Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor Breakfast with Commerce Secretary Donald Evans

The only person in Washington who appears to have known President Bush longer than Commerce Secretary Donald Evans is Evans's wife, Susan Marinis Evans. Mrs. Evans went to grade school with the president. Don Evans and the President met in Midland, Texas in 1975 and have been close ever since.

Evans earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Texas in 1969 and received his MBA from the university in 1973. Mr. Bush named Evans to the University's Board of Regents in 1995.

Evans helped raise money for Mr. Bush's first campaign for Congress in 1978 (which he lost). As campaign chairman for Mr. Bush's successful run for president, Evans raised $126 million.

Before taking his position in the Cabinet, Evans was chairman and chief executive officer of Tom Brown, Inc., an oil and natural gas company.

On how the president is coping with the burdens of war:

"There has been a sense of peace about this man that I have seen for a long, long time ever since I have known him, somebody that is very comfortable with his purpose in life, understands his purpose in life, understands we are here to serve a purpose greater than self. Those basic core beliefs and values have not changed.

He has not lost his sense of humor. It is a characteristic of him that I have seen since I have known him. He loves to tell a joke, he loves to hear a joke. He laughs with you; he has a great sense of humor, always has, and still has to this day.

At this moment, he has a lot on his plate. Yes he does, but as long as you go back to your core beliefs and where you are grounded in making decisions, you can find comfort there.... He is very comfortable with what he is doing, he is very determined."

On how the president has changed since taking office:

"...to try to get to your question in terms of what has changed, all of us in life mature along the way, we gain wisdom along the way, and so through experiences and through life experiences you gain wisdom and from that wisdom, it contributes to the kind of decisions you make."

On risks to the president's standing from war in the Middle East:

".... The number one important value that is critical to this moment is genuine ethical leadership that this country and this world can trust. And this country and this world see that in this president and they have seen that certainly since Sept. 11. I think before Sept. 11 (too) but certainly across America as you look at what America's opinion is of this president and other world leaders' opinion of this president I think you have seen that grow since Sept. 11....

It is troubling what is going on in the Middle East. He took some decisive action yesterday in making the decision it is now time to send Secretary Powell to the region, which he is doing. He is very comfortable through this period.

Again, since it is someone who can go back to his core beliefs and his core values and understands that his real purpose here is to serve you and everybody around this table and not his own self interest.

He is not spending a lot of time, I guess is the other way to answer it, he is not spending a whole lot of time worrying about his own political risk. That is just not who he is. What he is spending a lot of time figuring out is how to serve you, how to make your life better, make decisions that are in the long term best interest for the general well being of the American people. That is how he thinks.

And he is not taking polls trying to figure out what this decision means versus that decision. He doesn't waste his energy doing that. I would say he is someone very comfortable through this period."

On why the administration imposed tariffs on imported steel:

"When people step back from it and look at the big picture of it...if you are going to move trade forward in the world and we are going to lead on that – it is not just open the borders and let all of it come in regardless of what anybody else is doing in the world. We have got to show people that we are going to maintain a level playing field and that is what we are doing..."

On whether he thinks tariffs on imported steel will lead to a global trade war:

"No, I do not. I am confident we will manage our way through this by actively communicating with our friends and allies around the world...continuing to listen to what their concerns [are] but expressing our views as well. I think that quite frankly is the key to it, to have active dialogue, active communication knowing that we are all headed in the same direction. We are all headed in the direction of continuing to want to open up trade around the world. So when you talk about the common goal that you have, the kind of vision you have, the common views that you have, I am confident that we will be able to manage our way through."

On shared dreams:

"What is our responsibility here in America? Well, I would say part of our responsibility is sharing that American dream with the rest of the world. And one way to do that is through trade and developing more relationships and friendships and common ownerships around the world.... I don't think there is any more important role for us to play than leading this world in trade, opening up our borders, and sharing our American dream, our democratic values, our freedoms with the rest of the world."

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