White House Briefing, August 26, 2003
|Tuesday August 26, 2003
THE WHITE HOUSE
PRESS GAGGLE BY CLAIRE BUCHAN
Aboard Air Force One En route Minneapolis, Minnesota
MS. BUCHAN: Good morning. Let me start by going over the President's day for you. At the ranch this morning, before he departed, the President had his regular intelligence briefings. On board the plane this morning, the President called the Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee, to offer him condolences on behalf of the American people for the attacks yesterday. The President told the Prime Minister that India has no stronger friend than the United States in combating terrorism, and he offered assistance to the Prime Minister and to the people of India.
The President, as you know, is en route to Minneapolis, where he will be met by a Freedom Corps volunteer, actually two Freedom Corps volunteers, Edward and Jane Bardon. Edward Bardon began being involved with the Peace Corps in 1963, when he was a professor at the University of Minnesota, where he spent two-to-three months helping to evaluate individuals, to determine whether they were fit to meet the challenges that encounter Peace Corps volunteers.
Following their retirement, of Edward and Jane, in 1995, they began to pursue international volunteer service opportunities in both Russia and Romania. And after learning that there is no age limit on serving in the Peace Corps, Edward and Jane have both signed up to travel to Turkmenistan next month as Peace Corps volunteers. They are -- by the way, Edward is 70 and Jane is 68. And they will be working in the area of health education. The President will then participate in a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraising luncheon.
Then he will travel to St. Louis, where he will be met by James Mareschal, who is a structural steel iron worker, who served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963. He is a member of the American Legion, has been for the past 26 years. And for the past 10 years, he has spent one Saturday every month delivering home-cooked meals to patients in the spinal cord unit at the Jefferson Barracks Hospital, providing comfort and a friendly face to veterans with disabilities. He also has helped raise money for the substance abuse unit at the Jefferson Barracks Hospital. He's involved in Boys State of Missouri and Boys and Girls Town of Missouri, and he is an honor guardsman with the Missouri Military Funeral Honors program at the Jefferson Barracks Hospital.
The President will then make remarks to the 85th Annual American Legion convention, where he will talk about the resolve of the United States in fighting and winning the war on terrorism, the importance of that mission and how we are on the offensive and committed to winning that battle. He will then participate in a fundraiser for Senator Kit Bond and return to the ranch this evening.
Q: How much?
MS. BUCHAN: One million dollars.
Q: Which is --
MS. BUCHAN: The event for Senator Bond is expected to raise $1 million.
Q: How about the fundraiser?
MS. BUCHAN: You would have to talk to the campaign about that.
Q: Obviously, he offered assistance to the Prime Minister of India. Did the Prime Minister take him up on the offer, and what are we doing for them?
MS. BUCHAN: The President offered the assistance to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister thanked him for that offer.
Q: Claire, I want to ask you one thing about the speech today. You said yesterday, Dr. Rice has said, that it's better to be fighting terrorists overseas than in the United States. But is there any evidence that by fighting them over there, that's keeping people from the United States? People have said that the war in Iraq has spawned more -- recruited more members for al Qaeda and other groups. So my question is, is there any sign that by engaging in an offensive, engaging in a war overseas, you are limiting terrorism in the United States?
MS. BUCHAN: What the President has said is that we will take the battle to the terrorists, so that we don't fight that on our shores. And I think part of what you're seeing and what you've heard the President talk about is that the terrorists are seeing the progress that's being made, and that is making them more desperate. And you are seeing the true nature of the terrorists.
So we are on the offensive, and the President is resolved and believes that we cannot retreat in this battle; it is important for the safety and security of the American people, as well as for the world.
Q: There's no evidence that the war in Iraq did anything to stop al Qaeda from plotting terrorist attacks here in the U.S.
MS. BUCHAN: There's no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States, to the region and to the world. And that threat, in the form of Saddam Hussein and his regime, is gone.
Q: Does the administration have any response to the NASA report, the report on the shuttle?
MS. BUCHAN: I expect you'll see a statement by the President shortly.
Q: On paper?
MS. BUCHAN: Yes.
Q: There's a report this morning that says the administration is leaning toward asking for a $3 billion supplemental between now and the budget to help pay for -- on day-to-day activities in Iraq. Is that going to -- is the administration doing that, are they thinking about doing that?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the President has said that he will work with Congress to ensure that we have the resources necessary to win that battle and do what it takes to help the people of Iraq. And that's what we're doing. So we're going to work with Congress, and we'll be talking with Ambassador Bremer. We'll work with Congress, we'll talk with Ambassador Bremer, and the President is committed to ensuring that we have the resources necessary.
Q: Is it possible that they might decide to ask for money before the budget?
MS. BUCHAN: If there's something to announce, we'll certainly announce it. But the President has made clear that we will ensure that our troops have the resources that they need and that the people on the ground in Iraq have the resources necessary.
Q: Have the commanders in Iraq asked for more troops?
MS. BUCHAN: Have they?
Q: Have they asked for more?
MS. BUCHAN: I think you've heard General Myers talk about it. I think you've heard the commanders in the field talk about it. And I'll leave that to them. The President has, again, said that he will listen to the military commanders on the ground and ensure that they have the resources necessary.
Q: But they haven't asked for more?
MS. BUCHAN: I think I'll let them speak for themselves. But Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers have addressed that.
Q: Does the administration have any comment about Arafat's new efforts to undermine Abbas?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the way forward in Israel is -- and as part of the road map -- the security forces need to be consolidated under Prime Minister Abbas and Minister Dahlen. That is the way forward, and that is important.
Q: But apparently that's not happening. How do you respond to the -- what do you do to respond to the actions that have been taking place over the last couple days?
MS. BUCHAN: Clearly, by blocking the consolidation of the Palestinian security forces under Prime Minister Abbas, Yasser Arafat undercuts the fight against the terrorism and further undermines the hopes of the Palestinian people for peace and for a Palestinian state that can live side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.
Q: There's a special envoy to the negotiating team for North Korea who has resigned. And there was some thought that -- some people were saying that this means the administration's stance, posture in going into these talks tomorrow is in disarray, that they are confused, that they don't have it together.
MS. BUCHAN: Number one, I think the State Department addressed yesterday the departure of this individual, and I would refer you to their comments yesterday and also to talk with them about specific State Department personnel matters.
With regard to the talks in North Korea, I think -- we welcome the multi-national talks. The President has always believed that this is a multi-national or a multi-lateral problem which requires a multi-lateral solution. So we go into these discussions with great seriousness of purpose and look forward to them.
Q: One more time. We go into these discussions --
MS. BUCHAN: -- with great seriousness of purpose, and we look forward to the talks.
Q: Any other travel the rest of the week?
MS. BUCHAN: Any travel the rest of the week? No, not that I'm aware of.
Q: When will the week end? Is there a firm return date?
MS. BUCHAN: We'll let you know what the exact timing is on the departure, the return to Washington.
END 10:47 A.M. CDT
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