The White House pool reporter on Obama's lunchtime stop of Matt's Bar:
From airport, the motorcade cruised to our first stop -- lunch with Rebekah. (Bio below)
Lunch is at Matt's Bar, "home of the Jucy Lucy." (See description below.) Matts is a small, dark corner bar in a typical, middle-class neighborhood. We passed a tattoo parlor and the Chatterbox Pub.
POTUS is chatting up customers. More to come.
From the White House:
Rebekah Erler, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a 36-year-old working wife and mother of two pre-school aged boys. Rebekah’s new family was hit hard by the downturn in the housing market when her husband’s construction business went under. After relocating from Seattle to Minneapolis, a lot of hard work, and a number of difficult jobs, Rebekah’s husband is now back in the re-modeling industry and is home for dinner each night with Rebekah and their two children. Rebekah took out student loans to go to a local community college for career re-training and is now back in the workforce as an accountant. Last October, Rebekah and her husband bought their first home. Rebekah wrote told her story to the President in March when she sent him a letter. But, Rebekah’s letter was more about her family’s future than it was about her past and the struggles they’ve overcome. Rebekah detailed the rising cost – from groceries to child care to student loan payments – of doing right by your family. Rebekah’s story is representative of the experiences of millions of Americans: While our economy’s made a comeback, too many middle class Americans families with two hardworking parents are still stretched too thin. That’s why the President chose to visit Rebekah and lift up her story.
The President and Rebekah are having lunch at Matt’s Bar, a Minneapolis landmark home to the “Jucy Lucy,” a burger with melted cheese in the middle of the patty.
From the Star Tribune's Abby Simons, who is in the local press pool for Obama's visit:
AF1 touched down in Minneapolis at 12:30 p.m. POTUS descended from plane 15 minutes later wearing a blue shirt, dark jacket and slacks with no tie. He waved from the crowd and walked down the stairs followed by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. With a handshake he greeted Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Col. Keith T. Wesley, 934th Airlift Wing Commander, and gave Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges a kiss on the cheek. After chatting for a few minutes he strode over to a crowd of 100 cheering spectators and shook hands, saying, "Good to see you."
"I have two daughters," he told a little girl as her mother introduced her.
We're rolling at 12:55 p.m.
From the pool report aboard Air Force One, as Obama was flying to MInnesota:
Josh Earnest gaggled shortly after take off, with the USA v Germany match on in the background. Thank you to Wapo’s David Nakamura for assistance with highlights:
Earnest started with a statement on the minimum wage. Since Obama issued his call to raise the minimum wages “at least six states including Minnesota have raised the minimum wage,” Earnest said.
He also noted companies have acted on their own and praised Ikea’s announcement today. “It’s good for their bottom line. It’s good for employee retention. It’s good for productivity. And the fact is we should do it for every worker across America.”
Earnest called the minimum wage an example of a “common-sense policy” being blocked by Republicans. The economy is the president’s “top domestic priority” and that’s what he’s going to talk about over the next couple of days.
On the SCOTUS recess appointment decision – “We’re of course deeply disappointed in today’s decision… we are, however, pleased that the court recognized the president’s executive authority as exercised by presidents going all the way back to George Washington.” Earnest said the White House was still reviewing the decision. He noted that it does preserve some important elements of the president’s executive authority that he will not hesitate is using.”
Is Obama going too far with executive actions? “No… The president, though, remains committed to using every element of his executive authority to make progress on behalf of middle class families.” “The president is in no way considering scaling back” his executive actions.
On the GOP lawsuit – “It’s one thing for Republicans to try to block legislative remedies; it’s another thing to go to court to say that the president can’t act.”
Earnest had no reaction to share on the SCOTUS decision on buffer zones at abortion clinics.
Is the Minnesota trip about politics? Earnest noted it’s five months out from an election and he said the president remains “focused on governing” and “making clear what his priorities are.” The White House believes there’s “a pretty strong difference” between Republicans “who don’t want to do anything” and Democrats. And the president is committed to helping his fellow Democrats, Earnest said.
Is there a firm deadline for Putin to meet demands made at G7? “There’s no hard deadline that I’m going to set from here.” Earnest repeated that they’ve heard encouraging comments from Putin, but they’re focused on actions.
Earnest said Obama has responded before to letters and emails he receives each night from the correspondence department. “It’s an opportunity for the president to get a sense of what kind of reaction he’s getting from citizens all across the country, whether on world events or decisions he’s made.” Earnest said the “most common way he responds is through a hand-written letter of his own.”
(are potus’s low approval ratings reason for this personal visit to Rebekah?) “Most of this is about using this as an opportunity to convey to you and through you to the country what the president’s priorities are. The president’s top domestic priority is expanding economic opportunity to the middle class.”
He reiterates Obama enjoys getting out of DC and the WH interacting with ordinary people. …”The president would, frankly, do this a lot more often if he was able to.”
(asked whether WH asked Rebekah to tone down twitter profile where she called herself a “badass” and then removed it overnight) “Not that I know of. But as somebody who recently changed his Twitter profile maybe I need to spice it up a little bit.”
Obama will be introduced by Rebekah at speech on Friday, Earnest said.
(Is this really a day in the life if he’s only with Rebekah a few hours?) “It’ll be an opportunity for the president to get a good sense of what Rebekah’s typical day is like .. and I’d think Rebekah herself is probably pretty excited.”
“Our goal here is not to stage manage something. Our goal is to give the president an authentic opportunity to see at least part of the world through the eyes of this one working mom in Minnesota. IT’s an opportunity as president that when he’s inside the gates of the White House or behind the heavy doors of the beast in the limo that he doesn’t get to see. .. Frankly, we’d be ruining it if we tried to stage-manage this thing.”