George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following a Meeting With Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and an Exchange With Reporters in Crawford, Texas

August 06, 2003

The President. First, it's been my real privilege and honor to welcome the Secretary of State back to Crawford. He and Dick Armitage came, and we spent yesterday evening and this morning talking about our country's desire to promote peace and freedom, our obligations as a prosperous and strong nation to help the less fortunate. And we had a good strategy session, and now we're about to go out and brand some cows—well, not exactly. [Laughter]


Q. Sir, what are your thoughts——

The President. Let me answer a couple of questions and let's—a little more order here to this particular press coverage, because this is Crawford.

Q. I'm sorry.

Q. Thanks, Mr. President. You sent an advance force—or you're authorizing an advance force in Liberia. Does this signal the start of a larger force in Liberia?

The President. This is all part of determining what is necessary to help ECOWAS—now called ECOMIL—to go in and provide the conditions necessary for humanitarian relief to arrive, whether it be by sea or by air. And it's part of what we said we would do.

Q. Do you still want Taylor out? Is that still a condition, a hard condition?

The President. Yes, we would like Taylor out. And the Secretary may want to comment on this; he's working hard with the— you know, the U.N. and others to insist that Mr. Taylor leave.

Secretary Powell. We still expect President Taylor to leave. I'm pleased at what ECOWAS has been able to do. The Nigerians showed up in good order; more forces are arriving; and they're starting to establish a sense of security and I think put hope back in the hearts of the Liberian people. And we want to support them and assist them, as the President said.

The President. Patsy [Patricia Wilson, Reuters].

Q. Sir——

Q. I'm sorry, what do you want from the American troops?

The President. [Inaudible]—you seem to be dominating here. [Laughter]

Q. Sir, do you want the—sorry.

The President. It's okay; it's good; it's very aggressive. Your editors appreciate it.

Israeli Security Fence

Q. Do you want the Israelis to stop construction of the fence or just reroute it? And will you use loan guarantees to persuade them?

The President. We're talking to Israel about all aspects of the fence. I made it clear I thought the fence was a problem, and so we're talking with them, and we'll continue to work on this issue as well as other issues. I do believe we're making progress. The key for a peace to happen is for both parties to assume their necessary obligations and responsibilities to create the conditions so that people have confidence, that people know that their lives will be safe, and that prosperity can break out. And we're making progress there.

Stretch [Richard Keil, Bloomberg News], and then we'll go to you, John, and then Elizabeth. You've got to speak above the train.

Tax Relief/National Economy

Q. I'm competing here with the train. Do you think you've done enough at this point to stimulate the economy? Is it a matter of just kind of letting things that you've put into place take effect, take hold, or is there more that needs to be done?

The President. Look, there's no question that the tax relief——

[At this point, a passing train whistled.]

The President. First, we've got to have better rail transportation. [Laughter]

The tax cuts will help a lot. And the second round of tax relief is now ending up in the pockets of our fellow citizens. The child tax credit checks are now being mailed. And that's going to help. But there needs to be more. And there needs to be an energy plan. There needs to be good litigation reform. I believe we can get a good class action lawsuit out of the Senate if we continue to work the issue. I also know that we need to make sure we continue this notion of reminding the investors and consumers alike that we're going to have fiscal discipline in Washington, DC. So yes, there's more we can do and will do.

Secretary Powell's Tenure

Q. Sir, you've seen the report that Secretary Powell and Secretary Armitage are going to leave at the end of this administration. Do you expect them to stay on if there is a second Bush administration? Would you like them to?

The President. Well, first things first: We hope there is a second Bush administration. And I will work hard to convince the American people that their confidence in me is justified. And we'll deal with it at the right time.

Listen, this guy has done a fabulous job. And I—Washington, particularly in August, is a dangerous period—a dangerous time because there's a lot of speculation. And all I can tell you is, the man flies to Crawford, and we've spent a good 24 hours talking about how we're going to work together to make the world a better place.

Q. But, Mr. President, you said, "We'll deal with it"——

The President. Yes, Elizabeth.

Q. "We'll deal with it at the right time." That isn't "yes."

The President. Deal with what at the right time?

Q. With whether Secretary Powell will serve in a second term. Is that "yes" or "no"? I mean, are you going to offer him a spot in the second term?

Secretary Powell. I don't have a term. I serve the President. [Laughter]

Q. No, the President——

The President. Elizabeth, look, first things first, and that is, we've got a year and a while during my first term to make the world a more peaceful place, and we'll deal with it. Washington loves speculation.

Clearly, you love speculation. You love it. You love to speculate about——

Q. It wasn't my story. [Laughter]

The President. Let me finish, please. You love to speculate about whether so-and-so is going to be a part of the administration or not. And I understand the game. But I have got to do my job, and I'm going to do it. And I'm going to do it with the Secretary of State. And the fact that he is here in Crawford, Texas, talking about issues of importance, should say loud and clear to the American people that he's completely engaged in doing what he needs to do, and that is serve as a great Secretary of State.

Q. Do you want to serve more than 4 years, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary Powell. I serve at the pleasure of the President, and this is all August speculation with no basis in fact. There was no basis for this story to begin with, and we're doing our jobs together.

The President. All right. We're going to get a burger. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. at the Coffee Station restaurant. In his remarks, he referred to President Charles Taylor of Liberia.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting With Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and an Exchange With Reporters in Crawford, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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