For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 18, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Wrightstown, New Jersey
12:33 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give you the schedule update, and we'll continue later if we -- I know we're short on time, about to land here. But let me at least give you the schedule update for this week.
On Thursday, the 21st, the President will sign the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Then he'll make remarks on medical liability reform and health care in Downington, Pennsylvania. And then he'll make remarks at a Hershey, Pennsylvania Victory 2004 rally. We'll be back at the White House that night.
On Friday, he'll make remarks at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Victory 2004 rally. Then he'll participate in a Focus on Medical Liability Reform and Health Care with President Bush event, and then he attends a Victory 2004 dinner in St. Petersburg, Florida. And we overnight in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
And Saturday, we'll -- still working on finalizing those events. We will -- we will be --
Q Will it be Florida --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. On Friday. But Saturday and Sunday, we will be overnighting in Crawford.
Q Saturday and Sunday?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and we're still finalizing up the events for Saturday.
Q But they'll be Florida?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we're finalizing up all the events. We'll let you know.
Q Can you explain why the President rebuffed a proposal by the Saudis to have Muslim troops stationed in Iraq for the election?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure what you're -- what you're referring to.
Q The Saudi offered to have several hundred troops --
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you referring to a specific article? I haven't seen it.
Q Yes -- the LA Times, Newsweek -- I mean, Newsday.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's in Newsday today?
Q It's in Newsday and the LA Times.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I haven't seen -- I haven't seen the story. Let me take a look at it.
Q It quotes the White House.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me take a look at the story.
Q How about a response to Sanchez?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look -- you're talking about the Washington Post article?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is the one who supported and fought for the $87 billion in funding for the necessary resources for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. His opponent opposed the $87 billion to provide our troops with equipment and resources they needed to do the job.
Q Scott, that's not the issue.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it is the issue. And this is something that was -- a letter, I think you're referring to, from last December, worked it's way up through the chain of command. And when those issues come to our attention, we address those issues and make sure that they're addressed.
Q What about Sanchez, though, saying 10 months ago that he needed more troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what I just said, that when those issues come -- come up through the chain of command --
Q Did he --
MR. McCLELLAN: Wait -- more troops? I'm not sure what you're referring to in terms of more troops.
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of supplies?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're mischaracterizing --
Q I forget what word it was.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what I said, when issues like that come to the attention of the commanders and work their way up through the chain of command, then we make sure that those issues are addressed. The President always makes sure that our troops have the resources they need to get the job done. Senator Kerry is the one who opposed giving our troops the equipment and resources they needed when he voted against the $87 billion for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q What was the President's response back in December when he heard of Sanchez's concerns?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think this is one that went -- again, this is one that went up through the Pentagon chain of command to leaders at the Pentagon.
Q The President wasn't aware, back in December, that Sanchez had trouble getting body armor, had trouble getting spare parts for --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hold on a second -- hold on a second. I think you're mischaracterizing some of these issues. That's why I said, the President is committed to making sure that our troops have all the resources they need to complete their mission. And when issues like this come to -- come to the -- come to our attention, we make sure that they are addressed. And that's what's been done in this instance, as the Pentagon talked about in the article.
Q Scott, are you saying that $87 billion, when appropriated, dealt with all those issues?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the $87 billion provided funding for body armor and other equipment and supplies.
Q But you're saying that's why Sanchez wrote the letter in December, and the problem was --
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, we're landing. Sorry. Thanks. I'll continue later.
* * * * * 12:37 P.M. EDT
1:15 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: I checked on that -- all right, we'll start back over. I checked on that one article you referred to, and this was something that came up weeks ago. I mean, the Iraqi interim government had some real concerns about having troops from a neighboring country inside Iraq. The multinational force commanders also had some concerns about forces operating outside the chain of command structure.
Q But you're saying it's because of the Iraqi government.
MR. McCLELLAN: The government -- they had some real concerns, yes. And the multinational force commanders had some concerns.
Was there anything else you guys had?
Q What was that bill that he's signing? I didn't hear you, when you said a bill he's signing, before we go out on --
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I'll get you that information -- on Thursday, you mean? Yes, I'll get you that information for Thursday. Let me get you that information on the bill.
Q Why aren't we going to Ohio? The President hasn't been there in several weeks.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I forgot to mention Ohio -- that one event on Thursday is Canton, Ohio, the -- Friday, in Canton, Ohio, that's the event where he participates in Focus On Medical Liability Reform and Health Care. That's Canton, Ohio. I think I forgot to mention the town earlier. Then on to St. Petersburg from there. So Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida that day, on Friday.
Okay, thanks. Just wanted to finish up.
END 1:17 P.M. EDT