For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 26, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Las Cruces, New Mexico
MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning. The President had his briefing on board the airplane. He just participated in an interview with USA Today.
And we are headed to Las Cruces and Farmington and Albuquerque, where he'll have rallies today, talking about -- continuing to focus on his agenda for moving America forward and building a safer world and more hopeful America, as we head to the -- he'll continue to focus more on his agenda as we head into the convention. And with that, I'm here for questions.
Q Scott, the U.S. Olympic Committee has asked that the campaign pull the victory ad, because it mentions the Olympics, and they have copyright to those things. Any remarks --
MR. McCLELLAN: The campaign has already addressed that issue, and I'll leave it with the campaign, since it's relating to campaign ads.
Q They just asked yesterday, again, after reviewing it --
MR. McCLELLAN: I know. The campaign has addressed the issue.
Q McCain says he's fed up with these Swift Boat ads. Is the President willing to go any further than what he said the other day?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, thank you for bringing that up. The President, also, on board Air Force One, called Senator McCain this morning. And the President said he wanted to work together to pursue court action to shut down all the ads and activity by these shadowy 527 groups. And the President said if the court action doesn't work, then he would be willing to pursue legislative action and work with Senator McCain on that.
Q Which groups does he want to shut down?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's all the unregulated soft money activity by these 527 groups. The President thought we got rid of all of this kind of shadowy activity when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. As you're aware, there was FEC action that has been pursued by Senator McCain, that has been pursued by us, as well. And the FEC has not acted on it. And so the President reached out to Senator McCain to say, let's work together and pursue court action to shut down all of this activity by these shadowy groups.
Q That includes the Swift Boats --
Q -- specific condemnation of the Swift Boat.
Q -- Swift Boat ones. He said, he's happy that -- he condemns all 527s --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President condemns all the ads and activity by these shadowy groups. This is unregulated soft money activity that the President thought we got rid of when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. Senator McCain said that he thought it was a good idea for the two of them to work together to shut down this kind of activity.
Q So this includes the Swift Boat, right? You want to shut down -- Bush wants to shut down, through legal action --
MR. McCLELLAN: All, all the ads and activity by the shadowy groups. That would include everything that these shadowy groups are involved in.
Q You don't want to say "Swift Boat," is that the --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I answered it by saying, all of the ads and activity.
Q And that would include the Swift Boat, yes?
MR. McCLELLAN: That includes everything. That includes -- I don't know how I can be more clear than that, Adam.
Q Are the Swift Boats a shadowy group?
Q But McCain said beyond that -- he called the President to condemn those specific ads. Will he condemn those --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has condemned every ad and all the activity by these 527 groups.
Q How does he feel about what they're saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I can be more clear, nor can the President. The President wants Senator Kerry to join us in calling for a stop to all of the ads and activity by these shadowy groups. The President has condemned all of this activity by these shadowy groups.
Q What does he mean by court action?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, pursue -- pursuing court action, working with -- and pursuing court action to shut down these -- shut down this activity by these 527 groups that are funded with unregulated soft money. This is what we thought we got rid of when the President signed the campaign finance reforms into law. And so --
Q So who files -- who files the lawsuit, then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and I'll try to get you a little bit more information on this, but there's -- there have been previous complaints filed against the FEC. The FEC had an opportunity to act with, I think it's within a 100-day -- 120-day period. They did not act. And so that allows those who had filed those complaints to pursue action against the FEC. I know Senator McCain had filed complaints with the FEC; we had, as well. And so the President looks forward to working with Senator McCain to pursue court action to shut down all of this activity by these shadowy groups.
Q So is the Justice Department going to get involved in this?
Q He would be the one who be going to the --
MR. McCLELLAN: He called them this morning, and we'll provide you more detail as we move forward and work together, through court action, to shut these groups down.
Q So you are asking Justice to get involved, then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we'll get you more details as we move forward together. But we want to pursue court action.
Q How long was the phone call?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q How long was the phone call?
MR. McCLELLAN: I will try to get you the length. It was brief. And Senator McCain said he looked forward to seeing him soon. We certainly appreciate Senator McCain's strong support for the President, and look forward to hearing his remarks next week at the convention, as well.
Q -- the charge --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q Can you tell me what the legal basis would be for taking court action?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, yes, that's why I said, if you go back, you might want to look at some of this. I'll try and get you more details on the ground. But because of the complaints -- the complaints have been pursued with the FEC, and there's a window of opportunity for the FEC to pursue action. They failed to pursue that action then. You can pursue court action following that if they don't act within that time period.
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, thank you.
Q Is it a lawsuit?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Yes, it would be.
Q But none of it would happen until after the election, correct? I mean, the FEC --
MR. McCLELLAN: There would be a lawsuit.
Q But the FEC can't act on this stuff until after the election.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, there have been complaints previously filed with the FEC that they did not act on to shut -- to shut down this activity.
We've got to land. Thank you.
* * * * *
MR. McCLELLAN: We would be asking the court to force the FEC to shut down this activity.
Q Force the FEC?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. It would be asking the courts to -- yes, since the FEC failed to act, we would now be asking the courts to force the FEC to act to shut down these -- shut down all this activity.
Q It's not directly -- so the case is not directly against the 527s, it's against the FEC.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's going to the courts to ask them to force the FEC to shut down all this activity.
END 8:30 A.M. MDT