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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary

Press Gaggle by Claire Buchan Aboard Air Force One En Route Jacksonville, Florida

February 13, 2003




Aboard Air Force One

(Mayport, Florida)

En route Jacksonville, Florida

9:09 A.M. EST

MS. BUCHAN: Let me start by going over the President's day. He began his day with an intelligence briefing, followed by his FBI briefing. He is now en route to Jacksonville, Florida.

When he arrives in Florida, he will be met by a Freedom Corps volunteer whose name is Arden Battle. He is in the Navy, he is Senior Chief Arden Battle. He joined the Navy in May of 1980. He is a machinist mate assigned to the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, which is docked at Mayport Naval Air Station. He is 39 years old and he first began volunteering when he was in high school. He estimates that he serves approximately 20 hours a month in volunteer activities in his community. Four years ago he became the volunteer coordinator at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. And since he's been assigned on the USS John F. Kennedy he coordinates the sailors who perform twice monthly volunteer activities at a local elementary school. He's also been active in Special Olympics, the City Rescue Mission and the Christmas Collection and Angel Tree programs.

From there, the President will go to a small business forum with small business owners and employees, where he'll highlight the benefits of his jobs and growth packages for small businesses and families. After that, he will make remarks at the Naval Station in Mayport, where he will express gratitude to the sailors for their efforts in the war on terrorism as we fight the new enemy. And then he will have lunch with sailors on board the -- I believe it's the USS Enterprise.

MR. DICKENS: Where he's eating? No, the USS Philippine Sea.

MS. BUCHAN: And then he will return to the White House. Also, if I could just say one other thing. I call to your attention today, Senator McCain is giving a speech, a major speech on the failure of containment in the imperative of regime change in Iraq. And I just note that for you, I think it will be an interesting speech.

Q Is he doing anything today at the White House later?

MS. BUCHAN: He has meetings in the White House.

Q What do you think of the missile -- the fact that they've now ruled that the missiles are beyond the range allowed under the U.N. resolutions? Is that the smoking gun?

MS. BUCHAN: Those are notable and we look forward to hearing what Dr. Blix has to say at the U.N.

Q It's not the smoking gun?

MS. BUCHAN: We're studying it and we look forward to hearing what Dr. Blix has to say tomorrow when he addresses the U.N.

Q Does the President have confidence in Chairman Greenspan?

Q Several senior republicans, influential republicans are now saying it's time for him to step aside after his term expires. Is that a thought the President shares?

MS. BUCHAN: The President has a great deal of confidence in Chairman Greenspan; he believes he's doing an outstanding job.

Q In the meeting with the troops today, is the President carrying a message to them?

MS. BUCHAN: He will be expressing the gratitude on behalf of the United States for all they have done to fight the war on terror. They were one of the first groups of military to be deployed in Afghanistan as we began the war on terror. And he's going to be expressing gratitude for that, talking about the threats that we face and their important role in defeating terror as we go forward.

Q Claire, has the President commented at all on the sort of increased threat environment in certain areas? People are, you know, running out to get duct tape and plastic wrap and there is sort of a sense of fear now, sort of gripping the country when even a week ago might not have been there.

MS. BUCHAN: Our nation is on high alert and it's a continuous reminder that we do face an enemy that wants to harm us and we're doing everything possible to ensure that we protect people, and also trying to provide valuable information to individuals and families so that they can do what they can do to protect themselves and their family and to develop communications plans in the event of an attack. We're of course doing everything possible to try and avoid that.

Q North Korea, China and Russia are still saying that we should have U.S. to North Korean talks, even though it's now at the U.N. Has your position changed at all?

MS. BUCHAN: Our position remains that this is a multilateral issue that needs to be addressed in a multilateral way, which the action yesterday demonstrated. I think we have indicated that we would be willing to talk with North Korea, but not to negotiate and that their responsibilities are clear and that

Q Obviously, when you're referring to yesterday's action you're talking about it being referred to the U.N.

Q Do you have anything on the Special Forces operating in Iraq already? Are there U.S. troops in Iraq?

MS. BUCHAN: I'll send you to DOD to talk about operations.

Q On Greenspan again, I had asked you if the President thought it was -- had thoughts about his reappointment in 2004. And you said he's doing an outstanding job --

MS. BUCHAN: He's doing an outstanding job. He is not even -- his term does not even expire until the middle of next year, so I think it's sort of silly to begin speculating about that. But, clearly, the President has a great deal of ongoing confidence in Chairman Greenspan.

Q Was the President disappointed in Chairman Greenspan's remarks?

MS. BUCHAN: I think Ari expressed yesterday that the President simply has a different view on the importance of helping those who are out of work now. The President is concerned that the economy isn't growing as fast as it can be and should be, and he wants to ensure that every man and woman who seeks a job is able to find a job. And the President regards that as his responsibility.

Q What does the President think of Schroeder's assessment that a war in Iraq could lead to more terrorist attacks, and not less -- more terrorist attacks?

MS. BUCHAN: Well, clearly, the President believes that if we are forced to go to war with Iraq we will do so because of the importance of protecting the American people and protecting the world from Saddam Hussein and the harm that he seeks to do.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 9:17 A.M. EST

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