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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 6, 2004
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Stratham, New Hampshire
12:55 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll get started. I'm here for your questions, and then I'll do the week ahead.
Q Will there be any pulling of attack ads on Senator Kerry?
MR. McCLELLAN: What are you referring to?
Q Will there be any initiative to get the attack ads on Senator Kerry, as we were discussing yesterday --
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about yesterday?
Q Yes. The military service attack ads.
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we continue to urge Senator Kerry to join us and call for an end to all the ads and activity by these shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. These ads are examples of the kinds of problems with this unregulated soft money. The President signed the campaign finance reforms into law in part to get rid of this kind of activity.
Q New job figures today -- 32,000 new jobs. That's a pretty small number compared to expectations. Unemployment dropped a bit. Can you talk about this --
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. You may hear more from the President in a minute. Yes, I think that today's employment report shows that our economy is moving forward and it also is a reminder that we are in a changing economy. There is more to do. The President is not satisfied and he will continue to act with pro-growth, pro-jobs policies that build upon what we're already doing. The economy has been through a lot the last few years, and we must continue to act to create as robust an environment as possible for job creation.
Q Economists say that 200,000 to 300,000 a month is what you have to do for a substantive recovery. And you're at 32,000. Isn't this a situation where job recovery is in a pattern where it's about to stall out?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said -- we're continuing to add jobs. We've seen nearly 1.5 million jobs created since last August. The unemployment rate did drop from 5.6 to 5.5 percent. It's well below the averages of the last three decades. Consumer confidence is up; homeownership is up. You have to look at all the indicators. There are some indicators that have been mixed, but I think you have to look at all the indicators and the overall -- to look at the overall state of the economy.
And that's why I said the economy is continuing to move forward, but we've got more work to do. And that's why the President is calling on action -- calling for steps to be taken on his six-point plan that will create a robust environment -- as robust an environment for job creation as possible. We need an energy plan -- and there's two reasons we don't have an energy plan right now, called John Kerry and John Edwards, who voted against an energy plan in the first place.
So there are a number of steps that we can take. There are clear choices, but the policies that we have put in place are working and our economy is moving forward. But we've got more work to do.
Q Doesn't this make his pitch more complicated, though? I mean, he talks about how there's still more that needs to be done, but it's a pretty upbeat assessment --
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, I think you'll hear from him -- no, the President is not satisfied. He believes there is more that we must do and can do. And that's why he's put forward the six-point plan that he has. That's why he talks about the changing economy we're in. We're in a changing economy. There are a lot of high-growth jobs that we need to make sure we have an educated work force to fill those jobs. And that's what he's going to continue talking about.
But the economy, when you look at what it's been through -- the recession and the attacks of September 11th, the corporate scandals and the lead-up to the war in Iraq -- there are a number of indicators that show that it is moving forward. But we've got more work to do, and that's what today's employment report shows. It is a changing economy, and that's why we must continue to act.
Q How dangerous is the apparent collapse of this truce in Iraq? Are we at a flashpoint here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I think you need to talk to both the Iraqi leaders and coalition forces there in the region to talk about the latest developments. I think they can give you the best update -- I haven't received a report in the last couple of hours.
Q Surely you know there's been two days of very heavy fighting and Al Sadr says they must renew the resurgency.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're seeing that Iraq is assuming more and more responsibility for their future, both when it comes to moving forward on elections and reconstructing the country and to the security -- addressing the security threats. You're seeing steps being taken by Iraqi forces to address some of these security threats. And we're there to partner with those Iraqi security forces to defeat those who seek to derail the transition to democracy. And so we will continue partnering with the Iraqi forces and continue helping to expand and strengthen Iraqi security forces, because they'll ultimately assume responsibility for their future.
Q I'm asking whether or not the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of the latest developments on the ground, I think that, again, those are -- you're talking about military questions that are best addressed right now by those who are in the field.
Q You won't weigh in on the administration's level of concern on this explosion of violence in the last couple of days?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. I mean, it's --
Q What is your level of concern?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's why I said that we've always said that there will be difficulties as Iraq moves forward toward elections. And Iraq is continuing to move forward to build a free and peaceful future. The Iraqi people are assuming more and more responsibility for their future. But there are those who are opposed to a free and peaceful and democratic future for Iraq. And they will be defeated. The Iraqi leadership has made it clear that they will defeat those who seek to spread violence and fear and stop the transition to democracy. And we're there partnering with them to address these ongoing security threats. These are ongoing security threats, and we'll be working closely with Iraqi forces to address them. And that's what we're doing right now. But we've always said that there are going to be difficulties along the way, particularly as we move closer and closer to holding elections.
And I think -- NATO is -- my point about NATO is moving forward on helping to train Iraqi security forces, and that's important. And you have a number of countries that have reaffirmed their commitment to helping the Iraqi people defeat the terrorists and those regime elements who seek to derail the transition.
Q Scott, does the President expect the two al Qaeda suspects arrested in Pakistan to be handed over to the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: Who are you referring to? One, I'm not getting into discussing any particular names of individuals. We have -- or I'm not in a position at this point, either, to update you on any of those discussions. But we continue to stay in close contact with Pakistan, with the United Kingdom, and others to defeat the terrorists and to go after al Qaeda leaders, wherever they are. And that's what we will continue to do.
Q Can you talk a little bit, before you get to the week ahead, about this weekend? Is there a pool tonight, a rehearsal dinner, anything like that?
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll keep you posted on that. I don't know all those off the top of my head, but I'll check on all that, and we'll keep you posted.
Q -- the church tomorrow, do you have anything --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see --
Q If you could brief us later on the weekend, including tonight.
MR. McCLELLAN: You all tend to go where he goes. So I assume that would be the same situation.
Q -- if there's a pool this evening.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just -- I don't have all those details right now. Week ahead.
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, Monday, he will --
Q That's my line.
MR. McCLELLAN: He will -- oh, sorry, Hillman.
Q Week ahead.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you, Hillman. On Monday, he will participate in an "Ask President Bush" in Annandale, Virginia. Then he will meet with the Prime Minister of Poland, which we've already announced, at the Oval Office.
On Tuesday, he makes remarks at a Pensacola, Florida rally, participates in an "Ask President Bush" event in Niceville, Florida, and then remarks at a Panama City, Florida rally in Panama City. We'll overnight at the ranch that night in Crawford.
Q Is that a bus tour?
MR. McCLELLAN: That is a bus tour.
Q Overnight in Crawford?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, Tuesday night. Then Wednesday, we will go to New Mexico where he'll participate in an "Ask President Bush" in Albuquerque, then make remarks at a Phoenix, Arizona rally. We overnight in Phoenix on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he'll make remarks in Las Vegas, Nevada, and then attend a Victory 2004 reception in Santa Monica, California. We overnight in Los Angeles.
And then, Friday, the 13th, the President will make remarks at the Portland, Oregon Small Business Summit in Portland, Oregon. And then he will attend a Victory 2004 reception in Medina, Washington. We'll overnight in Redmond, Washington.
And then on Saturday, the 14th, he will make remarks at a Sioux City, Iowa rally. Good place, right? And then we overnight back at the White House. That's the week ahead.
Q Saturday night back --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Saturday night, back at the White House.
MR. McCLELLAN: Saturday night, back at the White House.
All right, thanks.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go listen to the speech.
END 1:10 P.M. EDT