New York Times reporter Helene Cooper, touring the West with the president, claimed that the dust-up between Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and President Obama on an airport tarmac in Phoenix could help him among Hispanics: “In Airport Run-In, Democrats See Help for Obama Among Hispanics.”
A flattering photo from Las Vegas of Obama and some star-struck preteens was just part of the spin in her Friday story:
Democrats see the chance that President Obama’s heated exchange with Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona on the airport tarmac in Phoenix could help him with the Hispanic voters he came West to court this week.
The run-in, captured in a photograph of the governor wagging a finger at the president as they discussed her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast,” lit up Hispanic radio stations and blogs all over the state. While it is difficult to judge whether the moment will have any lasting impact, Hispanic leaders said that what is being dubbed by some as the “dustup in the desert” could play in the president’s favor given the unfavorable view many Hispanics have of the governor for her advocacy of tough immigration measures.
“For that incident alone,” Robert Meza, a Democratic state senator from Phoenix, said Thursday, “85 percent more Latin people will gravitate toward the president.”
Republicans saw the incident in another light. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, told the show “Imus in the Morning” on Fox Business Network that Ms. Brewer had “very legitimate” concerns about the state’s border and that her tarmac exchange with Mr. Obama was another display of the president’s “prickly personality.”
Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, Ms. Brewer said Mr. Obama had walked off while she was still talking. “You know me, when I talk, I am animated and I talk with my hands,” she said, explaining her finger-wagging. “I suppose that the picture was probably shot when I was moving my hands around.”
After noting that Arizona is “a state Mr. Obama is hoping to put in play this election year,” Cooper let an anonymous administration official (granted anonymity for no valid reason) say it was a good day for Obama.
Publicly, the White House treated the confrontation with Ms. Brewer with a scripted, and bland, retelling. “Political theater,” the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters aboard Air Force One to Denver.
But privately, one administration official, when asked on Thursday about the Wednesday confrontation, offered: “Let’s just say I don’t think yesterday was a bad day.”
The Washington Times provided a less promotional outlook for Obama in the aftermath of the tarmac tiff:
President Obama chose an unusual way to begin the campaign year in Arizona, where he hopes to reverse Democrats’ losing streak -- by getting into a highly public confrontation with the state’s Republican governor.
Mr. Obama’s encounter with Gov. Jan Brewer at the airport in Mesa, where she was photographed wagging her right index finger at the president, captured their tense relationship over immigration, border security and federal gun-running.