First Question from AP – Can you confirm to the American People that National Security has not been compromised by General Petraeaus? and should you have been told earlier that an investigation into him was taking place.
A. You need to ask and talk to the FBI regarding their protocols of divulging information and discussion. Mueller has standards and internal points that must be followed. (he ducks)
A. There is an ongoing investigation into the potential for security compromise, so I will parse my commentary. General Petreaus has a distinguished career and by his own admission this personal failing has compromised his capacity to be effective. With that in mind I accepted his resignation.
Question: CNN Jessica Yellen – Fiscal Cliff. Will you accept eliminating tax loopholes etc as opposed to rasing rates.?
A. The math does not add up that way. I am for considering anything that raises revenue and does not burden the middle class. I want a big deal, I want a comprehensive deal, I want to ensure certainty, but right now I want to make sure taxes on middle class families don’t go up.
Question: Hispanic Reporter – Immigration. Will you propose comprehensive immigration reform?
A. Yes, we need to sieze the moment. I expect the process to begin very soon after my inaguration. It should include strong border security measures, it should contain serious penalties for undocumented workers, and a pathway for legal status for people living in this country not engaged in illegal activity to give them the avenue to resolve their legal status. Obviously making sure that we put into law the Dream Act kids – One thing I feel strongly about is that kids brought here by no fault of their own should not be under the cloud of deportation. Businesses want skilled labor and want specific concerns addressed, the agriculture sector wants workers to deliver food to our table. Border security, employers, pathway to citizenship, Dream Act kids.
Question: Chuck Todd MSNBC – Are you withholding judgement that you should have known sooner on the Petraeus investigation? Or are you saying you should not have known.
A. I am witholding judgement surrounding how the topic of General Petraeus comes up, and I have confidence in the FBI. Chuck what I will say is that if we had been told, you would be asking me why I am interferring with an FBI investigation (another duck)
A. I want to hear ideas from everyone regarding tax rates. I don’t want to slam the door on anyone. I am confident that it can be done. My budget does it. I don’t expect the REpublicans to adopt my budget (?). What I will not do is have a process that is vague with a kinda sorta unscorable revenue gain. I want certainty in the tax increase on folks making over $250k, so that we can avoid hitting the Middle Class with a tax hike. I am concerned that we will find a situation where the wealthy will not pay “what they should”, and the burden is passed to the middle class. The American people want compromise and action but middle class folks don’t want to bear the burden.
Question: Nancy Cortes – On election night you said you wanted to sit down with Mitt Romney, have you done that yet. Have you reached out to him?
A. No. I think everyone forgets that the election was only a week ago. I hope to sit down with him prior to the end of year. I think some of the things he did were good, example the Olympics – some of his ideas might be beneficial to streamlining government. There may be ideas about jobs and growth so I might be open to those ideas also. What I want to do is get ideas from him to work together.
Question: How do you plan to approach your releationship with congress?
A. I think it is certain that I can do better. So I need to communicate my desire better to work with everyone. I have a lot of good rrelationships with people on both sides of the aisle. I think both myself and Republicans have to do more to work together, I have no issue looking in the mirror. There will be fights and I think fights are going to need to be had. I don’t have another election. There is an incredible gift in that we have been given the opportunity. I have every intent to be a better president in Term 2.
Question: Senators Graham and McCain have called for Watergate style hearings on Benghazi and Graham has stated unequivocally that he will block Susan Rice from any nomination to The State Dept.
A. Susan Rice was making a presentation based on information provided by us in the White House. To attack her and besmerch her reputation is not ok. I will not talk about whether or not I will nominate her. But when they go after the “U.N. Ambassador” because they think she is an easy target then they have a problem with me.
Lindsey Graham statement: "Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi."—
Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) November 14, 2012
Graham statement (cont'd): "I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack. "—
Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) November 14, 2012
Question: Ed Henry – FOX News – question about the mandate but to follow up on Benghazi….. Sean Smiths father says his son called 911 for help. On 9-11 did you issue any orders to protect their lives ?
A. I will address those families independently not through the press. If you think that anyone did not do all they could they were wrong. My orders to everyone on my National Security Team in regard to our people in Benghazi during the attack were “do whatever you need to do to make sure they are safe“.
Regarding whether I got a mandate, I got re-elected to do work on behalf of Americans to recover and get things moving. I do know the federal government can make a difference, we are seeing that now on the Jersey Shore. That’s a pretty good metaphor for how I want the government to operate.
Question: Can you envision any scenario where we do go off the fiscal cliff, and do you plan on one-on-one talks with Iran.?
A. Yes, we can all see a way that we will go off the fiscal cliff, but the impact will be devastating to our economy, it could push us back into a recession. That would not be a good thing. Step #1. is to agree with certainty that the first $250k of all income will not have any tax increase – period. We can do that tomorrow. I have been living with this for a couple of years now – it can be done. It is arithmatic not calculus. We can continue to grow and invest, a modest tax increase on the wealthy will not break their backs, they will still be wealthy…. so we can do this.
A. Respect to Iran. I want a diplomatic solution to the problem. We are not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. We still have a window for negotiation. We have put in place strong embargos against them – so yes, I will open a dialogue and open door for them, but I cannot promise they will walk through the door. If Iran is serious they will be in a position to resolve this.
Question: Mayor Bloomberg said you would do more to confront climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you go to visit the affects of Hurricane sandy. What will you do to tackle Climate Change and will you, in term two, institute a carbon tax.
A. We do know the planet temperature is climbing faster than it was even 10 years ago. I am a firm believer in climate change and that people affect it. I also believe that carbon emmissions create it. We doubled the efficiency of autos, we doubled the use of wind energy, and we continue to invest in green programs. What I am going to do over the next several months I will meet with scientists to determine what we can do in the short term to constrain carbon emmissions, and what can be done in the long term to educate and adjust. I don’t know what Democrats and Republicans are willing to do, I know there are regional differences and political differences. If we can create jobs, advance growth and still advance climate progress then you can expect from me that you will hear what efforts we can take.
Last Question: Mark Felsonfall – Syria is being brutal, France is calling for Regime change, will you arm the rebels.
A. We were the first to ask for regime change. We are supportive of the opposition. We are consulting with our allies and with the opposition. We are in very close contact with Turkey and Jordan which are impacted, and oh yeah, Israel who might be affected because of Chemical Weapons. I am encouraged the Syrian group is opening up in more of an umbrella group – we consider them a-legimate of the representative voice of the Syrian people. We have seen extremist elements in the opposition also, we have to be concerned when we arm them that we are not arming people who would turn those arms against us, or against Israel. We need to encourage moderate, thoughful, inclusionary government.
Question in retreat: about $1.2 Trillion spending beyond the budget.
A. Great question, but I will not answer because you shouted it out.