White House Gaggle

White House Gaggle
October 12, 2005
Briefer: Scott McClellan

President’s Schedule

The President received his usual briefings this morning, followed by a call to Prime Minister Singh of India. Bush extended condolences over lost lives in the earthquake, and he also received updates on Indian relief efforts. The President praised the Singh for reaching out to Pakistan. He also offered to support India’s relief recovery efforts and said that a USAID team is assessing what help the US might be able to provide.

The President continued this morning by called Angela Merkel to congratulate her on the selection as Chancellor. He told her that he looks forward to working with the Chancellor-elect as a continuation on the strong built foundation of US-Germany relations.
Furthermore, the President Bush welcomes President Aleksander Kwasniewski who in December will have completed ten years as president. The visit today gives Bush a chance to thank and honor him as both a good friend and ally. They will be joined by their spouses for a social lunch in the residence.
This afternoon, the president will depart for Constitution Hall where he will make remarks to Political Appointees and Senior Executive Service Employees. This annual event gives the President an opportunity to thank them, and talk about the importance results oriented approach to the government.

Judicial Nomination Process-Harriet Miers

Scott was asked why some individuals wanted to be taken off the list of judicial nominees, in reference to Dr. Dobson’s remarks, and answered that they did not want to deal with the ordeal of going through a confirmation process. There were several follow ups on what this says about the confirmation process. Scott said that he is hoping that the Senate will move forward on a civil and dignified process; That’s what the American people expect. “The confirmation hearing process for Judges has in recent years become rather ugly. And that’s unfortunate. As you know, bi-partisan senators came together and reached an agreement on the judicial nomination process and we hope that they continue to build upon the agreement that was reached.”
The reporters continued to ask: “Is it so ugly that is scares people away from this job?” Scott replied with a joke: “Washington scaring good people away, is that new?” However, he continued to explain that, “there are plenty of good people to be considered, and the President found the best person to nominate in Harriet Miers.”
When asked about the reason for Karl Rove reaching out to a number of Conservatives discussing Harriet Miers’s religious faith coming as close as they could to saying she is personally opposed to abortion, Scott answered that Harriet Miers is a person of faith, but she recognizes that ideology, religious beliefs, and personal views have no role when it comes to making decisions on the nation’s highest court. “A judge should be fair and open minded, that’s the role of a judge.”
Scott referred to the standard of nominations that are based on qualifications, not on personal views, He gave examples of appointees such as Justice Ginsberg or Justice Breyer, where members of the Senate disagreed with their personal views, but recognized them as being highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

Iraq

Scott talked about the Sunni leaders to support the draft of the Iraqi constitution: “We believe that the political process should be inclusive. This is a positive and welcome step that will help the Iraqis move forward to a strong a lasting democracy. This agreement will encourage a lot more people to participate in the process; not only this weekend, but also in the future.”
He continued, “The more the Iraqi people move forward on the political process, the more desperate the terrorists become, and we expect to see continued violence because the terrorists understand how high the stakes are in Iraq. They know that a free and peaceful Iraq would be a significant blow to their ambitions.”

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