Changing the Tone

In comments, Kosh alerts me to yesterday’s gaggle with Mr. Scott McClellan:

Q I guess it’s the way you describe the differences. And my question is, what would be out of bounds? What do you consider out of bounds?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, that’s kind of a speculative question, Terry. I think that it’s — like I said, I would describe it as, if you’re talking about issues and the record, those are perfectly legitimate things to discuss. Voters deserve to know what the choices and the differences are in an election. That’s what elections are about. And there are clear choices and clear philosophical differences in this election. The President, as you heard earlier today, said he welcomes Senator Edwards to the race and he looks forward to having a spirited discussion on the issues.

Q So let me see if I’ve got this straight. The President will continue to talk about the issues and the record. And the RNC and the campaign will continue to put out statements about Kerry’s disingenuousness and liberal tendencies?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that —

Q You’ll have sort of a two-track thing going here, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t — I don’t think I agree with your characterization. I think that it’s, like I said, perfectly legitimate to point out the differences and to discuss the record. And that’s what campaigns are about. The voters deserve to know what the choices are, and they deserve to have an honest discussion of the differences and an honest discussion of the records.

Q What about the rhetoric? What about the rhetoric and the changing of the tone?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just don’t agree with the way you characterized — the way you characterize it.

Q But the moment you called a person disingenuous, Scott, you’re no longer talking about the record. You’re talking about their personality, aren’t you, when you call him, disingenuous?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said —

Q That’s a personal —

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, James, we’ve been through this issue. I think I’ve addressed it. The President is going to continue to focus on the issues and the differences and the choices that voters face. And he’ll continue to talk about his vision and his leadership for the future of America.