Today at the White House: Nov. 1, 2011

The Obama administration is vocal about the jobs bill, executive orders and Fort Monroe, but mum on Herman Cain.

Posted: 11/01/2011 05:47 PM EDT

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain may be all the 24-hour news channels are talking about, but interesting enough, the White House is not following suit. At the daily White House briefing with Press Secretary Jay Carney, reporters hoping to get the scoop on how Team Obama feels about recent revelations linking Cain to sexual harassment allegations, walked away disappointed.

 

When asked for comment about the effect the scandal may have on Cain’s candidacy,  Jay Carney’s response was short and simple. “I really have no comment on that,” he said.

 

But Carney had much more to say about a move that gives one historical site, important to the African-American community, added prominence. President Obama signed an executive order declaring Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a national monument. It is the site where the first slave ships landed in the New World, and as a Union-held fort in 1861, it served as a refuge for thousands of escaped slave.

 

Reporters took issue with estimates by local officials that the site will be a boon to Virginia’s economy creating an estimated 3,000 jobs. When asked for a response to House Speaker John Boehner’s questioning of that figure, Carney said, “The jobs expectation is not made by us but by local leaders in Virginia. We rely on local leaders to project. We feel it is inherently good but also as a job creator.”

 

Carney was also questioned about the purpose of today’s scheduled meeting with the House Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office. Carney shared that the closed meeting will discuss ways in which Congress can be compelled to take action on the issues of greatest importance to Americans, namely jobs and the economy.

 

Carney said, “It is very clear and unfortunate that the obstacle to passing significant legislation that would add jobs is Republicans. Maybe that will change.  It’s very much about strategizing on the number-one priority: doing something about the sluggish job growth and the sluggish economy. We certainly should take action if we can do it.”

 

Finally, questions were raised about the spate of executive orders coming across the president’s desk as of late. Why did it take him so long to resort to it, if he’s always had the ability to do so? Carney said, “He has stepped this up because there’s an urgent need to take action on moving his agenda forward. He’s always had the authority but it is more intense now because we can’t wait for Congress to act. There’s an urgent need now."

(Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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