Standard Newswire is a cost-effective and efficient newswire service for public policy groups, government agencies, PR firms, think-tanks, watchdog groups, advocacy groups, coalitions, foundations, colleges, universities, activists, politicians, and candidates to distribute their press releases to journalists who truly want to hear from them.

Do not settle for an email blasting service or a newswire overloaded with financial statements. Standard Newswire gets your news into the hands of working journalists, broadcast hosts, and news producers.

Find out how you can start using Standard Newswire to


VIEW ALL Our News Outlets
Sign Up to Receive Press Releases:

Standard Newswire™ LLC
209 W. 29th Street, Suite 6202
New York, NY 10001, USA.
(212) 290-1585

Press Conference by President Bush (Part 2 of 2)

Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580


WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 /Standard Newswire/ -- The following text is of remarks by President Bush at today's press conference:


East Room

11:01 A.M. EST


(Continued from part 1)



Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. President, it seems pretty clear where this Iraq vote in the House is headed.  Your press secretary has said repeatedly that members of Congress ought to watch what they say and be concerned about the message that they're sending to our enemy.  I'm wondering, do you believe that a vote of disapproval of your policy emboldens the enemy?  Does it undermine your ability to carry out your policies there?  And, also, what are you doing to persuade the Democratic leadership in Congress not to restrict your ability to spend money in Iraq?


THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, thanks.  A couple of points.  One, that I understand the Congress is going to express their opinion, and it's very clear where the Democrats are, and some Republicans; I know that.  They didn't like the decision I made.  And by the way, that doesn't mean that I think that they're not good, honorable citizens of the country.  I just have a different opinion.  I considered some of their opinions and felt like it would not lead to a country that could govern itself, sustain itself, and be an ally in the war on terror.  One.


Secondly, my hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn't try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do.  That's why I keep reminding people, on the one hand you vote for David Petraeus in a unanimous way, and then the other hand you say that you're not going to fund the strategy that he thought was necessary to do his job, a strategy he testified to in front of the Senate.  I'm going to make it very clear to the members of Congress, starting now, that they need to fund our troops and they need to make sure we have the flexibility necessary to get the job done.


Secondly, I find it interesting that there is a declaration about a plan that they have not given a chance to work.  Again, I understand, I understand.  The other part of your question?


Q    It emboldens --


THE PRESIDENT:  The only thing I can tell you is that when I speak, I'm very conscience [sic] about the audiences that are listening to my words.  The first audience, obviously, is the American people.  The second audience would be the troops and their families.  That's why I appreciate the question about whether or not -- about the troop morale, it gave me a chance to talk to the families and how proud we are of them.


Third, no question people are watching what happens here in America.  The enemy listens to what's happening, the Iraqi people listen to the words, the Iranians.  People are wondering; they're wondering about our commitment to this cause.  And one reason they wonder is that in a violent society, the people sometimes don't take risks for peace if they're worried about having to choose between different sides, different violent factions.  As to whether or not this particular resolution is going to impact enemy thought, I can't tell you that.


But I can tell you that people are watching the debate.  I do believe that the decision I made surprised people in the Middle East.  And I think it's going to be very important, however, that the Iraqi government understand that this decision was not an open-ended commitment, that we expect Prime Minister Maliki to continue to make the hard decisions he's making.


Unlike some here, I'm a little more tolerant of a person who has been only in government for seven months and hasn't had a lot of -- and by the way, a government that hasn't had a lot of experience with democracy.  And on the other hand, it's important for him to know, and I believe he does know, that the American people want to see some action and some positive results.  And listen, I share that same desire.


The faster that the Maliki government steps up security in Baghdad, the more quickly we can get to what Baker-Hamilton recommended, and that is embedding and training over the rise in presence, protection of the territorial integrity of Iraq, and a strong hunt for al Qaeda, and terrorists who would try to use that country as safe haven.  I thought the Baker-Hamilton made a lot of sense, their recommendations.  We just weren't able to get there if the capital was up in flames.  That's why I made the decision I made.


Yes, Peter.


Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Sir, we've now learned through sworn testimony that at least three members of your administration, other than Scooter Libby, leaked Valerie Plame's identity to the media.  None of these three is known to be under investigation.  Without commenting on the Libby trial, then, can you tell us whether you authorized any of these three to do that, or were they authorized without your permission?


THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, thanks, Pete.  I'm not going to talk about any of it.


Q    They're not under investigation, though?


THE PRESIDENT:  Peter, I'm not going to talk about any of it.


Q    How about pardons, sir?  Many people are asking whether you might pardon --


THE PRESIDENT:  Not going to talk about it, Peter. (Laughter.)  Would you like to think of another question?  Being the kind man that I am, I will recycle you.  (Laughter.)




Q    Thank you --


THE PRESIDENT:  You like that one?  "Recycling" him.  (Laughter.)


Q    That took care of one of my questions, as well, sir.


THE PRESIDENT:  If that's the case, sit down.  Next question.  (Laughter.)


Q    A lot of our allies in Europe do a lot of business with Iran, so I wonder what your thoughts are about how you further tighten the financial pressure on Iran, in particular, if it also means economic pain for a lot of our allies?


THE PRESIDENT:  It's an interesting question.  One of the problems -- not specifically on this issue, just in general -- let's put it this way, money trumps peace, sometimes.  In other words, commercial interests are very powerful interests throughout the world.  And part of the issue in convincing people to put sanctions on a specific country is to convince them that it's in the world's interest that they forgo their own financial interest.


And John, that's why sometimes it's tough to get tough economic sanctions on countries.  And I'm not making any comment about any particular country, but you touched on a very interesting point.


And so, therefore, we're constantly working with nations to convince them that what really matters in the long run is to have the environment so peace can flourish.  In the Iranian case, I firmly believe that if they were to have a weapon, it would make it difficult for peace to flourish.  And, therefore, I'm working with people to make sure that that concern trumps whatever commercial interests may be preventing governments from acting.  I make no specific accusation with that statement.  It's a broad statement.  But it's an accurate assessment of what sometimes can halt multilateral diplomacy from working.


Let's see here.  Ann.


Q    Thank you.  Iraq is not only being debated in Congress, but it's going to be debated in the presidential election that's coming ahead.  Is that debate -- is there a chance that that is going to hurt your progress in Iraq?  And is it appropriate at some point, perhaps, for the government to brief the presidential candidates so they have a better understanding of what it is you're trying to do?


THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you for that question.  I thought for  a minute you were going to try to get me to comment on the presidential race, and I'd just like to establish some ground rules here with those of you who are stuck following me for the next little less than two years:  I will resist all temptation to become the pundit-in-chief and commenting upon every twist and turn of the presidential campaign.  As much as I like politics, and I'm intrigued by the race -- it's very similar to how I deftly handled Baker's question -- I won't comment.


Secondly, I remember a member of Congress came to me before one of my speeches -- I think it was the Iraq speech, as opposed to the State of the Union speech, and said, you'd better be eloquent in order to convince the American people to support this plan.  He didn't say "articulate," he said, "eloquent."  (Laughter.)  And my point to the person was, what really matters is what happens on the ground.  I can talk all day long, but what really matters to the American people is to see progress -- which leads to your point, Martha -- and that is, progress can best be measured by whether or not the people can see noticeable changes of security inside the capital city.  In this case, the Baghdad security plan has got to yield peace in certain mixed neighborhoods, for example.


And so, therefore, to the extent that it affects votes, speeches, perceptions, elections, what really is going to matter is what happens, ultimately.  And that's all I really care to comment about it.  You know, it's --


Q    -- reelection --


THE PRESIDENT:  I'm not running.  (Laughter.)  And I know that's going to disappoint some of you.  But, anyway, that's pundit-in-chief type questions, so I'm not going to answer those.  You're trying to get me to be pundit-in-chief.


Let's see here.  Hutch.


Q    Good morning.


THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, thanks.


Q    I'd like to follow on Sheryl's question about undermining the troops.  Do you have to support the war to support the war here?  I mean, if you're one of those Americans that thinks you've made a terrible mistake, that it's destined to end badly, what do you do?  If they speak out, are they by definition undermining the troops?


THE PRESIDENT:  No, she actually asked "the enemy," not "the troops."  But I'll be glad to answer your question.  No, I don't think so at all.  I think you can be against my decision and support the troops, absolutely.  But the proof will be whether or not you provide them the money necessary to do the mission.


I said early in my comment -- my answer to Sheryl was, somebody who doesn't agree with my policy is just as patriotic a person as I am.  Your question is valid.  Can somebody say, we disagree with your tactics or strategy, but we support the military -- absolutely, sure.  But what's going to be interesting is if they don't provide the flexibility and support for our troops that are there to enforce the strategy that David Petraeus, the general on the ground, thinks is necessary to accomplish the mission.


Michael.  Michael, who do you work for?  (Laughter.)


Q    Mr. President, I work for


THE PRESIDENT:  Pardon me?


Q    Yes, sir.  Today.  (Laughter.)


THE PRESIDENT:  You want a moment to explain to the American people exactly what -- (laughter.)


Q    Mr. President, thank you for the question.  (Laughter.)


THE PRESIDENT:  Quit being so evasive.


Q    You should read it.


THE PRESIDENT:  Is it good?  You like it?


Q    David Gregory --


THE PRESIDENT:  David Gregory likes it.  I can see the making of a testimonial.  (Laughter.)  Anyway, go ahead, please.


Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You spoke hopefully about your ability to work with Democrats, their willingness to work with you in this new world.  I wonder how that's going so far, what you've learned about how they think, and does the current debate constitute grounds for divorce?


THE PRESIDENT:  Interesting way to put it.  First of all, I think they're patriotic people who care about our country -- back to Hutch's penetrating comment, or question.  I do.  I was very appreciative of the reception I got at the State of the Union.  It was a cordial, respectful reception that gave me the chance to talk about what I believe.  I was also very grateful for the reception I received at the Democratic retreat that I went to there in Virginia.


You know, my impression of the meeting there was that we share a lot in common; we're people that actually put filing papers down and ran for office, we were willing to put our families through the grind of politics, we wanted to serve our country, that we care deeply about what takes place in Washington, America and the world.


My hope is, is that we can get positive pieces of legislation passed.  I think there's a lot of expectation that the difference of opinion on Iraq would make it impossible for us to work on other areas.  I disagree with that assessment.  And I hope I'm right, and the best way to determine whether I'm right is will I be able to sign legislation that we have been able to work on.


One such piece of policy is a balanced budget.  There seems to be agreement that we should have a balanced budget.  I laid out one way forward to achieve that balance.  And it shows that we can balance the budget without raising taxes and do so in a five-year horizon.  And I'd like to work with the Democrat leadership, as well as, obviously, my Republican folks, to get it done.


Secondly, an interesting opportunity is immigration.  As you know, I strongly believe that we need to enforce our borders and that -- and have taken steps to do so.  But I also believe that in order to enforce the borders, we need a temporary worker program so that people don't try to sneak in the country to work, that they can come in an orderly fashion, and take the pressure off the Border Patrol agents that we've got out there, so that the Border Patrol agents don't focus on workers that are doing jobs Americans aren't doing, but are focusing on terrorists and criminal elements, gun runners, to keep the country -- both our countries safe -- Mexico and the United States safe.


I also know that we need to deal with the people who are here -- the 12 million people who are here illegally.  I have said multiple times that we can't kick them out of our country.  It doesn't make any sense to me to try to do that, and I don't think -- maybe some feel that way, but I don't feel that way.  But I also don't believe we should give them automatic amnesty -- automatic citizenship, which I view as amnesty.  And look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to have a comprehensive immigration plan.


Energy is an opportunity for us to work together.  We've done a lot of work in the past on promoting alterative sources of energy.  America has done more than any nation in the world in promoting alternatives and renewables, all aiming to make sure our economy grows, that we have energy independence, and that we're good stewards of the environment.  And I look forward to working with the Democrats on the Energy Independence Initiative I laid out.


One such initiative was the mandatory fuel standards that relies upon alternative fuel to power automobiles.  Ethanol is the first and most notable place where we can start, but we also need to spend monies to develop technologies that will enable us to make energy out of products other than corn -- switchgrass or wood chips, for example.


The problem with relying only on corn is that -- by the way, when the demand for corn stays high, the price tends to go up, and your hog farmer gets disgruntled with the alternative energy plan.  And, therefore, what's going to matter is that new technologies come online as quickly as possible to take the pressure off of corn ethanol, or corn, as a result of being used in ethanol, and we can work with Congress to do that.  That's an area we can work.


Health care.  I got a letter the other day from a group of Republican and Democrat senators talking about the desire to work on health care.  And they liked some of my ideas.  But my only point is that there's an opportunity for us to work together to help the uninsured have private insurance so they can be -- so they can get good health care.  And there's an opportunity to work together there.


The governors are coming into town soon, and I'm going to have Secretary Leavitt describe to them the affordable grants program that is a part of our comprehensive approach, including rewriting the tax code.


Finally, No Child Left Behind needs to be reauthorized.  I fully understand that if you read your newspaper articles -- which I do sometimes -- and listen carefully, you'll hear voices in both parties saying they don't like No Child Left Behind --it's too much testing, or, we don't want to be held to account, or whatever they say.  The bill is working.  It makes a lot of sense.


There's an income gap in America that I talked about when I went to Wall Street.  And what's clear to me is that our kids have got to have education so that in this global economy, the jobs of the 21st century stay here at home.  And it starts with good education.  And, therefore, I will argue vociferously the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be reauthorized, it's working, it's an important piece of legislation, and will reach out to Democrat members, as well as Republican members, to get this bill reauthorized.


And so there's a lot of areas, Mike.  I'd say it's a little early in the process.  This is a two-year term.  We've got time to work together to get important pieces of legislation done.  And I'd like to start.  As a matter of fact, this afternoon I've got members of both parties, both chambers coming down to visit about how we can continue to work together to get some legislation done.


As I told the Democrats, and as the Democrats have made clear to me in my visits, that neither of us are going to abandon our principles, that I don't expect them to change their principles and they shouldn't expect me to.  But there's ways for us to work together to achieve legislative successes for the common good.  That's what the American people want to see, and that's what I believe we can do.  Is it going to take work?  Yes, it's going to take work.  But it's okay, that's why you pay us all this money.




Q    Thank you, Mr. President.


THE PRESIDENT:  Last question, then I've got to go have lunch with Bob Gates, Secretary of the Defense.


What are you looking at?  Checking the time?  For the viewer out there -- you're getting a big -- timekeeper and everything.  (Laughter.)


Q    I don't mean to interrupt.  (Laughter.)


THE PRESIDENT:  I just thought he was looking at the watch because he was getting bored.  I wasn't sure, you know?


Q    I'm never bored.


THE PRESIDENT:  Remember the debates?


Q    Yes.


THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  (Laughter.)


Q    Mr. President, Republican and Democratic Presidents before you sat down for face-to-face talks with the Soviet Union, a nation that was clearly hostile, tyrannical, and had a huge nuclear arsenal.  Why do you think that face-to-face talks between yourself and the leadership of Iran would be any more compromising for you?


THE PRESIDENT:  Richard, if I thought we could achieve success, I would sit down.  But I don't think we can achieve success right now.  And, therefore, we'll want to work with other nations.  I think that we're more likely to achieve our goals when others are involved, as well.  I really don't want to put the situation -- let me put it this way:  I want to make sure in the Iranian issue that the whole world stays engaged, because I believe that's a more effective way of convincing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions.  That's why.


Look, this is a world in which -- and I'm not suggesting you're this way -- but this is a world in which people say, meet -- sit down and meet.  And my answer is, if it yields results; that's what I'm interested in.  And so I believe the strategy that -- and by the way, I remember this during the North Korean issue, debate.  People kept saying, well, all you've got to do is sit down with the guy.  And I kept saying, well, I think it's going to be more effective if we have other people at the table with us saying the same thing, so that just in case he decides not to honor the agreement, there will be other people saying the same thing I'll say, which is, you said one thing, you did another.  It will make it easier for us to send that message that the world is pretty well united in solving this problem peacefully.


And so that's why I made the decision I made.  It sounds tempting for somebody to say, all you've got to do is sit down with the people.  I'm in a little different position in that I'm trying to achieve certain objectives.  And we are making progress on the Iranian issue.  If you step back to early on in the process, there was doubt as to whether or not the world would come together, sometimes because of the reason John mentioned.  There were conflicting interests.  And I believe we are making good progress toward solving this issue peacefully.


And we'll continue to try to solve the issue peacefully.  It's an important issue whether or not Iran ends up with nuclear weapons.  It's one of these issues that people are going to look back and say, you know, how come they couldn't see the impending danger?  What happened to them?  You've heard me say that often about what would happen if we don't -- if we were to abandon our efforts in the Middle East for stability and peace, through forms of government that are more likely to defeat an extremist ideology that would like to be able to prevail.


And it's a -- at any rate, that's why I made the decision I made.  Presidents have to weigh different options all the time.  Look, I fully understand there are some who are -- don't agree with every decision I make.  I hope the American people understand I make those decisions because I believe it's going to yield the peace that we all want.


Listen, thank you for your time.  I enjoyed it very much.


END    12:00 P.M. EST