For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 28, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Dayton, Ohio
11:14 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me begin with the President's day. He had his
usual briefings this morning. He also placed some congratulatory
calls to some of the Red Sox folks. He spoke with the owner, John
Henry. He spoke with Larry Lucchino, the president. And we have
reached out to Terry Francona, the manager. And the President also
spoke with Curt Schilling this morning. The President called to
congratulate them on their World Series victory. And the President
called Curt Schilling to also thank him for his kind words of
support that he made earlier today.
Q What does "reached out" to Francona mean?
MR. McCLELLAN: Trying to get in contact with him, to arrange the
call so he can offer his congratulations to the manager and the team, as
Q Did the President watch the whole game?
MR. McCLELLAN: He watched some of it last night.
Q Did he get to the end, do you know?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he watched some of it last night, so he saw who
won this morning. The President is happy for the Red Sox and all
their fans, this is a long time coming and he shares in their
excitement about winning the World Series, for the first time since
Q Is he suspicious at all that John Kerry's favorite team
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry? (Laughter.)
Let's see, then we've got -- he just did an interview with USA
Today, with Judy Keen. And then we've got the rest of the events today.
I think you all have everything else.
A couple of quick updates on other topics. On the flu vaccine, as
we continue to work to make sure that those who are most in need get
the shots, we've also worked to get additional doses of the vaccine
from manufacturers. The good news is we have identified 5 million
additional vaccines from some foreign manufacturers in Canada and
Switzerland that we are working to acquire, if they meet our
standards. We've got inspection teams that are headed to those
plants to look at this vaccines.
Q Government inspection teams?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. And we've already expanded the supply by 6
million vaccines since Chiron made their announcement, from 55
million to 61 million. And we continue to appreciate those who don't need
it, who are foregoing flu shots so that those who are most in need can
get those shots.
Q Scott, can I ask you about The Washington Times story about
Gertz reporting that Russian special forces moved these weapons at
al Qaqaa before the war began? Has Condi Rice spoken with her Russian counterpart? Is it true?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of any contact Condi has had as of
today. No, I don't know anything about that story, other than what you saw in the papers. I know that there is some new information that has come to light in the last couple of days. ABC News last night reported on some of that information about the actual amount of RDX that may have been present at the al Qaqaa site. And also the fact that they reported that the seals -- that the ventilation flaps
could have allowed the seals to continue to remain on there, even if the weapons had been removed prior to that time.
I think what --
Q Did the White House have any knowledge -- or has confirmed
that, in fact, Russian special forces moved the stuff --
MR. McCLELLAN: No. No, we don't. I just don't -- I have no
information that points in that direction. But I would point out
that this new information that has come to light demonstrates how
irresponsible it is for Senator Kerry to jump to conclusions based
on unsubstantiated information. It shows a reckless disregard for the
facts. And the President must make conclusions based on the
The commander of the 2nd Brigade --
Q -- reckless disregard for the --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what -- he's making unsubstantiated
without knowing the facts.
Q -- is different than saying a reckless disregard for the
MR. McCLELLAN: You got your question, let me finish my response.
The commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division said how
it was very highly improbable that they could remove such a volume of
explosives after the forces had gone in there. We don't know -- we
don't know the facts, yet Senator Kerry went and jumped to
conclusions. It just shows that he will say anything for political
Now I saw that Mike McCurry made some comments earlier today, where
now they're trying to change their story away from the wild
accusations that Senator Kerry made earlier in the week -- that
even Mike McCurry said that they well could have been removed prior to
the forces arriving there. And that is a likely possibility and this
new information just demonstrates how irresponsible it was for Senator
Kerry to make such a wild accusation.
Q There's a likely possibility, you said? I mean --
MR. McCLELLAN: It is a likely possibility. It's a possibility --
we don't know, we don't know, as I said yesterday.
Q David Kay said --
MR. McCLELLAN: But when you look at what the commander said and
you see some of this additional information that is coming to light --
Q David Kay said yesterday that it was their belief that the
stuff had been looted, based on their inspections, you know, after they
got back in there.
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, as the commander on the -- I'd look to the
commander on the ground, who arrived there and said how very highly
improbable it could have been that they'd been removed. But the
issue here goes to the wild accusations that Senator Kerry launched
earlier this week, without knowing the facts. I mean, his own advisors
came out and said, we don't know the truth, we don't know the facts.
And, yet, Senator Kerry jumped to a conclusion and made these wild
accusations without knowing the facts or knowing the truth. I
think he has shown that he's not going to let the facts or the truth
stand in the way of his campaign.
Q Do you hope to get this cleared up by election day? Powell
said, in an interview today, that he hoped that this could be --
that the truth could be figured out in the very near future.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's being looked into. The Pentagon
directed the multinational forces and the Iraq Survey Group to look into the
matter, and it's being looked into -- that's an ongoing matter, so
that we can learn the facts. Yet, Senator Kerry is the one who
went and jumped to conclusions without knowing the facts, just because
he saw it as a way for him to gain political advantage.
Q Do you know anything about this group that claims it
obtained a large amount of these missing explosives?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not aware of anyone who views that as
credible. I think terrorists, obviously, like to try to manipulate
Q Can I ask you about Rudy Giuliani, as you know, was on
the "Today Show" this morning, and he said, no matter how you try
to blame it on the President, the actual responsibility for it,
meaning the weapons that went missing, really would be for the troops that
were there -- did they search carefully enough -- did they search
carefully enough? Does the President support Rudy Giuliani placing
this blame on the troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's talking about how we don't know the facts,
we don't know what happened to these explosives. We know that we
have seized and destroyed more than 400,000 munitions from some 10,000 caches spread all throughout Iraq. But when you look at the regime
and you look at the way they operate, it is a likely possibility
that they were removed prior to our forces arriving there. We don't
know -- Senator Kerry shows that he will say anything for his own
political advantage. And I think this goes to an issue that the American
people will be looking at very closely. And that's, who can you trust to
lead this nation forward on the big priorities? A President can't jump to conclusions without knowing the facts.
Q I noticed he lost the Democratic appeal today. Was that
a one-day thing, the overture to Democrats yesterday?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's part of his continuing efforts to reach
out to independents and Democrats. He's been doing that for quite some
time. But today really he focused -- today was really focused more
on leadership, and contrasting the leadership of the two candidates.
And he talked about the importance of consistency versus Senator
Kerry's inconsistent positions. He talked about his compassionate
conservative agenda, versus Senator Kerry's out-of-the-mainstream
views. And he talked about how Senator Kerry -- it's a real
weakness of his candidacy -- will say anything for a political advantage.
He wants to obscure his out-of-the-mainstream record. And the
President talked about that in his remarks today.
And the President also talked about his record of results and contrasted that with Senator Kerry's record of no real significant
achievement. The American people want a leader who will get things done, and the President has shown that he can get things done. And
that stands in stark contrast to Senator Kerry.
Q He didn't mention the explosives again, either. Are you
hoping to move beyond that subject?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he talked about Senator Kerry -- well,
actually I think what you're seeing is it demonstrates once again
the real weakness of Senator Kerry's candidacy. This is someone who
will say anything for his own political advantage without knowing the facts.
Q But the President didn't mention it in his speech. Is he
dropping that, or --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has continued to talk about how
Senator Kerry is someone who will say anything for his own political
Q Do you know if Arnold will be on Air Force One at all, or
will you just meet him in Columbus?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me check, but I don't know. Check with the campaign. I think we will meet him on the ground
END 11:25 A.M. EDT