For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 15, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cedar Rapids, Iowa
12:58 P.M. CDT
MR. McCLELLAN: The President taped his radio address before we left, it will focus on the clear differences facing the American people on our biggest priorities. And then on board Air Force One he had his usual briefings this morning. We've got the remarks in Cedar Rapids and then the remarks in Oshkosh this afternoon, before he's back at the White House and on to Florida tomorrow.
Q Did he take any time to retool the speech, tweak the speech today?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can expect some new language. I think you can expect that he will talk about some of the differences on education and health care, among other items. You know, the debate really offered a clear contrast on the issue of education. Education -- a good education is key to good jobs in the future. And I think the President will talk about this. Senator Kerry seemed to show a real misunderstanding of that in the debate the other night, and I think the President will expand on that a little bit and talk about how in a changing economy we need to make sure that we have the best educated workforce.
Q Did he wade into the issue of the Mary Cheney remarks? Was he disturbed by them at all?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney addressed the matter. The President does not believe it was appropriate.
Q Are you looking for an apology from the Kerry camp?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's something for Senator Kerry to decide.
Q Why does he think it was not appropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think it's just the President, I think it's a lot of people viewed it in that context, John. I think that -- I cannot think of a single instance where a presidential candidate has talked about his opponent's child in such a way.
Q How do you feel about things? Are the polls going your way or -- how is the race going?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, since you brought it up, Steve, I did notice your all's this morning had the President up four, I believe. Look, I think what -- the debates offered an opportunity for the American people to really start learning more about the choice they face in November. There are very real differences on the most important priorities. And, you know, I think that the President will continue to focus sharply on those differences. There is a -- for instance, on Monday, when we go to New Jersey, the President will make remarks on the war on terrorism and I think he'll draw a sharp contrast between his approach, his comprehensive approach for winning the war on terrorism, and Senator Kerry's approach, which views it primarily as a law enforcement matter. The number one responsibility of a President is the safety and security of the American people.
And, you know, today, obviously, he'll draw a sharp contrast on the importance of education to our economy and to future economic growth.
Q Tom Kean says the President needs to get involved if this intelligence bill is to pass. Is he going to get involved?
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the premise, because he has been involved. The President has been involved for quite some time and the President --
Q -- Tom Kean, right? Tom Kean says the President needs to be more involved.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish addressing it. First of all, the President is firmly committed to passing intelligence reforms that build upon the many steps we are already taking. He urges congressional leaders to act as quickly as possible to reconcile their differences and get legislation to his desk. And at the direction of the President, Andy Card today is reaching out to some of the congressional leaders on this very issue. This is a high priority for the President. He strongly supports a National Intelligence Director that has full budget authority and has the other authority needed to be effective in that position. So we continue to urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on this legislation.
Q How important is it for Congress to do this before the election? And what, exactly, is Andy Card doing --
MR. McCLELLAN: For Congress to get it done as quickly as possible. This is a high priority for the President. He's been acting on many of the recommendations that were made by the 9/11 Commission, even prior to their final report coming out. We've acted in one way or another on 36 -- 41 of the recommendations. And there are additional steps that he believes build upon what we're already doing that will help us improve our intelligence gathering and sharing. And that's why we continue to urge Congress to act quickly. We remain in close contact with congressional leaders -- we have, and we will continue to do so. And like I said, Secretary Card will be -- is reaching out to some of the leaders today to talk further about this and urge quick action to reconcile their differences and get legislation to the President.
Q Can it be passed today -- I mean, before the election? And should it be passed before the election?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's what we're urging -- I mean, you're looking at it in that context; we're looking at it in the context that we want it done as quickly as possible. We want the Congress to get it done and --
Q How quickly is possible?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- they have been moving quickly. Both chambers have passed legislation. Now what they need to do is get together, reconcile their differences and get legislation to the President. And we're going to stay in close contact with them on those issues.
Q Tom Kean says that they should strip out these controversial provisions included in the House legislation, the law enforcement provisions, and just do the core of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. Does the White House agree with that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we'll be in touch with congressional leaders on all these issues to -- as we urge them to move quickly. And those -- obviously, I'm not going to get into negotiating with you all here on the plane. Those are discussions that we'll have with congressional leaders.
Q How is Card doing that outreach?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he's -- by phone from the White House.
Q Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, yesterday, had a radio interview in which he was critical of the President's debate performance, as well as Senator Kerry's. Is Schwarzenegger helping you, or is this helpful?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't seen his interview, so it's hard for me to comment on something I haven't seen or heard. Obviously, the President appreciates his strong support for his reelection. And Governor Schwarzenegger outlined some of the clear differences in the race during the convention. And he is a strong supporter of the agenda that the President has outlined, and we appreciate that support.
Q Why isn't the Governor out campaigning for the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: He said he would do what he could to help, and we appreciate -- he gave a very strong speech at the Republican Convention, and we appreciate that, and we look forward to his continued help as we get closer to election day.
Q Week ahead?
MR. McCLELLAN: I gave out Monday and Tuesday yesterday. At this point, we're not doing, necessarily, a full week ahead. As we have events finalized and ready to announce, we'll be announcing those events. But, obviously, there's a little bit of flexibility to be built in, in the final couple of weeks. We may have some additional days to announce later today, but that's all I've got.
Q We're going to get week aheads anymore?
MR. McCLELLAN: Through the remainder of the campaign, I wouldn't expect that you're going to get a full week ahead on Friday.
Q Why not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, because at this point in the campaign, you always have a lot of flexibility built in. There are a lot of events that are still being planned and scheduled. And as we finalize those events, and as they're scheduled, then we'll be announcing them. Like I did yesterday, I announced Monday and Tuesday. That was, obviously, prior to our usual day of Friday. But we'll get you the information --
Q -- basically assessing the state where you're --
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a lot of factors that play into it. It's not -- certainly, that's one thing you always keep in mind. But there are a number of states that we're trying to hit here in the final sprint to election day. And as we finalize those plans, we'll get you that -- we'll get you that information.
Q A local paper said that people in Jacksonville, Oregon got two weeks' notice on his visit last night. Was that an aberration? We could use a longer head's up, is what I'm saying.
MR. McCLELLAN: You know I always push to try to get stuff to you sooner than later. And we will do our best to get you the information. But at this point, we're just, what, 18 days to go before election day. I don't know that we're going to be able to get you stuff maybe as quickly as you would like, but we'll get it to you in advance. But yesterday, we got through Tuesday.
Q I appreciate that. My point is, if you could tell the locals, tell us.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, if we announce it one place, my goal is always we announce it to you all at the same time, we take that into consideration. Oh, and I think Nicole will probably do a previewing of next week, too, beyond just Monday, maybe talk a little bit about tomorrow, as well, on the ground. That's from the campaign perspective.
Q Is the speech Monday the war -- is it war on terror, anything specific?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see if we can get you more as we get closer to it, but I gave you the broad general outline. And some of it, he touched on -- was it a week ago, Wednesday? But this will be another significant speech he'll give.
Q Can you tell us about the radio address? That was pretty broad.
MR. McCLELLAN: You know that it's for tomorrow. It's not for today. And I always try to give a very general description, but I don't want to give away too much.
Q Especially general description, thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no. Usually it's one word. This is a whole sentence today.
END 1:09 P.M. CDT