White House says Obama presidential library only in the 'embryonic stages'

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 18, 2013 

The White House is pushing back against reports that planning for President Barack Obama's presidential library is well underway.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that "there isn't even an effort that exists yet" -- despite a New York Times story that says otherwise. The story says that early next year, "Obama advisers are expected to announce a search for a home for Mr. Obama’s foundation and library, a project that some of the president’s closest financial supporters estimate could cost more than $500 million."

But senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who in the NYT story was said to be "moving toward the action," and interested in leading the effort to showcase the Obama presidency, hotly dismissed the story at a Politico breakfast on Wednesday, saying the Times piece was "not very accurate."

Carney insisted that Obama "and everyone here is focused on advancing the president's agenda for his second term" and said talking about a prospective library was getting "ahead of ourselves."

Jarrett said planning was "absolutely in the embryonic stages," but she rejected a suggestion that she wants to be a part of it, saying she already has a full plate.

She also said Obama won't raise money for the effort while he's in the White House.

"He is not raising any money for it whatsoever, nor will he while he’s in office," she said.

At one point she suggested, "You can't believe everything you read, even when it's in the New York Times."


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