Friday, December 14, 2007

White House Remarks on Mitchell Report

Below are the President's remarks (courtesy of the Baltimore Sun) following this morning's cabinet meeting in response to the following question.

Q Mr. President, on the Mitchell report, sir, do you think that the baseball players actually mentioned in the report should be punished?

THE PRESIDENT: A couple of reactions to the Mitchell report. As you know, I'm a baseball fan; I love the sport, I love the game. Like many fans, I've been troubled by the steroid allegations. I think it's best that all of us not jump to any conclusions on individual players' name, but we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game, and players and the owners must take the Mitchell report seriously. I'm confident they will.

And my hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us. You know, I -- in the State of the Union a couple of years ago, I addressed the issue of steroids, and the reason I did so is because I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation's youth. And I just urge our -- those in the public spotlight, particularly athletes, to understand that when they violate their bodies, they're sending a terrible signal to America's young.


Below are Official Remarks from Thursday's Press Briefing with White House Press Secretary Dana Perino on the Mitchell Report. Press questions specifically inquire about the President's knowledge of (or lack there of) the issue and problems given his prior role with the Texas Rangers.

Q When will President Bush get a look at the Mitchell Report on use of steroids in baseball? And what kind of burdens and responsibility does the President think is on the owners of baseball to do something about the problem?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President looks forward to seeing the report by Senator Mitchell. He has not seen it yet, and the President hopes that this report marks the beginning of the end of steroid abuse. I would remind you that in 2004, the President used time in his State of the Union address to highlight the problem that he saw with steroid abuse, especially because of the message that it sends to children who look up to professional athletes. The President called on team owners and union representatives, coaches and players, to take the rid -- take the initiative to get rid of steroids in baseball. We'll look at the recommendations; there might be recommendations within the report that we haven't seen yet that speak specifically to owners, and so we'll take a look at that.

Q The President has noted that the Players' Association was not particularly cooperative. Does he call on everyone now within that community to be a little more cooperative on the issue?

MS. PERINO: Well, I -- the President would seek cooperation from everyone because it's in the best interests of baseball, the best interests of our children, and ultimately for all professional sports for there to be clear transparency on this matter.

Q Is there a federal government role in this?

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of.

Q Follow on that?

MS. PERINO: Let me tell you, the one part of the federal government role is something that the President did, which is that he decided in 2004 to shine a light on this issue because he saw it as something that was important enough to raise in the State in the Union, and all of you know, cover the White House, that issues that are brought up in the State of the Union carry great weight with the President.

Q May I follow?

MS. PERINO: Wendell.

Q Jose Canseco, who played for the President's team from '92 to '94, has said he cannot comprehend why Mr. Bush didn't know that steroid use was going on, on the team. Does the President regret that? Has the President thought about how it was he missed that?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President said -- I would point you to the ESPN interview from earlier this year in which he said that he did not recall steroids being used or discussed in that period in 1993 or before. But now that we have this report, which is something the President encouraged, we can shine a light on this problem and hopefully bring help to those who need it, and make sure that kids know that the strength of their character is what counts, not performance on the playground.

Q Does he regret, though, the fact that he didn't know? Does he understand why he didn't know? Did he feel he wasn't paying enough attention, or was it hidden from him?

MS. PERINO: The President said he thought long and hard about it, he just does not recall ever hearing it or seeing it. And I don't think it's time for regret; I think it's time to do what the President has done, which is take time in a State of the Union address to shine light on the issue. And now we have a result of a report that is getting a lot of attention and deservedly so.


Q Can I just follow on that? Will we hear from the President, specifically, after the report is out?

MS. PERINO: Today? I doubt it.

Q Today or the next day or two?

MS. PERINO: I won't rule anything out, but I don't think you'll hear from him today. But I'm here on his behalf.

Q And do you know, generally, does he feel that Major League Baseball has essentially looked the other way on this problem?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that this report is an acknowledgment that they have a problem and that they're trying to resolve it.

Q Does the President feel that since baseball has looked into this it needs to expand to other sports?

MS. PERINO: That is one thing I haven't talked to the President about. But I think that steroid abuse in any professional sport would be something that the President doesn't think is necessary, thinks everyone should be able to compete on their own mettle -- and especially for children, who look up to professional athletes across the board. Steroid abuse is just -- it's not a good idea for anybody, for their own health and for the message it sends to children.

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