Instead, she provided a lengthy reiteration of her opening statement about the need for the government to engage with its people, for both sides to show restraint, and how the U. S. wants to be a partner in the reform.
Gibbs said Obama had not spoken to Mubarak but administration officials had been in touch with various entities of the Egyptian government.
The United States wants Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally, to make reforms now to appease the protestors before they push him out of power. The administration has tried to support the right of the demonstrators to gather and protests, but does not want to see Mubarak, an important ally in the region, fall and so they have urged him in public and in private to reform before it is too late.
The best case scenario for the administration is he makes the reforms and stays in power, but if he is toppled, analysts question whether the new leaders that fill the power vacuum will be as strongly allied with the U.S.
The United States issued a travel warning to Egypt and urged Americans to defer non-essential travel to the country because of the ongoing protests.
Today's gathering was the largest since the demonstrations started on Tuesday, and the largest the country has seen in decades. Images showed pictures of protesters kneeling to pray as riot police looked on. Protesters were seen rocking an armored vehicle as another armored vehicle tried to scatter the demonstrators by driving through them, knocking several down.
In a drastic move to suppress the protests, Mubarak enforced a night curfew, from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, where some of the most violent clashes occurred, and then extended it to all of the country. Egypt state TV announced that Mubarak has ordered the army onto the streets to help police enforce curfew, the first time ever the government has made such a move.
But the crackdown has made the protesters even more determined. Defying the curfew, protesters continue to gather and march hours after it went into effect and government forces fired on them with tear gas.
At least two buildings on the Nile River in Cairo went up in flames, as did the head office of Mubarak's National Democratic Party. The Egyptian army placed armored trucks in front of the state television building and the Ministry of Interior, as demonstrators attempted to enter those buildings, the Parliament and the National Democratic Party's head office.
Mubarak, Egypt's commander-in-chief, has not been seen since the protests began Tuesday. Reports said he was to address the nation today but that has yet to be confirmed. Mubarak has stayed mostly silent amid concern that his speaking would further incite the protesters and end any hopes of a compromise, as was the case in Tunisia recently when Ben Ali's strategy to communicate with the nation backfired, and he ousted from power.
Protests have spread through Arab countries in recent weeks, starting with street demonstrations in Tunisia which forced its long-time president to flee. Since then, protests have erupted in Egypt and Yemen, all U.S. allies.
But unlike in Tunisia, the police and the military are on the side of Mubarak's government, an administration that is very strong and is not expected to yield power easily.