Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Q Scott, Senator Hagel also talked about the idea -- the need for more troops, perhaps speaking to the notion of reinstating the draft. What's the President's position on reinstating the draft?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, that's not something that's been under consideration.
Q Is it something that the President keeps in the back of his mind, though, that he may have to do at some point?
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said earlier today, it's just not something that's been under consideration.
Q Is he ruling it out categorically?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, it's not something that's under consideration. That's the way I would describe it.
Until after November. On to the other issue I've been following -- our, uh, coalition:
Q Though it's a fairly small number, relatively, does the U.S. intend to replace the troops, the coalition troops who have now announced that they're leaving?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that -- again, and if you go back to what we said earlier in the week, the President regretted the decision by the new leader in Spain to withdraw those troops, and he stressed that it was important that it be done in a coordinated and responsible fashion, working with the other coalition partners. And I think that in terms of troop levels and things of that nature, those are military questions that are best directed to the military leaders in the region.
Q Yes, but you've got several other nations who are now following suit. And I just wonder if --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, those are questions best directed to the military leaders. And they can talk to -- and, first of all, I disagree with several -- the term several other nations. The coalition in Iraq is strong. We have received a number of statements reaffirming support for the work that is ongoing to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. There are many nations that are part of this coalition, and that are committed to making sure the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future.
So talk to the military leaders, but let me hit these talking points first. The coalition is, yep, strong. Oh wait, there's more:
Q On the question Jim asked, you said the President is regrets the decision taken by Spain. Both Honduras and the Dominican Republic, as announced yesterday, were under Spanish command.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, they were under the command of the Spanish forces.
Q How does the President feel about Honduras and the Dominican Republic making their decision?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, certainly, we regret that decision. This is about helping the Iraqi people realize a better future. And this is about helping the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. And this is a time of testing, when the enemies of freedom are seeking to derail the transition to sovereignty and the transition to democracy. It's important that we stay the course and help the Iraqi people, as we work to transfer sovereignty and build a free and democratic future for the Iraqi people. And that's exactly what we will continue to do. The enemies of freedom want to spread fear and chaos and they want to intimidate. But the coalition is strong and we will continue to work to help the Iraqi people.
Freedom lovers, freedom haters, coalition strong, fear, terrorist, coalition strong. Oh cripes...
Q Can I ask one more on that? Is the President at all concerned, as has been suggested on Capitol Hill, that bringing up the funding issue again with the supplemental will cause a political problem for him during a --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's not the way he looks at it, Keith. The way he looks at it is what our troops need, and when do they need it, and let's make sure that they have it. As you heard him say last week in his news conference: "My message to our troops is, we will stay the course and complete the job, and you'll have what you need. America's armed forces are performing brilliantly, with all the skill, and honor we expect of them. We're constantly reviewing their needs. Troop strength, now and in the future, is determined by the situation on the ground. If additional forces are needed, I will send them. If additional resources are needed, we will provide them. The people of our country are united behind our men and women in uniform, and this government will do all that is necessary to assure the success of their historic mission." That's the President's words from just last week, and he has repeatedly said that.
Q Can I follow up?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, I've already taken your questions. Jacobo.
Q No, but this is on the same topic.
MR. McCLELLAN: Jacobo.
I don't want your stinkin' follow up. Can't you see I'm losing all my hair here?
Q Scott, back on the issue of the supplemental -- when do you say when? This country is right now at a point where financially it can't take more supplementals. And also everyone knows that the need in the Iraqi theater is great, but when do you finally say when? What is the timetable for this to finally say enough is enough, either we have succeeded or we've failed? What is the timetable?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've succeeded for we've failed in what?