Today’s White House Briefing: More on Sheehan and Armstrong

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By: E&P Staff

While the President remains in recreation mode at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, awaiting his chance to wheel around with Lance Armstrong this weekend, summer White House spokeswoman Dana Perino met briefly with the press corps again today at the local middle school. Questions quickly turned to President Bush’s reactions to the latest developments, locally and nationally, in the Cindy Sheehan antiwar protests, and other subjects.

Here are excerpts from the transcript:

Q Senator Feingold, today, I think he became the first senator to call for a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, he said by December 31, 2006. Your reaction?

MS. PERINO: Our reaction? The President has talked about this many times, as have many other members of the Defense Department, as well as other members of the Senate. The President believes that setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that we are not going to leave before completing the mission. It would also send the wrong message to our troops. We are serious about completing the mission, and they need to know that they have our full support. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who, as the President has said many times, would just then have to wait us out. So as the President has said, we’re going to stay in Iraq as long as we’re needed, but not a day longer.

Q What are the coverage plans for Lance Armstrong’s visit on Saturday?

MS. PERINO: It is closed press. The White House will release a photograph. Discovery Channel has an exclusive to tapes and video.

Q So Discovery Channel is doing filming?

MS. PERINO: Yes.

Q Dana, do you have any reaction — does the President have any reaction to the vigils last night? Did he see anything on television?

MS. PERINO: I don’t have an update as to whether or not he saw anything on television. We were — I was aware of the vigil and I think that many Americans were, but I have nothing to add from before.

Q There’s no reaction from the White House to the vigils?

MS. PERINO: The President has said that he sympathizes with Ms. Sheehan. He has met with her before. He appreciates the opportunities that he has to meet with families of the fallen or — and families that have men and women, sons and daughters, and mothers and fathers that are serving in the war on terror. He’s listened to their — to views of people like Ms. Sheehan and he respects them, but he disagrees.

Yes, Kelly.

Q Some of the moms today are planning to have letters delivered to Mrs. Bush. Do you know if there will be a procedure for her to actually receive those?

MS. PERINO: I don’t know anything about — that’s the first I’ve heard of that, and I’ll have to see. There are proper channels in order to get letters.

Q They’re going to try to deliver them to the Secret Service.

MS. PERINO: I’ll have to check into that. I don’t know. Yes, Mark?

Q Dana, has the President decided that he will not meet again with Cindy Sheehan? Is she wasting her time?

MS. PERINO: The President has said she has a right to peacefully protest and to be there and to express her views, but he has met with her before and there’s no change in the schedule. [Note: Sheehan has since returned to California to be with her ailing mother.]

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