For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 2, 2003
Press Gaggle with Claire Buchan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Richfield, Ohio
10:00 A.M. EDT
MS. BUCHAN: When the President arrives in Cleveland, he will be
met by Shirley Moore, Freedom Corps volunteer. She is 67, and she is
a volunteer with the RSVP -- Retired and Senior Volunteer program,
which is part of the Senior Corps. And she volunteers at a local
elementary school helping kindergartners and first-graders improve
their reading skills.
From the Cleveland airport the President will go to Richfield,
Ohio, where he will meet with -- or have a Labor Day event with the
International Union of Operating Engineers. That union was founded in
1896. It has 400,000 members and it's the 12th largest union in the
AFL-CIO. It represents operating engineers and stationary engineers,
as well as nurses and other health industry workers. In Ohio, the
Local 18 is a statewide construction local union with 16,000 members,
and Local 20 is a statewide engineer local union with 2,000 members.
And the President will be making remarks on the economy and the
importance of American workers to our economy; in particular, the
manufacturing sector will be a focus.
With that I will take your questions.
Q Claire, we've lost 2.7 million jobs in the last three
years. There's a lot of anxiety, a lot of pain. What words of
encouragement is the President going to offer today to those people,
to Americans feeling anxious?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, a couple points on that, Scott. As you know,
the President is always concerned when any American who wants to find
a job can't find one, and who is looking for a job can't find a job,
which is why he has worked so hard to create an environment where we
create jobs, where our economy is growing stronger so that it is
growing fast enough to create the number of jobs we need.
The economy began to slow in 2000, and the President took
aggressive and bold action to put forward two major tax relief
packages and growth packages, which has helped get the economy
growing. And there are signs that the economy is improving. But the
President still isn't satisfied, and he'll touch on all of those
elements in his remarks today.
Q Is there anything specific that the President will offer
to help speed things along?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the President will talk about those
initiatives that we have already enacted to help American workers, as
well as items that remain on the table like liability reform, like
energy legislation, the initiative to help people who are having a
difficult time finding work -- he'll highlight that. And he'll also
have at least one new item that he will mention in his remarks today.
Q What's that? Is it a good one?
MS. BUCHAN: It will be at least one new thing for you to report
Q Of those 2.7 million jobs, almost all were in the
manufacturing sector. Is that why we're going to Ohio? Because
that's one of the states that's been so hard-hit, and of course, was a
close state in 2000?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the President has, as I said, always been
concerned about American workers looking for jobs, and this is the
third Labor Day that he has traveled to meet with American workers and
to talk about their important contributions to the economy. And this
continues his ongoing effort to help American workers --
Q -- what about Ohio?
MS. BUCHAN: This is an opportunity for the President to meet
with the International Operating Engineers Union.
Q What about the fact that this is sort of the unofficial
kickoff of the political season and Ohio is certainly a critical state
when it comes to the next election?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the President is focused on the business at
hand. He's focused on governing. As you've heard him say, there will
come a time for politics, but right now the President is focusing on
his job, leading Americans, and he's focused on helping create jobs
for American workers.
Q You may not have this, but do you have any reason why
he's addressing this union specifically? Last year he talked to steel
workers and talked about some of the issues they were facing. Is
there anything about these specific workers and this union that he --
is the reason why he's visiting them? There may not be, it may just
be an audience that was there, but --
MS. BUCHAN: They're American workers and they represent much of
what is going on in the economy, where workers who are looking for
jobs are having a difficult time, or workers who are working are
contributing to the vitality of the American economy that the
President talks about. You often hear him talk about the resilience
of the American economy. Much of that is thanks to our workers, who
have increased productivity and who have risen to the challenge. So
he'll highlight that, as well.
Q Did they invite him to speak today?
MS, BUCHAN: I don't know quite how the logistics of this worked
Q Did the White House invite Congressman Kucinich?
MS. BUCHAN: I don't know who all was invited. We typically
invite the member in the district that the event is being held in.
Q I think that's a Democrat. Do you happen to know
whether that person was invited?
MS. BUCHAN: I already said I don't know if that person was
Q There's a new tape broadcast on al Jazeera. As I
understand it, it reports to have Saddam denying involvement in last
week's bombing. Do you know anything about the veracity of that tape
or the claim?
MS. BUCHAN: I don't have anything on it.
Q Is there anything new to day about Friday's bombing, and
the three-day funeral procession that's going on over there?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, we continue to work with the Iraqi people,
with the Iraqi governing council and with our international coalition
to help bring about a more stable, more secure Iraq, and to help the
Iraqi people build a better and more peaceful future for themselves.
Q Do you have any idea who was behind that bombing,
MS. BUCHAN: I don't have anything on that, Steve. You might
touch base with the coalition provisional authority who is working
with the Iraqi governing council -- they may have updates for you.
Q Have tactics changed on the ground in combatting this
kind of activity, which is much different than what you saw with the
original attacks on troops in the beginning?
MS. BUCHAN: For the specifics on tactics you should be talking
to the commanders on the ground or the coalition provisional
authority. We continue to be very committed to working with the
Iraqis and with the Iraqi governing council and with our international
coalition to help secure Iraq, to bring about a more peaceful and
better future for the Iraqi people.
Q Is the President growing any more concerned, though,
given that this is the third car bomb that's gone off? I mean, things
are really getting seemingly increasingly worse over there.
MS. BUCHAN: The President is resolved to work to bring a better
future for the Iraqi people. He has always said that this would be a
-- that it would take considerable effort, and I think if you look
back at his speech on Thursday, the President talked about this being
a long-term effort and a major undertaking, and that continues.
Q There have been bitter complaints from within Iraq that
the Americans haven't allowed Iraqis to provide enough security for
themselves, Americans haven't provided that security either. Do you
know, has that complaint risen to the President's attention? What do
you make of it?
MS. BUCHAN: I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're --
Q The Iraqis complain that Americans aren't letting Iraqis
protect themselves, nor are Americans providing the kind of security
that might have prevented this bombing. Is there anything to that?
MS. BUCHAN: One, we are working very closely with the Iraqi
people to help them bring about a more stable future for themselves.
Already 38,000 Iraqis have been hired as police officers; 12,000
Iraqis will be trained for the Iraqi army in the next year. There are
1,400 Iraqis who have stepped forward as volunteers in the Iraqi civil
defense, We're stepping up raids, we're working with some 30
coalition partners on the ground in Iraq. So we're working very hard
with both the Iraqi people and with the international coalition.
Q Thank you.
END 10:09 A.M. EDT