THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH THE POOL The Rose Garden
4:55 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: (in progress) -- and obviously I was very concerned -- need for the operation, but our prayers are with him [Senator Arlen Specter]. And we're pulling for him.
Q Have you spoken to his family at all today?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I wanted to wait until -- frankly, until I had all this out of the way and until there was time to, you know, get through the operation. Then I thought I'd call them -- later. We have a time scheduled to call, but I haven't talk to them yet.
Q Were you shocked and surprised?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. He was just here last week, and he was -- you know, he brought in the family from the Make a Wish Foundation. We've had a great visit and we were talking about a number of different things.
Q Are you hopeful he'll come back?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, absolutely. And I think he will. We're certainly hopeful.
Q Mr. President, on your nomination, was it tough for you to pass over Judge Breyer and Secretary Babbitt? Was it a hard decision?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it was hard in the sense that they were all qualified. And there were two or three others I thought were exceptionally well qualified. But once I talked to her, I felt very strongly about her. This is not a negative thing on them. And as I said, out there in the crowd I had a half a dozen people come up to me and thank me for leaving Secretary Babbitt at the Interior Department. They say he's the best Interior Secretary they'd ever seen. So that was a real problem, but I like them all. I thought they were all superbly well qualified. And I think that they will be in the future.
There was no negative -- it was a positive position being able to pick the person I thought would be best at this time. A purely positive choice. In that sense it was a joy to make, but not easy. You can see today from -- she's an extraordinary woman. She has incredible inner strength and character. And I think it will communicate itself and really help to create a good atmosphere at the Court.
END5:00 P.M. EDT