For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 22, 2007
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Raleigh, North Carolina
10:12 A.M. EST
MS. PERINO: Good morning. We are on our way to Franklinton, North Carolina. The President is going to get a tour of Novozymes North America. This is an energy event to highlight the President's State of the Union initiative he announced, the 20-in-10 program. This is the President setting a goal of reducing America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent in the next 10 years.
Just a quick recap: It requires progress on two fronts. We've asked Congress to reform the fuel economy standards for cars so that we can make our use of gasoline more efficient, and we must also then harness technologies so that we can improve the amount of alternative fuels that we use. And the President set a goal of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels to be used in the fuel supply by 2017. Taken together, that's how you get to the 20 percent in the next 10 years.
So the President's tour today, he's going to see this pretty amazing technology that really shows the best of America's ingenuity and ability to be able to drive new technologies. And so he will get this tour, and then we will have a panel discussion that is open press, and then we'll be on our way home.
Q Dana, can I ask you about the use -- apparently new use of chlorine gas in these bombs in Iraq? What does the White House make of this tactic?
MS. PERINO: It's obviously a continued pattern of killing innocent people in very spectacular fashion. Major General Caldwell did make some comments this morning on CNN, in which he talked about the military -- they're taking a close look at this, but obviously there's been these two attacks, and they're looking to see if there are others. He said the main pattern that he sees is the continued use of spectacular events in order to kill innocent people. So it's disturbing and concerning, but I'd have to refer you to DoD to see if there's any other trends that they're tracking there.
Q Dana, the Vice President made some comments about Democrats and their agenda and how it would -- I don't remember the exact wording, but I know you've talked to Ann Compton about this -- just being that it would encourage terrorists in Iraq. My question is, Nancy Pelosi called the President, didn't get him, apparently talked to John Bolten [sic]. Is the President going to return her call?
MS. PERINO: Josh Bolten did talk to Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the President. I'm not exactly sure the time of the call, I know the President was traveling yesterday. The bottom line is this: The Vice President was not in any way questioning anyone's patriotism. He was questioning the strategy. And anyone who puts forward a strategy has to be able to explain the consequences of those actions if they were to move forward.
What the President and the Vice President believe is that Nancy Pelosi's and Representative Murtha's plan is one that would not help secure our country and would leave the region in chaos. And securing Baghdad is absolutely critical. So it was a questioning of the merits of their proposal, not their patriotism.
Q Was he at all out of line in making those comments?
MS. PERINO: The Vice President out of line? Absolutely not. He was questioning the merits of the -- of their proposal. And I think if you go up and take a look back at some of the things that they've said about the President, the tables could be turned. But we're not making the same accusations.
Q I'm sorry, just to follow up, the President hasn't called her back. Do you know if he's going to?
MS. PERINO: Chief of Staff Josh Bolten spoke to the Speaker on the President's behalf. As far as I know there's no -- there's been no other phone call.
Q Anything to say about the IAEA's report on Iran --
MS. PERINO: -- checked in just before we left, and the United States officials, State Department officials have just received the report. They're going to take a good look at it. But on first glance, it does appear to confirm what we expected, which is that the Iranians have not complied with what the international community had passed in the U.N. Resolution 1737, I believe was the number.
And in that resolution, it said that the allies would take a look at this report, get together, and then think about next steps. And so that's where we are in the process.
Q Has the President been briefed on the report yet?
MS. PERINO: I don't believe so, because literally, I think we just received the report as we were walking on -- you know, as we were walking out. However, the President meets with Secretary Rice regularly, and I believe they have breakfast scheduled for tomorrow morning. She's just on her way home, as well, so she's in the air.
Q Does the President plan to talk about climate change in the events today or tomorrow?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if the exact words will come out of his mouth, but what I can tell you is that he views this 20-in-10 program and his other energy proposals in a holistic way, meaning that you put forward a program that's -- a proposal that is very bold in reducing gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years, and offsetting that with alternatives, and you get multiple benefits. You get improved national security because you're not importing as much and relying so much on other sources; you get the economic benefit so that you have more domestically produced energy resources; and then you have the cleaner air benefit because you're burning fuels that burn cleaner so you don't have the public health concerns as much -- exasperated as other traditional fuels. And then finally, you also get the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. So that you look at this in a holistic way with multiple benefits.
Q Dana, can I follow up on that? Is the President planning to send legislation to the Hill on these energy policies, in particular the alternative fuels?
MS. PERINO: That's traditionally not the way that we have done it. We usually work with the Hill. We lay out a set of principles in our proposal. And so I think at this point we're following that same model. But if that changes we'll let you know.
Q I'm compelled to ask you this question. Does the President have any Oscar picks, and has he seen any of the films?
MS. PERINO: Has he seen what?
Q Keep in mind this is coming from ABC. Has the President seen any of the Oscar nominated films, and does he have any picks?
MS. PERINO: Well, you know, I have not seen any Oscar nominated films. I don't think, personally, I couldn't even tell you what is actually nominated. But I know he and Mrs. Bush do enjoy watching movies, and I will check into it and see if I can find out. I don't even know what's nominated.
END 10:19 A.M. EST