Just another day with the White House press corps. Here’s the beginning of today’s briefing:
MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. Happy Friday. I have nothing to begin with; go ahead. Kelly.
Q When the President spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to her, she offered prayers that the President would not veto the S-CHIP, State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Has the President changed his view?
MS. PERINO: I didn’t — I wasn’t there for the conversation. I know that they did speak. The President was happy to take a phone call from the Speaker, as he always is. They had a conversation in which Speaker Pelosi asked the President not to veto the bill. The President has been very clear for months that if the bill came to him in its current form, that he would veto it. That is his intention. And I don’t see any changing of the minds there.
But what he did say is that, I’m going to veto this bill and after that let’s see if we can sit down and come to a compromise.
The President’s position and the principle that he will stick to is that the neediest children should be served first, and that’s the one he’s going to stand by.
Q What did God tell him, from prayers?
MS. PERINO: Well, you know, just one thing about that — I think that the rhetoric in Washington can get so heated sometimes. I think it is preposterous for people to suggest that the President of the United States doesn’t care about children, that he wants children to suffer. There are things I’ve been reading about feelings that the President — that there’s — ascribing feelings that the President has about children that are absolutely not his view. You don’t see the President suggesting that no one cares about children.
The President’s principle on this program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, is that the neediest children should be taken care of first. The bill that they signed — that they passed last night specifically eliminated the requirement that states enroll 90 percent of children in households under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. And that’s the reason the President is going to veto this bill.
The President cares just as much as anyone else about the children of the United States.
Q Do you mean he rules out –
MS. PERINO: It eliminated –
Q — that lower level?
MS. PERINO: — it eliminated that requirement from the bill.
Q The requirement; but it doesn’t rule the kids out of the program, does it?
MS. PERINO: No, but it rules out the requirement, and the point is that the President believes that the requirement is important for the neediest children to be taken care of first.