THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (New York, New York) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release February 18, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
Marriott Hotel-East Side New York, New York
3:15 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Denmark. What news of Denmark. We're going to Denmark. You did not see that the White House has just announced that the President of the United States will visit the Kingdom of Denmark on March 21st.
Q Is that an overnight? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Is it an overnight?
MS. GLYNN: It's in conjunction with the trip to Helsinki, so one of them will be an overnight.
MR. MCCURRY: This is immediately after the President's meeting with Boris Yeltsin, on his way home.
Q So does that mean that he's just going to spend a few hours there, or is he going to spend Friday night there?
MR. MCCURRY: There's no overnight indicated. It looks like a stop on the way back. He'll see the Queen, have bilateral meetings, have an enjoyable time.
Q Will we come home after that, or is there another trip planned for that end of the trip?
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't seen anything tacked on to the end of that trip. I think that's the stop before we return home.
Q So that means that we would get up in the morning in Helsinki, fly to Denmark for a few hours --
MR. MCCURRY: Wolf, I don't have the full itinerary. We'll get it to you as soon as we have it available.
What else do we want to know?
Q Has the President had a chance to think about the Kenneth Starr decision to become dean of Pepperdine Law School?
MR. MCCURRY: No. He's been too busy with the exciting program we've offered up today to dwell on those matters.
Q Given the stakes, Mike, is it realistic to assume that the President had no reaction to this news?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say he had, I just said I had no reaction to share with you.
Q So you know of a reaction, but you're not willing to share?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know of a reaction; I didn't ask him. I said, I assume you had no reaction to that because that's what I'm going to tell people and he said, that's right.
Q Have you asked the President about it?
MR. MCCURRY: No.
Q Can we?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, we don't have a clue what it means. We have no comment on it. Enough said. Let's turn to something more interesting.
Q At the first event this morning Congressman Rangel suggested that you couldn't trust Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki with welfare reform. He got a lot of applause; the President didn't disagree. Should we conclude the President shares that opinion?
MR. MCCURRY: No. You've have heard the President often say that it will take hard work by everyone -- the private sector, elected officials at all levels of government -- to make welfare reform a success. He was here in New York today on that subject to press the case that members of the faith community can play their role. But certainly governors can, mayors can and all across the country the President has been stressing that case.
One reason he's gone to state legislatures and will in the future, specifically, is because of the role that states must play in making welfare reform a success. And we look forward to working closely with the Mayor and the Governor as welfare reform becomes a reality in New York City and New York State.
Q Why didn't he disagree with what Rangel said? I mean, he let it stand.
MR. MCCURRY: Because we also look forward to working with distinguished members of the Congress, like Charlie Rangel.
Q Wait, Mike, but didn't the President suggest that he differed with the way the states and city are not allowing people to go to college, but making them work instead?
MR. MCCURRY: We've got some views on the New York welfare reform effort, but they are consistent with what the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated in their negotiations with the state and city government on both the waivers executed and also the general implementation under the new act.
Q Well, what does that mean?
MR. MCCURRY: It means that they're in dialogue with them on different aspects of their plans, and I'm not going to characterize those. It's really appropriate for the Department of Health and Human Services to characterize their view of the state and city's efforts to implement welfare reform because they deal directly with the state and the city.
Q Mike, what elements of the trip today does DSCC pay for?
MR. MCCURRY: They pay a portion that reflects what is a hypothetical round trip to and from New York, involving the President's travel costs and the costs associated with the event itself. I'm not -- don't know exactly how they calculate that, but the portion of the trip that is clearly for the political purpose of attending the press conference is paid for out of political funds. And the DSCC will be the entity that reimburses the Treasurer.
Q And if the President had spent the night here then that price would have been more expensive, right? That's why we're leaving?
MR. MCCURRY: Not to my knowledge, no. I mean, it's been the President's peculiar habit, as you know, to always fly onward to the next destination, no matter what time of night.
Q Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is refusing to make public a list of who is at this fundraiser tonight. Will you guys?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we don't have the list; it's their event. But I'll remind you that anyone that contributes proceeds pursuant to the event tonight fully discloses their contributions. So those names will be made public.
Q Is it fair to say then that the White House has no idea who the President is meeting with tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we will get some sense of who the guests are that the President might likely encounter, who the President knows who might also have assisted his own political efforts in the past who would be attending the event. He'll get the standard briefing that he gets on an event of this nature.
Q Does this event -- the new rule about who he has his picture taken with -- does that fall under this trip?
MR. MCCURRY: We've let the Senate Committee know of some of the ways in which we now ask that the hosting events structure the events, and they've, as far as we know, comported to our wishes on those matters.
Q But, Mike, when you say you get a briefing on who will be there, when is that? Is that today? Does the White House know right now --
MR. MCCURRY: Like any event, he gets a list of things that are there -- he gets -- a guy hands him a card as he goes in, sort of here are some of the people you may want to acknowledge. We'll do it the normal way we do it.
Q -- for embarrassment, wouldn't the White House just simply request that these names be made public?
MR. MCCURRY: The names of those contributing tonight are made public because we have financial disclosure laws that require the names to be made public. We're not inventing here on the spot a new process for financial disclosure. There is a process, it works, it's available to you; the names are made public. That's the way business is done.
Q What was the President's reaction to some of the criticism this morning on welfare reform?
MR. MCCURRY: He thought it was a vigorous discussion. He was glad that it might have sparked some more interest on your part, and he knows that there are strong feelings in parts of the community about welfare reform, which makes it all the more important to confront those disagreements and bring people together to make welfare reform a success and not a problem.
Q Mike, Senator Moynihan asserted today that the President had endorsed the existing ISTEA formula --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry?
Q Senator Moynihan asserted during this morning's meeting that he had concluded the President had endorsed the existing ISTEA formula, which New York likes and Texas doesn't want. Is that the President's view that he's endorsed that formula?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think the President took a specific point of view on federal transportation funding and the formulas used to distribute it.
Q MIke, I know on Friday, you said that the reason you're doing this fundraising is that fundraising doesn't stop under all the new campaign finance reform. But some groups are saying that it's very early in the campaign cycle, this is for 1998 and it sends a completely contradictory message for the President to be out fundraising so early --
MR. MCCURRY: I strongly disagree and strongly disagree with those groups. Campaign finance reform does not require taxpayers to pick up the bill for campaigns. And the advocates of reform ought to have -- ought to make that clear to the public so we can build support for the campaign finance reform legislation that's pending. There will be fundraisers because we're not asking for the taxpayer to pay for campaigns through public funding. They will be privately funded, therefore there will be fundraisers. And I think it's important for groups that support reform that we're working with to make that clear to the public unless they're bolting on their own reform measures and now advocating public finance.
Good. See you in Boston. Yes?
Q Pataki and Giuliani were not at the event this morning, but they're on your list. Do you know what that's about?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, we checked and had conversations as far back as a week ago with their schedulers to alert them to the fact the President would be in New York. I don't think we completed the details for today's events until over the weekend, but we had at least some indication that they were going to be present. I understand the Governor had an alternative schedule requirement, and I understand the Mayor and the President may talk by phone later on today. No harm, no foul.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:27 P.M. EST