THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Buffalo, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 3, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND JOE LOCKHART
Filing Center Greater Buffalo International Airport Buffalo, New York
12:30 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Hello, Buffalo. Why don't you pick up where you were. What were you doing? Were you doing the debate?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. As I was saying to Mr. Bedard and some of his colleagues, the President's looking forward to getting into the debate prep. He's slightly apprehensive at this point given the head start Senator Dole has had -- he's been working at this for about nine days -- and looks forward to getting into it this afternoon.
Q -- is he going right into this thing where people play Dole?
MR. LOCKHART: No, there going to just get organized this afternoon. The team -- Erskine and his team arrived last night. So I think this afternoon, they'll just get organized and we'll take it from there.
MR. MCCURRY: What he generally will do -- he's got different types of briefing materials and different descriptions of some of the things Dole has said during the campaign and the effective statistics and counter-arguments that come from the administration's record. He'll spend a little bit of time -- probably in the late morning or early afternoon -- working on that material. We'll give him the bulk of the afternoon off. And then we plan to do one dress rehearsal each evening at roughly the same time that the debate will happen -- between 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. -- get the body clock oriented in the right direction.
Q Are you working on your twang, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: I can effect a Carolina twang -- that soft PBS-style, Carolina twang. And Joe and I will probably both take turns, and maybe some of the rest of us, just doing the moderating. They went to the airheads to play the role of the journalists. (Laughter.)
Anything else on other subjects?
Q -- getting any -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCCURRY: We have been getting some updates from our National Security Council staff about the situation in the Middle East. Obviously, there's been some sporadic violence today. We don't have a full report on things that have happened, but we consider the violence and the frustration that we've seen on the street to be ample evidence that the negotiators, themselves, should do everything possible to make progress as they reconvene Sunday. The antidote to that type of violence is, of course, progress in the peace talks themselves and it's imperative for the negotiators to fulfill the commitments now that have been made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat.
Q Do you have any reaction to the latest criticism, including today from Gingrich and other Republicans, that the way the President handled this whole Middle East summit is ill-prepared and not well-thought-through?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's wrong, first of all. And it also belies the fact there was violence, deaths in the region and a very grave danger that the peace process itself would unravel once and for all. I'm not exactly sure if the Speaker or others were in a situation they would have seen any other course of action than the one that the President saw, which was to bring the parties together to reengage in the process, to establish a firm commitment to make progress on the implementation of the agreements they've reached.
Q How much did the involvement in the Middle East set back the President in terms of his own preparation for the debates?
MR. MCCURRY: Joe mentioned that the President is feeling a little apprehensive, he feels like he's not had the the time that he had allotted or planned for to begin to prepare for the debate. That was necessary, of course, because he had another assignment earlier in the week. So he's feeling a little bit behind and a little bit like he should cram at this point.
Q Why is the administration unwilling to release the contents of the Louie Freeh memo, since it apparently is not all that directed at the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I answered this question, if you recall, two days ago, so you've got a transcript available. But the argument and the one that White House Counsel Jack Quinn set forth in the letter to Chairman Zeliff -- very clear -- the President of the United States needs to have the opportunity to receive confidential policy advice from senior officials in our government. In this case, Director Freeh's advice led to an executive order, led to a restructuring of the Office of National Drug Control strategy in part. So this memo goes to the heart of the deliberative process the President uses to make decisions.
Bob Dole wants to be President; I can understand after 35 years in Congress he may see these issues from the perspective of a legislative branch member. But there are important constitutional responsibilities that any President, and anyone who would be President, has a responsibility and an oath of office to preserve and protect. And Bob Dole ought to think carefully about that argument and those making it on his behalf before he allows people to put in jeopardy the constitutional protections that go into the deliberative process of the executive branch.
Q Are we going to get any picture opportunities tomorrow or the next day, or later today?
MR. MCCURRY: Here's what I want to do. Every day before we get started in the morning, about 9:30 or so, I'll gaggle informally way I do back in Washington. I'll try to point you towards at least one picture that you can take, and then we hope since it's sort of an open campus that you'll leave those of us alone who have to work with the President for the balance of the day. I'll come back at the conclusion of our session in the morning, give you maybe a very brief idea of what the President did and try to tell you what he might plan for his own recreation time in the afternoon.
Beyond that, I don't plan to do anything else. So we plan to give you a fairly early lid every day and establish one picture every day that will tell you that the President's here and here's what he's doing.
Q -- there today, some kind of arrival?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll put a lid on at the conclusion of this. We're not planning to do anything up there today.
Q Let me just read to you a quote from Bob Dole this morning on President Clinton's foreign policy record. "Bill Clinton's record is a string of failures dressed up for television as victories. Foreign policy of neglect, posturing, concessions and false triumphs. Too often, American promises broken and American friends betrayed lie in its wake."
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I hope he makes that argument Sunday night because the President will then be able to look Mr. Dole in the eye and say, is it true or is it not true that a war has ended in Bosnia? Is it true or is it not true that a dangerous nuclear program in North Korea has been put back in the bottle? Is it true or is it not true that we have a hopeful peace process, fragile though it is, in the Middle East that has brought Israel to its most secure position in decades in a region in which it's surrounded by Arab neighbors? Is it true or not true that we have denuclearized large portions of this globe -- the South Pacific and Africa -- and that we've just recently signed a comprehensive test ban treaty that raises the possibility of a nuclear-free future for the 21st century? Is it true or is it not true that there is a Northern Ireland peace process and talks between parties, though fragile, which might raise the prospects of peace and end the troubles once and for all?
The truth of the matter is on a wide -- is it true or is it not true that a de facto regime in Haiti has been ousted and that there is democracy, though fragile, there and in place?
On each and every one of these points, this world is in a better position than it was four years ago because of the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. And the very truth of the matter is that Bob Dole, largely spoken, doesn't fundamentally disagree with that position. He is an internationalist. He supports an active U.S. leadership role in the world. Within his own party are the voices of isolation. And Bob Dole should speak to those voices and build support for an active international role globally and should acknowledge that in many respects -- in many, many respects -- this President's foreign policy has significantly advanced U.S. interests around the world.
Q Mike, isn't it fair, though, for Dole to criticize the somewhat erratic nature that some of these things have come about? I mean --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, this is a complicated world. And Senator Dole -- I heard some of his advisors the other day -- they are nattering naysayers of gloom. They have a very gloomy perspective on the world. This President has a more hopeful view of the conduct of foreign policy and what it can bring us in the 21st century -- an America that's more secure; a global economy that's more prosperous, that has benefits for American workers; reducing those threats that exist in the post-Cold War era.
Bob Dole, unfortunately, has got advisors who used to be somebody in the 1980s who long for the days of the Cold War when life was a lot simpler because there was a common enemy. In many ways, I think they're still looking for that evil empire they can fight in the world. But the bear is not in the woods anymore, and the world is a more complicated and dangerous place and the conduct of U.S. foreign policy is more complicated and more complex. This President has done a pretty good job, given the complexity of that world and advancing U.S. interests abroad.
Got to go. That will keep everyone busy for a while.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:40 P.M. EDT