For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 20, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott Mcclellan
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
10:00 A.M. EST
MR. McCLELLAN: The President had his usual briefings this morning. He just finished a meeting with the Foreign Minister of India. The President congratulated the Foreign Minister on the important progress being made on the relationship between Pakistan and India. They also discussed the next steps on the strategic partnership between India and the United States, some of which we talked to you all about last week.
The President will be participating in one final walk-through of his remarks this morning. Then a little bit after 11:00 a.m., the President looks forward to welcoming Governing Council President Pachachi to the White House -- that will be stills at the top on the coverage. And then this evening the President looks forward to talking to the nation about the state of the union at the Capitol, at 9:01 p.m. this evening.
Let me give you a little bit of information, here's our plan for today. Excerpts of the speech we hope to have out by 5:00 p.m. We also hope to have the seating chart of the guests in the First Lady's box, and their biographies, out at 5:00 p.m. We hope to have the embargoed remarks, as prepared for delivery, for release by 8:00 p.m., as well as a fact sheet on some of the initiatives the President will be talking about. And that will all be embargoed. And then, as I said, at 9:01 p.m., is the State of the Union.
No briefing today because of the State of the Union, and no briefing anywhere else because of the State of the Union. On "Ask the White House" today we have Communications Director Dan Bartlett at 2:00 p.m.
Let me make one other announcement here. Tomorrow, January 21st, the White House will host Radio Day. This is, I believe, the second time we've done this. Radio Day will offer talk radio shows from across the country an opportunity to interview members of the Cabinet and senior staff live from the North Lawn of the White House. It'll provide Cabinet officials and senior staff with an opportunity to talk about the President's State of the Union Address.
And that's all I've got.
Q Scott, the timing of Pachachi is when?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the stills at the top, will probably be about 11:20 a.m.
Q Stakeout afterward?
MR. McCLELLAN: If he wants to, yes. I wouldn't rule that out.
Q One other question. When you said, walk-through, is that back in the family theater -- practicing with the teleprompter and all that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Right. That's correct.
Q Since he's in town, is he going to be going to the State of the Union?
MR. McCLELLAN: What did I just say? I said we would have the guest of the First Lady's box out at 5:00 p.m.
Q What did I just say? (Laughter.) Is he going to be there? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll have the guests out at 5:00 p.m. Come on, you can -- let's see. It's 10:00 a.m here. Seven hours?
Q News -- news cycles.
Q What time is Radio Day? Does that start early?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's all day long. It's in the morning. I think it runs throughout pretty much most of the day.
Q Is there plans for any coverage, can a print reporter wander around? Who's handling that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know. What have we done previous? Josh will get back to you.
Q For some of us, every day is radio day. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Helen.
Q I have two questions. What do you think of -- what does the White House think of the Iowa primary caucuses? And why does the President think he's done more for human rights, as he's quoted in The New Yorker? What are the specifics on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the specifics have been outlined by the President previously. But one, on Iowa, we congratulate those candidates who did well. This is a process that is just beginning. The Democrats are just beginning to sort through their differences. There are some 17 contests in the next five weeks. So the Democrats will continue to work out their differences and determine who their nominee will be.
And the second part of your question, I mean, this President is strongly committed to spreading --
Q I'm not saying, committed, I'm saying -- when he says he's done more for human rights --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- spreading freedom and advancing democracy. And he has outlined a forward strategy for freedom in the Middle East, for example. He has outlined a detailed approach to expanding or advancing democracy throughout the world. And this President has stood on the side of promoting freedom, promoting human dignity, and his actions have backed that up.
Q Broad assumptions.
Q Did the President and the Indian Prime Minister talk about the arms deal with Russia --
MR. McCLELLAN: I would describe the meeting as the way I did. It wasn't -- I think it was about 15, 20 minutes, the length of the meeting.
April, speaking of radio day.
Q Does this mean that the White House is now getting involved in the campaigning process of the Democrats, to congratulate --
MR. McCLELLAN: Getting involved in the Democratic primary, no.
Q But you congratulated -- before you were very distant, and, we'll wait until that day happens. The President even said, we'll wait until we whittle down to one, and now you're congratulating --
MR. McCLELLAN: In fact, I think you'll hear from the President tonight that he remains focused on the priorities of the American people. And you will hear more from him tonight in his State of the Union address.
Q Well, will we be hearing more from you about the Democratic candidates in these 17 contests in the next five weeks?
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, we'll let the Democrats deal with their own primary. I'm going to stay focused on the American people.
Q Why are you backing off now, if you're congratulating them?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it was the beginning of the process, as I described it, and I was asked a question. So this is the American democratic system beginning for the -- for next November's election. So there will be plenty of time to talk about November, once there is a nominee who has been chosen by the Democrats.
Q But what can you say about the nature of the two groups that the President is speaking to tomorrow?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we'll talk more about that -- more about that tomorrow, about some of -- it will follow on his State of the Union remarks and some of the issues he will be discussing in his State of the Union.
Q I mean the groups that he is speaking to, his audience -- are these selected in particular or just --
MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't bring a list of the audience, but we'll get you that information and -- either later today or certainly we'll give it to you tomorrow morning.
Q How was the President informed of the caucus results last night? Was he watching TV or was Karl calling?
MR. McCLELLAN: He was working on his State of the Union last night, but he was updated by his senior advisor.
Q He was working, like, reading through in the theater again?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, no, over in the residence, going through his remarks, right.
Okay, anybody else need anything else?
Q Yes, the speech.
Q How long is the speech?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q How long is the speech?
Q When he was updated, did he have a reaction?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I gave you our reaction. So that's the reaction I would give you.
Q Did he --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, he was focused on working on his remarks last night.
Q Was he surprised the underdog won? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've already described it. We're not handicapping the Democratic race.
All right, thanks.