Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tuesdays in the Rose Garden with George
Scene: White House press briefing, south lawn:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, of all the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Harriet Miers the most qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Otherwise I wouldn't have put her on.


Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Some conservatives have said that you did not pick someone like Scalia and Thomas because you shied away from a battle with the Democrats. Is there any truth to that? And are you worried about charges of cronyism?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just described to you why I picked Harriet. I'd be glad to go over it again if you like. In other words, she's eminently qualified. She shares my judicial philosophy. She is a pioneer when it comes to the law. ...She's an extraordinary woman. ... I picked the best person I could find...

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You've taken time to express that you know her heart, her character, you've emphasized your friendship. So it seems reasonable that over the course of the years you've known her, perhaps you have discussed the issue of abortion. Have you ever discussed with Harriet Miers abortion? Or have you gleaned from her comments her views on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT: In my interviews with any judge, I never ask their personal opinion on the subject of abortion.

Q: In your friendship with her, you've never discussed abortion?

THE PRESIDENT: Not to my recollection have I ever sat down with her -- what I have done is understand the type of person she is and the type of judge she will be.


Q: Mr. President, thank you, sir. A couple of weeks ago, you stood here in the Rose Garden with Generals Abizaid and Casey, and you cited the accomplishments regarding the standing up of Iraqi troops there; you said that there were 12 battalions that were working out of Fallujah and the western part, 20 in Baghdad, 100 across the nation. And then that afternoon, Abizaid and Casey went up to Capitol Hill, and said, well, there's one battle-ready battalion, which led some Republican senators to say, well, the situation is getting worse. So the question is, sir, it appears between what you said and what they said, something is not adding up here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is happening in Iraq is the following: More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And that's important to achieve our goal. And the goal is for a stable, democratic Iraq that is an ally in the war on terror.

Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops. Over 30 Iraqi -- I say, army battalions ...

THE PRESIDENT: ... Iraqi army battalions. There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And that is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago. ... Terry.

Q Mr. President, you presided over the largest increase in the size, the power and the cost of the federal government since Lyndon Baines Johnson. A lot of your supporters are wondering what's so conservative about that? And can you answer them, and tell the American people, given the budget deficit, the cost of the war, the cost of Katrina, specifically -- by naming a specific program or revenue measure -- how you're going to pay for all this?
THE PRESIDENT: First, let me remind people that we are at war. And I have pledged to the American people -- and, more importantly, the troops and their families -- we'll make sure they have what it takes to succeed.

Secondly, when it comes to discretionary spending, non-security discretionary spending, the budget I submitted to the United States Congress actually reduces non-discretionary -- discretionary -- non-security spending. And as a matter of fact, if you look at the trend line for non-security discretionary spending, I think it was 6 percent when I first was elected, it's down to negative now.

Q Are you still a conservative?


Q Still a conservative?

THE PRESIDENT: Am I still a conservative? Proudly so. Proudly so. ... Stretch.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the leak investigation just for a moment, I'm curious, sir, whether you've had any conversations with any of your aides, particularly Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, about any of their dealings with reporters poking around on that issue, and any strategy that they may have come up with to deal with that issue.

THE PRESIDENT: The special prosecutor made it very clear early in the process that those of us in the White House need not -- need -- should not discuss the case, publicly or privately.


Q: Many conservative women lawyers have expressed their extreme distress that you chose as a woman nominee for the Court someone whose credentials did not come close, in their view, to the credentials of John Roberts. They feel as though it's kind of old-fashioned affirmative action, women don't have the same credentials. I wonder if you could address that.

THE PRESIDENT: Sure, thanks. I would ask them to watch the hearings of Harriet Miers. I think they will become as impressed with her as I have become. She is plenty bright. She -- as I mentioned earlier, she was a pioneer in Texas. She just didn't kind of opine about things, she actually led. First woman of the Texas Bar Association; first woman of the Dallas Bar Association; first woman partner of her law firm; she led a major law firm. She was consistently rated as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States -- not just one year, but consistently rated that way -- and as one of the top 100 lawyers. ... Bill.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You've spoken a lot today about knowing Ms. Miers and knowing her history and knowing what she's about. Earlier this summer, you stood up for Rafael Palmeiro when you were asked about whether or not you thought he took steroids, and then he tested positive. Do you think he should face perjury charges?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that steroids ought to be banned from baseball. And Jackson asked me -- sitting right over there -- about his statement, and I said I believed him when he testified. But let me be very clear about this. Steroids ought to be banned from baseball. And I'm sure the Congress will look as to whether or not he broke the law.

... Listen, thank you for your time.

"Get me my agent ... I'm outta here!"

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posted by JReid @ 12:55 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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