Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 3, 2003
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route New York, New York
10:23 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning, everybody. Let me run through the President's day and make a couple other announcements, and then remind me at the end and I'll do the week ahead.
The President began his morning in a meeting with Bernard Kerik, and you will have the remarks from that meeting soon. They talked about it out on the South Lawn upon departure. They were discussing the progress we're making on the security front in Iraq. Specifically, they talked about the Iraqi police force and how there's some 40,000 Iraqis in the police force now. And they talked about how tomorrow there will be 750 Iraqis graduating as part of the new Iraqi army.
One thing of particular note, is what the President pointed put, that Jordan will be involved in the training of Iraqi police officers. So that's part of a broader international participation, it's part of helping the Iraqis assume more and more responsibility and it's part of improving the security situation in Iraq, as well.
The President, upon landing, will be meeting with small business owners. Following that, he will be making remarks on the economy, focusing on small business, which is the backbone of our economy and talking about the importance of job creation. I think there are more than a thousand small business owners and employees and entrepreneurs and others that he will be speaking to. Following that, the President has remarks at a Bush-Cheney luncheon.
Then this evening he will participate in the 3rd Annual National Book Festival, both a performance and a dinner. Mrs. Bush is the host for the Book Festival, as you will recall, and it's sponsored by the Library of Congress. This is to help promote reading, the importance of reading in America.
One other announcement. We have received another letter from the Department of Justice. This letter requests the production of certain materials -- I don't have the memo that was going out to staff yet, but we will be getting you a copy of that memo soon, as soon as we can.
Q The production of specific --
MR. McCLELLAN: The production of certain -- of specific materials that they are requesting.
Q Do you know how it expands or elaborates on what we've already seen and --
MR. McCLELLAN: We will be sending this out to our staff shortly, and we will get it to you approximately at the same time, if not even a little bit -- right as we're getting that out to the staff.
Q When was it received?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was received last night, and it's going out to staff this morning.
Q I'm sorry, Scott, I'm not sure how it's -- what they're requesting is different than what's already been --
MR. McCLELLAN: You're going to see it here in a little bit. I'm just giving you advance notice that we'll be getting that to you as we get it to our -- to the White House staff. But, remember, the first letter requested that we preserve and maintain documents. This letter will now be requesting some specific material. So let --
Q It's not that they were unsatisfied with material they've received?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is what you would expect. The first step is to say, preserve and maintain material; and now --
Q And this is going to all the White House staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Is this going out only to White House staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: From our purposes, this is what was sent to White House Counsel last night, and it's going out to White House staff. I don't know what other agencies or departments -- what has been requested of other agencies and departments.
Q This is going out to all White House staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. The same -- well, let me -- I have not seen the actual letter yet. It's got specific requests in it and we'll get you that information when we send it out. So let me just make sure that that's the case, but that's my understanding.
Q Not having seen it, do you intend to comply? Do you see any reason why you might not comply, or object to anything in it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely. The President has directed everyone to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice. We want to get to the bottom of this, the sooner the better.
Q Any change on your position about a special counsel?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've already addressed that question, what, three days in a row now. It's the same today.
Q Unemployment held steady today. Is that a positive sign?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. I think, one, listen to the President's remarks. I expect you might find some comments of interest there. The September numbers were -- I saw the September numbers. That is positive news, but the President is not satisfied because there are still people who are looking for work who cannot find a job. So there is more to be done, and the President continues to urge action on his six-point plan to make health care more affordable, to reduce frivolous lawsuits, to pass a comprehensive energy plan, to expand trade, to make the tax cuts permanent so people can plan, and to streamline rules and regulations so businesses can focus on creating jobs.
Q The Israelis are going to build 500-plus new houses on the West Bank. They say they're not obliged to follow the first steps of the road map because the Palestinians are not. Is the road map in tatters, and do they -- have they jeopardized U.S. loan guarantees?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, look, we've -- we remain committed to the road map, and under the road map, all parties have certain responsibilities to be met. The foundation for moving forward to the two-state vision -- the two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security, the foundation for that is the end of terrorism.
And so all parties have responsibility to crack down on terrorism. The Palestinian -- the new Palestinian cabinet needs to be empowered with a unified security force so that they can crack down on terrorists and terrorist organizations. That's the foundation for moving forward.
Q The second part of my question was loan -- the loan guarantees.
MR. McCLELLAN: We remained -- I'm sorry?
Q It sounds like it's a first step for only the Palestinians --
MR. McCLELLAN: We're moving forward to the two state vision. Terrorism must end. The President has always made that clear
Q Is the road map in jeopardy, and does Israel risk losing U.S. loan guarantees?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've always said that there would be difficulties along the way, but we remain committed to moving forward on the road map. We're continuing to have discussions with the parties. And what was the last part of your question?
Q Does Israel risk losing U.S. loan guarantees by going down this path, these new settlements?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, the Department of State is -- the Secretary of State is the one who makes determinations about the loan guarantees, so you need to direct those questions to the Secretary of State. We've made our views known.
Q I'm sorry, did I interrupt your thought?
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Getting back onto the economy, Wisconsin has lost 75,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Is the President going to specifically address that? This is one of the biggest manufacturing states in the country.
MR. McCLELLAN: One, listen to his remarks. I expect he will -- he has been talking about the manufacturing sector. And I expect he will talk about the manufacturing sector today. That's why it's important to have trade that -- free trade, but fair trade. We need a level playing field. And certainly the manufacturing sector has been hard hit -- and that's why the President is acting, to strengthen the economy and make sure that we have a level playing field when it comes to trade.
Q Kofi Annan has expressed reservations about the draft of the U.N. resolution, and I'm wondering, what is the U.S. going to do to address the concerns that he's raised?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we are discussing some improvements we have made to the resolution, after listening to Security Council members. And Secretary Powell is continuing to have those discussions with members of the Security Council. We think that this resolution takes into account some of the issues that came up during the initial conversations, and we believe they're -- there is a convergence of views emerging. But we are continuing to have those discussions, and -- with other countries, certainly. The resolution calls for the U.N. to play a vital role as we all work together towards our shared goal of transferring responsibility to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible.
Q Can I ask you a quick political question? You've got $84 million in the bank for a primary in which you face no opposition. Yet, Bush and Cheney are both out today. Why is this urgent push -- why this urgent push to raise money?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think you should talk to the campaign about the fundraising matters. But obviously the President is -- the President remains focused on the people's business. But obviously he wants to make sure that he has the resources so that he can spread his message.
Q Week ahead?
MR. McCLELLAN: Monday, October 6th, the President will participate in the state arrival ceremony for the President of Kenya on the South Lawn. They will then participate in a bilateral meeting in the Oval, and followed by a press availability in the East Room and then a state dinner that evening.
Tuesday, the President will participate in a Cabinet meeting. Wednesday, the President will make remarks on domestic violence prevention and sign a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the East Room. He will also make remarks at the 2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala.
Q Does that raise money for the RNC, I assume?
MR. McCLELLAN: Check with the RNC, but that would be my understanding. Thursday, October 9th, the President makes remarks to the New Hampshire Air National Guard and Army National Guard and Reservists. Then he will make remarks on the economy in New Hampshire, as well, before attending an Ernie Fletcher for Governor reception. And nothing to announce at this point on Friday's schedule.
That's all I have, thank you.
Q What --
MR. McCLELLAN: Nothing to announce at this point, no public events at this point.
10:34 A.M. EDT