Presidential Archive 3/18 – 3/24/09
By Linnie Frank Bailey
Leaving the “bubble of the White House” as he calls it, the President visited Southern California last week. His stops included town hall meetings in Orange County and Los Angeles, an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and in his only Inland Empire visit -- a tour of the Edison Electric Vehicle facility in Pomona.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Obama Meets with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
The President held a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss immigration and the US-Mexico relationship, including how the two countries can work together to stem Mexico’s drug-related violence. President Obama, who supports comprehensive immigration reform, announced that he will travel to Mexico next month to meet with President Calderon.
March Madness at the White House
Before leaving on his well-anticipated trip to Southern California, the President joined legions of NCAA Basketball fans by completing his picks for the finals. His Final Four include: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. The President believes the North Carolina Tar Heels will be this year's national champs.
The President Visits Orange County
President Barack Obama led a town hall meeting in an auditorium on the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The purpose of the meeting was to drum up support for his economic plans while reassuring “average” Americans that he understands the economic challenges they are facing. Attendees waited in long lines overnight to get seats to the event.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
As part of the Administration’s desire to disseminate needed information on the economic stimulus, the Treasury Department launched a website called -- MakingHomeAffordable.gov. The purpose of the site is to ensure that everybody who can take advantage of the President’s housing plan has access to information which explains how the plan works and who qualifies. The site is one of several tools the Administration is using to slow down the foreclosure crisis that has gripped the nation. The site includes a calculator that allows homeowners to estimate the reduction to their monthly mortgage payment that the plan provides. Another tool for distressed homeowners is the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline (888-995-HOPE).
The President Visits Pomona
In his only Inland appearance, President Obama toured the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona. The Center "provides a broad range of electric transportation services, focusing on solutions for automakers, battery manufacturers, government agencies, business and industrial fleet customers, residential customers and more." During the visit the President explained that the kind of green industries and jobs being created by the center will be a focus of his economic plan throughout his presidency. He stated, “Over the next three years, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy. We will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and fuel-efficient cars and trucks that are built right here in the United States of America.”
The First Lady—and Friends—Encourage High School Students
As the President met with residents at a town hall in Los Angeles, First Lady Michelle Obama continued her community outreach and celebration of Women’s History Month. She met with a racially diverse group of over 100 young women from D.C. high schools. The First Lady invited the girls to join her for dinner, along with celebrated women including musicians—Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crowe; actresses—Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard, and Fran Drescher, businesswomen—CEO Bobbi Brown and BET executive Debra Lee; opera singer—Denyce Graves; athletes—the WNBA’s Lisa Leslie and Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes, the first female four-star general in the military—General Ann Dunwoody, the first African-American woman to be the Ambassador to the United Nations—Susan Rice, and the first woman of color to go to space—Astronaut Mae Jemison. Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters Sasha and Malia were also in attendance.
The event capped off a day of outreach by the First Lady and the accomplished women as they fanned out to area high schools. Mrs. Obama surprised students at Anacostia High School in Southeast DC. In an impromptu visit, she related her own background and similarities to them, while stressing the importance of hard work and discipline. Recapping later, Mrs. Obama stated: “In the DC schools, many of these kids need to see us. There's nothing more powerful than going into their space and talking to them.”
Friday, March 20, 2009
Obama Signals New Beginning to Iran
President Obama released a video message, subtitled in Farsi, for all those celebrating “Nowruz” or the beginning of the New Year for millions in Iran and other communities around the world. Acknowledging the strain in US—Iranian relations over the last few decades, he stated, “At this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together, we have serious differences that have grown over time.” Stressing the need to move forward Obama continued, “my administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran, and the international community.”
The White House Garden
“This is a big day!” stated First Lady Michelle Obama, as she and chefs from the White House kitchen and 26 fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in DC, broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House. “We've been talking about it since the day we moved in," said the First Lady. The students will be involved in the garden as it develops and grows, producing delicious, healthy vegetables to be cooked in the White House Kitchen and given to Miriam's Kitchen, which serves the homeless in Washington, DC. The first lady used the occasion to encourage nutritious eating.
Lessons Learned in California
While meeting representatives from the National Conference of State Legislatures, President Obama described lessons from his town halls in California, namely—on the heels of the AIG bonus scandal—the need for accountability. The President stated, “Over the last two days I've been traveling in California, talking with Americans about the challenges they're facing as a result of this economic crisis.” He stressed the importance of responsible investing by the Legislators saying, “Decisions about how Recovery Act dollars are spent will be based on the merits. Let me repeat that: Decisions about how Recovery money will be spent will be based on the merits.”
Saturday, March 21, 2009
President Obama sat down for a wide-ranging interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft in which he stressed his support for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and defended himself against criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney regarding Guantanamo Bay. Last week Cheney argued that the President’s decision to shut down the detention center and end certain interrogation practices made the nation less safe. The President countered that the interrogation practices only fuel anti-American sentiment in the Arab world and were an ineffective measure for getting convictions. Further he added that he had the support of both liberals and conservatives on the issue.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Importance of Green Jobs to American Recovery
The President hosted an event focused on “Investing in Our Clean Energy Future,” with experts from the business world and the government. As part of the program, African-American Van Jones, newly minted as the Senior Advisor for Green Jobs, Innovation, and Enterprise, led a discussion about how to help companies and technologies make the leap to energy efficiency and develop new products.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The President Calls the Space Station
President Obama, joined by Congressional leaders and middle school students from the Washington, DC area, called the astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery to congratulate them on their successful ongoing mission.
Obama’s Op-Ed and Televised News Conference
The President published a rare “simultaneous op-ed” in thirty papers around the world, calling for “a collective effort” to address the economic peril found in all corners of the globe. “The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose,” he writes. His op-ed appeared in the following publications:
Al Watan (Gulf States), Arab Times (Gulf States), Asharq Al Awsat (Arab-wide paper in Arabic), The Australian (Australia), Bangkok Post (Thailand), Chicago Tribune (United States), Clarin (Argentina), Corriere della Sera (Italy), Die Welt (Germany), El Pais (Madrid), El Mercurio (Chile), Eleftyropiea (Greece), Estado de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Gulf News (Gulf States), The Hindustan Times/ The Hindu (India), International Herald Tribune (London), Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark), Le Monde (Paris), Lidove Noviny (Czech), Los Angeles Times (United States), The News (Pakistan), NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands), Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Straits Times (Singapore), Sunday Times (South Africa), Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), WProst (Poland), Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan)
The President is pitching his Recovery Plan to Americans in a televised speech this evening.