Because of “the yearning to speak with you all on an intimate basis ... and, in many of your cases, to boost sunscreen sales,” Mr. Gibbs told reporters at Monday’s White House briefing.
After the chuckles subsided, Gibbs gave a preview of likely topics for Tuesday’s gathering at 12:30 p.m. on what will be, if weather reports hold, the sun-drenched lawn outside the Oval Office.
Planned for weeks
Gibbs also made it clear how much advance planning the Obama White House does for such events, the fourth the president has held since taking office.
“In all honesty, the press conference has been on our block schedule for several weeks,” he acknowledged. Members of the media learned of it in an e-mail late Monday morning.
While press-conference timing can be mapped weeks in advance, the press is free to bring up whatever topics it chooses, thus inserting some unpredictability into the ceremonies. But the Obama press shop is clear on the points the president will make to the TV audience watching the Rose Garden event.
“I think the president will use the occasion again to discuss the progress that he believes the country needs to make on laying a foundation for growth. I think you will hear him talk about the skyrocketing cost of healthcare,” Gibbs said. “The president will talk about progress that is being made on energy independence legislation going through Congress,” he added.
Moving events in Iran
Questions about events in Iran took up much of Monday’s briefing. Gibbs said Mr. Obama had been "moved by what we have seen on television, particularly by images of women in Iran who have stood up for their rights to demonstrate, to speak out, and to be heard." He expects “we will also have comments on what we are seeing in Iran,” when the president meets with the press on Tuesday.