THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Albuquerque, New Mexico) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 11, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY Glendale Community College Glendale, California
1:45 P.M. PDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right, let me just run through, just for those of you looking ahead to tomorrow and what we're going to do in South Carolina. The President, as you'll recall in his radio address Saturday instructed federal officials to look at the total picture of the law enforcement effort underway now to investigate each of the separate incidents of church burnings that we've seen over the last 18 months. The President will likely have some additional things that he can bring to the federal effort tomorrow. We're fairly confident we've got a very extensive effort underway, but there are some things that the Justice Department has suggested might be helpful in terms of both protecting worship facilities in the South, bringing about stronger law enforcement efforts and coordinating some of the separate investigations that are underway. So you might have some things to suggest tomorrow that we can do to add elements to the very extensive law enforcement effort underway already.
And then, secondly, he will concentrate a lot since the theme of his appearance tomorrow is what a community can do working together to heal after one of these incidents. He'll talk about things that both the private sector and the public sector can do together to help those communities that have experienced these unfortunate incidents. He's been working closely back in Washington; the Housing and Urban Development Department has been working closely with people looking at the church burnings issues, and they might have some additional things they can talk to you tomorrow about, resources that might be available.
MR. MCCURRY: I was told to be as vague as possible about that, and so that's about as far as I can go.
Q Well, you've done well.
MR. MCCURRY: And that's it. I didn't have anything else on my --
Q Is tomorrow's event an actual rededication ceremony for the rebuilding of the church, or is it still in a state of reconstruction?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe they're very close to having it -- can I check with Mary Ellen --
MS. GLYNN: I think it is -- yes, I --
MR. MCCURRY: Why don't you --
MS. GLYNN: I don't know to what extent the church -- I don't know whether the church is completely finished, but it is a -- Mark, I don't know if the church is actually finished and ready for move-in, but this is a dedication of the church tomorrow.
Q -- the L.A. Times said -- other publications said -- it was scheduled to be rededicated Saturday --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, it's nearly complete -- is the understanding we got from talking to the Minister last Saturday, so --
Q It will be a rededication tomorrow --
MR. MCCURRY: It will be a rededication --
Q So they've moved it up from --
MR. MCCURRY: And they will also visit the site of the church that burned down. The new church is about a mile away.
Q So they moved it -- moved the dedication ceremony up from this coming Saturday?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether they moved that event up, or whether they're having a separate event on Saturday, but we'll try to find that out.
Q -- Mt. Zion AME church that was burned down in one location, and they've rebuilt in another location about a mile away, is that --
MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. That's my understanding -- they built it about a mile away.
MR. MCCURRY: They are -- because we want this to be an opportunity to demonstrate a lot of support for communities going through this. We've issued a fairly broad invitation -- and it's obviously completely nonpartisan.
Q Could you -- do you want to respond to Dick Armey's comments that this is a photo op that the President's --tomorrow? He was quite critical saying the President is like a fireman rushing off to every tragedy --
MR. MCCURRY: He's -- just the latest in a long string of unfortunate things that he's had to say recently.
Q -- talk about tonight.
MR. MCCURRY: Tonight, as you heard earlier, he's going to talk about the experience Albuquerque has had with two -- that New Mexico has had, because he referenced Las Cruces, with school uniforms and with curfews, two things that were embedded in some of the discussion the President had today about what we can do to nurture family values and strengthen communities as we protect families looking ahead to the challenges we're facing in the 21st century.
Q Is he going to weave anything about the churches into tonight's speech?
MR. MCCURRY: Those of you who are going to be on the air at 7:00 o'clock tomorrow morning, I'll see. (Laughter.)
Q Who would that be?
Q I have no idea.
Q Shameful. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: He may do that. He was --
Q -- natural segue. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Surprise -- he was surprised -- frankly, he told several of us afterwards, he was surprised at the reaction he got when he raised the issue yesterday in San Diego, because there was a very, very -- you'll recall, those of you who were there, a very strong response to that from that audience, which you might not instantly expect -- either be familiar with the issue or engaged by it. So --
Q Especially given that juveniles appear to be involved in some of these --
MR. MCCURRY: -- say the focus tomorrow is principally on how communities can heal and rebuild after one of these incidents.
Anything else before we see you in Albuquerque? I would echo what Mary Ellen said -- it's a very early departure tomorrow morning, so the sooner you all get into South Carolina the better.
Q Skip Albuquerque --
Q Take the charter straight to South Carolina.
MR. MCCURRY: -- wouldn't want to disappoint all those people in Albuquerque, maybe even my aunt.
Q -- talking about us.
Q Is the President feeling okay?
MR. MCCURRY: Is he feeling -- he's still got some residual effects from the flu bug he had. He's had -- left him a little bit tired, and the doctor had anticipated that would be the case. But he's feeling pretty good.
Q Has he gotten over his golf euphoria?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think he -- I think he's still suffering post-links suppression -- euphoria.
All right. Good. I'll see you all in New Mexico.
Somebody what asked what our crowd count was, and we normally rely on what the figure is that we get from the Secret Service and the number of people who go through the mags -- and they magged 2,000. There may have been additional people who were not within the perimeter of that area, but that's what roughly what --
END 1:52 P.M. PDT