Thursday, March 11, 2004

Three Strikes
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan


Q Scott, is the White House going to dump Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: From what?

Q The perspective nomination?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, in terms of personnel announcements, you know I never speculate on those. We are moving forward to appoint the Assistant Secretary for -- at the Department of Commerce who would be responsible for the manufacturing and services sector.

Q Is his name Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been no final decision made at this point. If you'll recall, this was a position that was just established January 23rd of this year when the President signed into law the legislation creating that position at the Department of Commerce.

Q What is the status of Mr. Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q What is the status of Mr. Raimondo?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to speculate on personnel announcements just other than to say that in terms of the Assistant Secretary position at the Department of Commerce, we are moving forward quickly to fill that position.


Q What is his participation going to be in the ground breaking ceremony since he's not giving any remarks? He's just going to -- just watch?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's attending -- yes, he's attending -- he's attending the ceremony.

Q No remarks?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he will not be making remarks.

Q Scott, the President has come under criticism from families of the -- of 9/11 for not being as cooperative as he should with the commission and for using images in his ad. Is this going to be a little awkward for him to be there today?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think this is a day to pay tribute to those who tragically lost their lives on September 11th. He is the -- the President is there to pay tribute to those who lost their lives. September 11th is a day that this President never forgets. And that's what this day is about. It's about honoring and paying tribute to the victims of September the 11th. And this President believes one of the best ways to honor those who tragically lost their lives is to make sure we do everything in our power to prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again.

And I would like to just point out that there are many families that have expressed a different view from what you brought up a minute ago.

Q There will be protestors there, and so it's become part of the political debate right now. And does this make it, again, uncomfortable at this point in time to go there with the visit -- has this become hard?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're talking about the President of the United States paying tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11th. September 11th was a day that changed the world we live in. And September 11th is the reason we are a nation at war. And this President will never forget that day.

Q Who are these families who have expressed a different view? Have they written letters? Who are you talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are a number of comments I've seen in the press. There's been a statement put out by a number of families.


Q Scott, one other question. Mr. Greenspan, this morning, before a House Education Committee, endorsed an extension of unemployment benefits. The administration has been opposed to that so far. Is the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't -- I think that -- let me correct the premise of your question. Where has anyone ever said -- made such a statement?

Q Well, do you endorse what Mr. Greenspan said?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is going to be talking about our economy today. The President is optimistic about the direction our economy is moving. And the best thing we can do for those who are looking for work and cannot find a job is to continue taking steps that create as robust an environment as possible for job creation. You heard the President talk yesterday about how we are an economy in transition. And you heard him talk about the trade adjustment assistance we have provided. You heard him talk about the job training resources that we have provided. And you heard him talk about the importance of acting on his 21st century initiative to make sure workers have the skills to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

Obviously, we've always said that -- in terms of the question that you asked -- that we will continue to work with Congress on those issues. But I think that the best way to help those who are out of work is to create an environment for robust job creation. So we've added jobs now for six straight months. The unemployment rate is below the average of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. We've seen a sharp decline in the unemployment rate. But this President recognizes there's more to do and that's why he's continuing to advocate the policies he talked about yesterday.

Q So what about Mr. Greenspan's comments on supporting extension of jobless benefits?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've expressed our view.
It days like these I bet Scotty wishes he could be 'beamed up'


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