The Buck Stops Where and Presidential Travel - Today's Q's for O's WH - 4/19/2012

TAPPER: This is the second serious security breach to take place under Director Sullivan's watch. The first one, of course, has to do with the White House crashers at the state dinner. How many incidents like this do there have to be before the president loses confidence in a Secret Service director?

CARNEY: I will restate what I've said, Jake. The president has confidence in Director Sullivan. He has great appreciation and regard for the men and women of the Secret Service who perform their duties admirably and at - and at risk to their own lives. The - that is not to excuse any behavior or activity that was inappropriate.

The incident is under investigation. But, again, I think it is -

TAPPER: What more do you need to know?

CARNEY: - unhelpful. What more do - quite a bit more, Jake. This thing is under investigation. This incident -

TAPPER: …I believe 11, 11 Secret Service agents -

CARNEY: - incident became - happened last week, became public very quickly after it happened. The investigation was launched immediately, and we're several days into an investigation. I think it is in - very much in the interests of everyone and most importantly of the United States and its security service here, the Secret Service, with regards to the mission it is charged with, to allow this investigation to be completed before we make judgments based on conclusions we don't yet have.

TAPPER: The president has talked about accountability, people in the government being held accountable. It seems as though incidents happen in this administration and have happened in this administration, and people are not held accountable - maybe lower- level people -

CARNEY: Jake, let me - let me just - I know you were covering this yesterday, but based on the reports I read that I think you and others filed people have already -

TAPPER: I'm not only talking -

CARNEY: - been held accountable or have held themselves accountable in this very incident that has been under investigation for a few days. So I think the swift -

TAPPER: Jay, Harry Truman didn't have a plaque on his desk that said "The buck stops there," OK? The -

CARNEY: Jake -

TAPPER: - point is that there - accountability rises. People are in charge of agencies, and they are held accountable for the behavior of the people that they are in charge of.

CARNEY: Right, and perhaps, Jake, perhaps it would be in the interest of a complete and thorough and fair investigation not to make determinations about the conclusions of an investigation before they've even been reached. That's the president's position. I think that is a position that is - fits naturally into a general sense of appropriateness and

TAPPER: I have one other -


TAPPER:- one other questions. What is - we've talked about this before in this room, about the president's trips to battleground states in which he has an event and then he has a fundraiser. And I know you've talked even more recently, when Ann asked you about how the language in the - in the - these different official versus campaign events are often quite similar.

CARNEY: Well, they're not, first of all, because as in other administrations, including our immediate predecessor's, as you know, we follow all the rules and regulations to ensure that the DNC or other relevant political committee pays what is required for the president or first lady to travel to political events. And you know,this - we go absolutely by the book with regard to the payments according to - you know, depending on which events are campaign or political, and which are official.

The suggestion that there is something wrong with the fact that the president says the same thing about what his vision is and what his policies are and what his beliefs are in front of official audiences, nonpolitical audiences as he does in front of audiences who are his supporters I think is kind of ridiculous. That - in fact I think it is a testament to the - to his absolute constancy and consistency that he - this goes back to Ann's question - that yes, when he stands before supporters who are donating to his campaign, who may be wealthy, and says it is only appropriate that the wealthiest among us do our fair share, so that everybody gets a fair shot, that's the same message he has when he's talking about the need to pass the Buffett rule in the Senate - totally - I think that's absolutely the way it should be.

And again, with regards to the - to the way these - every president who's been running for re-election in our lifetimes, you know, does - deals with these matters, I mean, it is by the book,very carefully done and appropriately done.

And as you know, Jake, the president is the president 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and he has to fly on Air Force One, he has to have security in communications. I mean, there are elements of his job that are always with him, regardless of the fact - you know, whether he's in a campaign event or an official event. And you know, costs are apportioned accordingly.

TAPPER: But I think the issue is that President Obama is fundraising more than any president before. Each president - you could say this about each president, that he has broken records for fundraisers than the one before. But President Obama has attended dozens more fundraisers than President Bush had done at this point in his presidency and is going to visit battleground states more than any president.

CARNEY: Well, that's a - that's a fact that I'd like to contest, because when that was first raised based on a Wall Street Journal article that included Virginia as evidence - or that trip - the president's trips to Virginia as evidence of traveling to battleground states. But when it was noted that they didn't include that when assessing President George W. Bush's travel in 2004, they didn't include Virginia because nobody thought Virginia was contested,and if you did include Virginia, Bush actually traveled to more battleground states at an earlier period of time. So the president should not be penalized for the fact that the voters of Virginia decided to vote for him in 2008 -

TAPPER: You know, the two states he's visited the most this year?

CARNEY: And 2012, we hope. I'm sorry, I don't.

TAPPER: The two states he's visited the most this year are Ohio and Florida. That's just a coincidence?

CARNEY: Two very populous states, very important states. And I'm sure he'll be back to those states as well as others. We were recently in Oklahoma. I'm an eternal optimist, but I'm prepared to suggest that it's unlikely that anyone would call that a battleground state. He gave a major speech in Nebraska. Again, prepared to suggest that that's not a battleground state, although a portion of it was in 2008.

You know, two - if you look at everyone in the news organizations and all their maps about what states are up for grabs and that kind of stuff, and say the president can't go to those states, you're basically saying he can't go to half the country, he can't go to - and probably far greater than half in terms of population. He can't go to -

MARK KNOLLER, CBS NEWS RADIO: Nobody's saying he can't go to those states, Jay. The question is:  Should they be declared campaign trips?

CARNEY: So you're saying he cannot make official event - make - go - make official trips to a significant portion of the country because you guys have declared them battleground states.

And let me - let me be clear: Some of the states you've declared battleground states were - you know, had never been won by a Democrat before until - for years and years before 2008, or President Obama won by double digits in 2008, but that's not - that's a battleground state now. Again, it is impossible for him to appropriately do his job and travel around the country and talk with the American people if he is guided by that kind of narrow view of what is a - is a battleground state or a safe state for a Democrat or a safe state for a Republican. He is president of all the people, all of the United States, and will travel accordingly.

-Jake Tapper

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