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Valerie Jarrett on Kim Davis: ‘Obviously, We Believe Strongly in Religious Freedom’

Reacting to Kim Davis spending time in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said “public officials have to comply with the law.”


Jarrett was asked if she was surprised Davis reportedly met with Pope Francis.

“Obviously, we believe strongly in religious freedom and we also believe that public officials have to comply with the law and they have to comply with the Constitution,” Jarrett said at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday.

“We had a terrific visit with the pope. He and the president share common values, their priorities, everything from climate change to equality and justice and providing opportunities to those who are less fortunate,” she added.

In response to a question about GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, Jarrett hesitated to answer at first.

“Really what resonates with people is a spirit of hopefulness. We have a great country,” she said. “We have the greatest country on Earth and I don’t think we should ever tear it down – that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges ahead and that doesn’t mean there isn’t great room for improvement. As I mentioned before, there’s still a lot of hard work ahead.”

Jarrett applauded Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for correcting a woman during the 2008 campaign who said then-Sen. Obama was “an Arab.” In the discussion on stage at the forum, moderator Andrea Mitchell of NBC News mentioned the man who made similar comments in a question to Trump at one of his campaign events.

“What he [McCain] did was really, I thought, excellent. It sent a really important message. It’s OK to disagree with someone, but name-calling is something you’re supposed to stop when you’re much, much younger,” Jarrett said.

Based on what she has heard privately, Jarrett said Vice President Joe Biden has not made up his mind yet about running for president.


“He doesn’t know what we wants to do. He had a devastating loss. I can’t even image as a parent what he’s going through,” she said. “I think it’s reasonable for him to say, ‘Look, I need a moment to decide whether I can do this, whether my family can do this, whether I have the fight in me at this moment in time to enter the race’ and I think we should all give him the time to figure it out on his own.”

Jarrett said Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton running against each other would be good for the Democratic Party.

“Let’s see who ends up in the race and of course whoever wins the nomination, that’s who the president will support in the next election,” she said. “An embarrassment of riches in the Democratic Party is always a good thing, having great candidates is always a healthy thing.”

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