Exchange With Reporters
Senator Arlen Specter's Illness
The President. [Inaudible]—and obviously I was very concerned—need for the operation, but our prayers are with him. 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 talked 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.
Supreme Court Nomination
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.
NOTE: The exchange began at 4:55 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220350