Obama on yanking G-8 from Chicago: Camp David a better setting

SHARE Obama on yanking G-8 from Chicago: Camp David a better setting
SHARE Obama on yanking G-8 from Chicago: Camp David a better setting

Obama on G8 Summit Move: I’m Confident in Chicago Security: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

WASHINGTON–A day after the White House made a surprise announcement to switch the May G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David, President Barack Obama said a specific reason for the change was he wanted to use his retreat–for the first time–to huddle with foreign leaders.

Obama made his remarks in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times at his first press conference of the year. He said the G-8 relocation did not come because of security concerns. “I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues,” Obama said, noting that the much larger NATO summit–with some 50 countries expected to attend– will go on as scheduled in his hometown.

Regarding security, Obama said Mayor Rahm Emanuel–his former chief of staff– will be on top of “making sure that everything goes off well.

The notion of using Camp David only came up after Chicago was booked–at the urging of Emanuel–for the back-to-back summits, Obama said.

“I have to say this was an idea that was brought to me after the initial organizing of the NATO summit.

“Somebody pointed out that I hadn’t had any of my counterparts, who I’ve worked with now for three years, up to Camp David. G-8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a — in a pretty intimate way. And the thinking was that people would enjoy being in a more casual backdrop,” Obama said.

Obama also cited what may be a contributory factor of shifting the G-8 to his presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains: the election Monday of Vladimir Putin as the new president of Russia.

“It’ll give me a chance to spend time with Mr. Putin, the new Russian president,” Obama said.

Below, a transcript of the exchange:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Really. (Laughter.) Ah ha ha. (Laughter.) Lynn, since you’ve been hollering, and you’re — you’re from my hometown — (laughter) — make it a good one.

LYNN SWEET: My question is about the switch of the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David. A reason given from the White House is that now you wanted a more intimate summit.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

LYNN SWEET: People in Chicago would like to know, what do you know now that you did not know when you booked hometown Chicago for the G-8 that led to the switch? And what role did security threats possibly play in the decision?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind, Lynn, we’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders.

We’ve got this NATO summit. Typically what’s happened is is that we try to attach the G-8 summit to the NATO summit, so that the leaders in the G-8 summit don’t have to travel twice to whatever location. So last year in France we combined a G-8 with a NATO summit. We’ll do so again.

I have to say this was an idea that was brought to me after the initial organizing of the NATO summit. Somebody pointed out that I hadn’t had any of my counterparts, who I’ve worked with now for three years, up to Camp David. G-8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a — in a pretty intimate way.

And the thinking was that people would enjoy being in a more casual backdrop. I think, you know, the weather should be good that time of year. It’ll give me a chance to spend time with Mr. Putin, the new Russian president. And from there, we will then fly to Chicago. I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues.

You know, whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza — (laughter) — or Bulls’ championships, we know how to deal with a crowd. It’s a — and I’m sure that your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail — (soft laughter) — in making sure that everything goes off well.

FOOTNOTE: The U.S. Embassy in London sent out this Tweet: “In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the #G8 and #NATO Summits. What should top the summit agendas?”

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