Brewer's finger-wag: A publicity stunt? - CBS 5 - KPHO

Brewer's finger-wag: A publicity stunt?

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Thursday she doesn't believe she was being disrespectful to President Barack Obama after she was captured in a photo waving her finger in his face.

"I was taken aback because I was trying to talk about jobs and the economy and he chose to turn it against my book and I was caught off guard," Brewer said during a visit to Bullhead City nearly 24 hours after the incident.

The two leaders could be seen engaged in an intense conversation at the base of Air Force One's steps upon his arrival to the Valley on Wednesday.

The governor says she was just trying to give the president a hand written letter and invite him for a tour of the border. But the White House painted a different picture, claiming the president told the governor she had inaccurately described their meeting in her book, Scorpions for Breakfast.

[Click to read Gov. Brewer's hand written letter (PDF)]

When asked if it was a publicity stunt for her book, the governor said, "Absolutely not. I was there to greet him and tell him about the Arizona economy. I don't know anything about my book numbers. And I'm animated, I talk with my hands."  

Since the incident, Amazon says sales of her book have increased nearly 1.5 million percent.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, weighing in on the incident, said in a statement that  Brewer "chose to engage in political theater."

"She chose to put partisan bickering over civility and respect. This is an all-too-common occurrence at Arizona's capitol. Disagreement is part of a democracy, but disrespect is not," Campbell said.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was among the people close enough to overhear the exchange between the governor and Obama. 

Stanton said the photo is drawing attention away from something truly positive in Arizona. 

"The president wanted to make a point that there are companies doing the right thing in this country, and so his point was really to highlight that," Stanton said. "So it is unfortunate that that message probably is getting lost in translation."

"My own personal opinion is at the time the president arrives, that's a time for diplomacy; that's a time to be an ambassador for everyone," Stanton added.

Chandler's vice mayor is getting flack for criticizing the president even before he stepped off Air Force One and then not attending the event.

Jeff Weninger responded on Facebook, saying, "I made a mistake assuming the president would take credit for it. I am sorry for that," referring to his statement earlier this week, claiming Obama would take credit for Intel's success. "I believe I was respectful in my comments with the exception of my wrong assumption. I don't feel that I have an obligation to go to an event that I believe will be political in nature."

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