Running in circles with Scotty
Live…from Air Force 1:
Q Will the Commander-in-Chief insist that his Pentagon get to the bottom, find every last document of the National Guard service?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that’s what the President directed back in February.
Q Are you frustrated, or is he, that more documents are surfacing?
MR. McCLELLAN: All the personnel, payroll, and medical records have been made public, and the President directed back in February that the Department of Defense do a comprehensive search and make all the documents available, and we had assurances that they had done that and, unfortunately, we have since found out that it was not as comprehensive as we thought. So they’ve continued to go and look for additional documents.
Q Is the President frustrated, irritated by this?
MR. McCLELLAN: See, that’s why I pointed out that all the personnel, payroll and medical records have been released.
Q How do you know that?
MR. McCLELLAN: They’ve assured us that all those records are out, and in fact, you have those records.
Q Back to the National Guard. The Boston Globe has a story analyzing the records that are out. It says that the President didn’t fulfill a commitment to check in for duty in the Boston area. Could I get your response to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: If the President had not fulfilled his commitment he would not have been honorably discharged. He was honorably discharged in October of ’73. The President is proud of his service in the National Guard.
Q Are you saying the story is wrong?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think if you look —
Q Bartlett already said that he misspoke, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think, if you look at the Boston Globe story, the Boston Globe has bought into the line of attack by the Kerry campaign. The paper turned to a Kerry supporter for its analysis, a guy who works for a Democratic front group that backs the Kerry campaign.
Q This is Colonel Lechliter?
MR. McCLELLAN: Lawrence Korb.
MR. McCLELLAN: Lawrence Korb works for the Center for American Progress.
Q So are you saying their analysis is wrong?
MR. McCLELLAN: The analysis is based on a supporter of John Kerry. And that’s why I said that if the President had not fulfilled his commitment, he would not have been honorably discharged.
Q I’m sorry, just for clarification because I couldn’t hear you — who is the person who is the front for the Kerry campaign?
MR. McCLELLAN: Lawrence Korb, Center for American Progress, the 527 that backs Kerry.
Q My understanding is that the article, reading it right in front of me, in fact, it quotes someone else, an Army Colonel who said he broke his contract with the U.S. government without any adverse consequences, because, in 1968 and 1973, he signed these documents that said he would show up and didn’t ever show up in Boston. We understand that he was honorably discharged, but is it fair to say that he did not fulfill his commitment?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. As I said — absolutely not. If he had not fulfilled his commitments, he would not have been honorably discharged.
Q if he was supposed to show up in Boston, or he transferred to Boston, and he didn’t —
MR. McCLELLAN: The President met his commitments in Texas. He met his commitments in Alabama. He met his commitments when he returned to Texas in 1973.
Q Did he meet his commitments in Boston?
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, Caren, if he had not fulfilled his commitments, he would not have been honorably discharged.
END 12:05 P.M. EDT
Today’s gaggle brought to you by the words: ‘fulfilled‘ and ‘commitments‘.