THE PRESIDENT: Let me make a couple comments about the meeting we
just had and be glad to answer a couple questions. You can lead it
off, Fournier, in a minute.
I want to thank some of our nation's leading economists for
coming today to share their thoughts with me about our economy and
the strength of our nation, how best to make sure people can find
We had a great discussion about the plan
that I laid out for the Congress to consider and to enact, a plan
which focuses on job creation, a plan which recognizes that money in
the consumers' pocket will help grow this economy, a plan that
recognizes there are some long-term things we can do to make sure
the investor feels comfortable taking risks in America. It is a plan
that recognizes that economic growth is not as strong as it should
be. It's a plan that's good for all Americans. It is a plan that
addresses our needs and it's a plan that Congress needs to pass.
These economists can speak for themselves after they leave, but
they have given good advice and sound judgment and for that, I'm
I'll take a couple of questions. Ron.
Q Sir, last week in this room, you came out against quotas, which
have been unconstitutional for 25 years. You didn't answer the
central question, and that is whether race can be used as a factor
in admissions. Dr. Rice says it could be, Colin Powell says it
should be. What is your position? Can it be used as --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, my position is, is that as the -- as the
brief says, that there are clearly unconstitutional means to achieve
diversity, there are race-neutral ways to achieve diversity which I
have put in place as the governor of Texas, and that we'll leave the
Court to define the outer limits of the constitution.
Q Yes, Mr. President --
Q You won't answer that question then?
THE PRESIDENT: I just answered it.
Q Whether or not you believe --
THE PRESIDENT: No, I answered it. The courts will make the
definition of the outer limits of the -- and as Condi Rice said, she
felt very comfortable in saying on national TV the decision I made
was the right decision.
Q Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. The French are saying they
would block a U.N. resolution authorizing force on Iraq. Are you
frustrated by these comments? Can you still reach a consensus?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Adam, first of all, it's important for the
American citizens and the citizens around the world to understand
that Saddam Hussein possesses some of the world's deadliest weapons.
He poses a serious threat to America and our friends and allies. The
world came together, including the French, to say he must disarm.
He's not disarming. As a matter of fact, it appears to be a rerun of
a bad movie. He is delaying, he is deceiving, he is asking for time.
He's playing hide-and-seek with inspectors.
One thing is for certain, he's not disarming. So the United
States of America, in the name of peace, will continue to insist he
does disarm, and we will keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein.
Q Mr. President, when do you intend to make a decision about
whether or not the inspection process is -- actually has any hope of
really disarming Saddam?
THE PRESIDENT: It's clear to me now that he is not disarming.
And, surely, our friends have learned lessons from the past. Surely
we have learned how this man deceives and delays. He's giving people
the run-around. And as many of my advisors said on TV this week,
time is running out. I believe in the name of peace he must disarm.
And we will lead a coalition of willing nations to disarm him. Make
no mistake about that, he will be disarmed.
Q When -- how do you decide when that moment comes that you need
to make a judgment?
THE PRESIDENT: I will let you know when the moment has come.
Q Mr. President, who is in that coalition of the willing now? Are
France, Germany out?
THE PRESIDENT: You will find out who is in the coalition of the
willing. It is very much like what happened prior to our getting a
resolution out of the United Nations. Many of the punditry -- of
course, not you -- (laughter) -- but other punditry were quick to
say, no one is going to follow the United States of America. And we
got a unanimous resolution out of the United Nations.
The United States has made it clear our intention, and our
intention is to work with the world for Saddam to disarm. He's been
given ample time to disarm. We have had ample time now to see that
the tricks of the past -- he's employing the tricks of the past
today. He's giving people the run-around. He wants to play
hide-and-seek. He's got a vast country.
He wants to focus the attention of the world on inspectors. This
is not about inspectors; this is about a disarmed Iraq. He has
weapons of mass destruction -- the world's deadliest weapons --
which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and
our friends and allies. He has been told to disarm for 11 long
years. He's not disarming.
This business about, you know, more time -- you know, how much
time do we need to see clearly that he's not disarming? As I said,
this looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in