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Obama exchanges words with Gov. Jan Brewer at Arizona airport

Greeting him upon his arrival, Brewer hands Obama a handwritten letter and the two engage in an intense conversation. She says he objected to her book's depiction of a 2010 meeting between them.

January 26, 2012|By Christi Parsons, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Phoenix — President Obama's warm reception in sunny Arizona lasted about as long as it took to step off Air Force One and greet Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday.

Brewer, champion of her state's controversial anti-illegal-immigration law, welcomed Obama on the tarmac at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport with a handwritten letter and an intense conversation during which, at one point, she pointed at him.

According to pool reporters who were present, Obama and Brewer seemed to be talking at the same time, seemingly over each other, until he walked away mid-sentence.

Brewer told pool reporter Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico that the president seemed upset about her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast," in which she criticizes Obama and defends the state's immigration law.

"He was a little disturbed about my book," Brewer told Brown. "I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So ..."

Obama was objecting to the governor's account of a meeting he and Brewer had at the White House, in which she described him as lecturing her, the Associated Press reported.

"I felt a little bit like I was being lectured to, and I was a little kid in a classroom, if you will, and he was this wise professor and I was this little kid, and this little kid knows what the problem is, and I felt minimized to say the least," she said of the 2010 meeting in a television interview two months ago.

She also objected to the way Obama treated her when he gave the commencement address at Arizona State University in 2009. "He did blow me off at ASU," she said in the interview.

Brewer's envelope contained a handwritten invitation for Obama to return to Arizona, have lunch with her and come with her to the border.

"I said to him, you know, I have always respected the office of the president and that the book is what the book is," she told reporters after the confrontation. She said Obama complained that she had described him as not treating her cordially.

"I said that I was sorry that he felt that way. Anyway, we're glad he's here, and we'll regroup," she said.

A White House official offered this take on the tarmac encounter:

"The governor handed the president a letter and said she was inviting him to meet with her. The president said he'd be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book."

cparsons@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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