For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 1, 2004
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Allentown, Pennsylvania
10:29 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Hello, weary-eyed gagglers. I'll get to the week ahead in a second. I don't have a whole lot for you this morning. The President had his usual briefings at the hotel. Then we go to Allentown and then Manchester. He'll tape his radio address this afternoon, as well. And that's really all I've got.
MR. McCLELLAN: He'll be talking about -- and it's something I'll announce in the week ahead -- the tax relief that just passed the Congress, and that he will be signing on Monday.
Q Is there any theme to today's events?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can expect the President to talk a little bit more about last night's debate. I expect the President will talk about Senator Kerry's pattern of contradictions and inconsistencies on Iraq. Last night Senator Kerry talked about how he viewed Iraq as a mistake, and then in the very next response, he was asked, are our troops dying for a mistake, and he said, no.
And I think you can expect the President will also talk about other contradictions that the Senator gave, such as his voting to send our troops into combat but then being one of four senators to vote against funding those troops. And you know, Senator Kerry said it was a mistake in what he said about that vote. The mistake is not how he said it, the mistake was how he voted. It was a mistake to vote for the authorization -- for use of force and then vote against funding our troops.
And I think the President will talk about how last night the American people saw clear differences in how the candidates would lead in the war on terrorism going forward. There are fundamental differences in this race on that critical issue that goes to the number one responsibility of the President, which is the safety and the security of the American people. And Senator Kerry showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terrorism when he talked about basing his decisions about America's security on a global test. And I think the President will talk about that in his remarks, and talk about how Senator Kerry really had no vision to offer other than to talk about convening a summit. And the President will touch on that, as well.
Q Did you learn anything about his performance last night? Did he talk about some of the things --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President felt great, because it was an opportunity for the American people to see the fundamental differences in this race. I think the American people saw in the President someone who spoke clearly about what he believes and where he wants to lead the country, and they saw someone who was speaking from the heart. He spoke passionately about his strong convictions and his firm commitment to completing the mission and prevailing in the war on terrorism.
This is an ideological struggle that we're in. It's a struggle to defeat the ideology of hatred and tyranny. And the President talked about that. I think in Senator Kerry, last night, you saw a pre-9/11 mentality. September 11th changed everything, and it was a defining moment in this presidency. And the President knows that to win the war on terrorism, we must stay on the offensive to defeat the terrorists, and we must also work to advance freedom throughout the world, so that we can defeat the ideology of hatred that has breeded -- that has been breeding in the Middle East over the last couple of decades.
Q Has he seen some of the reviews today, what people are saying? Is he -- MR. McCLELLAN: Not much. He's been focused on, as I said, on some of his presidential duties this morning. So not really. He's popped in when some of us have been watching some of the coverage, and things like that, but he's focused on his remarks and other duties.
Q Scott, there are some people saying that he seemed annoyed or exasperated or disgusted at times. Did he say last night, talking about it, that he felt annoyed, exasperated, disgusted by the things Kerry said?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I've known the President a long time, and I think last night you saw a President who speaks with clarity and strength and shows resolve. And I think that the real issue that came out of the debates last night was the clear differences on how we lead in the war on terrorism. And also, Senator Kerry really needed to show -- really needed to explain his contradictions and inconsistencies on Iraq. Not only did he fail to do that, he made matters worse when he talked about Iraq, and continued to show more -- it's part of a pattern with Senator Kerry. He continued to show more contradictions and inconsistencies.
But I think -- the campaign is going to be on the ground. You'll have campaign officials that will be there to talk to you more about those issues.
Q I'm not asking what he showed, I'm just asking, did he tell you or anyone that he felt annoyed or exasperated while he was up there?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, actually the President, last night and this morning, felt great about the debate, I think, like I said, for the reasons that I stated.
Q Did you learn anything new about him, style or substance, as a debater?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President?
Q Did the President, did the White House, did the campaign learn anything new about Senator Kerry's --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that might be a question you might want to direct to the campaign. And like I said, there are going to some campaign officials -- I think they'll talk to you on the ground when we get there, and they can talk to you more about those details. But what I was talking about, from the substantive standpoint of the differences over the war on terrorism, and that is the number one issue facing the American people, is how to lead in the war on terrorism to better protect the American people. And there were clear differences shown last night.
The President fully recognizes that September 11th changed the world that we live in, that there are dangerous threats out there that we face. And he talked about his two-prong strategy and multi-front approach to winning the war on terrorism. And Senator Kerry exhibited a pre-9/11 mentality throughout the debate.
Q Is there any consideration being given to not participating in any of the other two debates?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, no, I haven't heard anything like that. Again, those are good questions for the campaign. But I haven't heard anything like that. The President looks forward to the remaining debates.
Q Senator McCain earlier told us that he thought the debate went well for Kerry, and that, he said, it probably was his brightest moment in six months.
Q Months or six weeks?
Q I think six weeks, I'm sorry, six weeks. What is your -- do you disagree with McCain on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: You'll have campaign officials talk. I think Senator McCain talked about Senator Kerry's contradictions and inconsistencies, as well. That's what I saw him talk about last night.
Q Do you think the take on who won this, you know, there's more positive reviews from McCain from last night and this morning -- do you think that will change, as we go on and vet some of these things that McCain said, some of these positions he took and contradictions?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, if you look at -- and like I said, some of these questions are going to be good to talk to the campaign about. What I saw last night in the debate were the fundamental differences over how to lead in the war on terrorism. The President's number one responsibility is the safety and security of the American people. And this President will do what it takes to defend and protect the American people. And I think it shows that -- a very disturbing sense from Senator Kerry, when -- I think it shows something that is very disturbing, when Senator Kerry talks about meeting a global test to base his decision on defending America.
Q What is a global test? Do you know what that means?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Senator Kerry was talking about how he would leave decisions like this to other countries. And the President has talked about the importance of building strong coalitions, and we have built strong coalitions to confront the threats we face in the world. But he also recognizes that -- he's not going to let some other country veto a decision when it comes to protecting the American people. He'll talk a little bit more about this in his remarks. I don't want to get too far into it yet.
Q Bob Hillman?
MR. McCLELLAN: Week ahead.
Q Just one more, actually. On Israel's incursion in the Gaza, is Israel going too far with its incursion yesterday? What is your message?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've spoken to this issue a number of times. We want parties to focus on getting back to moving forward on the road map. And Prime Minister Sharon has a bold proposal that can help us get jump-started again on the road map. And it's an opportunity for the Palestinians to seize this moment. There continues to be ongoing violence. We've always said Israel has the right to defend itself, but it's also important to keep in mind the impact of those decisions. And it's important for all parties to refocus again on moving forward on the road map.
Okay, week ahead. On Monday, October 4th, the President will make remarks and sign the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 in Des Moines, Iowa. Then he'll participate in an "Ask President Bush" event in Clive, Iowa.
On Tuesday, there are no public events scheduled. We have the Vice Presidential debate in Cleveland, that night, obviously. On Wednesday, the President will participate in a "Focus on Medical Liability with President Bush" event in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Then he will make remarks at an Oakland County, Michigan Victory 2004 rally in Farmington Hills, Michigan. And on Thursday, the 7th, he will make remarks at a Wassau, Wisconsin Victory 2004 rally. We overnight in St. Louis. Then he'll participate in a Presidential debate on Friday in St. Louis, as you all are aware. We overnight Friday night in St. Louis.
Then on Saturday, he'll make remarks at a Missourians for Matt Blunt and the Missouri Republican Party Breakfast in St. Louis. Then he'll make remarks at a Waterloo, Iowa, Victory 2004 rally. Then remarks at a Scott County, Minnesota Victory 2004 rally. He'll overnight at the Bush ranch.
Q That's all Saturday, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. And Sunday no public events. He'll overnight at the Bush -- at the ranch in Crawford. And we'll be traveling through October 15th, and that will all be overnight travel. So we'll get you more details later on those events.
Q Sunday through the 15th, you travel straight?
MR. McCLELLAN: Back on the night of the 15th.
Q No D.C. anywhere in there?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we'll be overnighting.
Q In Crawford?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, Crawford I think Saturday and Sunday, and then we'll be overnighting elsewhere.
Q Overnighting until the 15th.
MR. McCLELLAN: On the road.
Q Overnighting that entire time -- I'm sorry -- overnighting different places into the 15th, is that what you're saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, that's what I said.
END 10:42 A.M. EDT