The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 14, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Las Vegas, Nevada

9:12 A.M. MST

Q What's your comment on the trade deficit?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what's your question on the trade deficit?

Q Well, it's the second biggest in history, and it shows record imports from China. And it also indicates that the cost of oil is affecting --

MR. McCLELLAN: The way to create jobs here at home in America is to continue to open markets abroad for American products and producers. And as we do that, we need to make sure that there is a level playing field for American -- for Americans to compete on, because we can compete with anyone across the globe when the playing field is level. Also, you have oil prices that have gone up. Obviously, that has an impact. That's why the President has put forward a comprehensive plan, that's one of the very first things he did in office, to make America energy self-sufficient. We are dependent on foreign sources of energy right now. We need to reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy. And the President's opponent has stood in the way of a comprehensive energy plan.

Q Scott, is this the second time the President has come back to Air Force One to chat with us? I know he did it early in his presidency, but I don't recall if he's done that since.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he wanted to come back and --

Q I'm just wondering is it the --

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh. You know, that may be right; that sounds right, but I'd have to double-check.

Q Is he going to keep visiting us? I mean, he's such a fun guest.

MR. McCLELLAN: He was glad to come back here and visit with you all. He felt great about the debate last night. It was an opportunity for him to sharply contrast the substantive differences on the big issues facing the American people. And I think the President demonstrated that he is the strong finisher in this race, and the American people are starting to see that there are very real differences on the big priorities they face.

Q Scott, was there some debate internally about how much and how the President should prepare for this third debate? Some of what you told us conflicted from what Dan Bartlett told us later, about whether the President would prepare formally or not.

MR. McCLELLAN: What conflicted?

Q You said there would be no formal preparation --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. I said -- and it was my understanding earlier in the day on -- what was it, Tuesday, that he -- I said Senator Gregg would be there later, he'd be visiting with staff, they'd be going through some things. And later in the day it ended up being that was going to be a formal one, and then the one the next day was less formal. So I told you

-- I've always told you we'd keep you posted. So I disagree with that.

Q Okay, thanks. Did -- but was there a sense that the President needed to buck up more between -- before the third debate than there was between the first debates?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think what has come out of all these debates is that there is a very clear choice in this election. There are big challenges that we continue to face: the war on terrorism, our economy, how we make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. And there are clear differences in how we move forward to address those challenges. The President has led decisively to put us on a -- to help us win the war on terrorism. He has acted to put us on a path to greater prosperity. And he is acting to reduce health care costs and make health care more affordable and accessible for more Americans. And that stands in stark contrast to Senator Kerry's out-of-the-mainstream record and his litany of complaints that he has offered during the election -- which does not add up to a plan. The President has a clear agenda for where he wants to lead this country.

Q Is the President going to hit any of the -- any states in the next three weeks that aren't popular, conceived as -- popularly conceived as battlegrounds? Do you think he'll go to New Jersey?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, obviously, at this stage in the campaign there's always a little bit of flexibility in the schedule, but we'll keep you posted on the schedule. In fact, I've got -- if you want the update now for Monday-Tuesday, I think -- and Saturday, one change to Saturday. Thank you, Mr. Deckard.

On Saturday, the one change was we had had him going to Melbourne, and now he's going to be going to Daytona Beach, Florida.

Q Say that again?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me go through the full Saturday, October 16th, in Florida. He'll make remarks at a Sunrise, Florida Victory 2004 rally. He'll make remarks at a West Palm Beach, Florida Victory 2004 rally. And then remarks at a Daytona Beach, Florida Victory 2004 rally. I think we were originally looking at Melbourne, but they're still recovering from some of the hurricane damage, so that's the updated schedule.

Q Starting in Sunrise?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sunrise, yes. On Monday, the 18th, the President will sign the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for 2005, in the Oval Office at the White House. Then he'll make remarks to the 2004 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. That will be at the White House on the South Lawn. And then we will go to New Jersey -- here's an answer to your question, Arash -- where the President will make remarks at a Burlington County, New Jersey event, in Marlton, New Jersey. Then the President will attend a Victory 2004 dinner in Boca Raton, Florida. We'll overnight in St. Pete Beach, Florida. And on Tuesday, the 19th, the President will make remarks at a St. Petersburg, Florida Victory 2004 rally. He'll make remarks at a Newport Beach -- New Port Richey, I'm sorry, Florida Victory 2004 rally. Then remarks at The Villages, Florida Victory 2004 rally. And we're back at the White House that night, before hitting the campaign trail again.

And that's all I've got. Enjoy the rest of the flight. Thanks.

END 9:17 A.M. MST

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