31 January 2005
White House Daily Briefing, January 31
Iraqi elections, Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, Guantanamo, oil prices
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan briefed reporters January 31.
Following is the transcript of the White House briefing:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
January 31, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:45 P.M. EST
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. I would like to begin by updating you on one more leader call the President had, in addition to the ones already mentioned this morning.
The President spoke with Secretary General Annan to discuss yesterday's election in Iraq. The President and the Secretary General agreed on the significance of yesterday's successful elections for the transition to democracy. The President thanked Secretary General Annan for the important contribution of the United Nations in assisting the Iraqis as they held this historic election. And the Secretary General emphasized that the U.N. was prepared to continue its support to the Iraqi people, particularly in providing assistance to their efforts to draft a new constitution and their efforts to reach out to all parties to participate in the political process going forward.
And with that, I will be glad to take your questions.
Q: Can you go over all the list of people he's spoken to since the election --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yesterday I read out it was King Abdullah, Crown Prince Abdallah and President Mubarak. And today he spoke with Prime Minister Blair, President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, in addition to the Secretary General.
Q: Why does the President have so much --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hold on, I'll get to you. Go ahead.
Q: Of those leaders, did he get any kind of assurances of additional investments -- whether it's resources, from Chirac or Schröder, whether it's troops or money or additional commitments in working towards --
MR. McCLELLAN: That wasn't the purpose of the calls. Obviously, you've heard very strong statements of support from the international community, from a number of leaders or their spokesmen, or spokeswomen, in various areas, and they've talked about what an important step this was for the Iraqi people, in their efforts to build a brighter future.
And I think that each of those countries will talk about the ways that they are able to help the Iraqi people as they move forward to putting in place the institutions for a democracy to fully emerge.
Q: Did the President get a sense that they would be more willing in the future to make greater commitments or investments?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, keep in mind that the European Union, in addition to the United Nations, did provide electoral assistance to the Iraqi people as they conducted this election yesterday. So there are a number of different ways that countries can participate in Iraq and help the Iraqi people as they move forward to put in place the transitional government, as they move forward to draft a constitution and as they move forward to elect a permanent government at the end of the year.
So we hope all people will continue to -- or all nations in the international community will continue to do their part to help the Iraqi people as they move forward on the transition to democracy.
Q: Is there any assessment here of the performance of the Iraqi security forces yesterday? Is there any hard look at how they performed, how serious the challenges that they specifically faced were and how they answered them?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that actually came up in some of the calls this morning the President had. I know he and Prime Minister Allawi discussed it. Prime Minister Allawi, you heard from directly, commended the Iraqi security forces for the job that they did in helping to bring about a secure environment for those elections to proceed forward. And we concur. We believe that the Iraqi security forces did do a good job in helping to provide a secure environment for the elections to take place.
There is still much to do to help train and equip those Iraqi security forces, and we're going to be there every step of the way to help continue the training and accelerating the training and equipping of those forces, as well as helping to put in place the command structure so that those forces will eventually be able to provide for their own security and be able to defend Iraq from internal, as well as external, threats.
Q: Is there a sense in the administration at all that the performance of the Iraqi security forces suggested they're farther along the path of self-reliance than we thought?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd leave it to our military leaders on the ground to describe the latest, in terms of an overall assessment. But we've seen areas where they have performed well. We've seen areas where there is more work to be done. And there is still much work to do to train and equip those security forces going forward, and there's much to do -- it's not only about training and equipping them, as you've heard the President say, but it's also making sure that they have the leadership and command structure in place so that they are fully prepared and fully ready to defend the Iraqi people.
Q: And then one question on the ramifications of yesterday in the region. President Mubarak of Egypt has suggested he may run for a fifth term in what he calls an election in Egypt, or perhaps his son would run. What's the President's opinion of this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there is still a long ways to go before that election and I think that our views are very well known when it comes to our expectations and our desires. And I think the State Department has addressed this issue more recently. And if we have any additional information I'll get it to you later.
Q: Can I just follow that one?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Bill.
Q: Does the high turnout suggest that it will be easier for the United States to withdraw troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, when you talk about withdrawing troops or timetables, we look to our commanders on the -- the President looks to the commanders on the ground to make determinations about what our force configuration should look like. Those are also discussions we have with the government that is in place in Iraq. Right now it's the interim government, and soon it will be the transitional government. And we'll continue to discuss those matters with them.
And you also look at how the -- how progress is being made to train and equip Iraqi security forces, and that will determine the force configuration, as well. And we are committed to accelerating that process for training and equipping Iraqi security forces and making sure that they're ready to defend the country.
But in terms of setting timetables, I think the President has previously talked about timetables send the wrong message to the terrorists, because all terrorists have to do is wait, and then they can plan and coordinate and prepare attacks around those timetables. The timetable is based on completing the mission, and part of completing the mission is training and equipping Iraqi security forces and making sure that they have the command structure so that they're fully ready to defend their country.
Q: Even without a timetable, though, Democrats are calling for an exit strategy. Is the President prepared --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made it clear -- and it's important to -- first of all, we congratulate the Iraqi people in yesterday's election. It was an historic day. The election is a victory for the Iraqi people. It's a significant step forward for freedom and it is a defeat for the terrorists and their ideology. It marks a turning point in Iraq's history and a great advance toward a brighter future for all Iraqis, one that stands in stark contrast to the brutality and oppression of the past. The election also represents a body blow to the terrorists and their ideology of hatred and oppression. And we must continue to do everything we can to support them moving forward.
That means completing the mission. And the mission is to help put Iraq on a path to a democratic future, and make sure that they have the security forces to defend themselves and to defeat the terrorists themselves. That's what we will continue to do. But we will be there. And it's important for the Iraqi people to know -- we will be there to help them as they move forward on putting in place the institutions for democracy to emerge -- full democracy to emerge, and as they move forward on the upcoming elections for the constitution, as well as the permanent representative government. And we will do our part to make sure that their security forces are trained and equipped and ready to defend the country.
Q: So you don't want to talk about exit strategies.
MR. McCLELLAN: We want to talk about the importance of completing the mission and helping the Iraqi people build a brighter future. That's where our focus should be. The mission is, as I stated, to put Iraq on a path to democracy, and in a position to be able to defend themselves. And then our troops can return home with honor. Our troops are serving and sacrificing for an important cause, and I think our troops on the ground saw what a hopeful day yesterday was for the Iraqi people. We commend our troops and coalition forces for all that they are doing, and we mourn those who have sacrificed for this important moment in Iraq's history, and for this important moment in the future of the Middle East, as well as the future of the world.
Q: Scott, millions of Iraqis have been freed from the tyranny of the dictator rule of Saddam Hussein. But there are millions more across the Middle East and in Burma and in North Korea, China, and also in Pakistan who are waiting to be rescued and to have similar elections, free and fair. What President spoke during inaugural address about tyranny and freedom -- end of tyranny and freedom for the world. Do you think he will go after these nations, including Iran and all that, to have free and fair elections?
MR. McCLELLAN: What you saw take place yesterday in Iraq demonstrates that freedom is a universal value. The President believes very strongly that all people desire to live freely. And you saw a symbol of that desire for freedom when the Iraqi voters would hold up their fingers with the purple, ink-stained -- purple ink stain on their fingers, and talk about what a powerful moment yesterday was for their future, and what a significant step away from the past it was. And we stand with all those in the world who seek greater freedom, and we will always stand with those who seek greater freedoms. The President made that very clear in his inaugural address.
His goal that he set out in that inaugural address was to end tyranny, because free nations are peaceful nations and it will make the world a more peaceful place and a better place. It'll make America more secure. This is a generational commitment. Circumstances will vary -- progress will vary from place to place and different approaches will be required for different circumstances across the world. But the President made it very clear we stand with those who seek freedom, because it goes straight to the heart of achieving peace in the world.
Q: Scott, when this becomes a permanently democratically elected government, obviously it's free to make decisions -- everything from, you know, requesting that our troops withdraw to other matters. But we're still going to have a lot of influence on Iraq. We have troops on the ground securing the country. We have billions of dollars of reconstruction aid. So what's the President's priority when it comes to helping to shape a new government in the future?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that would -- in terms of shaping the new government, that's going to be determined by the Iraqi people, just like it was yesterday. Now you'll have that assembly come --
Q: We're not going to be that hands-off. We have influence over all kinds of democratically elected governments. What kind of influence does he want to wield over this government and the path that it follows?
MR. McCLELLAN: Democracy and freedom is about allowing people to make those choices and having the say over what the makeup will be. The President made it very clear in his inaugural address that we're not talking about imposing our standards or our values, that more often than not, the democracy that takes shape in countries around the world is going to be based on their own traditions and their own cultures, and I think you're seeing that in Iraq, as well. I think you will continue to see that going forward.
So it's a matter of supporting the Iraqi people as they put those institutions in place and as they determine the shape of their government. And that's what we'll continue to do.
Q: But it just seems fanciful that we're not going to apply some pressure in areas that we care about.
MR. McCLELLAN: What areas are you talking about?
Q: Well, you tell me. I mean, the President has talked about this before. They're going to write a constitution, you know, weapons of mass destruction or making sure it's a pluralistic government, a representative government. I mean, there are pressure points that this President can apply, just as he's applied in the past two weeks, calling every other day to say, don't get wobbly on us, have those elections on time.
So I'm trying to get at what role the United States wants to play here as they -- as the Iraqis build their government.
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll continue to make our views known about the values that should guide people as they move forward to put those institutions in place. I think the Iraqi people made it known through their interim government when they adopted the transitional law to be in place until that constitution is adopted by the Iraqi people.
But it's up to the Iraqi leaders who were elected yesterday by the Iraqi people to determine the specific makeup of that constitution. But I think that they've made it very clear that there are certain values that we all adhere to that are part of a fully functioning democracy. Rule of law, I think you mentioned that in your comments a minute ago; the respect and protection of minority rights, things of that nature. Those are important.
Q: Just one more, if I can just follow. Senator Kerry, you may have seen, speculated that this government may be in private conversations with Iraqi leaders, encouraging them to ask the United States to withdraw troops pretty quickly. Is that -- any truth to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what he was referring to. I didn't see what he had to say yesterday.
Q: Scott, can you talk about the President's decision to call Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan's leaders first, the countries that have been perceived to be either skeptical or reluctant to embrace democratic reforms? And what sort of message was conveyed to Mr. Chirac and Mr. Schröder today, who have obviously been skeptical about administration policy there? Is there something we should derive from these calls going first to those leaders?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, a good portion of the calls yesterday was focused on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict and how we move forward to bring about the President's two-state vision. And there was a lot of discussion about the importance of supporting Palestinian leaders, and the Palestinian people, as they move forward to put in place the institutions necessary for a democratic state to emerge. You have a conference coming up in London. Secretary Rice will be attending that conference when she travels to Europe and then the Middle East, following that.
And it's important that we all do everything we can to support these leaders who have shown a commitment to helping make the aspirations of the Palestinian people a reality, and helping to bring about the President's two-state vision. And so there was a lot of discussion about that. And sometimes these calls are coordinated in what's mutually beneficial for both leaders to conduct these calls.
Q: But I guess, more directly, is there --
MR. McCLELLAN: But it's also -- and keep in mind, in Iraq, these are neighbors of Iraq. And they are influential leaders in the region, as well. And I think that, generally speaking, you've seen a number of leaders of those Arab nations talk about the importance of supporting the Iraqi people as they move forward to build a future of their choosing. And so we appreciate that. It's important to continue to talk about how we can build on the success of yesterday's elections. And that's what we will continue to do with all those leaders. Everybody has responsibilities to help Iraq as they move forward, and to help the Palestinian people as they move forward.
Go ahead, April.
Q: Scott, there's been talk about the elections in Iraq. Let's talk about elections here. The Congressional Black Caucus met with the President last week and they said that they asked the President -- one congressman, in the last question to the President, asked him about the renewal of the portion of the Voting Rights Act that's up in 2007. The President said, I don't want to speak on that, because I don't know that much about it at this time. The President was asked that in 2000 and he was asked that in this last meeting. And many of these people on the Congressional Black Caucus want to know where he stands as far as minorities and voting in this country, and is he for renewing that portion of the Voting Rights Act that's up in 2007.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is firmly committed to protecting the voting rights of all Americans. And it's my understanding that what you're referring to, when it comes to protecting minority voting rights, that section of the law -- and that's not up for re-authorization -- those rights are going to be protected and continue. There is another section of the Voting Rights Act that is up for re-authorization, and that's in 2006. I think it was a question asked at the very end of the Congressional Black Caucus meeting that the President held here in the Cabinet Room. He was pleased to have them come here and talk about ways we can work together, as well as to listen to some of the agenda items that are at the top of their list. They had a very good discussion. The President wants to continue to look for ways we can work together. And in terms of the re-authorization of that section of the Voting Rights Act, the President said that he would take a look at it and take into consideration the concerns that they expressed.
Q: This is a two-fold question. One, the President brought together a group of people to study, to reform the elections process in this country. And some people are also saying it's somewhat hypocritical -- you're talking about democracy in another country, and the success of elections there, but yet you have a faltered system here.
MR. McCLELLAN: We have a what system here?
Q: Faltered system here, where minorities go to the polls, they're intimidated, or votes have to be recounted and recounted, like in Ohio --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think our system is a model for democracy around the world. There are still ways we can -- there are still steps we can take to improve our system, and the President has done that in certain ways, too.
Q: Scott, just to follow Terry's question on these phone calls, particularly with President Mubarak and with Crown Prince Abdallah. Did the President use the opportunity of these phone calls on top of a open election that is unlike any you've ever seen in recent times, in either Egypt or Saudi Arabia, to press his case that they, too, should open themselves to competitive elections? Terry mentioned the possibility of a coming election in Egypt. Did the President, for example, use this as a moment to suggest that maybe more than one candidate would be an interesting innovation on the ballot?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. The President makes his views well known, both in public as well as in private with leaders. And he made his views known again last week. I think it was maybe you or Peter that asked the question where he talked about those views, as well, in his press conference.
Q: Did he make them known in this phone call?
MR. McCLELLAN: I know, I'm coming to the call. In terms of these calls, these were brief conversations. I think the calls were all less than five minutes, except for Crown Prince Abdallah, because of the translation. So these were brief calls that focused on the Iraqi election and spent a good bit of the time talking about how to help the Palestinian leadership move forward on putting institutions in place in the Palestinian areas. So I'm not aware that that came up. I can double-check that, though.
Q: If you could, it would just --
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, I would be glad to.
Tom, you had something.
Q: A federal judge ruled that the tribunals of terror prisoners in Guantanamo are unconstitutional. Any reaction to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, there was another federal court that ruled opposite of this latest ruling. And, secondly, we respectfully disagree with the decision. The Department of Justice will be looking at what the appropriate next steps are to take in this matter, so they'll be reviewing the matter.
Q: Which federal court upheld them?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Do you know which federal court --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't have that. I don't know --
Q: It was the same court, but doesn't this raise some new issues that you have to deal with?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Justice Department will review the matter. But like I said, there have been differing views expressed by federal courts, and so they will review this latest decision and they'll have more to say about it, I'm sure, today.
Q: Scott, does the President view the apparent success of these elections as a catalyst to improving relations with traditional allies like Germany and France and Russia?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think all those nations that you mentioned have focused on ways we can move forward to support the Iraqi people. I think you have strong statements coming out of each of those countries talking about how yesterday's historic vote was an important step forward for the Iraqi people. And so I think we've all been focusing on how we can move forward together to support the Iraqi people. That's what we'll continue to do.
And it was a successful election yesterday, but there are more steps to help the Iraqi people build a fully democratic nation, and we all need to do what we can to support them in those efforts. And we all need to do what we can to defeat the terrorists who seek to turn back to the past.
Q: Does the President see that as helping his relationship with those countries?
MR. McCLELLAN: See what, the election?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we have good relations with each of those countries. There were some differences expressed over Iraq; those are well known. But everybody has been focusing on how we can work together. And the President is intent on continuing to reach out to these countries to focus on our common challenges. And right at the top of the list is supporting the advance of freedom in the world to make the world a more peaceful place, and working together to support the Iraqi people and working together to support the Palestinian people.
Q: On at least one occasion last year, you stated the administration's support for ratification of the Treaty of the Law of the Sea. Dr. Rice, in her confirmation hearings, underscored support for ratification. When it was in the White House, the Reagan administration killed the treaty, and several officials, alumni of that administration, still speak out against it. What has caused this administration to change the attitude that the Reagan administration had, and support ratification of the treaty?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we put out some information on that when the President announced, I believe, a committee to look at these matters and work to address these issues. I really don't have any further updates for it right now. I'll be glad to take a look at it, though, John, and we can get back to you.
Q: Thank you.
Q: You mentioned in the calls the President talked about the whole Palestinian situation. Can you talk a little bit about why he's so focused on that now, on the day after --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- why he's focused now? He's been focused all along.
Q: I know. Specifically on the Palestinians. I mean, why are they talking about that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's been focused all along. First of all, like I said, you have a conference coming up in London very soon here, that Secretary Rice will be attending -- still getting use to saying "Secretary" Rice -- and this is a -- not only was it a hopeful moment in Iraq yesterday, but we're in a hopeful period in the Middle East, as well. There are a lot of encouraging steps taking place. You have ongoing discussions between Israeli and Palestinian leaders about how they can address issues and move forward on the road map. The Palestinian leadership is deploying security forces to stop attacks against Israel in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. And Israel views that as very productive. Israel also has obligations to take, and they've worked to increase the movement of people in the region so that they can move about more freely and hold elections and so forth.
And so this is a very hopeful period and an historic opportunity that we need to seize. And now is the time to do that. The President wants to see continued progress in the region, and his commitment is evident by the fact that he is sending Secretary Rice to attend the London conference. The London conference will focus on developing a strategy to help the Iraqi -- I mean, help the Palestinian people put the institutions in place necessary for a democratic state to emerge.
Q: Why is it --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to you. Go ahead, Mark.
Q: Quickly, on Social Security and the State of the Union speech -- we're, I guess, now on the 13th draft, you said. How specific is the President going to get on Social Security? Will he, for example, say how he's going to pay for what he's proposing?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he will talk in certainly greater detail than he has previously on Social Security. And I think you can expect that a good portion of his State of the Union address will talk about the need to save and strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. Now, the President has made it very clear that if you're currently retired or near retirement, nothing is going to change. The system stays the same.
This is about fixing a problem that faces younger Americans and future generations. And we need to act on this opportunity that's before us, because it only gets worse over time. And so the President will talk some about the problem facing Social Security and the challenge we face, and the need to act on it. And I think you will also hear him talk in a more specific way about some of the way forward to finding solutions to strengthen it. But I don't -- we're going to have a little bit more of a preview tomorrow on the State of the Union, but I don't want to go further than that at this point. He continues to work on it, he's participating in some speech preparation right now. He's got another session later today, as well.
Q: You can't even tell us whether he is going to say how he will pay the costs for what he has already outlined?
MR. McCLELLAN: You will hear directly from him, and we'll be glad to talk about it more on Wednesday.
Q: In the conversation with the leaders of Britain, France and Germany -- I realize these were all under five minutes -- did they discuss Iran at all? And building on Carl's question, he's spoken to a very specific list of world leaders here. Are there plans for other calls linked to the Iraq election, say, Putin or Hu Jintao?
MR. McCLELLAN: There could well be additional calls, and we'll keep you posted of those calls as they happen. In terms of the calls this morning, those focused on Iraq and the Middle East. I'm not aware that there was any discussion of Iran. Obviously, we appreciate their efforts to resolve that in a diplomatic manner.
Q: In his conversations with these foreign leaders yesterday and today, did the President discuss increasing the role of their countries in the reconstruction that's ongoing in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we've made it very clear that -- I think we talked about this a little bit earlier in the briefing, but we've made it very clear that we continue to encourage all countries to participate in whatever way they can. There are a number of different ways countries can participate. They can help with the reconstruction. A number of countries have helped by putting forces on the ground. And those forces have served and made sacrifices to make yesterday possible, and to make a democratic future a reality for the Iraqi people, just like our forces are doing and have done. We're greatly appreciative for all the contributions made by the international community.
Q: Why has the President had so much to say about democracy and voting rights in Iraq and absolutely nothing to say about voting rights and democracy in the District of Columbia, the capital of the nation in which he serves as President? And isn't it at least a contradiction, and at most, unbelievably hypocritical, that he's for democracy in Iraq but he is not for democracy right here in the nation's capital?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think his views have been well known on the District of Columbia. And I think he's stated the reasons why the District was created, and his views are well known. There's nothing to really add to it.
Q: If I could follow up. So the President is for the residents of Baghdad to have representation in their national assembly, but the residents of the nation's capital not to have representation in our national --
MR. McCLELLAN: His views are well known and, no, I don't draw the same contrast that you are trying to draw.
Q: Why don't you draw -- what's the difference?
MR. McCLELLAN: I've stated our reasons on Iraq, and I've stated -- and the President has stated his reasons on the District of Columbia. And there's nothing to add to it.
Q: Two quick -- follow-up on Israel and the Palestinians. Does the White House still support the removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza? And is there concern about the Hamas victory among the Palestinians?
MR. McCLELLAN: You're talking about Prime Minister Sharon's plan for withdrawing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we've made it very clear that that's what is one of the reasons we have a historic opportunity before us to move forward and achieve the President's two-state vision that he outlined back in 2002. And it's important for Palestinian leaders to continue seizing this moment as well, and putting place the institutions necessary so that they can have responsibility over those areas and build a democratic state.
Q: What about Hamas -- the Hamas victory?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that the State Department expressed our views very clearly in terms of Hamas, and our views about Hamas. They have not changed. Those views remain the same. And it's important that we continue to move forward -- or it's important that all parties in the region continue to move forward to end the violence and to dismantle terrorist organizations. You've seen a commitment from President Abbas that he is taking steps to address some of the violence that has occurred. He's also been talking about cease-fire agreements. And a cease-fire can help end the violence but, ultimately, we need to dismantle those terrorist organizations that exist.
Q: All this talk about an exit strategy from Iraq begs the question of whether the United States has an exit strategy from other democracies that we've set up around the world. Germany comes to mind, South Korea, Japan, Italy. And I'm wondering -- we have far many more troops deployed around the world in these countries than we do in Iraq. What you think is motivating --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Department of Defense is --
Q: -- this idea that we're trying to rip everybody out of Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Department of Defense is continuing to move forward on our force posture review and how our -- the configuration of our forces will be around the world to address the threats of the 21st century. But you bring up a very important point. We've seen that the elections in Iraq build upon other recent successful elections in places like Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. Freedom is on the march in the world, and we want to do everything we can to continue to support that march of freedom because it means a more peaceful world and a more secure America.
Q: On Friday, the GDP report came out a little bit lower than expected. You know, clearly one of the problems the economy is having is high oil prices. Over the weekend, OPEC said consuming nations ought to get used to $50-a-barrel oil. Does the -- what's your reaction to that statement? And is the President calling anybody, for instance, the Saudis, and asking them if perhaps they should rethink this strategy of high oil prices?
MR. McCLELLAN: You might check with some other agencies -- I will, as well -- to see if there are any further updates. But we make our views very clearly [sic] all the time when it comes to actions by OPEC and other non-OPEC nations -- nations and the actions that they take regarding oil supplies. And in terms of GDP, I would point out that for 2004 we saw strong, sustained growth of around 4.4 percent. This morning we saw a significant increase in personal income. The policies that the President has advocated and implemented are working to get our economy growing stronger. And we must continue to build upon those policies. The President, I'm sure, will talk more about it, how we can do that, in his State of the Union address that he looks forward to giving.
Q: Just a follow-up. Is it your viewpoint that $50-a-barrel oil is too high?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we've made our views very clear. And I think some OPEC and non-OPEC leaders have made their views clear, as well, about where they'd like to see that. But we don't comment on specific OPEC actions per se. But we believe it's always important that they act in a way that continues to further economic growth and allows there to be affordable, abundant supplies of energy available.
Q: Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 1:16 P.M. EST
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