PHOENIX - President Obama's warm reception in sunny Arizona on Wednesday lasted about as long as it took him to step off Air Force One and greet Gov. Jan Brewer.
Brewer, champion of her state's controversial anti-immigration law, welcomed Obama on the tarmac with a handwritten letter and an intense conversation in which, at one point, she pointed her finger at him.
That moment was captured in a photograph quickly and widely posted on news sites. But the governor said that, whatever the picture looks like, she was not acting in anger.
"I've always been kind of animated," she told Capitol Media Services late Wednesday night. "We could have been talking about a lot of different things," Brewer continued, saying she respects the office of the president. "And I would never be disrespectful in that manner."
According to pool reporters who were present Wednesday afternoon, Obama and Brewer seemed to be talking at the same time, seemingly over each another, until he walked away in mid-sentence.
"I started off talking about jobs and the economy," Brewer said late Wednesday of the meeting on the tarmac of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
"And he changed the subject to my book. He was a little bit disenchanted about how he was portrayed," she said, though Brewer said the president admitted to reading only "excerpts" of "Scorpions for Breakfast." She characterized his reaction as being "thin-skinned."
A White House official offered this take on the encounter: "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."
After the rocky beginning, Obama's visit went as planned. He used cranes, earthmoving equipment and a computer-chip maker's massive plant-construction project in Chandler as a backdrop to hammer home his ideas for boosting American manufacturing and improving the economic prospects of Americans.
The president said Intel's $5 billion project to build a high-volume semiconductor factory in Chandler represents the type of high-tech jobs the country needs and an America that makes products used around the world.
"We have got to come together and restore the basic American promise," Obama told several thousand people there as he promoted his idea to eliminate tax incentives that make it more attractive for companies to ship jobs overseas.
While the economic struggles of Americans were at the heart of Obama's speech - not attended by Brewer, the president didn't comment on the state's own economic woes and its struggling housing market.
With steel framing from the factory construction in the background, the president said Americans want financial security so they can support their families, help their kids get through college and sock away enough money to retire with dignity.
"We have to renew American values - fair play, shared responsibility," Obama said.
The president's three-hour stop in metro Phoenix briefly put Arizona into the spotlight of presidential politics.
Democrats say the state, known for conservatism, will fall into their column during this presidential election cycle. Republicans maintain the state is still solidly Republican.
Earlier in the day on a visit to Iowa, Obama jogged, grinning, to a rope line of a couple dozen supporters.
"Our economy is getting stronger, and we've come too far to turn back now," he said in Cedar Rapids.