The word for today is forward:
MR. McCLELLAN: David, I think Commissioner Kerik has addressed this matter. Our focus now is on moving forward to name a new nominee as quickly as possible. That’s where the President is focused right now.
MR. McCLELLAN: This was a matter, in terms of his nomination, this matter relating to the nanny came to his attention more clearly last week and he indicated he should have brought it to our attention sooner. This matter is now an issue that is closed, as far as we’re concerned. We’re looking forward on who the new nominee will be for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
MR. McCLELLAN: It was his decision to withdraw himself. We were moving forward —
MR. McCLELLAN: We were moving forward with the nomination process when this issue was brought to our attention by Commissioner Kerik, and it was his decision to withdraw his name from consideration.
MR. McCLELLAN: John, it was a decision he came to, and as far as we’re concerned, we respect his decision. And this matter has been now put to rest.
MR. McCLELLAN: But now it is time to move forward and put in place a new nominee to be Secretary of Homeland Security. That’s where our focus is. I appreciate your all’s question looking back at some of these issues, but the decision was made by Commissioner Kerik and we respect his decision.
MR. McCLELLAN: Which charges are you referring to? I’ve seen speculation in the media. Like I said, I don’t think it serves anyone to get into the speculation from this podium. We’re moving forward now.
Later in the gaggle, Little Scottie got into a slap fight with Les Kinsolving.
Q Syndicated columnist Phyllis Schafly reports that —
MR. McCLELLAN: Let’s get straight to the question, because I see some other hands back up that I want to get to.
Q — 4,000 illegal aliens cross the border into Arizona every day. There are reports that 800,000 Californians have left the state, which has to spend $10 billion a year on schooling, health and incarceration of illegal aliens. And my question: Why doesn’t the President seal our borders with troops and electronic equipment now, instead of waiting?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a lot of innovative approaches that states have taken to address some of these issues. I know, speaking from the Texas perspective, that the President worked on these issues when he was governor. And there were some innovative ways to try to address some of these issues. But we’re also working closely with our neighbors to the south, and working to expand trade opportunities so that we can improve the quality of life for those who are simply coming to the United States seeking a better way of life. And so they’ll be less inclined to want to come to the United States, or they’ll be more inclined to return home to support their families. A lot of these people are coming here simply to support their families.
Q They’re claiming that Texas —
MR. McCLELLAN: You’ve had your questions.
Q — and Arizona and New Mexico and California —
MR. McCLELLAN: This isn’t a debate. This is a briefing.
Q — are all — all belong to Mexico. What do you say to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Paula, go ahead. I say, Paula, go ahead.
And Helen tries to nail Scottie on the administration’s El Baradei backstabbing.
Q Why does the White House want to get rid of El Baradei?
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I don’t think that’s the view we’ve expressed.
Q Really? What is your view?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the view that we’ve expressed is what Secretary Powell has publicly said, in terms of United Nations organizations and the terms of service for the leaders of those United Nations organizations. There was what is referred to as the “Geneva Rule” that was agreed to in Vienna. And the countries there agreed that the heads of those organizations should only serve two terms. And that remains our position.
Q So you’re not actively trying to get rid of him?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we remain committed to the agreement that was reached in Vienna, where heads of United Nations organizations should only serve two terms.
Q But you also have a lot of disagreements with him, isn’t that so, that would help to remove him?
MR. McCLELLAN: We work very closely with Dr. ElBaradei to address proliferation issues and address issues of nuclear weapons programs in countries like Iran and North Korea. And we will continue to do that during this term.
Q Would you like him to stay on?
MR. McCLELLAN: Our view is to support the agreement that was reached in Vienna, and that is that heads of U.N. organizations should serve two terms.
Q What about reports that you eavesdropped on —
MR. McCLELLAN: Should not serve — no more than two terms, I should say.
Q What do you have to say about reports that a number of administration officials were looking at the transcripts of eavesdropping on his phone conversations?
MR. McCLELLAN: As you know, Jim, I don’t get into discussing intelligence matters from this podium.
Q But I’m asking you not about intelligence matters, but about people looking at transcripts, and —
MR. McCLELLAN: And, Jim, I’ve seen the reports, and I just don’t get discussing any of those reports. That should not be read one way or the other.