BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – KAPOLEI, HAWAII – Hurry up and wait. That was the 7-hour experience that more than 100 credentialed journalists from around the world had on Sunday, November 13, while trying to get to and from the President Barack Obama’s press conference in Kapolei.
The President, who was in Hawaii to wrap up the week-long Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, was already attending meetings with 20 other world leaders at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in West Oahu.
Journalists were told to be at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu by noon if they wanted to attend the event. But once journalists arrived, they were told that check-in time was moved back an hour.
After being extensively screened by the U.S. Secret Service, including having all cameras, computers and cell phones sniffed by a service dog and hand checked by security officials, journalists boarded the shuttle buses, arriving at the hotel around 3:30 p.m.
No one was allowed to leave the bus for several minutes, but once seated in the press staging area on the lawn of the Ihilani, journalists waited more than an hour for the President to arrive.
When President Obama arrived, he spoke for about 6 minutes.
Then he read off the names of the nine White House correspondents allowed to ask one question each.
The White House Press Corp were all seated in the front row, which was reserved for them, while other reporters from around the world sat behind them.
The entire press conference lasted about 45 minutes.
No Hawaii journalists or foreign journalists were allowed to ask questions at the highly scripted event.
Several foreign journalists tried to shout out questions at the end, but they were dismissed.
Journalists finally arrived back at the convention center around 7 p.m., 7 hours later, without their questions answered.
So what did the President say?
He spoke about progress at APEC, including a network he set up with several other countries called the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” to improve trade and boost the sale of goods made in America or by other trade partners. The Chinese president, who attended APEC, is so far is refusing to participate.
APEC leaders also agreed on ways to promote so called “green growth” that they say the world needs for energy security, which include reducing tariffs on environmental goods and making it easier to export clean energy technologies.
The President said his administration also is redoubling its efforts to make sure regulations are encouraging – rather than discouraging – trade and job creation.
All of the APEC partners agreed to look for ways to expand the global economy at a faster pace.
The President used that opportunity to once again plug his controversial $447 billion American Jobs Act proposal now pending approval in Congress.
The President also answered questions about Iran’s nuclear threat, water boarding, his some times rocky relationship with the Chinese president, his off handed remarks about the Israeli prime minister, the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, and his decision not to any more comments made by GOP Presidential hopefuls until a GOP nominee is selected to oppose him in the 2012 presidential election.
Since residents and visitors were tied up for hours on the freeways and roadways throughout the island during APEC because of road closures related to shuttling dignitaries from the airport to Waikiki and West Oahu, the President thanked the public saying he realized they’d been tied in traffic jams “a little bit.”
The President, who held a $1,000 per plate campaign fundraiser at the Ihilani on Monday morning, remains in Hawaii until Tuesday.