In today’s gaggle changing the subject did not yield a passive press corps.
Q One more on this. When the President met with Judge Roberts, did he discuss any issues in particular, any hot-button social issues with him to understand his views on them?*
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is not the one who has a litmus test. The President has always made clear that he doesn’t have a litmus test, and he’s not someone who tends to get into questions with potential nominees to the bench about issues of that nature. What he looks at — what he looks at is their judicial temperament and how they apply the law. Do they apply the law by faithfully interpreting our Constitution and —
Q You’re not saying “yes” or “no,” he did or didn’t?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?
Q Are you saying, no, he did not?
MR. McCLELLAN: I said the President has made very clear that he doesn’t give a litmus test, so —
Q I didn’t ask whether he had a litmus test —
MR. McCLELLAN: And if there’s any more to —
Q — I’m asking if he discussed issues. So you don’t know, or you won’t say?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t — I think the President has made his views very clear publicly that he’s not the one that has a litmus test, and those are not questions that he gets into with nominees. He stated that before publicly. Now, I didn’t listen to every conversation that they had, but I’ll — if there’s anything else to add, I will. But I think he’s already publicly said that he does not get into litmus test questions with potential nominees.
I bet Laura is pissed.
Q Another question. Justice O’Connor is quoted as saying that Roberts is, quote, “Good in every way, except he’s not a woman.” What’s the President’s reaction to that comment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Who said that?
Q Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Q So were there no qualified women?
MR. McCLELLAN: There were a number of qualified women that the President considered. He considered a diverse group of individuals. The President believes that Judge Roberts is the best person to fill this position, and that’s why he nominated him.
Q And what made him more ideal than the women the President considered?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you should look at the qualities that he possesses. He is someone of unquestioned integrity who believes in faithfully interpreting our Constitution and our laws. He is someone of high intellect and great legal ability, and he is —
Q And there weren’t women who met that standard?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn’t say that at all. He is someone who is exceptionally well qualified.
The gagglers have not forgotten about Rove.
Q Is it true Karl Rove was the first person to leak John Roberts’ name to the media last night? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Next question. Les.
Q In Chicago in December of ’03, the President said, “I want to know who the leakers are.” Separate from the legal issue, is the President convinced now that Karl Rove was one of the leakers?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve answered these questions, and I don’t have anything to say beyond what I’ve already said.
Q What’s the answer to that one, then, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve answered these questions over the course of the last week.
Finally, today’s edition of your Daily Les finds Mr. Kinsolving in full kiss-up mode.
Q Scott, U.S. News and World Report has just published what it identified as, quote, Mike McCurry, former Clinton spokesman, expressing sympathy for you about what the Media Research Center headlined as “reporters in full scold mode” on July the 11th, including your plea, “if you’ll let me finish” — and NBC’s response, “no, you’re not finishing, you’re not saying anything.” And my question — first of two — has anyone from these three networks — NBC, ABC, CBS — apologized to you for this behavior?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, first of all, I would say I have great respect for Mike McCurry and the job that he did. I think we both recognize what it’s like to be up here. And he is someone whose advice I sought out before taking this position, along with a number of predecessors.
In terms of the press corps here in this room, I think we have had a good relationship over the years, and I look forward to continuing to have a good relationship.