Brewer defends herself, says not being "disrespectful"

Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Thursday defended her tense exchange with President Obama on an airport tarmac, saying she was "very gracious" to the president as he stepped off Air Force One in Phoenix Wednesday.

"I was trying to be very, very gracious. I respect the office of the president and I would never be disrespectful in, in that manner," Brewer said.

The exchange on the tarmac has received a lot of media coverage after reporters on the scene noticed an animated exchange that involved terse body language, including Brewer waving her finger at the president. What was said could not be heard.

The White House sought to downplay the incident. Spokesman Jay Carney called the media coverage of the tarmac exchange "overblown" and said "it's not a very big deal at all."

But Brewer conducted numerous media interviews about the exchange to say she did nothing wrong and called Mr. Obama "thin-skinned."

"I don't believe I was disrespectful," Brewer told CBS News, "I was in the middle of a sentence and he walked away."

During the meeting, Brewer handed the president an envelope; she said it was an invitation to lunch but refuses to release a copy of the contents.

Brewer said the president told her he was unhappy with how she depicted a previous White House meeting in her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast."

After the White House meeting in 2010, both Brewer and the president called the meeting "cordial." But in her book, she wrote that Mr. Obama was "lecturing" her like "a school kid."

This is not the first nor will it be the last time Mr. Obama and Gov. Brewer have engaged in heated exchanges. Both are preparing for a real fight with broad consequences at the Supreme Court. The Obama administration is challenging Arizona's tough immigration law SB 1070.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama renewed focus on immigration where he called for comprehensive immigration reform.

Sales of her book have skyrocketed since the exchange, reaching #14 on's bestseller list as of 7:12 p.m ET. Before the dust-up, it was #285,568.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for