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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Increased Security Around Bush

Aired September 27, 2001 - 15:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush travelled to Chicago today as part of a continuing campaign on the part of this administration to reassure the American people that it is safe to fly. Our Kelly Wallace joining us now. Kelly, why did the White House think this was such an important thing to do?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy because the airline industry is struggling. As we know, tens of thousands of airline workers have been laid off. People are very concerned about getting on planes. We heard President Bush himself say yesterday that most Americans are wanting to stay home and not wanting to get on a plan.

He is trying to change that, trying to get Americans to return to normalcy, get flying again and to give a boost the to industry. Now at this very moment President Bush arriving back at the White House, or expected just moments from now. What is interesting is it is a delicate balancing act really, because on the same day the president is encouraging Americans to fly again, we learn, the White House confirming that President Bush has given the authority to senior military officers to order the shoot down of a commercial jet, commercial airliner, without the president's approval, only as last resort.

In those cases where there's an immediate threat to the security and safety of American citizens. So that, an interesting development. The president not talking about that today. Out in Chicago at Chicago's O'hare Airport his main message -- hear the helicopter Marine One, President Bush as you see there about to land here at White House -- as I was saying, Judy, the president's main message in Chicago was simply for Americans to get on the airlines, get back to business, very much saying that those responsible for the September 11 attacks want to terrorize America.

The president saying that Americans should not surrender their freedom to travel and so the president unveiling a series of airline security measures hoping to instill more confidence on the part of the American people to get them flying again. Some of the proposals include one immediate step, and that is calling on governors in all 50 states to call up the National Guard and have National Guard personnel manning or operating at airport security points all around the country -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, how worried is the administration about the airline industry right now? WALLACE: Very, very concerned. And the reason is, very concerned about impact the airline industry on the rest of the U.S. economy. We saw the president and Democrats and Republicans working very quickly getting a $15 billion measure passed signed into law quickly, to prop up the airline industry.

As we mentioned, I think some 100,000 workers have been fired in just two weeks alone. And the airline industry has ripple effects on the hotel industry, on other sectors of tourism on the economy as a whole. So there is great concern about the impact of the airline industry on the the rest of economy, and that's why a big push on the part of the president to say it is safe to fly again and go out and fly.

WOODRUFF: Refresh us, Kelly, how often, how much has the president left Washington since September 11, the day when all this started?

WALLACE: Another good key point you are bringing up, not very often at all. This only his second trip outside the Washington, D.C. area using Air Force One. We saw him of course go up to New York City a few days after the September 11 attacks to meet with family members who lost loved ones and also to boost the moral of the firefighters and rescue workers and this is only the second domestic trip, his trip here to Chicago.

Security of course, is very, very tight. But the president receiving an incredible reception from airline employees and others in Chicago and, Judy, he was giving a very passionate speech basically saying he is determined, he will not stop, urging the American people also to be very patient, saying this is going to be a campaign, a war unlike any the United States has ever seen. And that, as you know, Judy, is a message the president continues to put out, that is going to take time.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, let me just ask you about security. We are watching Marine One, which is the presidential helicopter, has just landed. They are on the south lawn of the White House bringing the president back from Andrew's Air Force Base. As Kelly said, he has flown back to the Washington area from Chicago.

Kelly, look around. Give us a sense of how security now around the president, at the White House, which is already very high, may have changed since September 11. What is different now -- and there is the president?

WALLACE: Yes, and there is the president we see and we expect him probably to go right to the Oval Office -- yes, there he is going because he has more coalition building, meeting with the prime minister of Belgium, who happens to be the head of the European Union and also meeting with the president of the European Commission.

There Karl Rove, his top political adviser. Judy, you know, security has changed dramatically. Of course, as you know, Secret Service officials don't like us to talk very much about the details, but we do see. We see extra precautions, we see an extra helicopter in the air often when the president is flying from Andrew's Air Force Base back here to Washington.

We of course, as we have reported, we have seen fighter jets in the Washington, D.C. area and certainly around when the president is travelling. The White House not confirming if fighter jets were escorting him to Chicago on this day. So security dramatically beefed up and we are expecting that to continue certainly in the weeks and months ahead -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We are watching President Bush walking back to the West Wing to his office, the Oval Office, in fact, with his key political adviser, Karl Rove. And again we are asking these questions about security because there was a credible report that the plane that crashed in to the Pentagon was perhaps headed to the White House before it turned and then hit the Pentagon. Thank you, Kelly.

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