation into Fast and Furious, the people are pretty tired of you using these events as political weapons aimed at your opponents. Seriously, come up with one serious question that hasn't been asked and answered. Heck, one piece of evidence of wrong doing or bad judgement and we'll side with you. As it stands, you guys have spent years investigating stuff and found nothing.

    For the losers talking about unemployment and government assistance....those things tend to rise during a recession. And the republican led recession was the worst since the 40's. You guys understand cause and effect. You screamed at Obama when the Dow was low, even saying it went down because he was elected. Of course, when it went up, it did so in spite of the president in your eyes. Not because. So yes, a recession has some negative side affects. Blaming Obama for the Bush failures only brings to light your own shortcomings. And please don't resort to blaming the democratic congress for the recession. You can't blame the president and/or the congress based on whether or not you get a chance to dump on democrats.

    April 30, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "I have to have to facts."

    "It's important for us to do this in a prudent way," he said
    He said in regards to Syria.
    I agree wit the President. It seems that there are those in government that would have our troops in a state of constant war with somebody, anybody. Sending our military personnel off to die and kill in a foreign land is nothing to rush into. And I don't care how much money some of these so-called 'Merikun Senators stand to lose personally or in their states. Our military personnel are people with families not pawns on their tactical chess-board.

    April 30, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    hj wrote: Bla bla how far back do you want to go? 9/11was well into planning long before GWB was president.

    Gee, then why does the GOP blame President Obama for the economic crisis that occured 8 months before he was elected? At least GWB was in office nine months before 9/11 and he did nothing to avert the attacks. Then instead of going after the perpetrators, he diverted attention and resources from Afghanistan to invade Iraq, compromising the Afghan mission and the safety of our troops and NATO allies as well. What is wrong with you conservatives?

    April 30, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am so enjoying having an extremely intelligent, diligent, and globally respected President for a change.
    And he speaks english clear and intelligibly.

    April 30, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. Jim

    This is not a game, many people are not dems/reps, we are just concerned Americans and concerned about this country going in the toilet and our children future. Basically we got no answers in the press conference. Its the same pattern we seen the last 4 years!! What has come out of the last 4 years?

    The deficit has hit record highs, almost 7 trillion added

    Record highs in the stock market AND food stamp recipients, over 17 million added to food stamps the last 4 years. This is a clear case of the rich getting richer and the middle class getting poorer.

    Gas priced hit record highs

    Food prices are at record highs and have gone up considerable just this year alone!

    Healthcare ins at record highs the last 4 years, especially since obamacare passed.

    A terror attack in Benghazi that this admin try to cover up with a lame youtube story and 9 months later not ONE person arrested or fired for this tragedy!

    Another terror attack in Boston that has coverup starting with the mystery judge shutting down the FBI interrogation after 16 hours and no answers as to why and who authorized it. WHY? Because this admin said al qaeda was abolished when in fact they are stronger than ever.

    Its not about dems/reps for many of us, its about now and how we are being financially squeezed and bold face lied to!! WAKE UP!!

    April 30, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. john

    Once again CNN and major media shows it gutless approach to dealing with the Obama administration. Four people claim admin is threatening their careers if they provide information on Benghazi and none of the news agencies has a story on it. CNN why don't your finally admit you are GNN (Government News Network)? Pathetic and spineless.

    April 30, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. tuscany590

    In summary, obama knows nothing and the lame press, with exception of Fox News, hurls soft ball questions & lets him of the hook, again.

    April 30, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. JIM

    ghostriter – 1. Why did the white house send rice on several stations a week after the Benghazi attack telling people it was a protest that got out of because of a youtube video if he knew it was a terror attack the same night it happened? 2. WHO told rice to go on TV a week later with the BS youtube video lie? WE STILL DONT KNOW because they wont tell us so do some research before telling people Benghazi questions have been answered, they haven't because it was a botched cover up. Give us the answer to these 2 questions ghostriter..

    April 30, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. mec

    I would have liked to have heard more about how the current immigration bill will allow instant access to welfare. Surprising that article hasn't made it to CNN yet. Oh wait, CNN. The Boston bombers collected 100g worth of welfare as well. We're selling utilities to the Chinese...

    Just more evidence that Obama supporters can't see beyond their high noses to see what the administration is really doing to the country. The ones who say everything's great must be on the welfare system. Word of warning: when the illegals get access, there won't be enough money for you.

    April 30, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's face it, I hate war and I'd hate it if we have to go into Syria. But as the world leader, sometimes you have to interven as we did in Libya. But the worst time to go to war is when the very action of war itself is carried out against a country during peace time. In other words, military intervention in Libya or perhaps Syria to bring a civil war to an end is always welcomed by the civilized world. But when you invade a country like Iraq during peace time to start a war and destabilize and propell a once stable and quiet nation into a decade or perhaps century long civil war, then that in itself is the worst kind of war crime that any country or leader can perpetrate.

    Prior to our invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi military was being dismantled before the eyes of the world community by the UN inspectors on the ground. Both short range and long range missiles were being dismantled and the Iraqi military was being rendered obselete. Iraq was no longer a threat to its neighbors and was never an imminent threat to the United States. But GWB and his cabinet intervened and violated internation law by interrupting the UN inspectors from doing their job, tellikg UN Sec Gen Kofy Annan that UN inspectors had 48 hours to leave the country, before the bombs started to fall. The last time a western power invaded a country at peace time to start a war was Nazi Germany in 38 and 39 respectively when they invaded Austria and Poland. And the thought of giving W a library. God help us.

    April 30, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. lmc11


    If you don't like our countries politics, gotta look at campaign finance and political donation reform. Corruption comes from people like the Koch Brothers and Murdoch as well as oil companies, the NRA, big corporations (list could go on and on..) being able to buy their way to votes in our Congress. They dictate the legislation as well as the news media coverage. It isn't about the people of this country and what we all need to make America healthy and strong – it comes down to big money and lobbyist buying what they want to build their wealth – and to heck with the working hero who buys their goods.

    Convenient that you leave out all of the Democratic corruption, George Soros' money, Media Matters influence, the press being clearly in the tank for Obama, Eric Holder's gun runnig in Fast and Furious, Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, his unaccountable Czars, his trying to punish citizens through sequester, and on and on and on. Oh and let's not forget that under Obama there are no tours of the WH, that is unless you have $50,000 to give to him.

    April 30, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Julie

    Well... i'm not American but i do love your president. He's down to earth and human. I simply would like to say that i do appreciate him a lot.


    April 30, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Julie

    I want to say as well.. that i hate war. There's no good enough reason to go to war. The people that commit act of violence towards others should be prosecuted even from other countries. No one wants to suffer. We're now 2013 and it baffles me that there are still countries that believes in the control of women, beating them and controling poor innocent people. We are lucky here in our countries.... Canada and USA to be able to speak our minds and not be worried that the government might try to kill us. Every country should be like us. I don't approve in imposing our beliefs and culture but for people to be free to stop the suffering and the control. Any religion that tells you to hurt other people is a fraud. Anyone that follows those footsteps are not better. There as to be a little voice inside that tells you right from wrong. What are they trying to accomplish??? Honnestly?

    April 30, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. sly

    President Obama – you make us proud to be Americans. We have a great leader – intelligent, measured, and articulate.

    These are good times for America: we've executed our 3 top enemies, we've ended the Bush Oil wars, our stock market is headed to 16,000. We finally have health care for those 35 MILLION people without any.

    So, thank you Mr. President – we are proud of the great job you are doing.

    April 30, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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