Jan Brewer, Arizona governor and forceful advocate of her state's controversial anti-immigration law, welcomed President Barack Obama in Phoenix with a handwritten letter and an intense conversation during which she pointed her finger at him.
According to news reports, Brewer was among a customary presidential receiving line on the tarmac as Obama descended the stairs of Air Force One on the second stop of his post-State of the Union tour.
According to the Washington Post, Brewer attempted to hand Obama an invitation to sit down with her to discuss "Arizona’s comeback" and to tour the US-Mexican border with her.
That’s when things went sour. Obama and Brewer had what reporters described as an “intense exchange,” with the Republican governor pointing her finger at the president and the two appearing to talk over each other.
The exchange ended when Obama abruptly walked away while Brewer appeared to be speaking, according to a summary provided by reporters in the media pool that shadows the president on his trips.
Afterward, Brewer told pool reporter from Politico that the president seemed upset about her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast," in which she criticizes Obama for opposing her law.
The reporter quoted Brewer to the press corps: "I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt.
"He didn't feel that I had treated him cordially. I said I was sorry he felt that way but I didn't get my sentence finished. Anyway, we're glad he's here. I'll regroup."
The LA Times quoted a White House official as saying: "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."
The president did not mention the dust-up at his next event at a new Intel factory outside Phoenix, the paper reported.
Brewer's book, published two months ago, details her conservative approach to dealing with the state’s illegal immigration challenges. Brewer warns in the book that illegal immigration and border security are not going away.
"Fueled by drugs and lawlessness, and abetted by federal indifference — or worse — Arizona's crisis is coming to the rest of America," she writes. "In fact, it's already here."
The Arizona Republic reported last fall that Brewer cast Obama in the book as "patronizing and condescending."
She portrayed the federal government as "out of control" and said that the president lectured her during a June 2010 meeting in the Oval Office, the newspaper reported.
Brewer reportedly later said of the tarmac encounter: "I thought we probably would’ve talked about the things that were important to him and important to me, helping one another. Our country is upside down. Arizona was upside down. But we have turned it around. I know again that he loves this country and I love this country."