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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
October 19, 2006

Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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10:22 A.M. EDT

MR. SNOW: Good morning, welcome. Let me read out what's going on today, and then I'll take your questions. The President has had his normal briefings. Next on the schedule he is going to be heading to the Sherwood-Pennsylvania Victory Committee Reception in La Plume, Pennsylvania. That's at 2:00 p.m. At 5:40 p.m. in Richmond, Virginia, a remarks at Friends of George Allen Reception, and will return to the White House at about 7:50 p.m.

As I mentioned to some of you yesterday, talking informally, the President had a call yesterday with President Hosni Mubarak. It lasted 15 minutes. The topics were Syria, Sudan, Darfur and Israeli-Palestinian affairs. The President made clear his view that Syria is continuing to interfere in Lebanese politics, and is also standing in the way of progress in Israeli-Palestinian affairs through its support of Hamas. They also discussed how to make progress in stopping violence in Darfur. President Mubarak explained his recent conversations with Sudanese President Bashir. President Bush noted that his special envoy, Andrew Natsios, will be visiting Egypt within the next few days. And the President thanked President Mubarak for his continued leadership on these issues.

Also, President Bush will welcome President-elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico to the White House on November 9th of this year. Mexico is an important hemispheric partner of the United States, and the President looks forward to meeting with President-elect Calderon prior to his inauguration on December 1st. President Bush and President-elect will discuss a range of global, regional and bilateral issues, including ways to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Mexico, and enhance competitiveness, free trade, economic growth and security in North America.

Q When is he here?

MR. SNOW: The 9th.

Q Does the President still think that Iraq is a winning issue for Republicans, and can you elaborate on what he was talking about yesterday in the Stephanopoulos interview about linking -- comparing it with the Tet Offensive?

MR. SNOW: Well, let's back up. We'll do the Tet Offensive question first. That comparison was made by Tom Friedman. That was a question about a column that Tom Friedman wrote. And the President was making a point that he's made before, which is that terrorists try to exploit pictures and try to use the media as conduits for influencing public opinion in the United States. And as Lieutenant General Caldwell said today in his briefing in Baghdad, it is possible, although we don't have a clear pathway into the minds of terrorists, it is possible that they are trying to use violence right now as a way of influencing the elections.

First question again?

Q Well, let's stay on that for a second. The Tet Offensive was successful for the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese in the --

MR. SNOW: It was successful from a propaganda point of view, as history has subsequently demonstrated. The negative reports were wrong --

Q Right. Do you have any fears that that's going to happen with Iraq?

MR. SNOW: No. The important thing to remember is that the President is determined it's not going to happen with Iraq, because you have a President who is determined to win. And the strategy is a threefold strategy that involves security, economics and political reconciliation, working with the Iraqis. And we'll continue to make adjustments as necessary to pursue victory.

But the one thing that nobody should have any doubt about is that we're going to win.

Q And the first part of the question was, winning issue.

MR. SNOW: The question Americans are going to have to ask themselves is who is leading on this? You've got any number of Democratic positions: strategic redeployment, partition, get out right now, cut off funding -- it's difficult to divine anybody who is taking a consistent or coherent leadership position, other than complaining about the President.

On the other hand, what the President has is he talks constantly about the importance of victory and the importance of achieving victory. We think that's a -- when people start taking a look at the war on terror and who is not only serious about what's going on today, but also the future, I think that the President has by far the stronger hand and, in addition, talking about a freedom agenda which provides a much larger strategic framework for viewing a world that is filled with challenges.

Q A couple of things. The President always talks about his confidence that Republicans will retain the House and Senate. Earlier this week, the Vice President, in his interview with Rush Limbaugh, indicated that there was a "good shot" -- interesting choice of words -- a "good shot" with respect to the House. Is there opening a little door there to acknowledge that perhaps things aren't going as well as you --

MR. SNOW: No. No. But that was a good line. Bada-boom, she'll be here all week. (Laughter.)

Q Also, with the President today appearing with George Allen and Sherwood, candidates who have had some difficulties, controversy surrounding them, is the President at all concerned about being, by association, harmed by those controversies -- the racial insensitivity, the extramarital affairs?

MR. SNOW: No.

Q No hesitation to campaign for them?

MR. SNOW: He's campaigning for them.

Q Any downside?

MR. SNOW: I don't think so. When a President goes and campaigns for candidates he's there to help them, and, no, I don't think there's a down side. I'm not going to go any further

Q Back to the Tet Offensive for a second. I just want to clarify one thing about that, because as it's understood retrospectively, Tet becomes a sort of shorthand for the point at which the Vietnam War changed.

MR. SNOW: And I don't want -- that is not an analogy we're trying to make. Again, this was a comment about a Tom Friedman column. Tom is the guy who introduced Tet. What we have said -- and it's very limited -- is the attempt to use images as a way of influencing public opinion. We do not think that there has been a flip-over point, but more importantly, from the standpoint of the government and the standpoint of this administration, we are going to continue pursuing victory aggressively --

Q Let me follow on that, because The Washington Times says in a front-page story today that the administration is preparing for a "course correction."

MR. SNOW: That's a bunch of hooey. I mean, it seems to be a collection of actually old hooey brought into a piece of new hooey. (Laughter.) So, I mean, you get -- I don't know where that came from, but it didn't come from the White House.

Q And just to follow on hooey, the things that are raised in this hooey-filled article, such as the division of Iraq --

MR. SNOW: Yes, partition -- non-starter.

Q Non-starter? Kay Bailey Hutchison raised it yesterday --

MR. SNOW: Again, as I said, we have, in fact, considered -- we consider lots of things. We've thought about partition, for a series of reasons --

Q Phased withdrawal?

MR. SNOW: -- again, you don't -- you withdraw when you win. Phased withdrawal is a way of saying, regardless of what the conditions are on the ground, we're going to get out of Dodge.

Q The 5 percent solution --

MR. SNOW: No.

Q Non-starter?

MR. SNOW: Non-starter.

Q Are these ideas that are now becoming sort of leaked throughout Washington about possibilities for the ISG, are they being analyzed or assessed by the White House as they pop up --

MR. SNOW: No, I think what you're seeing here -- I'm not even sure that they're being assessed by the ISG. Again, what's happening is different groups have been tasked -- ISG, Iraq Study Group -- to look in all different ways about Iraq and how we proceed forward.

A couple of points to make: First, they're not reporting to us; they're not pre-clearing things with us. It's very important to realize that, because we understand that the independence of the ISG is an important asset, and we do intend to make use of it because we're interested in seeing what they have to say. The President is always interested in differing points of view, especially from smart and well informed people.

Having said that, the idea of trying to react to leaks of documents that have not been circulated, at least as far as I can tell, among the ISG at this point is way premature. On the other hand, when there are debates and things are offered up by people at the Pentagon or the National Security Council or elsewhere, there are debates about how best to proceed. It happens all the time, because in a time of war you have shifting conditions, and you do have to adjust. That's the only way in which you can continue to pursue victory.

So we certainly are always considering new ideas, and we will reconsider old ideas to see if we think suddenly they have currency. But the ones mentioned in today's Washington Times do not fit that description.

Q The best intelligence on when you may have something to assess is well after the election?

MR. SNOW: You're going to have to ask -- I think it's best to talk to Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton because they know the timetables on that.

Q Talk about how this might be released. Can you give us any information on the Baker report and how that might work?

MR. SNOW: I really don't. No, because again they're independent. It's up to them. I think the best thing -- just give Jim and Lee a call because I don't know.

Q Can we run by you the idea of adding many more troops into Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Again, if -- the President has always said if the commanders on the ground tell them they need -- if they need more, then he will consider it. That has not been a recommendation that he's received.

Q What if Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton make that recommendation?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, it's something that we will study. But let me -- the point I made before --

Q So you're not saying that one is out? While you're saying these others are out, it's a possibility that you could --

MR. SNOW: Well, I don't know --

Q -- add a massive influx of --

MR. SNOW: What you're asking me -- what you're asking me about is just hypotheticals in the future. Why don't we wait to see what the group has to say? Maybe they're sending you documents, but we're not seeing them, Martha.

And I think rather than trying to sort of handicap what may or may not pass muster -- as you know, there have been suggestions in the past about more troops. And the President said to General Casey, do you need more? And he says, no. And that is -- that's the point he's making --

Q No, but I just think that you're quickly dismissing several ideas here that were on the front page, but you're not dismissing this idea and what should we do --

MR. SNOW: Well, because what you should take from it is, for instance, ideas like partition had been studied. What you're talking now about are tactical adjustments that may be made along the way. And I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no because I don't know. What you end up doing, again, is you respond to the people on the ground. You give them what they need and what they think they need. Ultimately, as you know, the most important thing is to have Iraqi troops who are able to accomplish the mission. But that's taking time and we're working on it.

Q Can you define again today what a win in Iraq is?

MR. SNOW: An Iraq that can defend, sustain and govern itself.

Q And U.S. troops will be there, you said they won't withdraw until you win?

MR. SNOW: Until we have reached the conclusion that the mission has been accomplished, and that is that you're going to have Iraqi security forces and police forces that are up to the job; that you are going to have the democracy that is able to sustain, govern and defend itself; and the Iraqis will have stood up.

But if you're asking for precise metrics on that, they don't exist, as you know.

Q Can I just do one more quick on Iraqi and a couple of statements from an interview that Diane Sawyer did in North Korea?

MR. SNOW: Okay, well let's -- all right.

Q Okay, can I just finish on Iraq then?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Yesterday, Maliki asked that an aide to al Sadr, who once had a murder warrant, be released. And the U.S. apparently released him, even though they detained him, thinking he was causing sectarian violence. Is that the kind of justice you're looking for?

MR. SNOW: No, I think also if you take a look at the conversations, as you know, Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with Muqtada al Sadr and with Ali al Sistani, and one of the things that they have been talking about is, in fact, suppressing violence. You've seen the Prime Minister taking action; he's moved some people around at the ministry of the interior, they've demobilized a police unit. I think it's pretty clear that Prime Minister Maliki is moving aggressively to go after sectarian violence.

I'm not in any position to judge the release of the cleric.

Q But by having al Sadr say, release this guy --

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure -- you know, there may be a lot more that's gone on and I just don't know. I'm not going to render judgment because I'm not competent to.

Q How seriously are you going to take this report from Baker?

MR. SNOW: We're going to take it seriously. But, once again, it's an advisory report. But you absolutely take it seriously. Why don't we wait to see what comes out of this? I mean, I think there is hot speculation, and, obviously, a lot of times in Washington it's like you hand something off to a commission and then you follow exactly what the commission does. The President is going to do what he thinks is going to help us move toward and ultimately achieve victory in Iraq and in the war on terror.

And the other important thing is -- and this is a real service I think that this commission provides -- is an opportunity for real bipartisan work on it, because there have been too many times where it's been dug in. And so we look forward to seeing what's going on. You've heard Lee Hamilton say, I'm doing this not as a Democrat, and you've heard Jim Baker say, I'm doing this not as a Republican. These are very serious people, and I think it's worth taking a look at their work product and find out what they develop.

The other thing to note is that, also, the key recommendations, they are going to be consensual, everybody is going to be voting for them. So I think it will be the case that they have worked hard to try to build a consensus across party and ideological lines on ways to proceed. And I think, especially for that reason, it deserves real strong consideration.

Q Tony, what does it say about the trouble that the Republican Party is in right now that the President is having to go out and campaign today in what should have been two safe Republican races?

MR. SNOW: This is a close election contest. On the other hand, what does it say, you've got Bill Clinton running around and campaigning for people. Does that mean Democrats are suddenly worried? I think it's important that you have a President going out and engaging. I'll tell you why we're confident about what's coming up. We think we've got better candidates, we got better issues, we got better solutions to the problems that face Americans. On a tactical level, Ken Mehlman says he's got 55 million bucks more than the Democrats have in get-out-the-vote measures. And just from my fractional experience out there, every time people read these stories that almost look like suppression efforts to bring down Republican morale, the Republicans say, man, I'm ready, I'm going to get out there and do it.

So I think it's going to be interesting to see. I think you've got a lot of reasons for people on both sides to be motivated. But for those who are trying to make up their minds right now, we're just asking, you ask yourself the question, who is really talking about a sensible way to make the economy even bigger and stronger than it is, and who do you think actually has a coherent plan for winning a war on terror and doing it in a way that not only addresses Iraq, not only addresses Afghanistan, but also creates a framework for thinking about making the world safer through a freedom agenda.

Q Also on the two candidates today, does the President personally, morally, have any concerns about the controversies swirling around both men right now?

MR. SNOW: I'm just not going to comment on it.

Q As you did in the gaggle the other day, you made some comments.

MR. SNOW: Well, I just -- I think the President understands that it's important to set high standards. But the other thing the President is doing is he's going out and -- let the candidates speak for themselves on this. The President will have his say, as well.

Q Tony, could I come back to the -- answered Terry by saying, yes, you're convinced the war on terror is a winning issue for Republicans. Is Iraq, by itself?

MR. SNOW: Yes, because I think what's happened is, the idea of trying to take out Iraq, and say, we're going to leave there, but we're going to win the war on terror; we're going to strategically withdraw, but we're doing to win; we are against a terrorist surveillance program, but we're going to win; we are opposed to the detention act, the military commissions, but we're going to win.

Q You're still tying other things in there.

MR. SNOW: That's because, I hate to tell you, but Iraq is not a standalone issue. As bin Laden has said, it's the semper fi in the war on terror. And the idea, somehow, the you could separate them from what's going on is to take a naive look at a world in which people have satellite communications, and the rest of the world watches what happens. So if, in fact, people were to draw the conclusion that the United States is going to cut and run from Iraq, don't you think Iran or --(interruption in briefing) -- let me continue. I was in the midst, before we did the planes, trains and automobiles.

So the fact is, that what goes on on the ground, and how the United States deals with these challenges has impact throughout the world, and also throughout the terror networks. So lots of luck in trying to sort of pluck that out and treat it as an isolated issue. It's not, and it's not in the words of the people who are right at the heart of the issue.

Q If that's the case, Tony, how do you ever debate the war? We hear all this "put up a solid front." How do you debate the war at all if all opposition to any component, any aspect of the war --

MR. SNOW: I didn't say that.

Q That's the suggestion.

MR. SNOW: No, the suggestion was to treat the war in isolation from the war on terror. That's different.

Q But there are people who don't believe it is a part of the war on terror. You know what --

MR. SNOW: We'll be happy to engage in the debate. I think I've laid out a lot of the arguments.

Q Two months ago when the President and Prime Minister Maliki announced the Baghdad security plan, one of the trade-offs that commanders acknowledged was more U.S. troops on the street of Baghdad would mean more U.S. casualties --

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q -- with the idea being they would eventually bring down violence in Baghdad. Two months later, U.S. casualties are very high; levels of violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country are just as high, if not higher. This morning, General Caldwell said that it might be time, in his words, to refocus the strategy in Baghdad. Does the White House share the assessment that it's not working?

MR. SNOW: Actually, that's -- I talked to Major General Caldwell before we came in here because his comments have been misquoted. What he said is that, the levels of violence had not been lowered in a way that met our expectations, and so what we're doing is we're adjusting to bring them down, which is what you would expect.

I mean that is a classic example of what we've been trying to talk about over and over, which is that in a time of war, you constantly reassess what you're doing, and you constantly do what you can and use your ingenuity and your flexibility to be more effective in your aims. And what you have seen is going into Baghdad, into a lot of these areas -- and it's also worth noting that it is not simply the case that our forces are the only -- are kind of sitting ducks, and they're the only ones who are taking a hit. This -- there have been a number of very effective actions against terror fighters in Baghdad and elsewhere. There have been seizures of arm caches and that sort of stuff, and that gets reported regularly.

But it is something that we anticipated going into Ramadan, but it is not something that we want to have continue forever. What we want to do is to continue to have -- to build military tactics that go after the bad guys, and at the same time, work on the political strategy.

This is why we not only had meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Maliki, Muqtada al Sadr, and Ali al Sistani, you also had the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Hashimi, who has lost three family members to violence, also working with Sunni forces.

So what you end up having within Iraq is not only attempts to continue to adjust the security tactics so that you can meet the ongoing challenges in Baghdad and elsewhere, but also the political conditions that are going to persuade some of the people who may have been contributing to the violence to stop committing acts of violence, to join the political process, and to build the economic opportunities that are going to let some of those who might otherwise be inclined to join terror to choose a more peaceful path.

Q But do you think that plan as it is currently constituted, the idea of having higher U.S. troop levels in Baghdad, is still a smart, tenable plan? Or does it need to be dropped or changed?

MR. SNOW: Again, I would direct tactical questions to the generals there because they're the ones that --

Q People did, and that's what led to this question. I wanted to know if the White House shared the assessment of --

MR. SNOW: The White House -- yes, the White House listens to the generals. But I would caution you against saying it's not working because that's not their view. Because what has happened is again a single line out of a briefing that ran -- let's see -- it's big print, but it was 14 pages -- in addition to probably a dozen pages of slides -- that indicated in many ways precise neighborhoods they were going into, precise actions that they had taken, successes they had had, the apprehension of members of al Qaeda and all that sort of stuff was in there.

So what our view is, we continue to support the generals in any we can, and in any way they find fitting. And we also understand that based on changing conditions in Baghdad and elsewhere, they may be asking for different things at different times and we're going to supply them; we're going to support them fully.

Q I just have one quick follow up to something you had said earlier. When you were asked about Tet, you said that the difference now was the President was determined to win. Presumably, Lyndon Johnson was just as determined to win. Obviously, the President has a lot of control, but can't control the view of an entire country and can't control all the events on the ground. Do you accept that as true, that a President can be determined to win and can still lose, all the same?

MR. SNOW: We're not going to lose. And this is a President who is going to -- is determined to see through the promise of Iraqi democracy. And I'll tell you why. The price of failure -- and you hear many Democrats say this; they understand the premise -- it is absolutely catastrophic. Because if you create a hollowed-out or unstable Iraq that will provide the -- that can provide a launching pad, a failed state that can provide a launching pad for a terror network, that also has the second largest reserve of oil on the face of the earth, you have an opportunity to create unbelievable chaos within the Middle East and elsewhere; economic pressure on the industrialized world, and at the same time fomenting terror throughout the Middle East, going after states that are beginning in their own ways to create fledgling democratic movements, stomping those out; the notion of establishing a caliphate suddenly is going to seem a lot more credible.

So there is no option here and, therefore, we will entertain no option other than to succeed and finish the job.

Q Can I just follow on that for a second? Because the last two times there have been press accounts of a general suggesting that either strategy needed to be refocused or Major Dannett saying you needed to pull the British troops out, things will appear in the paper and a couple of words, it will sound like they're suggesting some alternative strategy. And then upon further consultation, we're told they were either taken out of context --

MR. SNOW: No, no, this is our -- let me just read to you the passage here, all right, because maybe that will help. I'll just put it right in -- he says -- he's speaking of Ramadan. He says, "Violence and progress do coexist in Iraq. You can be making progress and have violence. The violence continues against security forces and innocent Iraqis during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Traditionally a time of great celebration, it has instead been a period of increased violence, not just this year, but during the past two years, as well. The violence is, indeed, disheartening. In Baghdad alone we've seen a 22-percent increase in attacks during the first three weeks of Ramadan, compared to the three weeks preceding in the preceding Ramadan. And Baghdad Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas, but has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence. We are working very closely with the government of Iraq to determine how best to refocus our efforts."

Now, that is a far different thing than giving the impression it's a failure, we've got to throw it all out. What he's saying is, you have seen in the focus areas they've had success, but there is violence elsewhere; you need to figure out how to deal with that. And so you work with the Iraqi government and work with the Iraqi military to address it.

Q Has any American commander ever suggested to the President that a change in tactics, if not strategy, was necessary?

MR. SNOW: Because we keep getting into this confusion, let me try to separate. Overall goals to win: The strategy is to involve three different areas, working with the Iraqis -- that would be security, economics and politics. Tactics change all the time. Generals talk about changing tactics all the time. It happens regularly. It is nothing new in a time of war. As a matter of fact, it would be a dereliction of duty if generals did not constantly adjust to the changing conditions and tactics on the ground. So that has been going on from the early days when you had a change in the way in which IEDs were employed, to the present day where you have shifting coalitions of terror activities and you also have real concern by the Iraqis of influx of foreign capital and foreign fighters. So naturally, you adjust all the time.

So the answer to your question is, Jim, it not only happens all the time, it's been going on for a very long time.

Let me get to some of the back rows, and then we'll bounce around also. Ellen.

Q You, obviously, are talking about winning the elections, and the question is -- I mean, the polls have you guys down at least in the House on several fronts. You have a political office at the White House. What is your -- other than what you just told us about economy and we're going to win --

MR. SNOW: You mean, other than talking about the important issues of peace and prosperity? Other than the things that matter most to Americans, what else?

Q You've got a little less than three weeks, you're going out, other people are going out -- what is your overall strategy to really win this?

MR. SNOW: It's real simple: Tell people the truth, lay the issues out, and then ask them, who's got something to offer.

Q Tony, two questions. Several Middle East reports have come out warning Muslims in the United States to leave because of plans for another attack. We know the government is doing what it can to prevent such attacks. What can an individual do to be prepared?

MR. SNOW: Well, first, Lester, that's about a three-week-old story. Did it just get to you guys today?

Q This is a network question.

MR. SNOW: You've got to upgrade the connections, or pay the phone bills, or something.

Q I work for a network -- no one answered --

MR. SNOW: The answer is, Americans do what we've been doing since September 11th, which is to remain vigilant. But on the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security and everybody in the government -- and local police and other organizations continue to do everything they can to proceed in the war on terror. It's one of the reasons why the President has pressed vigorously not only for the detainee provisions that were just signed into law, but a terrorist surveillance program, for ways of tracking finances of terror groups, for figuring out where they are, what they do, who they're talking to, and what they intend.

Q Do these threats mean that the terrorists are issuing them because the U.S. war on terror is being successfully prosecuted, or because they have not yet felt pressure from U.S. activities?

MR. SNOW: You'll have to ask the authors of those statements what they intended.

Q Tony, this morning Diane Sawyer interviewed North Korea General Ri Chan Bok, and in the interview, the General told Diane Sawyer a couple of things I was wondering if you could react to.

MR. SNOW: Okay.

Q He told Diane Sawyer that "the U.S. wants us to kneel down before them. We cannot agree with them. If this tension continues war cannot be avoided."

MR. SNOW: Well, several things are going on. It is not unusual for the North Koreans to use strong rhetoric. On the other hand, let me make clear to the people of North Korea and the entire world, not only do we not want North Korea to kneel down before them [sic], what we're trying to do is offer them a better deal -- better economy, more security, better relations with their neighbors, integration into the global community, as opposed to isolation. Pretty good deal.

We right now are focused on using all of our efforts on a diplomatic path to work with the government in North Korea so that they're going to do things that are going to be good for all of them. The President and Secretary Rice appreciate the efforts of the Chinese delegation that's there right now. Secretary Rice has just had some good meetings; she's just arrived in South Korea and she is now working with our allies to figure out the proper ways now to enact U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718.

So at this particular point, again, as to the central charge of trying to humiliate or bring down the -- to make them go to their knees, it's just the opposite. What we want to do is to give North Korea an opportunity to enjoy the same kinds of privileges and prosperity that are available to other nations in the region.

Q Elsewhere in the interview he complains that President Bush says things along the lines of what you're saying, that they're humiliating to North Korea, that the President tells complete lies -- "stop saying lies, that's what we're asking for."

Is there a sense, or any concern on the President's part that his rhetoric is actually making the situation worse?

MR. SNOW: No. Again, what we have tried to do in the case of the government of North Korea is not to engage in personal insults about Kim Jong-il, but to talk directly about what the government has been doing and how we're trying to work with people in the neighborhood to help out North Korea.

And, you know, there are disagreements, but also a lot of times what happens is people engage in some public diplomacy. We know that there are ongoing efforts to talk with the government. It's one of the reasons why we have the Chinese and the Japanese and the Russians and the South Koreans in the process, because they not only have longer and closer ties, they've got greater influence and we're hoping they succeed.

Q The stakes have seemed to rise in the last few days. The President said to George yesterday there could be dire consequences -- he's using the generals talking about war. Is this the verge of war?

MR. SNOW: No.

Q Tony, I just want to be clear, because you seem to be -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- you seem to be reluctant to repeat what you said on Friday, when you said "George Allen is not a bigot and the President absolutely supports his candidacy. Mr. Sherwood has admitted to what has gone on. The President believes we're all sinners and has asked for forgiveness and, in this case, he supports his campaign." Do you want to retract any of that? Has the President changed his mind?

MR. SNOW: No, I stick with all of it. It's still true.

Q You just don't want to repeat it?

MR. SNOW: Unlike you, I didn't have a blackberry of my gaggle transcript on it. But it's now read into the record and it still stands.

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: All right. Thank you.

END 10:53 A.M. EDT