3 Takeaways from Obama’s Press Conference

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1. With criticism mounting that the President isn’t involved enough in the BP oil spill disaster, Obama clearly wanted to send a message that the federal government is in charge and focused. But after outlining the federal government’s response to the disaster – including efforts by the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers – Obama conceded that BP is the party with the best resources to stop the leak and clean up the mess. (They are paying for it and have the best technology.) Obama said the feds are watching BP closely and have jurisdiction over their actions. He also said the spill has been his top priority since the disaster began to unfold weeks ago. At the end of the press event, Obama may have realized he needed to send a stronger signal that this is his disaster to mitigate. “In case anybody wonders, in any of your reporting, in case you are wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility.”

2. The biggest news of the morning regarding the oil spill was that Elizabeth Birnbaum, the head of the Minerals Management Service, had resigned. (The MMS is in charge of issuing offshore oil drilling permits and has been under fire since the BP disaster.) Was she forced out, the press wanted to know? Obama said he didn’t yet know the circumstances of Birnbaum’s departure. Much of the news chatter this morning was that Birnbaum was sacked, in part, to send a message that heads were rolling and the White House was taking control of the situation, so it was a surprising response from Obama.

3. The White House doesn’t have a response yet in the matter of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak and whether he was offered an administration job in exchange for not running against Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania. Sestak, who beat Specter and is the Democratic nominee for the seat, hasn’t provided further details beyond his claim of a quid pro quo job offer and Obama didn’t offer any clarity today. He said an official response would come “shortly,” but that he was confident nothing improper occurred.

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