THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Parma, Ohio) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 21, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND DOUG SOSNIK
Cuyahoga Community College Parma, Ohio
11:42 A.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right. We're dispensing with the trifecta because Joe's got some -- his in-laws are out in the audience. So Sosnik will -- he's just come in from duck hunting and he'll be able to give us a point or two.
Just to start with the obvious point: The President this morning is really drawing a clear distinction between his record and support of investments in education and those of Senator Dole's for the simple reason that the President firmly believes investments in education are one of the keys to a growing economy in the 21st century. Over and over again we see the evidence that with higher education goes higher earning power for America's workers. And over the last four years and, indeed, over the next four years if he's reelected, the President would continue to press for investments, necessary investments in education. It was a clear contrast here with Senator Dole.
In the coming two weeks you'll see the President, from time to time as we go into the closing days of the campaign, summing up and staking out for the American people some of the differences that do exist in this election. And on the issue of education, as in the particular item the President referenced, there are clear differences and the American people will see those differences more clearly as we go through the coming days.
Other subjects: A couple people asked earlier for a formal response of our reaction to the Japanese election. We obviously congratulate Prime Minister Hashimoto on his own reelection to the Diet. We look forward to working with the new Japanese government when it is formed. And we don't presuppose the nature of the coalition that might be formed, but the United States has enjoyed excellent working relationships with Prime Minister Hashimoto. The President looks forward to seeing him when they meet in the Philippines for the APEC meeting coming up next month.
Q Mike, the President, as you pointed out, took a little different tact today. In the past he has drawn contrasts with Senator Dole and himself. Why this time did he get very specific about what Senator Dole did, and is it in any way a response to the fact that Senator Dole is getting more specific with him?
MR. MCCURRY: No, Senator Dole has been struggling to be specific for a while. The President wants to make it clear where the real differences in this campaign lie. And as he did in the debate and as he has over and over again on the subjects like Medicare, education, the environment, economic strategies for the future, steps that we can take to protect the American family, there are clear differences in the records. And he will contrast those as he continues to present his own argument about what we need to do to build on the success of the last four years and prepare for the next century.
Q Do you want to answer this question ran by the Wall Street Journal editorial page piece today on the -- that Mrs. Clinton might be indicted and that Susan McDougal would not get a pardon?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't really have any comment on that because I don't think that Mr. Hale, himself, is in a position to know any facts related to those matters.
Q But isn't he a witness in the case and hasn't he already testified?
MR. MCCURRY: You should ask Mr. Starr the status of --
Q Well, wait a minute, Mike, -- I'm just asking you about what you said.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm just saying that he, to my knowledge, would have no ability to know what Mr. Starr plans. And you can call up Mr. Starr and see what his official response is to the question of the status of that inquiry.
Q There have been calls now for independent counsel on the question of foreign campaign contributions. What's your view of that, what's the White House view of that?
MR. MCCURRY: Our view is that the debate of the last several days has made one thing fundamentally clear, we need campaign finance reform. On that subject, President Clinton has been a champion of campaign finance reform, indeed, shook hands with Speaker Gingrich on it only to see Speaker Gingrich break his promise to deliver that kind of support.
The President then turned his attention to the McCain-Feingold legislation, which would do many of the things that those who support campaign finance reform say need to be done, especially in the areas of large non-federal contributions. That measure was filibustered six times by Senator Dole and his conversion to the cause of campaign finance reform this late in the game is certainly a political deathbed conversion.
Q Well, Mike, are you saying that we need new laws to keep President Clinton from taking Indonesian money, is that the idea?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm saying that legal contributions on the current system of laws have been taken by both sides. If you look at the analysis that's been done of foreign-source contributions, the Republican Party has exceeded it $2.4 million in contributions of that nature. So that party has got a great deal of explaining to do.
The answer, as I suggest, is campaign finance reform and campaign finance reform had been a priority of this President, would continue to be a priority if he is reelected.
Q Why do you think Senator Dole is on his "political deathbed," to use your words?
MR. MCCURRY: Because he's struggling to find any kind of issue or try to invent any kind of issue he can, lacking any serious, substantive ideas like what you heard from the President today on education, that are really relevant to the concerns of Americans as they think about the next four years and the next century.
Q Does the President think Mr. Huang should become available to reporters to answer questions?
MR. MCCURRY: He doesn't have an opinion on that. Mr. Huang works for the Democratic National Committee.
Q Right, but the President raises a lot of money for the Democratic National Committee.
MR. MCCURRY: The President feels it's appropriate for the Democratic National Committee, working with the Federal Election Commission, to produce substantive answers about the status of certain contributions.
Q Is he concerned at all about this?
MR. MCCURRY: Of course he's concerned, as we've told you several days ago. That's why he asked the DNC to pursue the matter. And the DNC has now asked the Federal Election Commission, which is the legal entity that should look into these kinds of measures, to proceed.
Q If he's willing to ask the DNC to pursue the matter, why is he unwilling to ask the DNC to make this turkey available for questions?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, more importantly, he should be available to the Federal Election Commission and to its staff if they have any questions as they review any particular contributions. It would be far more useful for the FEC to expedite its review for Mr. Huang and cooperate with the FEC so the American people can get some report on this issue prior to November 5th.
Q No way will the FEC make a report. You know that better than I do.
MR. MCCURRY: You should ask the FEC if that's their view.
Q Mike, with all the confusion about this, does the President then still feel absolutely comfortable going out and continuing to raise money for the DNC?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's in a very important election in which the stakes are very clear, in which we've got to make an argument about America's future and have to do that in every single state of this country. We do that with the support of the national party, working with Democrats all up and down the ticket. And it is important for the campaign to have resources in the President's view.
Q So he doesn't feel like he wants to get an accounting of their practices before he --
MR. MCCURRY: No, that's what I just said. He has asked the DNC to look into the matter and they now have asked the assistance of the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal election law and we hope that could be done prior to November 5th.
Q But you know it isn't going to be done before November 5th.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's too bad, because if the election will work right and we can monitor these things right, we could get answers. I can't control the validity of people that look into the matters that we suggest that they should look into.
Q But why is the DNC blocking Mr. Huang from talking to people?
MR. MCCURRY: They're not -- absolutely not. We've actually taken him away from his fundraising duties so he can be available to the staff of the Democratic National Committee and to the staff of the Federal Election Commission to clear up --
Q But you're blocking him from talking to the press.
MR. MCCURRY: -- clear up any -- well, that would detract from his ability to clear up these contributions and talk to the FEC staff.
Q Why would it?
MR. MCCURRY: Because it takes time to talk to you.
Q You can't even with a straight face say that. (Laughter.)
Q Extremely cynical performance, Mr. McCurry.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know about that. I've seen worse. (Laughter.) I've done worse. (Laughter.)
Anything you've got for Mr. Sosnik. He's here to talk about politics, and of course, I'm staying above all that.
Q Where are we going in the next few -- do we know? Tell us where we're going.
MR. SOSNIK: Today's fundraisers --
MR. MCCURRY: Listen, two other things, so I don't have to catch up with wires later, Ambassador Ross has given a press conference in which he's indicated now that he intends to return back to the United States to have some consultation with Secretary Christopher. We were well aware of that. We think that makes sense as these discussions continue. They are in a non-stop format and our Counsel in Jerusalem, Ed Abbington, and Ambassador Martin Indyk from Tel Aviv, will continue to work with the parties as they address those issues. And we are encouraging both parties to stay at the table and to continue to address those issues fundamental to implementing the agreements they've already reached.
On the subject of Nicaragua, it's too early at this point for us to have any definitive comment on that. We are in close contact with Brian Atwood, the Administrator of AID, who is the official U.S. observer in Managua and around the country over the last couple days of the election.
Q Mike, anything on the NATO speech tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, a number of you are awaiting with a great deal of warranted anticipation the President's speech tomorrow in Detroit on the subject of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its future, the future of Europe, the role the Russian Federation will play as we think about a European continent at peace well into the 21st century. The President wants to take the opportunity tomorrow, having called for a summit of NATO leaders early next year, to specifically identify the U.S. objectives going into that type of summit. He will not likely indicate by name any specific countries, but certainly will indicate what he thinks the timing should be for the accession of new members to the North Atlantic Alliance as we work to expand the Alliance.
That will be, I think, a significant statement. It's already being commented upon in some European capitals, as you see from the New York Times this morning. And the speech is already, in the view of our allies being seen as a fairly important one.
Q Mike, how will the NATO speech draw a clear contrast with Senator Dole?
MR. MCCURRY: On that subject, not likely will it because Senator Dole, to his credit, within his party has been an internationalist, has rejected those who call for isolation and question the utility of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There were clear differences between Pat Buchanan and Bob Dole on that subject, and to Senator Dole's credit he has by and large embraced some of the elements of a bipartisan foreign policy the President has advanced. When there have been differences they have been fairly tangential and not really central to the debate.
But the President felt it was important during the course of this election period to speak out on the question of foreign policy, but specifically to talk about the future of Europe and our closest relationships in Europe.
Q Mike, what if anything will the President have to say about the future of the U.S. role in Bosnia, the timetable for the presence there?
MR. MCCURRY: That is not a speech that he will cover at any great length tomorrow. That subject remains, as has been described by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, that we have an end projected for the current IFOR mission December 20th. And there are discussions at NATO about the nature of any follow-on work to be done, with a number of options under consideration. The President will review those options as they are developed within NATO, and then present it for consideration by the 16th.
Q Will he touch on it in his speech tomorrow, on Bosnia?
MR. MCCURRY: He will talk about some of the positive benefits that have derived from NATO working on that problem, not the least of which is that we have Russian troops serving under a NATO operation in Bosnia, which has helped integrate those forces and has done exactly the kind of thing we project through things like Partnership For Peace and some of the other efforts we've had underway.
Q Mike, the State Department has said repeatedly that it wants the first new countries into NATO by 1999. Is the President going to be speeding up this timetable?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that has been suggested before as a possibility, but I don't think that has ever been articulated as a U.S. goal, as a specific U.S. goal for our summit.
By the way, we'll have a briefing -- since we're running fast after the speech tomorrow, we're going to try to do a briefing before the speech and probably Sandy Vershbow from the NSC will be around. Tony Lake will be after the speech tomorrow, too, so some of you may want to catch him during the course of the day.
Okay. Let me turn it over to Doug, who's got a little bit of politics.
MR. SOSNIK: Let me start with Rita's question on the travel. We haven't made any 100 percent final decisions about the travel, but we over the weekend pretty well have looked at the rest of the cycle and, internally at least, we pretty much know what we want to do between now and election day. We're going to announce these sporadically so that we don't give the Dole campaign too much lead time to do planning around what we're doing.
The type of travel we'll be doing for the next 15 days I think is similar to what you're looking at this week. You're looking at Michigan, Ohio, battleground states. And we also are going to continue to push in the states that theoretically Democrats aren't supposed to perform well in -- Florida, Alabama and Georgia this week.
We're likely to be in Friday night back to D.C., probably after dinner. We'll be in Washington on Saturday. We'll go back on the road on Sunday. We'll probably announce tomorrow, maybe this afternoon, where we're headed. We'll be back on Tuesday night into Washington, before dinner. We will, Wednesday, go back on the road and probably stay on the road all the way through, going into Little Rock on Monday night. The President will be in Little Rock on Tuesday, Tuesday evening, return to Washington probably -- this is for planning purposes -- midafternoon on Wednesday.
Q Are we looking at one of those round-the-clock marathon final days?
MR. SOSNIK: We haven't made a final decision on any of that or announced it.
Let me just, on the polls, very briefly, there are plenty of public polls out today. Newsweek has a poll out, among others. It's largely consistent with what we've seen internally. You all can look at that. I think you will see, though, that Dole's personal negatives continue to go up. His negative campaigning, in the view of the American public, the Newsweek Poll was about 5.5, 6-to-1 on Dole being more negative and nasty.
California, in polls I've seen internally show us increasing our lead there. You can look around public polls about what's going on in the race. I'll just remind you of Dole's travel for the last three days and where he's going the next two days. He was in Kansas, Virginia, spent yesterday in New Hampshire and Delaware. The next four days he's here in Michigan and Ohio.
The only comments I will make on the Dole campaign today, I think we'll just -- and we'll give you a hard copy later -- is I think Republicans probably better than us right now are the people you should look to for the state of their campaign. We'll give you a handout, but I'll put to your attention the Republican Party Chairman here in Ohio says nothing is working, the race hasn't moved.
Newsweek says today Voinovich is not returning Dole calls here. The ads in Ohio have been pulled back in half by the Dole campaign as they have shifted their money to California. Governor Thompson from Wisconsin said in the press -- or said to Don Imus, this is the second worst campaign he has ever seen, Bush being the worst; that they don't listen to people in the state, it's too much based out of Washington.
The New Jersey chairman said over the weekend that the campaign is better off spending their money in California because he can't win New Jersey. And I gather today Kemp is reported as saying to Republican governors across the country that -- we have a handout, actually; I think we'll just give you the handout. I don't need to go through all that.
Q What did he say?
Q You're starting to sound like Dole. (Laughter.)
MR. SOSNIK: I'll read it to you: "It's over." (Laughter.)
Q What about the fundraisers the rest of today, tomorrow?
MR. SOSNIK: On the trip this week, we're doing a fundraiser today here for the Ohio Democratic Party and the DNC, in addition to some work for some local candidates here for Congress. In Michigan we're going to help the Michigan coordinated campaign, and Senator Levin, a separate event for the Senator there. We have a number of congressional races in Michigan that we think we can take back. Florida, we're going to tomorrow, it's for the Florida Democratic Party that we're raising the funds. And that's it.
Q How many fundraisers on this swing, total?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, let's see. We had one in New Jersey, two in New York, three -- yes, we had four yesterday.
Q Four? What's the fourth?
MR. SOSNIK: We had two in New York and two in New Jersey -- two-tiered, I think, in Jersey. Then we have -- let's see. Today we have three and tomorrow I believe it's one although it could be two-tiered. Is it two-tiered, do you know? The one in Florida could be two-tiered, but it's one in Florida.
This is primarily for the candidates. The money is staying in the states. These are states in which, in the case of Ohio, we have a number of -- we lost four seats here in 1994. We can do well in picking up some seats there. Michigan, not only the Senate race there, but also a number of congressional races. And in Florida there are some congressionals as well. We're leaving the money in the state for Florida. There was some sensitivity in Florida from the 1992 campaign, where we I think may have exported a bit more money than we imported into the state. So we're committed to leaving the money in the state this time.
Q Doug, the Ohio event today, how much are you raising here?
MR. SOSNIK: I don't have a -- I'll have to get it from Lockhart. I don't know. You'll have to get from Lockhart the firm numbers. We'll get it to you today before your deadline.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me do -- one or two people asked about the event at Detroit-Wayne County Metro Airport later today. Obviously, the President is going to celebrate the ground-breaking of the federally and private-funded expansion of Detroit-Wayne County Airport. The expansion includes new taxiways, parking space for aircraft, a new 10,000-foot runway. The expansion will accommodate increased growth, make air travel more efficient. According to Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara, this is one of the largest economic development projects in all of Michigan, expected to create as many as 52,000 new jobs in Michigan.
Funding for the $1.6 billion project includes $39 million in special facility bonds that were sold by Wayne County and backed by Northwest Airlines. There has been a long negotiation between the federal government, Wayne County and Northwest, which uses that airport as a hub. Northwest will be providing some of the financial backing for the project. There's $276 million in federal funding as part of the $1.6 billion total. Annual economic impact -- it will generate -- it's expected to generate billions of dollars in economic impact for the surrounding area.
Q Are you aware that Dole is doing a similar event at the airport?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure -- as airport openings are probably popular things to do. But the President's there, obviously, to highlight the federal role and with Secretary Pena.
Q When was the federal role in the project approved?
MR. MCCURRY: The key thing recently is when Secretary Pena announced in May an additional $150 million that would be available in a letter of intent released by the Department of Transportation if an overall financing package could be agreed to by the county and by the owner of the airport and by Northwest. I guess the county is the owner of the airport -- so by the county and by the airline, Northwest.
So, in other words, we put out there the possibility of additional federal financing if they could generate the private financing from both the airlines and from the country. And that came together, and that's what they're celebrating today.
Q Is that included in the $276 billion?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Yes, it basically upped the federal share of $276 million. And then the only other event the President's got is a closed one. He's going to be meeting with a group of clergy from around Michigan from about 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. this evening.
Q Is that open or closed, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: Is that open? I guess that's open. That is open. And that's a wide range of people. He'll talk --it will be similar to some of his appearances before, similar audiences -- talk a little bit about the future, the importance of some of the values that he has tried to articulate in this campaign -- similar to that he's done on previous occasions. We're looking for that more for local news consumption than any national news.
Q Are the issues in Florida health care, elderly or what?
MR. MCCURRY: Doing a fair amount of that. I haven't actually been on that schedule yet. But I think he's doing -- do you know the Florida schedule?
MR. TOIV: Florida will be a little more of welfare reform on Wednesday.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, more towards welfare reform as a possible subject area for Wednesday.
Okay, we'll see you all in Michigan.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:05 P.M. EDT