Administration

White House on Obama drinking Flint water: ‘The man was just thirsty’

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President Obama wasn’t trying to pull a stunt when he took a sip of Flint, Mich., water during a speech there Wednesday, his top spokesman says. 
 
“At the speech, the man was just thirsty,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday. 
 
{mosads}Media members covering the president’s Flint were surprised Obama sampled the water, which has been contaminated by lead. 
 
Ahead of the trip, Earnest telegraphed that Obama would not stage a photo op drinking the Flint water, despite calls from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and others to do so in order to demonstrate that filtered city water is safe to drink. 
 
But Obama took his first sip of water after a 90-minute briefing from state and federal officials from the city water crisis. 
 
Earnest noted it was a reporter who cajoled Obama to drink the city’s tap water.
 
“Generally I haven’t been doing stunts, but here you go,” Obama told the media before drinking from a glass. 
 
“I would acknowledge the president was indulging the photographers in which he consumed water from Flint after the briefing with federal officials,” Earnest said.
 
Later in the day, a coughing fit caused Obama to pause his speech at Northwest Community High School. But the president did not have a beverage on his podium, as usual, to clear his throat, Earnest said. 
 
“Can I get some water?” Obama said, drawing applause from the crowd. “Come on up here. Give me some water. I want a glass of water. …  Let’s make sure we find one. It will be filtered.”
 
After a few minutes passed, aides brought Obama a glass of water. 
 
“Now, the reason I know I’m okay is because I already had some Flint water,” the president said after taking a sip. “There we go. I really did need a glass of water. This is not a stunt.”
 
Flint has been the focus of national attention after revelations the city’s water supply had been contaminated by toxic levels of lead. 
Tags Barack Obama Flint water crisis Josh Earnest
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