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

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 12, 2002

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:32 P.M. EST

MR. MCCLELLAN: Good afternoon. Let me run back through the President's day. He had his usual briefings this morning. Then he departed, earlier this morning, for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department Synchronized Operations Command Complex, where he toured their operations. Following that he went to the old City Council Building and he made remarks on the department of homeland security.

To reiterate, the President believes his highest priority is the protection of the American people, and that is why we need to move forward as quickly as possible in this lame duck session to create a department of homeland security. And we were encouraged by Senator Daschle's remarks over the weekend, indicating that he wanted to see the legislation moved forward. And so we are continuing to work with Congress; there's tremendous progress that has been made, and we believe we are close to reaching an agreement and moving this legislation forward.

Later this afternoon the President will be meeting with Republican House and Senate leaders to talk about the legislative agenda during this -- the remainder of this session. And then, following that, he will participate in a meeting with the United States Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, where he will talk about economic growth, as well as the legislative agenda.

Then the President is scheduled to meet later with Senator Dean Barkley, the newest member of the Congress, and participate in a reception with newly elected members of Congress.

And with that, I'm happy to take your questions. David.

Q What are the elements of this deal that you're so close to on work rules? Can you spell them out? And what's holding up the final deal at this point?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, we continue to talk with members and some of the leaders. But again, I think we are very close. I don't want to get into specific discussions in the media. I think those discussions are best had with the members. But I think you will see that we are moving forward on a strong bill that includes the principles the President has outlined and meets his requirements.

It's important that this bill, which will create -- be the largest reorganization since the 1940s -- that it include giving the President the maximum flexibility he needs to protect the American people, and that it includes the right of the President to act in the national security interest of the American people when he needs to.

Q Will these meetings today be strategy sessions, effectively, on how to get the vote count, for you guys a victory?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Oh, these meetings today? No, I think these meetings today -- obviously they'll talk about homeland security, I believe, ut a couple of those meetings are more get-to-know-you sessions. One of those meetings he's meeting with, as I said, the House and Senate Republican leaders. So he will be talking about the legislative -- he will be talking about the legislative agenda there.

Q But do you expect -- is the President confident there will be a vote on this by the end of the week?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I don't want to put artificial time lines on it, but we're pleased with the progress that's being made. And we're pleased -- encouraged by the indications we've received from people like Senator Daschle that they want to move this legislation forward and get it done.

Q European leaders are saying that they have more evidence of chatter of potential al Qaeda attacks that would strike a number of sites, including the United States, at once. Does that correspond with intelligence you're getting here? Is there more chatter?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, Ron, as you know, I don't -- and we don't get into discussions of intelligence here at the podium. But we have made it very clear that if there is information that needs to be shared with the American people, or information that needs to be shared with law enforcement, we will do that. And we have done that. But I don't have any updates to report.

Q As you move toward a compromise on homeland security, is the President ready to protect the sanctity of the civil service system and protect the workers against arbitrary firing?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think the President actually addressed this in his remarks earlier today when he talked about when we're talking about meeting the threats to our country, the threats of the 21st century, it's important for the President to have the authority -- that it not be taken away from -- the same authority that every President since John F. Kennedy has had, which is to be able to waive certain rights if it's in the interest of our national security. And that means suspending collective bargaining, if need be.

It's also -- and I think he pointed out that the debate is often misunderstood. The rights of federal workers should be, as he said, and will be, fully protected in the department of homeland security. Every employee will be treated fairly and protected from discrimination. But it's important -- but it's important that the President have the maximum flexibility, as well, to hire and fire, to move people around, if it's in the interest of our national security and protecting the American people.

Q But as the department is created, are the workers protected to start off with? I mean, if they do something that obviously may require a different role --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think I just made that --

Q -- but do they have solid protections they have in any government office?

MR. MCCLELLAN: If the President needs to act quickly and decisively, then he needs to be able to do that. And that's why I talked about the maximum flexibility on the first issue, when I talked about collective bargaining. That is the authority that the President has had ever since John F. Kennedy, and it's important that that authority not be taken away, because when it comes to protecting the American people, as I said, the President needs to be able to act quickly and decisively.

Q A couple questions on Iraq. If Saddam Hussein follows his parliament and rejects the U.N. resolution, is the President committed to returning to the U.N. Security Council, testing international opinion on the response, or will he just line up American forces in a coalition and go straight to war?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Terry, I recognize there are going to be a lot of ifs and a lot of hypotheticals that are going to be asked here, and I don't want to speculate about every "if" or every hypothetical. I think the President's views are very clear; the international community's views are very clear. This is about disarmament, and this is Saddam Hussein's final opportunity to disarm peacefully. If he does not, we will do so by force.

As the President indicated, the United States, with our friends, will do so forcefully and swiftly. The choice right now is Saddam Hussein's. But again, as stated in the resolution, this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. It is his choice to determine whether he wants to do so peacefully or if he wants to be disarmed by force. But one thing is abundantly clear, as the President has mentioned, he will be disarmed. And it just now comes down to a choice of whether he wants to do it peacefully or if it's going to be done by force.

Q And the President just said -- we're through with negotiations, we're through with talking to him. What role does the President envision the United Nations Security Council has?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, in the resolution it spells that out. But I would make very clear, too, what you just said. No more games, no more cheat and retreat, no more deny and deceive, no more rope-a-dope in the desert with inspectors. No negotiation. It is now time for Saddam Hussein to comply or face serious consequences.

But in the resolution, it clearly spells out that if there -- and the inspectors are there just to simply report the facts. It's a Joe Friday approach, report the facts to the Security Council. Then the Security Council will assess what consequences need to happen. But that does not handcuff the United States in any way if the U.N. decides not to act. The U.S., with our friends, as the President has made clear, has the authority and will use it to disarm Saddam Hussein and his regime if need be.

Q Fair enough. So he wasn't -- just to nail this down, he wasn't saying, we're through with negotiations at the U.N. Security Council, we're through with that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, we'll go back for consulting and for consultations and discussion with the Security Council when there is another material breach reported.

Q On homeland security, what's changed about the political climate that's allowed you to get close to a deal? Was it the election? A month ago, you were at loggerheads over this issue.

MR. MCCLELLAN: I understand, Steve, and I think that that's something probably that's better left for the pundits to speculate about. But what I would reiterate is that we're pleased with the progress that is being made. We're pleased with the willingness expressed by leaders from Senator Lott and Speaker Hastert last week to Senator Daschle over the weekend that they want to move forward on this legislation as quickly as possible, and get it done. There is an understanding on everybody's part that this is about protecting the American people, and this is one of the most important things we can do now to better protect the American people.

Q On that same topic, I just want to be clear. You all -- you keep referring to Daschle's comments on the Sunday talk show. Is anybody at the White House speaking directly to Daschle?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't have any updates to report you on, but I know that there are discussions going on within Congress and with White House officials. I don't know who those specific people are, but if I can update you on that, I will. There are discussions ongoing, including with Senator Daschle.

Q Including White House officials?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'll have to double-check that to make sure Jean. I don't have the latest information.

Q On the homeland security bill, is it the case that the White House embraces the compromise that is now floating around on Capitol Hill? Is that, in fact, what the White House supports?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, from this podium, I don't want to get into negotiations or compromises or anything that's being discussed with members at this point. I think soon we will have more to say, but we're pleased with the progress that's being made. We're pleased that the discussions are meeting the requirements that the President outlined that enable him to have the flexibility to enact quickly and decisively to protect the American people.

Q You do acknowledge there's a compromise proposal?

MR. MCCLELLAN: There are discussions that are ongoing, sure. There are discussions -- I think I would characterize it again as that we're pleased that they're moving forward on a strong proposal that meets many of our requirements.

Q That strong proposal, the White House is behind that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, you're trying to get me to get into --

Q I'm just trying to get you to say --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- until there is a final agreement, I hesitate to start characterizing where things stand.

Q There's a report this morning that Iraq is trying to buy antidotes to nerve gas and other agents. What does the administration have to say about that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: As I said earlier, I don't want to get into discussing any specific reports based on intelligence information. But as a general point, I would remind everybody that during the Gulf War, there was an attempt by the Iraqi regime to acquire these kind of materials. Certainly that is something that we would look into very closely. And -- but I would also reiterate what I said earlier, that we do not need any more proof that Saddam Hussein possesses and is willing to use chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them on his own people. And I can assure you that the Department of Defense is going to do everything they can to protect our troops if they are called in to disarm Saddam Hussein.

Q On Iraq, what is the President's feeling about the Iraqi demand that the inspection team include some Arab inspectors?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think that everything is clearly spelled out in the resolution, and the inspectors will be making the decisions on those teams, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, so I would leave it at that.

Q But the exclusion of Arabs --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't think Iraq has a say in this. Iraq has, as I said, one final opportunity to come into compliance and to disarm.

Q You agree that -- is there a possibility that the exclusion of Arab inspectors might complicate the situation politically in terms of support in the Arab world?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, that's kind of speculating. I'm going to leave it up to -- we've had discussions with the inspectors, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. So I'm going to leave it with them, and they can answer those questions more fully.

Q Scott, on another subject, the Denver Post reports that former Senator Gary Hart has announced he is seriously considering running for the presidency in 2004. And my question is, in the event that Senator Hart's kindred spirit, President Clinton, were to campaign for Hart, along with Chairman "Jeb Is Gone" McAuliffe, you would not contend that President Bush would be unhappy, would you, Scott?

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's two or three hypotheticals within a hypothetical. Look, there's going to be a lot of jockeying for the Democratic nomination. The President's focus is on moving his agenda. The President's focus is on the unfinished business that Congress still needs to complete, particularly creating the department of homeland security.

Q After the U.S. government mint's Susan B. Anthony coin failed to win any acceptance and was discontinued, the mint spent more than $60 million promoting another coin failure called the Sacagawea, while the U.S. Postal Service has been paying huge sums to primetime television to advertise the fact that they have stamps for sale. And my question is, doesn't the President care about such outrageous waste? And will he or will he not order it stopped?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm really not familiar with all that, Les. That was a lot of information. I'm not sure even followed it all.

Q He certainly is opposed to waste.

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not sure I even followed it all. He's for fiscal discipline.

Q Right, then will he discipline --

MR. MCCLELLAN: And controlling wasteful government spending. He's made that clear. But I'm not familiar with all the details you got into there.

Q Scott, this weekend about 100 Indian Americans demonstrated behind the White House against the U.S. policy towards Pakistan and supplying arms, and also at the same time, Pakistan's support for North Korea's nuclear program, exchange with the missile technology -- according to The New York Times and Washington Post and other reports. But at the same time this group are dedicated and determined that they support President Bush's war against terrorism. In fact, they are calling on the President to flush out all the terrorists from Pakistan, including this weekend's report Osama bin Laden was still in Karachi, Pakistan.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, let me go back to the Pakistan question. Pakistan has been a part of our coalition, a strong partner in our coalition to fight the war on terror. And we appreciate their support in that effort. Now you're getting into a few different issues there. Our position on North Korea has been made very clear, as well.

Q Scott, the President today used the phrase, zero tolerance, to describe the standard he would use on Saddam. A senior official who was briefing us from your podium last week used the phrase, a pattern of defiance, in other words, suggesting there would have to be more than one. Which is it?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think in that -- I was in that briefing. I think that the briefers made it clear that our view is one of zero tolerance. This is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to comply and disarm, and we've made that very clear. He has defied, over 11 years, 16 resolutions. This is a 17th, and this is his one final opportunity. But we've made it very clear that we approach this with a zero-tolerance view.

Q Can you define what zero tolerance means?

MR. MCCLELLAN: If he is in violation of the resolution, then that, as it states in the resolution, is to be reported to the U.N. Security Council. That is a material breach.

Q And that's any omission, that's any falsification, that's any single --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Under the resolution, omissions and false statements are considered a further material breach.

Q So we aren't looking for a pattern of deceit or of obstruction. A single incident --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I don't want to get in -- again, this kind of goes back to all the "ifs" and all the hypotheticals. That's -- I don't want to get into the speculation about that, but our view is one of, as David asked, zero tolerance.

Q Scott, the French Foreign Minister this morning had remarks that were strongly in support of the position that if Saddam does not comply, that France does, in fact, back the use of military force. Do you anticipate that the French are eventually going to come to the position where they're willing to actually join the coalition? Have they signaled that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I can't speak for the French. I haven't seen those exact remarks, so I hesitate to comment directly on them. But I think that their vote with the rest of the international community was a clear indication of what Saddam Hussein needs to do.

Q Tomorrow Kofi Annan is coming here. Can you give us an idea of the specifics and what they're going to be talking about?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, as I understand it, he was going to be in town. I don't have any information to preview on right now. If I can get you more information later in the day, I will. But he was going to be in town, and the President wanted to visit with him while he's here.

Q Is it safe to assume that --

MR. MCCLELLAN: We'll give you an update after they've had their meeting.

Q One more on homeland security. Doesn't the President think that Dean Barkley is really the key to getting what he wants out of Congress on homeland security? Isn't that why he's getting a private sitting with the President today, whereas all of the new members who are going to be around a lot longer are having a group --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, as you just mentioned, those other members are going to be around a lot longer. They're not -- many of them won't be sworn in for quite a while. He is already being sworn in, by the Vice President, I might add. And he is a member of Congress effective pretty much immediately. This is an opportunity for the President to sit down with him and get to know him. If there's more to report, I will. I would not rule out that homeland security might well come up. Certainly every person -- every vote is important.

Q -- comments to that effect, that Dean Barkley is really the key. So does the administration --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I just said, I think every vote is important. If there is more to update you on after the meeting, I will.

Q On behalf of American citizens who want to apply to this department of homeland security, to be part of it, is the government at this point taking applications? Will there be new people hired, or will they all be folded in from present federal employees?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think you have a lot of departments that already have people in place. But you're -- it's kind of getting one step ahead of the process here. But we are making appropriate preparations so that this can get up running as quickly as possible once it is passed by the United States Congress and signed by the President.

Q When it's open to the public, will you put out some word so that people know what they can do?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Oh, yes. There won't -- there will be plenty of opportunity there.

Q Scott, assuming homeland security passes this lame duck session, is there a piece of legislation that the President would like the Congress to pass first in the next session?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, he outlined some of that in his remarks last week in the news conference. I don't know whether I'd characterize first or second or third or fourth, but he made it very clear that there are certain priorities we need to focus on during the remainder of this Congress, because of the limited amount of time, first being the department of homeland security.

We also need to focus on terrorism insurance, which means job creation and economic growth. We also need to focus on fiscal discipline as we move forward on the appropriations process. Only two of 13 appropriation bills have been passed at this point. Congress needs to make sure they control ways for spending, that they have fiscal restraint, and that they fund our priorities.

And when we return next year, there are a number of priorities that are important. The President, at his news conference, as you know, announced that he's going to work with Congress on a new economic growth and jobs package, in addition to what we've already been pushing, and making the tax cuts permanent. Moving forward on an energy bill remains an important priority. So there are a number of important priorities -- passing welfare reform reauthorization.

But as we get closer to the session, we'll talk more about what can be accomplished in the next session and what our top priorities will be. But the biggest priorities will always remain protecting the American people and continuing to take steps to strengthen our economy.

Q Can you just be clear on one point? If Saddam does not accept the terms for Resolution 1441 by midnight on Friday, what happens then?

MR. MCCLELLAN: John, I think it's very clear to Saddam Hussein, very clear to the world what he needs to do. Clearly, that would go against the resolution. This is -- and the President indicated earlier -- this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. But again, we're getting into all sorts of "ifs" and all sorts of hypotheticals, and it's clear that there are -- no more room for games, there's no more room for cat and mouse, there's no more room for cheat and retreat, no more deny and deceive. I mean, this is the time for Saddam Hussein to disarm.

Q You say it's a hypothetical, but the President has clearly addressed the situation many times, on the campaign trail and in speeches, saying if Iraq doesn't disarm -- which is a hypothetical -- we'll lead a coalition to disarm him. So --

Q Hypothetical coalition.

Q Hypothetical coalitions, right, as my esteemed colleague points out. But clearly it states in the resolution that any obstruction or failure to comply with weapons inspectors will constitute further material breach. So what exactly happens at midnight on Friday? Is that it, do we go to war, or do we give him another chance?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, I think the President indicated this, as well, earlier -- let's see what he says. But make no mistake about it, this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. The resolution is very clear --

Q -- that's the deadline.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, there are several deadlines within the resolution. There is this first seven-day deadline, then there's a 30-day deadline when he has to report what chemical and biological weapons he may possess.

Q But if he misses the first deadline, what's the use of the second deadline?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, like I said, this is a final opportunity and he should not be playing any games and not play cat and mouse -- not play cat and mouse with the international community.

Q That's like a resurrection from the dead, isn't it?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Let me go back to Ken.

Q When the President meets with Senator Barkley today, do you expect the President to ask him to revisit his decision he announced yesterday about not voting with Republicans on a reorganization --

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's really a matter for the United States Senate to decide. That's always been their prerogative and we have not been involved in those decisions.

Q The President isn't going to --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I would not expect that.

Q One on economic priorities for the following year. There was reporting over the weekend that the number of tax proposals that are likely to make it on the President's agenda next year is being winnowed down and, for example, a capital gains cut is unlikely to make it. Could you comment on that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not going to -- the announcement is for the President to make when he's ready to do that. We're going to -- he made the commitment that we're going to work with Congress on an additional job creation and economic growth package. He remains committed to that. The President continues to review ideas. He continues to look at additional ideas that are out there. But he also continues to press for the current economic growth initiatives that he has already outlined. That means passing terrorism insurance, making the tax cuts permanent, fiscal restraint, just to name a few.

Q Were those reports wrong that the number --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, you're asking me to get into something that I think it's the place of the President to announce. That's something that he will announce when he's ready to do so. Clearly, there is more that we need to do. The President won't be satisfied, as he has said, as long as there's one American worker out there who wants a job and cannot find a job.

Q Under the zero tolerance policy, when you were asked by John what happens Friday if Hussein does not -- says he's not going to comply, you said, clearly that would go against the resolution. Can we infer by that, that you're saying that would be a material breach?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I would look back at the resolution, look at the exact language there. The resolution calls on him to acknowledge that he will comply by this seven-day time period -- by the seven-day time period. And the bottom line here is this is about disarmament. And we've made it very clear he has a final opportunity to comply. And if he does not comply, we've made it very clear what we are prepared to do.

Q What are you prepared to do if he "goes against the resolution" Friday and says he's not going to comply?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, let me make it clear, too, what the President said last week -- that the President seeks a peaceful resolution. But if Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm peacefully, then we intend to disarm him. So I think it's very clear to Saddam Hussein what he needs to do. And he should not be playing games here. And the resolution clearly spells out what he needs to do.

Q So we'll just tell Saddam Hussein what happens --

MR. MCCLELLAN: And if there is a step that we need to go back to the U.N. Security Council to consult and discuss, we will. But that does not take away the authority of the President to act to protect the American people if he determines needs to.

Q What I'm trying to get at, though, is Friday a trigger point that would send it back to the U.N.?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think I've addressed it, Ron.

Q Scott, I don't think you were specifically asked, what is the reaction to the Iraqi parliament's rejection of this resolution? And does it have any relevance in the situation right now?

MR. MCCLELLAN: As I indicated earlier, I think it is pure political theatre. It is not up to Saddam Hussein to accept or reject this resolution, as we've been discussing. The resolution was unanimously passed by the United Nations Security Council. The international community is now speaking with one voice. And the Iraq regime is a dictatorship and it is the choice of Saddam Hussein to determine whether he wants to disarm peacefully, or if he wants to be disarmed by force. And that's where we are. This is a final opportunity for him. But we'll see what he says.

Q You don't necessarily consider this a signal one way or the other from the parliament?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, I go back to what I just said, that the Iraqi regime is a dictatorship. This is Saddam Hussein's decision.

Q On the domestic side, Senator Lott has indicated he intends to take up several abortion bills this upcoming session. And there is at least one person in the anti-abortion movement that said that it was that vote that led to the Republican majority. Where does that sit on the President's agenda, and how much of his political capital is he willing to spend to get something done along those lines?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I saw some news reports. I haven't heard that directly from Senator Lott's mouth, but I've seen the news reports. The President's focus during this lame duck session, as it's called, continues to be on the unfinished -- the important, highest priorities of unfinished business that the Congress has not acted upon. And that is creating the department of homeland security, passing terrorism insurance, and maintaining fiscal discipline.

There are other priorities as the President outlined in his news conference last week. And his views are very well-known on those issues, and we continue to -- I mean, if you have specifics, I mean, I'm happy to discuss them. But there's a limited -- there's a limited amount of time in this lame duck session, a limited amount of time of what we can get done.

Q More specifically, he's got two years after the lame duck session. And is that something that he's going to -- that he feels important and he's going to focus on and that he will push? Or is that just some playing to the base for some people?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, the President's big priorities are protecting the homeland and strengthening our economy. There are a number of other priorities that the President supports as well, and that we will --

Q Is it fair to say this is low on this priority list?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, no, I wouldn't characterize that. There are other important priorities and the President's views are very clear on each of those priorities, as well. I mean, he's made it very clear where he stands on each of those issues. The President believes that we need to be a culture that welcomes life at all stages.

Q In the weeks leading up to the U.N. resolution, the President

made a lot of phone calls to heads of state of other Security Council members. Is he maintaining those -- that sort of high level of contact now, in this period where we're waiting to see if Iraq actually does comply with the resolution?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, he's always reaching out to world leaders and he believes in that strong personal diplomacy. He is always doing that. If there are specific calls to update you on, we do that as they occur. I don't have anything to update you on right now.

Q Scott, senior administration officials for the last several weeks -- the last week, anyway -- have been saying that any wiggling by Saddam Hussein on the resolution is -- would be considered a material breach, in and of itself. Therefore, if he does not meet the Friday deadline, are we going to immediately demand a reconvening of the Security Council to discuss the serious consequences?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think I've pretty much addressed this question fully. But --

Q We're not getting a straight answer out of you.

MR. MCCLELLAN: The resolution -- and look back at the resolution; it spells out that Iraq continues to be in material breach and it spells out what constitutes further material breach. And a violation is a further material breach.

Q Will we demand a reconvening of the Security Council?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, this is getting into "ifs" and everything, all hypotheticals. It's very clear what he needs to do. This is about disarmament and this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. If he chooses not to do so peacefully, then the United States is prepared to act, with our friends, to do so by force. And we will do so forcefully and swiftly and decisively, as the President has outlined. But the President continues to seek a peaceful resolution. War is a last resort.

Q What's the significance of the meeting with the Chamber people this afternoon? Is the President looking for input on this growth package and what elements should be in there next time?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, we reach out to groups from across the spectrum all the time, and we've had meetings with these people, with these individuals before, I believe. But he will talk about -- in his remarks to them he will talk about economic growth, he will talk about the legislative agenda for the lame duck session, including the department of homeland security. So it's an opportunity to continue reaching out to people to talk about important priorities that need to be accomplished.

Q Does he have any plans to meet with labor people?

MR. MCCLELLAN: We do meet with labor people on a regular basis. As you know, he's had meetings with members of the Carpenters Union, with Teamster leadership and so forth.

Q -- on the agenda.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll update you with any meetings, as they occur, but I don't have anything to update you on right now. But the President is committed to reaching out across partisan lines.


END 1:03 P.M. EST

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