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

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 22, 2008

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Fort Bragg, North Carolina

8:55 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning, everybody. We're en route to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where the President will make remarks at a division review ceremony at 10:00 a.m. You got some background on that last night on what the President will discuss, how our troops are returning home from Iraq because of the good work that they did there. He will detail what success will look like in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will talk mostly about Iraq, but there are some who are in Afghanistan as well, so he'll talk about that. He will stress the importance of Congress giving our troops all the resources they need, and the progress in Afghanistan and Iraq on our moving forward.

And then he's going to visit the barracks at 1:00 p.m. and then participate in an All-American Memorial Ceremony at 2:05 p.m. This is for -- to honor troops who have lost their lives in battle since World War I. At the ceremony a new Global War on Terror Memorial will be unveiled. The first event is open to the press, second one is pool coverage, and that third one, the memorial ceremony, is closed.

Q The barracks visit -- was that brought on by the disclosure of the shoddy living conditions?

MS. PERINO: Yes, in part. I mean, I don't know -- had that not arisen as an issue, I don't know what else the President might have done on the tour. He might have gone to visit the barracks anyway, or visit something else. But certainly he's been kept apprised of the efforts by the Army to improve the situation -- dramatically improve the situation. The President has been kept informed by Pete Geren, who will be with the President on the trip today. So the President is looking forward to making sure that those changes have been implemented and that the troops have a good and decent place to be when they return from all the hard work that they did overseas.

Q Farm bill -- where are we with the farm bill?

MS. PERINO: You tell me -- or the Democrats tell me.

Q What did he veto?

MS. PERINO: He vetoed -- the President vetoed the bill that the Democrats sent us. And, look, I understand there's a technical error and we'll have to see what the Congress decides to do, but maybe it gives them one more chance to take a look and think about how much they're asking the taxpayers to spend at a time of record farm income. The Congress had an opportunity to put forward -- I'm sorry -- to implement reforms, much needed reforms, and they decided not to. And I think with this move it shows that they can even up screw up spending the taxpayers' money unwisely.

Q What was that --

MS. PERINO: Said they can -- they've proved that they can even screw up spending the taxpayers' money unwisely. (Laughter.) Laughter by reporters. (Laughter.)

Q I read someplace that the Third Division of the 82nd Airborne is being redeployed; that they got the orders this -- earlier this week and they're going to be redeployed sometime this fall. Can you confirm that? Have you heard that?

MS. PERINO: No. I'll have to refer you to DOD or to Fort Bragg to -- we'll see if we can confirm it for you on the ground. I wouldn't be able to tell you either way.

Anything else? Okay, I know it's a short flight.

Q What is the main message of the President's speech today? I mean, you went over the -- some of the details there, but is there one main common read thread?

MS. PERINO: Sure. I mean, obviously the country and the President has asked a lot of our military, and the 82nd Airborne is revered for all of the work that it does, the commitment that they have to protecting Americans from -- in this conflict and the conflicts that have come before it. The President will talk about how grateful he is, on behalf of the nation. He will say that they have performed with skill and valor.

He will say that he can see why the 82nd Airborne is known as "America's guard of honor;" that he sees the strength of the greatest military the world has ever known. And in Fort -- and in the families of Fort Bragg, many of whom will be there today, he will thank them for the service he -- as he has said before, the President believes that the military families serve right alongside with their loved ones, and in some cases it's even harder because they sit and worry while the soldiers are out doing the good work on behalf of the American people.

Q The timing -- is there some timing here?

MS. PERINO: They've just returned from Iraq, so this ceremony, the division review is when they come home, so this is the timing.

Q Is it just Iraq or is it --

MS. PERINO: No, he will talk about Afghanistan a little bit, as well, and --

Q There are people returning from Afghanistan*, as well?

MS. PERINO: Can we find out? I believe so, but we'll find out.

Q Will he make remarks at the barracks, about the barracks? I mean, will he make -- address it at all?

MS. PERINO: Sometimes that's a little bit more spontaneous, so we'll see. It's pool coverage and you'll get the video for sure and then we'll see.

Okay. Thanks.

END 9:00 A.M. EDT

*Military personnel are returning from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

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