For Immediate Release
September 14, 2005
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Andrews Air Force Base
4:12 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I wanted to update you on the schedule and also talk a little bit about tomorrow's speech. First of all, tomorrow the President will make a stop in Mississippi, then we will go on to New Orleans. The President looks forward to addressing the nation tomorrow night from New Orleans. This speech will be an opportunity for the President to update the American people about the latest developments of our recovery and talk about the way forward as we begin the rebuilding.
Let me come back to that in a second, because I want to mention one thing about Friday, too, on the schedule.
The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance will be at the National Cathedral on Friday. The President will make remarks during the prayer service. And then President Putin will be coming that afternoon and the President will participate in a meeting with President Putin and then participate in a joint press availability with him Friday afternoon.
Back to the speech for tomorrow. Katrina was one of the largest and worst natural disasters in our nation's history. The magnitude and scope of Katrina was unprecedented and people across the Gulf Coast region have gone through tremendous suffering. The President has seen firsthand the devastation and loss. He's heard from people who have been affected and lost all or much of what they had, many of who have lost family and friends -- or a number who have lost family and friends. The President has seen the flooding in New Orleans. He's seen the homes destroyed in communities in Mississippi. And he thought that tomorrow night is a time to talk to the American people about the importance of coming together to do all we can to support the people of the region as we move forward on the difficult work ahead.
Through all the suffering and loss those affected have gone through, I think it's important for them to know that the American people are coming together to help. And we, as a nation, will be in this for the long haul. And as we continue the recovery and relief, we are beginning the longer-term rebuilding, which will be a difficult process. And there are certain commitments that we have as a nation that the President will talk about tomorrow in his remarks. We have a commitment to help meet the immediate needs of those who have suffered. And we have a commitment to help the people of the region rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities, and help them by supporting a locally-inspired vision for the longer-term rebuilding. As the President has said, he believes it should be that the rebuilding should be planned locally with the full support of the federal government. And we want to see a region that is better and stronger than before.
And we also as a nation have been showing our tremendous -- or our great generosity. The American people have been providing support through helping feed people to providing cash donations to relief organizations, like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, to help them meet the needs of the people in the region during this difficult time. America has always been a nation that has risen to the challenge in the face of adversity and we will do so again. Time and time again we have come back from difficult circumstances and rebuilt communities after natural disasters -- whether it's flooding or fires or hurricanes -- and we will do so again in this instance, as well.
The President looks forward to giving the remarks tomorrow, and I'm here for whatever questions you have.
Q Scott, does the President have confidence in Kofi Annan? And does he think he's the right person to lead the U.N. forward -- effort going forward?
MR. McCLELLAN: We support the United Nations. We continue to support the Secretary General in his work. We both share a commitment to reforming the United Nations and making sure that it is a strong and effective multilateral organization.
Q Scott, is the President prepared to name an official to be in charge of the recovery effort, a czar?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there will be -- in his remarks tomorrow, like I said, he'll talk about the commitments and that there will be some new initiatives that he will talk about in the remarks, as well. I'm not sure that I would look at it in the terms that you're describing any of those initiatives. I don't want to get far ahead of the speech, but if you're asking if that's something he's talking about tomorrow, I would not expect that to be something he's talking about tomorrow.
Q Scott, do you know where he's going to be talking and who will be there with him --
MR. McCLELLAN: Of course, you know, "czar" is a broad term. I mean, there are a lot of ideas that we're discussing for the way forward, but I would discourage you from that notion tomorrow night.
Q Where will he be making the remarks and who is going to be there with him?
MR. McCLELLAN: He will be -- I'm not going to get into the precise location right now. He'll be in New Orleans. There will not be an audience, if that's what your question is. I expect the remarks will probably be a little under 30 minutes. I think we're going to start at 9:02 p.m., to accommodate the networks -- 9:02 p.m. eastern, that is. And we'll keep you posted if there are any other officials that may be present. But there won't be an audience that he'll be speaking to.
Q When you say czar is too broad a term, when some people use that term they mean --
MR. McCLELLAN: Not too broad, I mean, it's just a broad term. That's something I think it's hard to respond to, what's your definition of "czar." I think a lot of people have a lot of different definitions. But the idea of a so-called czar that I've heard some people discuss, I mean, I would discourage you from that notion in tomorrow night's remarks.
Q Some people say that -- talk about it in terms of having somebody oversee the money for the rebuilding and that part of it. I mean, would you discourage us from that, too?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what do you mean by the money in terms of the rebuilding? Like I said, this is going to be a -- there's a lot of difficult work ahead and that's why it's so important for the nation to come together to help the region and the people of the region address the challenges that they face. And we will. And I think that's a message that the President will emphasize tomorrow, as well.
Q How would you characterize the initiatives that --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's tomorrow night's speech. I was trying to give you a preview, but I'm not trying to get into some of the new things that he's going to announce tomorrow. But, I mean, we're in the beginning of the rebuilding at this point, and there are a lot of ideas that people are expressing. The President wants people to think big. Most importantly, he believes that it should be driven locally, in terms of the vision and the planning, with the full support of the federal government.
Q Is he going to announce the new initiatives?
MR. McCLELLAN: There will be some new initiatives in the remarks.
Q -- at the event in Mississippi, do you know yet? Or can you tell us anything on that yet?
MR. McCLELLAN: I consider it just an OTR event, so we'll keep you posted.
Q You're not saying yet where the New Orleans speech will be?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. It's in New Orleans, though.
Q Is there some other stop in New Orleans -- or Louisiana, other than the speech?
MR. McCLELLAN: Just Mississippi and New Orleans tomorrow. And we'll come back tomorrow night. Okay? Thank you all.
END 4:20 P.M. EDT