China’s Human Rights Record, Health Care Polling, Duvalier’s Return: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 1/18/2011

By Eliza

Jan 18, 2011 1:41pm

TAPPER: The administration and the president have talked quite a bit about pressing China on its human rights record, and Secretary Clinton  in advance of this trip also said that that was going to be a major topic of conversation.  Has there been any success in getting them to move on any human rights issues?                                                                                                                                                           

GIBBS:  Well, look, obviously there — that is a topic of some significance that the two leaders will talk about.  We — President Obama was — put out a very forward-leaning statement upon the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize with Liu Xiaobo on — that he should be freed, that he certainly should be freed to go to Oslo and accept his prize.                                        

These will — we will continue to have difficult conversations, Jake, but necessary conversations that had to be had — had to be had with China, and we'll do that again tomorrow.

TAPPER:  But no actual tangible evidence of success yet?

GIBBS:  Well, again, I think this is — this is a — this is a long road.  And whether we're dealing with economic discussions, whether we're dealing with those in the security realm, or whether we're doing — those with human rights, I think this is — this is an argument that we have and we'll continue to make to the Chinese and push them to do better.                                                                                                                                      

TAPPER:  You said earlier that the effort to repeal health care in the House is “not a serious legislative effort.”  You mean that just because it can't pass the Senate and the president would veto it?                                                                                                                        

GIBBS:  I just don't — well, I just don't think it's going anywhere.  And look, again, it — I'm quoting some of the many members  – new members of the House that have said this isn't a serious thing.                                                                                           

TAPPER:  All right.  Well, there's a new ABC News/Washington Post poll I'm sure you've seen that has some nice news for the president in it, but also in the poll is the fact that the president and Republicans are tied on who you trust to handle health care.  For the first time ever, the president has gone down 9 points; Republicans have gone up 4 points.  So whether or not this repeal effort actually has any hope of actually becoming law, which it does not, currently, their public relations, their talking about this issue have been good for their cause.                                                                         

GIBBS:  Except for this, Dick:  I don't — I think you should be clear that that question, though, does not measure repeal.  And when asked specifically in other public polls that we've seen repeatedly and recently about repeal, there's a significant number of people — and some of them, I presume, are Republicans — that do not want to give up the very benefits that I outlined a minute ago but want to see — maybe they want to see something that's worked on that's improved.  That's certainly not measured in a question where you pick A or B.

But — so I think if you — if you break some of that question out, you see that the notion that there is some vast, widespread support for doing away with the Affordable Care Act, raising the deficit, putting insurance companies back in charge — there are a  whole host of things that even Republicans don't find –                                                                                                                     TAPPER: Right.                                                                                                                                                  

GIBBS:  — suitable or tenable about the effort

TAPPER:  I'm not — I'm not taking — talking about that specifically as much as I'm talking about the fact that Republicans seem to be gaining ground when it comes to the public's support on the issue of health care, and the president is losing ground, not on specifically repeal of health care, but just moving forward on the health care issue.

GIBBS:  Well, again, I think — I think the question doesn't measure the breadth of opinion certainly even around the health care issue.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

TAPPER:  Lastly.  Do you guys have any response to "Baby Doc" Duvalier's arrival in Haiti?                                                                                                                                                                                  

GIBBS:  Obviously, this is a — this is an important and a crucial time for the people of Haiti.  And we would –                                                                                                                                 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS:  Do you mind if I follow — he's been arrested, apparently.  Haitian officials took him into custody.  So if you want to update your –                                                                                                                                                                                                              GIBBS:  Thank you.  I would — I would mention that any political leader or any former political leader should focus not on him or herself, but on making progress towards a set of important elections, and dedicate their time and their energy to the reconstruction of the country.  Thank you.                                               

-Jake Tapper

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