James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:42 P.M. EST
MR. GIBBS: Take us away.
Q: You said something last week about the Massachusetts election that Ax sort of repeated today that I'm intrigued by. He said, "I think the White House did everything we were asked to do. Had we been asked earlier we would have responded earlier." And that's similar to something you said I think maybe on Friday or Thursday.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think I was asked Friday why we weren't coming on Tuesday but were coming on Friday, and I said we had been asked.
Q: No, I understand, but the implication here is that the White House, with an election this important to the majority and to your agenda and to health care, can't assert itself or won't assert itself into this issue and try to make a difference. So can you talk about that a little bit?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, obviously the President went on Sunday, lent his support for Martha Coakley, talked about why he believed she would be the best senator, somebody who has fought for middle-class, working-class folks in Massachusetts.
We're going to have plenty of time to get into the back-and-forth of all this. I'd prefer to do that when we know what the result is.
Q: Well, it sounds like you're either saying that you don't want to assert yourself when something is important unless you're asked to do it, which seems a little weird, or that you're setting yourself up for this election to be lost by the Democrat.
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, we'll have a chance to discuss the outcome of the election when we know the outcome of the election, which, as many people know, is ongoing.
Q: Stay tuned?
MR. GIBBS: Right.
Q: Quickly, on another topic, tomorrow there are I believe six hearings having to do with the Christmas airline attack, Yemen, al Qaeda, Fort Hood -- six all in one day. Can you talk a little bit about the object of that and how the White House is getting ready for that, how you want that to play out tomorrow?
MR. GIBBS: Look, I don't know much about preparation other than -- I mean, obviously you've seen John's report on both topics. Obviously many of these hearings were announced after the incident but before these reports, and I think the administration obviously is more than happy to discuss what's in these reports, but more importantly, the steps that we're taking to address the concerns that these documents bring up. That's been the President's charge to the team this entire time.
I think you've seen the President be quite open in discussing our failings. The onus is on, now, all of us, both Capitol Hill and the White House, to ensure that we do all that we can to plug those shortcomings.
Q: So in the event of a Democratic loss in Massachusetts, what kind of contingency planning is the White House doing to prevent the -- to keep the health care bill alive as well as to keep everything on track?
MR. GIBBS: Obviously health care is a great priority to this President. We can get into discussing the results of tomorrow, tomorrow when we have results.
Q: But whatever the outcome of the election up there in Massachusetts, what's the thinking within the administration that this has exposed public skepticism, perhaps even backlash against the President's agenda, not just health care, but financial reform and --
MR. GIBBS: Again, I don't -- I think to get into why something happened before it happens -- we will schedule a briefing not unlike this at approximately the same tim ...
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