The Rose Garden press conference at the White House was canceled Thursday. I know I know, we wanted to get in and ask voter-centric questions of President Trump and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Rain is a terrible thing.
But we did get a Sarah Huckabee Sanders appearance for a few minutes - the most notable remark was her doubling down on the president's use of the word "animals" to describe members of the notorious MS-13 gang.
Not sure if the gang members care, but the media present clutched its pearls -- lots of unhushed whispers.
The rest of us were shut out as the official White House press pool was allowed into the Oval Office for the Trump-Stoltenberg remarks and question taking.
I wanted to get the president's take on how his base feels about not getting a full and robust burden sharing deal that he promised on the campaign trail. Cuts to Medicare versus cuts to foreign spending (adding third parties to the debates would have to wait, friends).
Alliances can be important, but where are the receipts for the voters to read? Give us numbers.
Trump called Jens Stoltenberg's job "obsolete" before taking office. He then went to a NATO summit in Brussels and was nearly laughed out of the room when he called out other nations for not footing their fair share of the bill. Five of the 28 member countries meet the required spending of 2% of gross domestic product on defense spending.
Well, as of February 2017 80% of Americans support the NATO alliance, up from 64% in 1995 according to a Gallup news poll. So we will see how that burden sharing unfolds. Today, Stoltenberg acknowledged the need for burden sharing. Great! Again, let's talk numbers!
Well, here's a number thrown around for the second time today, this time lobbed at the President: MS-13. One of the first questions a journalist asked the President was to clarify his use of the word "animals" when discussing immigration.
“You know I'm referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13. So, I'm actually surprised that you’re asking this question because most people got it right. I refer to them as animals and guess what I always will."
He also added that America is plagued with them, unlike the foreign reporter's country. Ouch!
Then topics shifted to trade with the European Union, North Korea, etc., etc. Policy is what the American people care about. Keep that at the top, please.
Next time, my friends. Next time pray for no rain, so the rest of the press is allowed to speak.