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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 3, 2006

Press Gaggle by Tony Fratto
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Sioux City, Iowa

2:46 P.M. EST

MR. FRATTO: We're on our way to Iowa from the great state of Missouri -- to the great state of Iowa from the great state of Missouri. The President, of course, had his normal briefings this morning. We're heading to Iowa for a Iowa Victory 2006 Rally.

Of course, we're coming off two really strong rallies in Missouri -- in Springfield and Joplin. The crowds were really impressive and loud and with the President. And one thing we want to point out on these crowds at these rallies is this is more than just showing up for a rally; these are actually volunteer grassroots organization events. These volunteers, they come out to the rallies; they're also given assignments to go out and man phone banks and do door-to-door operations. I think -- one of our people was telling me that the rally in Springfield this morning, they're going to go right out and make 10,000 contact calls following that campaign. So it's more than just a rally, this is part of a -- the strategic part of the effort here to get the base out and vote and support these candidates.

The Iowa Victory Rally, a couple of notes on that: Of course, it's with Congressman Nussle, the gubernatorial candidate. Senator Chuck Grassley will be there, as well. Representative Steven King will be there. From Iowa we'll go on to Colorado, where we'll remain overnight for events there tomorrow.

Let me give you a couple notes on the week ahead. I think you all have the week ahead going through Election Day. Right now, no public events scheduled for Wednesday, the 8th. That, of course, could change.

On Thursday, November 9th, the President and Mrs. Bush will present the 2006 National Medals of Arts and the National Humanities Medals. This will be in the Oval Office. The President will meet with his Cabinet. And he'll also have a meeting with the President-elect of Mexico.

On Friday, the 10th, the President will participate in the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. He'll remain in Washington that evening, and on Saturday he'll participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and will make remarks on Veterans Day.

Of course, the news today that we were all happy to see was the really impressive jobs report that came out this morning showing continued very strong job growth, nearly half-a-million new jobs created over the last three months, and the unemployment rate down to 4.4 percent. This is really good news, it was good news for American workers. Every month we're seeing Americans finding new jobs.

And another important measurement that came out in the data this morning was the continued good news on wage growth, where we're seeing real wage gains for American workers across the spectrum.

And one more important piece of news in those numbers was the numbers for the Hispanic community. We're seeing record high employment across all demographic groups, and in particular, the numbers for Hispanic workers in this country down to 4.7 percent, which is an all-time high for that demographic group.

So this is really good news. The U.S. economy continues to perform very strongly. Businesses are doing well; they're hiring, and more people are having more take-home pay. As for what this means for Tuesday, this long line of continued good news I think has informed voters on Tuesday of this choice that the President has been discussing. And in addition to the choice that Americans have to make on who best to protect this country, we think the choice is clear on that. We also think it's very clear on the economy in terms of who's going to keep your taxes low and keep this economy growing and creating jobs. So it's a very good report to see today.

Any questions?

Q Do you think that this -- these types of jobs data are sustainable looking ahead?

MR. FRATTO: Yes, we do, actually. We see growth in the economy continuing certainly well into next year at a level that is strong enough to sustain continued job growth. On any month-to-month numbers, you're going to see numbers go up and down and fluctuate sometimes, so you want to look at the trend. And if you look at the trend, you're seeing, over the past year, over 2 million jobs created in the last three-plus years, nearly 7 million -- 6.8-plus million jobs created. And it's been -- it has been trending at a relatively steady rate and that rate is showing up in the unemployment rate, that you see is very low -- that people who want to go out and find jobs, what the data is telling us is that they are finding jobs.

Q Which congressional district are we going to today? Is that Iowa 1, do you know?

MR. FRATTO: I think it's 5 -- yes. It's Representative Steve King, his district.

Q Tony, yesterday, in the senior administration official briefing -- not your briefing, the second briefing yesterday -- that person said that the three key competitive Republican races are Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia, and that in the next answer said that the places where the President can make the most impact are Missouri and Montana. Why do you think the President can't make an impact in Tennessee or Virginia?

MR. FRATTO: I'm not sure that he can't make a difference in those races. Actually the President has campaigned in those states. He campaigned in Virginia very recently, just about 10 days ago, I believe -- was there with Senator Allen. So the -- and, of course, the President, every day, is in the Maryland and Virginia media market. So he's making an impact in those states, as well.

Look, what we have said, and what the senior administration official said is that we're looking for specific races where -- some of you have pointed out that these are Republican areas, and what you see sometimes in midterm elections is a difficulty in getting turnout for candidates in midterms. So where the President is going are places where he can specifically have a strong impact in turning out the vote and getting Republicans to the polls on Tuesday, and that that will carry candidates over the finish line.

So these are all very -- these are all competitive races that we're going to and the races that are going to factor into the final numbers. So I can tell you, we've only been adding places to go, we haven't been cancelling any events.

Q Are you adding any more places to go?

MR. FRATTO: I've nothing to report on that right now, and I don't want you to hold out expectation that something -- that I'm keeping something from you, but I don't know.

Q It's possible then, right?

MR. FRATTO: Yes, anything is possible. I'm sorry, Rog.

Q Can you respond to this U.N. official saying that nearly 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing each month to Syria and Jordan?

MR. FRATTO: You know, we've seen these kinds of reports before. I'm not sure that they're -- I haven't actually seen the actual report, I've just heard of news reports on this, so I don't want to be very -- I don't want to comment on the numbers because I don't know how accurate they are. We've seen reports like this where the numbers are not accurate, in looking back.

But obviously there's some level of violence in Baghdad, and it's natural that you would expect some people to leave. But we're going to continue to work to try to bring down violence so that Iraqis can stay there and stay in a free country and a free democracy.

Q And another international thing. Iran supposedly successfully test-fired three missiles today. Do you have a response to that?

MR. FRATTO: Today? I didn't see reports on missiles tested today. But I think what I've heard that this is part of their regular exercises. But I don't have a comment on what the meaning of them testing missiles is.

Q This Reverend Haggard out in Colorado, is he someone who is close to the White House? There had been reports that he was on the weekly call with evangelicals. Is that true?

MR. FRATTO: I'm actually told that that's not true, that he has -- in terms of a weekly call that he has? He had been on a couple of calls, but was not a weekly participant in those calls. I believe he's been to the White House one or two times. I don't want to confine it to a specific number because it would take a while to figure out how many times. But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House, and --

Q -- when was he at the White House?

MR. FRATTO: I couldn't tell you specifically. I know that there was a picture of him with the President in one of the TV reports, so obviously he met with the President at some point in time.

Look, this is a personal issue for someone. It's something that Reverend Haggard needs to deal with, with his family and his church. And I'm not sure that there's any comment beyond that that's necessary.

Q Would that make evangelicals dispirited and maybe sit out the election Tuesday?

MR. FRATTO: I doubt it. I doubt it.

Q Why?

MR. FRATTO: Well, because I think the community you're referring to understands where the Republican Party is on issues that are important to them, and someone's -- something that an individual did that affects them personally shouldn't affect their interest in advancing issues that they care about.

Q Any comment on the report about posting of plans for building nuclear weapons on the Internet?

MR. FRATTO: Obviously, there was some -- something unfortunate occurred where certain documents were placed on an Internet site. I know the DNI is dealing with it. They took down the site. They're reviewing the other documents that would be available to be seen on the site, were it still up, and doing the forensic testing to determine who might have accessed those documents since they were posted. And they're also reviewing the procedures to make sure -- to see what happened in this case and to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

I think it is important that we remember, this is a stark reminder of what Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions were. He certainly had the know-how, he had scientists who were knowledgeable. And I think that's something just to keep in mind here.

Q A couple questions about tomorrow. First, can you tell us anything more about the subject of the radio address? And also, the President mentioned there will be some sort of celebration for Mrs. Bush's birthday. Can you tell us anything about that?

MR. FRATTO: He did mention that? Then he knows, and I don't. (Laughter.) He hasn't told me. Did he say that in --

Q At the last stop.

MR. FRATTO: -- at the last stop. I must have been on the phone or something. I obviously missed that. I'm sure we can read out what the President does with Mrs. Bush's birthday celebration, and hopefully I'll have more for you on that later.

The first question was --

Q Radio address.

MR. FRATTO: Oh, on the radio address, obviously, as I announced yesterday, we'll do that live in Colorado. Some of --

Q Familiar subject --

MR. FRATTO: -- on a familiar subject.

Q There are a number of familiar subjects, aren't there?

MR. FRATTO: I think you'll see a strong message on the economy. But I should just caution you that it's live, it hasn't been recorded yet, and it can obviously change up until the last minute. But I do know that the economy would be a --

Q Will we get the text immediately afterwards or --

MR. FRATTO: I need the help of someone like Josh Deckard here to help me with the logistics on that.

MR. DECKARD: We won't put it beforehand. We'll do it afterwards, just like it was a regular speech or remarks, or something like that.

Q Do you know anything about the demographics of the people who were at the rallies today, where they come from? Are they affiliated with churches or --

MR. FRATTO: I actually don't know. It looked like a great crowd, though. That was one of the strongest rally crowds I've seen. They were really involved. They caught on to the President's audience participation section in the speech enthusiastically, and in unison. I thought that was really impressive. It was a great crowd. But I don't know what the -- I don't know how they were put together. I know there were tickets handed out and people showed up, but beyond that I don't know.

Okay? Thank you.

END 3:01 P.M. EDT