For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 13, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Marquette, Michigan
1:06 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. Let me go through the President's day. He had his usual intelligence briefings before he departed. You saw his remarks on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the bill signing.
When we arrive in Marquette, Michigan, the Freedom Corps greeter will be Grace McCarthy. She has volunteered 4,000 hours with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP, which is an organization that enriches the lives of seniors by matching their interests with needs in the community, and she averages about 20 hours a week in a variety of a volunteer activities.
Then the President will make remarks at a Marquette, Michigan rally. And I expect today the President will continue to talk about his hopeful agenda for America and discuss his priorities for winning the war on terrorism and strengthening our economy and promoting values of America and, you know, discuss the choices that we face. There will be -- I expect there will be some new language in both sets of remarks that you might be interested in.
Q New language?
MR. McCLELLAN: You'll hear directly from him, but I expect he might have some new language in the remarks, contrasting some of the issues, so -- contrasting some of those issues.
Q Scott --
MR. McCLELLAN: And then we go from there to the home state of one Judy Keen. And we will be in Duluth, Minnesota, for a rally -- before that, the Freedom Corps greeter there is Darren Klemek. He has volunteered for the past two years with the City of Duluth Youth Employment Services -- YES program -- which matches young people from disadvantaged homes with work opportunities. And then we overnight in Milwaukee.
Q Scott, is the President nearing a decision on a new director for the CIA?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's still -- I will leave it where I left it the other day. As you know, I don't speculate about the announcement or the timing -- about who it might be or the timing of when it may come. The President will make his announcement -- will make an announcement about the CIA Director in due course.
Q Before I get to my --
MR. McCLELLAN: And as I said yesterday, they are -- just want to continue -- there is a very strong and capable leader in the acting director.
Q Before I get to my question, when you talk about new language, are you talking about on the issue of values today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you'll be there to hear it. And I expect he may touch on some of what he hit on yesterday, as well. But, yes, I expect it would include some new language on values, as well.
Q Scott --
Q Can I ask you -- I'm sorry -- my real question is, the International Red Cross says it fears the United States is holding terrorist suspects at secret locations around the world. Do you know anything about that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I saw that report, or some of the comments from the Red Cross. Here's what I can tell you, I mean, we work closely with the Red Cross on these issues and we are always in regular and constant contact with the Red Cross. The Red Cross raises issues from time to time and we always work to respond directly to the Red Cross on the issues that they raise. And we try to do so -- and do so as promptly as we can.
Q Is there any merit to this concern? And are you doing anything about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you know, if they have issues that they want to bring to our attention, we always work with them to respond directly to them on those issues.
Q They haven't brought this up to you yet, that you know of?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm looking further into this, but, again, I just want to remind you that we do work closely with the Red Cross on all detainee issues and that they do bring up issues from time to time and we always work to respond directly to the Red Cross.
Q Scott, was the President at all surprised about Mrs. Cheney's remarks about the constitutional amendment on gay marriage? Or do you believe that she is staking out some sort of different view than the one that the President and the Vice President have advocated?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think -- you should look at what she said, I mean, you can see what she said for yourself -- and there's a transcript available. But the President has made it very clear that he believes it's important to protect the sanctity of marriage. And activist judges and some local officials have sought to redefine marriage without the voice of the people being heard. And the President believes that the constitutional process is the only alternative that we have available.
The constitutional process allows for the people's voice to be heard. And the constitutional process gives states the final say in this matter.
Q But the constitutional process, if there was a constitutional amendment, that would be national -- that would create a national sort of system or rule. So is that different than allowing states to determine the issue for themselves?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's actually a process that goes through the states, as you are aware. So the states would have the final say in this matter. And it would allow the people's voice to be heard in this important debate. This is one of our enduring institutions. The sanctity of marriage is an enduring institution in this country. And the President believes very strongly that it should be protected. He also believes very strongly that the people's voice should be heard in this debate.
Q So you think that Mrs. Cheney was saying the same thing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, you can look at her comments for yourself. I noticed she did talk about the constitutional process in her remarks. But you can look at her remarks for yourself.
Q And you don't want to offer the White House's own interpretation of those remarks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just -- I just pointed out to you the President's views on this issue.
Q Are you troubled by the fact that Ron Reagan is going to go to the Democratic Convention and give a speech about stem cell research, opposing your position?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think his views have been very well known for a long time. The President came up with a policy where, for the first time, the federal government is now able to participate in embryonic stem cell research. The President believes -- is strongly committed to advancing medical research and combating disease. And I think all you have to do is look at his record, where he's provided significant increases for the National Institutes of Health. And he also believes strongly that while we should explore the promise of stem cell research, we should do so in a way that doesn't cross a certain moral line. And that's why he outlined the policy that he did. I think that, again, his views have been well known for a long time.
Q Scott, has there been any word from the Filipino government that they're going to withdrawal or pull out their humanitarian forces early?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, we believe that a decision by the Philippine government to withdraw their 51 troops ahead of schedule would send the wrong signal to terrorists. I mean, I've seen the statements by officials from the Filipino government. We are seeking clarification from the government now. It is certainly their decision to make, but again, we believe that if that were the decision, it would send the wrong signal to the terrorists.
And I would just point out to you, too, that we do appreciate the commitment from Australia to send additional troops to Iraq. We do appreciate the commitment from President Saca to move forward on a proposal that would extend the troop presence of the Salvadoran troops in Iraq for up to another year. And then, of course, you have NATO, that's made a strong commitment to help provide training for Iraqi security forces.
Q Apart from waiting for clarification, are you pressing the Philippines to keep those troops there, to send the troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's why -- right now, I think, we're just trying to seek clarification from the government on this matter. So --
Q Not lobbying, just standing back --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- we're going to have more to say after that. Well, you heard what our view is on the subject.
Q Have you raised any concerns with the Russian government about the murder last week of the American journalist Paul Klebnikov?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me see what contacts there have been on that matter. I'll check on that and get back to you.
END 1:15 P.M. EDT