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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 19, 2007
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En route Nashville, Tennessee
10:47 A.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Okay, the President's schedule today, normal briefings at 8:00 a.m. At 10:55 a.m. we'll have a tour of the Nashville Bun Company. The President will make remarks on the budget at the Opryland Convention Center, discussing how his fiscal policies are going to keep the economy growing, American's taxes low, and continue to move toward balance in the federal budget. He's going to highlight the debates and differences between the two parties when it comes to the economy and spending. At 4:05 p.m. he will return to the White House.
Today, also, there will be on "Ask the White House" -- OMB Deputy Director Steve McMillan will participate, at 1:00 p.m. EDT today, to discuss the budget.
A schedule update: Next Tuesday, the 24th of July, the President will visit the Charleston Air Force Base in Charleston, South Carolina, at the invitation of Senator Lindsey Graham. He will make remarks to military personnel. It will be pool for cameras and open for correspondents.
Q Why are we going here today? And is he going to be taking questions from the audience or anything?
MR. SNOW: Yes, he's likely going to be taking some questions from the audience. And what he's doing is a speech to highlight, again, the differences between the two parties when it comes to fiscal discipline.
Q Does he need to do the Q&As outside of Washington for a certain reason? What's the purpose?
MR. SNOW: Believe it or not, people outside Washington actually care about the government and they have a right to ask questions of the President. I think it's -- the President certainly takes plenty of questions in Washington, and it's always important to hear from people around the country.
Q Why did you pick the Opry House?
MR. SNOW: Because, basically, it's a good facility where you can pack in a bunch of people and at the same time have the right kind of -- essentially, people can exchange ideas and conversations. I mean, it's a good venue.
Q Can I change the subject to Pakistan? Does the President have full confidence in Musharraf, particularly given the violence there from the Islamic --
MR. SNOW: Well, I think -- look, President Musharraf has put his life on the line and has been a very important ally in the war on terror. It's also clear that Taliban and al Qaeda, in the northwest territories and the federally administered tribal areas, have begun to put on operations that threaten the government of Pakistan itself, which is why President Musharraf, having tried one approach, in terms of dealing with the tribal leaders, is now going to have to be more aggressive and is being more aggressive moving forces into the region to deal with the security problems there.
Q Does the President rule out any U.S. military activity in Pakistan?
MR. SNOW: We never rule out any options, including striking actionable targets.
Q I'm sorry, including --
MR. SNOW: Striking actionable targets.
Q Well, nobody else is doing it, okay. So is the President comfortable with not having any kind of deadline for North Korea to declare and to disarm its nuclear program? As you know, the talks are ending right now without a new deadline.
MR. SNOW: There will be continued diplomacy. The North Koreans understand that they need to finish the job not only of shutting down the Yongbyon reactor, but also making sure that they put an end to the reprocessing or enrichment of uranium or other fissile materials. That is absolutely necessary to move forward to the other portions of the September 13th agreement.
Q Can I just go back to the Pakistan question? Would the President seek Musharraf's permission to strike an actionable --
MR. SNOW: Again, I'm not going to talk about -- those are matters that are best not discussed publicly.
Q General Petraeus keeps saying that he views this update in September as a report, not a call for new policy. But the President is surely going to be asked to change policy by the Democrats at that time. Does the President view that as a policy turning point, or merely as a point to give a -- a time to give a report to Congress?
MR. SNOW: The President -- number one, you do not want to put General Petraeus in the position of recommending policy. He is somebody who is conducting a mission and is measuring the success of the mission and also trying to assess what may be shortcomings in the mission. So what the President expects is people to look at the facts.
And as we have been noting -- and certainly there are increasing metrics on this -- if you take a look at the first and predictable result of the surge, which is increased engagement with the enemy, you have seen significant changes on the ground as a result of U.S. efforts and also as a result of efforts by the Iraqis. That is something that members of Congress need to take into account. Obviously, there are also a lot of political considerations that are of interest in Washington. People are going to have to measure them. They'll see what happens come September 15th.
Q You said Charleston, with Lindsey Graham -- you said that was at Senator Graham's invitation?
MR. SNOW: Senator Graham's invitation.
Q Do you think they'll talk about Iraq? Senator Graham is a skeptic of the President's policy on Iraq.
MR. SNOW: No, he's not. No, no, he's not skeptical. So, I think -- look, the subject is likely to come up, certainly.
Q Is the President going to speak about Iraq there?
MR. SNOW: We'll let you know when we get closer. He'll be making remarks to military personnel.
Q This subject today is the budget. Does the President have any concern that Jim Nussle won't be confirmed? Is he aware of anything that might stand in the way of his confirmation?
MR. SNOW: No, we -- look, Jim Nussle is qualified. He has demonstrated, through a long career of public service and certainly familiarity with the budget and the budgetary process, that he is well suited to the job and we want to see him confirmed.
Q Do you have any hold on his nomination?
MR. SNOW: I don't, personally, but I don't frankly know what the -- that's probably something addressed to leg affairs if you want a fuller answer on it. I'll try to get you some background.
Okay, folks, let's sit down before we get hurled back and forth.
Q The trip is on the 24th or the 25th?
MR. SNOW: Twenty-fourth -- well, it's Tuesday, whenever Tuesday is, and I think that's the 24th. That's what it says here anyway, Tuesday.
Q Is Gordon Brown coming here, like, to Camp David?
MR. SNOW: Well, when we have something to announce, we'll announce it.
Q Okay, thanks.
Q Thank you.
MR. SNOW: Thank you.
END 10:55 A.M. EDT