Tags: Barack Obama | Joe Biden | SOTU 2016 | obama | state | of | union

Earnest: Biden Wasn't Slamming Hillary While Praising Sanders

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By    |   Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 11:09 AM

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday denied reports that Vice President Joe Biden cast doubt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's authenticity when it comes to income inequality, while praising rival Bernie Sanders.

"What the vice-president said is she's been focused on foreign policy," Earnest told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" host Bill Hemmer, while making the morning show rounds on the day of President Barack Obama's final State of the Union Address. "That's what she did for the first four years of the Obama administration. But she has put together good ideas...he meant it as a compliment, but I don't know if it was taken that way."

Instead, Earnest insisted, Biden was "giving credit where it's due to Sen. Sanders. Democrats are fortunate to have so many candidates on the Democratic side who have a strong track record and are putting forth ideas for our economy."

Earnest made his comments as part of a media push Tuesday morning in advance of President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address, and said that the president's focus will be on the next generation of Americans, in keeping the country safe, and building on "the economic strength and prosperity we have seen after we dug out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression."

The press secretary also told Hemmer that Obama still wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba before he leaves office early next year, and plans to make good on his promise, but the only reason he hasn't is "he's been stymied by Republicans and Democrats."

"There are more of these detainees than we can transfer to other countries," said Earnest. "We can mitigate any risk they pose to our national security, but if we have to bring some of those individuals to the United States, we'll put them in the same place where we are housing dozens of convicted terrorists in American prisons right now."

But one of Obama's first promises was to close the prison, and "this is not a problem he wants to pass on to the next president, whether it's a Democrat or a Republican."

Meanwhile Obama and the White House "have been disappointed" over the partisan divisions in Washington.

"We have seen more partisanship and more partisan division in Washington, D.C. than we would like to see," said Earnest.

And even though there are now 31 Republican governors and a GOP majority in the House and Senate in the years since Obama took office, Earnest insisted the administration has "made a lot of progress" over the past seven years.

The press secretary earlier Tuesday morning told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that Obama plans to speak about the challenges facing the nation as the next generation of Americans as the nation it prepares the next generation of Americans to succeed in the future.

"What we've seen is an economy that is going through some wrenching changes, as a result of technology," Earnest told the program."That technology has spread prosperity in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago."

However, the technology has posed "significant challenges," said Earnest, not only in how factory jobs are being replaced, but in how it is affecting jobs in a variety of sectors.

"The challenge for this country and for the government of the American people is how do we support our workforce as we go through these changes, and what can we do to help our workforce to capitalize," said Earnest, telling the program that there are Republican presidential candidates who are exploiting people's fears and insecurities about the changes.

"The fact is, the president hasn't been more optimistic about the ability of our country and capacity of our people" to meet the challenges, said Earnest.

There will also be a large focus in the president's speech about gun control, including plans to leave one seat open at the event to represent the victims of gun violence, and Earnest said that despite what's being said by critics, the president and his attorneys have concluded the president has gone as far as he can go to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

"The fact is, what we're trying to do is do as much as we can using executive authority," said Earnest. "Congress can do so much more and in a way that's long-lasting. That's why the president made it a priority of calling on people all across the country to challenge Congress to take common sense steps that would keep guns out of the wrong hands."

Earnest went on to compare the presidential order to close the loophole concerning gun shows and people on the nation's no-fly list as a "common sense measure that would prevent gun manufacturers from being able to escape liability for the way their products are being used...We're not looking to take away anybody's guns. We're looking for common sense ways we can keep our kids safe."

Obama has also been "thinking" about attempts to fight radicalism at home, Earnest said, including dispatching several members of his national security team to California last week to meet with technology leaders to speak about working with the government to confront terrorism.

"Government and technology companies have been able to work effectively together to try to counter child pornography," said Earnest. "We know child pornographers are criminals and disgusting but they use new technology to propagate their products. There's a way that extremists use technology to propagate their product. Patriotic Americans don't want to see their products used to advance attacks against innocent Americans. We should able to find common ground."

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President Barack Obama will present an agenda for his final year in office and beyond on Tuesday in his last State of the Union address, aimed at generating support for a Pacific trade pact, tighter gun laws and closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. Scheduled for 9 p.m....
obama, state, of, union, Josh Earnest, Joe Biden
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Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 11:09 AM
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