The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 15, 2007

Press Gaggle by Scott Stanzel
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Wichita, Kansas

10:39 A.M. EDT

MR. STANZEL: Good morning, everyone. We are on our way to Wichita, Kansas, where the President will visit the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas. He will also attend a Roberts Victory Committee reception. And then we'll be on our way to Crawford and to the ranch.

I'll go through the President's schedule. I do have the week ahead. I'll take a few questions -- probably leave the week ahead until the end.

This morning the President taped the radio address. The topic was keeping taxes low and restraining spending. One of the ways to curb federal spending is through earmark reform, so that is also a focus. At 7:25 a.m. this morning, he had his normal briefings. And as you all know, he made remarks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning.

As I mentioned, the visit to the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas -- it's the 21st Street Club. The Boys and Girls Club has been providing creative programs for children for more than 100 years, and now serves more than 5 million children every day. And this particular facility --

Q How many?

MR. STANZEL: Five million --

Q A day?

MR. STANZEL: A day. Boys and Girls Club nationwide.

Q Not this particular one.

MR. STANZEL: That would be a large facility. (Laughter.) But this is a new facility that the President is visiting. And it's home to a unique mentoring and educational complex that provides high-risk -- provides high-quality education to at-risk youth, ages 3-18. So the President will see -- tour the facility and see a number of activities and classes. And there will be pool coverage of two of the stops that he will be making.

The President will then attend a Roberts Victory Committee reception, and Senator Pat Roberts is traveling on Air Force One today, so that is occurring. And then we arrive in Crawford just before 5:00 p.m. today.

So, with that, I will take your questions.

Q Is he down for the weekend then?


Q The latest on Gaza?

MR. STANZEL: As you know, Secretary Rice called President Abbas yesterday to talk about the current situation and talk about the United States support for President Abbas and for the Palestinian moderates who have made the commitment to working with Israel and others in the region who want peace. We will continue to work with those in the Palestinian population who have chosen the pathway to peace.

As you know, that choice is being challenged in Gaza by individuals who have attacked the legitimate security forces of the Palestinian Authority. And these individuals are trying to extinguish the hopes of the Palestinian people for their own state.

We believe that the pathway to peace is through the negotiating table, not through violence, and not through terrorism. President Abbas, we believe, has exercised his lawful authority as President of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the people, and we support his decisions to try to end this violence.

Q How concerned is the President about the prospect of a terrorist state in the middle of the Middle East? That's obviously been a focus of his foreign policy, trying to prevent that.

MR. STANZEL: No one wants to abandon the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the Gaza Strip to the mercies of a terrorist organization. We're certainly not going to participate in the extinguishing of the hopes of the whole -- of a whole swath of the Palestinian population who wants to live in a peaceful, stable, democratic state. So it's certainly of concern and we will continue to work with President Abbas.

Q How do you isolate Hamas without alienating or turning your back on those people you're talking about?

MR. STANZEL: I'm sorry, say that again?

Q How do you isolate Hamas without turning your back on the very people that you're saying that you want to make sure you help, the Palestinian --

MR. STANZEL: We will -- one of the issues that has come up is the training. We do provide support to the forces in -- training and non-lethal support to the security forces that report to President Abbas. The State Department is actually looking at that support and that assistance to see what the best way forward is on that, and certainly the State Department and officials there have been very active on this issue, as well.

Q What do you want Israel to do?

MR. STANZEL: I'm going to refrain from getting into speculating about what we want each and every country in the region to do. But we support the people in the region who want to have a stable and peaceful region that can have two states living side-by-side, and get back to the Quartet process.

Q Is the administration prepared to cede Gaza to Hamas?

MR. STANZEL: As I indicated, no one wants to abandon the hopes of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the Gaza Strip who want to live in peace and stability.

Q But what are you going to do, then?

MR. STANZEL: I'll just refer you back to the answer I gave a moment ago.

Q What about an international force? I think somebody was asked that yesterday, also -- international force into the region?

MR. STANZEL: Tony Snow answered that yesterday in the briefing, and I would refer you to his answer.

Q Scott, on immigration, now that you've had a chance to look at what the Senate announced last night, the leaders, what's your kind of assessment of the prospects of that legislation? Do you have a better sense of what's actually in the --

MR. STANZEL: We are encouraged by the announcement of the leaders last night that immigration reform legislation will be brought back up for consideration. We are encouraged that there is a bipartisan majority in the Senate that does support the major components of the legislation. They've indicated they'll bring it back up. I'll leave it to them on the timing, exactly, but the President, in his talks with senators earlier in the week and his remarks yesterday to talk about how we get that mandatory funding, $4.4 billion for the security triggers -- we think that's an important aspect of what the Senate will be considering as it's included in the overall proposal.

Q Have you looked at any of the other amendments, because that seemed to be --

MR. STANZEL: That process is ongoing, and certainly members of the White House staff, along with Secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez, are talking with senators about that. It will be up to the leaders to decide the specific amendments that are decided and considered, but we're encouraged by the process and their announcement that it would move forward.

Q Will the President wait until Libby goes to prison before he thinks about a pardon or considers a pardon?

MR. STANZEL: I'm going to decline to weigh in to that. As Tony indicated yesterday, there's a process that's ongoing, so I'm not going to speculate about that.

Q Back on the Middle East. The President is meeting with Olmert on Tuesday. What is he going into that meeting expecting to accomplish?

MR. STANZEL: Well, certainly it will be a discussion about the current situation and the turmoil in the Middle East. As we get closer, we'll have more to offer about the exact conversation. But that's going to be an important meeting with Prime Minister Olmert that we look forward to.

Q Have we looked for additional aid to Fatah on --

MR. STANZEL: You know, I would refer you to the State Department because they are looking at the different assistance that is provided, and how we should we proceed from here. I'll refer you to them, because they're conducting a review of that.

Q Is the President going to be joined by any of his family? I'm sorry, is the President going to be joined by his daughters for Father's Day or anyone else --

MR. STANZEL: I'll let you know that. I don't have information on who will be on the ranch yet.

Q Can we anticipate hearing the President say anything about either Gaza or immigration today in his remarks?

MR. STANZEL: I'll keep you posted. I don't have anything at this point.

Week ahead?

The week ahead: The President, on Monday, June 18th, at just after noontime, the President attends a Republican National Committee luncheon in Washington, D.C. At 2:05 p.m., he will sign H.R. 1676, which is the Native American Home Ownership Opportunity Act of 2007. At 4:55 p.m., the President will make remarks to the NCAA championship teams on the South Lawn.

On Tuesday, June 19th, at 9:50 a.m. in the morning, the President meets with Prime Minister of Israel -- and that's in the Oval Office. And at 6:30 p.m., the President and Mrs. Bush attend the congressional picnic on the South Lawn.

On Wednesday, the President participates in a group photo with the Caribbean heads of government at the State Department. And then at 10:55 a.m., the President will meet with the Caribbean heads of government, also at the State Department.

On Thursday, the President will make remarks at the Friends of Jeff Sessions Senate Committee reception. And that is at 5:05 p.m. in Mobile, Alabama.

On Friday, June 22, the President will meet with the President of Vietnam in the Oval Office at 11:00 a.m. At 3:00 p.m., the President will make remarks at a celebration of Black Music Month.

And on Saturday, he has no public events.

On Sunday, June 24th, the President and Mrs. Bush will attend Ford's Theater Gala. That's obviously at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. And that's a network taping.

And also, a schedule update: On Wednesday, June 27th, the President will host the White House T-ball game between the teams from Luray Little League of Luray, Virginia, and the Allegheny County Little League of Cumberland, Maryland. This will be the first girl's softball -- T-ball game at the White House, and the 16th T-ball game on the South Lawn since 2001 --

Q Sixteenth?

MR. STANZEL: Sixteenth, that's correct. And the game will be honoring women in sports.

Q Scott, when will we see the stem cell bill veto?

MR. STANZEL: I have no updates for you on that.

Q On the radar at all?

MR. STANZEL: It certainly is, but I don't have any information on when that might be. But we did put out a statement following the passage.

Okay, thank you all.

END 10:50 A.M. EDT

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