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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 25, 2003
Press Gaggle by Claire Buchan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Las Vegas, Nevada
10:55 A.M. CST
MS. BUCHAN: Okay, let me start by going over the President's day. The President had his briefings on board the plane this morning. He is now en route to Las Vegas, where he will be met by the Freedom Corps greeter, Maria Konold-Soto. Maria is an active volunteer in the medical reserve corps unit in Las Vegas, which is a component of Citizen Corps, where they coordinate the skills of practicing nurses and retired physicians, as well as other health care professionals who bring volunteer services during emergency situations. She's also a volunteer in Trauma Intervention, which provides support to emotionally traumatized individuals, who are traumatized as a result of a crisis. And she is an active volunteer in Nevada Child Seekers, which is dedicated to locating missing and abducted children, and she volunteers also with the Frontier Girl Scouts Council.
The President will then participate in a meeting on Medicare and medical liability with health care professionals and seniors. These will be individuals who have had a difficult time getting medical care as a result of medical liability issues, as well as health care providers and seniors. The President will then make remarks on Medicare --
Q Before you go on, will you have a list of those people?
MS. BUCHAN: I expect we will be able to give you sort of the little summary, like we normally do.
Q Sometimes you're able to put a pool person in that event. Is that something you would consider?
MS. BUCHAN: I don't think we're going to have that today. I'll let you know if that changes; I don't anticipate, that --
Q Why wouldn't you?
MS. BUCHAN: Because that's not what we're planning. We have the remarks, following that, on Medicare and medical liability.
After that, the President will have a fundraiser at the Venetian Resort Hotel. He will then travel to Phoenix, where he will be met by Freedom Corps volunteer Maybelle Harris, who is 85. She's been a volunteer since 1978, active in the Los Olivos Senior Center, where the President will be speaking there. She's a volunteer in the kitchen, for special events. She's also a Sunshine Lady for AARP, which sends cards to individuals who are celebrating their birthday or have illness, you know, get well cards. She is a volunteer at her church, and she is a volunteer in the Gold Star Wives Club, which is widows of military servicemen.
Then the President will have a conversation on Medicare. In that conversation he'll be joined by senior citizens and near retirees. And then the President will return to his ranch this evening.
Q Can you talk about any involvement the President is going to have today on the Medicare bill? Is he making calls on the plane? Does he plan to later, if the vote looks close in the Senate?
MS. BUCHAN: The bill passed this morning.
Q All right, then. (Laughter.)
MS. BUCHAN: The President, of course, commends the Senate on that, as being important action taken to keep our promise to America's seniors. And you'll, of course, hear the President talk about that in his remarks today.
Q When you talk about -- when you mentioned Medicare liability and that being part of that first event, is that --
MS. BUCHAN: Medical liability.
Q So that is the bill -- same liability issue that he's been talking about in other events?
MS. BUCHAN: Right.
Q The GDP numbers were very strong today. What does that say, and what do you expect it to look like in the future?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, America's workers continue to defy expectations, and the GDP numbers today are encouraging and they are obviously very positive. The President believes that we still have more work to do to help translate the economic growth into job creation, which is why he is going to continue to urge the Congress to pass his six-point plan, one of which is, as you might recall, is medical liability reform. And so that's -- it's positive news, but there's more work to be done.
Q Is 8.2 sustainable? Is that something that we -- can sustain the U.S. economy?
MS. BUCHAN: I think as we spoke when the first round of the GDP numbers came out, I don't think anyone necessarily anticipates that that number will be a number that you'll see in coming months. But it's obviously a very positive number, and one that will hopefully begin to show increases in jobs. But the President is still cautiously optimistic and believes that there is more to be done to translate the economic growth into job creation.
Q Any agreement with -- on Iran, IAEA and Iran, it talks about putting "all options" on the table. Can you talk about what "all options" means, if they don't comply with the demands of the IAEA?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, with regard to Iran, as you know, we've been talking with the Europeans and with others. We believe the resolution that's being talked about is an appropriate resolution. We're not going to get into the details of that, because the IAEA Board of Governors has not yet had an opportunity to do that themselves. But we will look to the IAEA to have a resolution that emphasizes the seriousness of Iran's failures to comply, that warns Iran of the consequences of further non-compliance, and that also underscores the requirement for continued thorough IAEA investigation of Iran.
Q But you don't want to talk about what "all options" means? I mean, it was something --
MS. BUCHAN: I'm not going to get into the specifics of that. As I said, the IAEA Board of Governors has not yet had an opportunity themselves to respond to the reports that you're talking about. I think it's most appropriate to let them do that.
Q We know how much the President appreciates the value of a free press. How concerned is he about the -- Al-Arabia being banned by the Governing Council in Iraq?
MS. BUCHAN: I'm not going to second guess what the Iraqi Governing Council has done. As you have noted, the President does believe that a free press is important, and he himself notes that Iraq now has 150 newspapers. So this is an important step forward in developing a free press. Iraq also has other issues to address regarding the security and the stability of their country.
Q Do you know if the President was surprised by the decision?
MS. BUCHAN: I don't know.
Q With the WTO saying that it may institute its -- it may authorize EU sanctions as early as Monday, do you expect a decision before Monday?
MS. BUCHAN: I was asked this yesterday, and as I said then --
Q It's closer to Monday.
MS. BUCHAN: The President has not made a decision. I'm not going to speculate on the timing of his decision. He continues to review the ITC report talking about the restructuring of the American steel industry. And that process is ongoing.
Thank you all.
END 11:02 A.M. CST