THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
1:21 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It's nice to be back here at the White House and not somewhere else. Although, there are many other fun places elsewhere -- so let's go. Good, great, see you all later. (Laughter.)
Q Is there a political meeting today with the President, involving the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Political meeting -- there's a national election campaign underway, Terry, and we are in the closing weeks of it. So there are political meetings that are underway minute by minute, hour by hour.
No, the President -- we are in the point now, having gone through the cycle of three debates, having worked through our schedule and the allocation of our resources where we'll make some final decisions about how to spend the final two weeks of the campaign. We'll be working on that over the weekend. The President will meet with some of his advisors this evening, give some of his own thoughts to that process, and the campaign will be mapping out a game plan for the close out of the campaign.
Q Mike, Dole was at it again today, I gather in Albuquerque, talking about the foreign corruption of America, calling the President, in essence, "slippery," the White House, "they take the money laundering to an art form in this administration." Any response?
MR. MCCURRY: Senator Dole continues to try to make headway with a basket of issues that aren't gathering much of a response from the American people. He's entitled to do that. He can say what he wants to. The President has effectively refuted those allegations and we will go ahead campaigning on the issues that the President feels are most important to bring to the attention of the American people: what would these candidates do for education, what would they do for the economy, what would they do for health care, how would they bring the American people together, how will we strengthen the American family.
Those are the issues on which this election will turn. And so far the President is confident he has put forward a very strong case on those issues. He's refuted the allegations that have come from the Republican side, from Senator Dole. And the American people will make their judgment in 19 days who's right.
Q But isn't this the first time that we've actually heard the charge of real money laundering?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think so. I think he's been saying something akin to that for the last several days. And, certainly, Mr. Barbour has, certainly others have. So I don't know that that's new.
Q Well, putting aside the, you know, the truths or fiction of those charges, does the President continue to favor campaign finance reform so that the appearance of sleaze in cases like this, no matter which party may be involved, will go away forever?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I, first of all, would not acknowledge that there is an appearance of sleaze. There's an appearance here that both sides have raised sums of money under federal election law in which people who are residing legally in the United States of foreign ethnic heritage are allowed to participate.
Both campaigns, as you've seen from news accounts the last several days, have taken contributions from individuals who fall in that category. Those are the existing laws. You know the President believes those laws ought to changed and worked with the Republican leadership, specifically with Speaker Gingrich to try to get them changed. We even had a handshake with Speaker Gingrich on the subject of getting a commission together that would actually recommend those changes. And as you all know, we, having appointed people who would have conducted such negotiations, the Speaker decided that was not in the interests of the Republican Party.
Q Will he try again in a second term?
MR. MCCURRY: So that's where we are. He certainly will, if he's reelected -- as he said the other night -- continue to press that case.
Q This isn't just about taking money from foreigners?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh it's about -- certainly not. It's about --
Q It's about whether foreign governments are influenced or whether this government is influenced on behalf of foreign governments.
MR. MCCURRY: Foreign governments are not allowed to participate in the U.S. political process and they do not affect --
Q No, but we're talking about the money passing through the hands of other people.
MR. MCCURRY: They do not and have not affected the conduct of foreign policy in this administration.
Q Gingrich said yesterday that he was calling for a suspension of the sale of the F-16s until full congressional hearings are held, and also to not restore the IMET until those hearings are held. Will President Clinton go along with that?
MR. MCCURRY: That was responded to, I think, yesterday by the NSC staff and we indicated the reasons why we believe that sale should go forward.
Q Can you just explain? Can you say will he go along with that?
MR. MCCURRY: Those -- we've given the reasons why we think the F-16 sales are in the strategic interests of the United States. We've done that on many occasions. We've done that to Congress, and Congress is well-briefed on the reasons for those sales.
Q Then let me just do a follow up. But why the rush? I mean, at this point, you have Soeharto just gunned down opposition party members just a few months ago. Why the rush to sell these military weapons?
MR. MCCURRY: There's not a rush. In fact, we've been criticized on other occasions for this process having taken so long. The government of Pakistan, among others, which is still awaiting either the proceeds of a sale it had negotiated or some type of hardware, has been somewhat critical of the fact that it has taken so long to work out this other transaction.
Q Gingrich said he'd also invited Nobel Peace Prize winners to testify. Would you -- would Clinton have them at the White House --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we already have. Bishop Belo was here and has visited the White House and met with National Security Advisor Tony Lake, as you probably know.
Q But would Clinton meet with him?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans for Bishop Belo to return.
Q Mike, you mentioned legal contributions from foreign born residents, but one of these U.S. residents has told the Wall Street Journal that she was handed cash in a Buddhist temple and made the contribution not legally. What about that?
MR. MCCURRY: If I'm not mistaken, that being a Democratic National Committee fundraising event, they have been responding to that and I don't have anything to add to what they've said.
Q Wait a minute. Panetta said that he's concerned about this and the White House has --
MR. MCCURRY: He is. I said yesterday --
Q What is the status of Leon's inquiry?
MR. MCCURRY: Exactly as I said yesterday, there is -- the White House is concerned and we've asked the DNC to give us some sense of what they're doing to assess the nature of these contributions.
Q And have they done that yet?
MR. MCCURRY: They're working on it, as I understand.
Q Mike, is Huang still in good standing with the administration, and is he still actively fundraising and does the White House want him to continue to actively fundraise?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's been an effective fundraiser and, as far as I know, he's still employed at the DNC. You should check further there on his status.
Q Does the President wish that he hadn't talked about how aggressive Mr. Huang has been?
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't asked the President that question.
Q Mike, if you look at some of the broader charges, some Republican campers saying that U.S. foreign policy may have been influenced by this and they would say, look back at early Clinton, you know, in '92 when he was very critical of the Indonesian government. And now you have a certain type of accommodation. Overall, has it had any -- would you say that --
MR. MCCURRY: In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. Compared to the last two administrations, this administration has pressed the issue of human rights specifically with respect to the government of Indonesia and East Timor harder than the last two administrations, as the New York Times reported just yesterday.
There's ample evidence that, if anything, we have been tougher on issues related to human rights and worker rights than the administrations of George Bush and Ronald Reagan, precisely because of the concerns the President addressed in 1992. But we've also sought to advance U.S. economic interests consistent with the obligations we feel we have to address human rights issues and democratic principles.
Q Can I change the subject?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Right away. (Laughter.)
Q Hazel O'Leary was supposed to meet with a bunch of CEOs from oil companies this morning. Did that meeting take place and what came out of it?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I believe it's taking place at 3:00. And they plan to talk about it afterwards. They want to talk about the availability, at reasonable prices, of home heating oil as we go into the winter months.
Q Mike, what's the radio address going to be on?
MR. MCCURRY: It will be on the subject of -- a subject related to values and the importance of values, specifically, how we can protect younger Americans from the effects of drinking and drug use. And the President will have some news related to that.
Q Does he have anything further on his schedule tomorrow, beyond that?
MR. MCCURRY: He's got -- he will pretape this radio address later today, so we'll make it available on an embargoed basis later today. And I believe that's all that's public on his calendar tomorrow.
Q Is that the First Lady's birthday, tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: No, her birthday is the 26th, if I'm not mistaken.
Q If I can just follow up on this Hazel O'Leary thing. Are they going to be talking at all about the selling of strategic oil reserves?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate about that. The Department has taken some action related to the Strategic petroleum reserve and they'll advise you as to whether that subject arises.
Q Does he do further campaign strategy sessions, meetings with his people tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. We've got a -- the meeting that he plans to have this evening. And then some of our folks are going to be working over the weekend -- might review plans at some point with him but not in a formal meeting.
Q This strategy meeting tonight, how will they be taking into account these stepped-up attacks by Dole?
MR. MCCURRY: That probably won't be much of a factor in the discussion because as near as we can tell those attacks aren't having much impact.
Q What time is that meeting?
MR. MCCURRY: Late tonight.
Q At the Wednesday debate, Senator Dole appeared to be under the impression that the President might try to change welfare reform through the line item veto. Would you clarify that, given that --
MR. MCCURRY: I can't clarify what the Senator had in mind. I don't know what he had in mind.
Q Back to Huang for a second. You were asked a couple of days ago whether he had begun soliciting that Korean contribution before he left the Commerce Department. Do you have an answer on that yet?
MR. MCCURRY: I have not. I put that question to the DNC and they were looking into it. So you might check with them.
Q The Times reported that Riady was a back- channel liaison between the State Department and Indonesia in negotiations over East Timor. Can you tell us what this contributor was negotiating?
MR. MCCURRY: Well he -- I don't know, aware of any role that he had in that. And having been at the State Department in 1993 and 1994 and having participated in meetings with representatives of the government of Indonesia, I had never heard of the individual until a short while ago. So I am not aware of any evidence that would suggest he had any role whatsoever.
Q Has the President discussed East Timor with the Riady's, Moktahr (phonetic) or James?
MR. MCCURRY: I -- not that I am aware of.
Q Mike, Bob Dole made another charge that if illegal immigrants have driver licenses, they would theoretically be able to register to vote in the United States. Is that a loophole that actually exists?
MR. MCCURRY: I have not a clue. The only report I've seen on the motor voter act is that it's lead, apparently, to the registration of more Republicans than Democrats in those states in which there is partisan voter registration.
Q So there you have illegal immigrants voting Republican. What are you going do about it? (Laughter.)
Q You ought to look into it. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: It's a democracy we live in.
Q On the F-16s, you said that Congress was fully briefed. But Gilman was complaining that, in fact, he didn't know about the decision to go ahead with the F-16s and that if he had known, he would have pushed through a resolution protesting it. He says it was kept from Congress. Any response to that?
MR. MCCURRY: I am not aware of how fully the committee explored that issue, but I believe when we have testified there before to -- particularly with respect to U.S.-Pakistani relations, because there is a relation of this question to previously contracted sales to Pakistan. That issue, to my knowledge, has been fully, fairly explored. But Chairman Gilman does an awful lot of complaining, particularly during the election period.
Q Just for the record, how does the White House view the plan of Mr. Hariri planning to ask for -- the President for a package of military equipment on the basis that once there's peace with Israel, he's going to need something to defend his civic order?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that is a subject -- I should have probably made sure everyone was alert to that. We are looking forward to the first visit here to the White House while President Clinton has been in office by Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. He is a very important and valued participant in the Middle East peace process.
There are a number of issues that the President will be exploring with him, including the security needs of Lebanon. We certainly, for our part, will be reaffirming the territorial integrity of Lebanon -- that and the importance we attach to that; the need for the removal of all foreign military from Lebanon consistent with the views that we've expressed in the past. And part of that equation and part of the equation of a comprehensive just and lasting peace in the Middle East is in providing for security needs.
As Secretary Christopher indicated yesterday, after -- just prior to his meeting with the Prime Minister, there is a possibility that some excess defense items can be made available. That is part of the discussion that the Prime Minister's been having here as he's met with various officials in our government -- may likely come up in the meeting later on today. And David Johnson will be available afterwards to let you know.
Q Okay. But the list of Naval reconnaissance aircraft and attack helicopters and things of that sort, those are possibilities?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we're not going to speculate on the individual items that might be considered. As Secretary Christopher indicated yesterday, there is some discussion of excess defense items, but we're not going to detail a shopping list.
Q Mike, your counterpart at the State Department yesterday was pressed on the issue of whether or not Lebanon could indeed be an independently sort of thinking member of this whole Middle East peace process without undue influence from Syria. What's the White House's view on its ability to be -- to focus on its own?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we have a realistic view. But we also acknowledge the great importance we attach to the territorial integrity of Lebanon and the equation that Lebanon plays in peace in that region. That's why there has been a U.S. facilitating role in the Israeli-Lebanese track. But there is a practical reality there that I think all sides acknowledge.
Q Mike, there's an election in Nicaragua on Sunday, and the polls show a very tight race between Daniel Ortega, of the Sandinista Front, and Arnoldo Aleman of the Liberal Alliance. I think it's traditional if democratic elections are held that the U.S. President usually congratulates the winner. If Mr. Ortega should win, will he get a telegram from Bill Clinton?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's also traditional for the United States to refrain from commenting on the democratic choices that other governments and other peoples make. We will be dispatching U.S. AID Administrator, Brian Atwood, to be our international observer there in Nicaragua to observe the election. And if we have anything to say about the outcome, we will say so after the people of Nicaragua make their choice.
Q Mike, the day after now that Lebed is out of the Russian government. What's the assessment of the U.S., the affect this might have? And he's made some statements about, you know, not wanting a coup, et cetera. What's your assessment?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he has indicated two things important. One, he intends to pursue his own interests related to the political culture of the Russian Federation by constitutional means. And that is a welcome statement. Second, he has urged all of his supporters to remain calm and to work within the system to advance their objectives. That is encouraging, because in a democracy there should be full expression of views from all sides. And General Lebed has indicated that's how he intends to pursue his own aims.
We have a report from our embassy today that the situation remains calm there. They've not noticed any unusual activity. As far as they know, that's the situation in the remainder of the country, as well. And, as we indicated yesterday, President Yeltsin took a step that clearly was related to some of the interesting political skirmishing that's been occurring within the Russian government. Kremlinology is back in, in short.
Q The budget deficit number is supposed to come out next week. Are you going to have some sort of ceremony when he actually -- (laughter) --
Q Burn the mortgage? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: You mean, will we -- when we get the report that the budget deficit is moving down and the President fulfilled his commitment as a central element of trust, when the President ran for office in 1992 and said he would reduce the budget deficit in half; and having achieved that and having moved the budget deficit in the right direction, on its way to a balanced budget -- would we take occasion to advertise that fact and promote that fact to remind you of the importance -- the fundamental importance of that obligation the President had to fulfill the promise to the American people?
Q And that bridge is where?
Q Will you help me? Please. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: I really can't comment. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you. Thank you. (Laughter.)
Q Do you expect some sort of -- (laughter) -- stop!
MR. MCCURRY: Do you want to give me another bite of that apple?
No, I don't know -- I imagine there will be an occasion to talk about that next week. The President will be largely on the road. He's going to be on the road most of next week.
Q That's why I was asking. It's supposed to come out Wednesday or Thursday.
MR. MCCURRY: We'll find out a way to work it in one way or another.
Q What does he do Wednesday night -- by the way, why do we come back?
MR. MCCURRY: He's coming back here because there is an event on behalf of the Congressional campaign committees -- the Senate committee and the House committee -- back here in Washington. So he has to return here for that dinner that night. And then he goes back out on the road Thursday.
Q Do we have to sleep at Andrews or can we go home?
MR. MCCURRY: We can have some cots out there on the runway, which would probably be the only way you get any real rest.
Q Mike, heading to the strategy meeting this weekend, what specific initiatives are you going to try to get out while you're on the road next week?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he will continue to talk about many of those things that he raises in stops along the way, highlighting the work that he's done on the economy, the work he's done on education and reform, and the importance that will play in the next four years as we build a stronger economy and raise the incomes of the American people.
Q There he goes again. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: And he will likely, on Tuesday, talk abut foreign policy. And if I were picking a place to go, I'd pick Detroit on Tuesday because he may make some news on foreign policy.
Q Can you give us the area of --
Q Foreign policy?
MR. MCCURRY: A little hint, not long ago the President suggested that sometime early in 1997 there should be a summit, a NATO summit to discuss the very important question of NATO expansion and enlargement, and I think he might have some specifics to talk about on Tuesday when he addresses that subject in Detroit.
Q Where is it and when?
MR. MCCURRY: At the Fisher Theatre at 10:45 a.m., Tuesday.
Q Speaking of that, what about Ireland? When are we going to Ireland?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there's a -- the Republic of Ireland is currently in the presidency of the European Union and I believe there's an EU summit that's been called for December 3rd and 4th. So stay tuned.
Q Sleep on the runway again.
MR. MCCURRY: Stay tuned.
Q When is the NATO summit?
MR. MCCURRY: There's not been a date set, but it has been suggested that we should have one early in 1997.
Q Do you have any idea whether or not we're going someplace before Australia, for the APEC meeting, someplace Hawaii-like?
Q Hawaii is nice. The Philippines are nice.
MR. MCCURRY: Nothing to announce, but there's been, certainly, the building is rife with rumors. But there may be a stop there on the way.
Q So we'd leave around the 14th or something like that?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll know more later. If he's there, I don't anticipate that he would have anything that would require other than a very tight family pool there.
Q Mike, since the President has responded to the issue of the whole Indonesian connection as an issue of campaign contributions and saying if the FEC finds that they're illegal, certainly he would return them. And if not, that it's fine.
But what about, rather than the issue of campaign contributions, just the close relationship that Clinton is solidifying with this dictator, Soeharto. The question is -- because I talked to him in 1992, before he became President, when he was giving a foreign policy address. And he said the U.S. policy towards Indonesia and East Timor has been unconscionable. And then Gore said, the year later when I saw him, that the Timorese have a right to their homeland, that their grievances are just.
Yet, the policy -- you say when they speak, they speak about human rights -- the policy has been very different. It says they push more and more weapons sales, push restoration of IMET. What about that issue, whether or not the campaign contributions are legal?
MR. MCCURRY: We've visited this issue several times now, and I've made it very clear that this administration changed those policies of the previous two administrations.
Q They speak differently..
MR. MCCURRY: We have taken -- that's not true. In addition to raising the issue and pressing it, we have restricted the transfer to Indonesia of all kinds of small arms and equipment, the kind that could be used, unlike F-16s, that might be used to repress dissent in the country. We've put very strict conditions on some of our own views related to worker rights, the right to organize, the legitimate rights of the working people of Indonesia -- steps that were never taken by the previous two administrations.
There has been a real change there, in fact, a change to the point that we are often criticized by other governments in the region for pressing issues related to human rights and worker rights, as you well know.
Q And yet you sell the F-16s. I mean, this sends a very different message than speaking behind closed doors and telling us what you've said.
MR. MCCURRY: I think it sends a message that we do advance our strategic security interests in that region.
Q What is the forum for the President's address on Tuesday, and will he be specific on who is at the head of the line for membership in NATO?
MR. MCCURRY: Hey, I already teased it once. I'm not going to show any more ankle than that.
Q What's the forum?
MR. MCCURRY: It's -- do you know the audience at Fisher Theatre, who is sponsoring it? We can check and see. It's either an invited audience or maybe like a world affairs council or something, but we'll find out.
Q Mike, on foreign policy. On Chechnya, what are the diplomats in Moscow saying about Chechnya? Has there been any unraveling so far?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that is not -- there is some question about what General Lebed's role will be in negotiations related to Chechnya. We continue to urge them to make forward progress on the agreements they have reached and implement the signed agreements that have been reached between the rebel factions and the government.
Q One more on Indonesia -- forgive me if you answered this one -- how does the U.S. advance its strategic interest in the region by sending the F-16s to Indonesia?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there are a variety of things that go into our force posture in deployment in the region. We are working with them in a number of ways through the regional fora that exists there to develop patterns of security in the region. And one of the things we've done with this military leadership of Indonesia is work to advance some of the types of cooperative agreements that we believe lead to change of behaviors in military rule.
Q The P.A. is off.
MR. MCCURRY: The P.A. is off?
Q Now it's back on.
MR. MCCURRY: It's back on, okay. Yes?
Q One more, could you describe the President's mood right now, as far as the campaign goes? And will he spend more time now campaigning for the democratic congressional candidates?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President is obviously encouraged by what he believes is the response of the American people to the argument he has advanced so far, but by no means do we take anything for granted. There are 19 days left. I suspect there is -- one result of the meeting that he will have this evening is that there will be a very active schedule of campaigning he will pursue in the next 19 days.
Q Isn't it 18?
MR. MCCURRY: Eighteen days, yes, it was 19 yesterday. I keep forgetting -- 18 days.
And he will be working very hard both to further his own interests as a candidate, but also to help those within the Democratic party who share his values and share his commitment to the kind of future he is describing. So there will be a mix of travel to states in which we believe the President should work hard in furthering his own interests, and then also perhaps some states in which he will be helping candidates that are down the ballot.
Q Mike, clearly, he rarely, however, in his own speeches, makes a big argument for a Democratic Congress. It's more implicit. Do you expect that to change?
MR. MCCURRY: He has addressed that subject a lot. He believes you make the case for election, whether you're running for President or running for Congress or running for Senate, based on the ideas that you have for the future. And he has been vigorous in supporting those Democratic candidates who are with him at virtually every stop who share the ideas that he has put forward and who are excited about the agenda he has presented.
But you don't urge people to vote for someone based solely on the partisan label. You urge them to vote for someone because they've got the right ideas for America's future. And the President has addressed this over and over again. He says that's the way you can get people excited about the agenda of the Democratic party and his agenda as a Democratic President, by awakening people to what we would actually do, what a Democratic majority would do, what a Democratic President would do, what they would do working together.
Q Mike, is the President aware of any Democratic congressional candidate across the country who does not share those --
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, there are plenty of candidates who have some differences, and President Clinton respects their need to go before their constituents and make the argument as they best see fit. They sometimes stress different issues. They sometimes make their appeal to their own voters in a fashion somewhat different from the President.
But at the same time, as you all have seen over and over again, we are very satisfied that there has been a strong outpouring of support from the rest of the ticket for the President. In fact, the rest of the ticket in most places in the country appreciate the support they're getting from the President. They know that the best thing the President can do to advance their interests is to lift all the boats with the rising tide and to run as strongly as he can nationally because that will likely help them individually, locally.
Q Is Texas one of those states in the mix of down-ballot candidates so that he might --
MR. MCCURRY: We are beyond the place where I can satisfy your interest and into the area where you should talk to our campaign; and our campaign is not going to tell you much about our geo-demographic targeting for the next two weeks, because the Dole campaign would probably be as interested in that as you are.
Q With Dole pushing the character issue very strongly and saying that he'll continue to do that right up to the end, do you foresee any need for the President to engage him mano a mano on this subject? (Laughter.)
Q Mano a mano.
Q We like to introduce these interesting foreign phrases.
MR. MCCURRY: No. Look, the President has made a very strong case about what character is all about, in the fights that he has taken on, the interests he has faced down, and the causes that he has advanced. And he is satisfied the American people will make that judgment based on what they see as performance, based on what they see is in the heart and soul of the candidate. And that's why he is working so hard, that's why he has advanced his argument as best he can, and that's what he will talk about in the remaining 18 days of this campaign.
Q So he's not going to talk directly about it? MR. MCCURRY: He's not going to spend a lot of time
responding to Senator Dole, because Senator Dole is increasingly, day by day, excessively shrill and sort of outside the mainstream of this debate. This debate is about America's future -- who has got the right plan for the economy, who is going to balance the budget, who is going to provide tax relief to working Americans, who is going to improve America's schools, who is going to bring families together, are we going to honor our commitments to our elderly in Medicare, are we going to protect the environment.
You know, you go out with the President every day, you hear him addressing those issues, and there is a reason why the President is ahead in the polls, and I'd suggest that's it. And Bob Dole can talk about anything he wants to, but so far he is not talking about anything that seems to resonate with the American people.
Q What about Dole's invitation for the third debate?
MR. MCCURRY: That's just theater of the absurd. (Laughter.) And he knows it, and he knows that that's not going to happen.
Q Why not?
MR. MCCURRY: Because the two campaigns sat down, they made decisions, they made a schedule, they had three good debates. And the Dole campaign -- we had three debates negotiated between the two campaigns and we agreed that was going to be it. And, in fact, we specifically agreed that people wouldn't come along with some stunt like calling for additional debates. And they know that, but they're left now to resorting to that type of theater.
Q Should the theatre of the absurd include Perot? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: If Senator Dole and Ross Perot want to debate, they have every right to have a debate. They should go have a debate somewhere.
Q Nick Burns has called Ortega a bad democrat. Would you agree with that?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't challenge, usually, what Nick Burns says. He's an able spokesman.
Q Is he a good Republican, then? (Laughter.)
Q Given that, would you call Soeharto a bad Democrat?
MR. MCCURRY: We've, I think, covered Indonesia already several times. Anything else?
Q But would you call him that?
Q What about Feingold?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, he had -- on that subject, on the subject of campaign finance reform and Indonesia, a pretty interesting statement the other day. And I think it's safe to say he finds the current debate lacking, but he suggests that Senator Dole is the last person that ought to be raising criticisms on either of those two subjects.
Q Should we expect to be out Thursday, Friday, Saturday of next week?
MR. MCCURRY: You should just pack a bag and take it with you and not plan to see any of your loved ones until November 6th.
Q Would you care to comment on the African Mission, how you feel -- what came out of Warren Christopher's trip?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I would only add to the very positive commentary both on the Continent and from those who worked with the Secretary to advance the idea of a regional force that could address some of the humanitarian and security issues in Africa. It was an extraordinarily positive and successful trip by the Secretary of State, and the President followed it very carefully, as did the National Security Advisor who, as you know, has a special interest in Africa. And we believe that the further conduct of American foreign policy in advancing our interests will be well served by the Secretary's visit.
Q Thank you, Mike.
MR. MCCURRY: You're very welcome.
END 1:53 P.M. EDT