President Joe Biden might walk the streets of the city with locals during his visit to Northern Ireland and Ireland — but he won’t be giving a formal press conference, the White House confirmed en route.
“There will be no press conference on this trip,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said as she traveled with the president aboard Air Force One.
She was asked if the White House had changed its plans after reporters spent days trying to get a definitive answer on whether he would have such a formal availability.
One reason for the push, aside from the fact that Biden hasn’t done one in weeks, is the hybrid nature of the trip. Jean-Pierre acknowledged that it is both an official trip for the president and a personal trip back to his ancestral homeland for the first time as president.
“The president is very much looking forward to this trip, for personal reasons, but also for work reasons,” she said. (On the professional side, Biden will be speaking on the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
We are family: Biden was joined on Air Force One by his son Hunter Biden and his sister Valerie Biden Owens. He will not hold a press conference during his trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland
The personal aspects were emphasized by the people Biden took in tow — not to mention the itinerary. He was accompanied by sister Valerie Biden Owens and son Hunter Biden. Biden’s previous trip to Ireland, as vice president in 2016, also included a bunch of Bidens.
A question Biden will probably get asked often is: Do you remember me? The President intends to meet with a collection of descendants of the Finnegans of eastern County Louth and the Blewitts of western County Mayo. He connected with many of them on a trip in 2016 when he was vice president. Some are third cousins or even more distantly related. Some have photos commemorating the last time he was here.
Jean-Pierre kept her cards handy when asked which close relatives would be with the president during the trip — he only confirmed the pair after they were already pictured boarding the plane.
“I can confirm that his sister Valerie Biden, Owens, is traveling. I can confirm that Hunter Biden is also traveling,” she said. It was not immediately clear whether more family members would arrive.
While Jean-Pierre may not have had the answer reporters were looking for when asked about a press conference, she did come armed with information.
“The president is very much looking forward to this trip, for personal reasons, but also for work reasons,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary.
Follow-up questions. Aoibhinn Brennan (12), and her father Shane, of Lordship, Co. Louth, outside Fitzpatrick’s Pub & Restaurant in Jenkinstown, Co Louth, where she and her five-year-old father met then-Vice President Biden during his 2016 visit
Brick wall: The White House has finally said definitively that the president will not hold a press conference during the trip. Biden will visit Carlingford Castle in Ireland
The White House was careful about announcing which Bidens will be traveling
“Look, as you know, the president regularly answers questions from the press informally, including in different locations, in different formats,” she said, referring to the times Biden answers shouted questions or speaks briefly to reporters while traveling or leaving of events.
“Just before he got into Air Force One, he answered about five very news questions for all of you, which I think was very important for all of you and also for the American people to hear directly from him.
“I said yesterday I called you all that we actually had some data to share. It’s more than President Trump. It’s more than Obama put together. We are happy to share that I just let you know. So it’s more than President Trump and Obama combined, or President Obama and George W. Bush. And here you go. To your question, he answered more than 320 questions, not to mention more formal press conferences and interviews,” she said.
When Biden met with President Alberto Fernández of Argentina at the White House last month, he didn’t hold a “two and two” press conference that would allow room for a few questions from both sides.
When asked on Monday whether Biden would hold a press conference, Jean-Pierre tried to place some of the blame on the hosts.
“So when it comes to two-plus-two or something like that, it’s clearly not just us, but the country we’re visiting,” she said. “But as for a standalone press conference, I just don’t have anything to share at the moment.”
Biden held a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa last month. According to Mark Knoller of CBSit was his 11th with a foreign leader.
He has held a dozen solo press conferences as president.