March 4, 2008

John McCain stood there while Bush filibustered the entire presser and upstaged his big moment in the sun. The Prez was more interested in cracking jokes to the press than letting McCain look like the GOP's presidential nominee. He also doesn't like the word "change" very much.

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McCain welcomes Bush to campaign with him as much as he can, which I'm sure we'd all like to see.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, vote for me, I'm an agent of change. In 2004, I said, I'm not interested in change -- I want to continue as President. Every candidate has got to say "change." That's what the American people expect.

And the good news about our candidate is, there will be a new President, a man of character and courage -- but he's not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy. has posted the entire press conference since as they say "we fear that some Americans may miss George Bush assurances that John McCain would continue the Bush Administrations failed economic and foreign policies."

UPDATE: Digby says Bush looked like he was on Meth...

Full Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we'll answer a couple of questions.

Abramowitz. Sorry you got such a lousy seat back there. (Laughter.)

Q I wanted to ask about the -- the voters, according to a lot of the exit polls, seem to be searching for change this year. And I'd like to ask both of you -- excuse me -- I'd like to ask both of you how the Republican Party, which has been here for eight years, is going to make the case that you're going to provide the change that the voters seem to want, both on Iraq and the economy?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, vote for me, I'm an agent of change. In 2004, I said, I'm not interested in change -- I want to continue as President. Every candidate has got to say "change." That's what the American people expect.

And the good news about our candidate is, there will be a new President, a man of character and courage -- but he's not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy. He understands this is a dangerous world, and I understand we better have steadfast leadership who has got the courage and determination to pursue this enemy, so as to protect America.

John McCain will find out, when he takes the oath of office, his most important responsibility is to protect the American people from harm. And there's still an enemy that lurks, an enemy that wants to strike us. And this country better have somebody in that Oval Office who understands the stakes, and John McCain understands those stakes.

SENATOR McCAIN: Thank you, sir. I don't have anything to add. (Laughter.)

Q Can I follow-up, sir? How would you --

THE PRESIDENT: No, you can't follow up. Thank you. (Laughter.)

Q Yes, on --

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, not you. Kelly.

Q Senator McCain, given President Bush's low approval ratings, will this be a negative or a positive for you? And how much do you hope he'll campaign for you on the trail?

SENATOR McCAIN: I hope that he will campaign for me as much as is keeping with his busy schedule. I'll be pleased to have him with me both from raising money and the much needed finances for the campaign, and addressing the challenging issues that face this country. I'm pleased to have him as is -- as it fits into his busy schedule.


Q Mr. President, Senator McCain, sir, how would you counsel Senator McCain to choose a running mate, how quickly? And given the fact that Democrats will field a nominee who will make some kind of history -- a woman, an African America -- should Republicans consider that in selecting a Vice Presidential nominee?

THE PRESIDENT: I'd tell him to be careful about who he names to be the head of the selection committee. (Laughter.) Look, he's got plenty of experience. He knows what he needs to do, which is to have a process that vets candidates, and the person -- somebody he's going to be comfortable with and somebody whose advice he relies upon. And he can answer his own question on that, but --

SENATE McCAIN: Could I just say, Kelly, I didn't think it was appropriate to contemplate this process, as I've discussed before, until after we had secured the nomination of the party. Now we'll begin that process.

Q Should history make a difference with a woman or an African American on the Democratic side?

THE PRESIDENT: People don't vote for Vice Presidents -- as much as I hate to say that for those who have been candidates for Vice President -- they're going to vote for who gets to sit inside that Oval Office and make decisions on how to protect the country and keep taxes low and how to have a culture that respects the dignity of every human being. That's what the race is all about. I know there's going to be a lot of speculation on who the Vice President, this and that, but the speculation is over about who our party is going to nominate.


Q Mr. President, do you -- how much do you intend to do for Senator McCain? And do you think, in some cases, that your help could actually hurt him more than help him?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, if it -- if my showing up and endorsing him helps him, or if I'm against him and it helps him -- either way, I want him to win. (Laughter.) You know, look, this is an age-old question that you -- every President has had to answer, and there's an appropriate amount of campaigning for me to do.

But they're not going to be voting for me. I've had my time in the Oval Office. It's been a fabulous experience, by the way. And they're going to be voting for the next person to come in here and make the tough decisions about America -- America's security, America's prosperity, and, you know, America's hopefulness. That's what this race is about, and it's not about me. You know, I've done my bit.

And, by the way, I'm not through, and I'm going to do a lot. And John is right -- I do have a day job to keep, and I plan on keeping it. I've told the people that follow me in this press corps that I'm going to sprint to the finish, and I mean what I say. I've got a lot to do. But I'm going to find ample time to help, and I can help raising money, and if he wants my pretty face standing by his side at one of these rallies, I'll be glad to show up.

But they're going to be looking at him, you know. I'm going to be in Crawford -- (laughter) -- with my feet up. He's going to be sitting in there behind that desk, making the decisions on war and peace, and I'm thankful our party has nominated somebody plenty capable of making those decisions. And when the American people take a hard look, they're going to feel comfortable, like I feel comfortable, in recommending him to take my place.

Listen, we thank you.

Wolf, where's Wolf? No, I'm not calling you. Wolf. No, not you, either. Where's Wolf?

Q Right here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, ask something, will you? (Laughter.)

Q Where do you think you can be most helpful campaigning for him around the country?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, look -- I mean, if --

Q And Senator McCain, where would you like the President to campaign with you?

THE PRESIDENT: As I told you, you know, if he wants me to show up, I will. If he wants me to say, "You know, I'm not for him," I will. Whatever he wants me to do, I want him to win. And, you know, Wolf, I don't know where. I mean, look --

SENATOR McCAIN: Could I start out with --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm focusing on, you know, protecting America, and succeeding in Iraq, and dealing with the North Korea, and dealing with the Iranian, and dealing with the issues around the world where we're making a difference in terms of keeping peace. I want to get this in as good as a position as possible so that when John McCain is the President -- and he will be -- he can deal with these issues in a way that yields peace.

SENATOR McCAIN: Wolf, could I say -- one state springs to mind: Texas. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: He's not going to need me in Texas. He's going to be a landslide in Texas.

SENATOR McCAIN: Could I just say that I do intend to campaign all across the country. I think that literally every section in this country is at -- in play. And I will be glad to have the President with me, in keeping with his schedule, in any part of America. And we're going to go everywhere in America with this campaign.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, thank you all very much for coming.

Q Did you talk names for Vice President? (Laughter.)

Q One press conference every week if you're elected, Senator?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. It's been a pleasure to see you. Obviously we've invited some unruly members of the fourth estate here. I'm disappointed in the conduct of some of the people that have come. I told John it would be a nice and polite crowd. Thank you all very much.

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