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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 28, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Birmingham, Alabama
10:58 A.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: On the President's schedule today: he spoke to the Senate Republican Conference a little bit ago, but you knew that; 11:05 a.m. local time, a briefing on energy in Hoover, Alabama. The participants include the Governor, the Mayor of Hoover, a Fleet Management Director at Hoover Public Safety Center, and Chairman and President of Central Alabama Clean Cities, Incorporated, and a Professor of Energy Corps at Auburn University. I'll supply the names if you need them. At 11:45 a.m., an interview with The Wall Street Journal; 12:05 p.m. the President will be making remarks, it will be pool coverage.
And also at 1:20 p.m. remarks at Bob Riley for Governor Luncheon in Birmingham for expanded pool. We expect that event to raise $1.76 million for the Riley campaign, $750,000 for the Republican Governors Association. Approximately 2,100 attendees.
Q The $750,000 is in addition to the $1.76 million, or a part of it?
MR. SNOW: I think it's separate.
Q So the total is --
MR. SNOW: It looks like two-and-a-half. That's as I read it. I'll double check to make sure.
Then a Deb Pryce for Congress, closed press event in New Albany, Ohio. Expected to raise $500,000 for the reelection campaign and Ohio Victory 2006, which is a state party get out of the vote effort. Approximately 300 attendees. Returning to the White House at 8:35 p.m.
The President's remarks today -- he'll have some energy remarks, but also we'll have extensive comments on the war on terror, the tools that are needed to win it. He will address the National Intelligence Estimate, but will also talk more broadly about the administration's strategy for winning the war on terror and the political differences between the two parties in their own words and their own votes, as far as proceeding with the battle against terrorists.
With that, I will take questions.
Q The Pryce --
MR. SNOW: I think that's in the large thing was the Riley -- the larger --
Q The lunch?
MR. SNOW: Yes, that's the lunch.
Q Could you talk more specifically about what kinds of differences he's going to point out?
MR. SNOW: For instance, differences in votes on matters like the Hamdan legislation yesterday in the House of Representatives. He'll be citing some of the comments that members of the Democratic leadership have made in recent days about what they think is necessary for winning the war on terror, and so on.
Q The Pryce thing tonight, is that hosted by the CEO of the Limited?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q Is he going to specifically name Democrats?
MR. SNOW: No, he will not. He will not be naming names. He will be reciting quotes, however.
Q So it will be clear who he's talking about?
MR. SNOW: If you have been reading the papers, you will know.
MR. SNOW: Uh-oh, says Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press.
Q About last night, Tony, did any new initiatives or promises come out of last night's meeting?
MR. SNOW: Last night -- let me take on last night's meeting in several ways. First, contrary to some of the early reports, there were handshakes in advance. You had the two presidents in the Roosevelt Room together before going into the Oval, warm handshakes extended all around, some preliminary chatting and joking before they went out to the Rose Garden, and then off they went to dinner.
The President said, and he may reiterate it later, but the President said, you may recall, in the East Room, that he would take a look at the body language of the two men. And what you had were both of them having a very candid exchange about their concerns with regard to policies on the two countries, but also the President was happy because there were constructive efforts made, which I'm really not going to go into detail about, but constructive efforts agreed upon to work together to fight the war on terror and also to address causes not nearly -- I hate to use the term root causes, but I will -- trying to develop civil society, roads, schools infrastructure, economic development, and address some of the causes that have lead to the grievances that terrorists do exploit when they're trying to recruit members, and especially the Taliban.
Q The Pakistani Foreign Minister had essentially said that their goal in the meeting was to achieve some sort of verbal cease-fire afterwards. Was there some sort of agreement on that front?
MR. SNOW: I think -- let me put it this way: The two have agreed to be in regular contact. I'm not going to disclose what they've said, but I will also not contradict the Foreign Minister.
Q On the NIE and on the remarks he's making today, how does the President feel the debate has sort of, perhaps, gone off track and that he needs to reset the button, in a sense?
MR. SNOW: Actually, I'm not sure we agree with Adam Nagourney's analysis on that, that it set things off track. What the NIE does is it focuses attention on the nature of the terrorists, and it does repeat what the President has been saying for the last few weeks about the nature of the threat. So I don't think it's certain it's off track. What he will do is call attention to portions of the NIE that maybe have not received as much attention as he thinks they deserve. But talking about the unpopularity of not only the politics but the methods and the potential governance of terrorists in the Muslim world, and also the stakes of the victory for democracy in Iraq, and what that would mean to the terror movement. And also what -- remind people of what bin Laden has said about its importance to him.
Q Is there any pressure on Negroponte to get the separate NIE specifically on Iraq out before January '07?
MR. SNOW: No, because he just started it a month ago. The idea that the Director of National Intelligence for political reasons is going to rush into completion something that requires significant deliberation is -- let me say, it would be highly unusual. And I think members of the intelligence committees understand that you want good intelligence done the proper way, with proper vetting and proper collaboration, rather than trying to do a rush job.
And the Director made it known to intelligence committees a month ago that they were beginning the report. They know what the time line is, they also know how long it takes to assemble these things. This is -- you don't pull an all-nighter. It's not like a college term paper that you slap together.
Q But did they already get --
MR. SNOW: And, no, they don't have one on the shelf.
Q Did they already get a head start when they were preparing this overall analysis of the war on terror? Isn't there already material that they can start working from?
MR. SNOW: Yes. Look, these guys do intelligence every day. They have plenty of material to work from, but what you also try to do is you look at disparate analyses and data from a wide variety of intelligence sources. And it takes time for people to work through and look at what they're doing. So whether you have a head start, it doesn't mean that you have a -- the material at hand for doing a comprehensive report. And once again, the idea of trying to do intelligence assessments for political deadlines is not what intelligence analysts signed up to do. Their job is to try to put together objective reports for consumers, which would include members of Congress, and to do so in such a way as to reflect the best judgment and information available.
Q Kazakhstan meeting tomorrow -- the issue of democracy and some of the United States government's concerns about efforts -- problems there, how much of the agenda will that take up? And will the President mention, for example, these two groups -- the two American groups there?
MR. SNOW: I don't know specifically. But typically at such meetings, the topic of democracy does come up. The President has said that freedom really is at the heart of the administration's agenda. I don't want to speak for the President in advance, but if history is any guide, it will come up.
Q How tricky is that whole dynamic and the calculus of how much time to spend on that versus other -- how tricky is that as you go into it?
MR. SNOW: I'm not sure it's that tricky. The President has got his own instincts on this, and I honestly can't -- that's kind of an impressionistic question. I'm not sure I have the metric to be able to answer it sensibly.
Q Can we get a little more on energy, what we can expect to hear from the President?
MR. SNOW: The President has said for some time that it's important for the United States to diversify away from carbon-based energy fuels -- oil and natural gas. What you have to do is to find alternatives that are going to allow Americans to have more choices, more energy independence. One of the things he's going to see today is an ethanol blend. But there is also going to be talk of cellulosic -- I think I've got that word correct -- energy sources. And the President really is committed to try to push hard for innovation.
What you need to do is you need to allow the market to start looking for new ways to meet our energy needs so that we're not dependent on foreign sources, and we also find ourselves -- so we can be independent of political and other shocks that could affect energy supplies, as well as, for instance, in the case of something like oil, or demand from other countries -- China and India and others -- affects oil prices and therefore affects the supply of energy to American citizens. So it's a big deal for him, and he will talk some about that.
END 11:08 A.M. EDT