For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 12, 2004
Remarks by the President and Mrs. Bush in Interview by Television of Spain
The Embassy of Spain
1:25 P.M. EST
Q First of all, I would like to thank you very much on behalf of the Spanish people for being able to send a message. And I'd like to ask your feelings about this horrifying thing that happened yesterday in Madrid. First question: What are your feelings?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I can remember when our citizens lost life. I remember the horror, the outrage, the anger, and the incredible sadness. So I guess my -- I feel the same way today. My first reaction is, my heart breaks for those who are mourning the loss of their loved one. It must be a sense of emptiness and a sense of real -- their hearts are broken. And we send our prayers to those who are so sad --
MRS. BUSH: Grieving. Who are grieving today. We all are thinking about them. And I want all the people who lost somebody yesterday in Spain to know that the American people are sending our love and our condolences. And we know what it feels like, and we know how tough it is.
Q That would be the second question. The message for the people of Spain is that of solidarity and love?
THE PRESIDENT: Of course. I think the people of Spain are going to rally around those who have lost life. It's amazing what happens when something like this happens to a society. There's an outpouring of love and concern. There's an outpouring of love here in America from people that the families in Spain will never know. There's just a lot of people who care deeply about the fact of the lost life. Neighbors will help neighbors.
I think you're going to find, as well, that the people of Spain -- or we'll find, as well -- the people of Spain will refuse to be intimidated, that they're not going to allow killers, cold-blooded killers, to intimidate the country. And these people kill because they hate freedom and they hate what Spain stands for. Spain is a great culture and a great people, with great traditions of democracy. And the killers hate freedom and they're trying to intimidate. And the Spanish people will not be intimidated.
Q As you know, the Royal Family is working hard, as is the Spanish government, trying to heal, if it's possible. Any message for the many women, many families who now feel really lost?
MRS. BUSH: I want to encourage women and men, and mothers and fathers, particularly, to put their arms around their children. These are very frightening times for adults, so we can imagine how frightening they are for children. And it's a time for adults, mothers and dads and grandparents, to protect their children and reassure their children, put their arms around them and let them know they're going to be okay and the country is going to be okay, and things will work out, as we grieve for these people who lost the person they love best in the bombings.
Q Mr. President, you've been dealing with this situation for four years. I'm sure it's been very hard. What could you say to the Spanish government, now dealing with a hard thing?
THE PRESIDENT: My first reaction is that the people of Spain are lucky to have Jose Maria Aznar as the President during these times. He is a man who understands the war on terror, clearly knows the stakes, and knows that we must never give an inch to the terrorists. He will be able to be a strong voice, a compassionate voice and a strong voice during these times.
The government must stay strong. But the Spanish government has been fighting terrorist organizations for a while. Jose Maria has been strong against terrorist organizations like ETA. He knows what the stakes are. We don't know who did this yet. I wouldn't rule anybody out. You'll hear all kinds of rumors, and it will take a while to find out the facts. And the United States government will help the Spanish government find out the facts, if they so desire.
People will find there's going to be a lot of speculation here, and that's all it's going to be. People will claim credit, or not claim credit. People will say, "We didn't do it," or, "We did do it," to create a sense of confusion. But the facts will become known after a while. It takes a while; it took us a while to find out exactly who ordered the attacks on America. And once the facts are known and once we find out who did it, America will join the Spanish government to hunt the terrorists down and bring them to justice.
Q Would it make any difference if it's ETA or al Qaeda, or any radical --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's hard to speculate. We've seen claims already -- "No, we didn't do this." Sometimes when somebody says, "No, we didn't do it," it means they did do it. And sometimes these people want to deceive. But we don't know yet. And all I can assure the people of Spain is that, to the extent that the government wants, we will help find out the facts, and if these terrorists are overseas or plotting from overseas, or anywhere in Europe, we will lend our expertise, our intelligence-gathering to help the Spanish authorities bring these people to justice. That's what the Spanish people expect. These people need to be brought to justice. And we will help anyway we can.
Q Let's talk a bit about the future. As you know, we have elections in a couple of days, the day after tomorrow. And some people say that if it's al Qaeda, that could mean that somebody is trying to punish the Spanish government for backing the war. What do you think about it?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that's a feeble excuse. Killers kill. And I think we shouldn't give them any great credit. All they're trying to do is shake the will of the free world. They hate freedom and they're willing to try to create -- intimidate people to change. And the Spanish government will never change its love for freedom. It's one of the great things about Spain, is its embrace of liberty.
But people shouldn't speculate right now as to who did it. It's going to take a while, it just is. These were very coordinated bombings, and it's going to take some good forensic work to get the facts.
And so I hope the people of Spain just go about their business and -- participate in the elections, of course -- after all, Spain is a democracy -- and not let the speculation decide how to vote. They ought to vote for who they think is going to be the best government.
Q But it's almost inevitable. I mean, the whole world is watching who is behind the attacks --
THE PRESIDENT: Sure. We want to help -- we want to find -- we want to help find out. But I don't think you can know immediately. Again, people will -- this happened in our country. And there was all kinds of speculation as to who attacked, who started the attacks. And it took a while to make sure we knew. But over time, our intelligence services got worked up and law enforcement got involved, and I think you'll find the case to be in Spain, as well. The facts will become known. And then that makes it easier for the government to make the decision as to how to proceed.
Q Thank you very much. As I said, on behalf of the Spanish people, thank you for sending a message and for being close to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, we care deeply about our friends, and the people of Spain are friends. May God bless them.
Q Thank you.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you.
END 1:34 P.M. EST