For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 19, 2005
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Springfield, Illinois
10:30 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning, everybody. The President had his usual briefing this morning. And when we arrive in Springfield, the President will participate in a tour of the Lincoln Museum, and you all will be there to cover some of that. I think there are two, what they refer to as exhibit journeys that he'll see. The first one is -- the first journey is Abraham Lincoln's childhood through his election as the 16th President of the United States. And then the second one is a reproduction of his White House during that time. And then there's another exhibit that -- I think they do some temporary exhibits at this point -- kind of marks the 140th anniversary of his assassination, and so there will be some things from that time that he'll see, as well.
And then the President will make remarks at the dedication of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The President is honored to be making remarks today at the library. His remarks will really focus on Abraham Lincoln and what he stood for. And toward the end of his remarks I think he'll reflect a little bit on the importance of freedom. But these remarks really center around Lincoln, someone who many Americans consider the greatest American. And I think you'll hear the President talk more about that in his remarks.
And then this afternoon when we get back to the White House, the President will participate in a meeting in the Oval Office with the chair and ranking members of the Senate Energy and House Energy and Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee. This will be an opportunity for the President to talk to these leaders about how to move forward to pass comprehensive energy legislation this year.
The House, as you all are aware, is moving forward on legislation this week, and Senator Domenici stated as recently as last Saturday that he was preparing to move forward on legislation in his committee, as well. And I expect the President will also be able to talk -- will talk to them a little bit about his remarks tomorrow to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he will focus on energy, as well.
We also have -- shortly we'll have for you a presidential statement on the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and we'll be releasing the transcript from the Lebanon TV interview. And then we will also have the announcement on the U.S.-EU summit that will be held on June 20th in Washington, D.C.
And that's all I have to begin with.
Q Will those announcements go out while we're on the plane or will they go out once we land, or --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we're making sure that the charter has landed, so we can put it out to everybody at once.
Q Scott, there's been a little bit of -- or kind of a lot, actually, of talk about how the museum, the Lincoln Museum shows all sides of Lincoln's life, that there was quite a bit of controversy about his views on slavery and lots of questions about his presidency. Will the President get into any of that in his remarks? And what does he think about the different views of the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think he actually will -- he will talk at great length about Lincoln in his remarks. That's really the focus of his remarks. I think he'll talk about how his life and sacrifice show the promise of America. And he'll talk about how, in his character and conviction, we see the hopes of America. I think that's what he'll touch on in his remarks, and that -- and you all have heard the President talk about this before, but Abraham Lincoln is the President that he admires most. And he'll talk about how President Lincoln kept our nation united. And he'll talk about his faith in freedom for all, and you'll hear more about that in his remarks.
Q Scott, there was a report in the FT today about China and its currency regime. Does the administration think that China -- China's currency pegged to the dollar, given the size of the trade balance between the two countries, amounts to manipulation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President addressed it last week. I mean, I don't know that there's much more to add to what the President said last week. He also talked about it a little bit in his interview yesterday with Ron Insana. But we've made our views very clear when it comes to China's currency. And that's a position that we continue to talk to China about at all levels of government.
Q There's a distinction to be made between what China is doing and the U.S. -- the legal definition of manipulation. Does what China practices with its currency amount to manipulation?
MR. McCLELLAN: If there's anything to add, I'm sure the Treasury Department will be glad to do so.
Q Scott, what does the White House think about an apparent effort to delay a vote on the Bolton nomination?
MR. McCLELLAN: Chairman Lugar is committed to moving forward on his nomination in the committee. We hope that the Senate committee will move forward today, and send his nomination to the floor. John Bolton is exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations during this time of reform. John Bolton shares the President's commitment to making sure that the United Nations is an effective multilateral organization that focuses on results. We hope the Senate will move forward on his confirmation quickly.
Q So the White House doesn't think there's any merit in just taking a little bit longer look at some of the questions surrounding his career?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that John Bolton has testified before the committee and addressed those issues and provided additional responses in writing that members asked for. And he is someone who brings great experience and expertise to the position, and has a proven record of results. And so we think that the Senate should move forward quickly on his nomination.
Q Has the President been surprised by some of the controversy that's erupted surrounding Bolton's nomination?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't -- the President has --
Q Any second thoughts?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- been around Washington for several years now. I don't think I'd describe it that way, when it comes to the nomination process in the Senate.
Q He has had no second thoughts about his nominee?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. As I just said, the President believes he's exactly the right person for the position. That's why he appointed him to the position. He's someone who has a proven record as a diplomat who achieves results.
Q How closely has the President looked at the details involved in the controversy of Tom DeLay? I mean, has he actually looked at the various cases of trips and who paid for them and who hasn't, or has he looked at the situation from more of the point of view of overall support, and perhaps looking at the Democratic opposition as mal-intentioned? I mean, has he gotten into the case, the merits of the case?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are issues that congressional leaders and Congressman DeLay are addressing, as I pointed out last week. I think that the President -- you heard him address this issue again last week, before the newspaper editors, when a question was asked, and he pointed out that Congressman DeLay has stated he'd be glad to talk to the committee about those issues, as well. The President has made his views known on the whole matter. He looks forward to continue -- he appreciates Leader DeLay's leadership in Congress and intends to continue working very closely with him to get things done for the American people. That's what he has done and we will continue to do. I know that this is a period when you want to continue to ask questions on a daily basis and seek our reaction to every new comment that someone makes, but those are all issues that will be addressed by congressional leaders and Leader DeLay. And we continue to strongly support him.
Q But hasn't the whole situation peaked his curiosity about what the furor is about? Has he not looked into it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Has he not looked into what?
Q Details, the actual -- sort of trip-by-trip, case-by-case allegations.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like you all, he sees the news coverage of it, as well. But he continues to strongly support Leader DeLay, and looks forward to continuing to work closely with him on the priorities of the American -- for the American people.
Q So he is familiar with the details of the case.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Mark, he follows the news.
Q Is that going to be a major point of discussion with Speaker Hastert on the way back to Washington today, the Tom DeLay difficulties?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I would not think so. I would think that with Speaker Hastert he'll talk about the priorities before Congress right now.
Q But is there a concern that it may be more difficult, that this could prove to be a distraction that would in some way hinder the President's --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, actually, the President talked about that last week. He was pleased to meet with congressional leaders last week, including Leader DeLay, and their focus was on the important priorities facing the American people, and the important priorities before the United States Congress. They focused on the legislative agenda that is before us right now, and that's where the President will continue to keep his focus. We've got a lot of work to do on big priorities facing the American people, like energy and Social Security. And we're going to continue to work with Leader DeLay and others in Congress to get things done on those issues.
Q During this afternoon's meeting at the Oval, does the President intend to express his distaste for the House version of the energy bill? Will he be lobbying harder for fewer subsidies for the oil industry, for example?
MR. McCLELLAN: You're talking about a certain section of it. I think the President has made his views known, in terms of any incentives in the legislation, that oil and gas companies don't need any incentives when the price of oil is where it is right now. In our plan that we put forward, our priorities for incentives focused on renewables and energy efficiency. And it was also something that we outlined in the context of the overall budget, the money that we set aside in our plan for those efforts. We appreciate that the House is moving forward on comprehensive energy legislation.
The President looks forward to making remarks tomorrow, as well. This is a high priority for the President; it has been throughout his administration. It is time to act to make America more energy independent. We are dependent on foreign sources of energy. It is a threat to our economic security and our national security. And the President is concerned about the impact rising gas prices are having on families and small businesses. This is affecting their pocketbooks, and the President is concerned about that.
So tomorrow, I expect the President will renew his call for Congress to act now on the comprehensive energy plan that he outlined four years ago. I think that most Americans recognize that our growing dependence on foreign sources of oil did not happen overnight -- it was years in the making. And it is not something we're going to solve overnight with an instant fix.
But that's why we need to act now to move forward on the comprehensive energy plan that the President outlined. It focuses on using new technologies to expand conservation, it outlines ways to improve energy efficiency, it diversifies our supply of energy by looking at alternative sources of energy, so that we are less dependent on foreign sources of oil. It also modernizes our electricity grid. And this is a high priority for the President.
Q The House version, as it's constituted now, does not do any of those things. I'm interested in how hard the President is going to press House leaders doing this afternoon's meeting on those matters.
MR. McCLELLAN: What's most important is that the House is moving forward on comprehensive energy legislation. And I don't know that I would agree with your characterization. I think you were focusing on one aspect of it. I think the President has made our views known. He looks forward to having this discussion today to talk about the importance of acting now on comprehensive energy legislation.
And the President outlined his plan four years ago. There are things that we can do now and we are doing now. And we're going to make sure that we protect consumers and make sure they're treated fairly. We're going to continue to discuss these issues with OPEC and non-OPEC producing nations, to encourage them to act in a way that provides for affordable and abundant supplies of energy. It's important to our economy here at home, as well as our global economy. But the first thing Congress needs to do is act on the plan that the President outlined.
Q Scott, would you describe today's meeting, and tomorrow's speech, for that matter, as more kind of -- his usual sort of broad call for -- it's time to act now, or is it more of a strategy session today, like, here's what we've got on both sides, what's good on either one, how can we make this happen. Is it more of a strategy thing today and in the speech tomorrow, or --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he looks forward to hearing from them, but, yes, he will talk to them about the importance of acting now, and, obviously, I think he'll listen to some of their thoughts, as well. I think there is a commitment on the part of the House leadership and the Senate leadership to move forward and get something done now. And the rising energy prices, rising gas prices that we're seeing now only further underscore the need to finally pass the plan that the President outlined four years ago.
Q Can we expect to hear anything new tomorrow, in terms of his ideas, stating publicly his ideas for getting this done?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that, one, he's still finalizing his remarks, but I kind of gave you a general overview of some of the remarks. And you'll hear more from him tomorrow about what we're doing now, as well as what Congress needs to do.
Q Anybody else on the trip back to D.C. besides Speaker Hastert?
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll get you the list of who is coming back. You'll be there.
Q Is Mrs. Welch on the plane? I didn't see her get on.
MR. McCLELLAN: Did she come?
MS. GODFREY: I don't believe so.
MR. McCLELLAN: So she didn't come in the end? Okay, I'll check on that.
Q She's not meeting them there?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, she would have been coming with us.
END 10:43 P.M. EDT