THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Albuquerque, New Mexico) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 15, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, JOE LOCKHART AND DOUG SOSNIK
The Hilton Hotel Albuquerque, New Mexico
10:21 A.M. MDT
MR. MCCURRY: Good morning, everyone. Good afternoon, good morning, depending on what time zone you're in. It's a great day for all of you that work for the major U.S. television networks because you're all going to get bouquets thrown in your direction today.
Q What kind of credibility can you attach to the study that was funded by the networks?
MR. MCCURRY: The networks funded the study; it actually grew out of legislation that Senator Paul Simon is responsible for. And we are obviously talking about it today because this has been an issue the President has pressed long and hard, from the V-chip to three hours of family-friendly programming, to raising concerns about violence on television, to the television summits we've had with major figures from the entertainment and television industry.
The President has pushed this issue hard from the bully pulpit and the fact that there is now a study that shows that there has been some change in our culture as a result of the debate about violence on television. It's a very encouraging thing. You'll hear the President talk more about that.
Dr. Cole, who conducted this study, who is now releasing it in Los Angeles 20 minutes ago, will be here with the President when the President makes his statement at 1:45 p.m. And then we will make him available to you if you're interested -- if you're interested in talking more about his report, he'll have it available to you.
Q Do you mean to suggest, Mike, that in about a six-month period of time there's been a change in the U.S. culture?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I'm suggesting that over time there has been a change in the attitudes of the major television networks about programming that contains violent material that many Americans find offensive. I think that's the result of enlightenment on the part of the industry, hard work by people in public life, including the President, who made the case that we have to give parents more control over the environment in their own homes as they seek entertainment. And it's been the result of a general debate in our society about how we can lift standards that are more family-friendly.
Q To what extent does the Clinton administration get credit for making this happen?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we deserve some credit; I don't want to overstate it. I think the President has been very clear, and if you think about others in the life of the White House -- and Mrs. Gore, frankly, gets some credit. She's been raising these issues longer and harder than practically anyone else associated with the administration. But the Vice President, the President, others have raised this issue, have talked about it, more importantly have done some things by bringing network executives together twice in a summit format to address questions like the V-chip, like the quality of programming. And that's part of the process of changing attitudes towards the right kind of family-friendly program.
Q Has this report been released the day before the last presidential debate because you expect the violence level to shift dramatically tomorrow evening? And how are you bracing the President for it? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Actually, Ann, you probably know the answer better because, as has already been pointed out, the networks have funded this study. To our knowledge, Dr. Cole has worked on it; it's the second annual study. So really, you probably could answer the question better than I could about the timing.
Q How much credit should Bob Dole get for raising this issue?
MR. MCCURRY: I would credit Bob Dole as well. I mean, he's given at least two speeches in Hollywood about the culture for entertainment in America, and I think everyone who raises their voices in a bipartisan way to address these issues deserve credit. So we would certainly credit him. I certainly would credit the President for bringing together the executives from the industry to raise these issues. But this is an example, when people work together on an issue like this, everyone can take some satisfaction in results that show some progress.
Q Did you answer Bill's question -- how much credibility can you give a study that's paid for by the folks who are getting the bouquets?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think the credibility attaches to the person who's done the research. Those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Cole, he's been on the UCLA faculty for the last 21 years. He's the Director of the Center for Communication Policy. UCLA's Center for Communication Policy is considered the premier educational institution, setting trends in entertainment. Certainly in the academic community his reputation is stellar and I think that the networks chose wisely in selecting him as a person to direct this. You will all have a chance to see him later today -- ask him, and I think you can judge for yourselves his credibility.
Q Is he also doing a briefing for the Bob Dole campaign? Why is it that he's --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure that he would be available because there was a specific reason -- he specifically, and the people sponsoring the study and UCLA itself is releasing this report; in fact, it's now been released in California, to take it away from the campaign, but we rightfully feel it's important to draw attention to the issue and draw attention to the President's work on this issue. That's a perfectly legitimate thing for us to do in the context of making a case to the American people about the progress we've made over the last four years on the issue of the culture of entertainment in America and the importance the President attaches to that, the degree to which he would continue to work on that for the next four years if reelected.
Q Why hasn't the President made the same kind of case with his friends in Hollywood in terms of the movie industry?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, you will recall, long before Bob Dole went to Hollywood to give a speech the President directly did give that kind of speech early in his administration, directly. He's raised that repeatedly with executives in the industry. He's talked about the need for this. In fact, one of the encouraging thing -- just about every opportunity he has a chance to meet with them and talk with them.
So he has raised these issues, had an opportunity to express his own concerns and, frankly, has found many executives in the industry receptive and willing to address the problem. And I think that's one of the reasons why we've got some results we can point to today that are encouraging.
Let me move on to the debate --
Q One more question about that. What is the President's goal with respect to violence on television? Is it the total elimination of the portrayal of violence on television?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I think he wants to, first and foremost, give parents more control over the environment in which their own families encounter this type of programming. That's the reason for the V-chip. Remember, because of the President's leadership on that issue, because of the willingness of the industry to come together, we will have a technology that will actually allow parents the kind of control within their own family environment that could block out that kind of program. So ultimately, the decision rests with the individual consumer.
But I think it's also important for the industry and the President has certainly encouraged the industry to think of ways of finding programming that is uplifting, that is suitable for family audiences. He's raised the issue of the three-hour standard for programming. What we're trying to do is give parents, especially, choices that they would find more appropriate, particularly if they have children.
Q A foreign policy question. Has Iraq rebuilt part of its missile defense system within like two weeks of the bombing? There's a report today that's in.
MR. MCCURRY: His missile air defense systems?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we've monitored his reconstruction particularly below the 33rd Parallel of his surface-to-air missile defense systems. There had been some steps taken. You are very aware that we have directly advised the government of Iraq concerning further enhancements to those capabilities. We monitor carefully; we act accordingly.
Q How did the rehearsal go last night, the practice debate?
MR. MCCURRY: A little bit on last night. The President continues to endure -- I guess that's the right word -- "endure" the preparation for the debate tomorrow night.
A couple of moments that were interesting last night: First, we're doing much the same kid of preparation as we did in New York with some dry runs of the debate itself. This format is challenging, and it was especially challenging to Senator Mitchell playing the part of Senator Dole. In New York I think you heard even the President say that Senator Mitchell cleaned the President's clock in the practice debates. We found in the session last night it was a lot harder for Senator Mitchell playing the part of Senator Dole, because every time he tried to raise issues that were of a more negative nature, he found it very hard not to cross over that line and make it very personal. It's very clear that Senator Dole, in that format, sitting in front of citizens, will have a hard time going on the very negative attack without making it personal. And Senator Mitchell tried to walk that line. I would judge him to be somewhat less than successful in walking that line.
The President, for his part, I think answered the questions raised satisfactorily and spent most of his time focusing on the questions that came from the real people in the audience. Now, the real people, of course, were being played by various aides. But in looking at what -- well, they had to adjust their -- what did Senator Dole call it -- their "cultural elitism" so that they could focus on what real average citizens might be concerned with.
Q Mike, did you find it harder to be Dole than you found it to be an average person?
Q Do I understand you to say that his aides hooted and hollered at Mitchell every time he got negative, the way the crowd --
MR. MCCURRY: No. I just am saying an observation that it was difficult -- it seemed to be difficult for Senator Mitchell to find that happy medium ground between being on the attack and being overly personal. So it will be interesting to see how Senator Dole walks that line tomorrow night.
And, second, another interesting moment, because it kind of --
Q Mike, but could this description of this anecdote be described as a warning shot to Senator Dole, the fact that you're telling us how hard this is?
MR. MCCURRY: Say what? (Laughter.)
All right, another interesting moment from the debate -- (laughter) -- was one of the -- some of you know Angus King, who's a very nice guy who works down in Don Baer's Communications shop --and he played the part of a young person -- didn't have to play -- didn't have to struggle to play it, but asked a question about Social Security that led to a very interesting exchange between the two candidates on the long-term solvency of Social Security and what obligations generations have to each other.
I note that because it was an interesting exchange, and it provoked, after we were done with our dry run last night, a lot of conversation afterwards as people just talked about the debate itself and the kinds of issues that are relevant to the American people. And everyone agreed that we would far prefer a debate that had more moments like that. But we'll see what happens.
Q To follow up on Carl's question, if I can -- how could you tell when Senator Mitchell was crossing that line? Was it audience reaction? Was he hooted down?
MR. MCCURRY: No, no, it just -- you know, there are a lot of us who have watched a lot of debates and I think have some sense of how these things come across. We also watched Senator Mitchell playing the role of Senator Dole in our preparations in Chautauqua, in which he was very, very effective and we all thought very good at making Senator Dole's case, better than the real thing.
But he had a harder time last night doing that because it's harder to make that positive case about your own program if you're trying to calculate how best to go on the attack.
Q But, overall, you do expect it to be a much more negative exchange?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we can only take Senator Dole at his word.
Q I'd be interested in a specific anecdote, a specific moment where your Senator Dole went on the attack -- what he said -- and you thought your Senator Dole crossed the line?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't want to get too much into the substance of it, but it, frankly, very much resembled -- Senator Mitchell seems to be drawing upon a lot of the things that Senator Dole has said publicly in the last couple of days for his own material, so you can look at what Senator Dole has been saying and get a pretty good sense.
Q I'm really torn between not wanting to waste one more second on this kind of ridiculous avenue of discussion, but following up on Ron's question, it's completely meaningless to me to hear you say this unless there is some specific example. I mean, is it that every time Senator Mitchell tried to get slightly critical, he found himself saying, "Your mother wears army boots?"
MR. MCCURRY: He kept saying something that I've heard Senator Dole say, "I'm not being personal here and I'm not raising this issue, but" -- and then going on to try to raise the issue in an oblique way. If you don't find it interesting, don't write about it.
Q Mike, this afternoon in San Diego, Senator Dole is expected to give a speech at which he is, as advertised, going to tick off specific ethical problems with this administration, including the number of Arkansas associates who have left the administration. How will President Clinton defend his administration, especially --
MR. MCCURRY: He'll do it in the debate tomorrow night and he'll do that exceedingly well, if that's the route that the Senator wants to argue.
Q Is that a legitimate area for Senator Dole?
Q Mike, will you get a response today to Senator Dole?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we're not going to respond to that. That's, obviously, Senator Dole trying to set the stage for the debate. The debate ought to speak for itself, and if Senator Dole wants to raise those issues in the debate Wednesday night, the President will be prepared to respond.
Q Yesterday you said that you're going to look into giving us an answer on whether Mr. Huang had ever solicited contributions while he was at the Commerce Department.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. My understanding now is that the Democratic National Committee has responded to news organizations inquiries on that. So you can go back --
Q You're the boss, or the President's the boss.
MR. MCCURRY: No, he is an employee of the Democratic National Committee and they are prepared to do it. They have looked specifically --
Q -- when he was at the Commerce Department.
MR. MCCURRY: They've looked specifically at the question of when he departed, what his service was. And both Mark Fabiani, at the White House, and the DNC are prepared to address those questions.
Q Do you have any intention of responding to those questions Scott Reed sent to the campaign?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- I mean, I can, if you're interested in U.S.-Indonesian bilateral relations, I can talk at great length about them.
Q Well, one of the charges is that the administration turned a blind eye to genocide and human rights violations in East Timor. Do you want to respond to that?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I will respond specifically to that because I've been present many times when high-ranking U.S. officials have directly addressed those charges, and that is not true. Dating back to June of 1993, when the President first had an opportunity to address those issues at the summit in Tokyo, the G-7 Summit, when President Soeharto came as a guest of the G-7, that issue has been on our bilateral agenda.
He raised it again in 1993 when they met in November at Blake Island at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting. And you'll recall that the APEC was hosted by Indonesia in November of 1994. At that meeting President Clinton raised the issue directly again with President Soeharto. The Indonesian government, suffice to say, always knows that that issue is a fundamental question on our bilateral relationship and that the President has made clear to Indonesia that the bilateral relationship will not reach its full potential until further progress is achieved on human rights.
It was a very active dialogue between a wide range of U.S. officials with the government on Indonesia on that. Secretary Christopher, I know personally, has raised this with Foreign Minister Mahatir on many occasions. And the suggestion that somehow or other that is not a fundamental part of our dialogue with Indonesia is mistaken.
I would like Senator Dole to indicate when he first became interested in this issue, how often he has pressed that case in his role as the leader of the Senate in the past, and when his interest in the human rights questions related to East Timor began.
Q -- that maybe the President was not as forceful as he should have been and was, in fact, just paying lip service to the cause of human rights.
MR. MCCURRY: Given the -- of course, we don't characterize private diplomatic exchanges. Given the concern that has been raised and sometimes the criticism raised by the government of Indonesia related to our pressing of human rights concerns, I'd say on the face of it, the facts speak otherwise.
Q Mike, did President Clinton ever directly ask President Soeharto to withdraw his troops from East Timor?
MR. MCCURRY: He has done a number of things regarding respect of human rights, the conduct of authorities in East Timor, consistent with our view that there has not been an act of self-determination that has occurred in East Timor. But we have directly pressed the case regarding respect for individual rights, human rights, the proper conduct of civil authority -- civil and military authority.
Q But he has never directly asked that the troops be withdrawn?
MR. MCCURRY: We have asked them to engage in law enforcement that is consistent with international norms with respect to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Q Do you know whether President Clinton or anyone from the U.S. government sent any kind of message of congratulation to the Nobel Laureates, the Nobel Peace Prize winners?
MR. MCCURRY: We at both the State Department and the statement I made at the White House was the statement on behalf of the United States government complimenting all those who have pressed the case for human rights, noting, especially, the work of Bishop Belo.
Q Mike, one of the issues that Senator Dole seems to be pressing is this issue of pardons for Whitewater figures. After saying the right comment is no comment, he now seems to be demanding that the President make some kind of no pardon pledge. I wondered if the President has thought about that and what his current belief is on the subject.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's addressed the issue and he agrees with Senator Dole that no comment is proper, especially when there's no consideration being given to the issue.
Q But he doesn't expect to make up a declaration that he's just not going to --
MR. MCCURRY: We'll have to see whether it's raised either by the individual citizens participating, or whether Senator Dole chooses to raise it.
Q Are you saying it's a possibility the President will change his position on it?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm saying that the President's position is well-known. The issue is whether or not it arises in the debate tomorrow night, and I can't predict that.
Q But, Mike, is there a chance that he might say something further? You're kind of leaving that open.
MR. MCCURRY: No, I'm not leaving it open; he'll just repeat what he said in the past. It's not under consideration.
Q Did Senator Mitchell raise or attempt to raise these issues regarding Indonesia and Mr. Huang in the debate prep last night?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't want to get too much into it, but we obviously would expect that. I mean, wouldn't you expect that, based on what they've said? They're devoting an awful lot of attention to that issue, and if they want to address that issue in great detail, they will address it in great detail. That will take some time away from other issues that might be of greater interest to the American people. But the President, as he indicated yesterday, is prepared to deal with the issues that are addressed both by Senator Dole and by the audiences there.
All right, why don't I turn it over --
Q Another question unrelated. Is there any consideration being given to Yasser Arafat's proposal that U.S. troops be deployed to Hebron to help with the Israeli withdrawal?
MR. MCCURRY: That issue has been raised in the past and is not under consideration.
Q Mike, just to go back to the missile defense in Iraq, do you have any indication that they are attempting to rebuild their missile defense system?
MR. MCCURRY: We can't go in any elaborate detail on what we have indications of because of the way we learn about such indications. But you've heard us say specifically what we've addressed ourselves to with respect to the SA-2, the SA-3 sites, the fixed sites in southern Iraq, and you know that we've made very clear what our own disposition would be with respect to any activity that threatens pilots flying no-fly zone enforcement missions over Iraq. Suffice it to say we are confident that our pilots can execute those missions in a climate of reduced risk.
Q Mike, there's a report on the local radio the President's meeting with some Indian gaming Pueblo officials this afternoon. The Pueblo people have been called to meet with the President. Is that true?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll let you know if that happens. The President did have an interest in meeting with some Native American leaders. There were some that apparently wanted to express some support for the President, and we'll keep you advised on the schedule.
Q Do you have any evidence that Iranian involvement in the fighting in Northern Iraq?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have anything to add to what David Johnson said yesterday. There is very sketchy information. As near as can be determined, based on what we know, there does not seem to be significant involvement by either Iranian or Iraqi forces either on behalf of the KDP or the PUK, although, both have active elements that are nearby in the region.
That's one other reason why we monitor that situation closely. It's another reason why the situation in the north is fraught with such great complexity.
Q Just to nail down this report that the Iraqi missiles in the south that were bombed by the cruise missiles have been completely rebuilt. Is that true?
MR. MCCURRY: To my knowledge, that is not true. What we know in precise detail I'm just not in a position to share on the record because, obviously, it comes in ways that we can't talk about it.
Yes, one last one.
Q Yes, this is another local question. Any response to the head of the Mescalero Apache tribe? Their casino was closed. He's saying because of the federal handling of the gaming issue, they should throw their support to Dole-Kemp --
MR. MCCURRY: I just don't want to comment on that issue. I think I'd leave it to the tribal leaders themselves to address those kinds of issues.
Q They're also saying that you're not returning their phone calls.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't -- you may see some evidence to the contrary later today, as the last question indicated.
Q Will there be any coverage if that happens?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll let you know.
MR. LOCKHART: Just very briefly, there's still a lot of speculation on the political front about what Dole may be doing or may not be doing -- California, New Jersey, Ohio, whatever.
I'm just going to have Doug come up and spend a couple minutes talking about what we know about what they're doing, what we're doing; rather than to fuel the speculation, just hear the facts as we know them, as far as media buys and schedules, which is really the two things that dictate where you're going and where you're targeting.
MR. SOSNIK: Let me give you a quick update on the race. I know you all are riveted by this campaign. The polls in the last two or three days nationally show us ahead, roughly 15 to 20 points. There are a batch of polls that came out in the last 24 hours around the country, public polls having us up 20 in New Jersey, up 20 in Illinois, up 20 in Washington state, 19 in Missouri. A poll out yesterday in Virginia has us up nine.
The Dole media strategy -- there are about 21 days left, they're going to be dark tomorrow and Thursday. They're buying no media anywhere in the country, which is roughly at this point about 10 percent of what's remaining of the campaign. The schedule right now that we've discerned for Dole for the last --for the next week is he's going to head out, leaving California to here, to Albuquerque on Thursday. He'll probably be here Thursday and Friday moves to Denver; then goes to Wichita, Kansas; Lexington, Kentucky; and then to Norfolk, Virginia.
I think if you look at the travel, we were sitting together six months and were to know on the final stages of the campaign that Dole would be in Kansas and Virginia, we think it's probably an unusual election right now.
The last thing -- and I don't have any knowledge to base what I'm getting ready to say -- but having, I think, Dole pretty much completely abandon even the pretext of a positive message of why people should vote for him and is continually escalating harsh negatives, I think one of the unintended consequences would be, first of all, that the numbers as you've seen the last couple days probably won't change much, but, secondly, the beneficiary of that probably will be Perot. And I think he might be able to do something Perot has not been able to do, which is to help boost Perot's numbers up.
There's no evidence of that right now, but when you have a harshly negative attack by the candidate who's never put forward a positive message, it's difficult to see how his vote would go up. And, as I've said, there's no evidence in the last 24 hours that his sustained negatives for the last four or five days have done anything to move the race. But eventually it could help Perot, at his own expense. And I guess we'll have to just see in the next couple of days how the race folds out. But that would be something worth watching.
Q Doug, I mean, you say it's all negatives and -- I mean, there are some issues out there that are of some concern that he's raising. I mean, don't you think that he's at least somewhat -- that he would do -- raise some issues that are of concern to the American people? I mean, it's negative, negative, negative, but --
MR. SOSNIK: Well, we're 21 days out. If you look from our schedule, if you look at his schedule, we're not going to take this race for granted. We're going to be up on our media tomorrow and the next day. Our schedule is quite vigorous. We're going to try to continue to do what we've been doing, which is to try to win every day and put a positive message out.
Q What's the President going to do in New York on Sunday? We still don't have much guidance on that -- New Jersey, Cleveland.
MR. LOCKHART: I think my office put out the schedule for the weekend yesterday. I'll check and I'll pass it around as soon as we're done.
Q Will you be spending more money in California, given the Dole campaign's indication that they would spend more time and money there?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, we'll have to see where it goes. Right now the Dole campaign hasn't spent any money. All they're spending are words. So we'll see what they do in California.
Q Are you suggesting that he's in trouble in Kansas?
MR. SOSNIK: I didn't -- I don't have any polling from Kansas. I do have polling from Virginia, and we are up almost in double digits there and he is traveling there. So I can speak, perhaps, a little to Virginia. I can't speak to Kansas. I can't explain why he'd go to Wichita.
Q What does it say that Virginia that is a battle ground, that you're up?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, I mean, look, Carl and I were talking about it earlier. Look, politics is changing in this country. The states are changing. And we're competitive in states that we're not supposed to be. And I think increasingly for those of us who are either involved in politics on this side of the podium, or for those of you involved in politics on the other side of the podium, I mean, stuff out there is changing. And you're going to see us, Democrats -- and, hopefully, one of the legacies of this campaign will be, beyond us winning the election, is that we are going to be laying the groundwork for the Democratic Party to be competitive in states that traditionally we don't expect us to be strong in.
I think states like Virginia, which are changing --you look at the population shifts there, the growth patterns in the north, Arizona is another example -- there are states -- Florida -- there are examples of states where we are being much more competitive now than Democrats have ever been in the past. We are locked in a conventional wisdom of the past, and I think when things probably change in this election, people will start looking at these states differently.
Q How much of this can be attributed to simply the fact that perhaps Dole is a bad candidate, and there is not a sea change in politics going on here?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, to add to Doug's -- it's a combination. And I wouldn't say bad candidate, I'd say as we've said all along, he hasn't laid out a positive reason for people to vote for him. And I think in places like Virginia that are traditionally -- have gone Republican in the last couple of cycles, that's hurting him. I think it hurts all over, but you're seeing it in places like Virginia.
Q But what other indication to you have in your polling that other Democrats are in fact making the kind of advance in these Republican strongholds that the President has made?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, you can't say anything for certain until after the election. But you look in South Dakota where Johnson is doing quite well in the Senate race, you look in Georgia where Cleland is doing well in the Senate race, and you look through -- Louisiana has been a toss-up, so that's probably not fair. But you look at these states around the country -- Strickland out in Colorado where you have Senate races right now in addition to the congressional races, we have a number of open seats in the South for Democrats in the House, and we're doing well in those.
Obviously, you have to wait and see how the election comes out, but I think it is fair to say the knowledge President Clinton, but also congressional Democrats are competitive in all parts of this country right now. And there's no discussion, and you look at the tone of discussion actually in the press today about the West, and you see The New York Times ran a story about the four Senate races in the West that are very open and competitive right now, two of which are in Idaho and Wyoming where you're not supposed to be competitive as a Democrat, and they're within the margin of error there.
So I think we have to wait and see how the election turns out, but there is ample evidence, as we ramp up to the final days of this campaign, that Democrats are competitive across the country, regardless of region.
Q Can you tell us what states the President is going to be visiting for the next two or three weeks?
MR. SOSNIK: Joe is going to lay out, I think, in response to Rita's question, the specifics. We will be in the following states -- I don't want to get ahead of ourselves and what we've announced. We're going to be in New Jersey and New York -- okay, New Jersey and New York. Then we're going to be in Ohio, we're going to be in Michigan and we're going to be in Florida. Our decisions, as I said to you last week, beyond that will be post-debate, towards the end of the week.
Q What about Alabama and Texas?
MR. SOSNIK: Decisions will be made at the end of the week following the debate. I think it's fair to say at this point, though, that virtually all options are on the table for us.
Q Gary Morrow was quoted in The Times yesterday saying the President is coming to a rally at the Alamo and other events in the Rio Grande Valley. Is Gary Morrow right or wrong?
MR. SOSNIK: We'll find out later about that, whether he's right or wrong. We haven't made any final decisions. It's quite possible we'll go back into Texas, but we haven't confirmed anything.
Q Are you spending any money in Texas?
MR. SOSNIK: We've raised money on the ground for the state party. We put some money up earlier in the year during the primaries. There is no TV up currently in Texas, and our media buy decisions for the rest of the campaign will be made following the debate.
Q What would be the purpose of going to Texas?
MR. SOSNIK: To win. We're tied. (Laughter.) We're tied in Texas right now, and Dole has not been to Texas since June and he has said he's not going back for the rest of the campaign. He's taking it for granted, and I think that's a fair game for us.
Q Why aren't you spending money in Texas?
MR. SOSNIK: Why aren't we? Well, we want to win the election and get 270 electoral votes and that's our strategy. So far, it's working all right towards that, but we want to see after the last debate where we need to spend our money to ensure that we not only win, but if we're doing well after the debate, then maybe we can spread our wings a little further.
Q But by all accounts, you have 270 electoral votes without Texas.
MR. SOSNIK: That's right, and that would be great if the election were today, but the problem is the election is not today and we still need to get our 270 later. We're not going to take it for granted that we have it.
Q Doug, if Dole's message, if his attacks and questions about the President's ethics and character are not striking a responsive note with the voters, why wouldn't you want him to continue doing that rather than go positive?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, we have no control. I don't know if anybody does, but we certainly don't have any control over what the Dole campaign does and what Dole as a candidate does.
Q All of you seem to be urging Dole to go positive, and yet you're saying that when he goes negative it doesn't do him any good. Why wouldn't you want him to continue that way?
MR. SOSNIK: Yes, go ahead. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: I just told Sosnik to quite while you're ahead; concede the point.
Can I -- are you guys done with this? I've got a few specifics. Anything more on this? Let me finish up. I've got some more information on what we do know about Iraqi air defense systems particularly in the south.
If you recall, we said some things publicly about our concerns related to potential rebuilding of some of those sites following our cruise missile attacks. And there was a lot of public discussion without a lot of public detail on the nature of messages that we sent through diplomatic channels to Iraq to tell them that they should not take steps to further reconstitute those sites.
We are -- first of all, we are convinced that our, as I said earlier, that our pilots and international pilots can conduct the no-fly zone enforcement missions in an atmosphere of reduce threat from those fixed air defense sites in the south. It's clear that overall Saddam Hussein's air defense capabilities particularly in the no-fly zone, the expanded no-fly zone, have been significantly degraded as a result of those tests and that he's being very cautious about deployments related to air defense.
And there's evidence that he has, for example, moved some of his mobile air defense sites which are not part of the initial target list for the cruise missiles since they were directed at fixed locations.
And most importantly, there's been no evidence in recent no-fly zone enforcement missions of painting by air defense systems of international aircraft flying enforcement missions. That would be considered provocative. Pilots would have a right to respond to that and there have been no incidents of the nature. Obviously, we watch that every single day and we'll continue to monitor very carefully what capacities he has for air defense.
Also, I goofed on something. I know you all caught this. I got the Foreign Minister of Indonesia wrong. It's Foreign Minister Alatas, not Mahatir. Wolf knew that.
Q Yes, I knew that.
Q He has him on Inside Politics this weekend. (Laughter.)
Q I have Moochtar Riady. Seriously, the fixed sites that were destroyed or degraded, have they been rebuilt?
MR. MCCURRY: They have not been rebuilt -- quote, unquote -- to the point that they are now being employed actively by Saddam Hussein to threaten international pilots enforcing the no-fly zone. There was some actually which we acknowledged at the time to reconstitute some of those sites. You'll recall there were diplomatic exchanges related to that. There has been no further effort to enhance the capacity of those systems that we are aware of.
Q -- faxed messages to the mission, as you had been doing before?
MR. MCCURRY: Remember, we had a whole bunch of exchanges about what was the nature of communicates we had with the government of Iraq, and you'll recall that we were somewhat oblique but made it clear the nature of those messages.
Q The Post story then is correct that says with a flick of a switch they could be active? It's just a matter of they have painted?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm not going to get into a specific -- you should ask, really, our military folks at the Pentagon about specific assessments of their capacity. As I just said, we consider his air defense capacities degraded. There is no evidence that he his actively using those to paint or to otherwise threaten international pilots. And the government of Iraq knows that the situation ought to remain in that posture.
We have one last taker over here.
Q Can you just tell us about the President's schedule, how many hours of prep yesterday and today?
MR. MCCURRY: We, by the way, consider his golfing here part of the preparation. (Laughter.) We do. You relax, you think about it out there.
Q I'll attest to that. It's mind-clearing --
MR. MCCURRY: Jim Miklaszewski will attest to the mind-clearing virtues of the ancient game of golf. But that's been part of his relaxation here. He's looking forward to the arrival of the First Lady later today. He's spent -- I don't know the total number of hours, but he will spend two or three hours this morning and probably two hours tonight. And he'll have a little time off to relax in between.
Q When he does the dress rehearsal tonight, will it be at 7:00 p.m. local time?
MR. MCCURRY: It's scheduled to begin a little earlier than that because he is going out tonight. Just for those of you who have got travel pool duty, he's going out to some fundraising event that's closed, but it's later on in the evening. So, we were going to start a little bit earlier. But it'll probably be in the neighborhood of 7:00 p.m., which would adjust to the real time that it'll be held in San Diego tomorrow night.
Q Will he wear a formal suit and tie?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to -- I don't know.
Q Mike, the debate itself, you seem to be sort of dismissing the importance of this. Is this race so far gone that the stakes aren't as high in this debate as they were in the past?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we don't -- look, we don't dismiss the importance of these events. That's why we're here. That's why we're taking it seriously. That's why we're making sure the President has an opportunity to adequately prepare himself for the debate because millions of Americans will watch. Although, millions of Americans will probably also tape the baseball game at the same time or maybe choose to watch the baseball game and tape the debate.
Q Actually Mike, do you expect the baseball game to cut down on --
MR. MCCURRY: It's hard to say. As near as we can tell from the ratings, there were somewhat reduced ratings from 1992, but no matter a significant number of Americans watch. The likelihood that those Americans who watch are Americans who have not made a final determination as to how they'll vote is higher. And that's why we treat it importantly, that we don't take it for granted, and it's not -- we take it very seriously.
Q You guys could flash the score to the President and he could give the score.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:00 A.M. MDT