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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 29, 2002

Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

9:50 A.M. CDT

MR. MCCLELLAN: Good morning. The President had his usual intelligence briefings before departing the ranch this morning.

Upon arrival in Oklahoma City, he will have -- there will be a USA Freedom Corps service recognition, Herbert Rettke. He is a retired infantry sergeant major and a retired U.S. Postal Service carrier who has been a full-time volunteer, since retiring, for the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center, and has worked approximately 12,000 hours as a volunteer.

Following that, the President will participate in a fundraising reception for Steve Largent for Governor and the reelection for Senator Inhofe's campaign. The luncheon is expected to raise $500,000. Half of that will go to the Largent for Governor Campaign and the rest will go to the Inhofe Oklahoma Victory 2002 Committee.

Then we will depart Oklahoma City for Little Rock, where the President will begin by participating in a back-to-school roundtable. And following the roundtable -- and Secretary Paige will be with us. Oh, and by the way, Senator Inhofe is on the plane today, you probably saw him.

Secretary Paige will be there as well. And then the President will make remarks on his -- will highlight the important new improvements that are taking place in schools across America as a result of the historic bipartisan education reforms that were passed by Congress, and that focus on insisting on results and real accountability, high standards, and give states unprecedented flexibility, as well as parents more information and better options in determining how best to educate their children.

You also have the fact sheet where the President will announce a new state scholars initiative, modeled after the successful Texas Scholars program. This is to encourage high school students to take more rigorous high school courses so they will be better prepared for post high school, whether it's college, work force training, what have you.

Q How much money they're getting --

MR. MCCLELLAN: There will be five states that will be chosen for this pilot program, including Arkansas, and they will be funded with $2.4 million out of the Department of Education's existing funds.

Q Do you know what the other four states are?

MR. MCCLELLAN: They will be chosen by October 15th. So we haven't announced all the states yet.

Following the remarks on education reforms, the President will participate in a fundraising reception for Senator Hutchinson's reelection campaign and that is expected to raise $600,000 for the reelection campaign, as well as the Arkansas Republican party, and I don't know how that is split up.

And one other announcement, and then I'll take questions. And I think this may have already gone out from our OMB office. The President is asking Congress to provide $825 million in emergency funds to extinguish the fires that have devastated much of America. And the emergency funding is in addition to the fiscal year 2003 request for fire suppression which is almost $200 million above the '02 base level. I just wanted to --

Q How much in 2003?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Fiscal year 2003, we have asked for an additional $200 million above the fiscal year 2002 level. And I don't know --

Q The $825 million is $200 million over fiscal 2003?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Fiscal 2003. And that's all the announcements and information I have. With that, I'm happy to take questions.

Q Are we kind of at the last round of fundraisers the President is doing?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I expect there will be a few more. But, as Ari noted, there will also be a shift in effort to the get out the vote for the fall elections as well. But I do expect there will be some more in the next few weeks.

Q Is there anybody at the White House, up to and including the President, at all involved in trying to settle the dispute -- the baseball dispute?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No. As the President has said, well, and as an avid fan of our national pastime, the President would be furious if there is a strike. The President believes very strongly that owners and players need to come together and resolve their differences.

Q He and the White House isn't involved to try to bring them together.

MR. MCCLELLAN: The owners and players need to come together and resolve their differences. And the President, like fans all across America, would be furious if they decide to strike.

Q And he sees no federal role in this?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, this is something that owners and players need to resolve.

Q Is there anything about Monday's event in Pittsburgh?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Not yet. We'll preview that -- we'll preview that closer in to that event. But it will focus on the economy and jobs. We'll preview it when it gets a little closer to it.

Q Are we going to see the President at all tomorrow or Saturday?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't expect any public events for the rest of the weekend.

Q -- Saturday?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I certainly want to follow my football team that opens its season that day. I hope everybody else -- everybody here enjoys their last weekend in Crawford.

Q What's your take on the New York Times story involving a decision to notify Congress and perhaps go to the U.N. on Iraq?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think it's premature to speculate about -- premature to speculate because the President has made no decision about any particular course of action. As he has said and made clear, we will consult with Congress, we will consult with our friends and allies as we move forward, and Congress has an important role to play. We've said that. Congress has an important role to play. But, of course, if -- when the President makes a decision about any particular course of action, Congress, the public, our friends and allies will be involved.

Q Will we have a chance to talk to the President today?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't expect -- I don't expect any opportunity.

Q Does the President support delivering any intelligence information, classified information, to Congress if it helps build the case against Iraq?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, this is jumping ahead, because no decision has been made at this point. But the Vice President also made it very clear earlier this week that we look forward to participating in the hearings and working with Congress.

Q Is it possible the President would like to come back and talk about Iraq and the baseball strike?


Q If you could put in a request, we would appreciate it.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Anything else?

Q Thank you.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Thank you all.

END 10:00 A.M. CDT