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 Home > News & Policies > August 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 22, 2005

Press Gaggle with Trent Duffy
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Salt Lake City, Utah

9:41 A.M. MDT

MR. DUFFY: All right. The President had his regular briefings on board here. And we're en route to the VFW, where he will make remarks to the national convention. This is his third address to the VFW Annual National Convention. The first was in Milwaukee in 2001, the second was in Cincinnati, last year, 2004. You all know about the VFW and their mission.

Senator Hatch is on board with us. Other notables in the audience will include Secretary Nicholson of the Veterans Affairs Department, Congressman Jim Matheson, and Congressman Chris Cannon. The governor will be there, John Huntsman of Utah, and also Governor Kempthorne of Idaho will be in, as well.

Q Who is that, who is going to be there?

MR. DUFFY: Chris Cannon, from Utah. I'll give you a quick sort of summary of his remarks. The President will, obviously, talk about why we must continue the fight in the war on terrorism, and he'll also start out with a tribute to the great gains that the current veterans have made for freedom and securing our country in past conflicts. He'll talk about why we must remember the troops who left America's shores but did not live to make the journey home, and how we can never forget their courage and their sacrifice.

He'll talk about how the older generation of veterans, as I said, helped to secure the country, and we have a new generation of men and women serving overseas right now, and why it's important to be supportive of our current troops in the war on terrorism, and that we have a three-front strategy in the war on terror, which is, again, first to protect the homeland through activities like boosting homeland security spending, shoring up our borders, and giving law enforcement the tools to protect us from terrorism like the Patriot Act; secondly, to take the fight to the terrorists overseas, so that they do not attack us here at home; and thirdly, to spread hope and freedom across the Middle East and across the world so that peaceful nations do not attack each other.

He will discuss about how freedom is spreading in the Middle East and Palestine and in -- excuse me, the Palestinian territories. And he will discuss the current Gaza withdrawal disengagement plan that the U.S. supports. So look for that.

That's a quick summary of his remarks. And then he leaves and we overnight in Idaho. That's what I have on his schedule.

Q Will he talk about the Iraqi constitution efforts at all?

MR. DUFFY: Yes. He'll talk about how we're hopeful that the Iraqis will continue to make process on their constitution. We've seen the news reports, and the President is monitoring the developments there closely. He's been briefed on them this morning by his national security team. Dr. Crouch is on board, who provided the briefing. So, obviously, he speaks at approximately -- I think it's 9:00 p.m. Baghdad time. So we're monitoring the events very closely, and very hopeful that they will have a constitution.

Q Who was --

MR. DUFFY: Dr. J.D. Crouch is his Deputy National Security Advisor.

Q Why are you hopeful that they will have a constitution? Because last I checked, there was still a lot of disagreements.

MR. DUFFY: Well, we're hopeful. They're still working. The Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shia are all there. They're gathered and they are working hard. The United States embassy is involved and is assisting, at their request. And that's where things stand. We're hopeful, and they're still at the table.

Q Is the White House concerned about the protests that are planned in Salt Lake City today?

MR. DUFFY: The President addressed that directly. He can understand that people don't share his view that we must win the war on terror, and we cannot retreat and cut and run from terrorists, but he just has a different view. He believes it would be a fundamental mistake right now for us to cut and run in the face of terrorism, because if we've learned anything, especially from the 9/11 Commission Report, it is that to continue to retreat after the Cole, after Beirut and Somalia is to only empower terrorists and to give them more recruiting tools as they try to identify ways to harm Americans.

So he believes that people have a fundamental right to express their views. That's one of the reasons we're fighting this war on terrorism, to protect our fundamental rights. But at the same time, he disagrees strongly.

Q Cindy Sheehan's group is airing commercials in Utah, again asking the President to meet with her. And there's going to be protests planned. Is the President -- does he know about these protests, about these commercials at all, and does he have any response?

MR. DUFFY: No. I don't have any -- there are people along the side of the road wherever the President goes, supporters and others. So the President is certainly aware. But, again, he believes that Americans, obviously, have a right to express their views. That's part of being American. That's one of the things we're fighting for.

Anything further? Thanks.

END 9:47 A.M. MDT