THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Flossmoor, Illinois) _________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 17, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
Filing Center-Gymnasium Homewood-Flossmoor High School Flossmoor, Illinois
6:07 P.M. CDT
MR. MCCURRY: The President intends to discuss the status of over almost 2 million acres of southern Utah's most picturesque canyons and cliffs and desert plateau region tomorrow. We've been working an issue related to the designation for that area as a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The President has worked that issue on and off in recent weeks very carefully and today instructed Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to meet with Utah Governor Mike Lovett and with Congressman Bill Orton from southern Utah. They had very productive discussions today.
The President will get a briefing later this evening from Mr. Panetta on those discussions. He's got some decisions to make about how to frame his discussion of this issue tomorrow, and that will affect the outcome.
MR. MCCURRY: Any other subjects? Excellent.
Q South Dakota? If you could tell us about that.
MR. MCCURRY: South Dakota? We had a little hint from White House Political Affairs Director Doug Sosnik that a possible stop in South Dakota was gaining in likelihood on the way back on Friday. It's still at that point. I don't believe that it's been officially announced by the campaign. But it's certainly gaining in likelihood. It would put us back in, obviously, very late Friday evening -- back in Washington.
Q On the issue of Iraq, we understand that a private message was sent through regular channels to Saddam Hussein essentially stating what the President had said earlier publicly about we're not going to risk any confrontation. Is that accurate and can you --
MR. MCCURRY: That is accurate. And if I'm not mistaken, I briefed on that back on -- let's see, when would I have done it? I recall having briefed to that at some point. I'm not sure exactly when. But I confirmed at one point that we had made clear the specificity with which we had indicated our desire to protect U.S. pilots flying no-fly zone enforcement missions and that that had been communicated through the diplomatic channels we use with Iraq.
Q Did it also entail, though, not wanting a confrontation?
MR. MCCURRY: I made -- it was made clear that we would not tolerate any risks to our pilots and done with some specificity.
Q How much does the close Senate race in South Dakota --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there are a number of factors that go into account. I mean, the President's own standing in the race in that state, as well as the strong desire of local Democrats to see him there campaigning on behalf of the ticket. But all of those things come into play. And increasingly, as you've seen the President move around state by state, you see him doing a lot of work on behalf of candidates -- Senate candidates, congressional candidates. Obviously, he's doing an event for Dick Durbin right now. So there are ample opportunities like that that present themselves locally.
Any other subjects that are outstanding? None that I can think of. Okay. We'll have a little more specifics. And, Mark, we'll protect you if it looks like anything is hardening up on the Utah story overnight. We'll make sure we try to get to those of you who have got overnight responsibilities.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 6:17 P.M. CDT