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Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Jim Williams, CBS-WBBM-TV
Chicago, Illinois
April 20, 2006

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, some members of the President's own party say that he has to be very blunt about what's going on in Iraq and speak candidly that things are often not going well there. You seem to empathize with the people in the audience. You said, "I see the same things that you see on television." Is that a change in the strategy, a change in what's being communicated now about Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: No. I think we have always tried to be clear that it is difficult. It's not easy to get to democracy. It is especially not easy when you have a determined enemy, like the Iraqis have, who are determined to destroy the process of democratization. But I do understand what it looks like on television. I get up. I see those images. I have the advantage of also going to Baghdad and sitting with the Iraqi leaders, who eight months ago wouldn't have been in the same room with each other, Sunni leaders who eight months ago were more connected to the possibility of violence than to the political process. I go to Iraq and I see really tough cartoons in the paper about the leadership not getting the government formed and I think, you know, if that were Saddam Hussein that would have gotten me killed. So I think there's also those who see the other side and understand that there is another story, not just of violence, but that the violence is (inaudible).

QUESTION: Do you think reporters and the international media have done a poor job in telling the world what's really going on there?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I do know that it's harder to tell the story of quiet political process than to tell the story of bombings or the violence that takes place. I understand that and I don't blame you for that. I do think sometimes the Iraqis wish that the media would be more -- take more account of the good things that they're trying to do. I hear that from the Iraqis.

QUESTION: To what do you attribute your boss, the President's, low approval rating? Why do you think this has happened?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I don't know -- (inaudible) American politics. But I'll stay clear of that.

QUESTION: And what about an idea of what the American public is thinking?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that the President has had to make some really difficult decisions. He's had to take some bold decisions. He's had to do things that are not very popular and I understand that and I think he understands it. What is really impressive about the President is he's going to do what he thinks is right.

QUESTION: What can we do about Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Iran, we can help mobilize the international community to convince the Iranians that they've got to take another course. More and more countries are talking about what kinds of sanctions or measures may have to be taken in order to get Iran to reverse course. The Iranians want to say that they need civil nuclear power. Everybody says, fine, you can have civil nuclear power but yet do it in a way that doesn't make people think that you're trying to build a nuclear weapon. That seems like a reasonable demand of the international community. And yet the Iranians just keep escalating. But they don't want to be as isolated as the international community has made them and when it is obvious to them that the world is united I think they will change course.

QUESTION: Can you envision a scenario in which we would have to take military action against them?

SECRETARY RICE: The President is going to keep his options on the table, but this is a time when I think we've got many diplomatic options at our disposal.

QUESTION: How do you assess the job that Secretary Rumsfeld has done and the criticism that he's facing now?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know of any more committed and dedicated patriot than Don Rumsfeld. He has worked tirelessly to make this country more secure. And he's had to take some very difficult decisions and with that comes criticism. The President has confidence in him and so do his colleagues. I know Don very well. I first met him here in Chicago and he's really somebody to be valued and I do value him as a colleague. I'm honored to serve with him.

QUESTION: One last question: Your reaction to the resignation of Scott McClellan.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm sorry to see Scott leave because he's been a really wonderful colleague where I worked with him at the White House. (Inaudible) Scott (inaudible) who wanted to understand the issue and so we spent time really going into the issues. But he's served the President well and I'm sure he's going to do very well wherever he goes.

QUESTION: Tough job - (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible) job. I think he did it exceedingly well. It's a very difficult job.

QUESTION: Thank you.


Released on April 20, 2006

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