|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 6, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Pensacola, Florida
12:09 P.M. CST
MR. SNOW: All right, I'm at your disposal. What's up?
Q Not much. (Laughter.) Just a little election coming up.
MR. SNOW: Thank you, thank you very much.
Q What about Crist? Is that -- do you regard that as a snub?
MR. SNOW: No. Look, he says he wants to go around and go for votes around the state. The President is going to be campaigning for Charlie Crist today. He will mention him in the speech, and he's also going to be talking for other candidates. You've got to keep in mind, these events are not only important for revving up Republicans who are in the vicinity, but people all around the country are now looking at these speeches and looking at these events, and they're getting a sense of the energy of the crowds, but also the emerging clarity of the difference between Democrats and Republicans, especially on taxes and terror. And the President will be making those points.
But the other thing he's going to be doing is making it clear that even though you've got choices, there are also positive reasons to be voting for Republican candidates, and he'll be making the same general argument today in Florida, Arkansas and Texas.
Q Tony, can you give us the White House view of how this sort of five-day push by the President has had an impact both in the places he's gone, and maybe across the country, as well?
MR. SNOW: I think a lot of it -- you see the enthusiasm of crowds, and you look at individual races, and it's really not just a five-day push, but it's the number of events the President has been doing.
You look at Mike Sodrel's district, where there has been a big swing since the President was there. It is important for Republican candidates not only to have the support of the President, but also to have the President explaining that sometimes cutting through political advertisements and claims that are made, explaining what his position is in the war on terror, what his position is on taxes, and where he wants to lead the country -- and that does that make an impact. When the President comes to town, people listen in a way that they don't always listen. And it allows him to get his message directly to Republican activists, to undecided voters.
Jennifer, one of the things we've seen, there are a lot of people who have been leaning Democrat going into the undecided camp, and people in the undecided camp moving into the Republican camp. This is not simply an effort to talk to Republican voters, but also Democrats and undecideds who might be inclined to agree with the President, especially on the war on terror, but also on the future of the economy.
Q What does the President think about recent polls that are showing Republicans sort of making gains?
MR. SNOW: Not surprised. We have been saying this for some time. We've been talking about the fact as Election Day nears, people will sit back and start making sober assessments of the two parties' key positions on the basic issues. And the most important thing is the contrast not only in terms of an affirmative plan for winning a war on terror -- and we've seen a lot of encouraging signs around the region in recent days, and people have begun to see evidence of things that the President has talked about in terms of the Iraqis assuming greater control over security, and so on -- but also that Democrats -- you saw Howard Dean today. He says, it's time for a change. Okay, well, what's your change?
And the fact is that they really are traveling around with empty saddlebags. You've got a party that's been pretty gloomy about this thing. And so it's a contrast between a President who is affirmatively and aggressively addressing the issues, and a Democratic Party that's hoping that they've driven down his positives enough to win on Election Day.
Q Do you credit the President's tour with -- leading to some of this tightening? Do you guys think some of this is directly related?
MR. SNOW: I think several things are directly related. Obviously, the President's travels are part of the difference. The other thing is the voters do focus -- it's a midterm, and the last two weeks are the weeks where people really do focus much more intently on the issues and on the positions of the respective parties.
Q Is the President going to be able to work with a speaker Nancy Pelosi if one comes to be, given some of the back-and-forth that's happened so far between the parties this midterm?
MR. SNOW: Nice try.
Q It's a legitimate question.
MR. SNOW: You can ask questions about the House Speaker on Wednesday.
Q Talk a little bit about the schedule today. It's interesting, he's going to three Sunbelt states, all governor's races, and none of them are particularly close -- maybe Arkansas is the closest of the three. Why this choice for today?
MR. SNOW: Well, in part -- first, the President's brother invited him to come out to Pensacola, and we're going to have 10,000 people out watching the event. Also the same thing with Asa Hutchinson; there had been a longstanding promise and we're redeeming that promise. And he wanted to wrap up with an event in Texas, which is perfectly understandable.
Q Is he excited to campaign with Katherine Harris today?
MR. SNOW: He wants Republican candidates to win.
Q I actually have a question on Nicaragua. Is there a reaction to Daniel Ortega winning the election there?
MR. SNOW: We don't know yet -- we're still looking at the numbers, and there hasn't been an official tally --
Q What's the question?
MR. SNOW: It's about Daniel Ortega. Early polls are showing him up. The way it works is, if he gets over 40 percent, he automatically wins. If he wins with more than 5 percent, plurality below that, he wins. I think you have to have 35 percent for that particular benchmark. We're going to wait until we get final results to have comments on it.
Q What's the drill at the White House tomorrow night? Can you give us some sort of sense of what goes on --
MR. SNOW: I'm still trying to -- I'm trying to find out. A lot of us will probably be there. It's interesting because, as soon as we land tomorrow -- and I think this is true for a lot of you, too -- we're going to scamper off and vote. So I'm going to vote and say hi to my wife and kids and probably be back at the White House. I think a lot of us will be doing that, as well.
Q Tony, is the President making any calls to candidates to buck them up, get them -- to get their spirits up for the last day?
MR. SNOW: I don't think, in the final day of a campaign, you need to buck up candidates. You've got a lot of people who are running hard. I'm not aware of any phone calls that he's going to be making. Obviously, we've got a pretty full day today. He didn't get back to the ranch until after 9:00 p.m. local time. So I suspect -- again, I think the candidates have got all the encouragement they need on the final day.
Q Any new red meat today in the speech? New red meat in the speech today?
MR. SNOW: No, actually, I think what you're going to see is, obviously he'll be comparing and contrasting. But the other thing is, at the end of a campaign like this, people ought to feel good about living in America. There are a lot of good things that have going on in this country. And on the economic side, and also on fighting a war on terror, our people have done some pretty astounding things over the last five years. So it's also a time to remind Americans to be proud of who they are and what we've accomplished.
Q No attacks on Democrats?
MR. SNOW: There will be conversations about Democrats.
Q Anything for tomorrow planned? I know right now he's just going to vote and go back, but are there any additional, maybe, stops at the last minute in places -- races that are close that you guys are going to go to?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I think we're -- he's voting, and I think we're heading home. That is, home for some of us. Home is always Texas for the President.
Q Did the Saddam verdict help with the vote, you think, or help with the polls and help with your people?
MR. SNOW: I'll let the pollsters and the analysts decide on that. I think what you did see is evidence that what we've been talking about all along makes sense, an Iraq that can sustain itself, govern itself, defend itself, where you had the institutions that are vital for having a free society that guarantees people's rights, and has -- gives them a reason to be supportive and see themselves as stakeholders in the society.
There you've got a court where you had threats of violence, you had all sorts of disruptions, you had the whole world watching, and yet, in a very deliberative manner, they went through and they dealt with a man who is on trial for killing right now upwards of 200,000 people in his country. And of course, there are tens of thousands more whose trials may never be heard.
So to deal with that in a way that has been responsible and has not degenerated into a circus, but instead, has been a solid and respectable legal proceeding I think says a lot about the determination of the Iraqi people, and of this court, to create exactly the kind of institutions you need. And that's been our strategy all along, for the United States to help Iraq develop its own kind of democracy, which involved security forces, involved shared economic interests, the ability for everybody to worship, to be educated, to have jobs, to have a future, and not to have to worry about being tortured and murdered as they were under the Saddam regime.
Q What about contingency plans for a Democrat House if it comes to that?
MR. SNOW: How many times do I have to tell you guys, you don't sit around in the middle of a campaign and say, what if we lose? You don't. You just don't waste your time doing that. You devote --
Q You're governing at the same time that you're campaigning. It's a little bit of a different prospect than just running a campaign and just thinking about winning.
MR. SNOW: But you also understand, we expect to have a Republican Congress, so we're not going to sit around and start doing "contingency plans." But I'll tell you one thing -- here's the thing that you do need to know, which is that the President plans for a very active final two years of his presidency. And there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed that everybody knows need to be addressed. One is winning the war on terror. The second is continuing to build economic strength. You have No Child Left Behind, you have an interest in creating better educational opportunities; you've got energy, which is a shared interest.
So the President is going to be very aggressive, and he's not going to play small ball. You know him. So I think you can look for a President who's going to be every --
Q What is that --
MR. SNOW: You don't know "small ball?" Okay, well, you're -- you don't know "small ball."
MS. ECKERT: Steno doesn't know "small ball."
MR. SNOW: The President says he doesn't like to play small ball. You go for big issues, and you -- yes, you talk about big issues and big challenges. And that's what you ought to be looking forward to in the next two years -- and to challenge Congress to be moving on these things, because Americans know that these issues are out there, and they're going to want Congress to deal with them.
Q He said something about track shoes or running shoes the other day.
MR. SNOW: Yes, what he said is, put on your track shoes because we're sprinting to the finish.
Q Thank you.
END 12:19 P.M. CST