Come on Down — You’re the Next Contestant!: Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew joined the party today to announce the administration’s global health initiative budget proposal: $63 billion over six years primarily directed toward “a lot of countries in Africa.” The Obama team tipped their hats to President Bush and his PEPFAR initiative for AIDS relief, which was deemed “a bold approach.” When reporters challenged Lew on whether the increase could actually be seen as a big change from the previous administration, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at the press corps’s seemingly inconsistent characterization of “big” and “small” numbers. Who might guest host tomorrow? “It’s like a pop quiz!” Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton joked of the surprise appearances.
(Don’t) Mark Your Calendar: Deflating some of the excitement over rumor that the SCOTUS pick could be announced in the next few days, Gibbs clarified: “It’s not going to happen this week.” He wouldn’t rule out next week, though, and pledged to check in on the progress.
No News is… No News: Among the things Gibbs declined to “get ahead of” today: the outcome of the internal review on the WH military office’s AF1-gate (“It’s not wise for me to pre-judge the review,” which is expected to be done this week); conclusions to be drawn from the administration’s stress tests of the banks (“I’m not going to get ahead of Thursday’s announcement”); and what POTUS might ask of Af-Pak leaders he meets with in the next couple days (“I’ll let the president make his points to those leaders”). On the issue of Af-Pak security, however, Gibbs noted that POTUS is “deeply concerned” and “nobody is more impatient” than he is to see the region gain stability. That’s why, Gibbs said, he ordered the review, sent more troops, and is meeting with the leaders to strengthen their trilateral alliance.
Look Under the Mattress?: Pressed on the matter of releasing the administration’s photos from the AF1 flyover incident, Gibbs said of some of the photos: “I don’t know where they are.” He has pledged to check on whether they might be made public.