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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 16, 2003

Press Gaggle with Ari Fleischer

9:34 A.M. EDT

MR. FLEISCHER: Today, of course, the President will visit Andrea Foods in New Jersey. The President is going to talk about the economy and the fact that growth and the stimulus plan that he passed is helpful to small business. Here at this facility, the President is going to hear about plans to purchase new machinery, thanks to the expensing provision that has been put in the law that is now -- actually, we're seeing increasing evidence of small businesses using this expensing provision to buy more equipment, which helps stimulate the economy, both at the retail level, as well as the manufacturing level. Still early indications, but nevertheless, first word is good.

Then the President will return to Washington. He has some briefings on his schedule, but no other events today in Washington. And that's all I have for you.

Q What do they make? I know it's food, but what sort of food, do you know?

MR. FLEISCHER: Pasta. They're a pasta manufacturing -- in 1964, Andrea Foods was started by Italian immigrants, Andrea and Dorothy -- Doro Savignano as a neighborhood delicatessen specializing in homemade pasta. The company incorporated in 1977, and now produces a wide variety of frozen pastas, including ravioli, manicotti, stuffed shells, and lasagna. It's now run by Andrea and Doro's children, Michael and Rose Marie. Andrea Foods sells to the community, local supermarkets and the food service industries.

And then following his meeting, he'll deliver remarks to the New Jersey business community on the Jobs and Growth Act.

Q How many employees?

Q Is that it, just that?

MR. FLEISCHER: The briefing material does not have the number of employees.

Q Do you hear Torie Clarke resigned today?

MR. FLEISCHER: I had not heard that.

Q This morning.

MR. FLEISCHER: I had not heard that.

Q Did you know it was coming?

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm a big Torie fan, and --

Q She cited personal reasons, though I don't know if --

Q -- (inaudible.)

MR. FLEISCHER: No, that's Joe Torre -- watch it. (Laughter.)

Q She has been rumored for your job.

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think she, right away, said that she wasn't interested in my job, proving how smart she is. Torie is great. Torie is wonderful at what she does. She served our country very well at times of very serious military activity, two wars. And I look forward to talking to Torie. Presumably, what you say is accurate -- I have no reason to think otherwise. I can tell you this: the White House will miss her, I will miss her, the President will miss her. She served our nation well.

Q On your job, why is it taking so long to announce a successor? Are you irreplaceable, or is there some --

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm easily replaceable. (Laughter.) In fact, I'm so easily replaceable, I thought about staying behind in Maine this morning, it was such a beautiful day.

Q Seriously, is the answer going to be soon or --

MR. FLEISCHER: It's just a question of whenever the various parties want to make it known publicly.

Q Today's speech, is it a political speech?

MR. FLEISCHER: No. It's about jobs, growth, the economy. And the President speaks -- that's the focus of the remarks. We'll see, he may want -- he'll talk about whatever he feels like talking about, foreign or domestic.

Q Any comments on the Middle East this morning? On the Egyptian mediation?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President's message is that the best security comes from the Israelis and Palestinians working together to fight terror. There are threats to the Israelis, threats to the Palestinians; they come principally from Hamas and from the other groups of a rejectionist nature, a rejectionist front, who have no interest in peace, who do not support creation of a Palestinian state, and who represent a threat to the Palestinian people, who deserve a better way of life.

Make no mistake; Hamas is an enemy to the reformists in the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian people, who deserve a state.

Q Did he talk to anybody this morning -- any of his principals?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, he's talked to people back in Washington. He has not had any foreign leader calls --

Q (inaudible.)


Q Anything new, anything changed?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think what the President said yesterday stands today.

All right, enjoy your napkins. (Laughter.)

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