For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 5, 2005
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
Phone call with President Hu.....................1,2,4,5,10 Meeting with President Obasanjo.........................2,5 Charles Taylor extradition..............................3,4 Social Security reform..................................3-4 North Korean immigrants...................................5 Oil production............................................6 Sudan...................................................6-7 Bolton document requests................................7-9 Al Qaeda terrorist arrest.................................9 Treasury bonds...........................................11 Funds appropriated to Palestinian Authority...........11-12 National Day of Prayer event.............................12 British elections........................................13 Russian participation with Palestinian Authority.........13 Letter sent to Latvian President......................13-14 Energy Prices.........................................15-16
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary ___________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 5, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:35 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I want to begin with one world leader call from earlier today. The President had a good conversation with President Hu, of China.
MR. McCLELLAN: Here we go. (Laughter.) You all need to go home and pack, and get ready for the trip.
The President and President Hu discussed North Korea, and the importance of the six-party talks. The two leaders reiterated their commitment to working together toward a nuclear-free Peninsula, while expressing concern about North Korea. They agreed on the importance of progress on bilateral trade and economic issues, and they also discussed Taiwan. President Hu briefed the President on the historic visits to China by opposition leaders. The President urged President Hu to continue working on ways to reach out to President Chen as the duly-elected leader of Taiwan.
Here shortly this afternoon, the President looks forward to welcoming President Obasanjo back to the White House. The two leaders, I expect, will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in Sudan and our support for the efforts to expand the African Union mission in Darfur.
And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.
Q Scott, whom does Hu believe has the best opportunity to convince North Korea to put away its nuclear program? Is it China or is it the U.S.?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think all of us came together in the six-party talk process to work on our shared concern, which is North Korea's development of nuclear weapons. And that's why it's an issue that affects everybody in the region. And that's why the President felt it was important for all of us to come together and work through the six-party talks. We hope North Korea will change their mind and come back to the talks. They had expressed a commitment to coming to the talks. Since that time, they have shown an unwillingness to come back to the talks. The talks are the best way resolving this issue.
Q Has Hu suggested the President get into bilateral talks with North Korea?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you're well aware, we've stated our views on that. There's plenty of opportunity through the six-party process for the two countries to speak to each other if they need to. But, no, that wasn't something that came up in this call.
Q Scott, Republican Congressman Ed Royce, who is the Vice-Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, wrote an op/ed today in The New York Times, and I'm told he also called the White House, to try to emphasize that he thinks the President needs to bring up with Nigerian leader Obasanjo the issue of Charles Taylor, and where -- why he's still being kept in Nigeria, rather than being tried. Is the President going to bring that up at this meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's let the meeting take place, and then we'll have an opportunity to talk about it.
But first of all, let me back up. We appreciate the constructive role that Nigeria played in ending the civil war in Liberia back in 2003, when they accepted Charles Taylor. The administration and Congress share a common goal that a way needs to be found for Charles Taylor to be held to account for the crimes he has committed. And we have been working with Nigeria, Liberia, the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, and the African Union to address the matter. And that's what we will continue to do.
Q But wouldn't it just take simply the President saying to Mr. Obasanjo, please release him and send him back to appear in a court?
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, we've been engaged with this with Nigeria, as well as those other countries and organizations that I mentioned. And we will continue to do so. We believe a way needs to be found for him to be held to account for the crimes he committed. And that's something we share with Congress.
Q Why has he been sitting there for two years?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, you have to go back and look at what happened in Liberia. And it was important that we bring about peace and stability in Liberia. And we worked very closely with African nations and President Obasanjo. President Obasanjo was very helpful in helping to end that civil war there. And we had urged that Charles Taylor leave Liberia so that we could move forward on peace and stability. And that's what occurred.
Q Has the President's campaign on selling a new Social Security approach ended now, basically in travel? How many states did he visit and how much of the taxpayers' money did he use to sell?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. First of all, I think we've visited some 25 states up to now. The 60-day push on educating the American people about the problems facing Social Security has ended. But this is an issue that affects all Americans, and the President believes it's important to continue reaching out to the American people and involving them in this discussion as we move forward to get something done.
Congress is now moving forward on the legislative front. Senator Grassley and Chairman Thomas are committed to moving forward on legislation in their committees in an effort to get something done this year. And we appreciate those efforts. This is a high priority.
And we know that Social Security is working fine for seniors today. Seniors today have nothing to worry about because nothing is going to change for them. But we've got to make it better for younger workers, and that means making it permanently sound and giving them the option to control some of their own savings, if they so choose, so that they can realize a much greater rate of return on their savings. And the President --
Q How much money did the President spend --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President will continue going out across the country reaching out to the American people. I don't have a figure on that right now, Helen.
Q Can you get it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see what I can do.
Q Scott, during the call with Hu, did the President bring up the currency issue? Is that something that he brought up?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, keep in mind, I did say that they did talk about economic and trade issues and the importance of making progress on those issues. In terms of the currency issue, I'd just say that Treasury stays in regular contact with China and has an ongoing discussion with them on the matter. And I think our views are well-known and Treasury has stated them recently in the past.
Q So the President didn't bring it up?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just said that they talked about economic and trade issues, and I think I'd just leave it at that, for the call. But that's what I wanted to point out to you, that there are ongoing discussions Treasury has with China on these matters.
Q Who initiated the call?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was a mutually agreed to call. Obviously, those were three different areas that we have been working closely with Russia [sic] to address some shared interests.
Q If I could go back to Charles Taylor for a minute. You said a way needs to be found to hold him to account. Are you looking at ways other than the court in Sierra Leone, and if so, what would be some of the other ways in which he could be held to account?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that's a matter that we're continuing to discuss with Nigeria and Liberia, the United Nations, ECOWAS and others to find that way. And we've been in discussions with members of Congress about it, as well.
Q What are some of the possibilities?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I'll leave it to those discussions, and we'll continue to discuss a way forward to hold him to account. But we've always felt that he needs to be held accountable.
Q Scott, was there any talk with Hu on North Korean immigrants? And a related question is, there's apparently a growing number of the immigrants who are in the United States illegally, but they're caught in kind of a limbo because there's a law that allows them to seek asylum, but not if they've gone through South Korea. And it looked like a delicate problem because China might be annoyed if somehow we gave them -- granted them asylum. And it's hard for them to get to the United States without going through South Korea because it's apparently hard for them to get into the U.S. embassy in Beijing because it's so fortified. Is the administration looking into this problem?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, on the first part of your question, no, it wasn't something that was discussed in this phone call. On the second part of that question, I leave you -- leave it to State Department to give you the latest update in terms of matters relating to asylum.
Q Scott, on the upcoming meeting with the Nigerian President, two things, one about oil. The President, a couple of weeks ago, met with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. And many persons thought that he's not going to limit his request for increased oil production just there. Is the President going to ask Nigeria's President to increase oil production? And can Nigeria increase its 7 percent to 8 percent of oil production that we receive here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, again, I don't want to jump ahead of the meeting. We need to let the meeting take place. There are a number of important issues that they will be discussing. And like I said, one of those I'm sure that will come up is Sudan. In terms of the issue of oil, Nigeria is one of many producing nations around the world. And so, yes, we do --
Q Sweet light crude that we particularly like.
MR. McCLELLAN: We stay in contact with producing nations, and we'll continue to do so to make sure that there are abundant and affordable supplies of energy to address the growing global economy.
Q Well -- wait a minute, I'm not finished. Well, there is -- if there is an increase from Nigeria, will it make a difference? It's just such a small amount compared to Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Would it make a difference if they were to --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you heard the President recently talk about this, and talk about the importance of continuing -- he talked about it in the press conference just last week, the importance of continuing to talk with countries to make sure that they are expanding production, as they are able to do so, to address these issues, and to help. And that's something we can do now.
What we need to do for the long-term is make sure that we pass a comprehensive energy plan. And that's why the President is working with Congress and continuing to call on Congress to pass the energy plan that he outlined four years ago. And we have an opportunity to get that done this year. We appreciate the action by the House, who has already passed energy legislation. And we hope the Senate will move forward quickly, too. Senator Domenici is someone who has made a commitment to do so, and we appreciate that.
Q And then on to Sudan, some of your critics are saying you just haven't done anything. They want soldiers in there and some other things other than humanitarian aid to help stop the situation in Darfur. What is the President willing to do in the midst of these talks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they must not be following the situation very closely, because the United States has been providing the leading role when it comes to addressing the problems in Sudan. We have been strongly engaged in efforts to end the suffering in Darfur, and to forge peace in southern Sudan.
John Danforth was someone who worked very closely with the government of Sudan and the opposition rebels to forge a north-south agreement. We continue to urge the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement to move forward expeditiously to establish a unity government and implement the comprehensive peace agreement. We also urge the government of Sudan and the rebels in Darfur to resume their peace talks, as soon as possible to end the crisis in Darfur. The violence must end in Darfur. We've made some important progress in Sudan. But the violence must end in Darfur. And both parties have an obligation to work to make that happen. And we have been very supportive of the Africa Union mission. President Obasanjo, as Chairman of the African Union, is working to expand that mission and increase the number of peacekeepers who will be in the Darfur region. And that's very important.
And in terms of humanitarian aid, we have provided more than 80 percent of the food to Darfur this year. And we hope the rest of the donor nations will follow through on their commitments that they have made, as well.
Q If you think the violence must end, why not send soldiers?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the African Union is sending -- we support the efforts of the African Union and want to do what we can to provide help, as they work to expand --
Q Why not U.S. soldiers --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- as they work to expand -- we're working --
Q -- if concerned?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is something that affects all those countries in Africa, and we're working to support their efforts to expand their forces there.
Q Scott, do you have an update on the explosions that occurred outside the British Consulate earlier today in New York?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't have an update from this podium. I think that will come from authorities in New York and/or the FBI.
Q Is there any evidence of terrorism?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I don't have any update from this podium. I'll leave it to the authorities to give you an update.
Q Has Bush spoken to Blair today?
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Scott, Senator Lugar and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have made substantial document requests of certain executive branch agencies in connection with the Bolton confirmation hearing. They have requested documents from the State Department in connection with his speech on Syria, and they have made document requests of the National Security Agency in connection with his request for information from that agency. Has the White House been in touch with either State or NSA about the response to those requests?
MR. McCLELLAN: We're well aware of the State Department and how they have been very responsive to the requests by the committee. I think that John Bolton has been very responsive to the questions that members have raised, both in oral testimony, as well as written testimony. And these are issues that we believe have been addressed through the committee process. We look forward to the committee coming back and moving forward on his nomination. It's important that we get him in there so that he can get about doing the important work of reform at the United Nations.
Q But my specific question was whether or not the White House has been in touch with those agencies about satisfying those document requests.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we stay in touch with the State Department on this matter. The State Department has been working to make sure that the questions are responded to, and they've been very responsive to the committee. There's a difference between responding to legitimate concerns and just people trying to go down the road of a fishing expedition.
Q And one last question on the subject. One of the accusations that was raised was from John Wolf, who is a former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, worked under Bolton at the State Department. And in his interview with the committee, he said that Bolton's pursuit of disputes with members of that bureau in the State Department, the Nonproliferation Bureau, dragged on so long that sometimes Secretary Powell -- issues did not get to Secretary Powell in a timely way. Was that something that you saw happening in the first term, or is it something that Secretary Powell complained about?
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate you trying to ask the hearing to be held here from this podium, but I think that John Bolton has addressed these types of questions through the hearing process and through written responses. John Bolton is someone that has a tremendous amount of experience; he has been confirmed by the Senate four times, including once by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is now hearing -- or overseeing his confirmation process for ambassador to the United Nations. He's someone who has had a couple of decades of service to his country in the government. And he brings a lot of passion and a lot of experience and sometimes a little bluntness to the position. But we believe those are the type of qualities that are needed to go about the important work of reforming the United Nations. And that's why the President believes so strongly that he is the right person at the right time to fill this important position.
Q But from where you sat, his actions in office over the last four years you would say were not delaying issues getting up to Secretary Powell?
MR. McCLELLAN: I've never been known to see anything of that sort.
Q Scott, two questions. One, now comes the arrest of number three most wanted terrorist by the Pakistanis. The question is that after the great damage was done to the United States and we are still living under the fear of terrorism, they're giving, or delivering to the U.S. one by one terrorists -- they are still holding number one and number two. When are we getting number one? That's the main question because the great danger is still there and terrorism is still around the globe.
MR. McCLELLAN: The war on terrorism continues. We are engaged with some 90 countries around the world in the global war on terrorism. The President often talks about how the tendency is, the further we get away from September 11th, the easier it is to forget about what occurred. But we are going to stay on the offense, stay on offense, going after those who seek to do harm to America and the civilized world. We are going to continue dismantling the al Qaeda network. We have made a lot of progress. It's not the same organization that it once was.
We have brought to justice in one way or another some three-quarters of the key leaders and associates of al Qaeda. Yesterday marked a significant moment in the global war on terrorism. This was the individual who was a senior leader of al Qaeda, al-Libbi. He replaced Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And we applaud Pakistan for their capture of this terrorist. And we will continue working closely with Pakistan and other countries around the world to share intelligence and go after those who seek to do us harm. We'll also continue working closely with countries to advance freedom, and we will continue to go after those other terrorist leaders and bring them to justice, as well.
Q Question on China -- I have. China and Taiwan. When China would -- issue warning to Taiwan that, stop, otherwise we can -- another time, they said that we're ready to talk. Where do we stand as far as China and Taiwan is concerned? Because Taiwan is now asking whether they can trust China or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: We continue to encourage dialogue between Taiwan and China to promote peace and stability in the region. And the President and President Hu talked about that in their conversation today. We appreciate that President Hu met with some of the opposition leaders. We believe dialogue is important. We believe ultimately that he needs -- that there needs to be continued dialogue with the duly elected leaders in Taiwan, and that means President Chen and his Cabinet. That's the best way to continue to promote peace and stability in the cross-strait region.
Q Scott, as Congress is about to approve legislation prohibiting illegal aliens from getting drivers' licenses, will the President sign such legislation? That's my first.
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the Real ID Act?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we've already expressed our support for that legislation. And that is part of the supplemental that the House is moving forward on today. And we appreciate the House moving, and working to pass this important legislation. It's most important to get the supplemental passed so that we can get much needed resources to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and resources to help train and equip the Iraqi and Afghan security forces, which is critical to us completing our mission in those two countries. But we put out a statement of administration policy recently expressing our support for including those provisions in the supplemental legislation.
Q The New York Times yesterday devoted more than half a page to a California story headlined: Retirees Answer the Call to Hunt for Terrorists, Patrolling in Planes, Trucks and Boats. And my question: Does the President believe that any of these retirees are doing wrong, or are "vigilantes"?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I haven't heard him express that about those individuals. If you're talking about people who have become part of the citizen corps in helping in the global war on terrorism, we have expressed our support for efforts to -- that all of us need to be involved in the efforts to defeat terrorism and disrupt terrorist plots.
Q Thank you.
Q Scott, the Treasury Department is saying now that it may bring back the 30-year bond to help finance the government's operations. If the fiscal situation is improving, as you have projected, why does the government need to sell such longer term, expensive debt?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the why you might want to ask after they've considered it. All they've said they're doing is they're going to give it consideration. In terms of why they're giving it consideration, the Treasury Department spoke to that yesterday. And I think you should look back at what they said because I think that answers your question.
Q But is the budget outlook improving, or is it getting worse?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of our fiscal situation, if that's what you're asking about, you know we have an update called the mid-session review when we'll give our next update on our fiscal situation. But we -- the President has put forward a deficit reduction plan. He is strongly committed to making sure that we stay on track to meet the goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2005. The budget resolution that was just passed by Congress keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2005.
We must continue to move forward in a way where we meet our highest responsibilities, highest priorities and restrain spending elsewhere in the budget. And the budget that Congress passed is one that we applaud. It is one that does, for the first time since 1997, reduce the growth in mandatory spending. And it is a budget that exercises tight spending restraint on the discretionary side. And we applaud Congress for the steps that they have taken. We look forward to continue working with them as they go through the appropriations process which is underway now in a number of subcommittees.
Let me go back here.
Q The Congress' decision yesterday of tight restriction on the money -- $200 million -- that the President authorized to the Palestinian Authority. Some see it as even worse during the Arafat era. Do you see this an undermining of the President's effort to support Abu Mazen and to build --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, and in fact, I've -- those who see it that way, I think, have it wrong. This is very similar to the way it has been in the past. And it does give waiver authority to the administration, so we have flexibility there. We applaud Congress for including that $200 million in the supplemental funding.
Q But $50 million of this money is going to go directly to Israel. (Inaudible.) Some of the Palestinians say that basically reinforcing the lines that the Israeli drew, in terms of the war. And obviously, affecting the permanent stated solution when --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've always stressed the importance of making sure that the Palestinian people can move about freely and goods can move about freely across those checkpoints and that it's done in that way. And that's what we we'll continue to express as we move forward.
But, look, we'll be continuing to talk with the Palestinian Authority and with the Quartet's envoy, Mr. Wolfensohn, who is working to look at how they move forward to put the institutions in place for a viable state to emerge as Prime Minister Sharon and Israel move forward on withdrawing from Gaza. That's where the focus needs to remain. And we want to do, as well as calling on other countries to do what they can to support the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leaders as they move forward on putting those institutions in place. And we appreciate that Congress has included this funding.
Q But how this will support him if you're undermining him by not giving him the money directly? Some of this money is needed for salaries, for example, for this --
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, we haven't made any decisions on distributing any of this money at this point. But, like I said, this is very similar to the way it has been structured in the past. And we believe that we have the flexibility we need.
Q Scott, this morning in the East Room at the National Day of Prayer Ceremony, there was a broad representation of religions. There did not seem to be an obvious Muslim component, though. Was there some representation or participation by Muslims --
MR. McCLELLAN: You know, I didn't check. I had to -- ended up watching it on TV like some of the rest of you. But the Muslim chaplain of Georgetown was supposed to be in attendance.
Go ahead, Connie.
Q Since Great Britain is our most important ally, how quickly after the election results are in will the President speak to the winner?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Will the President speak to Prime Minister Blair or whomever is elected?
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll keep you posted. I expect at some point he would place a call.
Q Some time today then, or tonight?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will keep you posted.
Q When President Putin was in Middle East, he didn't just call for an international press conference which you thought was premature, he actually pledged some military support to the Palestinian Authority security forces. Is the President going to raise those issues with President Putin when he meets him on Monday?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, keep in mind the reason why we're going to Russia is to mark the end of World War II, and the defeat of the Nazis. And they will have a meeting while they're there. It's not -- as Steve Hadley pointed out yesterday, so much of a structured agenda as sometimes it is -- I think the meeting probably won't be as long as it usually is either. But certainly, we appreciate Russia's involvement in the Middle East. President Putin just returned from there. They are a valued member of the Quartet. So I wouldn't be surprised if that's one of the topics that they discuss.
Kate, go ahead.
Q On that subject, the Russians are pretty unhappy with the use of the word "occupation" by the President in the letter that he wrote to the President of Latvia. They say that -- they argue that their troops were introduced on the basis of an agreement and consent by the authorities that were in those countries at that time. So they're arguing with your language. I wonder also if this casts a shadow over the meeting.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't think so. Look, the President looks forward to the trip. I think the purpose of the trip is really threefold, to celebrate victory over the Nazis and the fascists, to mark the end of communism, and to talk about the advance of freedom in Europe and in other parts of the world. And so that's really the purpose of the trip.
The President looks forward to beginning the trip in Latvia, where he will meet with the three Baltic Presidents. And he looks forward to that meeting. Some of those -- you saw in the letter, the President talked about the importance of renewing our common commitment to advancing freedom, prosperity, and tolerance throughout Europe and the world. And that's one of the messages that he will be taking on his trip when he leaves tomorrow morning. And you saw in the letter, as well, where he talked about how we must remember the past as we move forward together on our shared values.
Russia is someone who we have good relations with. We have a good strategic relationship with Russia. We work very closely with Russia in a number of areas, whether it's trade, economic issues, or our cooperation in the global war on terrorism, and our cooperation on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And we will -- the President looks forward to meeting with President Putin. So, no, I wouldn't view it that way. But we must remember the past as we move forward to advance freedom and democracy and tolerance and prosperity.
Q So the President will continue to refer to it as occupation?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you will hear more from the President when he is in Latvia, and he will talk about that very painful history that the Baltic states went through. That was a painful history for the Baltic states. The end of World War II marked the liberation of many parts of Europe, but not parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It marked the beginning of communism and occupation, and it was a painful part of their history. And now those countries are free and working to move forward on the democratic institutions that sustain free societies.
And one of the things the President is going to be focusing on in some of his remarks will be expanding on his inaugural address and talking about the importance of advancing freedom and democracy, and how freedom is about more than just elections. Freedom is about rule of law and protection of minorities and minority rights. It's about an open and inclusive society that is based on tolerance. And it's about building the structures for freedom to really be sustained. And that's one of the things the President will focus on in his remarks.
Q Scott, back on oil for a second. Has the President revised his desired price point for a barrel of oil? A couple of years ago it was $23 to $28; the Saudis say that's now unrealistic. Has he revised that --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's what the Saudis referred to a couple of years ago, and after some conversations with --
Q Has the President altered it?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- with the administration. And what we want is to continue to see oil prices come down, and gas prices come down, so that they're more affordable for the American people. And that's important to sustaining economic growth. We have a strong, growing economy. We just saw the latest unemployment insurance numbers come out today, and they continue to point to strong, sustained growth. But the President is concerned about high energy prices and high gas prices, in particular. That's having an effect on families; it's having an effect on small businesses. And that's why he's continuing to urge Congress to get his energy plan passed. And that's why he's continuing to work through his administration to encourage producing countries to expand their production as they can, and to make sure that consumers are protected here at home.
Q Does he agree, though, that a price point of $28 as a max per barrel of oil is unrealistic, given today's market?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you know where the price of oil is right now; it's come down some. And the President wants to see it come down and be more affordable for the American people. The government isn't the one who sets the prices, as you're well-aware, John --
Q But he has talked about a desired price point.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and he would like to see it more affordable. I haven't heard him discuss it recently.
Q What is the definition of "more affordable," please?
Q Scott, is the President going to meet --
Q What should -- yes, what should I pay a gallon?
Q What should April pay per gallon?
Q What is the definition of "more affordable"?
MR. McCLELLAN: April, I think you've asked this question; it's been answered --
Q I sure have, and the horse is not dead. What is the definition --
MR. McCLELLAN: I hope you have a good weekend, while we're off in Russia. We've been through this question. I told you that the government isn't the one who sets the prices.
Q Well, what about a -- how much should a barrel of oil--
Q Scott --
Q Wait a minute -- how much should a barrel of oil cost then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Does anyone want to keep this going?
Q Yes. Come on. Yes, seriously.
Q No, no.
Q I'm one party; I have democracy, freedom here. Come on. (Laughter.) Minority rights.
MR. McCLELLAN: We need to make sure there are affordable and abundant supplies of energy. And the price of oil, the President believes, is too high. It needs to come down. And that's the message he's sent to producing countries around the world. That's the message he's sent to members of Congress, that we're dependent on foreign sources of energy. We need to address the root causes of why we are in this situation. That's why the President is continuing to move forward on a comprehensive energy strategy and get Congress to get it passed.
And in the meantime, we're going to continue doing what we can to make it more affordable.
END 1:08 P.M. EDT