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WH Pool Report: They're Actually Hard to Parody Edition

In this White House pool report, the pool sleeps late, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn, wakes up early (if he slept at all) and WH press dude Scott McClellan is foiled. Highlights:


Specter says the president is "also doing well among steelworkers 'who have respect for him because he put the steel tariffs on.' Your pool reminded him that the president also took them off."

And the Specter hits keep coming: "'I don't think we could have stopped it. The terrorists were going to be somewhere. I'd rather they be in Falluja than in Philadelphia.' (This must be a new take on the WC Fields line about Philadelphia, but I don't remember Fields discussing Falluja.)"

"Motorcade to Villanova was uneventful; the president headed into a home we could not see on the edge of a golf course; you pool ate at the adjoining country club where life seemed quite comfortable, and the President's base appeared to be golfing and swimming."

Full report after the jump.

Pool Report #1

June 23, 2004

As part of the Clinton-era nostalgia of the week, your poolers gathered at Andrews at a civilized 7:30 am, and the president landed at Andrews at 8:45 am. The sounds of his helicopter approaching was the only thing that silenced an eager Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., who seemed to be aboard AF 1 before the pilots and stewards arrived. (No indication whether he slept aboard the previous night.) He must love the frequent-flyer points: He told us that after traveling with the President, he was heading back to Washington, aboard Amtrak, to make some votes. He had in his pocket, and Xeroxed for us, a sense of the Senate resolution calling on the Iraqis to put Saddam on trial in August, well ahead of the election.

A few Spector-isms. On Pennsylvania, where by his count this was the President's 29th trip, "It's tight, it's tight,'' but the President is doing better among African Americans. He's also doing well among steelworkers "who have respect for him because he put the steel tariffs on.'' Your pool reminded him that the president also took them off. "True, but he kept them on for 21 months.'' He said "voters like to see the president, and I don't think you can shake too many hands.'' Bush, he said, is "on the move every day. I don't think there is a day he misses. He's really out to win this thing, he's got a lot of energy, a lot of zest.''

He said Kerry "hasn't yet made an impact. He's still largely unknown.'' His worry, he said, is "Iraq, frankly, that's the big overhang on the world, on the mideast and therefore on the election.'' He talked a bit about his Saddam resolution, which he hoped to take up with the President. He expressed concern about a Washpost story noting that many in Iraq think the place ran better in Saddam's time.

On strategic implicatoins of Iraq, he said "our national prestige is on the line to succeed,'' and he expressed worry that American "lose sight of the fact that we are in a long term struggle with terrorists.'' He said "Iraq is now a magnet for terrorists,'' but said that probably could not have been prevented. "I don't htink we could have stopped it. The terrorists were going to be somewhere. I'd rather they be in Falluja than in Philadelphia.'' (This must be a new take on the WC Fields line about Philadelphia, but I don't remember Fields discussing Falluja.)

He said he was grateful to Bush for campaigning for him, said it made all the difference -- then described the areas where they disagree: Stem cells, overtime legislation, and most recently a Buy American resolution before the Senate that the White House opposed, but Specter voted for. (He did not engage when asked if he wanted to buy American even if it cost taxpayers more.)

Scott attempted to gaggle, but we were landing, so he only mentioned that the President called the new Iraqi prime minister, had his usual briefings. Tommy Thompson tried to brief in mid-land about the additional $20 million for access to anti-viral aids drugs. There should be transcript of all of this. On landing, the president appeared with Specter, Cong. Bill Greenwood, and Cong. Curt Weldon. They sped to the site of the AIDS event.

Scott gaggle before the event, you have transcript. Headlines: the president favors bringing Saddam to justice, but doesn't commit yet on when a trial should occur. Scott did not believe the deal is done yet on Saddam's legal and physical custody. The call with the Iraqi pm was scheduled before the death threat against him. It's unclear whether they discussed it. He talked about North Korea, confirming the details of a story in the Times this morning, saying "Look at the Libya model.'' He discussed how the allies would provide the oil if North Korea agrees to the deal, how we should expect it will take a while for the NK's and others to respond, etc.

The president entered the room with two rows of People for People Inc. invitees behind him. You have text of his comments. The site of the event appeared to be right where the president held his July 4, 2001 urban picnic. Note the president's brief mention of condom use, his endorsement of the role of faith based groups in dealing with AIDS, and his comment "I don't think there is any doubt about when and when we have to go.'' He announced Vietnam would become the 15th nation to receive help under the international side of the aids program.

Motorcade to Villanova was uneventful; the president headed into a home we could not see on the edge of a golf course; you pool ate at the adjoining country club where life seemed quite comfortable, and the President's base appeared to be golfing and swimming.

David Sanger

New York Times

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Pool Report #2

June 23, 2004

Your pool never saw the house where the "rally'' was being conducted, much less the participants. Nor were we briefed. There were two large stone pillars in front of the house, with the number "799'' and "Godfrey'' on the post. But your poolers, in the best Sea Island tradition, was kept a half mile away, and pacified with fine food at the clubhouse of the golf course.

At about 2:30 the motorcade left for the airport. arriving at 2:55 and landing uneventfully at 3:33. There were no on-board sightings of SAO's or even JAO's, and Sen. Specter's decision to return to Washington early meant that your poolers could catch a quick nap. On landing, POTUS emerged from the plane with Scott, Karl Rove and the two Pennsylvania congressmen. He waved, said nothing to your pool, and boarded the helicopter.

David Sanger

N.Y. Times

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