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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 1, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Nationwide Arena
Columbus, Ohio

MR. McCLELLAN: On President Putin, the President spoke with President Putin earlier today. The President let President Putin know that we stand with the Russian people during this time. Our thoughts are with them. We condemn in the strongest terms this kind of terrorism. And we have offered whatever assistance they request with the hostage situation.

Q Who initiated the call?

MR. McCLELLAN: (Inaudible) -- the President was calling President Putin to let him know that we stand firmly with the Russian people. We stand side-by-side with Russia in the war on terrorism. We condemn this hostage taking and the recent terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I did that. Did you get that, at the last one? Prime Minister Karamanlis? He spoke with Prime Minister Karamanlis this morning. The President called to congratulate him on a successful Olympics. The President thanked him for all the cooperation on the security efforts and steps that Greece took to provide for the safety of all the participants and people attending the Olympics. Prime Minister Karamanlis also congratulated the United States on the great success of our Olympians at the Olympics.

Q When did the President call?

MR. McCLELLAN: It was early this morning. I didn't ask him the exact time.

Q There was no discussion of what specific type of assistance?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that was actually at a staff level discussion. The discussion of assistance we've offered at a staff level. We've made clear that we stand ready to help if they were to -- if they need it.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, at a White House level. This was White House.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: We've offered assistance if they need it.

Q I also wanted to ask about the Florida primary.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, the President called Secretary Martinez last night and congratulated him on his primary victory. And the President looks forward to being on the same ticket as Secretary Martinez in Florida this November.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, we'll leave that -- I think all those political pundits can look at that question. The President is focused on -- the President is going to continue to be focused on reaching out to all people in Florida and across the United States. He's going to continue talking about what his beliefs are, the accomplishments over the last four years, as well as his vision for the next four years.

Q How much time has the President spent on preparation for his speech?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, okay. He had his usual briefings this morning. The speech -- it was about two hours.

Q Two hours?

MR. McCLELLAN: Two hours. He was doing some teleprompter practice and reading through the -- going through the whole speech.

Q What about tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he has some time scheduled in the morning to go over his remarks and to do a little bit of speech preparation.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: It's pretty much done at this point. He's making, maybe, some minor changes to it at this point. But it's pretty much done.

Q Did he videotape the --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's more of doing the teleprompter and -- in the Family Theater in the Residence.

All right?

* * * * *

MR. McCLELLAN: (In progress) -- Look, this will very much be a forward-looking speech, that focuses on his vision for the future and his agenda for the next four years. I think the President will talk about his convictions and beliefs. And he will also talk about what we have achieved over the last four years. But most of the speech will focus on his agenda for building a safer world and a more hopeful America.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: That's fair to describe it that way, yes.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I'd say he's probably going to spend about half of it on domestic policy and half of it on foreign policy. You've heard him talk about the importance of -- the transformational power of liberty and the importance of spreading freedom to make the world a better place and make America more secure. I also expect he'll talk about how we've been through a lot over the last four years, and he'll talk about how we've -- because of the leadership that he's provided, we've risen to meet the challenges that we've faced over the last four years. We've been through a lot together, and I expect the President will talk about the changing times that we're in.

Q How much of -- (inaudible)?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's really focused on his robust agenda for the future. He's got a clear and positive plan for the future. And that's where a good portion of the speech will focus. I think you can expect there will be new policies within the areas he cares most about. You've heard him talk about the importance of education reform. We've taken an important step to make sure every child can learn and succeed. But passing the law was only a step. There is more to do to make sure people have the education and skills they need to meet the jobs in our changing economy. There are a lot of jobs being created. We need to make sure that workers have the skills to fill those jobs. I think you can expect he'll talk about the importance of reducing health care costs and making health care more affordable, and what we've accomplished there. We've passed historic Medicare reforms, but there's more to do. There's also more to do to build an ownership society in America. There's more to do to create an environment where America continues to be the best place in the world to do business. And he will talk about the importance of Iraq and Afghanistan, how there -- by building a free and peaceful Afghanistan and Iraq that's able to govern itself and defend itself from internal and external threats, we are transforming a dangerous part of the world. And it will make the world a better place and it will make America more secure.