THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
1:33 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right, let's have our daily briefing on Tuesday, the 10th of June.
Q Our 1:00 p.m. briefing?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I apologize, a little bit late here. Some of your colleagues were otherwise engaged so, of course, I wanted to wait for them to be done. I was my habitual tardy self, anyhow. Sorry.
Q So what else is new? What happened with the Gephardt?
MR. MCCURRY: What happened with "the Gephardt"? You mean -- (laughter) -- is that a new thing, "the Gephardt"? (Laughter.) He had a good meeting. I ran into him on the way out. He said he had a good meeting with the President; the President said he had a good meeting with Minority leader. So they had a good meeting.
Q Do you expect the President to support the House Democratic alternative tax cut proposal?
MR. MCCURRY: I think there are a lot of features of Mr. Rangel's bill that are very attractive, and they certainly are working in the same neck of the woods that we are in trying to fashion a bill that provides middle income tax relief and make sure that we keep tax relief targeted on things that provide incentives for education.
So a lot to work with; we have some different approaches in the President's legislation, as you know, but plenty to talk about.
Q Do you think the President will endorse the House Democratic alternative?
MR. MCCURRY: There is not going to be either/or's in the process of writing a tax bill. We're going to bring ideas to the discussion; House Democrats will have some. You know the President sees Senate members -- Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee this afternoon. They will no doubt have some ideas, too. I think that a lot of people have good ideas, but they have to be consistent with those four tasks the President laid out for you today -- most important, of course, consistent with the bipartisan balanced budget agreement.
Q Do you know why the President today said the Republicans only have $22 billion in educational tax cuts, even though they promised $35; and yesterday, Secretary Rubin said the Republicans have $31 in educational tax cuts?
MR. MCCURRY: Unless the answer is the $22 billion is the amount in the Archer bill that corresponds to the HOPE Scholarship concept, and then --
MR. TOIV: And the $31 included their other educational proposals.
MR. MCCURRY: They have other educational proposals that are not based on administration proposals, that are not necessarily a bad thing, but they're not in that $35 billion box that's specifically referred to in the balanced budget agreement.
Q Has there been any further progress between the White House and the Hill on getting the disaster relief bill back in a form that the President is willing to deal with?
MR. MCCURRY: There's been discussions back and forth, but nothing that would indicate so far that the Republican majority in Congress is willing to drop the extraneous provisions to send the President a stripped-down, clean bill.
Q But you talked this morning?
MR. MCCURRY: There have been staff level discussions during the course of the day today. And we'll continue to see if there's not some way that we can get on with business.
Q Are you willing to take something other than a totally stripped-down bill? Are you willing to talk? Are you willing to deal?
MR. MCCURRY: We're willing to -- as I said earlier today, we are willing to take a look at whatever they have, but I think the President's made it pretty clear that he doesn't want a lot of political items attached to this bill for disaster relief.
Q Right, but I think the question is, is anything short of a clean bill --
MR. MCCURRY: Just a straight, clean bill, stripped-down -- you know, we'll take a look. That's our preference. We'll take a look at any other ideas they have. We haven't heard any so far.
Q What would the White House think of a proposal that would have the CR language only be in effect for 30 to 60 days?
MR. MCCURRY: You can try to take a lot of bubble gum and string and paper clips and jury rig something that might look right, and we'll take a look at it. It probably wouldn't be very attractive in any event, but we'll look at it.
Q You're not ruling it out?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm saying that we haven't heard anything that sounds satisfactory so far.
Q What was the point of putting the President in the Rose Garden and the Vice President up in the Senate Gallery bashing the Republican leadership for attaching these unacceptable provisions to the bill? Does that make for the kind of atmosphere that would produce a compromise?
MR. MCCURRY: Sure.
Q How so?
MR. MCCURRY: It makes them feel the heat. And that's what we're trying to do here. They've done -- they've played around on this thing for a long time. We sent this bill there 80 days ago, as the President pointed out today. And they insisted, even though they knew exactly the response they would get from the President to play games on this bill and attach political measures to it, and so we want to make them feel the heat now and so that they can get on with the business they ought to be doing, and we can get back to working in a bipartisan fashion and a common-sense way, reaching for that bridge to the 21st century and all the other good things we're going to do.
Q Mike, is there some risk for the President on this, because we heard some people interviewed in North Dakota today who said --
MR. MCCURRY: They say we're all goofballs back here, yes.
Q But who also said, it was the President who came out here and promised us that we would get our disaster relief, and thus we expect the President to deliver.
MR. MCCURRY: I think they know -- we are confident that the people know how hard the President is working to try to get this bill, how we have pressed them continuously to pass this assistance package, and I think they know that we are fighting here on an important principle, which is the disaster relief needs to go forward, the two provisions that are clearly political, clearly designed to favor the Republican Party's point of view ought not to be a part of this debate.
The President has made it clear over and over again we can have that debate some other day, but let's not forget the folks who need this assistance.
Q But, Mike, don't you see that some of these victims are pretty much saying, we don't care if you swallow this CR or not, give us the money, regardless of what your feelings about --
MR. MCCURRY: Maybe so. I think sometimes our little debates back here in Washington seem pretty remote to people, particularly if they're dealing with an emergency situation or dealing with the aftermath of the terrible flooding that many of these folks have faced. I think they probably don't understand what language is being spoken back here, but this is real simple. This is about two things that represent the political agenda of the Republican Majority in Congress, they want to try to stack the budget fight to favor them in the event that we get to the end of the fiscal year and nothing's happened, and quite frankly, they don't want to count as many blacks and Hispanics as there are in this country, which is the other half of this, which is the census provision. And that's, bottom line, what this is about and it has nothing to do with disaster relief and we want to get on with passing a disaster relief measure.
Q Anything new on the President's remarks tomorrow night at this fundraiser? Are they still closed?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. No. Knowing of your -- we talked to the DNC today and said, look, we have got to try to keep at least some portion of this available for coverage, so the pool will be there for the President's remarks. And the President, in candor, will have a discussion with them that is about DNC budget and spending priorities and other things that I think are proprietary to the party and they will conduct that conversation in private. But we'll keep some -- the President's remarks at the beginning to the group will be open for coverage.
Q So he won't talk about how they're going to win in 1998?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, he'll talk about the hard work that goes into building a successful campaign, sure.
Q Wait a minute, Mike. The President -- let me just get this straight -- part of the President's remarks will be open to TV cameras, but other parts won't be open?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll let his remarks -- his remarks will be open and then their discussion afterwards will be closed. A little similar to what we do here each and every day of the week.
Q So last week he ask the FEC to ban soft money and tomorrow night he asks the Democrats to spend the next year raising soft money.
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, yeah, okay, let's play the gotcha game one more time. Yes. Next question.
Q Did he not -- wait a minute. Did he assume that the FEC wouldn't do anything?
MR. MCCURRY: We did not think the FEC would act on his petition by the time of this event, nor do we think they're probably going to act during, you know, the balance of this year, as near as we can tell. We hope they would. We wish they would. But it's not going to happen. We're still going to have to have a competitive 1998 campaign. We're not going to unilaterally concede the 1998 election to the Republican Party; I'll make that announcement right now.
Q Mike, can we go back to this census issue. What is the evidence that the Republicans don't want to count the minorities, specifically.
MR. MCCURRY: Because the undercount is predictably and historically and statistically in those areas which are largely inner city urban areas, in which there are high concentration of those racial compositions present. And, by the way, you should all be alert to a very important study that's coming out under the sponsorship of the National Research Council, which is made up of the National Academy of Sciences, about the importance of statistical estimation if you want to have accuracy in a census.
There's a report coming out at 5:00 p.m. today on that subject. I think it provides very powerful argument that if we're going to spend $4 million for a census, it ought to be an accurate one. And the only way to make it accurate is to have a statistical sampling. And a lot of the evidence and the history of the undercount in 1990 and 1980 play into some of the discussion we're having now.
Q Mike, back on the fundraising issue for a second. Back in January, the President appeared at a DNC event up at the Hilton and announced a number of reforms that the party was going to undertake unilaterally. One of them was that no person was going to donate, or no company was going to donate, more than $100,000. Now it appears, with this event tomorrow night, that people are going to be asked to donate $100,000 and have another $150,000 earmarked or something along those lines. Can you explain --
MR. MCCURRY: I can't. I do not know what -- how they are structuring the donor program that they provide. You have to ask the DNC. I just simply don't know. I have not talked to them about it.
Q But didn't the President make the announcement that it would be reduced to $100,000?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I would hope that they are acting consistent with what the President said. I just don't know. You can check with the DNC people.
Q You used that he wouldn't unilaterally disarm all through the last campaign. You've paid a heavy price for it. Don't you people learn anything?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, what's the lesson we're supposed to learn, Helen? What's the question?
Q The lesson is that all the things that happened that really went wrong because of the lack of checking, the lack of --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, those are not -- that's not a problem that I'm aware of. As far as I know, they're checking, they're screening, they're doing -- they have a lot different procedures in place now than they did before. What they do have is a system in this country in which the political parties raise money privately to conduct campaigns, because we have not gone to the taxpayers and said we want X hundreds of millions of dollars to publicly finance campaigns. As long as we're going to have politics and campaigns in this country paid for by private sources, we're going to have to have fundraisers. Okay? That's just not going to change. And you play this gotcha game on us every time we announce we have a fundraiser -- we're going to have fundraisers. Unless you want to turn around and, you know, mount the bully pulpit in a journalistic crusade --
Q You don't think you've paid a price with this administration?
MR. MCCURRY: -- on behalf of public's financing, which I haven't seen any of you do, we're going to have fundraisers and we're going to have to do this.
Q It's not a gotcha game; it's showing these contradictions.
Q Mike, can I ask another question about this. I mean, presumably he's going to be up there talking, at least in the private part, about kind of the strategy and tactics of this '98 cycle. But will you tell us, presumably the goal is to elect a Democratic Congress, or no?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, of course.
Q What is the goal? That's the goal. Okay. Could you tell us what is the rationale for electing a Democratic Congress? Why does he want --
MR. MCCURRY: Is that a trick question? (Laughter.) Did I miss --
Q No, I mean, it's not often that you hear that around here. I'm just checking.
MR. MCCURRY: Of course. Absolutely.
Q What is it that he wants to accomplish with a Democratic Congress that he cannot with this Congress?
MR. MCCURRY: I think the President believes that we could advance the agenda he's put before the American people most explicitly and fulsomely in the State of the Union address. It would be easier to do that and to accomplish those purposes if we had a Democratic majority.
Q And since he's done so well with Republicans so far -- I mean, you've got a budget deal, you've got Chemical Weapons Treaty -- what are those things that he cannot do.
MR. MCCURRY: Admittedly, you're correct. The President is enormously persuasive and has been able to exert some of his will working with the Republican majority in the Congress. But we think we'd be a whole lot better off with a Democratic majority in Congress. But, look, the American people get to decide those things and they sent us a Republican Congress and we have to work with a Republican Congress. We think if we made a good argument in 1998 that we'd be better off with a Democratic Congress, we might be able to get one. This is not rocket science, I don't think.
Q Mike, back to Josh's question, which is also not rocket science but basic math -- (laughter) -- the President said --
MR. MCCURRY: Deborah, I just don't know and I can't --you're going to have to -- I don't know.
Q The President said --
MR. MCCURRY: You're going to have to ask the DNC.
Q Let me ask the question before you decide not to answer it.
MR. MCCURRY: What is the question? Okay.
Q You are saying you do not know how they have structured it to get around the President's pledge in January.
MR. MCCURRY: I did not say that. I won't put words in your mouth if you don't put words in my mouth.
Q Mike, is it or is it not correct people are going to be asked to give a total of $250,000 --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I honestly don't know what they're going to be asked.
Q Is it or is it not correct? Does the President still believe people should only give $100,000, or is he now upped it to $250,000?
MR. MCCURRY: I think he thinks that the voluntary limits that they put in place were a good idea at the time and if they've changed those, you'll have to ask Governor Romer or Chairman Grossman to explain it to you. I don't know.
Q Doesn't the White House check these things, though, before they --
MR. MCCURRY: Maybe they did; I didn't check them, okay? I'm sorry I failed you. I didn't do it.
Q But the President himself said $100,000.
Q We went through a long exercise at the end of '96 and the beginning of this year over what is the White House's relationship with the DNC, and is the White House, in effect, running the DNC? Initially, your line was that there's not a formal relationship and then the documents made clear that essentially it was being run here at the White House.
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't ever say there wasn't a formal relationship; there's both an informal and a formal relationship, other kinds of relationships.
Q It was that other campaign was the explanation that I recall, and then the documents made clear that the DNC was being run here by Harold Ickes. My questions are two. One, give us your assessment of what the White House's responsibility is now for the management of the DNC, and particularly fundraising problems? And also who is doing that? Who is playing the role that Harold played in the earlier regime?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is titular head of the party and has responsibility for the conduct of the institutional party's affairs. A lot of that is delegated to the people that he has chosen to be the chair and the general chairman of the party. And they do a good job. And they have -- they are very firm about their own institutional prerogatives and their ability to make certain decisions on their own, not unlike the relationship we have sometimes had with other Cabinet members. Here at the White House, it's supervised ultimately by the Chief of Staff. A lot of that is under the direct supervision of Mr. Podesta, I think -- has got political affairs -- and of course, Doug Sosnik, who does a lot of that too, and Craig Smith the Political Director.
Q Mike, on the race relations issue. Granted the names have not been released for the seven-member advisory panel, but could the panel be expanded, especially since a lot of civil rights leaders are very upset that they feel that they are not on the list?
MR. MCCURRY: Many of them are on the list to be what we need them to be, which are sources of expertise, inspiration, ideas as we go through this process. But the President wants -- since he ultimately will take responsibility for the final product of this effort -- he wants a smaller advisory group that he works with day in and day out in a direct capacity. So I think he is interested in a smaller group. That doesn't mean we're not going to consult and talk and involve a very large number of people.
Q Well, what would the advisory group consist of -- like, religious leaders, teachers -- what kind of person?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we're going to announce it in a matter of days, and I think you'll see soon enough.
Q Do you know when?
MR. MCCURRY: End of the week.
Q Who's coming over at 5:30 p.m. tonight, and who are they meeting with?
MR. MCCURRY: A lot of representatives of various groups of -- we are going to be able to get a list out. The ones that I ran through in the gaggle, plus some others.
Q You ran through names?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, those types of people. I mean, I don't have the -- I didn't bring the list in with me. But Ralph Neas (phonetic) is supposed to be here from the Leadership Conference, Joe Lowery (phonetic).
Q Elie Wiesel.
MR. MCCURRY: Elie Wiesel will be here.
Q Meeting with the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Meeting with the President, yes.
Q How long is the meeting going to last?
MR. MCCURRY: Probably about an hour and a half. It's scheduled for an hour and a half.
Q 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m?
MR. MCCURRY: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Q Mike, does or does not the President believe, as he said in January, that there should be a $100,000 limit on contributions?
MR. MCCURRY: I think he believes there should be a ban on soft money altogether. And that's in the McCain-Feingold bill and we're still going to work towards that goal.
Q But is the $100,000 limit now inoperative?
MR. MCCURRY: He has been supportive of those voluntary restrictions that the Democratic National Committee has placed on itself. Now, what the status of those voluntary restrictions are, I haven't talked to them up there today; I don't know if they're planning to change that, I don't know if there's something different about how they're structuring the donor program that they have in mind, but that's what they're going to talk about tomorrow.
Q Well, whatever they do decide, he'll be for that? In other words, if they decide --
MR. MCCURRY: The DNC comes to some collective judgment about what they have to do to -- which is obviously very dire circumstances, I think the President's going to be supportive of the party and the general chairman of the party and the day-to-day chairman of the party.
Q So that original restriction wasn't something that came from here, it wasn't like something that he wanted to set a certain tone? This was something he just went along --
MR. MCCURRY: We encouraged them -- there was a lot of dialogue back and forth about that, and we encouraged them to do something -- do what they could do to try to put new procedures in place to do the things they've done on the audits, to put the new screening procedures in place, to put some of the voluntary restrictions in place. You know, part of the idea of that was to see if we couldn't generate some momentum in the other party for that type of thing, but they, I saw just recently, had a $1 million donation from one individual. So we are going to have to adjust depending on what we see happening in the other party, too.
Q Has the White House been told that in fact John Huang passed classified information back to the Riadys at Lippo? There was a report to that effect.
MR. MCCURRY: I know there was a report to that effect. I don't know whether that report is true or not, and even if I knew, I doubt I would be able to say because there is an ongoing investigation.
Q Getting back to the fundraising problem, you really can't blame big-time Democratic fundraisers for wanting to shun the party, given all the grief and scrutiny that they are bound to face once they make a big-time contribution.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that they are shunning -- I mean, I wouldn't accept the premise of the question. We're not -- obviously we've still got money that we have to raise, and we haven't raised as much as we're going to need for '98, and we have a significant debt left over from the last cycle. But part of the purpose of the meeting tomorrow night is to say, look, you're --normally in the year after the election cycle, people take a breather. And we're going to say, look, we can't take a breather, we've got to press ahead. We've got to deal with some of these financial conditions we face. And we've got to get set for the '98 cycle.
Q Mike, it was announced -- reported on the wires today that the U.S. has sold a batch of stinger missiles to South Korea. Do you think this is wise, given that the U.S. is in the process of trying to encourage the North Koreans to enter into four party talks?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it is consistent with our security arrangements in the region and consistent with our view of the helpfulness of the Republic of Korea in dealing with a lot of the common problems that we address in the region. The Pentagon has addressed that more fully in the memorandum for correspondents that they've made available.
Q Mike, on the tax bill, the President was pretty clear that he -- that the Republicans pretty much reneged on the agreement that they reached in May. Does this meeting this afternoon with the Senate finance Democrats kind of suggest that the White House is going to try and work more with the Senate than the House on this, on the tax bill?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, say it again.
Q Well, it just looks like because the Senate is more collegial -- between the Republicans and Democrats -- than the House. I'm just wondering, in terms of strategy, is the White House hoping to work more closely with the Senate on this tax bill than the House? Or how are you going to work going forward?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we are going to develop our alliances on both sides of Capitol Hill and try to see if we can't borrow provisions from whatever bills emerge from either Ways and Means or Finance that reflect some of the administration's highest priority as they move in towards the later stages of the drafting. There will be, I think you'll see, in both Houses different ideas that are more consistent with what the administration's point of view is.
Barry just handed me a note and says that -- I mean, we'll have to check with the DNC further on this. They're talking about a 2 year program that would keep the $100,000 per year contribution in place. An individual could give $100,000 each of two years and then raise an additional $50,000. So I think that that's -- they're taking the view that that's consistent with the limit, but that we'll have to talk further to the DNC and see how they address that.
Q The Boston Globe has had a series of articles this week suggesting that 29,000 military personnel have been killed in non-combat incidents since 1979. Was the White House aware of those figures and is there any kind of concern about that level of casualties in non-combat instances?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, non-combat casualties occur. They occur because of the danger attached to some training. But I think as to the volume or the incidence, I'd really leave it to the Pentagon to address the specific things. I mean, it is always -- danger is always present. A lot of what we ask the military to do, to prepare for, to train for -- part of their daily regiment. I mean, it is there and it is a fact of life and it's one of the costs that we pay to make sure that our freedoms are secure.
But as to whether that represents an unacceptable risk, I'd really have to leave that to the Pentagon. I'm not familiar -- I've seen a little bit of that reporting, but I haven't seen enough of it.
Q Mike, in the Wall Street Journal today, there's a report suggesting that the White House had concerns about Yogesh Gandhi, made inquiries, and that because of the results of those inquires, the event where the President accepted money from Yogesh Gandhi and an award was moved from the White House to a hotel. Are all those facts correct?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't speak to all those facts. And I think they're all under investigation.
Q Well, is it correct that there were concerns raised about Yogesh Gandhi?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any doubt that, as Mr. Davis says in that report, that a professional staff member at the NSC who raised some concerns did so properly and that the event that had been proposed for the White House did not take place. But Mr. Davis can tell you more about it.
Q Is it the White House policy, then, that it would be okay to have it at a hotel but not at the White House?
MR. McCURRY: No, clearly not. And how it happened and what the circumstances were, I assume is a matter that others are examining. Mark.
Q Mike, is there any White House response to this latest Libyan effort to work out some kind of deal for the trial of those indicted Libyan nationals in the Pan Am 103?
MR. McCURRY: We have a long piece of guidance on it, but says essentially this: that Gadhafi has tried over the years to find someone to circumvent the effect of the UN Security Council resolutions that are very clear on what they require. The two suspects that are in their custody need to be delivered either to Scotland or the United States for trial. We have never flinched on that. The families of the victims of Pan Am 103 are supportive of that policy and, from time to time, Moammar Gadhafi tries to wiggle his way out from underneath the effect of those sanctions resolutions and the requirements placed upon him by the Security Council -- and it's just not going to happen.
So a lot of this in his grand public relations strategy to promote it is part of what has been an attempt to con the world community into thinking that he is trying to be cooperative when he's not. It is very clear what he has to do and the United States again calls upon the government of Libya to release the two suspects so that they can be tried properly in either Scotland or the United States.
Q The advertisement I saw from Libya, it makes the argument that if it was proper for the U.S. government to move the trial of Tim McVeigh from Oklahoma City to Denver, then it would be proper to move the trial of these Libyans to another location where they might be likely to get a fairer trial.
MR. McCURRY: There is an international law that applies here and strict mandates by the United Nations Security Council which requires the activity that the government of Libya has avoided. Rule of law should apply. Rule of law applied in the domestic trial that is underway here in the United States, and it applies to these two suspects, as well.
Q Mike, you just said to Julia that it was clearly not policy; that it's okay to do at a hotel what's not okay at the White House. How then did it happen?
MR. McCURRY: Deborah, again, I mean, all these matters are being examined and thoroughly investigated and it just wouldn't be proper for me to attempt to hazard a guess.
Q Can you give us an update on the status of Governor Weld?
MR. McCURRY: He's doing great. He's doing a great job for the people of Massachusetts and he is in good health and he is ready to go.
Q Have you sent his name up?
MR. McCURRY: We haven't formally nominated him yet, but he will eventually make a great ambassador.
Q Has Secretary Albright had any success in talking with Senator Helms?
MR. McCURRY: I do not know. Ann, have you heard? I have not heard whether they have had an opportunity or whether she has had an opportunity to review that matter with the chairman. Hopefully, that will happen.
Q Has the President or Erskine, on that subject, talked to the Chairman?
MR. McCURRY: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Mike, is the President confident that Tom Foley will be well received for the Senate?
MR. McCURRY: Yes, a very beloved colleague, albeit from the other chamber. I think he will similarly be well received when he is finally nominated.
Q What is the hold-up on the --
MR. McCURRY: Well, because we check these things and they go through an elaborate procedure and they've got to get --
Q Checking Foley's background?
MR. McCURRY: You might have gathered from some of the events this week that, you know, you have to be absolutely very careful when you do all these background and vetting procedures, and that takes time. You know, we're pretty thorough about it, for all the obvious reasons.
Q Mike, the President has a juvenile justice event tomorrow.
MR. McCURRY: He does.
Q Could you speak to what he intends to accomplish with this event, in light of the scuffles he's had with the Hill over the juvenile justice bill and then inserting some provisions that he didn't get in the bill --
MR. MCCURRY: I expect you'll hear the President tomorrow say that we've got to protect kids and communities from the rise in violent crime among juvenile offenders. That there is two things that have to be an important part of that effort. One is -- are provisions that make it very clear that we are declaring war on gang violence and that we are going to deal with gangs.
And, two, that we are going to make further efforts to reduce gun violence, particularly among juvenile offenders. And the President will say essentially that any juvenile justice bill that does not include tough anti-gang provisions and tough provisions on gun violence are not going to cut it with him. And he's going to have some specific ideas on how to deal with gun violence tomorrow. That will be part of the discussion.
That's, by the way -- the President probably will speak around noon time tomorrow, following the Attorney General's address.
Q And so you think you're winning or losing the war on gang violence?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we clearly have to fight harder, but we've had some progress and there have been some hopeful signs, but we've got more to do.
Q In California they seem to -- this Ward Connerly seems to be mounting a strong -- trying to react already to the President's -- are you all aware of that?
MR. MCCURRY: We've seen the wire reports to that effect and it's hard to -- I mean, some of what we've said would appear to mischaracterize the President's thinking. But part of what is proposed that they might say -- also it looks like it might engage in the kind of debate that will confront honestly some of the issues the President wants to address on Saturday. So we'll see what tone and what posture the group adopts.
If they have a clear idea of what exactly the President is going to say, they're certainly well ahead of the President's Press Secretary, who is still awaiting the final words.
Q Is it your expectation that you would announce the advisory board of members and the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights together?
MR. MCCURRY: Not necessarily. But I think there's the importance of the advisory board and obviously the importance that we attach to the Justice Department position, is well-known and I wouldn't rule out that we'd try to move ahead separately on both of those shortly.
Q Do you expect them later rather than earlier this week?
MR. MCCURRY: We're getting about midweek, so -- most likely would be later.
Q I mean, like Friday, rather than tomorrow, or --
MR. MCCURRY: Maybe sometime between Wednesday and Friday. Q What's the agenda of the Amir of Qatar tomorrow? Are
they going to talk about Iran?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a good question. I told you someone was going to ask me the trick question on Qatar today. They are going to examine regional security issues, talk about the situation in the Gulf and the assessment of many of the regional issues we deal with -- the Middle East peace process, the expansion of multilateral contexts that we encourage with the government of Israel. Also, no doubt, a discussion about the recent elections in Iran. The President will be interested in the Amir's assessment and other such issues as may arise in the warm bilateral relationship that we have with Qatar.
Q Sounds like a trick answer. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Was that close enough?
Q Is that a closed event, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: Regional economic issues. As we always do, we talk about ways in which we can encourage economic development and growth of commerce with the region.
Q Is there a photo op of that event or --
MR. MCCURRY: Stills only, right? Stills only?
Q Why is that?
MR. MCCURRY: White House photo only.
MR. MCCURRY: Why? Because that's what we're doing, that's the way we're doing it.
Okay, thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:05 P.M. EDT