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White House Press Gaggle By Dana Perino, 12 Nov

Aboard Air Force One
En route Andrews Air Force Base

White House Press Gaggle by Dana Perino, 12 Nov

MS. PERINO: Okay, a couple of scheduling updates for you before we take off, back to Washington, D.C.

The President on his ranch this morning had an interview with Bret Baier of FOX News, for a documentary that Bret is producing for January, that will run in January.

Q Isn't there a FOX thing tomorrow that --

MS. PERINO: The FOX Business Channel interview is happening tomorrow. It was rescheduled from -- it was supposed to happen the day the President went to California. The President wasn't supposed to go to California that day; we just had to reschedule the event, so that interview is on for tomorrow.

Q Oh, okay, it's different.

MS. PERINO: It's different, yes. Bret's interview won't air until January. That's a separate channel.

Q Okay.

MS. PERINO: Another update is President Bush will welcome Prime Minister Vasuo Fukuda of Japan to the White House on Friday, November 16, 2007. That will be his first visit here as Prime Minister. Japan is one of America's closest allies and friends, and the President looks forward to a productive exchange on ways to further enhance our strong partnership.

On Wednesday, the formal swearing-in of Mukasey will be held, and that will be at the Justice Department.

Q He's already been sworn in, though, right? This is formal?

MS. PERINO: Exactly, his formal swearing-in.

Q Do you know who will be leading that? Who will be doing the -- has he chosen someone?

MS. PERINO: I think I do know, but I don't know if they confirmed -- so let me check and see if that was finalized.

Just a preview of tomorrow's speech. So despite high energy prices and the fallout in the housing market, the economy has shown that it is flexible and we continue to have the ability to create jobs and increase salaries for workers. The President will have lunch with business leaders and listen to how they are doing in the local economy today.

One thing all Americans -- that's families, farms and businesses -- are dealing with today is higher energy prices. High energy prices act like a tax, as we've said before, and Congress should quickly pass the President's energy plan that he announced in the State of the Union, and they should not put additional taxes on the Americans at this time. That's the last thing they need.

When Congress spends more than they have [then they have] to raise taxes to pay for it -- I'm sorry ,they have to raise taxes to pay for it. And currently the Democrats in Congress want to spend $205 billion over the next five years, over the President's proposal. In order to do that they would have to increase taxes, and we are urging Congress instead to set priorities and make tough choices. The President and Republicans in Congress will continue to hold the line on spending to make sure that new tax increases are not needed. So you'll hear more on that from the President tomorrow at his speech. So it's lunch, speech, interview tomorrow.

Q Where are we going?

MS. PERINO: New Albany, Indiana. Any questions?

Q I've got a question about the Mideast conference. The Israelis are saying it's going to be held on November 27th and it's going to be a one-day conference. Can you confirm that?

MS. PERINO: No. We haven't announced any dates and I wouldn't necessarily think that that information is going to bear out when we finally make the announcement. We'll look to Secretary Rice for if and when she's going to do that as we get closer.

Q About tomorrow, is he going to talk a lot about the appropriations battles that he's having with the Congress, or is it going to be more general, you know, keep spending low?

MS. PERINO: In his remarks he will talk about the appropriations process, sure, because part of this whole debate is how it has not been working on Capitol Hill, and to get the bill to the President's desk in a clean way. So he'll talk about that. But, obviously, the lunch is going to be an important time for him to be able to check in with people outside of the beltway who are having to deal with the higher energy prices, but also hear from them as to why they think that we are able to still have a good job creation market.

Q And where do things stand on SCHIP? I know that Congress passed the bill, the second bill, but has the President received it and is another veto planned?

MS. PERINO: I need to check in on where we are on that. We are still open to negotiating and compromising with Congress, but they don't seem to be in the negotiating mood.

Deb, did you have one?

Q Do you know anything about the Pope thing? Did the President --

MS. PERINO: I don't. The President and Mrs. Bush look forward to His Holiness spending time in Washington and in the United States, for his first visit to the United States next spring. And if I can get more information for you, I will.

Q What's the thing about the Pope?

Q If we can find out --

MS. PERINO: The Pope is coming to Washington, D.C. next spring.

Q The question was?

Q I wanted to know whether or not he actually had invited him or whether this is, you know, something that had already --

MS. PERINO: I'm checking into it.

Q If elections happen in Pakistan under emergency rule, is the President comfortable with that?

MS. PERINO: The President has said we want to have the emergency rule lifted and that there should be free and fair elections, and that the uniform that General Musharraf has been wearing should be removed, since the President thinks you can't be both President and the chief of the army. So the situation is evolving and what the President would like to see is a lifting of the state of emergency and for the country to return to the constitution, and for extra constitutional measures to be halted.

Q And then the elections?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President would like to have the free and fair elections that he's called for, like to see that happen. And President Musharraf has said that he would hold them. I think the dates seem to move -- I don't know exactly which one he's landed on, but --

Q The question is does he think they can be free and fair if there was still an emergency --

MS. PERINO: Yes, the President thinks that we need to lift the emergency rule in order to have free and fair elections.

But again, let me stress that the situation in Pakistan is evolving and it's not easy to predict what's going to happen or what's going to be said. We continue to urge everyone to exercise restraint and non-violence as they work through this crisis.

Q Thanks, Dana.

Q Have you had any more contacts or talks or anything on the Pakistan front?

MS. PERINO: Not with the President, but as you heard, Secretary Rice and her officials, our military are in contact with them, but not the President.

Q Thanks.


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