Gibbs: Obama has spent ‘close to 20 direct hours’ on Afghan War, ‘Quite a bit of time’ pondering
Friday, October 30, 2009

MR. GIBBS: Again, we haven’t gotten into broad specifics on that yet.

On the first part, Jeff, you know, look, I think — I don’t — I used to have it calculated, I should just go back and do it, the number of hours that he has spent in these meetings is probably now — well, at the end of today will probably be getting close to 20 direct hours of his time. The group — the principals that meet with the President additionally take time to get the material ready, and are prepared to answer questions for the President, probably at least twice as much of that of the President’s time the principals have spent.

So obviously we — the President and his team have spent a pretty big chunk of time evaluating very, very closely each of these individual countries, their relationship together and their impact on the region.

At the conclusion of these meetings, he generally is off to the next thing. I think he has spent quite a bit of time after the meetings back in the office — back in his office, probably primarily in the Residence at night, going back and reading through his notes, as well as — notes that he’s taken on the meetings, and oftentimes will come out with questions that the team will prepare the answers for, for the next meeting.

Q–Early yesterday morning when he was in Dover and met with the families, the families said that he asked, is there anything we can do for the families. And the mother of — Dona Griffin, a mother of the last of the dignified transfers, said that she told the President, “Don’t leave our troops hanging.” When he walks into the Situation Room right about now, does he have any sense that the time he’s taking to make these decisions is leaving those troops hanging?

MR. GIBBS: Again, to go back through what’s happened, the President believed that additional forces were needed in March and he added them to get us to a point where we could evaluate the outcome of the election. That obviously has been delayed a little bit, but he believes this is a point in which it’s necessary to fully assess where we are. I don’t believe the President thinks — I know he doesn’t believe that this assessment is in any way doing that. I think he understands and I think, as you heard him say yesterday in the Oval Office, I think his commitment, particularly after going to a place like Dover, is to understand the full cost of the war.

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