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 Home > News & Policies > December 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 1, 2003

Press Gaggle with Scott Mcclellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Dearborn, Michigan

10:40 A.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning, everybody. Let me run through the President's day. The President had his usual briefings this morning. I'm going to have a phone call to read out to you a little bit later to a world leader.

When we arrive in Detroit, there will be a Freedom Corps greeter, Brad Simmons. He is an employee of Ford Motor Company and has been an active volunteer, and he was instrumental in creating the 16-Hour Community Service Program where every employee at Ford can participate in volunteer activities and local non-profit organizations, and use up to 16 hours of company time to do so.

Then the President will make remarks in Dearborn at a Bush-Cheney 2004 luncheon. Following that, we will go to Dynamic Metal Treating where the President will participate in a conversation with employers and employees on the economy. The President will talk about the action that we have taken to get the economy growing. And he will also highlight his six-point plan for creating an even more robust environment for job creation. As you have heard the President say, he feels good about the direction the economy is moving, it continues to grow, but there is more to do.

Following that, we depart to New Jersey where the Freedom Corps greeter will be Patricia "Pat" Fields. She's been an active volunteer in her community for 35 years. She is actively involved in a teen parenting program where she helps teenage -- this program, the local non-profit helps teenage parents graduate from high school, and also helps those parents get their babies off to a healthy start.

Then the President will make remarks in Whippany, New Jersey, at a Bush-Cheney 2004 reception. Oh, let me back up. On the company -- the employees and employers, there are two companies, or two businesses that will be represented in the conversation, one being Dynamic Metal Treating, which is a family-owned business. They have about 26 employees. And Dynamic treats steel components and tools for the automotive and oil industries. And then the other is Spectrum Automation.

Q -- Spectrum --

MR. McCLELLAN: Spectrum Automation, which is a family-owned business, too, that designs and builds parts-feeding equipment, mostly for automotive applications. They have 20 employees. Both these companies, after going through some difficult periods, are now growing and able to rehire some people that they had previously laid off, and hire some additional people, as well.

And that's the President's day.

Q -- steel decision today?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President still has not made a decision. It remains under review. And beyond that, I don't want to speculate on the timing of any decision.

Q You don't want to speculate on the timing of a decision, but --

MR. McCLELLAN: He has not made a decision. It remains under review. Again, I'm not going to speculate about any decision or the timing of any decision, but I can tell you that the President has not made a decision and it remains under review.

Q Do these two companies use steel?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just mentioned Dynamic Metal, how they treat steel that's used --

Q -- do they have to buy --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me double-check when we get there. I'll probably get more information for you when we get there.

Q -- has he been meeting with any representatives of the steel industry. Has he sought -- has he had direct conversations with anyone outside of his economic advisors?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we continue to consult with users, consumers, and members of Congress and others --

Q But the President personally hasn't?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'd say that the administration has --

Q -- you said consumers and --

MR. McCLELLAN: Members of Congress and others, and listened to their -- well, we continue to listen to their views.

Q Scott, is there a concern that this recent wave of attacks on foreign nationals in Iraq could in any way undermine the cohesiveness of the public coalition there?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think, one, you've heard from those coalition members themselves who have stated publicly that they intend to stay the course, that they will not be intimidated by these attacks. And I think the international community, including the coalition forces, recognize that the stakes are very high in Iraq and that it's important that we continue to stay the course, that the coalition continues to take to offensive and go after the remnants of the former regime, the Baathists and the foreign terrorists who are in the country, and we continue to take the offensive and take the battle to the enemy.

Q Aznar was certainly very forthright in his support, but Koizumi and perhaps South Korea may be -- it may give them further pause to delay sending troops. Is there concern --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think they stated that their commitments remain unchanged -- what I saw from Prime Minister Koizumi and from the Foreign Minister of South Korea. Again, I think the international community recognizes the stakes that are involved in Iraq and recognize the importance of staying the course and finishing the job. We all share a goal of a free, peaceful and democratic Iraq. It's important to a region that has been a -- a volatile region that has been breeding ground for terrorism. It's important to bringing about more peace and stability in the region.

Q Did the President, when he met with the Iraqi Governing Council members, did the issue of direct elections come up, or did anyone voice any concerns about --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have any additional readout beyond what you had from the President himself after his trip. I'll see if there's any more.

Q -- Howard Dean gave a speech. He said the President doesn't understand defense and that he refuses to stand up to the Saudis.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know there's a Democratic primary going on and there's a lot of comments being made by all the different candidates. The President is continuing to focus on the priorities for the American people and that includes what he's talking about today, getting our economy growing even faster, and national security, protecting the American people by making the world a safer and better place. That's what the President will continue to do. We'll let the Democrats debate their differences themselves.

Q Is there any reaction to President Assad's comments in The New York Times today about -- I don't know if it would be his willingness, but the whole issue of reviving talks between Israel and Syria? And also, Assistant Secretary Burns, is his trip there -- I mean, does the White House see sort of an opportunity for a new --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you might check with the State Department on the latest there, on their discussions that they're having. But you've heard the President's commitment to helping bring about peace and stability in the Middle East. It's an important region in the world, and we are working in a number of different areas to help bring about peace and stability in the region, with Iraq being a very high priority right now.

Q Is the President weighing the political ramifications of his steel decision?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he'll make a decision, as he previously did, based on what is right for the American people. The President -- you've heard him talk about why he imposed these safeguards in the first place, and that was to help give the industry an opportunity to restructure, consolidate, and the ITC came out with the interim report and it's been under review. And he'll make a decision based on what he believes is the right decision for the American people.

Q Have the tariffs had their desired effect?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you can look back at the interim report and they'll talk about some of the restructuring that has been underway since the President imposed the safeguards. But again, at this point, I don't want to get too far into speculation about what any decision may be. The President has not made a decision at this point; it remains under review. And we continue to listen to all the parties -- consumers, users, members of Congress and others.

All right? Thank you.

END 10:52 A.M. EST