WH Pool Report: Swing State? What Swing State? Edition
In this White House pool report, the president helps the victims of hurricane season in Florida out of the simple goodness of his heart:
By the time your pool caught up with POTUS, the Bush Brothers -- Jeb in a khaki shirt, his brother in a light blue checked shirt -- were loading water and bags of ice into cars, leaning into the passenger seats to shake hands. Most of the conversation was out of the earshot of your poolers. But the lineup of cars looked a little like a Saturday afternoon line at Safeway to pickup groceries, with the governor of Florida and the POTUS as the bag-loaders -- only with more smiles. As a photo-op it was perfect -- the president was signing $2 billion of aid in the morning, then delivering the goods by lunchtime. You'd never know an election was eight weeks away.Full report after the jump.
Pool Report #2
Fort Pierce City, St. Lucie, County Fla.
The president arrived at Andrews at around 10:15 am, along with Joe Hagin and Scott. Takeoff was uneventful and cuisine was unimproved. Scott gaggled, providing us what will probably be our only sustenance for the day. POTUS is apparently not planning to take questions -- the surest sign they think he's ahead in the polls.
You'll have the full transcript. Look for these highlights:
Bush signed the Florida emergency bill this morning, then met Jim Baker on the debates; Scott gave no details. He met congressional leaders, and described the intelligence proposal that has since been released on a fact sheet, describign for the first time what the role of the new NID would be.
Note his comments on the debates and his defense of Cheney's comments, which reiterated the statement issued by the Veep's office on Tuesday night. Your pool valiantly -- and completely unsuccessfully -- tried to smoke out Scott on the President's view of the soon-to-expire assault weapons ban. Scott reiterated that the president would sign an extension if it came to his desk, but he dodged all questions about what, if anything, the president was doing make sure it did arrive on his desk. In fact, he couldn't name a single thing the president has done, other than "we've continued to make our views known.'' He did not portray it as one of the president's most vigorous lobbying efforts.
There was some discussion of the latest release of Bush military records. Scott dismissed the Globe story, saying it was sourced to Lawrence Korb, who he described as a Kerry supporter. "If he did not fulfill his commitment, he would not have been honorably discharged,'' he said.
There was a fruitless discussion of the CBO estimate of the deficit; Scott did not directly address the CBO's estimate that the country could not grow its way out of the deficits.
On landing your pool was escorted into military helicopters; we flew in convoy, behind Marine One, to Port St. Lucie. From the helicopters, some damage was visible: A lot of downed trees, a few sections of roof blown off, a lot of debris. But none of the huge damage seen from the last hurricane. Uprooted trees were visible outside the airport, and one blown-off roof by what appeared to be a convinence store/gas station.
We proceeded to Fort Pierce, about 10 minutes away, to Lawnwood Recreation Area, dominated by a stadium used for local games. The POTUS's motorcade pulled in to an area outside the municipal stadium, where a Dunkin Donuts truck, a truck providing iced lattes (help is on the way), and trucks full of bottled water and other supplies were lined up. "Convoy of Hope,'' a nonprofit described to us as based in Missouri -- check that before you print it -- was running a drive-thru aid operation, and cars were lined up outside the stadium to pick up emergency supplies.
By the time your pool caught up with POTUS, the Bush Brothers -- Jeb in a khaki shirt, his brother in a light blue checked shirt -- were loading water and bags of ice into cars, leaning into the passenger seats to shake hands. Most of the conversation was out of the earshot of your poolers. But the lineup of cars looked a little like a Saturday afternoon line at Safeway to pickup groceries, with the governor of Florida and the POTUS as the bag-loaders -- only with more smiles. As a photo-op it was perfect -- the president was signing $2 billion of aid in the morning, then delivering the goods by lunchtime. You'd never know an election was eight weeks away.
"God bless,'' we overheard him say to Vernon and Joyzell Friason, who drove away before we could get any details about their situation. A few cars down was a fellow in dreadlocks -- we never got his name in the crush -- drove up in his battered, mud-covered green Lincoln, the trunk open to receive goods. The President leaned in, shook his hand, dropped some ice in, and said to his brother: "Fine looking car. I used to have one just like it.''
The next driver had anew pickup with a nice liner in the bed -- the president dropped 32 half-liter bottles of water into the back. "Thanks for coming by,'' he said. At some moments, the governor was loading trunks while the President was tossing diapers and ice into the back seats of cars.
Their career as baggers finished, the two brothers went back to their day jobs. The motorcade proceeded to the Emergency Operations Center ,just outside of Fort Pierce, a giant, grass-covered bunker with big air vents sticking out of the ground -- a bunker, in short, that would have made Dick Cheney proud. Secret Service stood on the roof, while the president was inside the big white doors. Your pool was left in the vans.
David E. Sanger
New York Times