A Closer Look At The Obama-Brown Joint Press Conference


Unity between the United States and Great Britain - as well as between the two global leaders and the rest of the word - was the overarching theme of the joint press conference between President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The global economic recession dominated remarks and questions.

However, other issues were also clearly on the mind of the journalists covering the G20 summit and President Obama's first trip abroad....

  • There was a healthy does of flattery between the two powerful "friends":

    Prime Minister Brown congratulated President Obama on "the dynamism, the energy and, indeed, the achievements that you have been responsible for. He added that, "your first 70 days in office have changed America, and you've changed America's relationship with the world."

    "You're to be congratulated because you have shown extraordinary energy and leadership and initiative in laying the groundwork for this summit," Mr. Obama said. "All of us owe Prime Minister Brown an extraordinary debt of gratitude."

  • Both leaders noted their commitment to combat global warming:

    View Photos
    Photo Essay: The president's first full day in London.(AP)

    The prime minister said: "the United Kingdom and the United States are also embarked on a transition to becoming low-carbon economies, because the President and I share the conviction that green energy technologies will be the major driver of our future economic growth and we can create millions of green-collar jobs in the world for the future."

    Mr. Obama said: "We discussed two of the other long-term challenges that will define our times, which I will be focused on throughout my trip in Europe -- the need for global action to confront climate change and a renewed effort on behalf of nuclear nonproliferation."

  • On the potentially contentious issue of aid to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan:

    Brown said England would complement, "military action with defense, diplomacy, and development -- putting new resources into civilian support for the Afghan reconstruction.

    "In the days ahead we'll consult further with our NATO allies about training Afghan security forces, increasing our civilian support, and a regional approach that recognizes the connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakista," said Mr. Obama.

  • Mr. Obama noted that the negotiations will not be easy and that the United States will not be bullish:

    "I know that the G-20 nations are appropriately pursuing their own approaches, and as Gordon indicated, we're not going to agree on every point. I came here to put forward our ideas, but I also came here to listen, and not to lecture. Having said that, we must not miss an opportunity to lead," he said.

  • Both men were asked about "blame" and the financial crisis:

    Mr. Obama said, "at this point, I'm less interested in identifying blame than fixing the problem."

    Yet, he noted that "if you look at the sources of this crisis, the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that had taken place in the global financial system."

    Watch the leaders talk about blame and responsibility below:

    Brown took the opportunity to explain the nature of political blame.

    "I was in Brazil last week, and I think President Lula will forgive me for saying this -- he said to me, when I was leader of the trade unions, I blamed the government; when I became leader of the opposition, I blamed the government; when I became the government, I blamed Europe and America."

  • On the prospect of French President Sarkozy walking out of the G20 Summit if there are not stricter restrictions places on risky financial products, Brown said, "I'm confident that President Sarkozy will not only be here for the first course of our dinner, but will still be sitting as we complete our dinner this evening."

    Mr. Obama said, "…when you've got a bunch of heads of state talking, it's not visually that interesting…you know, the communiques are written in sort of dry language, and so there's a great desire to inject some conflict and some drama into the occasion."

  • Mr. Obama brushed aside a question about diminished American power:

    "I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline," he said.

  • Mr. Obama was also asked if he had any advice for his English counterpart, considering his "landslide" election:

    "The only advice I would give Gordon Brown is the same advice that I gave myself during the campaign and that I've been giving myself over the last three months," he said. "If every day you're waking up saying, how can I make the best possible decisions to create jobs, help young people imagine a better future, provide care to the sick or the elderly or the vulnerable, sustain the planet -- if those are the questions that you're asking yourself, then I think you end up doing pretty good."

  • And on possibly the most anticipated meeting of the day -- a visit with the Queen, Mr. Obama said, "I'm very much looking forward to meeting her for the first time later this evening. And as you might imagine, Michelle has been really thinking that through because I think in the imagination of people throughout America, I think what the Queen stands for and her decency and her civility, what she represents, that's very important."
  • Watch Katie Couric on the upcoming meeting between the Obamas and Her Royal Highness:

  • Amidst the global financial crisis, the two leaders also made time for light-hearted humor:

    Map: Obama's Trip
    A day-by-day guide to one of the most closely watched presidential trips in recent memory.

    Mr. Obama thanked not only Mr. and Mrs. Brown but also their children for their hospitality saying, "I had a chance to see their two sons and we talked about dinosaurs a little bit in between discussions of Afghanistan and Iran."

    Brown said, "I've benefited from Barack's advice not just about elections, but about fitness…not the treadmill of politics, but the treadmill that we're both on every day, the running machines, and how you can manage to do that when you're traveling around the world and going to different countries, and we've been exchanging ideas."

    Asked if he cared to weigh on the World Cup, the president politely declined.

    "I have had enough trouble back home picking my brackets for the college basketball tournament that's taking place there…up all kinds of controversy. The last thing I'm going to do is wade into European football. That would be a mistake. I didn't get a briefing on that, but I sense that would be a mistake," he said.

Here is the full transcript of the press conference.