The Cutline

Heated: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer confronts President Obama over book on immigration

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

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Brewer confronts President Obama in Phoenix on Jan. 26, 2012. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

Here's something you don't see every day: an elected official pointing a finger at the president.

But that's what happened Wednesday in Phoenix, when President Barack Obama arrived there as part of a post-State of the Union Western trip.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) confronted Obama on the tarmac shortly after he stepped off Air Force One, handing him a letter and engaging in a heated exchange with the president. The incident was captured by photographers and detailed by Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown in her pool report:

From: Carrie Budoff Brown
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 05:51 PM
To: Lewin, Jesse; Rangel, Antoinette N.
Subject: WH Pool 5 - meeting with Brewer

President Obama arrived in Phoenix at 3:15 pm local time, finding the chilly weather of Iowa giving way to sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s.

He stepped off Air Force One at 3:28 pm and was greeted by Gov. Jan Brewer. She handed him a handwritten letter in an envelope and they spoke intensely for a few minutes. At one point, she pointed her finger at him.

Afterwards, your pooler spoke with the governor.

"He was a little disturbed about my book, Scorpions for Breakfast. I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So."

Asked what aspect of the book disturbed him, Brewer said: "That he didn't feel that I had treated him cordially. I said I was sorry he felt that way but I didn't get my sentence finished. Anyway, we're glad he's here. I'll regroup."

On the letter, she said it was personal letter asking him to sit down with her to discuss the "Arizona comeback."

She said she "reiterated an invitation that I've extended to him before with regards to coming to arizona and going to the border with me." She said she would take him to lunch.

"We've had a remarkable comeback here and I want to share that with him."

She said the president brought up the book.

"I thought we probably would've talked about the things that were important to him and important to me, helping one another. Our country is upside down. Arizona was upside down. But we have turned it around. I know again that he loves this country and I love this country."

The White House offered a slightly different version on Wednesday's exchange.

According to administration officials, the clash stemmed from a June 2010 meeting Brewer had with Obama in the Oval Office. The president was perturbed that Brewer portrayed him as patronizing to her in the book. "He lectured me," she wrote.

On Thursday, Arizona Sen. John McCain came to Brewer's defense.

"Apparently [Louisiana Gov.] Bobby Jindal had a similar exchange with the President," McCain told Fox Business' Don Imus. "It is very well known he has a prickly personality and I think it has been displayed in both of those cases."

McCain added: "Jan Brewer is very concerned about the security on our border. I think it's a very legitimate concern."

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