Following are excerpts concerning the Persian Gulf War from President Bush's news conference yesterday:

Q. What can you do about the Iraqi dumping of oil in the gulf? Is there any way you can offset it, or . . .

A. Well, there's -- there's a lot of activity going on right now, trying to figure out what the best course of action is to clean this mess up, to stop this spill. Saddam Hussein continues to amaze the world. First he uses these Scud missiles that have no military value whatsoever. Then he uses the lives of prisoners of war, parading them and threatening to use them as shields. Obviously, they have been brutalized. And now, he resorts to enormous environmental damage, but in terms of turning loose a lot of oil, no military advantage to him whatsoever in this. It's not going to help him at all. . . .

. . . A course of action that I will not comment, I think is close to agreement. I'm not going to comment on what it is, but I can assure you that every effort will be made to try to stop this continuing spill into the gulf and also to stop what has been done from further -- from moving further south. It's a little hard to do when the man has taken over this other country, Kuwait, and is using their assets in this way. But we will try hard and you can be rest assured that the scientists and the oil people, the military, are all involved, and the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and the U.S. side are all involved in the closest consultation.

Q. As you pointed out, Saddam has done a number of things, none of them really a military offensive. Are you coming to the conclusion that he is not going to fight?

A. No, I haven't reached that conclusion at all because these Scud missile attacks certainly invite instant retaliation, if you can find the mobile launchers, and we're keeping on in that quest, as I indicated the other day. I think what he's trying to do is to rally support in some of the countries where he may have some. I think he's trying with the attacks on Israel to divide the coalition and to mount anti-Israel sentiment in parts of the world.

Q. A lot of Americans would like to know, since all these problems seem to get back at least in your statements to Saddam Hussein, why you don't target him. Is it because of the embarrassment you encountered in trying to bring {Panamanian leader} Manuel Noriega to? . . .

A. Hey. There's no embarrassment in that. It took six or seven days, but there wasn't any embarrassment. There was a man who was wanted for crimes in this country and he's in prison and he's going to have his day in court.

But we've set our objectives. Our coalition partners are in accord with these objectives and we will stay with these objectives.

Q. So why not go after Saddam Hussein?

A. Because we've set our objectives, we've got our objectives in accord with the coalition and we'll stay with them, that's why. . . .

Q. One more try on Saddam Hussein. Given that your military commanders have said that they're hoping that this army quits rather than fights and results in a bloody ground offensive, why wouldn't it be entirely militarily appropriate to target Saddam Hussein?

A. Because we're not in the business of targeting Saddam Hussein. I set out our goals, and I think that I will say this, as I said the other day in echoing my support for what Prime Minister {John} Major of the United Kingdom said, no one will weep when he's gone.

But having said that, we have spelled out our objectives, and I will stay with them. But who knows what would happen if he left today?

I would like to think what I have said over and over again would resonate in Iraq, and that is that we have no argument with the people of Iraq. We don't want to see a destabilized Iraq when this is all over. But we also don't want to see a continuation of this aggression. We don't want, we will not tolerate a continuation of this brutality. And so we have a mix of problems, but the problems are not with the, the people in the streets of, streets of Baghdad.

Q. Can you give the American people some sense of what this war is going to cost?

And separately on the domestic front, how do you respond to {Republican National Committee Chairman} Clayton Yeutter and others who are seeking to turn this issue politically against many Democrats who may have voted against the force resolution?

A. On the first part of it, I would leave that to the Pentagon. That is still being computed. There have been some, that will be presented, obviously, to the United States Congress that not only has a right to know, but has the prime obligations when it comes to funding these matters. I am very pleased with the cooperation and participation from foreign countries.

Q. May I ask you for the second part of that question?

A. Oh, yeah. My position on this is that this is not a partisan effort. I thought Lee Hamilton answered that question pretty well. I can't remember exactly what he said, but he said, "Look, I'm prepared to defend my vote one way or another." And I think everybody views it that way.

And I don't want to comment on something that I did not see exactly, what Clayton Yeutter said. I heard that he said today that he had absolutely no intention of making the war a partisan issue because we have strong bipartisan support. And in my view, it is a non-partisan approach, and so I've conducted myself that way. I will continue to conduct myself that way.

Q. Next Tuesday night when you go and give the State of the Union message in that Great Hall of the House where there's a joint session of House and Senate, all those members there, and all the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the diplomats, and your wife, and yourself. And that presents a great opportunity for terrorists, if they could get by. Why don't you give the State of the Union message quietly from the White House?

A. Well, many presidents have given the State of the Union message by post office, you know, messengers sent it up there and I don't know that any have been done from the White House. But if I, you know, when I go to the Capitol -- put it that way -- I will have total confidence in the security apparatus in this country. . . .

I am not going to be held a captive in the White House by Saddam Hussein of Iraq. And you can make a note of that one. We're going about our business and the world goes on.

Somebody asked me a while back about the Super Bowl. Do you think we ought to cancel the Super Bowl because of, of this situation? One, the war is a serious business and the nation is focused on it. But two, life goes on. . . . The boys and men and women in the gulf, they want to see this game go on, and they're going to get great instant replays over there.

And so, life goes on. And this is priority, getting this war concluded properly. But we are not going to screech everything to a halt in terms of our domestic agenda; we're not going to screech everything to a halt in terms of the recreational activities -- and I cite the Super Bowl. And I am not going to screech my life to a halt out of some fear about Saddam Hussein. . . .

I admit he does irrational things. This thing today troubles me very much because there's no rationality to it. It looks desperate; it looks last gasp. It doesn't measure up to any military doctrine of any kind. But it's, it's kind of sick. . . . And yet we are not going to be held captive to this kind of outrageous expression, nor will we be to the bombing of population centers or the brutal parading of American prisoners. And boy, that one has hit me right square in the heart, I'll tell you. It's just outrageous what he's done. . . .