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White House Gaggle 19 January, 2007

Originally appearing at Talk Radio News Service

The White House Gaggle 19 January, 2007

By Dheeraj Chand

President’s Schedule

President Bush had his usual meetings and briefings, and will continue to do so through the day. The President will record his radio address today. The topic is health care, and we can expect to see previews of some of the policy initiatives from the State of the Union. At 1.20 p.m., the President will be giving an interview to David Jackson of USA Today. He is leaving for Camp David on Saturday morning. Secretaries Gates and Rice will be joining him there, but are not traveling with him.

The Week Ahead

Monday: The President will make his annual call to the participants in the "March for Life". He will make this call from Camp David. He will then return to the White House.

Tuesday: The President will address Congress for the annual State of the Union speech.

Wednesday and Thursday are still to be determined.

Friday: The President will deliver remarks to the House Republican Conference at 12.15 p.m.

Saturday: The President will attend the annual Alfalfa Club dinner.

The State of the Union

Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino spent quite a bit of time talking about the State of the Union address. She was emphatic about the global, positive vision that the President intended to set out about Iraq and other policy issues. He intends to discuss his surge strategy during the address, but in global terms, as part of the larger war on terror, and will most likely not use the address as a forum from which to rebut specific arguments against his strategy. Perino said that she didn’t expect that the weekend meetings with Secretaries Gates and Rice would affect the content or substance of the address.

Iraq

Perino had not heard about Talebani’s remarks that he would be willing to come to an understanding with Iran, and had no comment.

Chinese Anti-Satellite Weapon

The White House has conveyed its displeasure and concern to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels but has not yet heard back. Japan and Australia have also expressed concern. This is in response to the successful test of the satellite disabling weapon that the Chinese have been attempting to develop for almost thirty years.

White House Gaggle 18 January, 2007

Originally appearing at Talk Radio News Service

White House Gaggle 18 January, 2007

By Dheeraj Chand

President’s Schedule

President Bush had his usual morning meetings and briefings this morning.
Throughout the day, he will be giving interviews with different regional
media outlets. The President is headed to Camp David on Saturday, coming back to D.C. on Monday.

The Regional Media Interviews

Press Secretary Snow was asked which regional media outlets would be given
interviews. He responded that the major ones were Tribune, Cox, Sinclair
and others. He did not clarify the length of the interviews or the subject matter.

Maliki’s Statements on U.S. Funding

Asked about Maliki’s comments to the press that the United States
government didn’t give enough money to Iraqi troops for guns, bullets and
other supplies to accomplish their tactical objectives, Snow disputed that
characterization of the remark, saying that it was one comment taken in
isolation. Both Prime Minster Maliki and President Bush are very serious about a secure Iraq, Snow continued.

Hussein Hanging

Press Secretary Snow said that President Bush was not insulting the
government of Iraq during his interview with Jim Lehrer, and that the
disagreement over the hanging of Saddam Hussein was just a disagreement
between sovereign governments.

Agenda for the Weekend

Snow said that the agenda item for now is continuing work on the State of
The Union.

President’s New Strategy

Asked whether or not the White House regards Iraqi P.M. Maliki is fully on
board with the President’s new strategy, Snow enthusiastically responded,
"Oh, yeah!" He then said that the situation in front of us is that a
foreign head of state wants to take responsibility for political,
diplomatic and security issues of his state, just like any other leader.
They’re moving ahead as we speak, making progress towards critical
legislation like the hydrocarbon law, de-Baathification, etc.

Republican National Committee

Asked again about the RNC meetings taking place, and the anger of Sunbelt
and southern border states with the appointment of Sen. Mel Martinez, Snow
retorted that he is certain that the RNC is going to ratify Martinez and
Duncan. He responded to the specific complaints about Martinez, that he
is perceived as being pro-immigration, by saying that the President is
aware the that the GOP functions as any political party does, with
agreement and disagreement, and will move forward with great leadership.

Senate Activity

Snow said that the White House does not yet have a statement of
administrative policy on the Senate Finance passed small business tax
cuts.

Responding to questions about the veto threat on the energy bill because
of tax increases and spending cuts, Snow said that the President
doesn’t care for tax hikes. One of the great miracles of modern times, the
robust economy in light of historically unprecedented shocks, is largely
due to strategic tax cuts, and as a general policy, this administration
doesn’t care for tax cuts.

White House Gaggle 17 January, 2007

Originally appearing at Talk Radio News Service

White House Gaggle 17 January, 2007

By Dheeraj Chand

President’s Schedule

President Bush had his usual meetings and briefings, and will continue to do so through the day. The President went to the National Institute of Health labs today in Bethesda, Maryland, to attend a roundtable discussion on cancer prevention. In attendance were also Secretary Leavitt from the Department of Health and Human Services and several prominent oncologists. At 1.15 p.m., the President is meeting with a group of Republican legislators to discuss Iraq.

President Bush’s Recent Interviews

Asked about why the subject of Iran has not come up in any of the President’s recent interviews, and whether or not this was the result of a White House ban on the topic, Press Secretary Snow categorically stated that this was not the case. He said, tongue in cheek, that the White House would never dare dictate to Jim Lehrer or CBS News what they may or may not ask.

Sentiment on Iraq

Snow was asked whether it is the case that the President agrees that he and his advisors messed up when he says that he agrees with public sentiment that things are not going well in Iraq. He responded that the President agrees that the Baghdad security plan didn’t work as planned and that it is time to try new things in order to secure a free, stable and democratic Iraq that will be a valuable ally in the global war on terror.

Maliki Government Relations

Snow said that he is unsure of the last time that there was any diplomatic communication between the United States and the Maliki government, and that he’d imagine that it went through the normal diplomatic channels.

The Cancer Roundtable

Snow said that as a survivor of cancer himself, he is very moved by the President’s commitment to this issue, and that the reason that President Bush is focusing on this issue today is that there has been a lot of progress in the field and that it’s important to focus on programs that are doing well. He would not comment on funding priorities or the impending State of the Union, but he did say that the President is hopeful that the combined efforts of public and private sector actors would help the lives of the American people.

Oppositional Congress

Snow backed away from as many questions about the non-binding "Sense of the Senate" resolution as possible. He reiterated that Congress should ask itself what message it is sending with such a resolution. Then, when asked what he thinks that an appropriate role for Congress would be, if passing resolutions of disagreement is seemingly inappropriate. Snow responded that as far as passing resolutions goes, they’re free to do what they wish, but that they should be mindful of the message. Each branch of government has different responsibilities, and the courts have been very consistent in ensuring that executive power remains with the executive branch.
Snow clarified that the concerns that Congress should be mindful of are the following: First, the U.S commitment to success and peace for Iraq, second; that those who commit acts of violence in Iraq are mindful of our commitment, and third, that our international allies know that we remain committed to these goals. He said that he couldn’t comment on threats to cut off funding, as those bills don’t yet exist.

Israel/Syria

Press Secretary Snow had no comment for the second day in a row on the Ha’Aretz story claiming that the United States squashed an agreement of understanding between the governments of Syria and Israel.

War Protests

Responding to the protests of active-duty soldiers on Capitol Hill yesterday, Snow said that he understands that all wars are unpopular with some people, but that one could sense the overwhelming support of the armed forces by the high re-enlistment numbers and the thousands of people joining up for their first tours.

White House Gaggle 5 January, 2007

Originally appearing at Talk Radio News Service

White House Gaggle 5 January, 2007

By Dheeraj Chand

President’s Schedule

The President had his regular morning briefings, and will have his regular
meetings throughout the course of the day. He will record the radio

address this week on the subject of the budget. He will also continue his
congressional outreach meetings during the day.

Personnel Changes

Asked whether or not the personnel changes reflected the President’s
opinions on how the war in Iraq has proceeded and his opinions on the
prior staff’s competence, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow replied that there are no
implications and no one should make any inferences about President Bush’s
pleasure or displeasure. They have needed a Deputy at the Department of State,
but they were more concerned with finding the right person than they were
with merely filling the slot. Snow went on to discuss the
qualifications of Admiral McConnell, citing his experience, creativity,
intelligence, management capacity and his extensive contacts and good
relations with the intelligence community. Asked whether or not the
personnel changes in the intelligence, diplomatic and military are part of
President Bush’s Iraq policy-making process, Snow reminded the
press that he was not going to comment on the nominations and appointments
until after the President had announced them. He did, however, discuss
John Negroponte’s vast diplomatic experience. He also clarified that
Harriet Miers was not fired, and that she had resigned.

Meetings with Congress

Press Secretary Snow opted not to name which Representatives and Senators would
be meeting with the President over the course of the day, although he did
say that these meetings would continue over the weekend. He also declined
to comment on what the President and legislators would be discussing.

Relationship with an Opposition Congress

When asked what kind of bills the President would veto, Snow
replied that it would be irresponsible and dangerous for him to threaten a
veto on bills that haven’t been filed, yet, and tantamount to tossing a
gauntlet to Congress.

White House Gaggle 15 December, 2006

Originally appearing at Talk Radio News Service

White House Gaggle 15 December, 2006

By Dheeraj Chand

Special Notes

Today was Deputy Press Secretary Tony Frattow's first gaggle. He was formerly press spokesman at the Department of Treasury. Chatter in the press room said that it was comparable to Scott McClellan’s.

The President’s Schedule

President Bush had a foreign leader call with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah. They discussed the general political climate and circumstances in the Middle East, their mutual hopes for a two-state, peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Bush expressed his regret that outside actors are interfering with the Iranian nuclear proliferation issue. He had his daily briefings at 7.30 a.m. After his briefings, he’ll be recording his weekly radio address. The topic is the economy, and we can expect that there will be a strong message to Congress on the subject of earmarks. At 8 am, there will be an hour long ceremony for recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Frattow joked that Tony Snow was excited about the ceremony, as it would give him a chance to discuss "guitar pickin’ and slingin" with B.B. King.

After the ceremony, the President will be at the Pentagon for a full armed services review.

Week Ahead

On Tuesday, December 18, there are no public events. On Wednesday, Bush will sign the tax extenders package, which also has all kinds of other legislation attached to it. He will also sign HR 6407: The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. On Thursday, there are no public events. On Friday, President and Mrs. Bush will attend a holiday service project at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He will then leave for Camp David, where they will spend Christmas. They will leave for Crawford, TX, on the 26th of December, returning to D.C. on the New Year.

The Pentagon Ceremony

During the Q&A, Frattow informed us that Bush was expected to praise Rumsfeld at the ceremony, and to thank him for his six years of service and vision in restructuring and modernizing the military.

The Iraq Body Count

Helen Thomas wanted to know if the President was made aware with any regularity of the number of Iraqis who were injured or killed. Frattow had no answer.

Secretary of State Rice’s Statements about Syria

Frattow clarified that Secretary of State Rice said nothing new about the United States’ diplomatic position towards Syria and Iran, and that furthermore, the White House was not going to comment on specific recommendations of the ISG.

The Iraq Study Group

When asked about Bush’s plans to learn more before the Iraq policy speech, Frattow told us that there were no public events, but that Bush met with his military and diplomatic advisors with great frequency. The White House had no information on what other allied governments think of the Iraq Study Group’s report, but Bush and Blair have discussed it.

Saddam Hussein’s Nephew

Saddam Hussein’s favorite nephew escaped from prison this summer, and now wants to lead the Baathist rejectionists in Iraq. The White House had no comment on this.

Governor Bill Richardson

Frattow didn’t know that Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) was meeting with North Korean officials, and as such, had no comment.

Same-sex parenting

When asked whether or not Bush had flip-flopped on the issue of same-sex parenting, Frattow said that he had no idea on previous statements, but that the entire White House was happy for the Cheneys. He then tried to avoid the question by saying that the President believed in marriage being a unique institution between a man and a woman.

When asked whether or not Bush had flip-flopped on the issue of same-sex parenting, Frattow said that he had no idea on previous statements, but that the entire White House was happy for the Cheneys. He then tried to avoid the question by saying that the President believed in marriage being a unique institution between a man and a woman.