The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 4, 2004

Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Bakersfield, California

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning. I'll go quickly here, since we're about to land. The President had his usual briefings before we departed. Upon arrival the Freedom Corps greeter is Dana Karcher, who began to volunteer with the Tree Foundation of Kern, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the community by planting trees in Kern County. And she's also volunteered with Keep Bakersfield Beautiful the last few years.

And the President then will, in Bakersfield, participate in a conversation on the economy where he'll highlight how the tax relief has helped benefit families and small businesses, and talk about his six-point plan, as well. Then we go to Santa Clara for a Bush-Cheney luncheon. Then we go to Crawford for the remainder of the day and for the next few days.

Q Will those fundraising remarks preview what we're going to hear for the next eight months -- that sharp, new attack on Kerry by name?

MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of the political side, you can leave those questions to the campaign. But I think you can expect that -- we're at a critical period in our nation, and the President will continue to talk about the clear choices that the American people face. And he will continue to talk about our highest priorities: winning the war on terrorism and continuing to strengthen our economy even more.

Q Some of the families of the 9/11 victims have criticized the President for using these -- using 9/11 footage in those ads. Are you exploiting the situation, and what do you say to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, September 11th was a defining moment for our nation. It was an experience that all Americans shared. It is the reason we are still at war on terrorism. And all of us, as Americans, shared in the experience of that tragic day. And it is vital to our future that we learn what September 11th taught us. September 11th changed the equation in our public policy. It forever changed our world. And the President's steady leadership is vital to how we wage the war on terrorism.

Q Shouldn't that be off-limits to politics, Scott, that tragedy?

MR. McCLELLAN: September 11th? September 11th, as I said, it taught us that we must confront dangers before it's too late, and that we must continue to take the fight to the enemy. There's a clear choice for Americans in how we confront the threats of terrorism.

Q But the President -- the party is using it for political purposes. I mean, it's pretty clear now --

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, these are threats that didn't happen overnight; that September 11th taught us that we must confront these threats by taking the fight to the enemy.

All right, thanks, sorry.

END 9:06 A.M. PST

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