Today's Qs for O's WH – 5/20/2010

JAKE TAPPER: Can you shed some light on the announcement -- not the announcement -- the direction from the EPA to BP yesterday?

ROBERT GIBBS: Well, look, we -- I think first and foremost, we are -- we are seeing -- as a result of the scope and the size of the spill in the Gulf, we have seen a large quantity of dispersants used primarily on the surface, some underneath the sea. Monitoring and testing has continued to take place during that. But as we move forward, the EPA believed best to use the least toxic dispersant again as we -- as we are into -- well into the fourth week of what has happened in the gulf. Even as we continue to monitor air and water quality, we have asked and are asking BP to be transparent about the measurements that it is taking, as it relates to air and water quality. And we'll be asking them to more publicly provide, as I talked about last week, the video that they may have of the structure on the floor of the sea. This is -- again, even as EPA continues to monitor the area.

TAPPER: But BP was telling the public that the dispersant they were using was essentially soap suds. My understanding is that the dispersant is actually not used in several Western countries because of toxicity. Should they have been using a different dispersant from the beginning?

GIBBS: Well, again, I think the dispersant that they're using is part of a broader list of approved dispersants. Our feeling and the EPA's feeling is, given the extent to which they are -- we are having to continue to use them, that to use the least toxic of those makes the most sense.

TAPPER: And just to follow up on the election victory of Joe Sestak the other night, first of all, this makes four candidates that President Obama has endorsed -- Deeds, Corzine, Coakley and Specter -- that have lost. He's 0-for-four in terms of his campaigning for candidates. Is that a concern at all of this administration, or the president, the political operation?

GIBBS: No. No.

TAPPER: And Sestak -- several months ago, I asked you, on February 23rd, if you could find out more about what Sestak said about the White House making him an offer to not run. And I know that in March you said whatever conversations have been had or not are problematic. But I'm wondering, since this has become an issue in Congressman Sestak's campaign and will likely be -- continue to be an issue, if you could -- if you want to put it to rest right now, what exactly was the conversation?

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to what I said in March.

REPORTER: But you never -- you never really explained what the conversation was.

GIBBS: And I don't have anything to add today.

REPORTER: But if the White House offers a congressman a position in the administration in order to convince that congressman to not run for office...

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to that.

REPORTER: But you said a number of times that you would get something for us on that.


GIBBS: Well, and -- and I did. And I gave that answer in March. And I don't have anything to add to that.

TAPPER: But do you really think the American people don't have a right to know about what exactly the conversation was?

GIBBS: I don't have anything to add to what I said in March.

- Jake Tapper

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