Brewer, Obama exchange tense greeting at Mesa airport - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Brewer, Obama exchange tense greeting at Mesa airport

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Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 7:11 pm | Updated: 1:35 pm, Fri Jan 27, 2012.

Three months after she published her unflattering description of him, it appears President Obama is still miffed with Gov. Jan Brewer.

When the president arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, he was greeted by the governor who handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope. Brewer later described it as a personal note asking him to sit down to discuss the "Arizona comeback.''

But the president was apparently more interested in discussing "Scorpions for Breakfast,'' her book in which she describes her fights with politicians -- including Obama -- to secure the border. The book included the governor's very uncomplimentary description of their meeting nearly two years ago at the White House, saying the president was "patronizing'' and "condescending'' to her.

"I started off talking about jobs and the economy,'' Brewer said late Wednesday of the meeting on the airport tarmac.

"And he changed the subject to my book,'' she continued. "He was a little bit disenchanted about how he was portrayed,'' she said, though Brewer said the president admitted to reading only "excerpts'' of the book.

The White House confirmed that Obama brought up the subject after telling Brewer that he would be glad to meet with her again.

"But (he) did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book,'' the statement said.

"I stood there, trying to understand exactly what was going on here, because that's not why I was there,'' the governor said Wednesday night.

Part of her book, published in November, details how she managed to get a meeting with the president in 2010.

That was after she had signed SB 1070 into law, a measure aimed at giving state and local police more authority to detain and arrest illegal immigrants. But it was before the Obama administration went to federal court to overturn it.

In her book, Brewer said she sought the meeting to explain to the president "exactly what is taking place down there in Arizona and that we need to have our borders secured.''

That, she wrote, was not the president's agenda.

"It wasn't long before I realized I was hearing the president's stump speech," she wrote. "

On Wednesday, Brewer defended what she wrote as accurate.

"I believe that the book is a very straightforward, honest recollection of exactly what took place at the White House."

During the short encounter at the airport, Brewer pointed at the president, with that moment captured in a photograph. But the governor said that, whatever the picture looks like, she was not acting in anger.

"I've always been kind of animated,'' she said.

"We could have been talking about a lot of different things,'' Brewer continued, saying she respects the office of the president. "And I would never be disrespectful in that manner.''

But Brewer said that, the president's complaints Wednesday afternoon about the book aside, she and Obama clearly were not communicating much at all.

"He wants to talk about amnesty and I want to talk about securing our border,'' she said. "We're just not ever going to agree on that.''

That, she said, was underscored by how the conversation at the airport ended.

"I was in the middle of a sentence and he walked away,'' Brewer said.

Brewer's explanation of exactly what happened at that 2010 Oval Office meeting has changed over time.

After emerging from the White House, the governor said she and the president had "a very cordial discussion of what's taking place in Arizona and dealing with the security of our border and illegal immigration into the state of Arizona and into America.''

But in an interview last fall with Capitol Media Services, Brewer said she wasn't being honest at that time. The governor said she decided to hold her tongue at that point "because I was promised that he would get back with me, get in contact with me within two weeks, and I would have a report.''

"And I thought that after our conversation that, possibly, there was hope," Brewer said in her interview. "Maybe I was naive.''

After the Department of Justice sued, a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing several key provisions SB 1070, saying the legislation was preempted by federal law. That decision, upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is now on review to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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