Press Briefing by Scott Stanzel
Crawford Elementary School
11:31 A.M. CDT
MR. STANZEL: Happy Friday, everybody. I've got the President's schedule. I do have the week ahead, although I think you've received most of that information. But I'm happy to go through it at the end, if you'd like.
Today the President taped his radio address this morning. In his radio address the President will discuss General Petraeus's and Ambassador Crocker's report to Congress this past week. The President will also discuss the honors and sacrifice of Michael Monsoor, the fourth Medal of Honor recipient in the war on terror, that you heard the President talk about earlier this week as well.
The President also had his normal briefings. And this morning at 8:15 a.m., the President participated in an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News. And this evening the President and Mrs. Bush will attend a Republican National Committee reception at the Broken Spoke Ranch here in Crawford. And also attending the reception tonight are the President's parents, the former President and Mrs. Barbara Bush, as well as the President's brother, former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, and his wife, Columba -- they will also be there.
One other note to announce to you all. Like all Americans, the President and Mrs. Bush have to file tax returns each April. And so this afternoon we will release a copy of their tax returns for you. So that should be coming up here in maybe about an hour or so.
With that, I will take your questions. Okay, good to see everybody. (Laughter.)
Q Senator McCain says that he would not go to the opening session of the Olympics unless the Chinese changed their policies on human rights. Has the President's position changed at all?
MR. STANZEL: The President's position on the Olympics has not changed. First of all, the President believes that everyone around the world should have the right to express their views freely and openly, and that's something that the President talks frequently with leaders in China about. That is a discussion that the President has had and will have before the Olympics, will have during the Olympics, and will have after the Olympics.
I should note that in terms of the Dalai Lama and the situation in Tibet, the President, as you all know, was the first President to appear in public with the Dalai Lama. But in terms of the President's plans, they have not changed. He plans to go to the Olympics to support American athletes who are there competing.
Q Will he go to the Opening Ceremony?
MR. STANZEL: We haven't -- as you know, we haven't made any announcements about the President's specific schedule, so I would just tell you to stay tuned for that.
Q There are reports of a confrontation between Iranian and U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf today. Have you any details on that?
MR. STANZEL: I'm aware of those reports, but I would refer you to the Department of Defense on that. I'm aware of those reports, but I don't have any information. But the Department of Defense might be able to help you with that.
Q Scott, is the President's visit to the ranch this weekend in any way related to next month's wedding plans?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I think any time that the President and the First Lady are here in Texas, that certainly is something that is on their minds. The wedding is occurring next month, so they may be making preparations for that. I know the President today was planning on clearing some brush and doing some things that he often does when he's here. And maybe the brush clearing has something to do with those plans -- (laughter) -- but certainly that's something that's top of mind for their family, of course, but I don't have anything specific for you on that.
Q Is Jenna at the ranch this weekend?
MR. STANZEL: I don't know if she is or isn't.
Q Scott, there are a number of airlines in some trouble, Frontier Airlines is talking about bankruptcy protection. A lot of people have been delayed, hundreds of flights cancelled by American Airlines, safety issues -- a lot of concern within the industry. I wonder if -- is the President being briefed on this? Any action plan from the Transportation Department to try to ease consumers' concerns and issues right now?
MR. STANZEL: Certainly those concerns are top of mind for individuals who have had flights cancelled or delayed. We know that causes a great strain on people when they are going to attend weddings or visit to see family or traveling for business. Those are certainly concerns that we share, but we also share safety concerns.
First and foremost, we want airline passengers to be safe. Right now we have a very safe airline transportation system. That is not by accident. That is due to the work of the FAA and the airlines to make sure that safety is first and foremost front of mind. I would point you to an announcement on April 2nd that the FAA made regarding their inspection procedures and some ways that they can have quicker response time with airlines to make sure that some of those concerns are being addressed.
The President next week is actually going to be having a Cabinet meeting. There will be a number of issues on the agenda for the Cabinet meeting -- the economy, housing, certainly foreign affairs issues will be on the agenda -- but also during that Cabinet meeting the President will receive an update about the situation in the airline industry regarding safety, regarding congestion, and regarding other issues that do impact people throughout the country.
So those are obviously issues that are very important to many people around the country, and ones we're keeping a close eye on.
Q Is the President pleased with the way the FAA handled this particular incident with American Airlines? Could it have been done with less disruption? It's caused a lot of disruption, obviously.
MR. STANZEL: Obviously it's caused a lot of disruption with American Airlines canceling hundreds of flights. I have not spoken with the President about his reaction to that specific airline's actions. But certainly the President has faith in Bobby Sturgell's ability to lead the FAA, and certainly the administration wants to make sure that we continue to put passenger safety at the forefront of decisions that are made.
Q Given that the President's parents and brother and sister-in-law are at the ranch this weekend, can we construe that this is a family weekend and maybe there's some family wedding planning going on?
MR. STANZEL: You know, I would refer you to the First Lady's Office for all things wedding-planning. But in terms of their participation, no -- you know, this event that occurs tonight is actually one that we do annually, in support of the Republican National Committee, and it's unique that the President's parents are able to participate tonight, as is Jeb Bush and his wife.
Q What brings that about?
MR. STANZEL: What brings that about? Well, as President, it's the last of these events that the President will do here at the Broken Spoke Ranch. So they were willing and able to come down, so we think it will be a good event.
Q So is it in a way sort of send-off for the President?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I'm sure there will be many of those over the course of the next nine months. But from the perspective of this being probably the last one of these events that we have annually at the Broken Spoke Ranch, yes.
Q One more. Senator McCain is in Lubbock today, I believe. Is he coming?
MR. STANZEL: I don't know if he is attending the event -- no, I'm not aware that he is.
Q The Dalai Lama is in the U.S. this weekend. Any plans for the President to reach out to him, phone call?
MR. STANZEL: I don't know of any. I understand the Dalai Lama is in Seattle for a period of time. The President, as you know, has met frequently with the Dalai Lama, but I don't have any updates in terms of phone calls that may be made. But I can certainly keep you posted.
Q And as current plans stand, is it possible the President will go to the Olympics, but not go to the Opening Ceremonies?
MR. STANZEL: We haven't announced his schedule for that period of time. So I would just tell you to stay tuned.
Q There have been some reports that you may be -- the U.S. in general may be close to a deal with North Korea to finalize dismantling their nuclear reactor, any stockpile they may have. Can you comment at all?
MR. STANZEL: I believe, if she hasn't already, Secretary Rice was going to be making some comments about that information. Certainly North Korea, we believe, should come forward with a full and complete declaration. That is a part of what the six-party talks have really been working toward. Obviously we want to see a disablement of the facility in Yongbyon, but we are not there yet. But those are very important issues that we're working on.
But I do believe that Secretary Rice was going to discuss those issues today more completely. And obviously Chris Hill has been working on those constantly.
Any other questions? Do you want the week ahead?
Q When are we leaving on Sunday?
MR. STANZEL: Sunday afternoon. I think we arrive back in Washington closer to about 5:00 p.m. -- or at least the President does.
In terms of next week, I mentioned the President meets with his Cabinet on Monday morning. And the topics there will include foreign affairs. He'll receive an update on the economy, will talk about aviation issues, and will also discuss the Colombia free trade agreement.
The President, that afternoon, on Monday afternoon, will present the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy to the United States Naval Academy football team in the Rose Garden. At 6:00 p.m., the President will make remarks in honor of Thomas Jefferson's 265th birthday. That is in the East Room.
On Tuesday the President and Mrs. Bush participate in the arrival ceremony for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. And that is at Andrews Air Force Base at 4:00 p.m.
On Wednesday the President and Mrs. Bush host a South Lawn Arrival Ceremony for His Holiness the Pope, and that is at 10:30 a.m. At 11:15 a.m. the President will meet with the Pope in the Oval Office. And at 7:30 p.m. that evening the President and Mrs. Bush will host a dinner in honor of the visit of His Holiness, and that is in the East Room that evening.
On Thursday the President has a busy day. Making remarks at 10:10 a.m. to the recipients of the President's Environmental Youth Awards. At 1:15 p.m. that day the President meets with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom -- that is in the Oval Office. At 2:35 p.m. on Thursday the 17th, the President will participate in a joint press availability with the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom in the Rose Garden -- again that's at 2:35 p.m.. And that evening the President and Mrs. Bush will host a social dinner with the Prime Minister and Mrs. Brown in the residence.
On Friday the President will make remarks at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. -- and that's at the Washington Hilton. And at 11:05 a.m. that morning, on Friday morning, the President is going to make remarks to America's Small Business Summit 2008, and that is at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. hotel -- and again that's at 11:05 a.m..
And then that afternoon, on Friday afternoon, the President and Mrs. Bush will welcome the visit, the President of the Republic of Korea and his wife. And then at 7:00 p.m. the President will host a dinner for the President of the Republic of Korea at Camp David -- and that's where they will be. And they will have a joint press availability next Saturday at 11:25 a.m. there at Camp David.
And the President will return to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, April 20th.
Q Follow-up. Will Cheney's tax returns be coming out today, too?
MR. STANZEL: I believe so, yes.
Q And are you going to have access to them, or do we have to --
MR. STANZEL: I believe so, yes, and those should be -- it's much like we did it last year. They're included in the same release. And we'll have more information for you then.
Q Scott, just to clarify, for the Pope's visit to the White House, you said that now there's a dinner in the East Room in honor of the Pope.
MR. STANZEL: Yes.
Q Will the Pope actually be attending that dinner?
MR. STANZEL: I don't believe so, no.
Q Okay, thank you.
Q On the press avail at Camp David, is that open press, or do you have information on what the coverage is for that?
MR. STANZEL: That is pool coverage.
Q I'm sorry, the Pope doesn't attend a dinner in his honor?
MR. STANZEL: No.
Q How does that work?
MR. STANZEL: He doesn't come into the building.
Q But then it's not a dinner for the Pope, is it?
MR. STANZEL: It's in honor of his visit. There will be leaders from the Catholic community from all over the country who are in town for that visit.
Q Is there a reason the Pope doesn't attend the dinner?
MR. STANZEL: I don't know. I don't have the full extent of his schedule.
Q Scott, with the Pope's visit, would you expect any sort of joint statement by the President and the Pope concerning Tibet and China?
MR. STANZEL: Stay tuned, Roger. Obviously they'll be having a meeting in the Oval Office. As part of their discussion, they'll have some time one on one, but in terms of any statements, just stay tuned. I don't have anything for you at this point.
Q What was the question, Scott?
MR. STANZEL: Whether or not there would be any sort of joint statement from the Pope and the President -- that was Roger's question.
Q No press avail with the Pope?
MR. STANZEL: I'm sorry?
Q No press avail with the Pope?
MR. STANZEL: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Anything else? All right. Thank you all very much.
END 11:45 A.M. CDT
George W. Bush, Press Briefing by Scott Stanzel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/277092