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White House Press Conference

Editor's note: David Gura live blogged the president's press conference this morning. You can read his post, in its entirety, after the jump.

President Bush at his press conference this morning. Source: AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Source: AFP/Getty Images

10:44 a.m. EST
The press conference ended with a final question about Iran. President Bush said that he wouldn't let Iran acquire nuclear weapons on his watch. "I understand the issues," he said. "I clearly see the problems, and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace."

10:41 a.m. EST
President Bush rejected what Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said about the president's request for more funding, that the Bush administration is "not leveling with the American people."

10:38 a.m. EST
The president said that he has been disappointed with the name-calling in Washington, and that Congress needs to find a unified message.

The standoff between the Congress and the White House continues. According to David Welna, President Bush is eager for legislators to approve additional funding for the war in Iraq, eliminate "wasteful spending" and quickly pass a fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax to avoid big tax increases and delayed refunds. A piece in The Los Angeles Times swiftly explains what the Alternative Minimum Tax is.

10:37 a.m. EST
President Bush rejected an opportunity to be "Pundit-in-Chief," to forecast what will happen in Iowa. He said that "it's hard to believe that we're a month away from the Iowa caucuses," and that he misses the campaign trail.

10:34 a.m. EST
A reporter asked about about a phone conversation the president had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Bush said that he was "sincere in his concerns about the fairness of the elections there."

Russians went to the polls on Sunday, to vote in parliamentary elections. President Vladimir Putin's party, United Russia, won in a landslide. Election observers have criticized the process. According to reporter Gregory Feiffer, "The main question for Russians now, is whether Putin will use the elections as a mandate to hold on to power after his term expires next year."

10:30 a.m. EST
President bush said that Congress should pass free-trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, to further stabilize the region.

10:30 a.m. EST
A questioner asked the president about the recent vote in Venezuela, on more than 60 constitutional revisions. Among those that failed was a referendum that would've eliminated presidential term limits. According to Chavez, the vote showed that "Venezuelan democracy is maturing."

Bush said that "the Venezuelan people rejected one-man rule."

On All Things Considered yesterday, co-host Melissa Block spoke with Margarita Lopez Maya, who teaches political history at Universidad Central de Venezuela, in Caracas. Lopez Maya said that there was widespread surprise in Venezuela, and that "it's difficult to believe that Chavez could be defeated after having such an overwhelming victory a year ago."

You can read more about Chavez here, in a piece by npr.org foreign correspondent, Cory Flintoff.

10:28 a.m. EST
President called the time before the election of Mahmoud Ahmajinedad "a hopeful period" for diplomacy.

10:25 a.m. EST
Two questioners have asked about the economy. President Bush said that he is "concerned" that Americans may lose their homes in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

On Saturday, guest host John Ydstie spoke with Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's Economy.com, about the state of the American economy. He said that "the economy is struggling; I've been surprised that the Federal Reserve hasn't been more aggressive in their, at least, discussion about the economy's problems, and I do think they're now starting to catch up."

10:20 a.m. EST
A correspondent for CNN asked about a rape case in Saudi Arabia that has gained national attention. A 20-year old, who brought charges of assault against seven men, faces lashings. In his reply, President Bush said he wondered how he would feel if this was his daughter. He did not indicate that he talked about it with his ally, King Abdullah, of Saudi Arabia.

10:18 a.m. EST
The president argued that his so-called "carrot and stick approach" to diplomacy with Iran still works.

10:15 a.m. EST
President Bush said that diplomacy has been an option for Iran during his presidency, but the election of Mahmoud Ahmajinedad changed that. He noted that "Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace."

William M. Arkin, blogging at washingtonpost.com, notes that Iran, which is "keeping its options open," "clearly sees a less confrontational president and a less dangerous moment in the future."

10:11 a.m. EST
Reporters continue to press the president on the National Intelligence Estimate, released yesterday. In response, President Bush said, "Iran was dangerous. Iran is dangerous. And Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

10:09 a.m. EST
Referring to the run up to the war in Iraq, a reporter asked if the United States is losing credibility as "the boy who cried wolf," when it said that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. President Bush said that the American people should have confidence in federal intelligence agencies.

The president noted that he asked the intelligence community to "beef-up its intel. in Iran."

10:05 a.m. EST
The first question was about Iran, and the president's impression of the new National Intelligence Estimate report, released yesterday. He says that he views the report as "a warning signal," noting that, since they had the program, they could have it again.

On All Things Considered yesterday, correspondent Mike Shuster said that, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate report, Iran effectively halted the development of nuclear weapons in 2003, in the face of international pressure. White House correspondent Don Gonyea notes that the report "flatly contradicts the increasingly dire warnings about the threat posted by Iran that have been issued from the White House over the past several years, including a comment by Mr. Bush in October, that if we want to prevent World War III, we must frustrate Iran's efforts to obtain or develop a nuclear weapon."

10:03 a.m. EST
President Bush says that three parties are waiting on Congress: troops, who are waiting on more military funding; intelligence professionals; and American tax payers.

10:01 a.m. EST
President Bush has taken the podium, beginning with comments on a free trade agreement with Peru.

10:00 a.m. EST
The president announced this press conference, his first since October 17, yesterday morning. (In the past, he has given much shorter notice). Reporter Mark Silva, writing for The Swamp, suggests that "It could be that the president is looking for an audience." Indeed, more and more national attention has been focused on the run up to the presidential election, and Congress has not approved President Bush's request for additional military funding. According to the Politico, job-approval figures for the president and the Congress remain low.

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