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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 25, 2006

Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Private Residence
Riverside, Connecticut

12:25 P.M. EDT

MR. SNOW: Okay, first, I'll run through the schedule for the day. The President had his normal briefings this morning, then there was a meeting with business leaders on the Lebanon Private Sector Initiative. He is now here.

Next, on to Cincinnati. There will be tour of the Meyer Tool, Incorporated facility, then a statement on the economy, followed by a Mike DeWine for U.S. Senate and Ohio Victory 2006 reception, at which point we return to the White House.

Q Are you returning, or dropping off in your home village?

MR. SNOW: Oh, no, I'm coming back.

Q Just kidding. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Just dropping by.

Q Tony, the President is doing five closed fundraisers this week, beginning with these two today. We're in Connecticut, and then he's going to Ohio -- places where candidates maybe have not been entirely eager to be seen with him. Is that why we're having all these closed fundraisers? Are Republicans --

MR. SNOW: No, we're having them because they're in private homes. So I think you're going to find in a lot of places we're going to be doing -- as I've already told you before, Sheryl -- we'll have a lot of open events -- we'll let your phone turn off.

Q Sorry.

MR. SNOW: It's really quite elegant; it fits the circumstances. But there will be plenty of open events.

Q Can you tell us a little bit about who's inside? Is the Republican Senate candidate inside, or any --

MR. SNOW: I'll go and check. I saw Chris Shays, but I don't know who else.

Q Tony, how do you justify five events where the public has no idea what the President is saying, what the pitch is, who he's meeting with -- in some cases, how much money is raised --

MR. SNOW: I think people understand what the President stands for. It's not as if -- typically, you try to make sure that if you're having an event in somebody's private home, that it remains private. That's been a standard not only in this administration, but prior. It's not like the administration is pulling rabbits out of his hat. He's saying things that you've heard before and that you're aware of.

Q Well, actually, in the previous administration they started this way and there were a lot of protests from the media -- and from Republicans, as a matter of fact -- and they allowed a feed to come out to reporters and they allowed a print reporter to be in.

MR. SNOW: Understood.

Q So are you all considering that at all?


Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: As I said, because, frankly, we're just not in the business of revisiting this. The President is certainly going to be plenty accessible to you guys and he's going to be accessible to the public and you know what his positions are. And we're going to continue to express them.

Q But is this the way for Republican candidates who perhaps might not want to be pictured publicly with the President to avail themselves of his fundraising prowess while not being seen with him?

MR. SNOW: You're going to have ask them. That's not my reading, but feel free to ask them.

Q Any reaction to former President Clinton's comments on what he did about Osama bin Laden, compared to what's been done -- the Fox interview, especially? He kind of implied that he'd done more than had been done the first nine months. I wonder if there's any comment on that.

MR. SNOW: Well, he retorts; you decide. It's my view that -- well, not my view. President Clinton clearly had strong feelings, but I'm going to let -- we're just not going to engage.

Q Tony, does the President have any reaction to the reports in yesterday's newspapers about the intelligence estimate, suggesting that the war in Iraq had, in fact, spawned new terror cells and made --

MR. SNOW: I think it's important -- one thing that the reports do not say is that war in Iraq has made terrorism worse. And by the way, the DNI will be making public comments later today and he'll be taking questions in Washington. This is -- and I'll tell you what, I'm going to -- because rather than just trying to fake it, I've been in communication with the DNI just to make sure that we get this right. Hang on a second.

The report is not limited to Iraq. I'll just read these out. First, the false impression has been created that the NIE focuses solely on Iraq and terrorism. This NIE examines global terrorism in its totality, the morphing of al Qaeda and its affiliates and other jihadist movements. It assesses that a variety of factors, in addition to Iraq, fuel the spread of jihadism, including longstanding social grievances, slowness of the pace of reform, and the use of the Internet. And it also notes that should jihadists be perceived to have failed in Iraq, fewer will be inspired to carry on the fight.

In short, the news reports contain nothing that the President hasn't said. There was that one conclusion that you just mentioned, Sheryl, that appeared in I think one sentence of The New York Times report, and two sentences in The LA Times. Those are conclusions from blind sources. Obviously, we're not going to go into what the classified report does say, but what we did see in the newspapers yesterday, the substance, is precisely what the President has been saying: Al Qaeda -- the leadership has been hit hard; it has become more dispersed; that there is more independent activity; that they're using other means for communication and organization, such as the Internet; that they have an ideology that is directed at the West and at democracies -- it's a totalitarian ideology that tends to unite them.

And reading the stories I thought, well, yes, I mean, this is what the President has been saying.

Q What about reports that there may be a need for more troops in Iraq? The report that came out, I think today, and may be in The Times.

MR. SNOW: This is a reflection of the fact, as reported, I think last week, or maybe the week before -- it was General Casey or General Abizaid -- I'm sorry, I forget which -- said that there was no expected draw-down in the future, that we would have a sort of constant troop level for a while, and this reflects the need to maintain constant troops -- you have troops coming in and out. So this is really a reflection of that.

Q Anything in the Cincinnati speech that's new, or will it just be a general review of what we've heard on the economy?

MR. SNOW: It's an economic speech. It will go over the same things that you've been hearing about.

Q And this Meyer metal, this is the same guy who's an ambassador, right? His family --

MR. SNOW: I'll check my notes. I'm not sure. You know what, I'll find out. Timkin -- yes, Timkin, that's different.

Q Meyers, he's got a -- Meyers has a diplomatic posting. I could be wrong. I could be wrong.

MR. SNOW: Let's find out. We'll find out.

Q You're from that area.

MR. SNOW: Well, so am I. But neither of us is to the manor born, so we --

Q I could be dead wrong.

Q How much is the dropping of gas prices, which has been fairly dramatic -- does that help kind of boost up the message on the economy, which has been kind of hard to get across with some of the statistics? Everybody notices gas prices.

MR. SNOW: Everybody does notice gas prices. Look, again, we've got a good economic story to tell. The one thing I have been amused by is the attempt by some people to say that the President has been rigging gas prices, which would give him the kind of magisterial clout unknown to any other human being. It also raises the question, if we're dropping gas prices now, why on earth did we raise them to $3.50 before? You know, the fact is --

Q -- look good. (Laughter.)

Q Who said that he's been rigging gas prices? Who said that he's been rigging gas prices?

MR. SNOW: There actually have been --

Q Internet stuff?

MR. SNOW: No, there have been conspiracy theories out there about rigging gas prices.

Look, we're glad the gas prices are lower, but the more important thing is to put in place conditions that are going to make it congenial for the economy to keep growing, to keep building jobs so that people are going to be able to have good employment prospects, rising incomes. And that's really what the President has been arguing about for a long time is, you've got to keep the tax cuts so it can stimulate the economy. The idea that you let tax cuts expire and suddenly give everybody a federally mandated pay cut -- that's what a tax increase is; they take home less money -- that somehow that's going to make the economy stronger, it's not.

Q Will that be central to what he says about the economy today, just the -- keeping the conditions in place to keep this economy --

MR. SNOW: No, because you've got to have a dynamic message. It's not merely keeping the conditions in place, but developing conditions where people can offer hope. You've got a state [sic] in Ohio that has been pretty hard hit, and in places that have enjoyed prosperity, but also those that have been hard hit -- you have to be assuring people that even though you have historically low levels of unemployment and so on, you strive always to do better.

Q Is Alan Schlessinger, the Republican Senate candidate, in there?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. I really don't.

Q What's the --

MR. SNOW: We'll find out.

Q Is the President supporting him, or is he staying out of it?

MR. SNOW: We're staying out of it.

Q How much are they expecting to raise here?

MR. SNOW: I think, roughly, $800,000.

Q And how many people?

MR. SNOW: Sixty-five, I believe.

Q Thanks. He's not an ambassador.

MR. SNOW: He's not an Ambassador.

Q That's my understanding.

MR. SNOW: Okay, that's okay.

Q And is the host of this event, the investment banker Scott Frantz; is that correct?

MR. SNOW: I think that's right. I will double-check spelling, but I think that's right.

MR. DECKARD: That's correct.

MR. SNOW: I'm sorry, what?

Q Do you know which bank?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't, but I can find out.

Q And, roughly, do you have the fundraiser totals expected in Cincinnati, while we've got you here, people --

MR. SNOW: I don't, but I'll find out. I'll come back and give you a mini-gaggle on the plane.

He is the President of Haebler Capital Corporation, H-a-e-b-l-e-r.

All right, thank you.

END 12:36 P.M. EDT

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