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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 24, 2003

Press Gaggle with Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One En Route Canton, Ohio

9:45 A.M. EDT

MR. FLEISCHER: All right, let's begin. The President's day will begin when he arrives at the Timken Company, where he will have a meeting with small business owners and employees, and then make remarks. Timken Company is an international manufacturer of highly-engineered bearings, alloys, and specialty steels. It was founded in 1898. I have lots more background on the company if you want it.

The President's remarks will be about the importance of Congress passing his jobs and growth plan, and that means $550 billion, so that the economy gets the biggest boost it can, so that jobs can be created.

Following his speech at Timken the President will return to Air Force One where the President will do an interview with Tom Brokaw. The interview will air tonight, and then a much longer segment of the interview will air on a magazine-style show tomorrow night on NBC News.

Then the President will depart for Lima, where he will tour the Lima Army Tank Plant and make remarks at the plant. The President's remarks will focus on a message of thanks to the members of the Armed Forces who have helped to liberate Iraq and provide for America's security. And he will also give an update on the reconstruction efforts inside Iraq.

Q Do you have any background on the tank plant?


Q How many tanks they put out, that kind of thing.

MR. FLEISCHER: The Lima Tank Plant has served as a military manufacturer site in various capacities since 1942. It has 1.6 million square feet of production space spread across 47 buildings on 396 acres of land. Since 1979, it has manufactured over 10,000 track and wheel combat vehicles, including over 9,000 M-1 Abrams tanks, 400 Stryker wheel combat vehicles, the Army's newest fleet of light-armor combat vehicles, and 50 Wolverine heavy-assault bridge vehicles. This summer the plant will deliver 10 advance amphibious assault vehicle prototypes to the Marines.

At its peak production in 1986, the plant deployed 3,800 workers and produces 70 vehicles per month. Today the plant employs 600 workers and has a monthly production of 25 Abrams vehicles, one Wolverine and 26 Strykers. The work force is 80 percent union United Auto Workers and over 50 percent of the employees are veterans of the Armed Services.

Nine hundred vehicles from the Lima facility were deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, including 174 M-1/A-1 Abrams tanks deployed by the Marines, 253 M-1/A-1 tanks deployed by the 3rd Infantry Division of the Army, 353 M-1/A-2 Abrams tanks deployed by the 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, and 129 M-1/A-2 Abrams tanks deployed by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army.

Q What are the chances of getting transcripts of the interview or excerpts of the interview before it airs tonight?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm working to make that happen. I can't guarantee what the exact time will be, but I want to make that happen to provide transcripts of the interview in its entirety to the White House press corps.

Q -- or would that be after it airs tomorrow?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm working to make it happen today. We have several different moving pieces. He's going to do the interview in several phases. The main part of it will be an interview on Air Force One in between events. But there will be additional parts of it because they walk and talk and do those type of TV foo-foo things. So there will be additional parts of the tape. And so I'm just going to work to get that done. One part of it will be in the limo. And so I'm going to try to get it done as quick today as we can.

Q -- Voinovich to greet the President when he gets to Wright-Patterson? Is that it?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct. Senator Voinovich will greet the President upon arrival.

Q -- any time together, or is it just going to be a quick --

MR. FLEISCHER: I think at this point it's going to be a quick greeting.

Q Was he invited to the two events, Senator Voinovich?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, he was.

Q -- the problem? Is that --

MR. FLEISCHER: He had previously scheduled events.

Q -- he's not going to be there, right --

MR. FLEISCHER: Senator Voinovich will be there to greet the President. He was invited to attend the other events, of course; his staff informed us he had other previous plans.

Q Does that upset you at all?

MR. FLEISCHER: Of course not. It's typical.

Q -- will the President make his case to him at this little greeting?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think what you're going to see today is a continuation of the President making the case to the country -- and today he will make the case to the country in the state of Ohio. The President has a case to make and you will soon hear about the importance of passing as large a tax cut as possible, at least $550 billion, to create jobs. And that's the case that the President will make to all senators, to all congressmen, so they can muster a majority to pass it and sign it into law.

Q Ari, the $550 billion would create 1.4 million jobs -- is that the --

MR. FLEISCHER: You have a factsheet that has the figures on there. I don't want to do it off the top of my head, but I think you have that on the factsheet.

Q I'm just curious -- what would $350 billion -- how many jobs would $350 billion create? Have you guys made a calculation?

MR. FLEISCHER: What I recall from the Counsel of Economic Advisors -- and I want to reserve the right to correct the transcript on this -- what I recall is they estimated that it would be some either 350,000 or 450,000* fewer jobs to have a tax cut of $350 billion versus $550 billion.

Q What about the remarks on the war in Iraq. You mentioned recovery efforts -- this is something in particular the President is going to talk about?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President will give an update on reconstruction efforts inside Iraq.

Q Is he going to talk about the establishment of the Iraqi interim authority? Garner is talking about having at least ministries up and running next week.

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the President won't get into that level of specificity in his remarks.

Q And what about Iran? You talked about the warnings that we gave to the Iranians about activists infiltrating across the border. Have we heard back from the Iranians? Are we satisfied with what they said? What do we think of the continuing situation there?

MR. FLEISCHER: The message has been conveyed, and we will monitor Iraqi -- I mean, Iranian compliance with that message over time.

Q -- said something today about he thought that the Iranians were at least partially behind some of the anti-American demonstrations in southern Iraq. Is that your view of things?

MR. FLEISCHER: We know they're not there to stir up pro-American feelings. So we've communicated our message to them.

Q The reconstruction phase, obviously there's no more traditional combat going on in Iraq. What's stopping the President from, as early today, as saying hostilities are over?

* 425,000 jobs

MR. FLEISCHER: That will not be his message today. The President is doing just what he said. He'll await the word from the commanders in the field, and then he'll have more to say at that point.

Q The story in the Post says you're thinking about an address to the nation next week, in which you would declare victory and also talk about the economy. Is that -- can we take that to the bank?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, you know, the timing will be determined by the commanders in the field. We have always said that at the appropriate time the President will have more to say to the nation. And when he does, I think those remarks will really be focused on the war on in Iraq and the conclusion of the war, when the President feels the time is right to say that, based on the advice of his commanders. I'm not going to speculate about the timing of it.

Q Do you think it will be -- now that the war is over, we're going to focus on the economy speech?

MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I'm not going to engage in guess-work about a speech is not scheduled to be given, until the President receives that final word. So -- more on what it may include closer to whenever it may be. But the focus would be Iraq.

Q How soon after Franks gives him the word, gives us the word that hostilities have ended can we expect the President to address the nation?

MR. FLEISCHER: It depends, Ron. That could depend on logistics, it could depend on venue, it could depend on other events on the schedule.

Q You're not ruling out this happening next week, are you?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not discussing a potential time.

Q Anything on North Korea?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the discussions are scheduled for more talks and those will be ongoing and continue.

Q Are members of the Ohio delegation going to be there today? Senator DeWine or any other congressional members?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, there will be others there.

Q Will Senator DeWine be there, do you know?

MR. FLEISCHER: I know that -- I'd have to take a look at each event and see who's there. I don't know off the top of my head. It wouldn't surprise me; I think there will be others at the events.

There's one item, let me just bring to people's attention, that I caught this morning, just to let people know. For the upcoming summit of the G8, the President will be overnighting in France. There were never plans for him to overnight anywhere else -- just to correct one version I saw of facts this morning.

Q Where?

MR. FLEISCHER: Where in France? At the site of the summit.

Q What version? Where?

MR. FLEISCHER: In one newspaper this morning that said the President would not stay in France. That has never been in the cards. The plan has always been and will be for him to overnight at the site of the summit, which is France. Just so people have the facts.

Q You land in Geneva, don't you, to get to Evian? Maybe that's where that came from.

MR. FLEISCHER: The story actually dealt with -- some small item, where he will overnight.

END 9:58 A.M. EDT