Aboard Air Force One
En route Vienna, Ohio
10:07 A.M. EDT
MR. BURTON: Hey, there, Senator. How's it going?
Q: Would you like to join us?
MR. BURTON: We're just talking about Ohio -- Bill Burton, good to see you.
SENATOR BROWN: Love your mother-in-law, by the way. (Laughter.) And I love your wife. (Laughter.)
MR. BURTON: Thank you very much.
So, Senator, if there's anything you want to say about our trip to Ohio, just to start us off.
SENATOR BROWN: I think it shows what's happening in Lordstown is what the recovery is all about. We've got a long way to go in the state. Clearly we're not even close to out of the woods, but there's some good news. We're seeing the auto industry show some signs of life, in part because of the Cash to Clunkers, in part because of the stimulus package. You can drive almost -- you can drive almost anywhere in the state and you can see Recovery Act signs up on road projects. My wife and I were going to a state park the other day and had to take a detour because of one of them, and we're seeing them everywhere, and I think that's a good sign.
Q: How's the traffic?
SENATOR BROWN: How's what?
Q: How's the traffic?
SENATOR BROWN: How's the traffic, meaning --
Q: Because of all that construction.
SENATOR BROWN: They're mostly -- a lot of them are in country roads. I mean, they're out of the way places that are sort of connecting small towns. I mean, they really are everywhere. There is a big project in Cincinnati on a main interstate, and there are some small towns everywhere, the same thing.
Q: But for Lordstown, how long is that second shift going to stay employed?
SENATOR BROWN: Well, I think that we -- I mean, if we -- if the stimulus continues to kick in and we see demand created throughout the economy, then this is the beginning of something, it's not just an upward blip. And that's what I'm both hopeful of and think is likely that we're going to see that. I think once we move on past health care, I think that there's going to be more confidence, then that helps build confidence in the economy for people. And I think much of this is about consumer confidence.
So the Cash for Clunkers was a great success -- not just a success, a great success, because of what it's done particularly in a state like Ohio, for confidence, I think.
Q: Senator Brown, what did you think of the Chinese response to the steel -- the tariffs? Tire tariffs?
SENATOR BROWN: The Chinese always respond that way. You can expect it. The President showed courage. The President did the right thing. The Chinese are always going to complain. Exports are such a more important part of their economy to us than the other way around. That's why the Chinese have too much at stake to launch any kind of a trade war. It's not going to happen.
Q: Thanks, Senator.
MR. BURTON: Thanks, Senator. Anything before we hit the ground here?
Q: Bloomberg reported that Citigroup is in talks with Treasury to sell the one-third stake that the government has. Can you talk about what's going on with that?
MR. BURTON: I've seen that report, but I'd refer you to Treasury for questions about it.
Q: How about -- any thoughts on what the possibility of a -- China came out overnight and said that tire sales to the United States were actually down in the first half of the year, and they said that -- to add to their argument that charges that they were dumping don't make any sense. And what does that mean, especially since we're going to GM, in terms of U.S. carmakers' desire to sell more vehicles in China?
MR. BURTON: Look, our -- the President is confident in his decision and believes that -- you know, from time to time, there are disputes as it relates to trade. But if -- there are rules on the books; they should be followed and they should be enforced. You need that for credibility with the American people when you're asking them to move forward with a trade deal and you need that with your global partners -- brace yourself for hitting the ground here -- you need that for your global partners when it comes to new trade agreements.
So, you know, there have been disputes like this over the course of our relationships with China, the European countries, countries all over the world. But with China, there's obviously a bunch of issues of mutual concern, like North Korea, for example, and their nuclear ambitions. And we'll continue to work with them on that and other issues as we move forward here.
Q: Is the President upset about this off-the-record comment about Kanye West being reported?
MR. BURTON: Look, I'm not going to get into what the President had to say in an off-the-record conversation. But you should see what Rahm said about it.
Q: What did Rahm say about it? (Laughter.)
Q: Can you tell -- what kind of gesture might the President make toward free trade ahead of the G20, now that the tariffs have been imposed?
MR. BURTON: Well, I'm not going to get ahead of anything that the President is going to do or announce around the G20, since that would be his news to make.
Q: Will GM get Department of Energy money to retool its plants, like, you know, Ford got these no-interest loans?
MR. BURTON: I saw a question on that and I'm going to have to point you towards the Department of Energy, who can help explain exactly how they're disbursing those grant monies.
Q: So no big announcement today on --
MR. BURTON: No.
Q: Will the President apologize to Kanye West? (Laughter.)
MR. BURTON: Like I said --
Q: What about -- (laughter.)
Q: Actually, Bill, do you have a comment on the resolution on Joe Wilson -- now on the floor today?
MR. BURTON: I don't. That's House business. The President has already -- Congressman Wilson called the White House to apologize. The President accepted his apology. And this is something that the House is doing.
All right. We'll see you guys in there. Sorry it was so short. If there's a bunch of follow up I'll come back on the second leg here.
END 10:12 P.M. EDT