print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
  
In Focus
News
News by Date
Appointments
Federal Facts
West Wing

Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 18, 2004

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

Play Video  Video (Real)
Play Real Audio  Audio

12:49 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to begin with one announcement. The President today is announcing his intention to renominate Alan Greenspan to be Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a term not to exceed four years. And let me read a statement by the President.

"Sound fiscal and monetary policies have helped unleash the potential of American workers and entrepreneurs, and America's economy is now growing at the fastest rate in two decades. Alan Greenspan has done a superb job as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and I have great continuing confidence in his economic stewardship."

The President will be meeting with Chairman Greenspan here momentarily, and we will have the still photographers in there so that you all have pictures from that meeting.

And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.

Q Scott, accepting the fact that you're going to lay blame for the current high gasoline prices on the Democrats for not passing your energy bill three years ago, what levels do prices have to reach before the President determines that they are having a detrimental effect on the economy? Are we there yet, or does he believe that there's still room for prices to rise?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President believes, like Americans do, the gas prices are too high. That's why we need a comprehensive energy plan, to address this problem that continues to come up every year. I think we've gone through this every year from this podium during this administration.

Remember that in 2001, the President put forward a comprehensive energy plan to address the real problem, which is our dependence on foreign sources of energy. This plan would reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy; it would increase domestic exploration and production; it would expand conservation; and it would increase energy efficiency. It was a comprehensive plan. It would also modernize our electricity grid. And this was an important plan.

The President urged Congress to act in 2001. He urged Congress to act in 2002. In 2003, he urged Congress to act again. Then we were faced with a blackout last summer, and he again urged Congress to act, so that we don't keep going through this problem year after year.

Q So he says that gas prices are too high. But does he believe that they're high enough now that they are having a detrimental effect on the economy?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, John, the economy is growing stronger because of the action that this administration has taken to get the economy out of recession and moving forward. So the economy is growing stronger. But the President, as part of his six-point plan to create an even more robust environment for job creation has called on Congress to pass a comprehensive energy plan. That's what we need to do. We want to continue to create as robust an environment as possible for job creation.

Q The Democrats are out there today saying that the high gasoline prices, high oil prices are having an effect on everything from the airlines -- which have to spend an extra $180 million a day for every penny the price of fuel goes up; consumers are feeling the pinch, as well. Does the President accept the Democrats' argument that high gas prices are having a detrimental effect on the economy?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I think the American people deserve more than cheap political rhetoric. The American people deserve leadership and action. This President has led and acted. This President, when he came into office, worked to develop a comprehensive energy plan that would reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. He has led and acted, and he has called on Congress to act.

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have held up moving forward on a comprehensive energy plan. They have obstructed the process. So we continue to find ourselves in the same situation year after year. The reason we are in this situation is because we are dependent upon foreign sources of energy. The reason we are in this situation is because there has been years of inaction. This President has acted. This President has put forward a plan. And this President has called on Congress to act, and that's what Congress needs to do, so that we don't continue to go through this issue year after year.

Q Scott, is there anything that can be done over the short-term? Does the administration see any -- because, obviously, the energy plan would take years to be felt in the energy sector. Some of the Democrats, for instance, are suggesting that the President, at a minimum, stop putting oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Is that even being considered here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Jim, we've stated our views on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That was created for times of emergency, like an attack on the homeland, or a severe disruption in the supply. And that's why the National Petroleum Reserve was created. And heaven forbid that we have another attack, but if we do, we need to make sure that we have the sources of energy there to respond.

Q Well, yes, and some people have suggested that you actually take oil out of it, but others have been somewhat less radical than that, and just said, stop buying oil to put into it temporarily while you try to get the prices down.

MR. McCLELLAN: And recent history has shown that it has a negligible impact. Independent analysts have said that it would have a negligible impact. What we can continue to do is remain actively engaged, like we are, to encourage producers around the world not to act in a way that would harm our economy or harm the global economy. And that's what we are continuing to do.

Secretary Abraham is going to be meeting with some producers to continue to state our views that we need -- I think all of us share a concern and interest in making sure that we have robust economic growth. And that depends upon abundant and affordable supplies of energy. And so that's what we will continue to do. We welcome comments by Saudi Arabia that they wanted to see the price per barrel in the range of $25 -- $22 to $28 price per barrel. And they have stated that they want to increase significantly the amount of supply that's going into the system now. We will continue to talk to both OPEC and non-OPEC members around the world on these matters. We will also work to make sure there's not price-gouging on -- going on, and other steps that we can take in the short-term. But there are things we can do in the short-term, and we are doing them. But this is a long-term problem, and it requires a long-term solution, so we don't continue to go through this every year.

Q Two questions. First on Alan Greenspan. You said the President has great confidence in him. He's been doing the job for, I guess, 17 years. It's a position of enormous power in the hands of one person now for two decades. It kind of runs counter to the way we usually do things in this country. Wasn't there anybody else who could do this job?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President thinks Alan Greenspan is doing a great job, and that's why he believes he should be renominated. Obviously, there are term limits on the position, but the President wants him to continue to serve as long as possible.

Q All right. Let me turn to Israel. Does the President believe that Israel, in defending itself, has the right to destroy Palestinian homes in Gaza?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think our policy and views are very clear on that issue. We have made our views very well-known. I think Secretary Powell expressed our views just in the last couple of days. Dr. Rice expressed similar views and expressed our concerns. Our policy is that we oppose the destruction of homes of innocent Palestinians. We have made that very clear, and that remains our position.

You heard the President speak earlier today, and he talked about how he found the violence in the Gaza area very troubling. There are Palestinians and Israelis that have died because of this violence. And we have been in contact with the government of Israel to talk about these issues and they've talked about the security concerns that they're working to address. And they've made clear to us that these operations that they're conducting are aimed at stopping the smuggling of arms through tunnels in Gaza, and at preventing the distribution of those arms, not aimed at destroying homes. But we have talked to the Israelis about the humanitarian impact of their operations, and certainly you want to exercise restraint when carrying out operations like this, to make sure you do not destroy the homes of innocent Palestinians.

Q And innocent Palestinians means what exactly? Do we support the destruction of homes of family members of people that Israel might have rounded up and accused of terrorism?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would leave it as destruction of homes of innocent Palestinians. I think the Israelis certainly, as we have said, have a right to defend themselves. And the security matters that they face in Gaza are significant. And we have been told that the homes along the southern border with Gaza are being used as havens for snipers that are firing on Israelis. The Israelis have also informed us that they will make every effort to minimize the impact on Palestinians not involved in acts of terrorism or arms smuggling. And so I think that's the way you would define it there, at the end of what I just said.

Q Is the administration satisfied with Israel's explanation? Does the administration feel it's doing everything it can --

MR. McCLELLAN: We understand their concerns. And that's why I said we've always said that Israel has a right to defend itself. The President, as you heard earlier today, also talked about the importance of seizing the opportunities for peace. He's been talking -- we've been actively engaged with the parties for quite some time, and we were making some progress, if you'll recall, going back to Aqaba. Unfortunately, that was derailed. And now we have another opportunity before us and we want the Palestinians to seize this historic opportunity to work toward a viable and democratic state, and get the institutions in place for a viable and democratic state to exist.

Q Scott, back on the sky-rocketing oil prices, that seems to be just the beginning, as there are reports now that this summer America could face rolling blackouts because there's not enough coal, apparently, to help facilitate a lot of these energy-producing companies. So what is the White House doing to prevent this energy crisis in America that's expected?

MR. McCLELLAN: You brought up -- we had a major blackout last year, and the President again urged Congress to act to pass a comprehensive energy plan. The plan that the President put forward focused on some key priorities, like I mentioned earlier: expanding domestic exploration and production and promoting alternative sources of energy, like ethanol and hydrogen power, things that the President has proposed; and called on Congress to pass modernizing and expanding the electricity grid, an issue here you're bringing up; and passing mandatory reliability standards so the system has adequate capacity; promoting conservation; increasing energy efficiency; and encouraging investment in our energy infrastructure. We need a modern grid.

We also need to recognize that high gas prices reflect a shortage of supply, an increase in demand, and insufficient oil pipeline and refinery capacity. And so those are issues that we're trying to work to address so that we don't continue to go through these problems.

Q Those are long-term issues. In just a couple of days, summer will be here, people will be turning their air-conditioners on. There's a lack of coal. There are going to be rolling blackouts, not in one city, but throughout the nation is expected. What is --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember there is a joint task force with Canada that Secretary Abraham was involved in with his counterpart to look at some of these issues. And our administration stays on top of these issues to address them. And we will continue -- we will continue to do so.

Q What is the White House doing right now to prevent this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

Q Going back to Alan Greenspan for a second, according to the law, he can only serve until February, 2006, unless extraordinary steps are taken, either by the administration or by Congress. Do you foresee making some form of extraordinary action or urging Congress to take some sort of extraordinary action that would allow Mr. Greenspan to serve longer than simply up to February 2006?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's kind of getting into speculation down the road. The President has renominated him to a four-year term, and you have pointed out that his term on the Fed expires in two years. But I'm not going to get into speculating beyond that at this point.

Q Scott, two questions. One, what President think about the elections in India, because the most popular Prime Minister was ousted by the voters, 675 million voters in India? And Congress party, Gandhi's term yesterday felt a vote of no confidence around the globe in the markets, in the stock market, including in the U.S. And -

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay --

Q How the U.S. and India relations will affect under the new party?

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. In response to the latter part of your question, we are continuing to monitor that situation. In response to the first part of your question, we congratulate the people of India on completing their elections. We do have strong relations with India, and we look forward to working with the new government once that government is formed. At this point, they're still working to form that government.

Q Can I clarify something you just said on Greenspan?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure.

Q You said his term expires in two years.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, on the Fed.

Q Well, then, why renominate him now?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's renominating him for a term not to exceed four years as Chairman of the Reserve. Again, I'm not going to get into speculating on what may occur two years from now.

Q It's hardly speculation. The President is nominating him for another four years.

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said to Terry's question, the President has great confidence in him, thinks he's doing a superb job, and wants him to continue to serve as long as possible.

Q What do you have -- do you have to get some sort of okay from Congress to extend his time limits?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, now you're getting into speculation about something that --

Q No, no, I'm asking you what the policy is. Is --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm not going to get into speculating about it at this point. The President has renominated him, wants him to serve as long as possible.

Q I'm not asking you to speculate.

MR. McCLELLAN: But that question does go to speculating about what might happen two years from now.

Q You're the one who said four years.

Q Second question, please?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Ellen.

Q On the airlines, has the President been in contact with any of the airline presidents or leaders? And secondly, whether he has or hasn't, what is his response to the airline industry, who is going to go --

MR. McCLELLAN: I can try to check on some of the contacts we've had. I didn't check on that before I came out here, but I'll be glad to check on some of those contacts. The administration, obviously, stays in ongoing contact with the industry.

Q But any response to these rising prices and what it's going to do to the industry?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just talked about that issue.

Q Scott, you mentioned that Secretary Abraham was going to be meeting with the producers. When, and what producers?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that the Secretary of Energy put out information about that earlier. He's going to be attending the International Energy Forum in Amsterdam this Saturday and Sunday. And this is a meeting of consumers and -- consuming and producing countries. The Secretary is going to be participating in workshop sessions, as well as bilateral meetings during this session.

Q Is he going to be jawboning there, then?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he's indicated that he will continue to raise our concerns with these countries around the world.

Q Scott, as I remember where the energy bill is, it's stuck in a conference between Republicans in the House and Senate. So are Republicans also responsible then for not getting an energy bill to the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: It's the Senate Democrats who have been obstructing the process and holding up passage of an energy -

Q Well, no, actually, the energy bill has passed --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- plan through their procedural moves.

Q -- has passed the Senate. It's in a conference now between the House and the Senate. So what's --

MR. McCLELLAN: It's through the procedural moves in the Senate that they will not move forward on passing the energy legislation.

Q Okay. And you said the President is making efforts internationally. What, so far, has been the tangible result of the efforts that he has been making?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you've actually heard comments from representatives from Saudi Arabia, representatives of Kuwait, I believe the Arab Emirates, as well. So you've heard comments from those countries. We continue to remain actively engaged in consultation with those countries and producers.

Q Is it your view that anything the President has done has kept the price of oil from rising higher than it would have?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I would point back to the comments made by those countries. Saudi Arabia, as I mentioned earlier in this briefing, said that they want to see the range somewhere between $22 and $28 per barrel.

Q You said earlier that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is only to be used for supply disruptions. Are you saying that the administration will not tap that to manage price in any way this year?

MR. McCLELLAN: That was created and formed for national emergencies, and that's what we believe it should be used for.

Q And not managing price?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've seen from recent history that that has a negligible impact, people trying to manipulate the price.

Q And if I could follow up on Gaza real quickly, just want to make sure I got it. You said, the United States does not support the destruction of houses of innocent Palestinians. Then you said that some of those houses have been used as sniper nests against Israelis. Is that saying that the Israelis are free to tear down those houses that they have identified as snipers nets, but not other houses?

MR. McCLELLAN: What we want to see is what I said earlier. Israel, one, has the right to defend itself, but we want to see Israel exercise restraint to avoid harming innocent Palestinians or rendering them homeless.

Q Two questions please. Are foreign energy sources holding the U.S. hostage? And is the U.S. getting any benefit from the Iraqi oil at this point?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think that is one way -- one way to describe it. What was the second part of your question?

Q Any benefit yet from the Iraqi oil?

MR. McCLELLAN: We are dependent on foreign sources of energy. In terms of Iraqi oil resources, I don't have the latest update on.

Q A follow-up on the President's speech. Is the President making any outreach to Muslim American voters?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, absolutely. The President believes in reaching out to people from all backgrounds. And the President also believes it's important to get more people involved in the political process. And that's why he encourages people of faith to be involved in the political process.

Q Scott, the Democrats do like to keep reminding the President of what he said as a candidate in 2000 about the jaw-boning of his -- people in the oil industry and the oil business, or whatever. Has the President done any particular jawboning himself regarding this matter?

MR. McCLELLAN: He stays in touch with -- he meets with world leaders all the time, and these are issues he raises in those meetings.

Q What -- give us an idea of what he says to --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think -- I think we tend to read those out at the time. But the President says what I said at -- what I have said repeatedly and what you have heard him say, as well, in terms of not taking action that would harm the global economy, harm the American economy, and hurt our consumers.

Go ahead, Sarah.

Q Scott, anything on the upcoming meeting --

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on one second, I'll come to you next.

Q Scott, the President meets with the Pope in the Vatican next month. The Pope was outspoken in the opposition of the war in Iraq. What will the President say to the Pontiff and will he ask for his help in the reconstruction of Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think, one, we're a little ways off from that meeting, so it's a little early to read it out, but the President looks forward to meeting with him again. And let's let -- let's get a little closer to that meeting, and then I'll be glad to kind of give you a preview of it.

Q Anything on the upcoming meeting between President Bush and the Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis --

MR. McCLELLAN: He looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Karamanlis and I'm sure they will discuss a range of issues and work on -- discuss ways to deepen our relations.

But what was the second part of your question?

Q And what do you expect from this visit?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I expect they're going to discuss a range of issues, like I said. And also, I'm sure that they'll talk about the upcoming Olympic Games, as well. The President looks forward to the meeting. He is -- he is not the first Prime Minister Karamanlis to actually visit the Oval Office. And so he looks forward to visiting with him later this week.

Q Scott, on the oil situation, you said the administration is talking to OPEC members and OPEC non-members. Has administration requested Mexican authorities to increase its oil production? And what the administration will say to the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who's saying take advantage of this crisis and we have to increase the price of the oil barrels?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I need to dignify some of the comments that President Chavez has made with a response. In terms of Mexico. We stay in contact with Mexico on these issues, as well. I'll try to get you the latest update on anything new there.

Q Scott, on the same-sex issue, same-sex unions, back in February, when the President announced his support for a constitutional amendment on marriage, he described the serious consequences of redefining marriage. And then, yesterday, in his written statement, he talked about the need for the amendment being urgent. Yet, between those two events, there hasn't been a lot of vocal support by the President for this. What has he been doing on this subject?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've remained in contact with members of Congress about this issue. We want to make sure that Congress acts, and acts to actually pass this amendment so that it can go to the American people and the American people's voice can be heard. And I think you want to make sure as you move forward that it is going to pass.

The President, for the very reasons we're seeing yesterday in Massachusetts, did call on Congress back in February to pass a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. The President strongly believes that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. And he is going to continue to fight to protect the sanctity of marriage. And you've heard the President often talk about, in his speeches, the importance of upholding our values and the institutions that make America strong. He continues to talk about that issue. But we remain in close contact with members of Congress and continue to urge action on a constitutional amendment.

Q Does the White House believe the President has effectively used the bully pulpit to advance this issue then?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's continuing to use the bully pulpit to see that action is taken on this issue.

Q What personal moves has the President made to prevent any further prison abuses in Iraq, and has he -- and, also, enforcement of the Geneva Convention, preventing further violation of the Convention?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, their investigation is ongoing. There are charges that have been filed. There are additional charges that I believe the military is looking at pursuing. So there are several investigations going on. And the President has been in close contact with Secretary Rumsfeld to talk about these issues and to make sure that action is being taken to address these matters. We need to show the world that when something like this comes to light, America takes it seriously and America acts to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again.

In terms --

Q Has he issued any personal orders --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are ongoing investigations, one, looking at the specific images that we have seen, those appalling images, and pursuing charges against individuals that were responsible for those actions. There are also several investigations going on to take a more comprehensive look at the situation and to see if there's additional action that needs to be taken.

Q What does he think it only applies to buck privates?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to make sure that people are held responsible and brought to account, and we want to make sure that something like this does not happen again.

Q Scott, can I just follow on that for a second? Is the President concerned that the prison abuse situation at Abu Ghraib is going to have a chilling effect on legitimate attempts to gather strategic and time-important data from terrorists who have been detained, as opposed to this prisoner of war issue? And is he afraid that this will have a chilling effect across the board?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, that's a pretty broad question. I would say that we are a nation at war and we are also a nation of laws. The President's most solemn obligation is the safety and security of the American people. He takes that responsibility very seriously. But as we carry out that responsibility, it's important to act in an appropriate manner to meet that responsibility --

Q The International Red Cross says --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and the United States policy is very clear. Our policy is to comply with our laws and to comply with our treaty obligations.

Q And can I just follow on April's question here, because it's not just the oil issue, there's a lot of other issues with energy coming up this summer. Is it your strategy just to play the blame game, or do you actually have something constructive to offer --

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, John, I disagree with that assessment. You must not have been listening to what I was saying earlier, because there are short-term steps that we can take, but this is a long-term problem. And that's why the President has continued to call on Congress to act on the comprehensive plan that he put forward.

Q What are your short-term steps on coal?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why we have worked to encourage investment in clean coal technologies. We have taken steps to expand domestic exploration and production here at home. And we need to recognize that this is a problem that continues to recur year after year, and it's because of a failure to act for years that we continue to find ourselves in this situation. You continue to ask these questions of me or my predecessor, who was standing here at this podium. We continue to go through these issues year after year. That's why we need a comprehensive plan.

Q What are the long-term and short-term steps again?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q What are the long-term and the short-term --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I talked about one: remaining actively engaged --

Q No, the short-term steps.

Q The short-term steps. What are the short-term steps?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why remaining actively engaged with producers around the world; making sure there's not price-gouging going on; opposing any attempts to increase gas taxes, which this President has stood firmly against; and working with local officials to see if there are regional spikes going on that we need to address.

Q What's the short-term on coal?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this President has been an outspoken proponent of investing in clean coal technologies, and he will continue to advocate that. And that's been put forward in our policies, as well.

Q What's happening in the upcoming days throughout the nation --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why this administration stays on top of these issues. We have people in place that are always looking at these issues and acting to make sure that something like that doesn't happen. We went through a major blackout last year. Unfortunately, we have not modernized our electricity grid. We need to modernize our electrical grid. And that was one of the things that the task force that Secretary Abraham was involved with his Canadian counterpart on, proposed, as well.

Q Do you have a readout on the Aznar meeting, and a purpose for that meeting?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, President Aznar is a good friend of the President's. And secondly, this was a meeting with a private citizen -- he is a former President of Spain -- and I'm not going to have any further readout beyond that.

Q Were Rice and Powell also involved?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm just not going to have any further readout of the meeting. He did bring some other people with him. But I will leave it at that.

Q Did President Bush initiate it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

Q Going back to the Middle East, the President has said the '05 deadline for a Palestinian state may not be realistic. Do you have a new date?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what we need to do is I think what the President said in that interview, as well, was that we need to get people acting. Until people start seizing -- unless people start seizing the opportunities before them to move forward on peace, then we cannot meet timetables that were put forward in the road map. Remember, this was put forward a couple of years ago, and we were making important progress. But, unfortunately, it was derailed. And that's why the President says we have another opportunity before us, an historic opportunity. And the Palestinians should seize this opportunity.

That's why Condi Rice was meeting with Prime Minister Qureia just the other day. Colin Powell met with him, as well. As Condi pointed out, it was a very constructive and good meeting. She talked about the importance of the Palestinians working to unify their security forces and getting ready for the time when Israel might withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Prime Minister Sharon is still looking at how to move forward on the proposal that he put forward. And we remain in contact with Israel on that. But we need to get the -- the Palestinians need to put the institutions in place for a viable and democratic state to exist.

Q Can I have one more, please, Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, I think we're going around multiple times today.

Q Nine-eleven may have been in planning for 20 years, because if you remember Pan Am flight 73, where 26 people were killed, Indian Americans and also Americans there in Pakistan, in Karachi, Pakistan. On Friday, Judge Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., he called on the administration and also Pakistan, quoting him, as a federal judge, "I call on Pakistan to deliver and hand over those terrorists you are holding in Pakistan," because he on Friday sentenced one of the first ones, which was captured in Jordan, to 170 years in prison. And families from Indian and Pakistan and U.S. families all were there at the U.S. District Court. So what do you have to say about this -- that Pakistan is still holding people, and they are free in Pakistan. And a U.S. judge is demanding their capture or --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me see if I can get you more from the administration. State Department might be a good place to direct that question, as well. I'll see if I can get you more from the administration.

Q On Greenspan, is there any significance to the announcement being today, as opposed to three weeks ago or four weeks from now?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made his views known about a year ago.

Q Why was the announcement today? Any significance to it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, because the term is coming up. And again, this is the intention to nominate, to get the process moving.

Q On Iraq and oil. In the oil world, futures traders say that there's anywhere between a $5 and $10 per barrel risk premium involved because of the potential for disruption. Is there anything the administration should be doing or can be doing to remove or reduce that risk premium in the futures market, which then would reduce the --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll be glad to take a look at it, Roger. We'll see what else we can get you.

April, for the third time.

Q Well, it's a good day. Anyway, there's a question about appropriateness, today, as the 9/11 Commission is holding a hearing in New York, and the Bush campaign is airing ads right now with someone -- the father of one of the firefighters who lost their lives, saying that the President acted, and the President went out and led the country. Is that appropriate for today, as people are trying to heal and deal with the issue of what went wrong, the Bush administration is pushing -- or the Bush campaign is pushing ads about what they did on 9/11?

MR. McCLELLAN: As we have said, it was a defining moment for our nation. And I think the campaign has talked about those commercials.

Thank you.

END 1:21 P.M. EDT