For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 26, 2001
Remarks by the President
And Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Earley
in Photo Opportunity
the Oval Office
11:23 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to
welcome the next governor of Virginia to the Oval
Office. This man is going to win because he knows a couple
of truths -- one, that it's important to let people keep their own
money. I appreciate your strong stance on holding the line
on cutting the car tax in Virginia.
And, secondly, he has prioritized
education and he knows full well that if you have a governor who knows
how to lead, you can set clear spending priorities. And so I
believe Mark has got the right issues, the right vision and the right
skill to be a great governor for Virginia.
Secondly, here in Washington, we're making
progress on some key issues. I've been meeting with members
of the Congress on the patients' bill of rights; I will continue to do
so throughout the day. Secondly, I had a very good visit
with Senator Lieberman and Senator Santorum on the faith-based
initiative, a positive discussion about how to get the bill fashioned
so it moves through the Senate. And then, of course, be
combined with the House version.
The members agree -- at least, the two
members that came to see me agree with how important this initiative
is. It's important to set aside politics and focus on
helping people. And the faith-based initiative does
that. And, again, I want to repeat how appreciative I am
that Senator Lieberman and Senator Santorum took time out of their day
to come and visit.
Soon to be Governor Earley is going to say
a few remarks. I'll answer a couple of questions
MR. EARLEY: Thank you, Mr.
President. We appreciate the opportunity to be
here. And one of the reasons we're excited to be here today
is this is really the beginning of tax season rebate in
America. I think it sort of really clarifies what this
President has done and what we are trying to continue to do in Virginia
-- and that's to let people keep more of the money they
earn. That's why we want to finish the job we've begun on
cutting the car tax and do it on time and on target, and then cut the
And we want to make sure that we also have
the best schools we can in Virginia, which is why we're focusing on
reducing class sizes in targeted classrooms, raising our teachers'
salaries to the national average, and creating opportunities that will
empower low-income families to be able to access educational
opportunities for their families.
So we appreciate your work, Mr. President,
on sticking with your guns on the tax rebates. We've got a
lot of very happy families in Virginia and across America.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks,
Mark. You're going to win.
Q Mr. President,
why do you think China agreed, finally, to release the two
scholars? And, to you, what does it say about the
relationship between the U.S. and China?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would
hope that part of it is because of the pressure our government has put
on China. I spoke directly to Jiang Zemin on this very
subject, about the humane treatment of U.S. citizens and/or legal
residents. Perhaps China is beginning to realize that as she
begins to deal with Western nations, she's going to have to make better
decisions on human rights.
Q Are you not
giving up on patients' bill of rights being voted on before the August
recess? And do you feel that your influence -- especially
with Republicans in the House -- is diminished from what it was?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we've
had a pretty good six months, when you think about it. I've
signed a lot of legislation. Today, for example, I signed
the legislation naming the education savings accounts after Paul
Coverdell. That's a piece of legislation that had languished
in the past; it's now law.
I signed tax cuts. I signed
some regulatory relief. I am very pleased with the
cooperative spirit in the Congress. And I do believe that we
can get a good patients' bill of rights. I think the members
of Congress have taken me seriously when I said there is a -- I want a
But there are some things that are
unacceptable to me. And the most unacceptable thing to me is
that there be a piece of legislation that encourages lawsuits and
discourages American citizens from being able to afford health
insurance. I am deeply worried about any legislation that
will cause people to have less health insurance. I refuse to
accept that legislation.
Now, having said that, I've been in some
serious discussions today. We're trying to find some common ground on
getting a bill that I can sign, and I believe we're making progress.
Q Mr. President,
Iraq tried to knock down a U-2 plane today. Do you fear that
they have enhanced their ability to knock out allied planes, and what
can you do about it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're
going to keep the pressure on Iraq. The no-fly zone strategy
is still in place. We are in -- plus, I'm analyzing the data
from the incident you talked about. I look forward to
finding out all the facts. But there's no question that
Saddam Hussein is still a menace and a problem. And the
United States and our allies must put the pressure on him.
That's why I brought up to Mr. Putin in
Genoa, the need for us to work in concert at the United Nations, to
make sure that we have a sanction policy that will work.
Q The sanction
Lieberman mentioned today there's some outright opposition to
faith-based, and he thought that could be eased, and some other people
said that could be eased if there's some change in the language on
discrimination. Is that something that you would consider
doing to get the faith-based through?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're
going to work with the Senate to get a good bill out. There
are some other concerns that he brought up. And I told him
we'd be willing to work with him, without compromising on
principle. He understood that. He and I share the
same principle, about the need to rally faith-based organizations in
And one of the principles is, we should
never undermine the civil rights laws of the United
States. And I believe it's very important that the civil
right -- the whole spirit and law of the civil rights legislation be
Q Mr. President, on
the immigration proposal that you're weighing, sir, is there some
reason that only Mexican workers should be considered? What about
those from other countries?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll
consider all folks here. Let me make this very clear to
people, that there was -- a word was creeping in the vernacular about
this issue, called amnesty. I oppose blanket amnesty. The
American people need to know that. I do believe, though,
that when we find willing employer and willing employee, we ought to
match the two. We ought to make it easier for people who
want to employ somebody, who are looking for workers, to be able to
hire people who want to work.
And I know we can do so in a humane way
that treats people with respect. Obviously, the Mexican
issue is at the forefront because we're preparing for my first state
visit with my friend, Vicente Fox. But I'm
open-minded. I'll listen to all proposals that people have
Let me make another point on
Mexico. It is wrong for the Congress to discriminate against
Mexican trucks. And I urge the Senate to reject an amendment
to the transportation bill that would clearly discriminate against
Mexican truckers. Our Mexican counterparts and friends need
to be treated just like the Canadians are treated. We ought
to accept the spirit of NAFTA.
And so whether it be people, or trucks, or
businesses, I solidly reject discrimination against people who are
here, of all origins, particularly Mexico. And the reason
why Mexico's on the front burner as far as the immigration issue, of
course, is because of the initiative that Vicente Fox and I outlined,
an initiative that encourages discussions, headed up by -- it's Colin
Powell and John Ashcroft and their counterparts. And by the way, an
initiative that is making good progress on making sure relations with
our neighbor to the south are strong and cohesive, and there's a
strategy that works and respectful. And we're making good
progress, and the American people ought to be proud of that.
MR. JOHNDROE: Thank you all.
Q New furnishings.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, they
are. Thank you for noticing. The couches -- Mrs.
Bush deserves a lot of credit.
Q The rug?
THE PRESIDENT: No, the rug is
temporary. The rug will have the -- we're in the process of
weaving a new rug. And each President, as you probably know,
since you've been around here some -- well, a long time -- each
President designs his own rug. I've designed mine, and it's
now being woven, and will be here in about three months. And
I look forward to --
Q The Alamo up on
the wall is not an indication of how you feel in the White House right
now, is it?
THE PRESIDENT: I feel great.
Listen, I think we've had one of the most constructive first six months
of any presidency. And we're making great progress on a lot
of issues. No, I've always -- a dictatorship would be a heck
of a lot easier, there's no question about it. But dealing
with Congress is a matter of give and take. The President
doesn't get everything he wants, the Congress doesn't get everything
they want. But we're finding good common ground.
And I also want to remind you all, we're
making great progress when it comes to fiscal sanity and the
budget. I appreciate so very much the supplemental that got
passed. I signed it in Kosovo. It was a
supplemental that came out clean. And I thank the leadership
in the Senate, particularly Senator Byrd, as well as those in the House
-- Congressman Young -- for moving a clean
supplemental. That was unheard of in recent history.
There's going to be some struggles over
the budget, no question about it, as appropriators perhaps try to bust
the budget. But they're going to find somebody who's going
to hang tough on the budget. And I want to remind people
that the reason some are struggling to find money to spend is because
the economy has turned down. That's why. The
budget projections are less than anticipated because of a slowdown in
the economy. And by cutting taxes, we did the right thing to
reinvigorate the economy. And do you know who knows that
best? The American people.
Thank you for coming.
Q You're not a
dictator, but you are a conqueror. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just
hope it reflected in the stories. Actually, did you know that the guy,
when questioned, the interpreter misinterpreted what he
said. He said that it was clear to the American press that
President Bush conquered the leaders, as opposed to conquering the
American press. No one conquers the American press, of
MR. JOHNDROE: Thank you all.
END 11:34 A.M. EDT