George W. Bush photo

Press Gaggle by Scott Stanzel

May 11, 2007

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

9:40 A.M. EDT

MR. STANZEL: Good morning, everyone. We're on our way to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where the President will be giving a commencement address at St. Vincent College. Before I go into that address, let me give you a sense of his day and make a couple announcements.

This morning the President taped the radio address on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Just a little background on that. There is a bipartisan process that's moving forward. The Democratic leadership earlier in the year asked the President to work with Republicans to bring them forward into these negotiations. That process is working. We are -- we have a meeting in regular matter with members of the Senate, in particular, both Republicans and Democrats, to bring forward a bipartisan solution to comprehensive immigration reform, and we feel that it's important for this process to go forward.

As you may have seen, there was a letter from GOP senators saying that this process should be allowed to go forward, and short-circuiting that is the wrong approach. So it's our feeling that those who have been involved in the negotiations are very invested in it, want to see it go forward to conclusion, and that those who have not been involved in those negotiations should work to support that, not undermine that process.

So the President at 8:00 a.m. this morning had his normal briefings. On Air Force One today Congressman Bill Shuster and Congressman Tim Murphy.

The President, at 11:00 a.m. will be giving his commencement address at St. Vincent College, which is an educational community rooted in the Catholic faith. It was founded by a Benedictine monk. The President's subject will be volunteerism. He'll obviously be congratulating the students, and he'll talk about the importance of service and committing yourself to service of your community and your country. Further, this is the second of the President's three commencement addresses. The previous one, April 28th, Miami Dade College, and his final one will be at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

At 3:15 p.m. the President will be making remarks commemorating Military Spouse Day, and he'll be presenting some more Volunteer Service Awards.

And I have a statement by the President about the graduation at Virginia Tech. That statement reads, "Today and tomorrow, students of Virginia Tech will rise to receive diplomas they have earned through years of hard work. They can be proud of their academic accomplishments and excited about the opportunities their degrees have opened up for them. Laura and I salute the Virginia Tech class of 2007. We also remember the students and teachers whose lives were taken last month. They will always hold a special place in the hearts of this graduating class and an entire nation.

"Over the past month, our country has witnessed the compassion and resilient spirit of the community of Virginia Tech. That spirit is on display this weekend in Blacksburg, where thousands of friends and family members have gathered to celebrate commencement and pray for this remarkable school. Our nation joins them in prayer, and on this special occasion, Laura and I send our love and heartfelt wishes to the entire Hokie family."

Also to announce, the visit of Prime Minister Tony Blair. President Bush will host Tony Blair at the White House on May 16th and 17th. The President looks forward to continuing consultations with the Prime Minister on a wide range of issues, including our shared goals of strengthening democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And finally, I would call your attention to the statement that we sent out last night. You may have seen the agreement regarding the trade agreement we made with Congress. Open and fair trade are important to this country and to the world. And the President is very pleased that Sue Schwab, his U.S. Trade Representative, was able to work with Congress to get a deal that paves the way for bipartisan support for trade agreements we have negotiated with Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Korea. Each of those agreements will move forward in their own course, but it's an important step to strengthening our ties with those trade partners. And the agreement with Colombia is particularly important. And we look forward to working with Congress and President Uribe on that.

I think I'll forgo, maybe, the week ahead, and go straight to your questions.

Q: Can you put it in the transcript?

MR. STANZEL: We can put it in the transcript.*

Q: Is the President going to talk about Iraq today at all? And what does he think about all the controversy that's been generated by the invitation for him to come here today?

MR. STANZEL: You know, the President understands that we live in a free society, and people have their many opinions on the important issue of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. He knows that just about wherever he goes, he hears opinions both ways. The President will be focusing his remarks today on the importance of service, whether it's through military service to your nation, whether it's through being a teacher, or whether it's volunteering in your local community. Those are all issues that he'll discuss today, and that's the focus of his remarks.

Q: -- on the war?

MR. STANZEL: I don't expect that that will be a focus of his remarks, no.

Q: Do you think this is proof that you don't need seatbelts in an airplane at this point -- (laughter.)

Q: We're going to find out in a second.

MR. STANZEL: How good of surfers are you? (Laughter.) Anything else?

Q: Vice President Cheney is on the Stennis. He made a speech on the Stennis. What was the point of putting him in the Gulf?

MR. STANZEL: Well, the Vice President is in the Middle East -- and we need to get seated -- but he's in the Middle East to talk with our important allies. And I'm going to go sit down. (Laughter.)

END 9:45 A.M. EDT

*The Week Ahead has been released separately.

George W. Bush, Press Gaggle by Scott Stanzel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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