For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 8, 2004
White House Press Secretary Meets with Reporters Friday
St. Louis, Missouri
11:24 A.M. CDT
Q Any readout at all on the walk through?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I guess we got there around 10:00 a.m., and we were there for probably about 10 or 15 minutes before we returned back to the Brauer house.
Q What's he doing for preparation?
MR. McCLELLAN: At this point, I mean, the President is ready. He's looking forward to tonight's debate. I'm sure he'll continue to talk to staff and advisors during the day, but tonight is an opportunity to talk directly with the American people about the clear differences on our nation's highest priorities. So the President is looking forward to it.
Q Is it more of a fine-tuning thing, throughout the afternoon, as opposed to a formal kind of walk-through?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, you're talking about a walk --
Q No --
MR. McCLELLAN: The walk-through he did earlier was just --
Q I didn't mean the word "walk-through," I mean, you know, run-through.
Q Trot-through. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: At this point, you know, the debate is tonight. He's been through the formal preparation at this point.
Q What's he doing all day?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's spending the rest of the day at the Brauer house. That's why I said, I'm sure he'll be touching base with staff and advisors to -- you know, on some of the, just last minute preparations. In fact, I think -- I know he was going to try to go fishing; there's a lake there at the residence he's staying at and I know he's going to try to get some fishing in. We'll see if the rain allows for that.
Q Can you let us know somehow, if he does?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q How does he feel about the jobs numbers?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President's policies have put us on a path to greater prosperity. The President's policies are working to create jobs and keep the economy moving forward, but there is still more work to do. And we've seen 13 straight months of job growth; more than 1.9 million jobs created in the last year. The unemployment rate is below the averages of the '70s, '80s and '90s, at 5.4 percent. But to continue creating jobs, we need to pursue pro-growth policies that keep taxes low, that eliminate overly burdensome regulations, that stop lawsuit abuse, and that give people more control over their own lives so that we can promote innovation and entrepreneurship and --
Q I think there's a perception that Kerry's going to go in there loaded with ammo on domestic and foreign policy issues. Domestically, the jobs numbers; on foreign policy, the WMD stuff. Is the President really prepared to sort of field -- or to fend off any attacks, expected attacks on these kinds of issues?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, you know, like I said, I'm sure that Senator Kerry will continue to launch false and misleading attacks. I mean, he did just yesterday. The President pointed out very clearly that, you know, when he posed the question, "who is the one misleading the American people" -- when he read from Senator Kerry's own comments back in October of 2002. There are very clear differences in this race on the substance. The President recognizes that we're waging a broad war on terrorism; that it's a two-pronged strategy -- that we need to continue to go on the offensive to defeat the terrorists, but we also need to spread freedom to defeat the ideology of hatred that leads to people flying planes into buildings. So there are clear differences.
Senator Kerry's shifting positions and contradictions only weaken our ability to wage the war on terrorism. And Senator Kerry's -- but the larger problem there is that Senator Kerry shows a real misunderstanding of the war on terrorism.
And then on the economy, what you asked about a second ago, there are very clear differences. The last thing we need to do right now is raise taxes. That would stifle job creation. To continue creating jobs we need lower taxation, we need less regulation, we need to stop lawsuit abuse and we need to promote innovation. And Senator Kerry's policies would stifle job creation by raising taxes, increasing regulations, promoting more lawsuits and taking control out of people's lives.
Q I'm sorry, one brief follow up. Has the President -- is the President bringing anything to this debate that perhaps he has learned from the first debate experience? You know, there's been a widespread perception that maybe he wasn't exactly 110 percent on his game that day. Is there -- is there anything that he is going to try to do a little bit better this time?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that the race is about the substance, not the style. And the American people are paying much closer attention to the election right now. This is a time for choosing. There are clear choices in this race. And so I think that that's what the American people will base their decisions on. There were clear differences articulated in the first debate. And the President will continue to highlight the differences in tonight's debate.
The Vice President highlighted many of those differences yesterday. There are fundamental differences on the war on terrorism and how we keep our economy moving forward, and there are fundamental philosophical differences that the American people are seeing.
Q -- stylistically. In other words, he's not going to try to stop making faces or whatever?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is a different format. Well, he spoke to the facial issue just the other day. I think he addressed that matter pretty clearly -- (laughter) -- when he talked about, with all the shifting positions coming out of Senator Kerry's mouth, it's no surprise he would have such an expression. (Laughter.)
Q But the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I think that that's a whole diversion from the substantive differences on the big priorities facing the American people. Senator Kerry cannot defend his shifting positions and his fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terrorism. So they would rather this be about diversions like -- diversions focused on style, rather than the substance, because when the race is about the substantive differences, the American people have a very clear choice before them. They can't win when the race is about the substantive differences.
Q Back to the jobs numbers. Was the President happy with today's numbers?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just talked about them. When you've created 1.9 million jobs over the last year, that is good news -- but there is more to do. And the President is not going to be satisfied until everyone who is looking for work can find a job. And you've heard him say that many times.
But there is more work to do, and that's why I said we need to continue to pursue the pro-growth policies this President has implemented to put us on a path to greater prosperity. And that's -- that's exactly what this President is doing with his six-point plan. But he also recognizes that we're in a changing economy where we need to make sure people have the skills to fill the high-growth, high-paying jobs that are being created. The job creation that is going on is broad-based throughout the economy over the last year.
Q Radio topic?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it will some of the -- it will be similar to the remarks you've heard the last couple of days in his speeches. But he taped -- yes, he did tape that this morning.
Oh, I forgot one other thing this morning. He, besides his usual briefings, he called the new President-elect of Indonesia to congratulate him on winning the election and running a strong campaign. The two had previously met back in October, 2003, in Bali, when the President was there. And they -- so they have an established relationship. And the President and the President-elect said that they look forward to seeing each other at the APEC summit in Chile in November.
Q Scott, what about future travel? Do you have anything you can tell us?
MR. McCLELLAN: The purpose of that call was a congratulatory call.
Q Future travel?
MR. McCLELLAN: Now we get to the real substance. The President, on Tuesday, will make remarks at Colorado Springs, Colorado Victory 2004 rally. Then he'll attend a Victory 2004 luncheon in Paradise Valley, Arizona. We overnight in Phoenix on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, there is a -- anybody? Anybody?
MR. McCLELLAN: Debate, there you go. The President -- we have a debate -- the debate in Tempe. And then he'll visit a debate watch party in Phoenix after that. And we overnight in Phoenix on Wednesday. On Thursday, the President will make remarks at a Las Vegas, Nevada Victory 2004 rally. Then he'll make remarks at a Reno, Nevada Victory 2004 rally, and then remarks at a Central Point, Oregon rally. And we overnight Thursday in Jacksonville, Oregon.
All right. Enjoy your day.
Q When is he due back to Washington?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q When's he due back in Washington?
MR. McCLELLAN: Friday -- I believe Friday night.
Q Do you have Friday's schedule?
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Any comment on the beheading?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the last I saw, we've seen -- we've seen the reports, and I know the British government is working urgently to try and corroborate the reports, but they have not at this point. I understand that the British government has been in close contact with the Bigley family throughout this difficult time for the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bigley family, as well. And that's what we know at this point.
Q Do you guys have anything to say on the Egypt attack?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, we're going to have a presidential statement out on that, so we'll get you that, on Egypt -- the Red Sea resorts that were attacked. So we'll get it -- we'll get you that statement here soon from the President.
All right, thanks.
* * * * * MR. MCCLELLAN: The President is fishing right now.
END 11:40 A.M. CDT