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Obama has yet to try out new White House swing set; staffers kids taking some swings

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WASHINGTON--More from the White House lifestyle file. President Obama has yet to try out that new swing set installed at the White House for his daughters. But he is encouraging staffers kids to use the equipment and even invited the press.

Obama on Saturday was asked, "Have you tried out the swing yet, sir?"

"You know, I have not tested the swing, but I've pushed them on the swings. This is pretty spectacular," Obama said, waving towards the set.

Obama said WH staffers' kids would get to test it out, and he extended a similar invitation to children of the White House press corps, the pool report said.

To: Finkenbinder, Benjamin N.
Sent: Sat Mar 14 15:46:26 2009
Subject: pool report #1, 3/14/2009

Pool Report #1, 3/14/2009

In honor of today's NYT story on the media's obsession with every little detail of the Obama administration, some major breaking news first: POTUS confirmed that he has not yet tested out the swings on the new White House jungle gym.

Also, he said he suspected Republicans would like to see him get lost in the Amazon.

More on those items in a second.

Obama and Brazilian president Lula da Silva met in the Oval Office Saturday morning. The WH said Larry Summers, Gen. Jones, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and Dan Restrepo, the NSC's senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs, also attended the meeting.

A marathon 34-minute photo op in the oval with the two presidents followed. Obama apologized to the pool for making us work on Saturday. He called the discussion a "wonderful meeting of the minds" and praised the "progressive, forward-looking leadership" of da Silva.

Transcript should be coming.

The two discussed the upcoming G-20 meeting, the global financial crisis and other issues.

Da Silva said he has prayed for Obama more than he has prayed for himself lately. "I don't want to be in his position," he said through a translator. Obama: "You sound like you've been talking to my wife."

The presidents took four questions, two from US reporters and two from Brazilian reporters.

CBS' Mark Knoller asked Obama what he could say to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to allay his concerns about his country's $1 trillion in US government securities. He also asked da Silva if his country had similar concerns about its US investments.

Obama defended US-government backed securities. He said the reason investors have turned so heavily to US securities during the economic crisis was "a recognition that the stability of not only our economic system, but also our political system, is extraordinary."

"Not just the Chinese government, but every investor, can have absolute confidence in the soundness of investments in the United States, not just in US-issued Treasury notes, but also in the private sector...," he said.

Da Silva said he was concerned about the flight of cash from emerging countries into US government securities. He said the problem needed to be discussed at the G-20.

A Brazilian reporter asked Obama about U.S. duties on Brazilian bio-fuels. Obama acknowledged that the issue had been a source of tension between the two countries. He said overtime the debate would get resolved, but not overnight.

Jeff Mason of Reuters asked if Obama had asked da Silva to side with the United States at the G-20 to push for fiscal stimulus over financial regulation. Obama said there was no rift emerging between the United States and other countries on the priority of those two issues.

"I can't be clearer in saying that there are no sides. This is a phony debate," he said.

"I don't know where this notion has emerged that somehow there are sides developing with respect to the G-20," he said. "This is not an either or question, this is a both and question. We do believe it is important for all countries around the world to step in and figure out how we can ensure that we are compensating for the drastic contraction in global I've said here in this country and I will repeat in the G-20, fiscal stimulus is only one leg in the stool. We have to do financial regulation."

A Brazilian reporter asked about protectionism. Obama said it was "very important for all countries to recognize that trade is an important component of economic growth"

"There's a natural tendency at a time of economic difficulty to want to focus inward and ensure that any sacrifices are taking place somewhere else, as opposed to here at home, because people are going through tremendous hardships," he said. "It is important for us to understand that ultimately U.S. businesses will benefit from our exports, that imports from Brazil can actually provide us access to products and services that consumers want here in the United States."

"Our goal should be to at least not go backwards," he said, and pointed out that his administration worked with Congress on "buy American" provisions contained in the stimulus package to make sure they didn't violate trade pacts.

Obama said he was looking forward to visiting Brazil, but that no date had been set for a trip there. He said he wanted to visit Rio because of the nice beaches.

When a Brazilian reporter asked if he also planned to visit the Amazon, Obama said: "I would love a trip to the Amazon. I suspect that the Republican Party here would love to see me travel through the Amazon and maybe get lost."

Obama walked da Silva to a car waiting on the South Lawn driveway after the meeting.

As Obama walked back towards the Oval Office past a giant jungle gym, Knoller called out, "Have you tried out the swing yet, sir?"

"You know, I have not tested the swing, but I've pushed them on the swings. This is pretty spectacular," Obama said, gesturing to the jungle gym, which White House staffers said was installed a few weeks ago.

Obama said WH staffers' kids would get to test it out, and he extended a similar invitation to children of the White House press corps. That prompted several members of the pool - your pooler not included - to shout out "I have kids" and "great."

We have a full lid.

Sean Mussenden
Media General

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 15, 2009 7:57 AM.

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