Gibbs from White House on Tuesday’s big speech

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs spoke with Radio Iowa moments ago.  First question:  shouldn’t you be editing speech copy right about now?  Gibbs, in his answer, painted a word picture of the editor-in-chief: “I walked into the Oval Office earlier this afternoon and many pages were sprawled out on the president’s desk and he had a pen, going through…changing some words.”

New York  Michael Bloomberg today called for shoring up the nation’s system for background checks, to ensure people with a history of mental illness or violence can’t get their hands on a gun.  Bloomberg urged the president to speak about it during tomorrow night’s speech.  I asked Gibbs if Obama will do that.

“Obviously the president will speak about and acknowledge the impact the events in Tucson have had on our country,” Gibbs said. “…The biggest guests that we have coming to sit with the First Lady are those that were involved in the aftermath and the events that happened in Tucson.  I don’t want to get into whether the president’s going to talk specifically about guns.  I will say we are looking at all of the proposals that will come as a result of the circumstances that happened there, but I think first and foremost the president will spend time relating to Tucson, talking about ensuring that the debates that we have over the next many months, that they’re done in a way that is civil and respectful, much as he talked about when he was in Tucson a few weeks ago.”

Bloomberg seemed to be focused on ensuring the system of background checks that already exists is working.

“Look, I think both sides want to ensure that we are adequately and appropriately enforcing the laws that are already on our books,” Gibbs replied.

Back in a while to blog more about the conversation. As you may know, Gibbs is leaving his White House post next month.  He’ll be an “outside advisor” to the president and work on the 2012 reeleciton campaign.  Gibbs, who is a native of Alabama, has been with Obama since ’04. 

When our phone connection was first established, Gibbs remarked on the “late start” to the 2012 Iowa Caucus campaign on the Republican side.  “I will say I’m officially surprised there hasn’t been more activity out there,” Gibbs said.

“Congresswoman Bachmann, though, was here Friday night,” I responded.

“I saw that on FOX,” Gibbs said.  “Did you go?”

“I was a witness,” I replied.

Later in the conversation, Gibbs addressed the “winning the future” focus of the president’s speech.

“We have to take steps to address our competitiveness and our innovation.  We have to make sure that we’re staying ahead of the Indias and the Chinas of the world,” Gibbs said, “that we’re out-innovating, out-education and out-building the rest of the world.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.