Back in the press briefing room…
Arrghh: This week’s Somali pirate attack has again put high-seas safety on the front page and in the forefront of State and White House briefings. While questions of “pirate negotiations” elicited snickers over at Foggy Bottom this morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was dead-serious in describing the inter-agency group dealing with maritime safety, which includes such heavyweights as DHS, DOJ, FBI, and DOD.
Ring the Alarm: A grand total of seven cell phone rings provided a running soundtrack to today’s briefing. Gibbs ordered “two margaritas, salt, on the rocks” as one festive tune interrupted proceedings. Asked later if the White House was planning any creative measures related to refinancing mortgages, Gibbs said he would “check on the commercials and maybe we’ll use some of that salsa music.” One later ringer caused Gibbs to quip, “It’s like the bar scene from Star Wars,” to which one particularly tickled reporter shouted, “I got that!”
Ain’t Over Till the Gray Lady Sings: NYT had three shout-outs today (none from the NYT’s Jeff Zeleny), at one point causing Gibbs to note, “I’m sure the New York Times is going to say a lot of things over the next few years.”
Today’s “Step Back”: For those counting the Gibbs-isms, “let me… I guess back up a little bit” was employed today in reference to a question on the White House’s new push for immigration reform. The press secretary noted that Obama has emphasized a comprehensive approach to the issue since early in his presidential campaign.
Churches and Puppies: Gibbs was mum on where the Obamas might attend services for Easter Sunday. Pressed on the issue, Gibbs engaged in a lighthearted, elementary-school squabble with AURN’s April Ryan. “No no no no no,” April pushed when Gibbs evaded the question. “Y-y-y-y-yes,” the stalwart Gibbs pushed back. After one more round of yes and no, April switched to the unresolved dog issue, to which Gibbs provided another non-response.
Don’t You Want Me, Baby: With protests and petitions heating up in advance of the president’s May 17 address to Notre Dame graduates, Gibbs maintained that Obama “accepted the gracious invitation” and “looks forward” to the trip.