Michigan gov to meet with Obama in Flint

Michigan gov to meet with Obama in Flint
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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will meet President Obama when he visits Flint on Wednesday, in an encounter that seemed unlikely a few days ago. 

Snyder will greet Obama on the tarmac at Bishop Airport in the Michigan city and participate in a briefing with the president and federal officials about the local water contamination, his office said Tuesday.

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“The governor is pleased to meet with the president to help explain the efforts underway by the state to help the people of Flint recover,” Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said in an email. 

Snyder will also stress "the need for additional and ongoing federal support to address the initial failure at all levels of government."

Obama also plans to meet with Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D) separately during his one-day visit, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

The governor initially appeared to brush off the possibility of a meeting with Obama.

“I’ve got a pretty full schedule next week,” he told The Detroit News last week.

But Monday, he said he hoped to sit down with the president and Weaver as part of his own visit to evaluate the water crisis.

Republican governors often avoid the president when he visits their states. But Snyder’s move comes amid pressure from state and local officials to secure more federal aid for Flint, which is struggling to update its water infrastructure after widespread contamination sickened residents and made the water unusable.

Under state supervision in 2014, the city changed its water supply to the Flint River as a cost-saving move. But the water wasn't properly treated to travel through lead pipes, and the toxic metal leached into the supply.

Obama will receive a briefing from federal officials at a local food bank, hold a roundtable discussion and deliver a speech to Flint residents at the city's Northwest High School, Earnest said.

The spokesman on Monday took a jab at Snyder about his sudden interest in meeting with Obama.

“I guess his schedule got a little freed up, huh?” Earnest said. 

But he added the White House is “pleased” that Snyder would be in Flint and noted “it’s traditional for the president, when he travels to a state, to invite the governor to at least greet him on the tarmac.”

The spokesman indicated Obama won’t announce any major new federal assistance for Flint but would highlight what his administration is already doing to help Flint obtain clean drinking water. 

That includes 7.3 million liters of water, as well as 55,000 water and pitcher filters distributed to local communities and about 250,000 replacement cartridges. 

This story was updated at 1:33 p.m.