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Jake Tapper Challenges Gibbs on Obama's Caterpillar Contradiction

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I'm just listening to something fascinating at the White House press briefing. It's why I'm a little late getting back to program. Jake Tapper of ABC -- who I think is aiming to be the next Sam Donaldson, and I would support it. By the way, you Drive-Bys, do you remember if I may make a brief departure, do you remember back during the Reagan administration and Nixon, when you had Dan Rather standing up, Sam Donaldson, I mean your whole reason for being was to challenge power. Now, those of us who watched you back then thought that you were a little rude and that you were nitpicking and that you were trying to destroy presidencies, but at least you were poking at people in power. Contrast yourself today, go out and watch some of the real giants, quote, unquote, of your business, as they worked 20 and 30 years ago, then watch a press conference today with Robert Gibbs and look at the tongues on the floor and look at the butt kissing that's going on in the form of questions, and you tell me your business hasn't changed and hasn't gotten worse.

Nevertheless, Jake Tapper, you know, Jake Tapper is the guy who broke the story at ABC that the Caterpillar CEO never said that he would rehire laid-off people if the stimulus bill passed. And so the New York Times has a blog out today in which they call the CEO a liar. Oh, yeah. The CEO is the liar. The Caterpillar CEO is the guy who flip-flopped, not Obama. "That's the goal at the heart of this plan: to create jobs. But oops. After the president left, Mr. Owens not only did a turnabout on rehiring; he also suggested there may be even more layoffs. ... 'The truth is we're going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.'" So they totally believe what Obama said yesterday, that the Caterpillar CEO told me he's going to rehire some people if the stimulus passes, they go out, the Caterpillar guy yesterday, and Jake Tapper asks him, "Is this true?" "No, there's not enough money in this thing. There's not enough money for heavy construction, there's $46 billion. That's not going to do much in terms of road building and bridges and so forth, the kind of things we sell equipment to help do, so we're not hiring people back."

So the New York Times dumps on the Caterpillar CEO as the flip-flopper, never even questioning whether Obama just made it up and was trying to put pressure on the Caterpillar CEO guy to go along with it, which I have no doubt that that isn't what happened, Obama going public before the guy had spoken, trying to bring him along. So Jake Tapper is asking about this today, just now, and Robert Gibbs, the most competent, brilliant press spokesman we've ever had, ladies and gentlemen, according to the Drive-Bys, just answers with gobbledygook, and Jake Tapper says "I'm not going to belabor the point," and he thinks he's made his point with the question that's been unanswered.

And then he asks another question, he said, "We found out that Caterpillar left somebody on site for 30 minutes yesterday," or somewhere, I caught just the tail end of this before I had to come back and join you in programming content, "and they let employees have a say, 'Okay, stimulus is passed, should we start hiring people back?" and Jake Tapper said that Caterpillar announced that 1,400 employees said, "No, do not start hiring people back yet, I heard him say that, 1,400 Caterpillar employees want no part of the stimulus. And yet the New York Times blog says that it's the Caterpillar CEO who is the flip-flopper. Cookie, get me that exchange, 'cause I want to make sure, I heard this lickety-split and I had to leave it to come back to program, just in the last seven to eight minutes this happened, Jake Tapper with Robert Gibbs, and I know we're rolling tape on it. Here's how this went. Yesterday afternoon in Peoria, Obama visiting the Caterpillar plant to drum up support for his stimulus bill.

OBAMA: Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off. And that's a story I'm confident will be repeated at companies across the country.

RUSH: Okay, now, Obama says this, he gets in Air Force One, he heads back, but the unidentified reporter says to Jim Owens, Caterpillar CEO, "Will the stimulus package stop any of the 22,000 layoffs?"

OWENS: I think realistically, no. I mean the honest reality is we'll probably have to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.

RUSH: Doesn't matter what he says, it's how he says it. And once again, we have this climate established now that the CEOs are the bad guys, so obviously this CEO is sabotaging our great president, our great big-hearted compassionate president. He doesn't deserve this kind of treatment. He doesn't deserve to be sabotaged like this by the CEO of Caterpillar. And that's the way the story is framed.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's the exchange, by the way, that I talked about 27, 28, 29. Let me see if I want to use all of these, 'cause time is crucial. Yeah, let's start with 27. Let's go here and see how quickly we can get through these.

TAPPER: The CEO Caterpillar, after the president left the event, said that he did not think the stimulus package in and of itself would be able to enable him to rehire workers, certainly not in the short term. He put out a statement today saying that a stimulus package combined with other significant stimulus packages abroad would help move the global economy towards recovery and if these packages are enacted quickly, they could stimulate demand for our products, and that would likely over time provide Caterpillar the opportunity to recall employees that have been laid off, certainly not exactly what President Obama said he had said. I don't know what he said to begin with. But if you could clarify that.

GIBBS: What the president said that the chairman and CEO said, if the recovery plan is passed, the company would be able to rehire some of those employees. And as you just read, he said that if these packages are enacted quickly it could stimulate demand for our products that would likely over time provide Caterpillar the opportunity to recall employees that have been laid off during this downturn. I think the statement that you just read and the statement of the president are very consistent.

RUSH: Now, this is Jake Tapper, and of course there's nothing consistent about this. Tapper said, "Wait a minute, the CEO says your package will not cause him to rehire." The CEO actually said, "There's only $46 billion in heavy construction in this thing, that's not going to help us at all." And Gibbs, "Well, no, what the president and CEO said are very consistent." So Tapper says...

TAPPER: I don't even know how to respond to that. It seems to me like the president -- the president was clearly giving the impression before the stimulus package had passed that the CEO of Caterpillar, who just announced layoffs in January, said that he would be able to rehire some of those workers if this stimulus package passed, the one stimulus package that the Senate was considering at the time. And what the CEO of Caterpillar said today -- and again, I don't know what he said in private to anybody in your administration -- what he said today was his one plus other ones worldwide over a period of time, that could enable them to rehire some of those workers --

GIBBS: It would likely over time provide Caterpillar the opportunity to recall employees who have been laid off during this downturn.

TAPPER: He would -- all right, I'm not going to belabor it.

RUSH: Tapper is giving up there, but he tried twice to get Gibbs to admit that the CEO and Obama are saying different things, and you heard Gibbs, "No, they're saying the same thing. The exact same thing." It's beyond Orwellian. This is beyond Orwellian. This is Baghdad Bob. You know our troops are on the outskirts of Baghdad and Baghdad Bob says they're nowhere around, we haven't even entered the country. This is Baghdad Bob. So Tapper, who you have to give a lot of credit to here, he's the only Drive-Byer who went this way, so Tapper says, "Okay, let me try a different tack."

TAPPER: Congressman Ed Schock yesterday, who President Obama urged Caterpillar employees --

GIBBS: Aaron Schock.

TAPPER: What did I say? Oh, Aaron Schock. I'm sorry. President Obama urged him, Caterpillar employees to lobby him, went to the floor of the House today and said that he had stayed around for half an hour and not one Caterpillar employee came to him and urged him to vote for this package, and in fact during the course of time 1,400 Caterpillar employees had urged him to oppose the stimulus package. And I was just wondering what you think that indicates, if the president comes to a factory, heralds what this bill will do for these employees, urges them to lobby the congressman, and according to the congressman, not one of them does that.

GIBBS: Well, I haven't -- I haven't seen what the congressman said.

RUSH: We gotta get hold of this congressman, turn this congressman upside down, we get this congressman to say that you misheard him, Mr. Tapper. Do you understand this, folks? Yesterday after the event, Aaron Schock, the congressman from Peoria, Obama urged him, urged Caterpillar employees to lobby him after the event yesterday. The congressman went to the floor of the House today, said he had stayed for half an hour after the Obama event yesterday at Caterpillar, not one Caterpillar employee came to him and urged him to vote for the stimulus. In fact, he's been hearing from phone calls and e-mail 1,400 Caterpillar employees have urged their own congressman to oppose this. I don't know if you've read 1984, but I feel like I'm in it. By the way, Jake Tapper, get some protection, buddy. Get some protection. Jake Tapper is at least illustrating or portraying the behavioral habits of long-ago great journalist stars of the past.

END TRANSCRIPT

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