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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 17, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott Mcclellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Charlotte, North Carolina

2:52 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, let me go through the President's day and take some questions, and then remind me, and we'll get to the week ahead.

Let's see, the President taped his radio address this morning. It will preview the themes he will be talking about at the United Nations General Assembly next week. Then he had his usual briefings. He participated in an interview by phone with the Union-Leader. This was an interview that was previously scheduled to occur when he was last in New Hampshire, but we had to reschedule it. And so that's what this was.

Q The Manchester?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, the Manchester. Then he made the remarks, which you all will get, at the Victory 2004 Luncheon in D.C. When we arrive in Charlotte, the Freedom Corps greeter is Crystal Regan, who is a volunteer at the East Lincoln Pregnancy Counseling Center, and she teaches classes on parenting, nutrition and budgeting, and counsels clients with unplanned pregnancies.

And then he will participate, in Charlotte, he'll participate in a Focus on Women's Issues. This is a conversation, where there will be, I believe, four participants. You will have a small business owner who supports flex time and comp time, you will have a worker who went back to school to learn new skills for a career in nursing, and a single mom who has transitioned from welfare to work, and then a doctor who was an OB/GYN who supports medical liability reform.

And then he's got the remarks at the Victory 2004 events this evening, in Charlotte, as well. Those are at a private residence. And then we arrive this evening in Walker's Point, where he'll be in Kennebunkport for tomorrow night.

Q Scott, why is he going to Kennebunkport?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we were originally going to -- we were originally planning on going there. We had the NASCAR event. And there's no public events scheduled while we're in Kennebunkport.

Q So now it's pretty much R&R?

MR. McCLELLAN: His family has a place there, so he'll just be spending -- well, it's never completely R&R for the President, but there's no public events scheduled.

Q Will he do anything?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll try to let you know. I don't know -- I actually don't know which family members may or may not be there.

Q Will there be any debate prep this weekend?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't expect anything formal. But just to let you know, when it comes to debate prep, obviously he will be doing debate prep between now and the debates. And I'm not going to get into reading those out.

Q Kerry today said that the President has a secret plan to send new -- more National Guard members to Iraq after the election. Can you comment on that?

MR. McCLELLAN: What did he base that on?

Q Representative Murtha said that there was a plan, too.

MR. McCLELLAN: And what did they base it on? Actually, the campaign has already put out a statement on it, and addressed this baseless attack.

Q Is there any plans to --

MR. McCLELLAN: The campaign actually addressed it. It's just another baseless attack from Senator Kerry. He's struggling to explain his incoherent positions on Iraq, and just engaging in baseless attacks.

Q Scott, can you tell us a little bit about next week, what the President hopes to do at the U.N., particularly?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're not really ready to get into previewing everything. I'll give you a -- in the week ahead I'll talk to you about the meetings he's going to have while he's there. Like I said, the radio address that you will get later today previews the themes he will be discussing in his speech on Tuesday. But beyond that, we'll preview when we get a little bit closer to it.

Q Does he feel, though, that he needs to or wants to use the occasion of the U.N., particularly the visit of Prime Minister Allawi, to demonstrate to Americans that things are going according to plan in Iraq, despite what they might be seeing or reading on the news on any given day?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, the preview you're going to get, for right now, on the U.N. next week is the radio address. But we do look forward to Prime Minister Allawi addressing the General Assembly and then coming to Washington following the General Assembly. Prime Minister Allawi is a strong leader who is moving forward on a plan to help the Iraqi people build democratic institutions and realize a free and peaceful future. You've heard the President talk about the ongoing security threats that the Iraqi people face. In a number of areas, Najaf and Kufa, those security threats have been addressed. In Samara there's been a lot of progress made. Fallujah remains an area where there is ongoing violence and security threats that Prime Minister Allawi is determined to address. And he is working to do that. But there is a clear plan that the President outlined for success in Iraq. And we're moving to help the Iraqi people hold free elections and build a democratic future.

Q Scott, does the President believe that he'll narrow the gender gap in this election from four years ago?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President believes -- I think that now that there is a record for people to look at, and the President is reaching out to men and women who support his agenda for the next four years. It builds upon our record of results. And certainly some of the things that the President will be highlighting today are some of those results we've achieved, and what we're working to do to help not only -- well, to help women build a path to greater opportunity. We're in a changing world -- and some of this may be touched on in his conversation today -- where you have more women who also work outside of the home. And you have -- I think he'll talk about some of those issues.

Q I've got another question about women. In the last few public events, we've seen anti-Bush women treated rather roughly, physically. Does the President -- is he aware of the treatment of these demonstrators?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what you're specifically referring to, Ed.

Q Well, one we saw a woman being led out by her hair, rather forcefully. Another one yesterday at Mrs. Bush's event.

MR. McCLELLAN: Those are questions I think you can direct to authorities. I don't know what you're specifically referring to.

Q Well, the one yesterday, the woman who spoke up --

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has always said it's important to treat everybody with dignity and respect. And people certainly have the right to express their views in a peaceful way.

Q What are the themes of the next week, or the radio address? What's his speech next week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's for the radio address, that's for tomorrow.

Q Why can't we have them now?

MR. McCLELLAN: You'll have it this afternoon, embargoed for tomorrow.

Q Scott, Ohio lost 11,800 jobs last month, and then today Cooper Tires said that they would send -- outsource 15,000 jobs to China. Is it a concern that such a key state is losing jobs?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think if you look at the state unemployment numbers that came out today, they continue to show that the economy is moving forward, and because of the policies that this President has implemented. There are some areas that have been harder hit than others, in the aftermath of the recession that we went through and the attacks of September 11th, where a million jobs were lost in those first three months after September 11th.

But we have acted to get the economy growing and moving forward. And the last thing we need to do is turn back from those policies with tax increases that would stifle job creation. And that's the alternative in this race. And the President is continuing to pursue pro-growth policies to strengthen our economy even more, and create as robust an environment as possible for job creation. We've seen 1.7 million jobs created in the last year. We're seeing the unemployment rate coming down -- that has come down in the last year in 45 states, I believe, now.

Q What is the President's response to outsourcing in Ohio?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is focused on creating jobs here at home. To create jobs here at home, we need to continue to pursue policies to lower taxes, common-sense regulation, and less burdensome regulation, lawsuit reform to stop abuses -- stop frivolous litigation, and policies to promote innovation. And that's what this President is doing.

There are clear choices in this race on this issue. And it's a -- it's important to continue our economy moving forward in the direction that it is, with the pro-growth policies that the President outlined. Senator Kerry has proposed job-killing tax increases that would stifle our economic growth that we've seen create 1.7 million jobs over the last year.

Q Do you see any circumstance in which the Iraqi elections would not be held in January?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Prime Minister Allawi has made it clear that he is determined to hold elections in January. And, certainly, like I said, the -- and the President has said, transitioning from tyranny to democracy is hard work, and there are -- difficulties remain. We've talked about how you're going to continue to see ongoing violence as we transition to those free elections, because the enemies of freedom know what a significant blow it will be when we -- when the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. This will be a major blow to the terrorists. But we will prevail.

And it's important that we don't send mixed signals to the Iraqi people, to our troops, and to our allies who are in Iraq. It's important that we remain strong and continue to pursue the clear plan that the -- that we are pursuing.

Q The reason I ask is, a week ago, in West Virginia, he said elections will be held there in January. And this week, he seemed to dial it back a little bit and say that they were scheduled in January.

MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't notice any difference.

Q There was a difference in language. There was --

MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't take it as any difference.

Q And do you have any comment on this draft report by Duelfer for -- it says there's no WMD stockpile, but Saddam, apparently, was looking to revive his programs?

MR. McCLELLAN: Saddam Hussein posed a danger in a post -- a danger that we could not afford to ignore in a post-September 11th world. He continued to have ambitions, clandestine programs for -- well, let me back up -- he continued to have ambitions for weapons of mass destructions, clandestine programs for producing them, and a history of using them. And the choice facing America in a post-September 11th world was clear: either we live with a threat, Saddam's regime in a volatile region that has exported violence, or we confront the threat. Saddam Hussein was playing a waiting game, emboldened by failing sanctions and U.N. resolutions that went unenforced. So he had the intent and capability.

In terms of the report, we haven't seen the report. It's my understanding that the CIA is working to declassify it.

Q They haven't found any weapons. Does the administration think that we should continue to look?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the work of the Iraq Survey Group continues. There -- as Charles --

Q Do you think --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Charles Duelfer has said that. It's important to learn the facts and learn -- we know that he had weapons of mass destruction because he had used them. And so that work continues. And Charles Duelfer is the one who will make determination when that work is complete. But it's important -- it's important to learn the facts. There's been a lot of speculation about what happened to them.

Q So the President would like to see them continue to look?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's what the Iraq Survey Group is doing, Deb.

Q As all as the National Guard and reservists, sort of, one-year deployments are finished, coming to end, is there any plans to rotate more National Guard and reservists?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's probably best to talk to the Department of Defense about the rotations that are in place right now. They can probably tell you more about that.

Q How about the week ahead?

Q Do you have any updates on Sunday?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. I know we've got people on the ground that are working on that now. So we'll get you that as -- obviously, they've just gotten there recently.

But on Monday, already announced that he'll participate in "Ask President Bush" in Derry, New Hampshire. It was originally scheduled for Sunday. Then he will attend a Victory 2004 reception in New York.

On Tuesday, at the United Nations General Assembly, he will meet with the Prime Minister of India. He will meet with the United Nations Secretary General. He will do a courtesy call on the United Nations General Assembly President. He'll make remarks to the General Assembly. He will meet with the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of the Republic of Iraq. He will --

Q All that's Tuesday?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. This is Tuesday. He will participate in a United Nations Secretary General luncheon. He will meet with the Prime Minister of Japan. He will meet with the President of Afghanistan.

Q Kobe beef? (Laughter.) Sorry.

MR. McCLELLAN: He will visit Sister Nirmala, the Superior General for the Missionaries of Charity. And then he has a United States reception that evening.

On Wednesday, he will meet with the President of Pakistan. And then we will go to Pennsylvania where he'll participate in a "Focus on Education with President Bush" event in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Then he will make remarks at a Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Victory 2004 rally.

On Thursday, the President will make remarks honoring the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in the East Room. Then he will meet with Prime Minister Allawi in the Oval Office. And they will participate in a joint press availability following that, in the Rose Garden. And then he will make remarks at a Bangor, Maine Victory 2004 rally.

On Friday, September 24th, everybody is looking forward to another bus tour. So we'll go to Wisconsin where he'll participate in a "Focus on Education with President Bush." And he'll make remarks at a Victory 2004 rally.

And is that it?

Q Where does he sleep Thursday night?

MR. WATKINS: The White House.

Q Wisconsin?

MR. McCLELLAN: Racine and Janesville, the first one. That's what I've got. Thank you all.

Q Thank you.

END 3:09 P.M. EDT