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Bush Makes Comments on State of the Union Morning

Aired January 28, 2003 - 11:01   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Folks, we want to warn you that we are getting some tape right now coming in to us right now from something that happened at the White House. We want to show you that. We're trying to get back to this press conference as soon as we can, but we have this tape coming from the White House, comments coming from President Bush this morning as he's preparing his State of the Union address. We understand it is about maybe two minutes or so in length, and we want to listen to this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... statement, and then I'll ask you all to leave without any questions. I appreciate your understanding.

First, I want to welcome Tom Ridge, newly confirmed member of my Cabinet. I appreciate the Senate moving quickly. I ask the Senate to move quickly on the nomination of John Snow as well. Having his hearing today, they'll find that John is a very capable, smart person who will do a fine job as the secretary of Treasury. I look forward to having him join us here at this table.

Tonight I'm going in front of our nation to talk about the great challenges that face our country. There's no doubt that we'll be able to handle those challenges because we are a great country. I'll talk about our deep desire for peace -- peace not only here at home, but peace in troubled regions of the world. I'll talk about our plan to spread prosperity throughout America. I'll talk about the need to have a health care system that is modern and sensitive to the needs of our seniors. I'll talk about a lot of issues.

But as I do so, I'm going to remind the American people that solutions to some of the seemingly impractical problems lay in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens, that not only are we are a strong nation; I will say that we are a compassionate nation, and where we find hurt and people who need healing, that our fellow citizens can provide the love necessary to help a citizen realize the full potential of this country.

I look forward to giving this speech. It is a moment that -- where I will rally the American people to some great causes, and remind them that we will accomplish those causes together.

Thank you all. HARRIS: And those were just the only comments that President Bush made this morning to the press before the cameras were turned off there.

Let's go now to our Dana Bash, who is standing by there at the White House, where she's been covering all the preparations for President Bush's State of the Union address, which is going to come later on tonight -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, you just heard the president give a little bit of a preview, of course, of tonight's speech, talking about the fact that he believes there are challenges to this country, and said that he will have to rally the country for some issues. No doubt that was an allusion to his talk of dealing with Iraq.

The president is tweaking some words, but the White House says that his speech is pretty much done. It will be about 42 minutes in length. This will be his second formal State of the Union address, his fourth address to a joint session of Congress, and he speaks to a country tonight in a very different position than he was last year.

His approval ratings are lower than they were last year. Last year they were still pretty high in the post-9/11 arena that the United States was in, but the White House says that he will split the speech in two ways. He will speak about half the time about domestic issues, and then the other half, he will talk about international issues, and on the international front, Leon, we are told that he will -- the president will talk about Saddam Hussein and talk about the threat that he poses to the United States.

He also, we are told, will talk about the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. Karen Hughes, who is the White House adviser, formerly White House counselor, told CNN's John King in an interview that he will make that reference. In terms of proof of that, he will probably not go into too many details, but the White House is saying we do expect to get some of that proof in the days and weeks ahead.

Also, the White House next week will talk about the fact that there is intelligence, there is evidence, and evidence as you know, Leon, is what Americans and really the world has been asking for. The White House will give some of that evidence next week -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right. Thanks, Dana. Dana Bash reporting live for us from the White House.


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