President Bush said yesterday that people who have skin that is "a different color than white" are capable of self-government.

Bush made the comment during a Rose Garden news conference, while discussing his goal of more freedom in the Middle East.

"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern," Bush said.

"I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

That was a variation on Bush's frequent point that he disagrees with those who say that Muslims or people who are brown-skinned cannot be self-governing or free.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan was peppered later with questions about what Bush meant. Bush never says who the people are who think that, and McClellan did not, either.

"There are certainly people out there that reject the idea that certain people can be free," McClellan said. "The president disagrees with that assessment. The president believes all people yearn to live in freedom."

-- Mike Allen