Q Dana, is the United States considering opening an interest section in Iran? How close are we to reaching a decision on that, and why would the U.S. do that?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that Secretary Rice said it best yesterday when she said that there might be some ideas out — floating out there, but there’s nothing concrete at the moment. In regards to us reaching out and talking directly to the Iranians, President Bush goes out of his way every time he talks about the Iranian issue, which is often; he gets asked about it and he brings it up proactively himself.
Q Is it consistent with the idea of isolating Iran to open a U.S. interest section there?
MS PERINO: I think that — I don’t know a lot about U.S. interest offices, but I know that there’s — as I read, there’s one in Cuba. So I think that we’ve — it’s not unprecedented, and so I don’t think it’s inconsistent, no.
Chimpy Owes His Second Term To 9/11
Q And on another subject, the President supports John McCain as far as being the next President of the United States. But what does the President and this administration say about one of McCain’s inner circle saying that a terrorist attack on this country would be a big advantage for McCain?
MS. PERINO: Again, I’m not — I’m just not going to get into it and get the President involved in disputes between the campaigns.
Q This administration has been fighting vigorously against terror on the homeland. For him to say it’s a big advantage, somebody that the President supports his campaign, I mean —
MS. PERINO: I also saw that the individual who said that apologized. And so I think I would point you to that apology.
“The Reporting I’ve Seen On The Ground – That I’ve Read From Reporters”
Q The new GAO report, critical of progress in Iraq — what’s the White House comment on that?
MS. PERINO: Well, I just think that you have to look at facts on the ground in terms of the reporting. I don’t know — I don’t know what the parameters were for the GAO report. I think that from what I’ve read of it, it’s inconsistent with the reporting on the ground that I’ve seen — that I’ve read from reporters of the news media who were there. And certainly it doesn’t — it’s not consistent with some of the facts that we have here. And I would point you to the rebuttals that the State Department and the Treasury Department provided to GAO, saying that they thought that their report was way off-base.
Progress in Iraq is undeniable. And I think one of the things that you can point to is not just the political and security gains, but certainly the economic gains that they’ve had, as well. And we should all be celebrating that and working towards it.
Les Screws The Pooch
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. In the President’s real hope that we will have a presidential election that is fair to both sides, he was concerned by what The Washington Times reported that one of the two presidential campaigns sent a plane load of reporters back to Washington while this candidate, without telling them, slipped away to stay in Chicago, at which “several bureau chiefs and the Associated Press accused him of deliberate deception.” And my question: Without mentioning which candidate did this, could you tell us if you have ever heard — (laughter) — could you tell us if you ever heard of President Bush so mistreating reporters during either of his two presidential campaigns?
MS. PERINO: I think that the reporters are going to have to take that up with the presidential nominee that you are referring to. But I think you have your facts wrong in terms of the legs of that trip.
Q The facts wrong? You reported — that was The Washington Times.
MS. PERINO: Wrong flight, going the other way.