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

Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, August 1, 2003 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Governor Jeb Bush has now said on camera, apparently, that he believes that the administration's decision to send back those 12 Cubans last week was a mistake, that he disagrees with the President. What is the President's position? Does the President agree with the decision that was made apparently by folks on the ground, the Coast Guard?

And then a follow-up to that. Governor Bush also indicates that a change in administration policy toward Cuba is in the offing. Can you comment on that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, our policy toward Cuba has always been very clear. This President has always stood firmly on the side of the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom and democracy and freedom from an oppressive regime. The President has been very clear that the sanctions that are in place need to remain in place until Cuba has free elections, freedom of speech, and until Cuba frees political prisoners. So this President has stood stronger than, I submit to you, any other in terms of supporting the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom, in their struggle for democracy.

But our policy toward Cuba is clear. Our policy is one of a safe, orderly and legal migration. This relates to the whole wet feet/dry feet policy that is there. We expect that policy to be implemented and carried out in a consistent way. But our views and our support for the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom is very clear.

QUESTION: So he disagrees with his brother. Has he talked to his brother about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that they've had a conversation. As his brother noted, that they had not, about this specific issue. But there are many issues where the President and the governor agree. And I think there are very few where they disagree. But one thing that we do agree on is that there is a very oppressive regime and that we stand together in our dedication to helping the Cuban people realize freedom and realize democracy.

QUESTION: Scott, I wanted to ask about Cuba again. Does the President support the action taken by his own administration, which was to send those people back to Cuba?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President expects that the policy -- or expects the policy to be implemented and enforced in a consistent way. That's what the President believes. And that policy is clear, and those actions are taken by those who are responsible for implementing that policy. And if you have further questions about the details of that, I think you need to talk to the appropriate people about that.

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