THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Daytona Beach, Florida) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 23, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, JOE LOCKHART AND DOUG SOSNIK
Filing Center Daytona Beach, Florida
11:52 A.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right. We have told your pool that the President looks forward today to putting a stress on the steps that we need to take over the next four years to help move welfare dependent people into work situations. He will be highlighting a program that's particularly successful here.
The Governor and the President talked a bit about that subject today. And the President will once again say that the governors are going to be very important partners as we successfully implement welfare reform over the next four years. This will be a defining challenge for the next President, to successfully implement the historic welfare reform legislation passed by this Congress. And the President thought it was particularly appropriate, given the success they've had here in Florida with the program here in Volusia County, to put a focus on that subject today.
Meanwhile, you've also got some material about the increase in child support enforcement. Clearly, financial support, especially for mothers making that transition from welfare to work situations is critical. And going after deadbeats, making sure that people live up to their financial obligations is a key part of the strategy of successfully implementing welfare reform.
So that's our subject du jour. Lockhart has been running around with copies of the L.A. Times poll, but -- what?
MR. MCCURRY: The polls are just a snapshot, and as the President says, it doesn't matter if you hold the ticket at the back stretch, you've got to be there at the finish line.
Q What's the latest polling in Florida? We have one from a month ago.
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Lockhart reports that internal democratic polls show about a five point spread right now.
MR. MCCURRY: The incumbent President.
Q Your polling shows what? It's what?
MR. LOCKHART: -- internal democratic poll.
MR. MCCURRY: Will one of you two decide who wants to do this? Do you want to do polls? Why don't you do Florida.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q The New York Post has a story today in which Nancy Reagan is asking for a personal response, either by a phone call or a letter. Will that happen?
MR. MCCURRY: There will be a personal response and it'll be consistent with what we've already said on behalf of the President.
Q Will he -- or will he write a letter, do you know?
MR. MCCURRY: One or the other.
MR. MCCURRY: Like I said, either a letter or a phone call of some sort.
MR. MCCURRY: Did Nany Reagan --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not sure who's sending it --
Q Wait a minute, I asked if it -- from the President?
MR. MCCURRY: We don't know yet. It'll come from either the campaign or the President. We'll let you know.
Q And when? Before the election?
MR. MCCURRY: Sometime.
Q And what would you say his sentiment would be --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, his sentiment is that the Bradys -- this is the story of the Bradys, who are obviously sympathetic to Mrs. Reagan's concern. That particular footage, of course, Mrs. Reagan introduced at the Republican Convention. So it's a very familiar scene to all Americans and certainly to Mrs. Reagan. But this is an advertisement about Jim Brady and what he went through and his testimonial, and it really doesn't have anything to do with either President Reagan or Mrs. Reagan.
Q Well, but it does have something to do with Bill Clinton. It's not a commercial for Jim Brady, it's a commercial saying that Bill Clinton is right and Ronald Reagan is wrong.
MR. MCCURRY: No, it doesn't say a thing about Ronald Reagan. It says that Jim Brady's testimonial to the integrity of the President who stood up to the NRA to get the Brady Bill passed. That's what the ad is about. We can get a copy for you. It sounds like you haven't seen it.
Q Mike, what has Leon Panetta heard back on his request for the DNC to tell him what's going on with the fundraising?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's all been reviewed publicly. You know, the step that was taken was to refer the matter to the FEC and Mr. Panetta was satisfied that was the appropriate step.
Q We can't hear you. What did you say?
Q The FEC query basically stops Panetta's inquiry? I mean --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we were not making an inquiry. We had to ask the DNC to look into it. They took the step of referring the matter to the FEC, as you know, and Mr. Panetta agreed that was the appropriate step.
Q If there's a personal response to Mrs. Reagan and it's not -- you said you don't know who it's from, who would it be from?
MR. MCCURRY: There has not been a response sent yet, that I know of. But we -- the President intends to make sure a response is delivered. And we'll let you know what form it takes and what it says when it's delivered.
MR. MCCURRY: Obviously, it hasn't been sent yet, so when it's sent we'll let you know.
Q Is the ad still running, or when is it's buy completed?
MR. LOCKHART: The ad is scheduled to come down at the end of the week and there's no plans to put it up for next week.
Q Campaign-type question. Why are you folks going to Alabama when you're pretty well behind there in your race, and Roger Bedford is behind the Senate?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll let Doug get into the specifics, but we're not "pretty well behind" there. There are polls -- there have been polls showing us ahead, polls showing it neck-and-neck. It's a state we think we can win.
MR. SOSNIK: And also, I think, in response to our going, the fact that not only is Dole now buying TV in Alabama, but he's now scheduled a last minute trip there shows you from their campaign standpoint that it's still an up state that's very much still in play.
Q -- didn't see any in Miami. I saw a lot of Ross Perot.
MR. SOSNIK: The question was about our media. We've been up heavily in Miami throughout the campaign, since the convention. We haven't altered the level of our buy. We're buying in most of the markets and I anticipate that we'll continue to stay up all the way through the election and we're most likely going to come back to Florida.
Q Doug, the Minneapolis trip looks like it's, you know, principally aimed at sort of helping Wellstone, or that's the principal reason for it. Are there other stops that are being made primarily to help individual race, congressional race?
MR. SOSNIK: The question is about our trip to Minnesota. Presumably, we're going to help Wellstone or are there other trips like that, that are more geared for congressional rather than just ours.
I think our strategy at this point is to continue, first and foremost, to make sure we get 270 electoral votes. That's our strategy right now and I don't think that will change. Our secondary agenda and the hopes are to try to have the two-fors or three-fors is to help congressional candidates.
And if you look at our travel not only this week, but into next week, you'll see us in states that we want to first and foremost insure we carry. And there are a number of states like Florida, like Alabama, like Georgia, that we're going into in which we have a lead, or are tied, and we want to be able to win it. But we're also gearing it for congressionals, as well.
Q When are we going back to California?
MR. SOSNIK: When are we going back to California? We haven't announced or confirmed that we're going back. But if we were to go back, it would probably be towards the end of next week.
MR. SOSNIK: Well, it's difficult -- we have to adjust based on everything that we're doing and the fact that the polls are now -- public polls are showing what we have internally been seeing for a while, despite what the Dole campaign has been putting out about the race being in single digits.
We have to, as we move closer to election day, adjust our travel schedule based on what we think the election cycle looks like at that point. I don't think at this point we're prepared to lock in for certain for another California trip based on the fact that we have a lead now of 20 points, and it doesn't mean we should end up there.
Q Is the First Lady going to travel with the President, or --
MR. SOSNIK: The question is about the First Lady's schedule. In general -- and we do make, occasionally, exceptions -- but in general our view has been to keep the principals spread out, traveling independent of one another to maximize our use of resources. And I think we'll largely continue that to the end of the campaign.
Q Is the President doing local TV interviews here, media interviews? What's he doing in his private time -- fundraising, nothing?
MR. MCCURRY: No, he's actually doing some work for two of the congressional candidates. There's one of the key showdown races that the DCCC has targeted is here and --
Q -- fundraising or what?
MR. MCCURRY: Take some pictures, meet with some of their supporters, some of their --
Q Mike, the Dole campaign has issued a press release calling on the administration to release photographs of the President and the Vice President with Jorge Cabrera, the drug kingpin.
MR. MCCURRY: I heard about that last night. You'll have to ask the Justice Department about that. They apparently -- they're involved in this and I'd refer that to the Justice Department.
Q -- think they should? Does the White House -- MR. MCCURRY: I'm referring that to the Justice
Q Can you tell us a little bit about the -- last night --
MR. LOCKHART: The meeting was at the Versailles restaurant. He met with about 20 -- he had dessert, actually, with about 20 leaders in the Cuban-American community. There were probably about 100 people outside, another 50 people or so inside in the separate part of the restaurant. Mr. Dahl can fill you all in since he was a diner there last night and was rudely interrupted by the President and his large entourage.
MR. SOSNIK: I just want to add on the Cuban vote in general, in 1992 the President received around 21 percent of the Cuban vote. The most recent public poll -- about 21 percent. The most recent public poll, which we can make available to you -- Joe, we should get that poll -- the Herald poll shows it a dead heat right now. I think it's like 41-41 Dole and Clinton amongst the Cuban voters in the state.
And I think the conventional wisdom is that if we could get around 30 percent of the Cuban vote in the state, that would probably ensure that we were able to carry the state. And the fact is, specifically answering your question, we are going to work hard to continue to do well in the Cuban community. It's nice to be doing well in the polls, but as we continue to travel through the last two weeks of the campaign, we're going to continue every day to try to do what we think we need to do with this time to try to lock down the vote.
MR. LOCKHART: About 5 percent of the Florida -- 4 to 5 percent of the Florida population is Cuban-American.
Q Which congressional candidates is he meeting with today? And what's he doing?
MR. MCCURRY: He's meeting with George Stuart, who is the candidate in the 7th congressional district. He is a former state senator, a former candidate for governor in 1990. He is running against John Mica. And then the other race is John Byron, B-y-r-o-n, who is running against Dave Weldon, who is one of the freshman Republicans. And that's the race that has been heavily targeted by both sides. It's a DCCC priority race, I think.
MR. MCCURRY: Take some pictures, doing some -- meeting with some supporters, doing stuff that they can use as part of their GOTV effort in the close-out.
Q What, if any, changes in the message will --
Q How do you spell Stuart?
MR. MCCURRY: Stuart is S-t-u-a-r-t.
MR. SOSNIK: The question was, how are we going to change our message when we go to Alabama. The answer is, we're not going to change our message. And those of you who have been traveling with us for several months now, you basically see us with roughly the same message whether it's at 10:00 in a rally outdoors, or 11:00 at a fundraiser at night. And I think you'll see tomorrow in Alabama the President is going to continue to talk about where he wants to lead this country in the next century.
Q What's in Macon? Why Macon?
MR. SOSNIK: We're going to Macon because we have about a dozen points -- actually more than that according to public polls in Georgia. We're going to Atlanta first and then to Macon. Our intention is to do in '96 what the President was able to do in '92, which is to carry Georgia. You obviously have to run strong in Atlanta and the Atlanta metro area, which is why we're starting there. But you have to do well outside of that area as well to carry the state. And that's why we're going there. We'll be with Senator Nunn and the Senate candidate, Max Cleland down there.
Q Will he make an appearance with Cleland? Is he going to be there?
MR. SOSNIK: Yes.
Q Jorge Mas Canosa, who was there last night at dinner, did he support Bush publicly in 1992?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think the best way to know where Jorge Mas Canosa is on something is to probably talk to him directly, but I think in past he's been pretty strong supporter with the Reagan -- starting in the '80s, with the Reagan administration and through with Bush. But you ought to check the 1992 stuff.
Q Back to California, what do the new numbers in California say about the wisdom of Dole's California strategy?
MR. SOSNIK: The question is, what is the wisdom --based on the new L.A. Times poll, what does it show about the wisdom of the Dole California strategy. I can't -- you should talk to them about that. I would say, though, it is interesting to note that Dole's unfavorable now is higher in California than his favorable. And I think the reason it is, is that people don't find his negative campaigning to be very attractive.
Q Doug, how much of a problem in getting -- is the President's decision to suspend the six month litigation section, provisions -- how much of a political --
MR. SOSNIK: I can't answer the specific question, but what I can say is, the fact that we're doing as well as we're doing right now in the Cuban community says something about the President's policies.
Q How recent was that Miami Herald poll?
MR. MCCURRY: Let me add more on that. We have actually had very good community outreach on the implementation of Helms-Burton and worked with the community so they understand our attitude towards the waiver. They've also been briefed about Stuart Eisenstadt's work as the President's emissary to many of the European countries, trying to get them to support our effort to bring democratic change to Cuba.
So they're well aware that we're making this a priority and that we've advanced that effort strenuously in our diplomatic work with our European allies and, indeed, with Mexico and Canada, as well. There is a strong disagreement with the U.S. position. But we believe we're right and we believe the rest of the world should join us in bringing enough pressure to bear on Castro to change the nature of that regime.
MR. SOSNIK: Let me clean up something I said a minute ago. I was half right about the Miami Herald poll. We are at 41 percent of the vote in that poll, but it shows Dole at 58 percent of the vote.
MR. LOCKHART: Let me just add one thing to that. The other interesting part about that poll is among Cuban Americans under the age of 50, we have a majority -- we are over 50 percent -- so among younger Cuban Americans.
MR. LOCKHART: The age of 50 -- people under 50, we had a majority. And we'll get -- I'll get someone to send the article down and we'll distribute it.
MR. MCCURRY: No mas. Okay, that's it for us today. And we'll see you back on the road tomorrow. I think in terms of planning, we don't plan to do any briefing -- what time are we leaving tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: Early in the morning, I think.
MR. MCCURRY: That's what I thought. We don't plan any gaggle or any briefing at the White House tomorrow since it's another road day. And tonight, it's -- we're pretty much going to keep things quiet. There is one event that's pooled when the President goes out tonight for the Congressional fundraisers. And, other than that, Barry can keep you alert to any paper. I'm not aware of any paper we're dropping.
Q Are you going tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:07 P.M. EDT