THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Township of Union, New Jersey) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 3, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY, JOE LOCKHART, AND DOUG SOSNIK
Union Public Library Township of Union, New Jersey
4:40 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: All right, I think we're ready to go. I don't have much to report. I want to turn it over to Lockhart and Sosnik. They've got a little bit of political chitchat. Obviously the day is devoted to turning out the vote, increasing momentum and enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket.
The preprogram is underway. How many people need to hear Congressman Torricelli?
Okay. Go ahead. Take it away, Joe.
MR. LOCKHART: Hello. Mr. Sosnik will be here in a second. He can give you a little rundown on what we've seen in the polls. I know as a group you all have been suffering a little bit with your colleagues over on the Dole campaign doing 96 hours in a row when in fact we know that you all have been working just as hard, because he took a six-hour break today. And in light of that we've decided to, for the next two nights, campaign through the night, and we're going to open it up to you to figure out where you want to go. Do I hear a Fargo? (Laughter.) No Fargo.
Q Only if we can meet Margie.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, you guys can get back to us. We're ready. Questions?
We will wait for Mr. Sosnik then.
MR. MCCURRY: Anything else?
Q There is a report I think on AP that up to six Cabinet officials are going to resign by the end of the week. Can you say anything to that?
MR. MCCURRY: No, there's -- as with any administration, there will be changes if the President is given a second term by the American people. Some people have indicated that, but the President has not focussed on the kinds of discussions or decisions that would aim to that. We have done the prudent and necessary things to prepare a transition either to a new President or to a second term for President Clinton. The President some time ago asked Mr. Panetta to prepare a process that would be in place as of the day after the election to prepare for an orderly transition one way or another. He has pursued that. He's involved Erskine Bowles, Vernon Jordan and others in that process. He asked Evelyn Lieberman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, to canvass the White House, take a look at functioning of the White House staff and the disposition of people, senior people on the White House staff. And it's safe to say there will be changes. You would expect that if there is a second term for an incumbent President and, obviously, we'd be prepared to make a very orderly transition of government if Senator Dole wins on Tuesday.
Q But you wouldn't expect something within a matter of days after the election?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that the President wants to have an orderly transition and he's prepared to begin that very quickly after the election, regardless of which way the election goes.
Q Mike, how's he and the staff holding up with very little sleep?
MR. MCCURRY: We're having a good time. He's actually enjoying himself. He told the pool earlier that he had had about four hours sleep last night, but he felt better today than he has on some previous days. I think he's enjoying the closing hours of the campaign. We were having a little fun on the plane on the way up here, that you'll hear more about in the pool report and elsewhere.
We're enjoying ourselves and working hard to turn out a vote. You know, the President especially wants to energize Democratic activists around the country. They're participating in a very large get-out-the-vote effort. I think Doug and Joe can tell you, something like 15 million pieces of mail that have gone out in the recent days, over 11 million telephone contacts on behalf of the Democratic ticket up and down the line. Obviously, a very focussed effort that the President in his campaigning today and tomorrow is attempting to energize.
Q Mike, if there are resignations, these would be voluntary resignations, I take it?
MR. MCCURRY: The Chief of Staff has indicated a variety of times privately to people that we don't expect blanket resignations across the board, but we do expect changes. And people have indicated, sometimes publicly, sometimes less publicly that they may want to make changes. That's very natural and expected.
Q Do you have any updates on the situation in the south of Iraq and what, if anything, the President is --
MR. MCCURRY: On Iraq, my understanding is -- if it hasn't been made yet, the Pentagon is making a statement based on their assessment of the incident yesterday. As you know, yesterday morning the President was briefed about the incident in the Gulf. That is normally made public by the Pentagon when they have a good understanding of what the nature of the incident was. They don't see anything at the moment that indicates any change in the posture of Saddam Hussein's air defenses, either in the expanded no-fly zone or below the 32nd parallel. They are monitoring that very carefully, as we have indicated many times that we would. And they are attempting to learn more about the incident yesterday in which an F-16 pilot believes that he was illuminated by an air defense system.
Q Was he illuminated?
MR. MCCURRY: You should ask the Pentagon that. They're reviewing that and making a determination whether there was an illumination.
Q -- take any action at this time?
MR. MCCURRY: The President was briefed on it yesterday morning, was assured and is already confident that our forces are able to respond to any provocation. This does not appear to be a provocation, it appears to be an isolated incident that we're attempting to understand better. There doesn't appear to be any change in the disposition of Saddam Hussein to the structure of our enforcement of the no-fly zones in the north and the south.
Q Mike, is it your assessment that Senator Hatch sat on that report about the FBI files as long as possible for political purposes?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have an assessment of that. It does seem that material that is designed to embarrass the President seems to leak pretty quickly from Republican committees and material that would be helpful and supportive of the argument the President makes seems to linger on the shelves, like these books. But you'll have to ask Senator Hatch.
Okay. Do you want to do --
MR. SOSNIK: Several of you asked us today about the polls and where things stand. I just wanted to briefly give you an update, 36 hours out until the polls open.
If you look at the CBS, CNN, ABC, our internal polls, are spread right now is between 10 and 13 points, some 36 hours out with a double-digit lead. We're encouraged.
On the 270 electoral votes that we need, we've seen no slippage in any of our tracks or any of the public polls in any of the states that we need for 270, that the race has tightened in any significant way.
States like Florida, Arizona, South Dakota, we you continue to maintain a lead. In other states like Georgia, Virginia, other states that are close to tossups, I think all these states will probably at the end boil down to turnout, which is part of what our efforts in the last two days have been. It's to not only lock down our 270 electoral votes -- help congressional candidates, really push and make sure that Democrats turn out and vote. And I think you see the travel today of Florida and New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, tomorrow New Hampshire, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, and South Dakota incorporates states that we are ahead in. And all of them, as I think Barry may have mentioned to you, there was a poll today which I'm not sure I completely agree with that shows us with an 18-point lead in Florida.
But all the states that were travelling, with no exception, we're ahead in the polls and we'd like to and think we can carry, and there's also a great deal of congressional business in each of these states. And that's what our intention of the end game is. And as you can see from what we've put out on our travel schedule, the only thing that has changed from basically about a week ago is we've added a few places. We did drop California since our lead there in the polls has increased.
So as you can see from our schedule, we're sticking to the plan that we had put in place over a week ago.
Q Doug, is there any possibility of adding or subtracting any stops?
MR. SOSNIK: There's still 36 hours till the polls open. There's always possibilities.
Q Are you guys actually considering any changes?
MR. SOSNIK: No, I'm not aware of it.
MR. MCCURRY: Just please, no one ask the President that question.
Q Why do you assume we have any access to him? Q Why West Palm Beach? Why that part of Florida? MR. MCCURRY: Say again. Q Why West Palm Beach, that part of Florida as opposed to
MR. SOSNIK: Turnout is very important there. The advice -- we actually had a Democratic governor we could call, and the advice from the Democratic governor was that was a good place to go for turnout at the end of the campaign.
Q Why are we specifically in Union Township? What is this area like? What does it represent?
MR. SOSNIK: Well, the race here in New Jersey is close. Torricelli has a couple-point lead on Zimmer with still a fairly high number of undecideds. This is a traditionally swing area of the state in which undecideds are probably disproportionately high here, and we thought that this would probably be the type of place we could go to not only hit swing voters but also for turnout in the nearby areas.
MR. MCCURRY: Fournier, do you want to do the rest of the briefing?
Q I'm doing the pool report.
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, you have an update on the pool report?
Thanks. We are probably going to divide forces on the press staff, with some people going up to Manchester and some people going up to Bangor. I think Barry and Joe -- you're going up to Bangor, right? (Laughter.)
Barry is delighted to be going to Bangor. I of course, knowing that many of you are going to Manchester intending to survey the scene there in New Hampshire, would like one last take on the very close race in New Hampshire and the renaissance of the Democratic Party there, I thought I could be more helpful if I served you at that location, so I'm joining you.
Q Mike, are you going to keep the bar open?
MR. MCCURRY: The Sheraton Wayfarer, one of America's great bars, shall be open.
Q As journalists, professional journalists here to cover the campaign, should we be at the bar tonight, you think?
MR. MCCURRY: Those of you who have had experience covering New Hampshire Democratic primary campaigns know how to conduct yourselves when you're at that location.
Okay, we'll see you later on.
END 4:54 P.M. EDT