Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Little Scottie contradicts Rummy and Holden in one fell swoop:

Q It’s still not clear what the administration’s stand is on whether elections that are partial in Iraq would count as elections that could go forward in January. If not —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s — I mean, I think everybody — Prime Minister Allawi has made it clear that he wanted elections where all Iraqis could participate and it would be for all of Iraq. We are committed to free and fair elections throughout Iraq. We want all Iraqis to be able to participate in the election. And that’s what we’re all working toward.

Q But what if it’s not possible?

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s what we’re all working toward, as Prime Minister Allawi reiterated over the weekend again, free and fair elections throughout Iraq. For the first time, the Iraqi people are determining their future, and for the first time, the Iraqi people are moving toward free elections. And we will stand with them every step of the way.

Q It seemed as if Secretary Powell kind of contradicted the President in saying that things were getting worse there, when of course the President has been saying all along that things are —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he’s said exactly what we’ve been saying for quite some time. Secretary Powell was talking about an increase in violence associated with efforts to disrupt the election process. And we have, for a long time, said that we expect an uptick in violence as we move closer to elections. The terrorists recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. They want to shake our will, but they cannot. They will be defeated. They recognize that we are approaching a decisive moment in Iraq, and that is the — that is free and fair elections by the end of January.

And we are working very closely, as partners with the interim government in Iraq, to address the ongoing security threats. It’s hard work transitioning to democracy. And there remain difficulties along the path to democracy and peace in Iraq. But we are there to support the Iraqi people every step of the way.

Q So he wasn’t off message?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he said what we’ve said for a long time. He was talking about it in association with the elections.

And today’s gaggle ended with a band-aid alert:

Q Are these all-day prep sessions or is he still getting out around the ranch, doing —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he did some mountain bike riding.