[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2006, Book I)]
[April 18, 2006]
[Pages 733-736]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Nomination of Robert J. Portman To Be Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
and Susan C. Schwab To Be United States 
Trade Representative and an Exchange With Reporters
April 18, 2006

    The President. Good morning. Today I'm announcing my nomination of 
two outstanding individuals to serve in my Cabinet and on my economic 
    First, I will nominate Rob Portman to be the Director of the Office 
of Management and Budget. Rob will replace Josh Bolten, who this week started in his new role as my Chief of 
Staff. The Office of Management and Budget is one of the most essential 
agencies of our Government. The OMB has a central responsibility of 
implementing the full range of my administration's agenda, from defense 
programs that will keep our people secure, to energy initiatives that 
will break our dependence on oil, to tax policies that keep our economy 
growing and creating jobs.
    In these and other areas, the job of the OMB Director is to ensure 
that the Government spends the taxpayers' money wisely or not at all. He 
is the person in charge of meeting our goal to cutting the budget 
deficit in half by 2009. And he is responsible for managing Federal 
programs efficiently. The American people deserve results for every 
hard-earned dollar they send to Washington.
    The job of OMB Director is really an important post, and Rob Portman 
is the right man to take it on. Rob's talent, expertise, and record of 
success are well-known within my administration and on Capitol Hill. For 
the past 11 months, Rob has served as United States Trade 
Representative. When he took the job, I told him to focus on opening new 
markets for American exports to ensure that our producers and farmers 
are treated fairly and to get Congress to pass the Central American-
Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. He's accomplished those goals.
    I signed CAFTA into law last summer, and Rob Portman and his staff 
completed trade agreements with Bahrain, Oman, Peru, and Colombia. He 
also re-energized the Doha trade talks at the World Trade Organization. 
Before joining my Cabinet, Rob represented the Second District of Ohio 
in the United States Congress for more than a decade. He was a key part 
of the House leadership. He was an influential member of the Ways and 
Means Committee, and he served as vice chairman of the Budget Committee.
    His legislative achievements range from reforming the Internal 
Revenue Service, providing tax relief for working families, to 
encouraging retirement savings. Rob's leadership in Congress was also 
marked by an ability to work across the aisle and bring people together 
to get things done. And he's going to bring that same skill to his new 
    As Director of OMB, Rob will have a leading role on my economic 
team. He will be part of daily senior staff meetings led by Josh 
Bolten. He will consult often and work 
closely with legislators on Capitol Hill. He will be a powerful voice 
for progrowth policies and spending restraint.
    Rob is a man of deep integrity. He knows the priorities of my 
administration; he can get things done. And the Senate should confirm 
him promptly as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
    I'm also pleased to announce that I'm going to nominate Deputy U.S. 
Trade Representative Susan Schwab to succeed Rob Portman as the new U.S. 
Trade Representative.
    Trade is one of the most powerful engines of growth and job 
creation. America accounts for about 5 percent of the world's

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population, and that means that 95 percent of our potential customers 
live overseas. So my administration has taken an aggressive agenda to 
break down barriers to American exports across the world.
    When I took office, we had three free trade agreements. Now, we have 
free trade agreements with 11 countries, and 18 more are pending. Susan 
will work hard to conclude these agreements and ensure that American 
goods, services, and crops are treated fairly in overseas markets.
    Last year, the countries with which we have free trade agreements 
represented about 7 percent of the economy abroad but about 42 percent 
of our exports. Lowering trade barriers to the sale of our goods and 
services helps provide a level playing field for American workers and 
farmers and ranchers. And that means more jobs and opportunity, because 
our workers and ranchers and farmers can compete with anybody, anytime, 
anywhere, so long as the rules are fair, and Susan Schwab understands 
    As Deputy U.S. Trade Representative for the past 5 months, 
Ambassador Schwab worked tirelessly to open up new markets, and at the 
same time, making sure our people were treated fairly. Her trade 
portfolio covered several continents, and she led USTR efforts in a 
number of vital policy areas, including intellectual property 
    Susan also worked closely with Ambassador Portman to advance the 
Doha negotiations. Now she will use her experience to help complete the 
Doha round and create other new opportunities for American exporters.
    Ambassador Schwab started her career as an agricultural trade 
negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and she 
served our Nation overseas as a trade policy officer in our Embassy in 
Tokyo. In the 1980s, she worked as a trade specialist and then 
legislative director for Senator Jack Danforth, who chaired a key Senate subcommittee on trade. In 
the administration of former President Bush, she led a staff of more than a thousand as Director 
General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. Susan has also 
served as an executive in the private sector at Motorola and as a 
professor and administrator at the University of Maryland.
    Throughout her distinguished career, Susan has earned the respect of 
her colleagues, and she has my confidence as well. The Senate should 
promptly confirm her nomination to be United States Trade 
    I appreciate the service that Rob and Susan have given the American 
people, and I'm really grateful they've agreed to take on new 
responsibilities. I also thank Rob and Susan's families today. I'm 
really glad that Rob's wife, Jane, is with us; 
and it's my pleasure to have welcomed Susan's parents, Gerald and Joan, to the Oval Office 
and to the Rose Garden. Glad you all are here.
    I look forward to the Senate confirming Rob and Susan and welcoming 
them to be new members of my Cabinet.
    Congratulations, and thank you for your willingness to serve.

[At this point, Director-designate Portman and Ambassador-designate 
Schwab made brief remarks.]


    Q. Mr. President.
    The President. Hold on for a second, please. I'll take a couple of 
questions. Nedra [Nedra Pickler, Associated Press], Patsy [Patricia 
Wilson, Reuters], and Kelly [Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News], in that order.
    Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
    The President. A little louder, I'm getting older.
    Q. Sir, when you talk about Iran and you talk about how you have 
diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that 
include the possibility of a nuclear strike? Is that something that your 
administration will plan for?

[[Page 735]]

    The President. All options are on the table. We want to solve this 
issue diplomatically, and we're working hard to do so. The best way to 
do so is, therefore, to be a united effort with countries who recognize 
the danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're working 
very closely with countries like France and Germany and Great Britain. I 
intend, of course, to bring the subject up of Iranian ambitions to have 
a nuclear weapon with Hu Jintao this Thursday. And 
we'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved.

Israel-Palestinian Authority Relations

    Q. Sir, are you encouraging Israel to show restraint in reaction to 
yesterday's Palestinian bombing? Or would a measured military response 
be appropriate?
    The President. I have consistently reminded all parties that they 
must be mindful of whatever actions they take and mindful of the 
consequences. Our goal is to have two states living side by side in 
peace. I strongly deplore the loss of innocent life in the attack on the 
folks in Israel yesterday. It is unjustified, and it is unnecessary. And 
for those who love peace in the Palestinian Territories, they must stand 
up and reject this kind of violence.

White House Staff/Fuel

    Q. Morning, Mr. President. Do you expect that there will be some 
changes that were not voluntary? Today you've highlighted openings in 
your administration, but will Mr. Bolten ask some people to leave? And 
would you accept his counsel for Cabinet changes, as well as White House 
    The President. I understand this is--you know, this is a matter of 
high speculation here in Washington. It's the game of musical chairs, I 
guess you'd say, that people love to follow. My instructions to Josh 
Bolten was that I expect him to design the 
White House structure so that it will function so that he can do his 
job, function in a way so he's more likely to be able to do his job. 
And, of course, he will bring different recommendations to me as to who 
should be here and who should not be here.
    And I'm the person who believes in aligning authority and 
responsibility. I've given him enormous responsibility and authority and 
expect the White House to work well. And it did under Andy Card, by the way. I'm most proud of his tenure as 
the Chief of Staff. But with a new man will come some changes. And 
Josh has got all the rights to make those 
recommendations to me. And, of course, I listen to advice as to my 
Cabinet as well. I must tell you that I'm--I've got strong confidence in 
my Cabinet officials, all of them, and I appreciate the service they've 
    But I also understand what happens in Washington. You know, a little 
flicker of gossip starts moving hard, and people jump all over it. The 
thing the American people have got to know is we'll structure this White 
House so it continues to function to deal with major problems. And we're 
dealing with major problems. We're dealing with a war on terror. We're 
dealing with high gasoline prices.
    And let me remind people that these high gasoline prices are caused 
by primarily three reasons: one, the increase in the price of crude oil. 
It's one of the reasons I stood up in front of the Congress and said, 
we've got to have strong and active research and development to get us 
to diversify away from crude oil. It's tight supply worldwide, and we've 
got increasing demand from countries like India and China, which means 
that any disruption of supply or perceived disruption of supply is going 
to cause the price of crude to go up. And that affects the price of 
    Secondly, there's increasing demand. At this time of year, people 
are beginning to drive more, getting out on the highways,

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taking a little time off, and they're moving around. And that increasing 
demand is also part of the reason the price of gasoline is going up.
    And thirdly, we're switching fuel mixes. The summer fuel mix is 
different from State to State and is different from what is being used 
in the winter. And therefore, the combination of these creates higher 
gasoline prices. And I'm concerned about higher gasoline prices. I'm 
concerned what it means to the working families and small businesses, 
and I'm also mindful that the Government has the responsibility to make 
sure that we watch very carefully and to investigate possible price 
gouging. And we'll do just that.
    Q. Is there going to be rationing, do you think?
    The President. No, I don't--that's your word.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld

    Q. Mr. President, you've made it a practice of not commenting on 
potential personnel moves----
    The President. Of course I did.
    Q. ----of calling it speculation----
    The President. You can understand why, because we've got people's 
reputations at stake. And on Friday, I stood up and said, I don't 
appreciate the speculation about Don Rumsfeld; he's doing a fine job; I 
strongly support him.
    Q. But what do you say to critics who believe that you're ignoring 
the advice of retired generals, military commanders, who say that there 
needs to be a change?
    The President. I say, I listen to all voices, but mine is the final 
decision. And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only 
transforming the military; he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping 
us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I 
hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. 
But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for 
Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.
    I want to thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:27 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to President Hu Jintao of China; and 
former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri.