President Bush talked to the media after a meeting with defense and national security officials at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. The following is a transcript.
BUSH: Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming.
General Myers, the vice president, and Condi and I just had a long-ranging discussion with our key members of the defense team about a variety of subjects.
We talked about Iraq, the way forward in Iraq, the way to help the Iraqis get to elections.
Were making progress on the ground. We were briefed not only by the secretary and General Myers, but as well by General Casey and General Abizaid via secure communications.
We talked about transformation issues, spent some time talking about the reconfiguration of our forces around the world to better be able to keep the peace.
Mr. Secretary, I thank you for your leadership on that issue.
The secretary did a great job of not only coming up with a strategy to enable America to better protect ourselves and friends and allies against the true threats of the 21st century. But he consulted with our allies in such a way that the response was very positive and I thought very good.
We talked about intelligence reform.
We just talked about a variety of issues that are important for the security of the country.
And I appreciate you coming, sir. Thank you for being here.
Answer some questions.
QUESTION: Some of your supporters are refighting the Vietnam War with their comments about Kerrys war record. Do you think that these attacks of this nature are unpatriotic, un-American, since were sending young people to war at this time?
BUSH: Yes, I think we ought to be debating who best to be leading this country in the war against terror, and thats what I continue to try to convince the American people of, is that Im the right person to continue to lead the country in the war on terror.
I think we ought to be looking forward, not backward, and thats the kind of campaign I will continue to run.
QUESTION: But why wont you denounce the charges that your supporters are making against Kerry?
BUSH: Im denouncing all the stuff being on TV, all the 527s. Thats what Ive said.
I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but to use for other purposes as well.