THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Ypsilanti, Michigan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 30, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND ANN LEWIS Filing Center Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, Michigan
4:04 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: I decided -- I did, obviously, brief earlier today, but I just wanted to check and see if there was any -- I did brief earlier, as you can see, and I just I thought take any Qs and As.
Q -- he will speak Friday in Santa Barbara on campaign finance reform.
MR. MCCURRY: We're expecting the President will, in the course of his appearance in Santa Barbara, will address campaign finance issues. I would not describe it as a speech about campaign finance, but it will be -- at one of his close-out appearances as he sums up his case for reelection, he thinks it's important to address that issue.
Q -- proposals on campaign finance?
MR. MCCURRY: Perhaps some of the history of that issue over the last several years. I would say I expect him to touch a little bit about -- on the handshake with the Speaker, the concept of a commission, the inability to move McCain-Feingold through the Senate, and the steps that need to be taken to address some of the concerns that have been raised properly during the course of this campaign.
Q Steps -- new initiatives, or just that we need a new --
MR. MCCURRY: Stand by.
Q -- any symbolism about the final last couple of days of the campaign -- the Sheraton Wayfarer, things like that and other --
MR. MCCURRY: This is an extraordinary windup swing for an extraordinary campaign. The fact that the Democratic presidential candidate will be not only in Texas and Florida, but in Arizona and New Hampshire speaks volumes about the electoral map that confronts both candidates. The poetry of the final night on the campaign trail at the Sheraton Wayfarer, where many Democrats have spent less than happy campaign evenings -- not Bill Clinton, but some others that I have in mind -- is a nice touch. It also reflects the resurgent position of the Democratic Party in that state with a very strong gubernatorial candidate who is right now running strongly ahead, a close Senate race in which our Senate candidate is doing very well, and, almost unimaginably so, a strong lead for the President in the Granite State.
Q Do you think the Democrats will catch or win both Houses back?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to make any predictions about that. We're working hard to make it so. What's the composition of the 105th Congress going to be, he asked, and I'm not making predictions. We're working hard to make it, obviously, the outcome that the President would prefer.
Q You said he was going to talk about some of the concerns about campaign finance that have been raised during this campaign. Is he going to speak specifically to the allegations?
MR. MCCURRY: -- to the speech, so I'll look forward to your coverage on Friday. I'm not trying to be coy about it. In part, the President will work over the speech, decide what to say. I don't want to predict whether -- and I know he's got some concerns that he's going to address, but how he addresses them and what he says I'll leave for the President Friday.
Q Mike, I think what Mara was asking was, you said campaign finance had arisen in this campaign, and you implied that it was the stuff that is going on on soft money. The President has spoken intermittently about campaign finance for four years. Is it going to be beyond that? Is it going to be some of these recent things?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he will address some of the history of the issue, address what he now, looking forward, believes the next President and the next Congress need to do to correct faults in the system, of which there are many readily apparent faults.
Q So the answer is no?
MR. MCCURRY: Ann's got a question. Anything else for me?
Q Will Mrs. Clinton travel with him at all?
MR. MCCURRY: I had heard that she might join us at some part of this close-out swing, but I don't have that pinned down yet. We'll try to pin that down.
MS. LEWIS: I believe I saw that she will be coming out, but we'll get the details.
Q -- before Little Rock?
MR. MCCURRY: We are in general deploying our four principals as diversely as we can so that they maximize the coverage they get, especially locally.
Q -- how many cities and how many states for the four of them in the next, say, five days --
MS. LEWIS: We will tomorrow.
MR. MCCURRY: And the campaign put out a release saying --
MS. LEWIS: Well, we did that, but that was before the last three days. It's going to be even bigger. In fact, what we hope to do is a little map, a chart, and show you. But I think it will be available tomorrow. We just keep adding cities. It's been hard to keep up.
There was a request that I talk about women and the President. Let me just begin by saying this is obviously a subject that Mike could do equally well. We don't go in for gender stereotyping in the campaign -- even if he is in the process of disappearing. But since it was addressed to me, first, as --
MR. MCCURRY: We do have podium gaps, though.
MS. LEWIS: Yes, well, I was going to make that point later.
As every poll has consistently showed, women voters are a strong base of support for this President. Most recent L.A. Times poll, again, I would refer you to, that came out -- if you look towards the back because by now the fact that women are giving the President 20-plus lead winds up down at the end. It's no longer very newsworthy. But we are talking here about a significant majority of the electorate.
Second, as you saw today in this discussion, we know that one of the interests -- growing interests among women is having their own business; that women see having their own business as something that would provide economic independence, certainly economic security. It enables them to combine certain work and family concerns. For women who have been in the workplace for a long time, they begin to feel that having their own business -- very much as men have done over the years -- enables them to show more independence, show their own talents.
Women right now are likely to form their own business at a rate twice that of the general public. It is also a fact, and I think we've seen that, that a number of the initiatives of this administration have had particular impact on the lives of women, particularly important. And that is equally true among small business women. And you heard the President talk about the increase in lending. We know that capital, access to capital is very important for women.
Finally, because this is Get Out the Vote Week and everything we do has our bottom line in turning out a vote on election day, the numbers are something like this. If you look at people who voted in 1992 and didn't vote in 1994, what we would call the drop-off voters, something like 60 percent of them are women. In the monitoring, the tracking that's been done of these voters in the last year, we find that this particular group of women give the President the highest margin of any group in the electorate, something like 30 points. But it's clear to us that the more we can encourage these women to come back to the polls by making the connection, as the President does so well, that this election is important for their families, for their children's futures, the more they vote, the better he's going to do.
And so again, you will see -- you have seen on Saturday, you saw a lot of getting out the women's vote activities. You saw it on Sunday. And you will see it throughout the week.
Q -- make up their minds now?
MS. LEWIS: The question was, do women make up their minds later. Until this year I have always operated on the assumption that women are a little more likely to be undecided. That was because they paid attention to politics a little bit later, they had a lot else that they were worried about. I'm not so sure this year. I think we may have seen a change in that pattern. But they do continue to be, right now, a majority, a slight majority among those still undecided, which we think again offers us an opportunity.
Q Small business owners are one group where the Dole campaign has said that actually the gap is smaller than among women in general. Do you feel like you have some making up to do among --
MS. LEWIS: I don't think we have making up to do. I think we have, however, a tremendous -- I would not call it "making up," because that would suggest we were coming from behind. I think we have a real opportunity here. And again, as you heard in the President's speech, and as I think you saw in the response, the record of this administration, their track record on opening opportunities for women, the extent to which the Small Business Administration has been really helpful and friendly to women business owners, particularly on the key issue of access to capital, is known and appreciated.
Q The Dole campaign the last couple of weeks has tried to reduce the gender gap, putting Elizabeth Dole on the air, talking about how the 15-percent tax cut is helpful for women, trying to soften the image. Do you see anything in your internal polls that has helped, hurt, changed?
MS. LEWIS: I don't see any change in our polls on that subject.
Q Mike, what was the President's event this morning in Washington?
MR. MCCURRY: He met with a group of DNC business leaders at the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel.
Q Was it like a thank-you or --
MR. MCCURRY: I think it was -- I'd have to check with the DNC. I think it was a fundraiser or a thank-you to people who had participated in prior fundraisers.
Anything else? Well, we wander off to Denver. Anyone want to get up and hike Squaw Peak first thing in the morning tomorrow? That would be in Mike McCurry's old back yard, Arizona Biltmore.
MR. MCCURRY: No, no, this is in Arizona. In Colorado? The press secretary was the former press secretary of the Governor. But there was a press assistant in the Colorado Clinton-Gore campaign, '92. Worked very hard. A fellow doing penance for past sins. (Laughter.)
Q Is the theme still tomorrow protecting communities --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. We're going to be doing many stops along the way, bringing together the themes that you've seen the President reiterate -- community, how we can protect them, how individuals can take responsibility in protecting families from violence and from the effects of social disorder, and gang violence, drugs, guns; and talk a little bit about the type of opportunities that the government can make available to those who are working to strengthen the American family and protect the American community.
Q Would it be helpful to have the President take questions on campaign finance or some of these other questions? He's been unaccessible to us for a while.
MR. MCCURRY: I've been asked this question several times in the last couple days. He is, as is historically true in the closing days of a campaign, candidates tend to want to talk to voters as opposed to members of the press. There are many occasions when members of the press become good surrogates for the American people, but in the campaign in which millions of voters are getting ready to go to the polls, most candidates like to maximize their opportunity to speak directly to the American people, which is what we'll be doing -- be doing it strenuously over the next several days.
But, obviously, the President understands he has an obligation to face questions from the press, and I expect he will do so very shortly after election day. But the election is for the people.
Q Any new initiatives tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Not new initiatives. This is more in the nature now of summing up. We have -- we can freshen up some of these things as we did today on the women's economic initiatives. But we are really in the business of bringing the campaign to a close by pulling together the different elements of the President's argument around those things that he would consider the major priorities facing the next President -- balancing the budget, strengthening the family, expanding the economic progress of the last four years, doing things like reforming welfare, continuing to give tools to the American families that allow them to prepare their own families and children for the 21st century. All these things he's talked about -- he's kind of winding up now and bringing together around the central themes that he's tried to address during the campaign.
Q Is that the theme tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: Strengthening the family. This is the -- tomorrow is really -- of the four themes that we identified for you for the President's final closeout -- balancing the budget, continuing the economic performance that we've seen reflected even today in the growth numbers; two, reforming welfare and making welfare reform a success, which he addressed on Sunday; three, strengthening the family and giving families tools they can use to raise kids who will enjoy the best years any Americans have ever enjoyed in the 21st century; lastly, bringing communities together around those issues which the President defines as common ground, a theme you heard him talk about a lot this year -- he will return to that in the speech on Friday and also have a reference as well to campaign finance reform.
Q At Santa Barbara it will be common ground?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q Common ground and common --
MR. MCCURRY: Common ground and bringing American together to face the challenges that we will need to face as we move into the 21st century, and protecting America's values as we address those problems that we do face, but enjoy those opportunities that have now made themselves abundant.
Q How is that different than tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not saying that it's -- I just said that we were not -- we're winding up. We're not trying to make news. We're trying to make a punctuation point on the argument that the President has articulated all this year.
Q For our planning purposes, how would you expect him to spend election day? Would he vote in the morning and have any other activities during --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, a good part of election day, we will be making our way back to Little Rock. And then I imagine we will rest from our labors. And then we will prepare to face the verdict of the American people.
Q What time do you think he'll arrive in Little Rock? Any guess yet?
MR. MCCURRY: I think probably early morning would be my guess.
Q Does the President have a residence in Little Rock from which to vote from?
MR. MCCURRY: His mother-in-law is his -- that's his formal residence in Little Rock.
Q And that evening, might he appear in public somewhere? At the State House -- the old State House?
MR. MCCURRY: At some point. I'm not -- it's probably a pretty good bet that he'll come out and say something. (Laughter.)
MS. LEWIS: We're working on it. He has to be convinced, but we think we can do it. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: But I don't -- obviously don't have anything on time. And I was asked earlier today in another setting about what do we think of network projections. Obviously, the networks have made it clear that they will call -- they will report the news when they think they have sufficient information necessary to make news.
Our own view is that we would hope that kind of reporting would come with it, if it is prior to the closing of polls on the West Coast, an admonition by the networks to remind voters as often as they can that there are important contests in which the outcome may not be decided and that that importance of meeting our obligations of citizenship and casting a vote are always there. And I imagine the networks will be responsible enough to provide that kind of encouragement during the course of the evening Tuesday.
Q But you don't discourage the networks?
Q Have you talked this over with the networks?
MR. MCCURRY: They have talked to us. They've essentially written us and let us know what they're plans are, and they've made that public.
Q You don't discourage the networks?
MR. MCCURRY: We don't tell news organizations how to report what they think is news.
Q I'm going to write that down. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: We encourage them to think of things as news that they might not think of as news, but --
Q Would you encourage them not to report these --
MR. MCCURRY: Say it again?
Q You wouldn't encourage them not to report --
MR. MCCURRY: We don't tell news organizations how to report news. At the same time, we think -- we do encourage them to do everything they can to remind voters of the importance of getting out and meeting their obligations of citizenship.
Q Mike, which sort of message do you think more gets in the way of your directly talking to the people -- stories that say that the President is avoiding the press or stories that say the President is answering questions from the press?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think any of those stories have much of an impact on voters because I think they reflect self-obsession. They reflect self-obsession by the press.
Q If it has no effect --
Q The President has not had a full-blown news conference since the Convention. He answered questions in Chautauqua. He answered questions in Albuquerque, but --
MR. MCCURRY: I seem to recall he did a debate in which a lot of Americans asked questions. And if you go down right now, the President is standing in a ropeline and talking one by one to the Americans who show up to hear him speak. And I think that's what he believes is the most important thing he should do in the closing days of this campaign.
Q In the closing days, but we're saying in the past three months.
MR. MCCURRY: Look, I've sat with you and you've sat with me on many occasions where he's taken questions directly in formal settings, less than formal settings, interview situations, one-on-one over the past several months. We're in the closing days of this campaign. The President wants to talk to the American people and talk to them as he's doing in the events that he has.
Q Mike, if you said this, I'm sorry I didn't hear you. But did the President have any comment on the testimony that was released yesterday by Mr. Huang?
MR. MCCURRY: Not beyond what I already said earlier today.
Q What was David's question?
MR. MCCURRY: It was an elegant question.
Q That's why I want to know what it was.
MR. MCCURRY: What was your question, David? I'll repeat it. Which more gets in the way of the President's ability to talk to the American people -- the stories that say that he's dodging or the stories that says that he's answering the questions? And my argument is that whether or not the President entertains questions from the press is largely a matter of your interest, but not necessarily a matter of the people's interest.
Anyone want to rebut that? (Laughter.) I don't think so. All right. We'll see you on the flip side.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 4:22 P.M. EST