WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Tuesday the G-8 relocation from Chicago to Camp David did not come because of security concerns, and he's confident his hometown can handle the NATO gathering.
Obama made his remarks at a news conference in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times the day after the surprise announcement about the site switch for the G-8 economic summit. The G-8 and NATO were to take place back-to-back in May, after Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, lobbied for the events. Obama noted that the larger NATO summit -- which will bring about 50 nations to Chicago -- is still on.
"I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues," Obama said. "You know, whether it's Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza -- or Bulls' championships, we know how to deal with a crowd. It's a -- and I'm sure that your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail -- in making sure that everything goes off well."
Obama said the summit was moved because he wanted to use the Camp David retreat to huddle informally with foreign leaders, and the idea to do so did not occur to anyone until after Chicago was booked.
"I have to say this was an idea that was brought to me after the initial organizing of the NATO summit. Somebody pointed out that I hadn't had any of my counterparts, who I've worked with now for three years, up to Camp David."
"G-8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a -- in a pretty intimate way."
Obama added that Camp David will give him a chance "to spend time" with Vladimir Putin, the new Russian president elected Sunday