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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, February 5, 2004 (Full Transcript)MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning. Let me run through the President's day. First of all, this morning the President made three phone calls to world leaders. The President spoke with President Mesa of Bolivia. The President reiterated United States support for Bolivia's constitutional process and democratic institutions, and the President expressed confidence that Bolivia would continue down the pathway of democracy and greater prosperity. The two leaders discussed President Mesa's plans to hold a national referendum on the development and export of Bolivia's natural gas resources.
The two leaders also talked about the need to continue close cooperation between the two countries on counternarcotic efforts.
The Presidents noted that the two governments are coordinating bilateral efforts such as coca eradication and alternative development strategies for farmers now producing coca.
Then the President spoke with President Aznar of Spain. The two leaders discussed the situation in Iraq and both reiterated their commitment to support the Iraqi people against former regime loyalists, criminals and foreign terrorists. They also discussed the transatlantic relations more broadly, and both stressed the importance of transatlantic solidarity in addressing the threats of the 21st century.
Then the President spoke with President Kwasniewski of Poland. The President expressed condolences over the death of a Polish officer yesterday in Iraq. And both leaders reaffirmed their determination to maintain the fight against those terrorists in Iraq who seek to take away the new freedoms of the Iraqi people. And both leaders said they would stay in close consultation about the common challenges that confront the United States, Poland, and the rest of the world.
And that's the readout from his phone calls this morning. Then the President had his usual briefings. Following that, he taped his radio address for tomorrow.
QUESTION: Topic on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Economy.
Upon arrival here in a few minutes, the President will meet with a Freedom Corps greeter, Brian Koontz. He's been an active community volunteer for 19 years, serving as a volunteer firefighter and first responder. Then the President will participate in the campaign luncheon. And following that, the President will go to Forsyth Technical Community College to have a conversation with students and faculty at Forsyth Community College about the economy, and particularly focusing on job training programs to help unemployed Americans who want to get back to work, help them participate in the growing and changing economy that we face, and be retrained in fields such as biotechnology and health care and high-technology manufacturing, to name a few.
Let me just mention a little bit about this, too. You all are aware this region of North Carolina has been particularly hard hit with some job losses, particularly the textile and manufacturing sector. And that's why the job retraining aspects are very important to what we are doing to get workers and families back to work in the region.
On June 9th of 2003, the Department of Labor announced an award of just over $750,000 to the Forsyth Technical Community College as part of its high growth training initiative. That is an initiative that the President directed the Department of Labor to undertake. It's where they provide funding for public-private partnerships to retrain workers for the jobs of the new economy.
And then there's some contribution of over $150,000 from the Community College and business partners. And these funds have gone to the establishment of a biotechnology associate degree training program, which is designed to give workers the necessary and sought-after skills to move from employment in some of the industries I mentioned into a growing biotechnology sector.
And one person that was instrumental in bringing this about was Congressman Burr who is with us on the plane this morning, traveling with us -- who was instrumental in this.
QUESTION: Do you know what the unemployment rate is for this area?
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, I'll get to questions. Then we return this afternoon to -- the President will go to Camp David for the weekend.
One other announcement: Secretary Chao is on Ask The White House at 2:00 p.m. today. I expect you'll see other administration officials out from our economic team, as well.
QUESTION: Do you feel like the economy has now turned the corner based on the numbers today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the economy continues to grow and jobs are being created. Today's employment report is another positive sign for America's workers and families. The economy is moving in the right direction. But we cannot be complacent. The President is not satisfied because there are still people who are looking for work who cannot find a job. I think that he will talk some about this today when he has his conversation with the students and faculty at the community college.
This is an area that has been hard-hit. The President will not rest as long as there are people who are looking for work and cannot find a job.
I think that he will continue to talk about how there is more to do. That's why we need to act on his six-point plan to create an even stronger environment for job creation.
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