*This AP photo hit the Internet Wednesday evening, showing Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer waving her finger in the face of the President as he landed in Phoenix. Then, the story behind the photo began to trickle out, with both sides offering a different takes of what led the governor to do what many are calling disrespectful and unprecedented. [Scroll down to watch the raw video.]
As the President descended the stairs of Air Force One at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Brewer handed Obama an envelope with a handwritten invitation to return to Arizona to meet her for lunch and to join her for a visit to the border. The two then “spoke intensely for a few minutes,” and appeared to be cutting each other off, according to White House pool reporters.
“He was a little disturbed about my book,” Brewer told a reporter after the incident, referring to her political memoir, “Scorpions for Breakfast.” Obama was objecting to Brewer’s description of a June 2010 meeting he and Brewer had at the White House, where she described Obama as lecturing her.
Brewer visited the Oval Office for a private, 30-minute encounter the White House called a “good meeting.” At the time, Brewer said the meeting was “very cordial,” but in her book she said Obama had been “condescending.”
In a 2010 interview, she said of the White House meeting: “I felt a little bit like I was being lectured to, and I was a little kid in a classroom, if you will, and he was this wise professor and I was this little kid, and this little kid knows what the problem is and I felt minimized to say the least.”
On Wednesday, after the airport encounter, Brewer told reporters that Obama complained that she described him in her book as not treating her cordially.
“I said to him, you know, I have always respected the office of the president and that the book is what the book is. …I said that I was sorry that he felt that way. Anyway, we’re glad he’s here, and we’ll regroup.”
Meanwhile, the White House responded to the airport showdown yesterday by saying Obama would be glad to have another meeting with Gov. Brewer, but noted “after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The President looks forward to continuing taking steps to help Arizona’s economy grow.”
This isn’t the first time Obama and Brewer have disagreed. In October, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought on by Brewer that accused the Obama administration of failing to enforce immigration laws or maintain control of her state’s border with Mexico.