Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Waterford, Michigan
3:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. The President briefed earlier today, so he answered many of your questions. But let me go over the President's schedule for the day.
He had his usual intelligence and briefings this morning. As he noted in his remarks to the press upon departure, the President also spoke with Prime Minister Blair this morning. And he talked a little bit about that in his remarks at the departure, so you will have his own words there.
But they spoke --
Q: How long?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was about -- around a half hour. I don't happen to know -- usually these are set up, you know, mutual time. But it was initiated by the President.
They spoke about Northern Ireland, and you should have the statement that was issued by the press office, statement from the President that we issued earlier this morning. They also, as the President talked about, discussed the global war on terrorism, including the latest attack in Indonesia.
We will be arriving in Michigan at 3:50 p.m., this afternoon, where the President will participate in a welcome ceremony for -- well, let me back up. The Freedom Corps greeter today is Lenwood "Lenny" Compton, who is a 22 year old senior at Oakland University, majoring in education. And he is a second-year member of AmeriCorps, and he spends about 15 hours each week doing AmeriCorps work.
The Michigan welcome event, the President at the Michigan welcome event he will express his strong support for the Lieutenant Governor's gubernatorial campaign, as well as the rest of the Republican ticket, particularly Congressman Knollenberg and Congressional candidates Secretary of State Candice Miller and State Senator Thaddeus McCotter.
Following the welcome event, the President will participate in a Michigan Victory 2002 reception to support, again, the Lieutenant Governor in his gubernatorial campaign, as well as the rest of the ticket. And following that he will make remarks at a Thaddeus McCotter for Congress dinner. And then return to the White House at approximately 9:20 p.m. this evening.
Q: The amount of money --
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I'm sorry, let me give you the amounts. It's expected to raise one million for the Michigan Victory 2002 and the dinner is expected to raise $400,000 for McCotter's congressional campaign.
Q: So the first money is basically the Republican Party, generally?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it's the Michigan Victory 2002, so that's the Republican ticket.
Q: And because he does the political remarks at the rally, too, is it all political?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, that's right, the whole day is.
Q: The reception is closed to press coverage?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. It's a small reception, the Victory 2002 and the dinner will be open.
Q: The McCotter dinner is where he speaks, and -- have no coverage of that, correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q: The one million thing is closed, the $400,000 is open?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right. Anything else -- we'll get you the President's remarks as soon as they get to us, which may be before we land. But we'll get them to you as soon as we get to the sight.
Q: You said about Bush and Blair that they spoke about the global war on terrorism. Did they say anything about Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: What information I gave you is what I had. I'm not -- I'm sure that that was probably a topic that came up, but as you know and as the President said, we view Iraq as part of that war on terrorism, and the President made some remarks about that at the departure, as well.
Q: Is the President giving any thought to stepping up the federal efforts to find the sniper in the Washington area? I know about the existing efforts, I'm talking about a major increase in federal efforts?
MR. McCLELLAN: And he was asked about the sniper shootings, as well -- of course, expressing his sympathy for the families and condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones. But the President is updated on a daily basis on the sniper shootings. Director Mueller updated him on the federal government's role this morning. The FBI and ATF are very involved in helping local and state law enforcement. The FBI has been working on profiling of the shooter, or shooters. They've been providing staff support for the command center. They've offered agents to assist with following up on leads. The ATF is helping with ballistics technology and trying to track where this might be coming from.
The President has made it clear to the Department of Justice and others that we want to make sure we're doing everything we can, from the standpoint of the federal government, to assist the state and local law enforcement in their efforts.
Q: Given that it's a multi-jurisdictional thing, is there -- to your knowledge, is there any thought to just having the federal government take the leading role in running the investigation into this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I would check -- check with the law enforcement officials on the latest status there. The federal government and the Department of Justice and the FBI, ATF have basically offered to do whatever they need us to do to assist in their efforts to find who is responsible and bring him to justice.
Q: In the late 1980s when the drug war was running rampant in D.C., the federal government did a lot of things, providing not just manpower but equipment, helicopters, night vision --
MR. McCLELLAN: The FBI has been providing helicopters, by the way.
Q: Any thought of increasing the amount of air cover?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q: Any thought of increasing the amount of air cover?
MR. McCLELLAN: I will check with the FBI, but I know that they have been providing helicopter support. Again, we want to help in any way we can and in every way we can.
Q: Does the President support nationalizing a ballistic finger printing? Some of the law enforcement officers are saying if that was nationalized, as opposed to just --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what we've done, and I would go back and look at -- and I can try to get you more specific information, but we in our budget have provided, and we hope to expand resources for the ATF and their ballistics technology, to support ballistic tracing, and so forth. So we provide a lot of support throughout -- basically through our Project Safe Neighborhoods. And I'll see what additional information I can get you on that. I don't have the specifics on me right this second. But that's been in the form of budget increases for the ATF and their ballistics technology, which is --
Q: That's not requiring finger-printing.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm talking about what we have been doing already.
Q: Ari, on Friday, took a question and promised to post something -- unless I missed it, I don't think he did -- on whether or not the President supports requiring a ballistic fingerprint on ammunition of all guns, not just handguns, but handguns, rifles, assault rifles, hunting rifles, and not just in two states, but in all 50 states. Can you go --
MR. McCLELLAN: And I think what's important to point out is what we are doing to support and expand ballistics technology --
Q: But can we get an answer to that on the President's view --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- with the ATF. But if I can get you more on that, I will. But I wanted to point out to you what we are doing and what we have been doing prior to the current situation.
Q: As Sandra requested, can you check on what is the answer to that question?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just said I would.
Q: One last one on the Osama letter. Since those of us who were in the pool did not get the benefit of hearing everything the President said. What is the government's judgment on whether or not -- on the authenticity of this letter? Does it appear to be --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think we have any -- I have not heard of any update on that, whether or not it is or is not. But as the President said, he said, we don't know whether bin Laden is alive or dead. But this is about more than just bin Laden. We know that there are terrorists and terrorist sympathizers in some 60 countries. And the latest attacks in Bali are a stark reminder that this is a global war on terrorism. And there are some 90 nations that are united in our efforts to disrupt and defeat the terrorist network, and bring those who are responsible for the attacks to justice.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Can I ask if the President has called the -- I guess there were just two Americans killed in that Bali resort. Has he spoken to the victims' relatives?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see what I can find out, but he has expressed both in the statement as well as in his remarks today expressed his condolences to those families, the families of the Americans who have lost their lives, as well as those from other countries and the people of Indonesia, as well.
Q: You're not talking about specific phone calls?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I was talking about his remarks today. Both the statement over the weekend, as well as his remarks today, expressed -- in fact, that's what he lead with in his departure statement remarks.
Q: Has he called any of the victims' families of the shootings? Is that what you asked?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, is that what you were asking?
Q: No, I was asking about the Bali, two Americans --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me see what I can find out.
END 3:30 P.M. EDT
Scott McClellan, Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/272045