President Obama and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) had what appears to have been an angry exchange of words on the tarmac in Phoenix over her portrayal of him in a book she published late last year.
This is from press pool reports describing Obama’s arrival this afternoon in the city:
He stepped off Air Force One at 3:28 pm and was greeted by Gov. Jan Brewer. She handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope and they spoke intensely for a few minutes. At one point, she pointed her finger at him.
Afterwards, your pooler spoke with the governor.
“He was a little disturbed about my book, Scorpions for Breakfast. I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So.”
Asked what aspect of the book disturbed him, Brewer said: “That he didn’t feel that I had treated him cordially. I said I was sorry he felt that way but I didn’t get my sentence finished. Anyway, we’re glad he’s here. I’ll regroup.”
A little more from the Brewer-Obama encounter.
It was clear from the moment they greeted one another that this would not be a run-of-the-mill encounter between the president and a local official. At one point, she was pointing her finger at him and at another, they were talking at the same time, seemingly over each other.
He appeared to walk away from her while they were still talking, and she confirmed that by saying she didn’t finish her sentence.
When Brewer spoke with your pooler, the AP and an NBC producer for several minutes afterwards, she appeared a bit flustered and taken aback by the conversation. Asked if she was, that’s when Brewer said, “I’ll regroup.”
This, according to a another pool report, is the White House response:
The governor handed the President a letter and said she was inviting him to meet with her. The President said he’d be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The President looks forward to continuing taking steps to help Arizona’s economy grow.
In her book, titled “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border,” Brewer writes that Obama was “condescending” to her during an June 2010 Oval Office meeting they had to discuss border security.
The meeting occurred after she had signed SB 1070, a state law that toughened enforcement of immigration laws and required law enforcement officers to attempt to determine an individual’s status when there is “reasonable suspicion” they may be an illegal alien.
Brewer wrote that during the White House meeting she sought to explain the situation in Arizona to Obama, but got a lecture instead.
“It wasn’t long before I realized I was hearing the president’s stump speech,” she wrote. “Only I was supposed to listen without talking.”