For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 20, 2001
11:36 A.M. EST
MS. HUGHES: Thank you all for being here
today. We're here to preview for you a new public service
announcement, which President and Mrs. Bush have filmed in cooperation
with the Ad Council. The public service announcement asks
Americans to give, and thanks them, in fact -- the campaign is called
"Thanks For Giving." And so we thought it was appropriate to
unveil it during Thanksgiving week, and it will continue to air
throughout the holiday season.
As you all know, both President and Mrs. Bush feel strongly that
out of the evil of September 11th has come a great deal of
good. And as President Bush said, we are a nation awakened
to danger, but we're also a nation awakened to service and citizenship
The President and Mrs. Bush delivered two speeches a couple of
weeks ago in which both of the focused separately on that same theme,
that out of evil has come good. Mrs. Bush said in her speech
to the National Press Club, "We are a kinder nation
today. People seem to take more time to ask about each
other. I notice more people hugging their friends, and even
reaching out to touch people they barely know. We're opening
our doors to our neighbors and our hearts to strangers."
President Bush, that evening in Atlanta, talked about the same
thing, saying, all of us can become a September 11th volunteer by
making a commitment to service in our own communities. He
went on to say that one way to defeat terrorism is to show the world
the true values of America through the gathering momentum of a million
acts of responsibility and decency and service.
At the same time when we were planning those two speeches from the
President and Mrs. Bush, the Ad Council approached us with the idea of
the "Thanks For Giving" campaign, and we thought it fit in -- it was
exactly in keeping with the spirit of the gathering momentum of the
millions of acts of citizenship and service that President and Mrs.
Bush are hoping to help lead and guide and inspire across the country.
And with that, I will introduce Peggy Conlon, who is the President
and CEO of the Ad Council, to show us the new advertisement.
MS. CONLON: Thank you, Karen. I know I join
many in extending sincere gratitude to you and your colleagues here at
the White House for your tremendous leadership of our nation in this
time of need. As for the rest of us, we're doing what we can
with what we have to help defeat terrorism. And at the Ad
Council, what we have is years of experience in harnessing the
volunteer efforts of the American media, advertisers, and ad agencies
on behalf of the nation's most pressing issues.
From Smokey Bear to drunk driving prevention and "a mind is a
terrible thing to waste," Ad Council PSAs inspire many and create
positive social change. I'm proud to be here today to show
you another example of our industry's good work.
The "Thanks for Giving" campaign offers thanks for everything
Americans have done, and will continue to do, to give to one
another. As you know, since September the 11th, Americans
have experienced great pain, but even greater strength, generosity and
courage. In the PSAs, President Bush and the First Lady
inspire people everywhere to continue to come together to serve local
communities; to find unique ways to give time, talent and share
resources; to celebrate the generosity, selflessness and spirit of
giving that is America.
The PSAs fulfill to www.nationalservice.org, where visitors can go
to learn more about how to give and to volunteer in their local
But this is more than a single PSA. This is the first
step in a movement through which the Ad Council hopes to inform,
inspire and involve all Americans in volunteer efforts that will
strengthen our nation and help to win the war on
terrorism. The Ad Council distributed the PSA to thousands
of media outlets nationwide, including television, print and the
Internet. And we requested that they provide donated media
in support of this important message.
In a very short time, we've received tremendous support from the
media. And we have commitments from ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, A&E,
Comedy Central, Court TV, Discovery Networks, MTV, Lifetime, PAX, TNT,
USA and several others. We expect that this PSA will receive
a tremendous amount of support throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.
And now, let's take a look at this special PSA.
(The PSA is shown.)
MR. LENKOWSKY: Good morning, I'm Les
Lenkowsky. I'm the CEO of the Corporation for National and
Community Service, and www.nationalservice.org is our
website. And I'd just like to briefly tell you what's going
to happen when people click on in record numbers.
They're going to see that screen first, and you'll see on there
that they'll be able to either click on "volunteer," or "donate," or
both. They could do either way. Once they've done
that, they will -- this will be the first one. They'll see
"thanks for giving" and then they'll move into "volunteer,"
"donate". And then from -- if they click on "volunteer",
they'll go into a page that will offer opportunities for people to
volunteer through Volunteer Match, a Points of Light Foundation, our
own full-time programs, AmeriCorps, SeniorCorps, and so
on. And they'll be able to find places to volunteer, either
through zip codes or areas of interest -- if you're interested in
helping young children or working in terms of events related to
September 11, you'll be able to search those.
On the donate side, you go into the networkforgood.org, which is
put together by AOL, and they've been very helpful to us in getting all
this up. And there, too, you'll be able to search by zip
code, by the kind of interest of a charity, for organizations to which
you'll be able to make a contribution, and do it electronically,
So that's how it will work. And we have gone overboard
to make sure we've got lots of capacity for the tens of millions of
Americans we think will respond.
MS. HUGHES: Thanks, Les.
One of the unique things, I think, about this, is when you pull up
the website, you can type in your zip code, and you will be able to
access a list of local charities. And so it's a very
user-friendly and helpful way for people to find out how they can try
to make a difference in their own communities.
We'll be happy to answer questions.
Q Karen, before we started the war, before
really the war got active, there was all sorts of talk of doing special
messages that would be going to Americans, and special messages
overseas. Now that the war has gone so well and seems to be near its
end, has that lessened the need for special messages that you would be
sending to Americans, advertising messages, or overseas?
MS. HUGHES: Before September 11th? I'm not
clear that I understand what you're asking.
Q Just after September 11th, there was all
sorts of using the Ad Council to do messages, "lose lips sink ships,"
other kinds of messages like that, that would go out to Americans in
terms of what they said or what they should be doing.
MS. HUGHES: Actually, I was asked about that once
before. I never was involved in any discussions about
that. That may have been a different agency. We
have different agencies of our federal government that are involved in
different ways with the Ad Council.
Peggy, you might want to address that. I know that
Health and Human Services Department has talked with the Ad Council
about helping to inform the public in the need, for example, of a
bioterrorism attack. I think they've had some discussions
MS. CONLON: We're working with HHS. We're
working with the Justice Department, through the National Crime
Prevention Council. That's probably the first campaign that
we'll be launching, coming out of this strategy.
There will be many messages. As Governor Ridge announced
about a week and a half ago, we're working with the Homeland Security
team, and we are crafting many more messages that will be coming out to
help Americans understand what their role is in supporting the war on
Q My question is, now that, in essence,
we're winning the war in Afghanistan, or mostly won the war in
Afghanistan, has anything changed in terms of what you're doing to do?
MS. CONLON: No, I think that what we're trying to do is
find ways that we can communicate things to the American people that
they're going to need to do. I think that the President has
been very clear that this war on terrorism will not conclude when we
finish our business in Afghanistan. And I think that we all recognize
that we're going to be at this for months and years to
come. And we believe that public service advertising can
help to strengthen the resolve and the commitment of the American
people to support this war.
MS. HUGHES: Let me -- to follow up on that, one other
point that, as the President said yesterday, while we're making great
progress in Afghanistan, this is a lengthy process. And the
President reminds us of that on a daily basis, that this is a struggle
to defeat a global terrorist network that exists in more than 60
countries. And so, this is something that he expects we will
be dealing with throughout his administration and into many future
Q The President is appearing in another ad
to promote tourism. At the same time, the White House is
going to be closed through the holiday season. Is that a
contradiction at all?
MS. HUGHES: Well, the travel industry approached us and
asked if we had any objection to them using excerpts of a speech that
the President gave in Chicago to promote America as a tourist
destination. And we did not have any objection; in fact, we
encourage people from around the world to enjoy and visit America.
Unfortunately, we are a nation at war. And as we know,
evil respects no holidays and no holy days, as the President said last
night. And so, unfortunately, we are taking additional
security precautions, both here at the White House and on our
Q Karen, where was the ad cut for the
President and the First Lady?
MS. HUGHES: At his ranch in Crawford, during a driving
rainstorm. (Laughter.) Last Thursday. Last
Thursday, right after President Putin left the ranch, that afternoon.
Q What did you do with the
rain? It looks pretty nice there.
MS. CONLON: The magic of cinematography.
MS. HUGHES: I think it was inside the
barn. It was inside a barn at the ranch. They had
a little challenge with the tin roof, I think, and the rain.
Q So then you put a backdrop behind it, is
that how it worked?
MS. CONLON: No, actually we just framed them against the
open door. There were some bails of hay there. It was quite
Q Do you have any fears at all that there
will be a drop-off, or at least some concern, in making donations, with
reports such as the one that the Red Cross was either reluctant to give
all the money where they said they were going to put the money to begin
with -- does that at all hurt your effort?
MS. HUGHES: Well, Jim, specifically, I think the Red
Cross has now announced that they are going to, in fact, direct all of
the money that was raised to the victims of the September 11th
attack. We are concerned by some reports that -- the
Americans have responded very generously to the challenge of September
11th, but we are concerned, as the President mentioned this morning,
that many local charities have seen a drop-off in their receipts and in
their volunteer commitments.
And so, we want to encourage people in addition to making donations
to September 11th funds and funds for the victims of those terrible
attacks, to also make a difference in their own communities by
supporting local charities and local efforts.
Q One more quick question. On the
volunteerism front, your campaign rival, John McCain, has made a big
push for increasing the amount of volunteers. Has the
President talked with Senator McCain, or are you working at all with
his office in any sort of joint venture on the volunteerism front?
MS. HUGHES: Jim, I don't know real recently whether the
President has, but I know that one of the things that Senator McCain
and I have talked about -- and I'm sure he and the President have
talked about -- is, as you know, Senator McCain talked throughout his
campaign about the need to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a
cause greater than self. And that is something that President Bush has
talked about -- the need to change our culture to one of responsibility
and one of service and one of compassion, ever since I've worked for
him in 1994. So I think it is a cause that both Senator
McCain and President Bush both feel very strongly about.
Q Karen, you said part of this is meant to
show that out of evil comes good. And we hear the word
"evil" from the President almost on a daily basis. How does
the White House define that? I mean, is that
terrorism? Is that some sort of broader definition that you
feel like you're fighting?
MS. HUGHES: I think any of us who saw an airplane fly
into a building full of innocent people, including thousands of women
and men and some children in the airplanes, themselves, saw
evil. It's hard to imagine a more vivid definition of evil
than watching those airplanes fly into those buildings. I
think it clearly defines people who show no regard, no respect for any
civilized notion that even something so basic as that the rights --
that innocent people should not be targets of such evil acts, such
Q If I could, I'd like to ask you a question
about the Afghan women campaign, the other one that you're working
on. While you've been bringing to light some of the
atrocities against women in Afghanistan, is there any type of implicit
message there, or are you working with other Muslim countries, such as
Egypt and Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries where women also
don't have equal treatment?
MS. HUGHES: Well, first of all, I would encourage you
not to make a comparison. No other countries, for example,
don't allow nine-year-old girls to be educated or to learn to
read. And in many other Muslim countries, women are, in
fact, greatly respected. And women in most of those other
countries have the opportunity to work outside the home and to be --
certainly, none of those other countries forbid women or little
daughters at 9 and 10 years old from literally learning to read.
The United States feels an obligation to speak up on behalf of our
values, and one of our values is human dignity, and the opportunity for
all citizens to participate in a meaningful way in their society.
Q Karen, is there kind of a twin message
here during this season -- the giving at home, volunteerism at home; at
the same time, rebuilding Afghanistan and humanitarian
aid? Is there kind of a twin administration message here?
MS. HUGHES: I think, Bob, one of the things that the
President talked about last night when we had the Iftaar dinner for the
first time ever at the White House, was that during the holy month of
Ramadan, Muslims, while they fast during the day and pray, Ramadan is
also a time where they encourage charity and encourage -- it's a
beautiful visual image of literally setting a table of
sharing. And that's what happens in the evening feast; you
set a table of sharing to break the fast of the day.
And I think that's clearly what the United States is conveying
across the world during particularly this time of Thanksgiving here at
home, that we are sharing and setting a table of our bounty to share it
with the world, and specifically with the people of Afghanistan, to
whom we are the largest donor of humanitarian aid.
Q Karen, can you talk about what the Bushes
are personally doing to sort of set an example on the charitable giving
side and on the volunteerism side?
MS. HUGHES: Well, Sondra, throughout -- ever since I've
worked for President and Mrs. Bush, they have been very generous in
donating to numerous charities. As you recall, his
autobiography, the proceeds were donated to -- I think they were shared
between four different charities. They contribute to their church and
to numerous community organizations. I know they have been
big supporters of the Boys' and Girls' Clubs. They support
-- I'm trying to think of some of the other -- we can get you a list of
some of the other charitable organizations that --
Q Do you know in terms of the September 11th
tragedy, and then anything for this particular holiday season in their
new neighborhood of Washington, D.C.?
MS. HUGHES: I can check on that for you. I
know Mrs. Bush has encouraged across the country, for example, retired
military officers to come in and volunteer and teach in classrooms, or
to come back to work as teachers. I can try to get you a
list, Sondra, and get an update on that. I'd be glad to do that.
Anybody else? Thank you all very much. I'll
let you go to your other -- I know you've got one other
briefing. These are back-to-back briefings
today. Thanks very much.
END 11:54 A.M. EST