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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 4, 1997
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                              MIKE MCCURRY

The Briefing Room

1:40 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to Lake Tahoe July 26. There. I made news.

Q For the afternoon.

MR. MCCURRY: Okay, bye, see you later. No, the President will participate in the Lake Tahoe summit to highlight the administration's environmental philosophies and concerns particularly as they relate to the Lake Tahoe Basin. Lake Tahoe has been a successful area for both conservation, the preservation of natural resources, tourism and economic development, in part because it struck necessary balances between development and preservation of a treasured natural resource. There's a lot to learn, a lot to think about, and a lot to study as we think to the future of that very important and beautiful part of the West.

Q Will the President avail himself to the recreational opportunities there?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it sounds like he is going from Lake Tahoe to Los Vegas to speak to the National Governors Association meeting on Monday, the 28th.

Q So the 26th then is a Saturday?

MR. MCCURRY: The 26th is a Saturday, and I think it's a two-day meeting, 26 and 27, and then on to Los Vegas for the NGA meeting on Monday. So no play time in Lake Tahoe. It's being announced on the Hill by some of the affected members of Congress. So we wanted to bring it to your attention.

Q He wouldn't then return to Lake Tahoe perhaps the following month to vacation?

MR. MCCURRY: I may not speculate on the President's vacation plans. As usual, I've said a lot of people are trying to make their summer plans and it helps when we know the First Family's plans, and at this point I think there are three separate plans. And at any point there is one concurrent plan we'll be able to say more.

Q Have we been through this four or five times --

MR. MCCURRY: You all know what the drill is on this.

Q We won't go until the last week of August.

Q Are you finished with your announcements?

Q Uh-oh. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Wolf's got something up his sleeve.

Q Near miss.

Q No, I just wondered if you have any more announcements.

MR. MCCURRY: We'll give you more on that as we have it. Do we have a longer piece of paper that has flowery quotes and more on the -- paper to follow.

Q Speaker Newt Gingrich has just released a letter to the President that he wrote today complaining about his VH-1 interview yesterday, an hour on television geared towards young people, and never once does he raise the issue of drugs, and that the President missed this important opportunity to discuss what he says is an issue of burning concern to young people.

MR. MCCURRY: Another slow day on the Hill, I guess. The Speaker didn't have other -- he's been watching too much VH-1, I guess. Well, the President will be happy to send him the whole transcript. In that, the President talks a lot about some of the spiritual importance that gospel music has played in his life, the source of strength that he's gotten from some music.

VH-1, if you know anything at all about cable, and maybe we can help the Speaker a little bit on this, is really geared for an older audience than the MTV audience. When the President was most recently on MTV, he had a lot to say about drugs and drug use. He's been talking frequently and often about the importance of discouraging drug use among younger people, but VH-1 tends to skew their audience share more to the age of people in this room.

Q Early 30s?

MR. MCCURRY: Maybe the Speaker -- if he didn't know that, maybe someone on his staff can educate him further.

Q Mike, is the Speaker a loser boomer --

MR. MCCURRY: A what?

Q -- as a White House official described the demographics of VH1 as being?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, since I am a VH1 viewer myself -- (laughter) -- I don't know that I would refer to that.

Q Was that loser or lizard?

MR. MCCURRY: Lizard, loser, I don't know. Sounds like a slow news day. I think the Speaker well knows the President's commitments on discouraging drug use among young people and maybe that was written by an over eager staffer or something.

Q Mike, what makes the President think that the FEC can do anything on soft money when Congress isn't acting on it and they don't have --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, because in part, through advisory opinions and interpretations of the '74 act, the current precedent and body of opinion on the use of non-federal or so-called soft money developed as a result of FEC actions. So the FEC, in the theory of the President, could also act affirmatively to undo some of the growth in the loophole that that provision represents.

It would be preferable, and we have always said it would be preferable to have a statutory change that would outlaw soft money as the McCain-Feingold/Meehan-Shays legislation does. But that ain't going anywhere anytime soon, it looks like, unfortunately.

Q Republicans have made a big issue in commenting on this story about whether the White House will move to stop union contributions, involuntary they call them.

MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely. This is -- the soft money ban the President proposes would also bar soft money contributions by organized labor, absolutely.

Q What about their paycheck deductions, which seems to be -- for political activity?

MR. MCCURRY: If money were deducted from paychecks and then used for soft money contributions, those soft money contributions would not be allowed on what the President has set forward. Real straightforward there.

Q Apparently, Mike, the President's proposal would not bar independent expenditures, however, which tend to favor Democrats.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's -- we're talking about soft money -- you're right, the President's concern and what he intends to communicate to the Commission about is so-called non-federal soft money expenditures. He does not explore the separate and unrelated area of independent expenditures. That may be worth further study. It could well be worth additional efforts in Congress to consider legislation.

It's not included, in my understanding, current versions of campaign finance legislation. And, by the way, nothing we would do with respect to the Federal Election Commission would discourage the President or dissuade the President from continuing to press ahead to urge Congress to pass campaign finance. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation, clearly, but this is a step that we believe can be taken through the regulatory process to at least get something going that would deal with some of the loopholes that have opened up in federal election law.

Q If I could follow that up, Mike, however, Senator McCain said today that there's not going to be significant Republican support for a ban on soft money unless independent expenditures is also banned, since those tend to favor Democrats, whereas soft money tends to favor Republicans. Why would the President propose a ban on one without the other, knowing how Republicans feel about --

MR. MCCURRY: Because we're dealing with the apples today, and maybe we'll deal with the oranges at a future date. But that's apples and oranges, when you compare the two. They are not directly related. If they were directly related, I think the Senator himself would have more directly related those issues in his own legislation, which he does not.

Q A bipartisan group of congressmen petitioned the FEC to take up this soft money issue, and the FEC decided yesterday that they would put this on the calendar for next week. The President's letter goes up, what, tomorrow -- goes out tomorrow? Is he just catching a wave here, or is he coming from behind on this? It looks like an opportunity, or what?

MR. MCCURRY: I think if and when the President addresses the issue, since as you know we've talked about doing this for some time, will have some very specific ideas of actions the Commission might want to consider. Getting it on the calendar is one thing, but actually proposing specific action is a separate thing.

Q So is this in response to the congressmen's petition to the FEC that he's acting?

MR. MCCURRY: No, we have been contemplating doing further work on the soft money issue in front of the Commission for quite some time, as has been reported for months now. And as I think several people know, we withheld any direct communication with the Commission partly at the request of Senator McCain, as a matter of fact, because we wanted to give him additional time to try to build support for the reform legislation that he has sponsored and that the President supports. They haven't been making much headway on the Hill, so we have indicated -- we've indicated all along that if there wasn't much headway being made on the Hill, we would need to try to find some other ways to jump-start the reform process.

Q Mike, as you mentioned this morning, the regulatory rate will take a lot longer than the legislative route. Is the President contemplating -- you also repeated that there wouldn't be any unilateral withdrawal on the soft money issue. Is the President contemplating perhaps calling for a moratorium by both parties on this again?

MR. MCCURRY: That has happened.

Q I mean, he's done it -- he did it --

MR. MCCURRY: We have fully endorsed the call -- the consistent call by two consecutive DNC chairs now to have that kind of moratorium. The Democratic National Committee has challenged the Republican National Committee to institute that kind of ban. So they're prepared to do it, the President has endorsed that, absolutely.

Q Is he going to couple this with any kind of a reiteration of that?

MR. MCCURRY: That is an issue in which the President supports a challenge that the Democratic Party has made directly to the Republican Party to let's just both disarm. That's really not an issue for the Commission. I think the argument he makes to the Commission is more --

Q I don't mean the Commission. I mean is he going to couple his release of this letter to the Commission with another public call for this moratorium?

MR. MCCURRY: Sure, I'll do it right now. The President will certainly reaffirm his support for the ban on soft money contributions and reiterate to the Republican National Committee that he will support and instruct the Democratic National Committee to cease and desist from taking these contributions if the Republican Party will do so as well.

Q But in the meanwhile, he'll take the money?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. We are not going to put ourselves as a competitive disadvantage. We've been through that issue over and over again here and you know our thinking on that.

Q But, Mike, as many times as you've said that, I wonder how you could ask the Republicans to do so by not moving on independent expenditures, where the Democrats have an advantage.

MR. MCCURRY: Look, I'm not -- you should really, if you're interested in independent expenditures, look into independent expenditure activity on behalf of the Republican Party and their candidates -- Elizabeth Drew has just written a book that focuses on that among other things -- and look and see what kind of activity there is on both parties. I'm not an expert here, and that's not an issue that the President is immediately dealing with.

It is, by the way, not an area that has produced nearly the problems that the soft money loophole produced in the course of the 1995-'96 cycle. All of your news organizations have been reporting on that, and the substance -- the most substantive areas of concern, because of activity in 1996 and 1996, grew out of the soft money contributions. So it seems to me proper for the President to devote his attention and focus to an area that has been the dominant area of concern in the reports that many of you have written about.

Q But producing substantial Republican complaints, especially in light of the $30 million or $40 million --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, they're trying to change the issue, okay. They're trying to change the issue. They don't want to talk about a ban on soft money. Otherwise, they'd meet the President's challenge and agree that they would set that money aside and move on. That would be an important element of reform. They don't want to do it. And I think Senator McCain has been pretty candid in explaining why.

Q Could you please confirm that Mr. Richard Holbrooke will be the next presidential envoy for the Cyprus issue?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't believe I need to, because I believe that's just been announced at the State Department, and the President obviously supports and welcomes the appointment.

Q As long as you're on diplomatic appointments --


Q -- how about Weld? Are you going to go ahead with the Weld nomination in the face of opposition by the Chairman?

MR. MCCURRY: I think the President thinks he would make an excellent U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Governor Weld has been supported now by a wide range of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, including Republican members of Senator Helms' own committee. And for those who are interested in good, effective representation in Mexico City, I think there will be a lot of support for the nomination.

For those who are more concerned about intramural Republican politics, there will probably be some back-and-forth on this. We hope Secretary Albright can have a good conversation with Chairman Helms and satisfy any concerns he has and we can move on to a confirmation.

Q But as the Chairman has observed, he can't get nominated without a hearing.

MR. MCCURRY: He can -- I mean, we have lots of ways, even though we sometimes have different points of view with Chairman Helms, we have lots of ways to move the business of the nation forward. And I suspect in this matter we can work hard and see if we can satisfy his concerns and move forward. But, again, Chairman Helms is certainly mindful of the fact that even within his own committee, his Republican colleagues have expressed a great deal of public support for Governor Weld.

Q But are Helms' plans going to hold up the process of appointments?

MR. MCCURRY: Sure. And then we'll have to talk to him and work something out.

Q For example -- the appointment for Japan, for example, is that going to cause any more --

MR. MCCURRY: I have no idea. I haven't heard the Chairman link Governor Weld's appointment.

Q I mean in the whole process of appointments, is this sort of thing going to cause a setback that could delay it?

MR. MCCURRY: We nominate and they advise and consent. So for the advice and consent you have to go ask them.

Q Mike, does the White House support the call by the Independent Pilot's Association for universal inflation of traffic alert and collision avoidance systems on planes?

MR. MCCURRY: We support the careful, methodic review that is going on by the FAA of that issue.

Q Well, Mike, they say it will create delay in the FAA making the rules. They put them on passenger jets, Air Force One -- why not the 750 other jets?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure the FAA will respond to that.

Q Could you please confirm information that President Clinton has called a meeting between the Prime Minister Greece and Turkey during the July NATO summit in Madrid, since Mr. Simitis is almost ready for compromises -- for over 100 of Greek islands in the Aegean?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans for any trilateral meeting of that nature in Denver.

Q Mike, the White House said that --

Q He said Madrid.

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, in Madrid? Madrid, too. (Laughter.) Denver, Madrid.

Q Tahoe.

MR. MCCURRY: No, I think the next steps -- the steps that we are aware of is that we do expect direct talks between President Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash to occur in July in New York.

Q Mike, on Weld, do you know what Helms' concerns are specifically? Are they the type of specific concerns that can, in fact, be satisfied or addressed, or is it just a general --

MR. MCCURRY: The concerns that I heard him express were the ones that were publicly quoted in his television interview, and I think they were pretty straightforward as expressed by the Chairman. They struck us as being more growing out of some of the politics of the Republican Caucus and the Republican Party than out of any great concern about diplomacy or Governor Weld's ability to effectively represent the President, the United States as an ambassador.

Q For example, he's not conservative enough?

MR. MCCURRY: You could certainly draw an inference from the Chairman's remarks that he had concerns in that direction. So that leads us to think this is more really about disputes within the Republican Party, and we think they can resolve those. And I think even Republican senators understand that the President has some deference due when it comes to appointing ambassadors.

Q So are you relying on the Republicans, perhaps, to solve this?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there are a number of Chairman Helms' colleagues -- Senator Lugar, Senator Coverdell, Senator Ashcroft, Senator Phil Gramm, other noted commentators in the Republican Party -- who have spoken very positively and approvingly about Governor Weld. And they're all out there publicly now, and I imagine they will want to weigh in with Chairman Helms. We hope they would.

Q Mike, was the White House aware of Senator Helms' concerns about Governor Weld, or was this something that just appeared?

MR. MCCURRY: He had publicly expressed some concerns about that and we knew that. But Chairman Helms very frequently disagrees with foreign policy decisions by the administration; that doesn't prevent us from dong business and moving ahead.

Q Mike, on this eighth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, there seems to be a widespread coalition ranging from Nancy Pelosi and Richard Gephardt on the Democratic side, all the way over to Pat Buchanan and Gary Bauer on the Republican side. Is the White House beginning to feel the heat in its decision to go forward on MFN for China?

MR. MCCURRY: This is -- normal trade relations with China have never prevented us from simultaneously advancing our human rights concerns and pressing very vigorously and aggressively in a variety of places to try to change the behavior of the Chinese leadership. We have, in fact, sometimes paid a price for that in the international fora, in trade and economic decisions that have been made. And we pay that price willingly, in part because of the events that did occur in Tiananmen Square.

Our view has long been that in time a more effective economic engagement with China through normal trade relations is a way to remain in a position to have some influence on them as we draw them more closely into the world community. As they continue to enjoy the benefits of commerce with democratic market capitalist countries they inevitably are going to see some of the impact of that system of doing business infiltrate and have some impact on their own society.

The alternative, of course, is to declare economic war on China, isolate them, suspend any kind of normal trade relations, suffer the consequences and, most likely, see China turn in a much more dangerous direction. And then those who currently are arrayed against the administration's view would be asking the question, who lost China. And I think that would be a grievous outcome. The President is convinced that remaining engaged with them is a way to have some real impact on the kind of behavior that was so tragically manifested at Tiananmen Square on this anniversary.

Q Mike, the issue with cloning, the Ethics Commission is coming out with their final study this weekend. And what is the President's feeling on this whole issue, especially since the committee is saying human embryo cloning for research?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President's views on the general issue are those that he expressed when he asked his Bioethics Advisory Commission to look specifically into this issue. They're going to meet over the weekend. They're going to consider their final report. There's been some reporting on that, but the general thrust of it is to be quite properly skeptical about human cloning, just as the President was when he gave the charge to the commission.

Now, on the specific subject of human embryo research, remember that in 1994 the President directed the National Institute of Health not to fund the creation of human embryos for research purposes. So there is not a federally funded research program that would be affected by this. And how the commission comes out on that question generally we'll await the final report to see.

Q Mike, what's the White House reaction -- and I would stress "White House reaction" -- to the President of the National Organization of Women opposing Bob Bennett's threatened tactics in the Paula Jones case?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not going to comment on that until Mr. Bennett speaks further on it.

Q Let me follow up, if I may. What's the President's position on victims of sexual crimes being questioned about their past sexual history?

MR. MCCURRY: He supports the versions or provisions of the Violence Against Women Act that he signed.

Q What does that mean?

MR. MCCURRY: You can see the act and you'll understand.

Q The President said he would veto the supplemental appropriations bill if it contained the automatic -- what about the other controversial provisions, like the census sampling issue and rights of women?

MR. MCCURRY: We have raised a number of concerns about this. They range in objectionability to having had some senior adviser veto suggestions made against them to others that are more explicit coming from individual Cabinet members. But there are a number of extraneous issues that are tying up this very necessary piece of legislation. They need to pass a clean piece of disaster assistance legislation and get on with aiding the victims of the recent damage in the Plains states who need help, and others who are subject to assistance under federal disaster declarations.

There is no reason to tie up this legislation with all these extraneous measures. They have other ways of doing that. The people who need help need to get the help. The communities that need help need to get that help. And they ought to just move on and pass the legislation.

Q Mike, Senator Lott seems to think, though, that he could perhaps work out some sort of compromise language on this CR provision that would satisfy the President's concerns.

MR. MCCURRY: We have already demonstrated that we can work together with Senator Lott to work out differences and come to agreements. Of course, we can. But that is absolutely no -- that's all the more reason not to tie up this very necessary piece of emergency legislation. He ought to let that go ahead to final passage, move on, and, of course, we would work with him to work out provisions related to continuing resolutions. It just doesn't have any business being on this very necessary piece of legislation that affects so many people in so many communities.

Q On the campaign finance issue, if the President is really committed to this soft money ban proposal, would he use his appointive powers to effect a change in the FEC lineup to make it more sympathetic to --

MR. MCCURRY: They can -- certainly, the things the President will suggest to the Commission they could take action with the current Commission. And, of course, we are simultaneously going to look to find the strongest, best, most qualified, and most expert potential members of the Commission. But because that has to be a bipartisan process since there are Republican-suggested nominees as well, we will obviously need to work with members of the other party to make sure we have exactly those kinds of nominees.

Q Does he seek nominees who specifically support his plan and support tougher enforcement --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll look for someone who, I think, in terms of the President's appointees, people who share the President's general philosophy. I'm a little reluctant to say there is a litmus test on any particular issue, but, obviously, the President will very strongly urge the Commission to act in a certain direction, and it's natural to think that he would want nominees that would understand and embrace that kind of thinking.

Q At what point is that process now? At what point are you in the process of --

MR. MCCURRY: I understand that they are still working to fill the vacancies that exist, but they've got some -- and I think there are expirations -- are there some terms that expire coming up in the FEC? So I think we're already anticipating those.

Q So you haven't started looking, or you have candidates, or where --

MR. MCCURRY: I think they are looking, and they're pretty far along in the search process.

Q Going back to China, that was a very eloquent phraseology you used, but couldn't that be used to rethink American policy towards North Korea and Cuba?

MR. MCCURRY: There are substantial differences in both those cases. We've done the whole question of why China and not Cuba before, and I can do that again if you want me to. But with North Korea, we have a much different set of concerns and issues that reflect all the things that we are pursuing with them in the very limited dialogue we have underway with them now.

Q But they're isolated and they have turned inward. We've isolated them and they are inward and radical-minded --

MR. MCCURRY: They are also -- we are also engaged in a process that we hope will lead to some kind of talks that would lead to the ultimate reunification of the Koreas and peace on the Peninsula. And that's a different process.

Q When the McVeigh jury concludes its work, do you think that the President will make any kind of gesture or conclusory event to kind of bring the event to closure?

MR. MCCURRY: I would not rule that out. There's nothing to my knowledge that's planned currently, but we've been very circumspect at the direction of the Court in commenting on the case while the jury is still deliberating. But the President has thought a lot about it and a little bit of that was reflected in the written statement we made earlier in the week.

Q Just because there's just been so much emotion surrounding this issue, and it seems like this next phase is even more intense than the -- there seems to be a hunger for some statement.

MR. MCCURRY: I think the President really understands that, but also understands the importance of him respecting the judicial process that's underway.

Q Realistically, how long could it take the FEC to act on something like this --

MR. MCCURRY: They could conceivably have a rule-making process that could move very quickly. The reality is -- and we're not kidding ourselves here -- the reality is it would take quite some time. I mean, it would really be better for the commission itself to provide an estimate. But rule-making procedures of that nature do require some time. We would hope that they could act expeditiously, but again, we fully acknowledge that the best possible thing to do would be to change the statute and to make the ban complete, and we've got a vehicle to do that, which is Senator McCain's own bill.

Q Mike, I'm kind of hungry for a statement, so can I come back to this Jones case one more time?

MR. MCCURRY: You can, but I'm not going to help you, David. And it's quite clear.

Q If this is part legal battle, part public relations battle, how is the White House faring?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not going to comment on that, and it's not -- it's for you to judge, not for me to comment on.

Q Under the last five years or so, soft money contributions have gone up dramatically. Hasn't a lot of that been actually spearheaded by President Clinton, and have any Presidents raised more soft money than he?

MR. MCCURRY: We had -- both parties raised unprecedented sums in the '95-'96 cycle. In fact, I think it's now true -- the Republican Party probably raised slightly more in non-federal money, they were roughly competitive in the category of non-federal money. But that loophole in the law is one that I think is of sufficient concern that a number of people on both sides of the aisle believe it ought to be closed.

Q Back to the census-sampling question. Where is there room for negotiation --

MR. MCCURRY: Back to. Did we have a census --

Q You had mentioned sampling when you were talking about the flood bill.

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, yes, because of the different provisions or concerns, yes.

Q Where would you find room to negotiate between the Republican decision not to do sampling and the Census Bureau proposal to do sampling?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's not really just sort of us against them on that issue; it's whether or not you're going to have an accurate count of Americans. And I think most -- the technical experts who have looked at this question say that without some sampling technique, in certain parts of the country, you're never going to get an accurate count.

I think the question is, do you really want to have an accurate census or not. And we think we've made a very good technical, reasonable, logical argument about why you need that technique. It's been supported and embraced by a whole range of people who have looked at the census. And we think in the interest of accuracy, ultimately, the Congress is going to want to have provisions that allow for an accurate census.

Q -- if it has not been embraced by the GOP congressional leadership?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, again, I mean, we'll sell it the way we sell anything with the Republican Congress. We work through the issue, consult with them, hear each other out. But what you shouldn't do is make an issue -- we're talking about this because they're making an issue like that a barrier to passing this very necessary disaster assistance relief measure. It makes no sense. They're trying to cram all -- it's obvious it has nothing to do with fixing the needs, addressing the needs of people who have faced a natural disaster.

And what we're saying is, let's work on those issues. We pledge to work though those issues, to consider their concerns, and to make our arguments and resolve these matters amicably. But that's just not the way to address the needs of people who are suffering in communities that need some help.

Two more in the back of the room.

Q Mike, I'm a little confused about your response to David on the Violence Against Women Act. The act says that in cases arising from alleged sexual offenses that you can't use the sexual history of that person in the case, whether it's civil or criminal cases. How does that mesh?

MR. MCCURRY: In sexual harassment cases, correct.

Q Cases arising --

MR. MCCURRY: Arising --

Q Cases arising from sexual harassment.

MR. MCCURRY: That's a good question to ask Mr. Bennett.

Q Does the President intend to nominate Charles Rossotti as IRS Commissioner?

MR. MCCURRY: I saw that report, it looked like a good report to me. But we haven't made any formal announcement.

Q -- nomination come before the commission --

MR. MCCURRY: It's like any other announcement that I never quite make here. It, you know, will happen sooner or later and by the time we put out the piece of paper you will have long forgotten about it. (Laughter.)

Q I know you're trying to dodge this thing, but that's not really what --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not trying to dodge it, I'm trying to tell you I want Bob Bennett to address this issue because I'm not going to. Can I make myself any more clearer than that?

Q No, but it's not legitimate, Mike, for the President of the United States to have his spokesman say, my lawyer is doing something I'm in conflict with, so talk to my lawyer about it.

MR. MCCURRY: David, the President's spokesman said that he supports the provisions of the Violence Against Women's Act that he signed. That's a significant comment.

Q So does that mean that the President's lawyer is in the wrong?

MR. MCCURRY: That means that the President's lawyer is going to address the issue and I'm not.

Q So is the President's lawyer now not going to do what he said he was going to do on Sunday?

MR. MCCURRY: I said -- you should ask him that. Why are you asking me that question?

Q He's unavailable.

Q He doesn't return our phone calls.

Q He isn't answering this question.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he should. (Laughter.)

Q -- getting to answer the question?

MR. MCCURRY: I think I just did.

Q On a lighter subject, how does the President feel as a father when his daughter went out to the prom last night?

MR. MCCURRY: He felt like a proud father, and it was a private moment.

Q And was it a nice time for --

MR. MCCURRY: They had a wonderful time. They went out and had a private family time and I'm just going to leave it private. Okay. Thanks.

END 2:10 P.M. EDT