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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Announces L. Paul Bremer to Lead Iraq Reconstruction

Aired May 6, 2003 - 13:32   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to the Oval Office for just a moment, Frank Buckley. We're going to look at some tape which is being fed right now on the White House pool. The president of the United States, having met with the secretary of defense. Let's listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a man with enormous experience. He's a person who knows how to get things done. He's a can-do type person. He shares the same values as the American -- most Americans share, and that is our deep desire to have an orderly country in Iraq that is free and at peace, where the average citizen has a chance to achieve his or her dreams.

The ambassador goes with the full blessings of this administration and the full confidence of all of us in this administration that he can get the job done.

So, Mr. Ambassador, thanks for taking this on. I'm proud of you. And appreciate so very much you're willing to sacrifice not only on behalf of our country, but on behalf of the people of Iraq who deserve a free and democratic society.

Good luck to you.

I'll answer some questions.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. President, how did Mitch Daniels explain his resignation today? And does that departure (OFF-MIKE) your prospects for a tax package...

BUSH: Mitch told me that he wants to go back home to the state of Indiana and perhaps pursue a run for political office.

I told him, I said, Mitch, we're going to miss you a lot in this administration. He has served us well, he has been a really good, you know, watchdog of the taxpayers' money, and, you know, I'm going to miss him.

On the other hand, this administration's loss is the gain of the people of Indiana. And we're going to get a tax package through because it's the right thing to do, and I hope Congress acts decisively and boldly.

I put up a package that will increase the number of new jobs by a million folks at the end of 2004. And I expect them to, they can understand, there's a lot of people looking for work.

And the burden's on them right now, and we're going to send a lot of people up there from around the country and we'll be sending our own folks here in the administration to work with members of the Congress to remind them that the size of the tax package will depend on, will depend on them, and the bigger the package the more likely it is that people are going to find a job here. Randy?

QUESTION: Mr. President, following up briefly on Scott's question, will fiscal discipline be as high on the qualification list for Mitch Daniels' successor as it was when, he and his office?

BUSH: Well, first of all fiscal discipline was high on my agenda, and therefore anybody who works for me will have, will place a premium on fiscal discipline.

It turns out that the, that appropriators love to appropriate here in Washington. Given a pot of money they will appropriate it unless there's an administration willing to fight on behalf of the taxpayers.

This administration is willing to fight on behalf of the taxpayers. we will insist upon fiscal discipline here in Washington D.C.

QUESTION: Mr. President, defense officials are now saying they are confident they have found a mobile biological lab, exactly what Secretary Powell described before the United Nations.

Are you aware of the details? What can you tell us about that? And has Secretary Rumsfeld given you any details?

BUSH: I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein, because he had a weapons program. I will leave the details to the, your question to the experts, but one thing we know is that he had a weapons program.

We also know he spent years trying to hide the weapons program, and over time the truth will come out and the American people will see that when we rid Saddam Hussein, got him out of power, we made America more secure.

O'BRIEN: The president of the United States, seated beside Paul Bremer, the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld you see there, having just announced -- you might have missed the beginning portion of that. I think we kind of put that in our conversation about the Lincoln.

But Paul Bremer was officially announced today as the civil administrator to oversee the reconstruction of Iraq. He is a ambassador with counterterrorism roots and originally served under President Ronald Reagan. He will actually supersede the current administrator there, General Jay Garner. Unclear at this juncture how their duties will be divided up. Nevertheless, Paul Bremer, sitting on top of the pyramid as far as the reconstruction of Iraq goes. The official announcement coming out of the Oval Office today from the president and the secretary of defense.

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