President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry are scheduled to meet in St Louis, Mo. tonight for the second presidential debate of the 2004 election.
Bush-Cheney Campaign Press Secretary Scott Stanzel took questions on the campaign, the election and Friday night's debate.
The transcript follows.
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Saint Cloud, Minn.:
Hi, I'm an undecided who fully intended to take in everything and then decide in the voting booth on Nov. 2nd. Problem is i'm getting very upset with the campaigns on both sides as the lies continue to mount. Can you give me a justification for Pres. Bush's statements about "the global test" meaning a foreign veto on military activities based on the entire Kerry statement.
"But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."
Scott Stanzel: Great question. We have asked for Sen. Kerry to answer what he means by the "global test." They have yet to come up with an answer. He said he'd reserve the right to defend the country proactively, but the said "But.." followed by the quote you highlighted. It seems that John Kerry wants to get some sort of approval or sign off from foreign leaders before taking action. We have 30 nations with us in Iraq. We should applaud them for standing with us, not call them "coerced", "bribed" or "window dressing" as John Kerry has done.
Senator Kerry has in recent days been quoting Paul Bremer's "critique" of Bush's policies in Iraq. But today Paul Bremer wrote in the New York Times: "Senator Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that the president is correct to see the war in iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism." Is Senator Kerry being dishonest when he quotes Paul Bremer out of context?
Scott Stanzel: Paul Bremer did discuss this topic in today's NY Times. He is a consistent supporter of the President's effort to bring stability to Iraq. I encourage everyone to read his column.
San Jose, Calif.:
How does your campaign team plan to handle the latest job growth report, which came in under expectations?
Scott Stanzel: Today's report demonstrates that the economy is growing, but there is more work to do. Our economy has created nearly 2 million in a little over a year.
The President wants to keep taxes low, have less litigation and less litigation. John Kerry, on the other hand, has called for higher taxes on small businesses and more Washington spending. That would derail our economic recovery and stifle job creation. Our economy has been through a lot -- recession, attacks of 9/11, dot com bust and two wars. We are on the right path, but the President won't rest until everyone who wants to work can find a job.
What do you think is the Kerry-Edwards campaign's biggest weakness? What is its greatest strength?
Scott Stanzel: John Kerry's inability to say whether or not he thinks the action in Iraq was the "right decision" or the "wrong war at the wrong time" is a problem for his campaign. His spokesmen have a tough job to do, explaining the inexplicable. Additionally, John Kerry and John Edwards are far outside of the mainstream. Their consistent support for more spending, higher taxes and more government control over our lives is something most Americans don't support. Their greatest strength might be their ability to take a new position nearly every day. They seem to be able to divorce themselves from their record and advocate positions that suit their political needs of the day. And, they have great hair.
Why doesn't the Prez rebut Kerry et al by simply stating that we aren't in Iraq because of 9/11, but we're in Iraq to prevent the next 9/11? With all the talk about Iraq, you'd think someone would've come up with that compelling, straightforward, and simple case. What am I missing here?
Scott Stanzel: The President, Vice President and other members of the Administration have clearly said that there is no evidence to indicate Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. We took action in Iraq, because in a post 9/11 world, we have to take seriously emerging threats. Saddam Hussein was uniquely positioned as someone who had supported terrorists, attacked his neighbors, used WMDs, and was a sworn enemy of the United States. 9/11 taught us that we can't wait until threats are immenent, because that might be too late. We do have to take action to stop future 9/11 type attacks.
Los Angeles, Calif.:
Did the president wear any kind of electronic device on his back during the first debate that allowed him to receive information?
Scott Stanzel: Senator Kerry? Is that you? I think you've been spending a little too much time on conspiracy web sites. Did you hear the one about Elvis moderating tonight's debate?
Why doesn't Pres. Bush admit that, in part, due to bad intelligence, he made a mistake in judgment by striking Iraq?
Scott Stanzel: The President doesn't believe we made a mistake in taking action in Iraq. The President said yesterday that much of the accumulated body of 12 years of intelligence -- ours and our allies -- was wrong. We must find out why and correct the flaws. Yesterday's report demonstrated that Saddam retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction. The world had spoken through 17 resolutions. Saddam wanted the world to get tired and turn their attention elsewhere so he could reconstitute his wmd program.
Who helps prepare the President for the debates? Does he do a mock debate with someone filling in for Kerry?
Scott Stanzel: The President prepares for the debates with members of his senior staff -- like Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Andy Card, Dr. Condi Rice and Dan Bartlett. Senator Judd Gregg has filled in as "Sen. Kerry" during the debate practices.
Please answer this as concretely as you can: what is President Bush's exit strategy for Iraq?
Scott Stanzel: The strategy is for victory. Here's his plan:
1 - Transfer sovereignty.
2 - Train Iraqis to bring stability to their country.
3 - Rebuild the infrastructure that has been neglected over 30 years.
4 - Involve the international community.
5 - Hold elections.
Democracy will take hold and our troops will come home with the honor and dignity they deserve.
Scott Stanzel: Thanks for all your questions. Sorry I couldn't get to all of them. Be sure to check out www.debatefacts.com for more information about tonight's debate! And, sign up to help President Bush's campaign at www.georgewbush.com.