Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Scottie does his best to avoid answering any Swift Boat-related questions:

Q Scott, subject once again, the Swift Boat ads, et cetera. You’ve seen the New York Times article this morning which gets into quite a lot of detail, and they allege that there’s a web of connections to the Bush family and high-profile Texas figures and Karl Rove. So how can the White House say that there’s no connection whatsoever between the campaign and White House and —

MR. McCLELLAN: [You’ve heard it before: John Kerry should join us – shadowy groups.]… they have actually fueled these kinds of attacks by these shadowy groups…

Q In what way?

Q What do you mean, fueled?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, just last week, the campaign held a news conference where General Clarke was repeating some of the same attacks used by some of these 527 groups.

Go ahead, Pete.

Q On the Swift Boat ads, can you tell us what the relationship is between Bob Perry and the President? Have the two known each other over the years?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can check with the campaign. I think he’s been a supporter.

Q And Karl Rove —

MR. McCLELLAN: [Bush is not questioning Kerry’s… ]

Q And the relationship between Bob Perry and Karl Rove?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know — they know each other, I know that. But that still shouldn’t be used to draw any connection there because we have not been involved in this ad, whatsoever. And Senator Kerry appears to have lost his cool, and now he’s just launching into false and baseless attacks against the President. The Kerry campaign has fueled these very kinds of attacks against the President.

Q Did the White House think of any — did the White House make any move to stop the ad once they realized it was underway?

MR. McCLELLAN: [Kerry should join us – shadowy groups.]

Q Scott, do you know when the White House first heard about those ads? Did they — in other words, did you hear about them before they appeared?

MR. McCLELLAN: When they — no, when they became public, Jill. We’ve already talked about this, too.

Go ahead, Mark.

[Obsessive Editor’s Note: Here comes Atrios’ question!]

Q Explain why the President doesn’t think that even shadowy groups have first amendment rights?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Mark, the President believes that — and he’s always — he’s long talked about this, [John Kerry should join us – shadowy groups.]

Q Two questions, also about the Swift Boats. You said that Wesley Clark last week was doing — was repeating some of these attacks on the President. Did you feel that these were false and baseless attacks that Wesley Clark was repeating, or that it was saying —

MR. McCLELLAN: We already referred to it as such, last week.

Q What were these attacks, specifically?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can go back and look, last week. I don’t think I need to stand up here and repeat all these kind of negative attacks. I appreciate you asking me to, but we addressed it last week.

Q And then, also, in this Times article from this morning, they named a Texas pioneer who had funded some of the Swift Boats for Truth campaign.

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s one of the — one of the problems with these shadowy groups is that, at this point, we don’t know the kind of funding that is going into these groups and from all the sources. [John Kerry should join us – shadowy groups.]

Q Would you say that the President discourages people who give to him to give to these 527 groups?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has called for an end to all of this kind of activity. That’s what he has done. And we call on the Kerry campaign to join us.

Q Does he discourage giving to those groups?

MR. McCLELLAN: [John Kerry should join us – shadowy groups.]

Q Scott, it would seem that all of this would just go away if you were to denounce the specific content of this one ad. Why not —

MR. McCLELLAN: All the — all the soft money advertising would go away?

Q The specific message from this ad, which has also been —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, where has the Kerry campaign been for the last year, Dana, when all these ads have been going on against the President.

Q But he condemned that specific ad done by MoveOn. I think that’s what’s fueling this here.

MR. McCLELLAN: Who did?

Q Kerry denounced the specific ad by MoveOn, questioning the President’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: All of a sudden, when it’s to benefit his own campaign, he comes out and does that. But where was he with all these other ads and negative attacks that have been going on through these same kind of groups?

Q Well, that may be. I’m just wondering why not just put this whole thing to rest.

MR. McCLELLAN: We could, if Senator Kerry would join us and call for an end to this kind of activity.

Q Scott, why the ad hominem attack, or the really personal nature of saying that Senator Kerry lost his cool? Would you be more specific why you think he lost his cool —

MR. McCLELLAN: You know, I had seen some of his comments yesterday before I briefed, and then, when I saw him last night on TV, he just appeared to be angry and lose his cool, and then he used that to launch into false and baseless attacks against the President. I said that that shouldn’t be — his losing his cool shouldn’t be an excuse to falsely attack the President. And this — these kind of groups have been out there for the last year participating in similar attacks against the President. And the Kerry campaign has just been silent on it.