“Transparency”… Use it in a Sentence?: A much-delayed briefing opened with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announcing that the first-tweeted POTUS press conference will now be at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday (moved from 9 p.m.). The promise of an earlier reporter’s bedtime was greeted with sighs of relief from all corners of the room, though Helen Thomas cut into Gibbs’s notice by asking, “Is it going to be rigged?” RG promised that reporters will not be forewarned of question opportunities. CBS’s Chip Reid would ask later of Thursday’s Cleveland event, “Is this going to be a real town hall or one of these invitation-only things?” High school-like “oooohs” followed the query, and Gibbs said he’d check on the logistics.
“2, 4, 6, 8, Who Does Gibbs Appreciate?!”: In a nod to what seems to be his new favorite word, Gibbs used “appreciate” no less than four times, and always with tongue very much in cheek. It should be noted that this is usually as he’s striking down a reporter’s question, as when he told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “I appreciate the attention with which you’re paying the president’s words.”
Continued after the jump, with video of Helen Thomas and Gibb’s exchange on whether or not reporters would be given a heads up if they’d be called on at Wednesday’s presser, courtesy of Politico…
Take My Breath Away: Predictably, Gibbs fielded a barrage of questions on the simmering health care debate and the rise in firsthand POTUS commentary. He fired back at Sen. Jim DeMint’s note that this is Obama’s “Waterloo” by calling the observation “unique” and “breathtaking.” (POTUS hit DeMint harder today in public health care comments.) “We think we’re doing just fine,” RG assured. With timetable questions flying, Gibbs referred to OMB head Peter Orszag’s weekend comments reiterating (if somewhat unclearly) an August deadline, which POTUS still believes in. Asked for a realistic vision for Senate Finance Committee movement on the legislation, Gibbs said mark-up could be early next week, which would mean floor debate in about a week and a half.
Mo’ Money, Mo’… Moon Walks?: Commemorating the 1969 lunar landing, AP Radio’s Mark Smith asked whether POTUS believes Moon and Mars exploration are out of the question in light of the recession. Gibbs said the WH is “always worried, on any expenditure, about cost,” but interestingly pointed out that the “hundreds of billions of dollars” that Smith cited as being a modern-day price tag for the moon mission likely included “start-up” and other costs that wouldn’t apply today. A review involving NASA is expected to be completed by the end of the summer….