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

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 7, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Raleigh, North Carolina

10:23 A.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning. Let me begin with the President's day. The President called Governor Rendell -- I'm sorry, Governor Rell -- this morning to congratulate her on her swearing-in as governor of Connecticut. Then he had his usual briefings.

Upon arrival the Freedom Corps greeter is Valerie Chaffin, who has volunteered with a program in Wake County since 1992 to help abused and neglected children. Then the President will meet with three of his judicial nominees from North Carolina, who are still awaiting an up or down vote in the Senate.

Q -- there?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I guess after we get there, that will be before.

And then following that -- do you have the fact sheet?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, you have the fact sheet. All the names are in the fact sheet. Obviously, the President will be talking about -- he will make remarks to the pool following his meeting with judicial nominees, and he'll talk about the importance of giving all his judicial nominees an up or down vote. These are all highly-qualified individuals who are well respected. And the President's responsibility is to nominate individuals to the bench and the Senate has a responsibility to give them an up or down vote. Unfortunately, there are still some Senate Democrats who are playing partisan politics with the judicial nomination process; they are using unprecedented obstructionist tactics. And you'll hear more from the President about this when he makes remarks to the pool.

Following that, the President will make remarks and participate in a lunch for Victory 2004. And then we will depart for Michigan. And the Freedom Corps greeter there will be Scotty Maconochie, who has volunteered as a motivational speaker at the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp, which is for inmates there in Oakland County.

And following that, the President will meet with six of his judicial nominees in Michigan -- you have the names in your fact sheet -- and then, again, he will make remarks to the pool. And then he will participate in -- make remarks at a Victory 2004 dinner in Michigan, before we return to D.C.

Let's see, Congressman Burr is on board with us today.

Q Who?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Burr. And a couple of announcements to update for next week on the schedule. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the President will participate in a bus tour. These are campaign events. The President will make remarks on Tuesday --

Q A bus tour?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. The President will make remarks in Marquette, Michigan, on Tuesday, July 13th. Then he will make remarks at a Duluth, Minnesota rally. And we will overnight in Milwaukee. And on Wednesday, the 14th, the President will participate in an "Ask President Bush" event in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Then he will make remarks in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin. And then he will make remarks at a Green Bay, Wisconsin rally before we return back to D.C.

And that's all I have to begin with.

Q Is the President interested in naming this new Army Secretary, Francis Harvey?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Is he going to be naming Francis Harvey as his nominee for Army Secretary?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, as you know, whenever we have something to announce, we announce it at that point. I saw the stories in the paper, but --

Q -- comment on the story?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when there is an announcement ready to be made, we'll do so at that point.

Q Scott, the fact sheet lists the -- some of the judicial nominees, says they haven't had hearings or haven't had votes. The last time I looked, the Republicans controlled the judiciary committee in the floor, and that's up to Senator Hatch -- when to hold a hearing, when to hold a vote.

Why is that a criticism of Democrats, if they haven't had a hearing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's the Senate Democrats that have continued to block the up or down votes by the full Senate. It's the Senate Democrats who are playing partisan politics and obstructing the judicial nomination process. They are the ones that have been holding up the nomination process. Some of these nominees the President will talk about, as you are aware, have been waiting for quite some time. I think a number of the -- six of the nine that he's talking about today are judicial -- have been declared judicial emergencies. And so he's urging the Senate to move forward and give these nominees an up or down vote.

Q I'm asking very specifically about the complaint that some have not had hearings or votes in committee. That's entirely a Republican function.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, to be confirmed they have to be voted on by the entire Senate. And it's the Senate Democrats, some Senate Democrats who are holding up those up or down votes for nominees. Obviously, we appreciate all the work Senator Hatch has done to help move forward on these nominees, and we have continued to work closely with him. But it's the Senate -- some Senate Democrats who are playing politics and using unprecedented obstructionist tactics on these nominees.

Q -- for a third time, but the fact sheet has the complaint that they haven't had hearings in the Judiciary Committee. Democrats have not stopped that -- that's solely a function of the chairman, who's a Republican.

MR. McCLELLAN: But it's -- again, the reason nominees are being -- these nominees are being held up is because Senate Democrats do not want them to have an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

Oh, one update, too, I forgot, while we're talking about judicial nominees. Judge Gonzales, obviously, is traveling with us today. He's on "Ask the White House" today at 3:30 p.m., to talk about the judicial nomination process and to talk about --

Q On what?

MR. McCLELLAN: "Ask the White House," our Internet --

Q What time, 3:30 p.m.?

MR. McCLELLAN: Three-thirty.

Q Are these official events, or campaign events today, the judicial nominees?

MR. McCLELLAN: Judicial ones are official events. The Victory 2004 events are obviously political events.

Q Just so I understand it, why, when an event is at a private residence -- why is it closed? Is it because it would be too disruptive to the --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's just a determination that goes back to the 2000 campaign. And I understand the Bush-Cheney campaign is following that same practice, that if it's a private residence, that those are considered closed events. It's what we've done all along.

Q Why? But, why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you could talk more to the campaign about some of those issues, if you want to.

Q Is he going to specifically cite Senator Edwards today as one of the Democrats who are blocking --

Q I'm sorry, what?

MR. McCLELLAN: Is he going to specifically cite Edwards?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, I think in these instances home state senators -- in Michigan and North Carolina, the Democratic home state senators are part of the ones who are involved in these obstructionist tactics. But I don't know that he'll -- you'll be there to hear the President's remarks.

Q Is he going to take questions?

MR. McCLELLAN: You'll be there. I expect he may.

Q Do you really think you'll get a vote this year, in an election year, on these nominees?

MR. McCLELLAN: Regardless of whether or not we're in an election year, I mean, we're talking about filling judicial vacancies. The caseloads in judicial -- in federal courts is at an all-time high. The caseload is rising in these courts where there are vacancies. And that's why the President is reminding Congress, particularly these Senate Democrats who are holding up or blocking these nominations, that they have an important responsibility to fulfill and to do what is right. And that's to give them an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate.

Q Democrats say that during Bill Clinton's first terms they got 84 percent of the judges through. And during -- so far in Bush's first term, you've gotten 88 percent of your nominees through. So you've gotten more than Bill Clinton did in his first term --

MR. McCLELLAN: As I pointed out, that a number of these vacancies that are remaining are judicial emergencies. And the caseloads are at an all-time high. The tactics that you are seeing employed by some Senate Democrats are unprecedented. These obstructionist tactics are unprecedented in the sense that they're not giving these -- a lot of these nominees to receive an up or down vote on the Senate floor. And that's what the President will continue to talk about in his remarks.

Q The name of that congressman -- just for the pool report -- again, I'm sorry? The name of the congressman?

MR. McCLELLAN: Burr, B-u-r-r. All right.

Q Can we go back on the schedule real quick and run by the names of those towns again? I didn't really catch those.

MR. McCLELLAN: They'll be in the transcript.

Q The county is the one I didn't get.

Q Waukesha County.

MR. McCLELLAN: They will be in the transcript.

END 10:31 A.M. EDT

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