The more important question is thus: Does the President's vote of cofindence in Hastert mean good or bad things for Hastert? ...for our President? In other words, is the President so out of touch with what is happening in Congress that he would stand behind a man that doesn't deserve the respect of the Presdident of the USA?
Remember, Brownie? Remember DeLay?
Q Mr. President, with growing numbers of House members and staffers saying that they knew of and told others about a problem with Mark Foley some years ago, has House Speaker Hastert lost touch within his own ranks, and has the scandal damaged Hastert's credibility and effectiveness in maintaining party control in the midterm elections?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think the Speaker's strong statements have made it clear to not only the party members, but to the country, that he wants to find out the facts. All of us want to find out the facts. I mean, this is disgusting behavior when a member of Congress betrays the trust of the Congress and a family that sent a young page up to serve in the Congress. And I appreciated Speaker Hastert's strong declaration of his desire to get to the bottom of it. And we want to make sure we understand what Republicans knew and what Democrats knew, in order to find the facts. And I hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Q And his credibility, sir --
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, Denny is very credible, as far as I'm concerned. And he's done a fine job as Speaker, and when he stands up and says, I want to know the truth -- I believe yesterday he said that if somebody on his staff didn't tell him the truth, they're gone -- I respect that, and appreciate that, and believe him. And -- no, I think the elections will be decided by security and the economy. I really do, Mark. I know this is -- this Foley issue bothers a lot of people, including me. But I think when they get in that booth, they're going to be thinking about how best to secure the country from attack, and how best to keep the economy growing.
I think the last time I was out here with you I reminded you that I understand that the economy is always a salient issue in campaigns. We've had some experience with that in my family, I think I said. I still believe the economy is an important issue, and I believe on this issue there is a huge difference of opinion.
The other day, by the way, Don, I did bring up the words of the leader of the House when she said, "I love tax cuts." And I then reminded everybody that if she loved them so much, how come she voted against a lot of tax cuts? In other words, again, back to your question about whether it's fair to use people's words -- I think to say I love tax cuts and then vote against tax cuts it's just -- it's worthy, it's just worthy of people's consideration in the political process -- I believe taxes are a big issue in the campaign, Mark.
And I know how -- I know that -- how best to protect the country is a big issue, a really big issue. And there's a kind of law enforcement mentality that says, well, we'll respond after attack. It's not going to work. It's just not going to work. We've got to deal with these problems before they come to -- before they come to our territory.
I understand that some are saying, well, he's just trying to scare us. My job is to look at the intelligence and to -- and I'm going to tell you there's an enemy out there that would like to do harm again to the United States, because we're in a war. And they have objectives. They want to -- they want to drive us out of parts of the world to establish a caliphate. It's what they have told us. And it's essential that we listen to the words of the enemy if we want to protect the American people.
And in this debate about which party can handle it better, I will -- it's very important that no one question the patriotism or the loyalty to the country. There is a different mind-set, however, that is worth discussing in the course of a campaign. And I'm going to continue to do it. And I believe those two issues will be the issues that drive the election.