Feb. 19, 2009
"The government is promoting bad behavior ... This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise your hand. President Obama, are you listening?"
Rick Santelli of CNBC, complaining from the Chicago Board of Trade about President Obama's mortgage-bailout plan, as traders urged him on
The relatively unknown CNBC correspondent quickly becomes a YouTube sensation and talk-show topic with his fiery remarks. A day later, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs decides to engage, dismissing Santelli's comments and calling him misinformed. "I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives, but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgages ... I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader then it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that."
Meanwhile, Obama heads up north for his first international trip since taking office, spending less than 24 hours in Canada. While there he talks trade, climate change and Afghanistan policy with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and meets with dignitaries on Parliament Hill. He also finds time to go gift-hunting in Ottawa, picking up Maple Leaf cookies, a keychain and other souvenirs for his daughters.
RNC Chair Michael Steele also starts showing up in the news, saying he's preparing an "off the hook" p.r. offensive to target urban minorities and young people and telling his critics to "stuff it."