Perino Welcomes Back Helen

From today’s White House press briefing:

    MS. PERINO: Okay, hello. Before I begin, I would like to welcome two people to the briefing room. One, we’re happy to welcome back Helen Thomas. We’re glad to have you here. We missed you a great deal, and we’ll let the sparring begin here in just an instant. (Laughter.)

What did she ask?

    Q I think Helen had a question.

    MS. PERINO: Helen has a question.

    Q Yes, I do. You say the President is not at fault for the auto industry problem. Do you think he’s responsible for a solution?

    MS. PERINO: Well, I think that he —

    Q And also, is there a quid pro quo on the Colombia trade agreement?

    MS. PERINO: There is absolutely no quid pro quo for that. And I was able to clarify that yesterday, and I was pleased that the President-elect’s team clarified that as well. But I think that the President of the United States believes that companies are responsible for finding solutions. However, this is an industry, as I’ve said before, that’s very important to the American people. And there are a lot of regulations that the government has tried to place on these companies over the years. And so Congress and the administration and the companies have an obligation to put their best minds towards trying to find out — figure out what we can do to the greatest extent possible to try to keep these companies viable. And if we can do that, we certainly will.

    Q Is he aware that Michigan has 9 percent unemployment?

    MS. PERINO: Very well aware of it. And he’s been very concerned about it. It’s one of the reasons that he agreed to the UI extension from — unemployment insurance extension that we provided in August. And we’ll see what the Congress puts forward on that if they come back for a lame duck.

    Q Is he aware that Detroit won World War II by retooling in a matter of days to a wartime condition?

    MS. PERINO: He know how important Detroit is, how — its history, the industry, and how many people it supports, not just in Detroit, but all across our country, and the people all around the world who work for those corporations. He’s very mindful of it.