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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 9, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Allentown, Pennsylvania

9:30 A.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, let me begin with the President's day. Before we departed, he taped his radio address for tomorrow, and then he had his usual briefings, intelligence briefings.

Q What's the radio on?

MR. McCLELLAN: Protecting the sanctity of marriage. You have the Senate beginning debate on that issue, and he will talk about that tomorrow.

Then when we arrive in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, the President will participate in an "Ask President Bush." He will -- the focus of it will be on the economy and he'll highlight some of his six-point plan and talk about how families and small businesses have benefitted from his tax relief. There will be some examples that he'll cite in his remarks. I expect he'll touch on some other issues, as well, like the war on terrorism and some other issues, but the focus of this will be on the economy. And then he'll, obviously, take some questions from the audience at that event, as well, similar to the way he did last time.

Following that, then we go to Lancaster, where the President will make remarks. And, again, the remarks will focus on the economy, although I expect he'll touch on other issues, as well. And then this evening -- I'm sorry, on the way to York, the President will participate in a 20-minute roundtable interview with some regional and print media on board the bus.

And then at --

Q Is the pool on there?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's just an interview by some regional reporters.

And then this evening, the President will make remarks at a York, Pennsylvania rally, and there I expect he will touch on some of the issues he talks about earlier in the day, as well as talk some about values -- I expect he'll talk some about values throughout the day, but discuss it at greater length at that event.

And, let's see, remind me and I'll go to the week ahead after your questions.

Q What's the values theme he's raising, and why is he raising it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, these are campaign events. You're going to hear from him later today. Why is he raising it? I mean, it's something that he's talked about throughout his time in public service and there are certainly clear contrasts on this issue. And I think he will talk about some of those differences.

Q Scott, the International Court of Justice is going to condemn the Israeli fence today. What's the administration's position on this?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've seen some reports about what they are going to say. If you'll recall, we've always said that, you know, we do not believe that that's the appropriate forum to resolve what is a political issue, that this is an issue that needs to -- that should be resolved through the process that has been put in place, specifically, the road map.

We've also expressed our views very clearly to the government of Israel and continue to talk to the government of Israel about these issues. You know, we certainly recognize the need for Israel to defend itself and protect the people of Israel. It's also important that as they take measures to do that, that they allow for the Palestinian people to be able to move freely within that region.

Q Is it the position of the administration that this ruling is irrelevant because it's not the correct forum for it to be decided?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we believe that this requires a -- the situation requires a solution, a political solution, and that the road map is the way to get to that solution, the two-state vision that the President outlined. The President believes very strongly in the two-state vision and he is, as you have heard him say, the first President to articulate a two-state vision of Palestinian and Israel living side-by-side in peace and security. And the road map is the way to get there. And, certainly, the parties need to work together to follow through on what is outlined in the road map. And we have a unique opportunity to get moving on the road map with Prime Minister Sharon's proposal.

Q Israel has asked the United States to block any United Nations actions coming out of this World Court ruling. Is the United States going to do that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, the ruling, to my knowledge, has not come out yet, so let's let the ruling come out. But what we're going to continue to do is urge the parties to move forward on the road map and take advantage of this unique opportunity that was presented with Prime Minister Sharon's proposal. And the Palestinians have a unique opportunity to seize this opportunity and put in place the security structure that they need to put institutions in place for a Palestinian state to emerge.

Q Scott, why did the President turn down the speaking request to the NAACP?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we sent a letter to the NAACP recently, stating that the President would not be able to attend.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Why wasn't he able to attend?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the letter cited scheduling commitments. I think, in terms of -- I mean, do you have specific questions about --

Q Well, I was just wondering if that wasn't a political mistake?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, if you're talking about the standpoint from the President's outreach efforts, I mean, the President is going to fight for every single vote and he's going to fight hard to win support from the African American community, and he certainly has a strong record of accomplishment on issues of importance to the African American community.

Q It just seemed -- it struck me as different, that, you know, we had the thing in the East Room just a week ago, on the Voting Rights Act, was it? The '68 [sic] thing? And, yet, he turned this thing down.

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I think, one, you need to look at the President's record and vision, not just one particular event. The current leadership of the NAACP has certainly made some rather hostile political comments about the President over the past few years. And I think it's important to recognize what has been said by some of the current leadership.

But the President is going to reach out to every one in the African American community and ask for their vote, based on his record and his vision for the country.

Q Hey, Scott, has he spoken to the NAACP since 2000? I remember he gave a pretty strong speech that year.

MR. McCLELLAN: That was the last time he spoke to the NAACP.

Q Why is Jenna on the plane? I mean, what is her role today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you remember that the President and Mrs. Bush have pointed out that they were interested in getting more involved in the campaign. And so I think that's what you're starting to see.

Q What's she going to do today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you'll be here to cover it. You'll be here to cover it.

Q Is this the first time she's done this?

MR. McCLELLAN: First time she's done what?

Q Come on a campaign trip with Bush from this campaign?

MR. McCLELLAN: She's been at campaign events in the past, but --

Q With Bush?

Q Obviously, she graduated --

MR. McCLELLAN: Recently, yes. This is the first one recently.

Q Since they've announced that she's going to be involved?

Q In the '04 campaign, this is the first?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is pleased to have her traveling with him today.

Q Is the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report today going to put any pressure on the President to sort of speed up the decision on a new CIA director?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, we need to let the report come out. We look forward to seeing the report. Certainly, I imagine that the committee report will talk about the importance of intelligence reform. And in that respect, the committee agrees with what we have said, which is that we need to take steps to continue strengthening and reforming our intelligence capabilities, so that we are prepared to meet the threats -- the new threats that we face in this day and age, namely the threats from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

And the President has acted on a number of fronts to strengthen our intelligence capabilities. We have been transforming and revamping the FBI to make sure terrorism is its number one -- counterterrorism is its number one priority. We created the Terrorist Threat Integration Center so that we could better share intelligence information and improve the gathering of that information, so that our law enforcement and intelligence officials will have the tools they need -- or have the information they need to combat terrorism. And then we passed the Patriot Act, which provided -- broke down the wall between intelligence and law enforcement, so that they would have the tools -- so that we would have tools needed to better protect the homeland, as well.

But we will continue acting to pursue reforms that will improve our intelligence capabilities and our counterterrorism capabilities. And so we look forward to seeing what the report has to say. I would remind you that there is also the 9/11 Commission. We want to see what they have to say, as well. And we want to see what the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities relating to weapons of mass destruction has to say, as well, on these matters.

Q It seemed critical of the intelligence community, though. Do you think of it as a pretty big blow? Is this going to be more than --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the President stands strongly behind our men and women in the intelligence community who have dedicated themselves to protecting the American people. He stands strongly behind what they are doing. But that's why I talked about the importance of intelligence reform, and there is certainly some areas that we need to look at specifically within intelligence reform. We need to continue to improve the quantity and quality of human intelligence. We need to continue to look at the new technologies that we can use, so that our technical intelligence capabilities stay ahead of our enemies and their capabilities. And we need to continue to improve the coordination and gathering of intelligence, so that we have -- so it's as effective as possible. But that's why you've got all those -- you've got the committees and you've also got the commissions looking at a number of these issues.

Q Week ahead?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, week ahead, have to go quick. You want me to just read it to Ellen?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: We'll put it in the transcript, so I'll just read it to Ellen.

Sunday, July 11th, we already announced that the President will attend the White House tee ball game. Monday, July 12th, the President will make remarks on the war on terrorism at Oakridge, Tennessee. The President will do a tour of the Oakridge facility, where the Libya weapons of mass destruction materials were relocated to. And then he will make remarks and talk about the broader war on terrorism and our efforts to defeat the terrorists and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And then the President will return to the White House, where he'll meet with the President of El Salvador, which we've already announced.

On Tuesday, July 13th, he will sign the African Growth and Opportunity Acceleration Act of 2004, in Room 350 over in the Executive Office Building.

Then, as we announced, he has the bus tour on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he'll make remarks in Marquette, Michigan, on Tuesday, then remarks at a Duluth, Minnesota rally, and overnight in Milwaukee. And then on Wednesday, he'll participate in an "Ask President Bush" event in Waukesha, Wisconsin; make remarks in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin; make remarks at an Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin rally.

And then on Thursday, July 15th, at the White House, he'll sign the Identity Theft Penalty Enforcement Act in the Roosevelt Room. And on Friday, July 16th, he'll make remarks at the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking, in Tampa, Florida, and make remarks at a Beckley, West Virginia rally. And that is the week ahead.

Thank you.

END 9:43 A.M. EDT