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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 5, 2004
Press Gaggle with with Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Charleston, South Carolina
9:56 A.M. EST
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, let's get started. The President had his usual briefings before departing. Then he made -- and also before departing, made remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. When we arrive in Charleston, the Freedom Corps greeter's name is Charles Hall. He is someone who served in the Army for some 20 years. He's now retired and he works with the Charleston County Citizen Corps, or volunteers with the Charleston County Citizen Corps.
Then the President will make remarks, where his remarks will be focused really on the war on terrorism. I gave you all a little bit of a readout of it yesterday in the briefing. I think you will find his remarks of interest. The President will talk about the importance of defending the homeland, but the way -- but he will also talk about the way that wars are won are by taking the fight to the enemy. So he'll spend a portion of his remarks talking about the importance of staying on the offensive.
He'll talk about the choices and challenges that we face and the need to continue the work that we have begun to continue to advance freedom. So I think you will find his remarks of interest.
Then we return back to the White House. And a couple of quick announcements. Deputy Under Secretary Hutchinson will be on Ask the White House at 2:40 p.m. this afternoon. And on Monday, February 9th, we will be going to Springfield, Missouri, where the President will participate in a conversation on the economy. We're also going to have a fact sheet here for you shortly, on some of what the President will talk about in his remarks on homeland security, and that's protecting America's seaports and securing our cargo shipments. And so we'll give you a fact sheet here as soon as Josh can get that to you all.
And that's all I've got.
Q Did Director Tenet give the President a security briefing this morning? And did he go over his speech, give a preview of his speech to the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: You know what, I didn't check that. I can see if I can check to see if he was there today. He's there most of the time. (* See below.)
Q If you could check. And does the President still have confidence in his abilities? This is a pretty big speech he's giving today.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has great confidence in the work of our men and women who serve in the intelligence community, and that includes Director Tenet. There are many successes in the intelligence community that go unseen and unreported. They work -- our men and women in the intelligence community work round the clock to protect the American people, and the President very much appreciates their hard work in our efforts to make America more secure.
Q Does he anticipate the Director staying on through the course of the investigation?
MR. McClellan: I'm sorry -- through?
Q Through the investigation, the commission --
MR. McCLELLAN: Director Tenet is -- the President appreciates the job he is doing, and he is in that position and we appreciate his service.
Q How close is the President to appointing a commission?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't expect any announcement today. As I've said before, I expect it will be this week.
Q Did Tenet run his speech by the White House, the one he's giving today?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, this was a speech that he decided to give. In fact, he's giving it right now. This was his decision.
Q He didn't ask permission of the President to give his speech, he just sort of said --
MR. McCLELLAN: This was his decision. This was Director Tenet's decision to give the speech.
Q Anything new from the President today? I know you said it would be of interest, but --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I would listen to his remarks, and particularly when he talks about the choices we have made to confront the threats that we face in this day and age, namely, the war on terrorism, and what we are -- the importance of our work in Afghanistan and Iraq to making the world a safer and better place. I think you'll want to listen to those remarks.
Q Scott, is there anything new on this fact sheet, or is it just outlining current procedures?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it has some budget numbers in there.
Q I couldn't hear at the top, did you say the President is going to Missouri?
MR. McCLELLAN: Springfield, Missouri, yes.
Q Was there a primary there recently? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: There are primaries a lot of places recently.
Q Are the Democrats determining his travel schedule?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's the President of the United States. There are a number of important challenges that we are confronting and he is going to continue to get outside Washington, D.C. and talk to the American people about the actions we are taking to make the world safer and better and to make America more prosperous here at home.
Q He's sure shadowing them pretty closely, though.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, there are primaries going on all over the country these days. But the President is going to continue to get outside of Washington, D.C. and talk to the American people about the important priorities that we are addressing.
All right, thank you.
END 10:00 A.M. EST
* MR. McCLELLAN; Randy asked if Director Tenet was at this morning's briefing. Director Tenet was not at this morning's briefing. His deputy attended.