Wednesday, February 11

The Voice In The Wilderness At The Press Gaggle

An assist here, please. Who's the guy who's feeding campaign talking points to Scott McClellan in an attempt to sway the conversation away from Bush's military non-record? McClellan, before telling him it's inappropriate to discuss it, always allows him to ramble on. Here's today's:

Q Thank you. Let me follow on John's question. Since we're quoting people --

MR. McCLELLAN: You're quoting John?

Q No, no. Following up on his question, since we're quoting people. In 1992, John Kerry stood on the Senate floor and said, "I am saddened by the fact that Vietnam has yet again been inserting into the campaign and that it has been inserted in what I feel to be the worst possible way." And he went on to say later on, "We do not need to divide America over who served and how." Are you going -- is this White House and this candidate, President Bush, going to hold him to those remarks and put an end to this now?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, this President is focused on our nation's priorities. He is focused on confronting the threats that we face, as I spoke about earlier. And he's going to be talking more about that this afternoon. Obviously, there continues to be a Democratic primary going on, and the Democrats will select their nominee. And I think the American people, right now, want this White House to continue to do what it is doing, which is focusing on their priorities. Like I said, we are some nine months out from election day. There's going to be plenty of time to -- plenty of time --

Q Don't you regard his statements from his --

MR. McCLELLAN: Hold on. There's going to be plenty of time to talk about --

Q -- likely challenger to be the end of this all?

MR. McCLELLAN: There's going to be plenty of time to talk about the choices we face and the statements people have made. The President certainly is someone who does what he says he is going to do and someone who means what he says. And I think that's reflected in the actions he takes.

Q Is he offended by the accusations and insinuations from people who have never served in the military? And especially from leaders of a party who nominated a candidate in 1992 and 1996 that avoided military service altogether?

MR. McCLELLAN: I would just say, again, that it is sad to see some stoop to this level, to say anything or try to do anything for political gain. The American people deserve better.

Q Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting? What was he doing after he was honorably discharged?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've already commented on some of his views relating back to that period the other day. And, obviously, this was a time period also when he was going to get his MBA at Harvard. But the President was certainly proud to serve in the National Guard.

Q And would the White House consider those actions by Senator Kerry, that Jeff mentions fair game in the political season?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think -- I know that that's a way to try to draw us into a Democratic primary that is ongoing.

Q You're there, my friend.
I doubt highly that it's ABC's Terry Moran, but I've been wrong on a lot of things. Anyone?

UPDATE: Man, that was fast. American Stranger rang in first and wins the new Bangles CD. It's Talon News' Jeff Gannon who throws these jingoistic hand grenades into the discourse then brags about it at his website. That Jeff. What a credit to his craft.