Perino, who spoke primarily about this week's papal visit, began to answer a question about AIDS from the infamous reporter Lester Kinsolving, referring him to the National Institute of Health's information on vaccinations.
Kinsolving followed up with a question about demands that gays be allowed to serve in the military. The reporter never explicitly mentioned homosexuals or homosexuality, but implicitly referred to gays as "the largest spreaders of AIDS," and asked for assurance that President Bush opposed gays serving in the military.
Perino quickly rebuked Kinsolving. "I'm not going to dignify that with an answer," she said.
Here's the transcript:
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. The New York Times reports that in 1984, federal health officials predicted that there would be an effective AIDS vaccine "within three years, but no one yet knows whether a vaccine to prevent the disease will ever be possible." And my first question: Does the White House disagree with the Times on this statement and believe that AIDS is anywhere near to be conquered?
MS. PERINO: I'll refer you to the officials at NIH for their assessment as to when a vaccine may or may not be available. What the President is focused on is making sure that we lessen the suffering, especially by people around the world, through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And that's going fairly well, and we are on track to double our commitment by 2010.*
Q There have been demands that our Armed Forces be forced to accept what the Centers for Disease Control still report is the largest spreaders of AIDS. And my question: The President not only opposes this for our Armed Forces, but hopes his successor will, as well, doesn't he?
MS. PERINO: I'm not going to dignify that with an answer.
Q You won't dignify it with an answer?
Perino then moved on to another question.
After the briefing, Kinsolving approached Perino to press the issue. He could be heard saying that he was just doing his job and that it was his right to ask the question.
"And it's my right not to answer," Perino said as she walked away.