THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lexington, Kentucky) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 4, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky
4:30 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: We just want to take a second in case anybody has any questions in the midst of this interesting, fun day. Anything going on that you need to know about?
Q Why didn't Chelsea want to sit on the stage at the Cleveland rally?
MR. MCCURRY: Good question. Let's go in search of answers?
Q What was the question?
MR. MCCURRY: She has been on -- previous occasions been on stage and people make a big deal of the fact that she's on stage, so I think she decided to be off stage. She generally, on her own, decides how and when she wants to participate in the President's schedule.
Q How well do you think he will do tomorrow and do you think he will capture one or both Houses of Congress?
MR. MCCURRY: As a general matter today -- and I'll defer to Doug and Joe on this, too -- we're not making predictions about what the outcome of the election will be tomorrow. This election very shortly goes to the hands of the American people. They get to decide. All across the United States today the Democratic Party, those who support President Clinton are working very, very hard to get our vote out tomorrow.
And we are encouraged by a lot of the information we see in the same polls that you're looking at, that we think our best effort is aimed at turning out the largest vote we can. For us that is a state-by-state exercise and you all know that we have been looking at places where, as Doug has said on many occasions, we can maximize our electoral vote count, get the 270 that we need and get whatever beyond that we can achieve.
That's been our strategy all along and it has not been the case that we've gone around looking at ways to pile on votes in places where we don't need them just to add artificially to our popular vote count. What we're really looking at is how we can use the President's time state by state, use it effectively on behalf of candidates who are in close races, and use it, as we are here in Kentucky, to help the President's own chances in the electoral college. Do you want to add anything to that, Doug?
Q Are you hopeful that you will capture one or both Houses of Congress?
MR. MCCURRY: We're hopeful that if we work very, very hard tomorrow and turn out our vote and the American people respond, of course we're hopeful that we'll elect both Houses of Congress. There are a lot of close races. That's, indeed, conceivable but, you know, we're just not making any predictions.
Q Did the President know when he met with that speaker in Detroit that the guy had contributed half the amount that was raised at that October 21st fundraiser? Did he know the exact amount and did he have any qualms about taking it?
MR. MCCURRY: The President generally does not know when he's at an event who in the audience has contributed what.
Q But they don't get to meet with him unless they've contributed something fairly substantial, right?
MR. MCCURRY: They go to a fundraising event -- this is a fundraising event of which -- maybe Barry can tell you how many people were present, but there were a number of people present. And the point is, look, this is -- I'm not sure that -- we have acknowledged that we've taken large sum contributions. That's happened from any number of individuals and you've seen that duly reported.
Q -- what the point is --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm asking you what's the point.
Q I'm asking if he knew when he met this guy -- whose name I don't have on the tip of my tongue -- whether he knew how much he had given and the fact that he was the evening's major donor.
MR. MCCURRY: As far as I know, the President was not aware specifically of how much money that individual has contributed because -- he does not know that information when he goes to fundraisers.
Q Well, he knew that the guy wanted something because the guy was asking him about policy vis-a-vis Iraq.
MR. MCCURRY: The President, almost every single day and every single rope line and every single event has Americans talk to him about the subjects that they're interested in. The fact that a U.S. citizen who is of Iraqi background is concerned about the humanitarian condition of children in Iraq would not strike the President as being an unusual subject to be raised.
Q But certainly there's a distinction between somebody giving an enormous contribution to the Democratic Party in order to buy his way into access to the President to make a plea of this type. Why should it not be seen as that kind of case?
MR. MCCURRY: If you're making an assumption about the motive of the individual, if you've talked to the individual and established that was the motive of the individual, I'll respond to that. But I don't know that it is.
Q -- make sense that that's what he did, he was there, that he knew what he was doing.
MR. MCCURRY: You all apparently have interviewed the guy and understood what his motive was in contributing. People give money generally to candidates they support and they support them for a wide variety of reasons.
Q Mike, by your answer are we to take it then that you're not denying that these individuals asked the President for some kind of consideration, considering his policy toward Iraq?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll say again, virtually every time the President meets with any group anywhere people discuss concerns that they have and raise issues of concern. And the President responds, explains what his position is, what his policies are. That happens almost routinely.
Now, if the allegation here is that in some way or other any size financial contribution has an effect on policy, in this case the answer is obviously not because we have articulated the basis for U.S. policy with respect to Iraq. And as you know, we have not taken the position apparently advocated by this individual.
Q -- certain amount of money will get you a personal hearing?
MR. MCCURRY: That allegation is specifically denied. There are a lot of people getting personal hearings out on these ropelines who haven't given any money.
Q This was not a ropeline.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he was at an event that how many people were attending -- a large number of people attended.
Q And had private time with the President, didn't he?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I mean, look, you can go talk to the individual and assess for yourself whether the individual --what motive the individual had for contributing money, and I can tell you on what basis the President of the United States establishes -- bases policy towards Iraq. And it's not on the basis of financial contributions.
Q And since that meeting there was no change or consideration of change of U.S. policy toward Iraq?
MR. MCCURRY: Since that meeting there's been no change at all with respect to our policy towards Iraq. Saddam Hussein has to fully comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. And that argument, by the way, has been made by others; in fact, that argument has been made by foreign governments in bilateral discussions we have with foreign governments. And you all know our position on 986 oil sales; you all know our position with respect to the negotiations at the U.N. on how you'd provide humanitarian aid consistent with established U.N. Security Council resolutions. Indeed, there's very few subjects that have as high profile and fully vetted and discussed and reviewed as the exact matter upon which this individual apparently had an interest.
Now, we only know that based on comments apparently by his niece, so that's why I ask you if you're certain that you know what the motive is, you're in better shape than the newspaper that reported on the subject today.
Q Mike, housekeeping, you had told the pool, I guess, that there won't be a Thursday press conference. Do you have any sort of general guide?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not sure that there ever was a Thursday press conference. The President likes to have news conferences when there's news to make.
Q -- said last week in -- the President soon after the election will talk to the press.
MR. MCCURRY: No, I never said that formally. I said for planning purposes we might do that, but I'm reluctant now to tell you things on planning purpose because then that becomes a story that you want to make. So we'll have a news conference when we have news to make and we'll see when that might be.
Q Mike, it's been traditional for the winning candidates of presidential elections to hold a full-scale news conference usually the day after. Does the President plan to carry on the tradition --
MR. MCCURRY: Did Reagan do that?
Q Reagan did that, Bush did that.
MR. MCCURRY: All right. Well, we might do that, too, at some point. We believe in news conferences when there's news.
Q Well, is the election of the President news, or not?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again.
Q Is the election of the President and the outcome of the election --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President will be making news, we hope, tomorrow night when he speaks to the nation after the election results are in and most likely will speak again on Wednesday.
Q Mike, maybe reporters would like to ask the President about his plans for a second term, about personnel changes, about certain things that have come up that we haven't been able to speak to him about for the past three months -- you never know.
MR. MCCURRY: No, we never know. We might want to make him available for that kind of thing.
Q You said the President up to election was busy, you know, with the schedule, talking to the American people directly, and then that's why he couldn't have anything to the election. Why -- when do you think he will talk to the press then?
MR. MCCURRY: He will, as I said when we -- he likes to have news conferences when there's news to make and news to impart and he likes to entertain your questions because they're usually entertaining and he'll probably do that sometime soon. I'm not going to predict when.
Q Mike, is the trip to Dublin and Lisbon off, on or what?
MR. MCCURRY: There are different ways of answering that question at the moment, but we haven't answered it officially yet. I'm going to get some guidance and I'll come back to you.
Q What's the President's schedule going to be like tomorrow? Is he going to vote early and do you have any kind of sense of during the day?
MR. MCCURRY: Very tentatively, he had been thinking of voting late in the morning, spending some time with friends outside the hotel, then going back to the hotel to watch election returns. Since the First Lady just joined with them, they're probably going to review their plans and see what they want to do. We'll let you know precisely later today, but the general thinking was that we would not see the President vote much before noon.
Q After Wednesday -- Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, until he leaves for Hawaii, is it down time, rest time? Does he have business he hasn't taken care of?
MR. MCCURRY: He will have work that will be defined in part by the judgment the American people make tomorrow. And we'll let you know what the schedule is.
Q Is he not staying at his mother-in-law's condominium, or is he staying at a hotel?
MR. MCCURRY: He's not. He's staying at the hotel in part because the Gores will be at the hotel. They wanted -- be easier for people to be together staying in the same location.
Q At the Excelsior, right?
MR. MCCURRY: At the Excelsior.
Q What is the state of play in Ohio? And what did the Vice President eat for breakfast this morning?
MR. SOSNIK: I think I'll defer to Joe on what the Vice President had for breakfast. The polls in Ohio show us 6 or 7 points ahead of the polls this weekend as we come in to the election tomorrow. Let me also mention on the other state polls around the country, we've seen through our tracking and public polls no change in any of the states that would constitute a 270 electoral vote margin for us. So far, the pools have been study.
On the national polls, if you take the four network polls, the range for the President is between 49 and 53 percent of the vote; for Dole it's between 35 and 40 percent of the vote. Perot is getting 8 or 9 in all those. And as I was sitting here listening to Mike answer some of your questions, I watched Bill Schneider do his poll of polls, which I'm not sure is statistically anything that you can -- is statistically defensible, but Bill Schneider's poll of polls, which is a new creation, is 50-37-8.
Q What about the -- poll, 4 percent?
MR. SOSNIK: You should ask the people from Reuters about that. (Laughter.) The only other thing I wanted to mention is that apparently based on Michael Kelly's article today in the New Yorker, which Barry has got copies of if you all are interested, apparently Scott Reed's assessment of the cycle and what the key moments were and the rhythm of the cycle has largely been in agreement with what Joe and Mike and I have been saying to you for the last half-year. And we can provide a copy, as I said, of that article if you're interested and what the Dole campaign considered to be the pivotal moments of the campaign.
MR. LOCKHART: On the question of the Vice President's breakfast, I'm not sure what he had, but given the look on all your faces and how I'll feel, we'll be serving it tomorrow. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Any other subjects? Okay, that's it. You all are keeping good pace today. I know that's there's not filing time after these events, but we're rolling through this cycle. We will try to have transcripts on this event and so forth at our next stop, whichever that is.
Q Going back to Mark's question about the European trip, is there --
MR. MCCURRY: On the European trip, the United States government has been in close consultation with the European Union. We value highly the exchange of views we have at these summit meetings. The ability to do a summit meeting in December may be difficult, depending on the position the President is in at that point, whether he is preparing for a transition to a second term or a transition to a new government. We think it's more likely that that date might not hold and the President might not make that journey to Europe. We will make a final formal announcement when we are in a better position to do so, I hope shortly.
There, I told you without telling you. So -- (laughter.)
END 4:47 P.M. EST