If organizers of next week’s Republican presidential debate are upset that the White House is calling for a nationally-televised presidential speech before a joint session of Congress at the same time their event is scheduled to begin at the Reagan Library in California, the White House is not offering much in the way of apology.
“There were a lot of considerations,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. “And, obviously, one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.”Politico and NBC News are sponsoring the debate, one of three among the GOP presidential candidates scheduled for September. The organizers have not yet announced what they intend to do about the President’s request for airtime during their debate.
Carney suggested the organizers could move it.
“The network could make a decision to alter of timing of the debate by an hour if it so decided,” Carney said. “There is no perfect time.”
“There has not been a time in my short period of time of this job where I called the networks and said, ‘How about now for, does this time work for the president to speak?'” Carney added. “There is always, ‘well, it works for two of us but not the other three.'”
Obama’s speech will coincide with the return of Congress from its month-long recess. The White House has signaled a willingness to turn Washington’s focus to jobs as the election year approaches. Carney said that conversation is more important than one of the numerous Republican presidential debates dotting the calendar months before the first primary vote is cast.
“There is one president,” he said. “There is 20 some odd debates.”
Update, 3:06pm: Politico sends out the following email
“The Republican presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Reagan Library will not be postponed, NBC News and POLITICO said Wednesday, despite the White House’s announcement that President Obama has asked congressional leaders to address a joint session on jobs at the same time.
“We’re thrilled that we now have a terrific opportunity to hear from national leaders of both major parties about the most pressing domestic issues facing the country,” NBC News and POLITICO said.”
Get the day’s best political analysis, news and reporting from the TPM team delivered to your inbox every day with DayBreaker. Sign up here, it takes just a few seconds.