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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 14, 1997
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                              MIKE MCCURRY
                     National Naval Medical Center
                           Bethesda, Maryland  

4:37 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: All right, everyone. I just want to gaggle quickly and give you an update.

Q Did they Lovett and Buffet?

MR. MCCURRY: He loved it and buffed it. Dr. Mariano called me a couple of minutes ago, said that they are closing up the cut that they made in the President, so they're very near completion. She estimates they should be done with the surgery in about 10 minutes or so. They will then put -- measure him and adjust him for his brace that he will wear, and take him back up to his suite for post-operation recovery.

Chelsea arrived around 3:30 p.m. after school and is going to be there with her Mom to greet her Dad when he arrives. The doctors report to Dr. Mariano that they were very pleased with the surgery and with the outcome.

So they're closing up now. And our plan is -- the doctors, as soon as they're satisfied that the President is in his suite and recovering, they're going to get changed and I'll bring them down here and they can walk you through exactly what they did and what they found and the outcome. But they report they're pleased with the outcome. They're probably going to be done in about 10-15 minutes. And we'll try to be down here by around 5:30 p.m.

Q Mike, any word on why it took longer than the projected time?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll leave that to the doctors. I don't think it was because of any complication. There were no complications that were reported to me.

Q Are they going to brief the First Lady before they come down?

MR. MCCURRY: They probably will talk to the patient and the family further. He remained alert throughout it, although, apparently, he dozed off once or twice during the procedure. But at one point he asked if he could have a book, and they said no because --

Q He asked if he could what?

MR. MCCURRY: If he could read a book. And they said no. He also took -- had a lot of fun, joking about the surgeons wear different kinds of caps or insignias of their colleges, so he was bantering a lot with some of them. At one point they actually took him to the X ray machine to X-ray the knee and they called out, "making a picture," and the President smiled and said, "cheese." (Laughter.) So he continued to banter away with them. Very talkative and cheerful during the procedure, Dr. Mariano said.

Okay. See you later on.

Q But you said he did doze off, though?


Q And was Al Gore in charge then? (Laughter.)

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 4:40 P.M. EST