Valerie Jarrett said President Obama isn’t planning on driving an hour up the road to Baltimore because he’d just be an “enormous distraction” as protests continue.
Obama was previously criticized for not going to Ferguson, Mo., after rioting broke out in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.
“Right now we’re trying to ensure that there is peaceful, and opportunity for peaceful demonstrations. We had a very difficult night a couple of nights ago and everybody from the local law enforcement to the state are all working to try to keep the peace. And when the president arrives on the scene, he’s an enormous distraction, and pulls resources away from where they need to be. So for the time being, he won’t go,” Jarrett told MSNBC today.
“But he’s certainly keeping up with what’s going on. I’ve spoken to the governor and the mayor every day. He spoke to the governor and the mayor on Monday. Our attorney general sent her top people out there to sit down and meet with the mayor and local leaders to see what they could do to help provide the kind of technical assistance, that’s so important at a time like this, to defuse the situation and not ignite it.”
Jarrett cited “thousands and thousands of people on the streets of Baltimore who are — love their community, want to protect their community, want to improve the relationship between the police and the community that they’re there to serve, and we should hold that up and celebrate that.”
She also defended Obama’s statement on the riots in the Rose Garden this week during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Whether he’s physically on the streets of Baltimore or speaking here, very eloquently from the Rose Garden, I think his message was one which really resonated broadly around the country, and that is that we do need to be talking about these issues. And we don’t need to simply talk about them when we have a tragedy, such as this one, and you see people pouring out into the streets. The same thing happened last summer in Ferguson and Staten Island and Ohio and around our country,” Jarrett said.
“And I think it’s an expression of an underlying simmering frustration that’s out there that we need to do something about. And the president has talked very clearly about his agenda to have a middle class economic strategy that grows the middle class and provides ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. And until we meet those challenges head on, we’re going to continue to have challenges. And that’s what he wants to talk about.”