For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 23, 2006
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
Twentynine Palms, California
12:11 P.M. PDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon to everybody. Hope you all enjoyed the church service. The President this morning, following his bike ride, when he was back at the hotel, placed calls to the President, the Speaker and the Prime Minister-designate in Iraq. So the President first spoke with President Talabani, then he spoke with Speaker Mashhadani, and then Prime Minister-designate Maliki. And he also briefly spoke with Ambassador Khalilzad in between the Speaker and Prime Minister-designate.
The President called to congratulate them and thank them for their leadership and courage. The President let them know that we will continue to stand with them and support the Iraqi people as they move forward on building a democratic future.
In the call to the Prime Minister-designate, the President thanked Prime Minister-designate Maliki for his strong public statements. As you all know, the Prime Minister-designate has talked about the importance of getting good, capable ministers in place for the Cabinet. He's also talked about the importance of ending the militias. And the President encouraged the Prime Minister-designate to press ahead and get a strong cabinet of ministers in place quickly. All the leaders expressed their appreciation to the President and the United States for all that we have done to support them as they move forward.
Then of course we had the church service. These calls took place between about 9:25 a.m. and 9:55 a.m. this morning, our time. And we had the church service, now here we are at lunch at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
Q Bin Laden tape reaction?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. The President I think was informed about the most recent audio tape this morning. It was probably around 6:30 a.m., somewhere in that time frame. I just heard from the intelligence community that they believe it is authentic.
Q Sorry, you just heard, or he just heard, or we?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, yes, he's been informed.
Q You said, "we believe it's authentic."
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I was about to -- I assumed you wanted a reaction to it. The al Qaeda leadership is on the run and under a lot of pressure. We are continuing to take the fight to the enemy abroad, and making it difficult for them to plan and plot against America. We are on the advance, they are on the run, and we will not let up. We must continue to take all terrorist threats seriously. That is why we are acting on all fronts and doing everything within our power to prevail in the war on terrorism. We will prevail. It's important that we continue to use every tool at our disposal as we take the fight to the enemy.
Q Rest of the afternoon?
MR. McCLELLAN: Rest of the afternoon -- he's at lunch right now, and I'll keep you posted if there are any other updates on the schedule. We'll return back to the hotel.
Q Any OTRs?
MR. McCLELLAN: If they are OTRs, they are OTRs, and I wouldn't tell you about them until it's time.
Q What's he going to focus on in the immigration speech tomorrow?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's still going over it, but he'll talk about the importance of continuing to move ahead and pass comprehensive immigration reform. We need to make sure that we're continuing to take steps to strengthen our borders. And we also need to move ahead on a guest worker program. That will help relieve pressure on the borders, and allow law enforcement to focus on those who are coming here for the wrong reasons -- the criminals and terrorists and traffickers and smugglers. But the President will talk about the importance of getting a comprehensive piece of legislation passed.
Q Will we hear any sort of new or more aggressive argument to try to break --
MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to be working on his remarks this afternoon a little bit, and so I'll keep you posted if there's anything more to add. But as you all know, the Senate leaders have said they remain committed to getting a comprehensive piece of legislation passed. They came together in a bipartisan way and had a good agreement. Unfortunately, the Democratic leader blocked that agreement from moving forward. The President -- this is a top priority, and the President wants to see the Congress press ahead and get something done, in a comprehensive way.
Q The L.A. Times editorial has called for Vice President Cheney to resign. Any reaction to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't read The L.A. Times editorial.
All right, thank you.
END 12:16 P.M. PDT