The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 27, 2002

Press Gaggle with Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Denver, Colorado

9:53 A.M. MDT

MR. FLEISCHER: Let's go. Okay. The President had his intelligence briefings at the ranch this morning, and the President, this morning from Air Force One, called the President of France. The President called him to thank the French people on behalf of the American people for their assistance in rescuing American students in the Ivory Coast. The President praised the French government for its actions and said the American people are grateful.

They also discussed the status of the resolution the President is seeking at the United Nations. The President reiterated his desire to work with the United Nations to have a firm and effective outcome as a result of the discussions. The President appreciated the chance to consult with the President of France.

The President will make remarks at the Bob Beauprez for Congress luncheon in Colorado. The event is expected to raise a total of $1.7 million, with $1.2 million going to the state party.

In Arizona, the President will participate in the airport welcome, and then he will make remarks at the Rick Renzi for governor* and Matt Salmon for governor dinner. At this event, the President is expected to raise $2.1 million, with $1.2 million going to the party, $200,000 going to the Renzi campaign, $700,00 going to the Salmon campaign.

Finally, the President is very pleased with the additional progress that has been made on the language for the resolution in the Congress to authorize the use of force concerning Iraq. The President is optimistic that America's resolve to deal firmly with Saddam Hussein will soon be echoed in the Congress. The President appreciates the actions that have been taken by all the leaders involved. * Renzi for Congress

He hopes that, now that the House has voted on homeland security and intends to vote on the matter vis a vis Iraq, he hopes that the Senate will vote on his proposal, his compromise, Democrats and Republicans -- working with Democrats and Republicans alike -- the President hopes the Senate will vote on that compromise homeland security proposal prior to proceeding to the Iraq vote. The President thinks it's important that the four weeks of debate come to a conclusion; they've debated it long enough.

Q When you say additional progress on the language, what do you mean? When he's talking about additional progress, what is he referring to?

MR. FLEISCHER: The talks on Capitol Hill involving Democrats and Republicans at the leadership level have proceeded very productively throughout the week. And the administration, in an effort to listen to some of the thoughts that we had heard from members of Congress, made several changes in the resolution that had been sent up to the Hill last week. And those changes have been well-received in most quarters, and additional progress has been made. I know that Senator Daschle has cleared the calendar for debate on this, beginning at the end of next week. So the legislative mechanisms are falling into place for the debate to begin, and progress has been made on the resolution.

That's why I said the President is optimistic that the resolve of the American people to deal firmly with Saddam Hussein will soon be echoed in the United States Congress.

Q Are you talking primarily about the language changes that have been reported widely today, or are you talking about something in addition to that?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, I'm talking about what you -- and I think what the administration circulated yesterday up to the Hill recognizing the consultations with the Congress has been publicly shared. You have it.

Q On the French call, Ari, France and China seem to be lining up behind a two-step U.N. resolution. The United States and Britain are favoring a one-step. Is there room for compromise? How do you bridge that gap? And did they talk about that issue?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President continues to believe that it has to be firm and effective, that the resolution has to make clear that Saddam Hussein is in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions; that the resolution has to make clear what Iraq needs to do to come into compliance, and the resolution has to make clear what will happen if Iraq does not come into compliance.

Q That sounds like a one-step that --

MR. FLEISCHER: That's what the President --

Q So you're going to hold out for that?

MR. FLEISCHER: I just leave it as I described it.

Q He favors the one-step, doesn't he? I mean, that's his preference, is it not?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President supports a resolution that has all three of those components I just outlined -- component one, declaration that Iraq is not in compliance; two, stating clearly what Iraq needs to do to come into compliance; three, stating what will happen if Iraq does not come into compliance.

Q All in a single resolution, right?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm sorry?

Q All in a single resolution, all three components --

MR. FLEISCHER: That's what the President thinks has to be in a resolution, correct.

Q Gore said the war on terrorism has -- through the war on terrorism the administration has been attacking civil liberties.

MR. FLEISCHER: (Laughter.) You know, it's hard to pay attention to what Al Gore says because it's so hard to know what Al Gore really believes, given how many times he's changed his position on Iraq. In 1991, he praised President Bush -- former President Bush -- publicly for not going on to Baghdad and for not continuing --

Q He's not talking about Iraq.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- not continuing the military action. In his speech the other day, he said he was personally offended that the former President didn't bring the war to Baghdad. My point is that Al Gore changes his story and his tune so often on so many different issues that it's not an effective use of time to pay much attention to what he says.

Q Do you disagree that the administration is attacking civil liberties in its war on terrorism?

MR. FLEISCHER: Of course. The charge is without merit.

Q What about Gephardt talking more about the politicization of the war in Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President urges no one to politicize this debate. This is a very serious matter, and it needs to be handled seriously by everybody. The country will benefit from a healthy and civil discussion of this. And the President thanks Congressman Gephardt for his leadership in working to get a successful resolution completed.

Q Ari, some Democrats are calling for pushing the resolution until after the elections. Is the President ruling that out as an option?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President has clearly said, and the Congress is already moving to pass a resolution before they leave for the year.

All right. Thanks everybody.

END 10:00 A.M. MDT

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