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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 26, 2006

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
Route Des Moines, Iowa

11:55 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. We're on our way to Iowa. The President, this morning, had his normal briefings. Then he signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. At 12:45 p.m. CDT, the President will make remarks at the Lamberti for Congress and Iowa Victory 2006 reception. That's at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. You never know what kind of treats you're going to find there. I hear there is lots of fun, fried food. Yes, fried Twinkies and fried Snickers, I think.

At 5:40 p.m., he'll make remarks at Bouchard for U.S. Senate -- that's in Warren, Michigan. He'll arrive at the White House at 8:30 p.m.

One thing you'll get soon -- it's being worked on at the White House -- is a Setting the Record Straight on media reports that inaccurately distorted Prime Minister Maliki's press conference yesterday. Basically the reports said that Maliki slammed the United States military diplomatic leaders for saying that -- by saying that he would reject any sort of timetables. The way that those media reports came out was that he rejected any sort of benchmarks or goals in terms of policies.

The question he was asked was whether he agreed that there should be a timetable for withdrawal of troops in 18 months. That is something that Maliki has rejected as foolhardy, and that the President fully agrees with Maliki. And you've heard the President say that several times. So you'll see that this afternoon. I think Tony Snow is doing some TV interviews on it now, although those are taped and will be shown later.

With that, I will take your questions.

Q Dana, these two Republicans that Bush is appearing with today, both of them are 20 points behind in their races. They're challengers. These are not seats that really -- that the Republicans necessarily need. And so why is Bush focusing on these two candidates, when there's much more high-profile contested races?

MS. PERINO: I don't know what polls you're looking at. I would want to go back and check with our folks. We believe these candidates are going to win these seats. And when the President is invited to come and campaign -- you heard him yesterday say that he likes to get out there and talk about the differences between the Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the big national issues in this campaign: national security, who is going to best protect this country; and the economy, who's going to keep your taxes low.

These states also will have referendums on local issues. But they were invited to come and campaign with the President. And you heard him yesterday -- he thinks that the Republicans are going to win and we think these candidates are going to win.

Q -- hear anything new from the President today, any new themes or any hammering home anything that he hasn't talked about before?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President has defined this election as the two main issues being national security and the economy. You'll hear both of those today.

Q Will we be hearing anything more about Iraq? Is that going to be a theme of this speech?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if you heard me -- if you have been following the speeches that the President has given on the war on terror and national security, he always does mention Iraq because it is the central front on the war on terror, as defined by Osama bin Laden. So you will hear about Iraq, as well.

Q Will he be emphasizing it like he did yesterday in the press conference -- it was probably 90 percent Iraq.

MS. PERINO: His speech is both war on terror and the economy, so I don't know how you want to break it down percentage-wise.

Q Any reaction to the tone of the campaign in the closing weeks, particularly in regard to the Rush comments on the Michael J. Fox ad, and also the Harold Ford ads that are running in Tennessee?

MS. PERINO: I haven't seen the second one. I do know that Rush Limbaugh apologized for the -- well, and it was appropriate to. The President was the first President to fund embryonic stem cell research. What he did with embryonic stem cell research, though, is draw a moral line that said that taxpayer dollars should not go to research that destroys embryos. We have been aggressive in funding for adult stem cell research and cord blood cell research that -- both of which show great promise.

But that was that one moral -- that was the moral line that the President said that he would not cross. It's important that people understand that -- what the policy is. It's amazing to me and such a disappointment that repeatedly it's said that the President is against any sort of stem cell research. That's just not the case. So if I can help set the record straight here, I will.

Q How much do you expect to raise today?

MS. PERINO: I refer you to the campaign.

Q -- elaborate again on the "Setting the Record Straight" with Maliki. So Maliki has agreed that there should be benchmarks, but what he was taking issue with was the idea that in 18 months U.S. troops will leave if he doesn't meet those benchmarks?

MS. PERINO: That's exactly right.

Q On Iran --

MS. PERINO: Do you have a question?

Q Yes. They are -- Iran is claiming that they're expanding their uranium enrichment again. And also I'm curious as to why the U.S. thinks that the resolution that's being proposed by Germany and Britain is too weak.

MS. PERINO: I didn't see that we had said that it was too weak. I saw Sean McCormack, the spokesman at the State Department, saying that we support the draft. We are working with the EU3 partners, as well as the Chinese and the Russians, in order to reach final language on a resolution. What we do all agree on is that Iran must halt its enrichment and reprocessing activities. And we'll continue to work on a multilateral approach to diplomacy and we'll work on final language. The goal is there, and then we'll get to the draft. I have not seen us say that we didn't support -- or that that other draft was weak. And I can check with the State Department when we get on the ground.

Q Is the President going to be doing fundraisers all the way up to Election Day?

MS. PERINO: There's a few more fundraisers. We're going to switch fairly soon to rallies. But we have flexibility in his schedule in case people need additional some dollars to get across the finish line.

Q Isn't it late to be raising money, in the sense that what can people --

MS. PERINO: One thing that's different in 2006 from the last midterm elections is the campaign finance law that was passed in between those two times. And hard dollars are harder to raise then soft dollars. In some cases, we -- what Karl Rove has said is that we worked really hard early on to raise money early to help people for this push. We'll be raising money up until the end if we need to. I'll see if I can get you more of a firm schedule. It's mostly rallies, I think, from -- after Saturday I think you're going to see a lot more rallies than traditional fundraising.

Q When is the President going to meet with the automakers in November?

MS. PERINO: That meeting was set for after the election to avoid any appearance of making it a political meeting. It will be in mid-November. I'm not able to give you a specific date.

Q What meeting is that?

MS. PERINO: The big three automakers.

All right. Thank you.

END 12:04 P.M. EDT