THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
1:40 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: I apologize for being late, I think we were still waiting for the press plane to land. For those of you who were there it's not that funny.
We have no announcements, so if there are any questions.
Q Has the President talked to Ron Brown about his legal problems and does the President still have full confidence in the Secretary of Commerce?
MS. MYERS: The President spoke with Secretary Brown about this issue several months ago, or when we were in Alameda -- I don't have the exact date -- in August, I guess it was last month. He told him at that time that he had done nothing wrong and there's no reason to believe there's been any change in that. The President is satisfied with his answer.
Q It seems then, though there has been a grand jury convened and obviously -- when, I think, the Department of Justice that the present supervisors convenes a grand jury that means that there is some sense that there might be some serious problems.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think Secretary Brown has addressed that adequately. He said that whenever there are such allegations against a high-level government official that an investigation is prudent. I think the Commerce Department is in the best position to answer the specific questions about this. But the President has -- spoken to Secretary Brown about this several weeks ago, and has confidence that he's done nothing wrong.
Q Dee Dee, when he spoke to Secretary Brown --
Q Might it not be appropriate for him to step down until the resolution of the matter?
Q Oh, excuse me, Brit. (Laughter.) I didn't notice --
Q That's all right.
MS. MYERS: No. The grand jury is looking into this. We'll wait and see what the results are. There's no reason to believe that there's anything -- that the Secretary's done anything wrong. He's spoken to the President, and the President accepts his answer.
Q When the President spoke to Secretary Brown, Secretary Brown's story at that time was, he had never met with the Vietnamese guy in question.
MS. MYERS: That's incorrect.
Q According to his spokesman at the Commerce Department. Now, did the President ask him -- do you know if the conversation included Brown's denial that he ever spoke to this guy?
MS. MYERS: Secretary Brown did not deny that in his conversation with the President. He told him what has since been confirmed in press accounts.
Q So the story that the Commerce Department put out publicly, was that different from the one Brown told the President?
MS. MYERS: Secretary Brown has never, to my knowledge, denied meeting with the gentleman in question.
Q The Commerce Department spokesman, speaking on his behalf, has denied that --
MS. MYERS: And I would direct you to the Commerce Department to clarify that issue. Again, the President spoke with Secretary Brown about this back in August. The Secretary told him the circumstances, said that he had never done anything improper. The President accepts his explanation and stands by him.
Q But he told the press -- let's just get this one little bit clear -- he told the President that he had met with this businessman, or he did not -- he said he did not recall having met with him? Or, what was his version?
MS. MYERS: He told the President that he had met with him, but never discussed money.
Q So he recalled at the time having met with him?
MS. MYERS: He told the President that he had met with him, but never discussed money.
Q What did they talk about?
MS. MYERS: The President and Secretary Brown?
Q No. What did he tell the President this discussion was about with these two guys? I mean, this isn't something -- would he normally expect to have a meeting with these dillies?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what a dilly is, and I'm not sure how many people were in the meeting. So I would refer you to Commerce for --
Q Surely he characterized the meeting with these chaps in some way. How was it?
MS. MYERS: Secretary Brown told the President he had done nothing improper, that he had never discussed money, and that he has not participated in any meetings where the trade embargo to Vietnam was discussed. Again, the President accepts Secretary Brown's answer, and that's that.
Q Did he explain what the meeting at the Commerce Department was about? What was the subject of that meeting?
MS. MYERS: I would refer you to the Commerce Department to talk about --
Q No, as he explained to the President.
MS. MYERS: -- to talk about what happened at the Commerce Department. I think that the Commerce Department does not describe that as a meeting at the Commerce Department. Again, the contact --
MS. MYERS: There was no government car. And I would refer you to the Commerce Department for the specifics on this. Secretary Brown had these meetings before he was either nominated or confirmed as Secretary of Commerce.
Q One of the meetings was afterwards according to the -- are you suggesting that that is not correct?
MS. MYERS: I'm suggesting that you should contact the Commerce Department, because that is not how they are characterizing --
Q Well, what is the President's understanding of it?
MS. MYERS: The President does not have a specific understanding of each of the meetings. Again, I have nothing to say, other than the President accepts Secretary Brown's explanation.
Q When the Secretary spoke to the President in August, did he say, yes, I met with him at the Commerce Department, but --
MS. MYERS: No. He --
Q Did he, in fact, say that the meetings preceded his being sworn-in to office?
MS. MYERS: He said that money had never been discussed. That it happened before he was Secretary of Commerce. Again, I would refer you to the Commerce Department for the specific details of these meetings. I think it is in the best interest to characterize it. The President did not go through every single detail about these meetings. Again, the Secretary assured him that they had not discussed money and that he's never had a meeting as Secretary of Commerce about lifting the trade embargo on Vietnam, period.
Q Well, what did he say they talked about?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I wasn't present, but they had a conversation and the President accepts his response.
Q Based on the conversation, it was the President's understanding that nothing had taken place after Ron Brown had become Secretary of Commerce. That's a very important distinction.
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to say anymore about characterizing exactly what was discussed in the President's meeting with Secretary Brown. It was back in August when the story first broke, and I've said all I'm going to say about the President's meeting with the Secretary.
Q on Air Force One flying home that day?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Dee Dee, it's not been unheard of that -- this is not a direct reflection on Secretary Brown -- but that members of the government have said one thing in initial conversations even with the President and then remembered something later. Is anyone in the White House tracking this matter to make sure that the White House feels really protected on this issue?
MS. MYERS: Sure, we've had a number of conversations with the Commerce Department and are keeping, sort of, in contact with them on the issue.
Q Who is the contact person in the White House on that?
MS. MYERS: Well, the Communications Department has been in contact, and Mr. McLarty has had several conversations with Mr. Brown over the course of the last several weeks.
Q Who in the Communications Department?
MS. MYERS: Myself and Mark Gearan.
Q Dee Dee, who initiated the contact the President had with the Secretary? And who is initiating these contacts between the Secretary and Mr. McLarty?
MS. MYERS: Secretary Brown contacted Mack before there was a story to let him know that these allegations were swirling around, that there was no truth to them. As you know, Secretary Brown --
Q What was the earliest --
MS. MYERS: I don't have a date. It was before the story broke. Secretary Brown, as you know, was travelling with the President the day the story ultimately broke and discussed it with him on that day.
Q And the contacts that he's had since then with McLarty, is he initiating and giving information to Mack, or is Mack calling him?
MS. MYERS: I think they've had several discussions about it back and forth.
Q But by saying that the President accepts the Secretary's explanation of it, can we construe from that that as far as the White House is concerned, no internal investigation is needed and you'll await the outcome of the grand jury?
MS. MYERS: There's no internal -- there's no investigation ongoing that is satisfactory at this point. Again, there is no reason to dispute what Secretary Brown has said about the content of the meetings.
Q On Somalia, working out what the President said this morning -- it sounds a lot like the White House is looking for a graceful way out of Somalia.
MS. MYERS: I think the President spoke to that fairly clearly this morning. He said that we've always had an enforcement strategy and now he wants to put more emphasis on the political strategy, looking for a way to turn the day to day affairs of that country back over to the Somalis. That's always been our intent. The President discussed that yesterday with Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, and I think that's something that we're moving towards.
Q Is there any milestones you're looking for on the political front?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, I think the President addressed that. I think he said he'd like to see, relatively soon, a strategy for turning the day to day affairs of that country back over to the people who are there. As you know, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution which -- or asked the Secretary General to prepare a strategy for turning the -- for funding and developing the penal system, the judicial system, and the police force there -- it's something the President supports and will continue to work towards.
Q Could the President -- would the President feel comfortable if there was a political strategy in place and a political structure in place that could work if Mr. Aidid were still there on the loose?
MS. MYERS: I think that's something that we'll have to evaluate as things go forward. Mr. Aidid obviously has been the major disruption to return to normal life there. In addition to killing Pakistani peacekeepers, he's disrupted life in southern Mogadishu and it is unlike life in the rest of Somalia where many normal day to day activities have returned, where civilian councils or community councils are being established, where schools are operating and businesses are operating and hospitals are operating. The only holdout is southern Mogadishu now, and we'll continue to do what we can to restore order to that part of the country, as well.
Q The former National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft says the Bush administration when it initially deployed troops to Somalia did have an adequate, effective exit strategy, namely to pull them all out by February; it's the Clinton administration over these months that has decided to keep those troops there and has been unable to come up with an exit strategy.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think, obviously we inherited the troops in Somalia. And we reduced the number of troops there from 25,000 to 5,000 and most of those troops are logistical support troops. I think our concern has been all along that we establish a political structure so the country doesn't descend back into the kind of chaos that threatened -- that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and threatened hundreds of thousands more. The President remains committed to that mission. He thinks it's important that we establish enough of a framework so that the country can continue to develop in peace without descending back into the anarchy that caused this problem in the first place.
Q On the 17th February, excuse me, the 17th of September, President Clinton said he wanted to pull U.S. troops out and allow the sort of situation that allows the United Nations to remain as long as is necessary for peaceful purposes. Today he talked about a date certain for a U.N. pullout. What's changed there? Why does he no longer think the U.N. should remain and run the peaceful side of things, too --
MS. MYERS: I think that the President and the U.N. have always envisioned an end date to this. U.S. troops are still being pulled out. There will be new troops rotating in to take the place of many of the U.S. troops that are there now. The U.S. mission there in Somalia may end before the U.N. mission itself, and the President has always supported an ultimate end date where the U.N. would pull out, and all of the coordination of the country would be turned back over to the people who live there.
Q Has a decision been made by the administration to expend less effort to capture General Aidid?
MS. MYERS: No, I think if the opportunity presents itself, we'll certainly capture him. He's still an outlaw, there's still a warrant out for his arrest for the crimes that he's committed, particularly in reference to the Pakistani peacekeepers. But I think what the President has indicated is he wants more emphasis on the political strategy, on getting the country into shape so we can turn it back over to the Somalis.
Q When the President was referring today to a policy which would give each country in the U.N. peacekeeping force a rotation so that they would know when they were getting out, is he trying to set up a timetable now for the rotating out of U.S. forces and the rotating in of other forces to replace them?
MS. MYERS: There's already a plan for that. It's not all U.S. forces, but I think it reduces it by another 2,000.
Is that right, Don?
Twenty-five hundred more troops will be rotated out and replaced by a variety of other troops from several other countries.
Q Do you know when?
MS. MYERS: In the next few months. And the countries are, that they're coming from: India, Egypt, Pakistan and Gurkhas. So, 2,500 sometime in the next few months.
Q What --
MS. MYERS: Gurkhas.
Q Which country --
Q They're not a country. Aren't they British troops?
MS. MYERS: Do they get together for their U.N. deployment?
Q Your job is not to sit there and laugh, your job is to help. (Laughter.)
MR. STEINBERG: The Gurkhas are a group of -- but they're a separate unit within the Indian --
Q Different Gergens -- (laughter.)
Q Don't tell him, tell her.
MS. MYERS: No, he's telling you.
Q 25,000 more are leaving --
MS. MYERS: Twenty-five hundred more, rotating out over the course of the next couple of months.
Q leave 2,500? And is there a timetable for them to rotate out?
MS. MYERS: Not yet.
Q Will there be by November 15th?
MS. MYERS: We're working with Congress on that now. I think the President has made --
Q Do you anticipate they will be by -- is it October 15th?
MS. MYERS: Well, October 15th is the report, and November 15th is -- but, anyway -- the answer to that is that we're working on it. We don't have a date certain now. The President indicated today he'd like to see one, and we will continue to work with the U.N. and with Congress to try to create that.
Q And when the President talked to the Secretary General yesterday, did they discuss, at least bandy about a potential date?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that they talked about a specific date.
Q They didn't talk about a date certain issue at all?
MS. MYERS: They talked about the issue of a date certain. They didn't talk about a specific date certain.
Q So you are looking for a withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Somalia by a date certain right now?
MS. MYERS: I think that's always been our intention is that --
Q We have been led to believe recently that it was open-ended, that until the mission was accomplished, U.S. troops would be available to help out.
MS. MYERS: There has always been a timetable, a broad timetable for withdrawing troops. We haven't had a date certain for ending the mission. The President said today he thinks that that would be helpful, that we would like to establish a date certain. In the meantime, I think the President says -- what he indicated today in his comments was that we need to develop a political strategy that will create an opportunity to do that, to turn the day-to-day operation of the country back over to the Somalis and allow the U.S. and the other U.N. troops to withdraw.
Q That's what the President said a couple of weeks ago, too. What is different about what he said when he was meeting with the Australian Prime Minister and what he said today?
MS. MYERS: I don't think --
Q I mean, what's different between what he said then? He's still -- they're still talking about his intent, former political strategy then, he's talking about it now.
MS. MYERS: I don't think anything has changed.
Q date certain a year or six months?
MS. MYERS: We're working on that with the U.N. and with Congress. But I think that's exactly the point. The President has said all along that he'd like to see a date to withdraw U.S. troops, that one of the things we needed to do was restore order and create circumstances under which order could be maintained.
Q But we don't know what date certain means, I take it.
MS. MYERS: We don't have a date certain. I think we all know what date certain means.
Q Do you have one in mind? I know you don't have one, but do you have one in mind?
MS. MYERS: We're working on that with Congress and with the U.N.
Q What is your view toward the congressional resolution which has those --
MS. MYERS: We're continuing to discuss that with Congress.
Q If we guess it, will you tell us?
Q But what is the President's view?
Q What is the President's view about that timetable? Is that too soon or is that --
MS. MYERS: I don't think that they wanted them withdrawn by October 15th or November 15th. That wasn't the intention. I think they would like to --
Q cut off their funding --
Q once they cut off funding --
MS. MYERS: No, I don't think anybody ever suggested that Congress would cut off funding on November 15th. I think that they're looking --
Q What does the resolution mean, though? I don't have it in front of me, but doesn't it mean that by November 15?
MS. MYERS: We're working with Congress on that. I think -- we've had a number of discussions with them. Those conversations are ongoing. We're going to continue to work with them.
Q Would he prefer that the House not pass the resolution this afternoon?
MS. MYERS: We'll see what the House does. We, again, will continue to have --
Q What's your position on the House resolution?
MS. MYERS: We would like to continue to work with Congress to figure out the best strategy for dealing with the situation in Somalia. That's our position.
Q in favor or oppose this resolution?
MS. MYERS: We're going to continue to have conversations. We don't have a position beyond that.
Q How do you respond to the critics who, no doubt, say that when the going gets tough, the U.S. pulls out?
Q Gets going. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think that the U.S. has been in Somalia from the beginning, that we helped to end terrible famine there and to restore political order in most of that country. I think the toughest part of that mission in many respects is over. The work is not done, but we've made great progress. We can't forget what the pictures were that we were all seeing on television before U.S. troops went in there. Literally, hundreds of thousands of people died, another million were in danger of starving to death, and that situation has been largely corrected. There are no longer people starving, and we're well along in restoring order in most of Somalia.
Q In view of what you just said, do you still think that there's a threat to international peace or any of the other conditions that the President outlined yesterday for sending peacekeeping troops into something like this?
MS. MYERS: I think that the circumstances around Somalia were to go in there to relieve humanitarian disaster. I think that unless the elements of the political strategy are complete, that we've made more progress on that, the danger of that country descending back into chaos remain. I think that's what the President would like to avert.
Q But, I mean, the poor conditions. Do you think that this continues or meets them?
MS. MYERS: I think that we've learned something from this process that we'll apply to the next. I think that the reason we went to Somalia in the first place was to alleviate a humanitarian crisis. I don't think that that threat has been alleviated. And so, I think it still meets the original criteria for going in.
Q Do you have any read on the status of the Bosnian peace settlement? Do we have a representative there? Are we getting any reporting back from there?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Redman is there, and they were still there. We didn't have any more information about it as of about an hour ago.
Don, that hasn't changed, has it? No.
Q One more Somalia question. Are the U.S. troops present there an integral part of the process of establishing a political settlement, or could they be pulled out before an acceptable settlement is reached and replaced by other countries?
MS. MYERS: I think that many of them certainly can be and are in the process of being replaced, and we'll see how that goes.
Q Is there a reason -- does the administration have a reason why U.S. troops would have to remain for any particular length of time?
MS. MYERS: I don't think that there's any specific requirement. We haven't established any yet.
Q With the President's policy on gays in the military, scheduled to go into effect in a few days, I believe, the House is about to vote on a much stricter policy, similar to what the Senate voted on a few weeks ago. What's the President's position on the stricter legislative versions?
MS. MYERS: He's against it.
Q Would he veto them if --
MS. MYERS: Our strategy right now is to work to defeat that amendment and to implement the President's policy.
Q Well, would he veto it?
MS. MYERS: Our strategy right now is to work to defeat it.
Q Dee Dee, back on Aidid. When you say that when and if he's available we'll try to capture him, that suggests that the active effort to get him is over. Are we no longer actively trying to --
MS. MYERS: No. I think that Boutros-Ghali has made clear that he still thinks -- there's still a warrant for Aidid's arrest and we'd still like to capture him. I think I would refer you to the U.N. for any additional information on that. But, again, nothing has changed in Aidid's status. I think what the President said today was that he would just like to see more emphasis on the political part of that strategy.
Q But, Dee Dee, there are some people who are being sought, and that the United States says if we come across them we'll grab them. There are others who the U.S. says we're going to have missions go out and get these people. Which is it, in Aidid's case?
MS. MYERS: Nothing has changed with respect to Aidid. Nothing has changed. There's been no change.
Q Can we expect more missions where the U.S. goes out and affirmatively tries to find him?
MS. MYERS: I think again, if there's a opportunity to capture him, we'll certainly take advantage of that. Boutros-Ghali -- again, I would refer you to the U.N. for this -- but Boutros-Ghali said that he continues to remain at large and there's a warrant for his arrest, and Boutros-Ghali would like to see that.
Q the Rangers will be included in the 2,500 American troops being rotated out -- and at all possible if the Rangers --
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that they're part of this rotation. I'll double-check that, though, Wendell.
Q What is the President doing this day when most of the calendar is blank? And how much time is he spending watching his wife testifying on the Hill?
MS. MYERS: He hasn't -- he did not watch the morning session, and he may watch this afternoon. He did get a report on her performance and spoke to her about it before she went up this morning, talked to her a little bit about it and was informed by staff that she had done very well. He was happy about that. He spent most of the morning at the Residence this morning, came over here, attended the Democratic Leadership meeting.
Q What was he doing?
MS. MYERS: He had a couple hours off, he was doing whatever people do at home. Then he's going to --
Q cleaning the house? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think he was mowing the South Lawn. (Laughter.)
Q He had time off -- and didn't watch her on TV?
MS. MYERS: The meeting started at 11:00; he had a few other things over there before. You know, his regular security briefing, things like that.
Q What's he doing now?
MS. MYERS: Now he's in his office working.
Q What time did he get in?
MS. MYERS: He got in a little before 11:00 a.m.
Q What about the rest of the week?
Q Was he on the press plane? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: He was. The rest of the week. Tomorrow there are a couple of events. The rest of the day he'll spend in his office and staff meetings and other things.
Tomorrow morning, the President and the CEOs of the big three auto makers will announce an agreement. That will be at 10:00 a.m. probably in the Rose Garden.
Q On what?
MS. MYERS: You'll have to wait till tomorrow.
Q Give us a hint.
MS. MYERS: The big three auto makers and the President will announce an agreement.
Q Is it NAFTA related?
MS. MYERS: It is not NAFTA related.
Q Is it health care related?
MS. MYERS: I will say no more. You'll have to wait till tomorrow.
Let's go through the list. Then he will have --
Q Does it have anything to do with Gurkhas? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: It's reinventing Gurkhas. (Laughter.)
Then there will be an event at 12:30 p.m. on the export strategy -- the new export strategy, followed by a lunch in the state dining room with some of the CEOs who will be here for that. Tomorrow afternoon he will meet with Foreign Minister Kozyrev briefly.
Q This is a whole other group of CEOs, right?
MS. MYERS: Yes, this is two separate events.
Q Two separate sets of CEOs.
MS. MYERS: Two separate sets of CEOS --
Q Will the guys from the first one be in on the lunch?
MS. MYERS: I can't rule that out. I would think that they may very well be at the lunch. Again the first one is the big three CEOs, the second one is export strategy followed by a CEO lunch, which is a regular thing, as you know, that we do almost every Wednesday.
Then on Thursday --
Q Kozyrev is when?
MS. MYERS: Tomorrow afternoon.
Q What time?
MS. MYERS: 5:30 p.m.
Q Oh great, why don't you make it 6:30?
Q They probably will.
MS. MYERS: We can move it.
Q Has he talked to Yeltsin?
MS. MYERS: Not since the original call.
Q How about Shevardnadze?
MS. MYERS: No. Okay, if you don't behave, you're not going to get scheduling information for the weekend. 10:30 a.m. is a Cabinet meeting lunch with Vice President Gore.
Q When's that?
MS. MYERS: This is Thursday. 3:00 p.m. he has Presidential Science and Technology Medal Ceremony, and then at 4:00 p.m. a retirement ceremony for --
Q What are you looking up Gurkha?
MS. MYERS: Gurkha -- G-U-R-K-H-A. A member of the Rajput people, Hindu in religion, living in Nepal. A soldier of these people serving in the British or Indian army.
Q Are these Indian Gurkhas or British Gurkhas? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Okay, at 4:00 p.m. there will be a retirement ceremony for General Powell at Fort Meyer.
Q Is this still Thursday?
MS. MYERS: This is all Thursday. So we have Cabinet meeting, lunch with the Vice President, Science Medal Ceremony, Science and Technology Medal Ceremony, retirement ceremony for General Powell.
Friday a swearing-in for Justice Ginsburg at 10:00 a.m. The rest of that day is still --
Q I thought she'd been sworn in several times? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: It's an ongoing feast. (Laughter.)
Saturday -- this is the one, this is a tradition, it's at the Supreme Court.
Q What about Elders, is she --is a
Q He's going up there.
MS. MYERS: Yeah, he's going up to the Supreme Court, which is a Presidential tradition.
Q has Elders been sworn in?
MS. MYERS: Not yet. We'll do a whole series of ceremonies on that as well.
Saturday he'll do the radio address live at 10:06 a.m., and that's it for the day. Sunday he will attend the Red Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral for the Supreme Court, an annual event. And then sometime early afternoon we'll leave for California. Sunday night there will be a town hall in California. I believe the time is 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It will be in Sacramento, and it will be a hook up with the five NBC affiliates in California. Then the overnight will be in San Francisco on Sunday. We'll make sure we get there too late for anybody to enjoy it.
Monday morning he'll address the AFL-CIO convention on health care. Then we'll fly down to Los Angeles.
Q What time will that be, do you know?
MS. MYERS: It's 10:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. We're still working that out.
Q Keep going.
MS. MYERS: Monday afternoon we'll go to L.A., probably do an event sort of late afternoon in Los Angeles.
Q A health care event?
MS. MYERS: Not necessarily. It might be something more jobs --
MS. MYERS: If we can work it out. No, no basketball this time.
Monday morning --
MS. MYERS: Monday morning we'll do a health care event in Los Angeles and then fly back to Washington -- Tuesday morning, I'm sorry.
Q You skipped Monday evening?
MS. MYERS: Monday evening he has a DCCC fundraiser that he'll attend.
MS. MYERS: Yeah, it'll be closed.
Q Good. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I'm available for restaurant recommendations. And then Tuesday night he'll be back here in time for the DSCC fundraiser.
MS. MYERS: DSCC. I don't know. It's a big black tie thing-a-mabob.
Q So you think he'll be here by evening news time Tuesday?
MS. MYERS: Our goal is to get back here by about 6:00 p.m. The dinner starts at 7:30 p.m.
Q Has the President contacted or otherwise communicated with Senator Riegle since his announcement this morning?
MS. MYERS: No. Had not of as half an hour ago.
Q Has he canceled his plans to appear at his fundraiser? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think that that will not longer be on the calendar.
Q No, no -- excuse me, I had a somewhat less facetious version of the same question. Riegle has asked that the President come and instead do the fundraiser for one of the DSCC kind of things.
MS. MYERS: Or state party.
Q Yes, some --
MS. MYERS: I think we'll have to reevaluate the schedule in terms of Senator Riegle's announcement. We haven't had a chance to do that yet.
Q Is the President planning on calling on the Senator? Does he --
MS. MYERS: I don't know if he had any plans to call him. They have not spoken as of half an hour ago.
Q He was counting on, clearly, on Riegle holding that seat despite their differences on NAFTA. This is two senators, Democratic senators out now. What's the President's reaction to that?
MS. MYERS: Well, he certainly understands Senator Riegle's decision. It's Senator Riegle's decision. I think the President accepts that. Hopefully we'll see what candidates declare in Michigan. And I think, of course, that the President would like to see somebody in that seat who supports his policy initiatives.
Q Dee Dee, can I ask a Bosnia question? Yesterday he spelled out the five conditions, the last one being a strong sense of support from Congress. The lawmakers came out, the Democrats came out today and basically said that there's great concern about any action in Bosnia, any troop use in Bosnia. Did they express that in the meeting with the President, and what's your reaction to their concerns?
MS. MYERS: No, the meeting focused on domestic policy, mostly health care. They did not discuss foreign policy and would not in a partisan leadership meeting. Again, the focus was on almost --
Q So health care's partisan but --
MS. MYERS: Well, foreign policy is just not something that is --
Q more partisan --
MS. MYERS: -- that is discussed at partisan leadership meetings, and I think there's a long tradition of that.
Q Is there anything that is being done or can be done to kind of turn them around --
MS. MYERS: There is this administration. I'm sorry -- Q Anything being done to kind of turn these folks
around on Bosnia or to get them up to date?
MS. MYERS: We will certainly continue to discuss Bosnia with the leadership and with other members of Congress as the situation unfolds. I think the President has made clear what the criteria are now for undertaking a peacekeeping mission there. It's something that he will -- and one of the criteria was a sense of approval in Congress. And we'll continue to work with them as things unfold.
Q What are the health care discussions about? I mean, you've got 1,700 congressional committees about to hold hearings. I mean, what --
MS. MYERS: And part of it was about that, about timing, about some of the different issues that are coming up through the health care process. It was a pretty wide-ranging discussion.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:10 P.M. EDT