THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
12:20 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: What else do you want to do today? Some of you want a little Denver -- as much as I can do.
Q Before we go on to Denver, would you say, Mike, that the White House in any way, shape, or form is kind of giving itself high-fives and gloating over winning on disaster relief? (Laughter.)
Q Let the record show he smiled. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: I'm keeping a straight face. No, in reality -- look, in reality this was not exactly a wonderful episode in democracy, was it? I mean, this was a long delay in getting necessary relief out to people and communities who have been waiting for it, so I think the President is glad that it's happened and that he signed the bill and that aid is under way. But I don't think anyone will be particularly proud of this whole debate.
And the President, I think, hopes, now that we've resolved this, that this was just a temporary aberration and that the kind of bipartisan work that we have been able to do with this Congress on the budget issues, on so many other issues will prevail and we'll get on with the work that we have to do.
Q As a follow, does this sort of partisan standoff bode well for the budget negotiations?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- as I say, I think it's an aberration, and from much of the analysis that many of you have provided today, I think it's in part because there are conflicts within the Republican caucus. Most of the coverage today points to some of the disagreements within the Republican side. We will look to find ways to continue to work with the Republican leadership and the Republican majority in Congress to move ahead, whether it's reforming welfare, balancing the budget, implementing some of the President's education initiatives, protecting our environment.
There's a lot of work left to do this year. And the President certainly hopes that a spirit of bipartisan will prevail as we tackle that work. That's the way it ought to be, and I think the voters made it pretty clear that's the way they expect it to be.
Q Are you going to reform welfare again?
MR. MCCURRY: We have to implement welfare and make it a success. That's -- there's a lot of hard work attached to that.
Q Before you get to Denver, where does he stand on the writing of the San Diego speech?
MR. MCCURRY: He's had a very good session with some of his wordsmiths this morning and dictated a lot into a tape recorder and has sort of been writing some passages of his own. And he intends to do some more work on it this afternoon, I think prior to seeing the pool at 4:45 p.m. -- 4:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. And I expect that he'll say a few things about the advisory board and maybe say a little bit about the speech at 4:45 p.m. He's not -- I don't think he'll deliver it, but I think he'll give you at least some sense of where things are.
Q Speaking of the advisory board, Speaker Gingrich just had a little briefing where he said that he didn't expect much by way of new or original ideas to come out of this commission because they represented the same, tired, old big government liberalism of the past.
MR. MCCURRY: Tom Kean is a tired, old, big liberal? That's interesting -- the voters of New Jersey would be interested in hearing that.
I don't think that's an accurate characterization. This is a group of people who I think are splendid thinkers. They've been creative in the way they've pursued their individual pursuits, and it's a pretty impressive list of resumes and people with a lot of expertise. But they ultimately are going to help the President understand better the crosscurrents of thinking on the subject of race that are in America.
And, you know, by no means are these the only people the President is going to listen to. In fact, to the contrary, the kind of dialogue that he suggests is necessary has to involve in one or way another -- hopefully all Americans, but it certainly will involve people with very diverse thinking on the subject of race in America. This is a group that will help him guide his effort, will help him assemble and coalesce the thinking that the President will put into the report. But, ultimately, the President will have to stand by the report he issues a year from now.
Q Jesse Jackson and several other critics have complained that while talk is nice, action speaks louder than words. Beyond the talking -- the town hall meetings, the dialogue -- what specific actions is the President going to take that will ease racial tensions and problems in the United States?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, as you were briefed yesterday, a major element of this initiative is the action that unfolds over the coming year. There will be things small and things consequential, large and policy driven, that will be reflected in this initiative -- whether you're talking about economic opportunities for minority Americans, housing opportunities, how to deal with the issues of crime, health care, how we talk generally about administration of justice. I think there are going to be some very specific policy-related outcomes as part of this initiative over the course of the year. They will unfold as the President does this work, and I think they will be of consequence.
And your question -- the premise of your question is kind of interesting because, to pair it with Karen's question, we will -- we do expect criticism from both the right and the left who are not -- have their own views about how these subjects can be addressed. And that's healthy. That is part of what this process should be about, but it also needs to be about reconciling these different views and having Americans come together around some common understanding of what it means to be an American and what values attach to that and what are the values that can be embraced by Americans of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Q Mike, I understand that the solutions -- specific solutions will unfold over the course of the year, but does the President have a good idea right now of the specific problems that he thinks need to be addressed, or does he need a year of study to figure that out?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think maybe some specific aspects of them, but I just identified five areas in which I think that there are going to be particular focus. And there will be more attention, study and detail within that. But some of these I think are widely known and many of them are questions that I think you see some of the critics raising. The President is fully aware of that and intends to address them.
Q I don't mean like broad -- you just gave broad topic areas like economic opportunity, crime, health care, education. I mean, within those areas does the President right now have an idea of the specific problems, racial problems in each of those areas that he thinks needs to be addressed, or does he need a year to figure out what they are?
MR. MCCURRY: He's got a good idea, but I think we're going to spend more time fleshing that out and, more importantly, thinking about solutions and approaches on those two.
Q Since one of the concerns involves specifics, would the President expect the next year to come up with a plan to reverse the trend of declining enrollment in states that have been active, adjustments to affirmative action in California --
MR. MCCURRY: I think that's a good example of a specific problem that certainly the President may even choose to address tomorrow that needs a specific kind of response as we go ahead. Sure.
Q Something other than the general increase in enrollment overall for minorities?
MR. MCCURRY: That's right. I mean, the concern specifically in Texas post-Hopwood, in California post-209 is something that I think is the kind of specific understanding of the problem that the President does have that I think needs to be addressed.
Q You're saying that reversing that trend in enrollment is a specific goal of this?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's not -- look, I'm not going to attempt to list a bunch of specific goals for this. That is the type of -- you said, are there -- for example, is that the type of thing that this initiative would attempt to address. Very much so, yes, as an example, but there would be certainly, in all of those areas, many things that we will do in the course of the coming year.
Q If that's the case, Mike, then why shouldn't this be seen as an effort by the President to impose his views of these issues on the nation?
MR. MCCURRY: Because the process by which we address this is one that the President is designing to try to build consensus and that we recognize there are diverse points of view on some of these issues.
Q And he has an open mind towards these issues?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's an open mind as to solutions, ideas, innovations. He has some bedrock principles that I think guide his thinking as someone who's got a personal history and a background that informs his consideration of these issues.
Q Mike, has he been reading anything in particular as he writes this speech?
MR. MCCURRY: He no doubt has. I have not talked to him about that, though, Allison. I'll see -- it might be -- that might be something that Joe can check on on the way out there.
Q Mike, you said earlier he was going to try personalize things to a certain extent. How much does his background -- how much role does his background play in this?
Q Well, it plays a role because I think it sets the context in which he personally, as one American, has come to deal with these issues, understand them, and confront some of the realities of what relations between the races in America is about. He can't separate his own personal experience as a young person growing up in the segregated South, as a governor who dealt with the consequences of racial change occurring in the South, and now as a President that leads a country that is continuing to try to make progress on these issues. You can't separate that experience from how you understand and deal with the issues.
Q Mike, getting to the action phase, does the President actually believe that he can legislate behavior as it relates to --
MR. MCCURRY: No, you can't legislate behavior, but you can certainly use the enormous resources available in the presidency itself to encourage people to think about behavior and to think about what's in their hearts and minds. I mean, that's quintessentially one of the leadership roles a President can take on.
Q Could you summarize why the President still believes affirmative action is necessary?
MR. MCCURRY: Because there continues to be ample evidence that there is discrimination, prejudice, and that serves as a barrier for those who are seeking equal opportunity in our society.
Q But that doesn't answer why there needs to be affirmative action --
MR. MCCURRY: Because affirmative action is positively a tool that we can use, as government itself is a common instrument of the American people -- it's a tool that we can use to redress those instances of prejudice and discrimination.
Q Yesterday, Sylvia Mathews said that it's not just black and white, that it's a host of colors. What's his thinking? I mean, does that mean the President would support a multiracial category example for the census?
MR. MCCURRY: That's down in the weeds. We're not going to be down in the weeds tomorrow. The President is going to start this initiative, I think, framing larger questions and dealing with large issues. And then as we work through these we'll no doubt get to questions that are important and deal with that. There is already an effort to address that question that's being undertaken by the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau, as you know.
Q So he hasn't made up his mind on that, yet.
MR. TOIV: It's OMB.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, Barry is right. It's OMB, working with Commerce and the Census Bureau, already examining exactly that question and they're taking a look at what the best approach is, the best practices should be.
Q Mike, he went out to California an awful lot in '95 and '96, in the campaign. And, yet, if the President felt so strongly about affirmative action, why did he rarely talk about the ballot initiative during those campaign stops?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, that's a bad misreading of history. I mean, he right up on the eve of the election in Oakland gave a very impassioned speech against Proposition 209 --
Q That was the only one, wasn't it?
MR. MCCURRY: -- and spoke regularly against it during the course of the campaign.
Q He spoke --
Q That was the only time --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he spoke in front of the California Democratic Party and gave one of the major speeches about affirmative action in 1995 on exactly that subject. I was there in Sacramento.
Q But his message then was that we have to make sure -- we have to make exceptions or we're going to hand the Republicans a cheap political victory.
MR. MCCURRY: I think his message was consistent with what he then articulated as the "mend, don't end" policy for affirmative action and consistent with exactly why Prop 209, which is an end affirmative action proposition, was wrong.
Q But he could have chosen, if he wanted to, every time he was there to really --
MR. MCCURRY: He could have chosen to duck the issue and he didn't.
Q Why did the President -- why has the President waited until year five of his Presidency to begin this dialogue with the American people?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, in a sense, Wolf, he hasn't because, as you know, he's talked about this issue repeatedly during his presidency -- sometimes in very personal, very emotional ways. But this is different. This is the launching of a formal initiative, a formal process that will lead to some specific outcomes. But as you know, the President has spoken regularly -- spoken to the issues that I think are fundamental as part of the dialogue he seeks.
Q Do you hear any outside voice -- I mean, the President has a very broad network of writers and people who are interested in this issue -- are any of them assisting him with this speech? Like a Maya Angelou or like Taylor Branch or some of the writers who visited with him?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of --
Q It's all in-house?
MR. MCCURRY: -- but I'd have to check.
Q Would you?
MR. MCCURRY: We can maybe have Joe check and let you know on the way out.
MR. LOCKHART: They talked a little bit at the meeting --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, they talked at the meeting the President had earlier this week --
MR. LOCKHART: -- and you know that group.
MR. MCCURRY: -- about how to address this.
Q Right, but I saw something about there are a number of people like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, with whom he's been in contact over the years, and I was wondering whether any of them are participating in this.
MR. MCCURRY: We'll have to check and see if any of them lent their thinking.
Q I wonder if the President's speech will focus almost exclusively on tolerance or whether he will discuss some of the things that black people need to do to improve the condition of black people, and whether also he will, with his speech, begin the job of preparing black people to become not just the largest minority in this country over the next 20 or 30 years demographically -- we will slip from that role and be passed by Hispanics and Asians.
MR. MCCURRY: I think that the increasing diversity of America and the change in what we think of as being a minority will be something he references in the speech, and I think he'll talk about -- also talk about the opportunities and responsibilities that all Americans have -- black Americans, white Americans, and others.
Q Let me go back again to the make-up of the advisory panel. You said a minute ago that you want varied and diverse thinking, crosscurrents of thinking. Can you explain again why there is no dissenting voice on the panel, vis-a-vis affirmative action?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, this is not -- this advisory board, as is suggested from the nomenclature -- advisory board is not the place in which this dialogue and review of thinking occurs. That's out in the country, as the President goes and encounters Americans, as we conduct the town meetings, as we listen and learn from others. This is in a way maybe a funnel by which all this thinking comes into the White House and to the President. And it's important to have people around him that he will work closely with, who he will trust as he ultimately prepares the report he wants to make. Doesn't make a lot of sense to ask to be your advisors people who you will have to spend most of your time arguing with -- I mean, simply put.
I think these are people he respects. There is more diversity than you seem to allow in the thinking of the people who are represented in this group of seven that will advise him. But they are all rock solid people who have thought about these issues, who've got something to contribute, who I think themselves will be open to the arguments and ideas that others present -- including contrary opinions.
So this is not -- you know, don't think of the advisory board as the place where the discussion occurs. That's really all out there in America as the President moves around in the coming year.
Q Mike, a process question. Is the advisory board going to observe the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and, if so, why is this afternoon's meeting not open in its entirety?
MR. MCCURRY: We will. They will be open meetings and the discussion this afternoon, to the degree that they have any meeting, will be recorded and transcripts will be kept, consistent with the Act.
Q Mike, these can be considered some rather lofty goals, his initiative. Does he honestly think he can pull them off?
MR. MCCURRY: I think he thinks it's important to try. I think there's a lot -- we undertake this initiative knowing that, at the end of the day, it may not work and we might not be able to change attitudes about race in America. That doesn't make it any less important to make the effort.
Q Mike, is there any White House view on this call by Congressman Tony Hall to have Congress apologize to African Americans for the history of slavery in America?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that we have looked specifically at that legislation, but I know that the President will likely refer to slavery tomorrow because it is a unique feature of the history of African Americans in this country that presents its own set of realities as we deal with questions of how whites relate to blacks in our society.
Q Will he be meeting with Ward Connerly at all or any of the opposition in San Diego?
MR. MCCURRY: He will no doubt see Mr. Connerly. Mr. Connerly is a regent of the University of California system, and I think, in that capacity, is expected to attend the graduation tomorrow.
Q At any reception, any personal --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think he has any plans to have a separate meeting, but I think he may very well see him.
Q Yesterday, Sylvia made several references to the ads that Connerly is running. What is -- she didn't describe what your objection is to those ads, or what your opinion is about those ads.
MR. MCCURRY: Do you know?
MR. LOCKHART: No specific objection. She just referenced them as part of the conversation.
MR. MCCURRY: He has obviously a very distinct and different view about questions related to affirmative action. But, at the same time, I think if you ask him he would say the President is right to try to engage in this dialogue. He has a contrary point of view and it's a point of view that has to be respected, even if one differs with it. But the point is to see if we can't address exactly the issues that he has raised in the context of California's experience and do so in some way that's amicable and looks for a resolution of different points of views.
Q And is there now a working group looking at what could be done, perhaps on the executive order level, to reverse the effects of 209? What's happening inside the administration there?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, what's happening within the administration on 209 is more related to the litigation that's under way in federal court.
Q There's nothing happening beyond that?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of anything. I'd have to check, but we are contesting the proposition in federal courts, and we entered into the case, obviously.
Q No, I know that part, but in talking about other nonjudicial responses.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any other nonjudicial proceedings specifically directed to 209. You know, I don't know whether there are other things in that general question that might be under review. I'd have to look further.
Q Is the President going to do anything in California other than make this speech?
MR. MCCURRY: He's got just the reception at the oceanography center after the speech, which I think is just for an opportunity to see some of the local folks who have been supportive of him and visit.
Q Is it a political thing?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it probably includes some local folks, community people, and
MR. LOCKHART: University sponsors.
MR. MCCURRY: -- the university is sponsoring it, mostly community people.
Q Does that preclude fundraising under a situation like that?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. We'll let you know tomorrow.
Q Are we going to get a week ahead and a radio address here?
MR. MCCURRY: Radio address, the President will tape --is he taping it today? Taping it today. It will be on normal trade relations with China and the importance of it and the specific positive impact that normal trade relations with China has as we think of the transition about to occur in Hong Kong.
Q And the week ahead?
MR. MCCURRY: And the week ahead is available and we can pass it out after we're done.
Q One more on race, Mike. Do you know when or where the first town meeting will be held?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't think it has been scheduled yet, as Sylvia indicated yesterday.
Q You may not be able to, but if you can, can you characterize the President's sort of state of mind as he starts this thing off? It's something that is obviously kind of a tricky, high-wire act thing to pull off. How does he feel? Does he feel --
MR. MCCURRY: Kind of a tricky, high-wire act to characterize state of mind.
Q Let me pare it down.
MR. MCCURRY: I think he's determined --
Q How does he feel about things? I mean, he's getting a lot of feedback, and people are having their comments, and how does he feel about it?
MR. MCCURRY: He's, I guess, convinced that it's important and right to enter into this discussion, first and foremost, also determined to make it something consequential at the end of the day, so it's not just an idle exercise of giving one speech and sort of saying, there, we've done something. I mean, I think he understands it's not so much the speech he delivers tomorrow, it's the year of work that follows that really might have lasting importance. And I think he's very committed to doing it, and the commitment is a personal one growing out of his own experience. And it's also one he believes he's obligated to undertake as President.
Q Mike, on the summit, now that Russia is officially, more or less, in the fold, does this mean that they're going -- you're going to be rotating summit sites? Are we going to have a summit in the Crimean in the future or is it still going to be the seven?
MR. MCCURRY: That question I don't expect to be addressed in Denver. But it is one of the questions that becomes part of the natural evolution that has occurred as Russia's participation within the G-7 format has grown and as we have now reached the point where it's, for all practical purposes. a G-8.
Q And who's leading the French delegation? Do we know that yet?
MR. MCCURRY: President Chirac. And the Prime Minister has indicated through the Protocol Office that he will send a representative. And I believe they're sending the Trade and Economic Ministers -- Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister will be represented at the ministerial level, at the cabinet level.
Q Just one more race question. I mean, there's been a lot of talk about how President Clinton wants this to be his legacy. Do you --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think "this" will be his legacy. I think that any President's record is what ultimately is reviewed in history and this will be something that I think he hopes contributes to the understanding of what his presidency is about and was about, but it's not going to be the be all and end all. It's a very important part of it, but there -- you know, we're getting ready to talk about America's leadership position in the world in the 21st century and how that's been defined and how we have nurtured and protected America's leadership position in the world is a very important part of the legacy, too.
Q Mike, you said -- you referred -- that the week ahead is coming up, but is there anything next week that you want to highlight?
MR. MCCURRY: On Tuesday next week, it'll be kind of interesting, it's the 25th anniversary of Title IX, which has meant so much to women who are seeking opportunities -- athletic opportunities and other things. It's another aspect of the changes we've gone through socially. We've got some thing -- we'll have a lot of things to say next week to sort of lead up to the Summit of the Eight at the end of the week, specifically with respect to Africa.
And then the rest of it is Thursday going into -- kind of get me going a little bit on the schedule going into Denver. On Thursday as he arrives in Denver, the President will give a speech that sort of sets the context for the deliberations that the leaders will have and talk specifically about some of the challenges America faces as it thinks about the global marketplace of the 21st century. And we'll do that at an appropriate site, somewhere in Denver.
Q Before he goes to Denver?
MR. MCCURRY: It's in Denver. We'll do it upon arrival in Denver. That night there is a host committee reception for those who are attending. On Friday --
Q That he attends? What time is it --
MR. MCCURRY: He is expected to attend.
Q What time will the speech --
MR. MCCURRY: The speech is probably -- tentatively scheduled in the 1:30 p.m. range.
Q 1:30 p.m. Denver or --
MR. MCCURRY: 1:30 p.m. Denver. Then on Friday the President's got time available during the day for whatever bilaterals he has in advance of the summit meeting with some of those attending. That has not been fully determined yet, but there will be at least two or three bilaterals.
Friday evening there will be a welcoming reception at the Governor's Mansion in Denver. So Governor Romer and -- I don't know whether we're kicking the Governor and Bea Romer out for the evening, but I suspect they'll probably be there. Then the leaders have dinner at the University of Denver's Phipps (phonetic) House -- dinner being the last official event on Friday night.
On Saturday, the leaders begin their discussions at the Denver Public Library. They have a morning session, a lunch. They then will, in the afternoon, meet in a format of just seven for some specific economic issues -- expected to be about an hour. The dinner that night is at the Fort Restaurant in Morrison, Colorado, which is modeled after Brent's Fort (phonetic), a mid-19th century Southeastern Colorado trading post, well known for its cuisine -- buffalo, elk and beef.
Q Is he getting a free meal there?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I'll be going somewhere else for dinner.
The leaders and their spouses then attend a night of uniquely American entertainment at the National Western Complex. We've got to find out more about it, what is uniquely American entertainment?
Q Cowboy boots --
MR. MCCURRY: Putting our finest forward, I'm sure. And then all during this period the foreign ministers and the finance ministers are off having what sounds like a better time doing other things.
Q What day is the press conference?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's Saturday. So Saturday ends with the evening entertainment. Sunday, they go back to the public library for the morning session. There's a traditional group photo and communique is read at approximately 12:30 p.m. And then we're anticipating the President will have his press conference with all of you around 2:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m. in that neighborhood. He then departs for San Francisco.
Q This is Sunday?
MR. MCCURRY: That's Sunday, correct, the day after Saturday.
Q You said that you don't want to gloat and so forth, but was the President surprised that all the Republican leaders voted against the disaster aid?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't talk to him about that. I think some of us here were a little surprised at that, but that was their choice.
Q What was the question?
MR. MCCURRY: Were we surprised that the Republican leaders voted against disaster aid for the folks who needed it out in the plain states. And we did think that was kind of surprising. But it's a free country.
Q You don't think that bodes for drawing the line even --
MR. MCCURRY: I think that given that it's raining outside, the line in the sand that they drew sort of seemed to wash away. (Laughter.) Don't make me do this.
Q Mike, back on Denver, one hour for discussion on economics. Is there going to be a separate economic communique, or are we going to see a leaner, meaner, narrower --
MR. MCCURRY: No, there are some issues that are uniquely specific to the industrialized countries that used to comprise the G-7 that they want to discuss. I think the important thing is, while President Yeltsin has always participated in the regional and political discussions, he will now very much be a part of the economic discussions that will occur.
And remember, in general I should do a little more just what are we going to do and talk about at this summit. A large part of the story of the summit is about the effort to integrate Russia into the global economy of the 21st century, and then of course the larger questions about the fundamental changes we're going through in the world as we adapt to the realities of the new economy of the 21st century. That is going to be very much a part of the discussion -- how societies, how these industrialized democracies create jobs, deal with the social needs of their citizens, provide for secure retirements, how they improve quality of life, and do so in the context of resources that are available is all part of this discussion that I think will take shape in Denver and then gain momentum going into Birmingham next year, because Prime Minister Blair has indicated that he has a program that he will pursue that is really designed to build on some of the deliverable outcomes of the Denver summit.
Q Mike, do you expect any kind of -- there has been a tilt to the left in Europe and some -- that's it's been very overblown, the media reaction to the French elections, to Tony Blair, and to the Italians. Do you expect any kind of subtle shift to more -- I mean, what kind of a social --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I read something the other day that had Tony Blair in the role of Al Gore and Jospin in the role of Dick Gephardt, and I said I think we're getting a little carried away with -- you know, these are unique societies that have got their own political dynamics, but what they share in common, and what is interesting, is that they are going through the same types of changes and wrestling with the same types of issues.
Example -- the problem of aging societies will be on the agenda in Denver. How do you develop protections for those who are going to into retirement years? How do you provide for fundamental levels of retirement income security using resources of government, encouraging private savings? How do you structure policies that do so? And one outcome, I predict, in Denver will be an agreement to share experiences and data and ideas on how you achieve that.
Interesting, because we've done enormous amounts within the Clinton administration to protect pensions for folks -- you all know that -- and to encourage more pension coverage for those that are in sectors of the economy in which pension coverage is not universally available. That, it turns out, is something that the Germans have wrestled with, the French have wrestled, Blair has got some ideas on exactly that if you look at the British equivalent of Social Security. So it's interesting ideas that are born of the same experiences that these industrial economies are going through.
Q Mike, G-7 was always --
MR. MCCURRY: Harris, wake up. (Laughter.)
Q You're not helping. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Some of these guys need this stuff. They made me -- you made me study this stuff because some people said, no, we've really got to write for Sunday. So I'm going to put you through this, okay? This makes up for yesterday.
Q Mike, the G-7 was always a top democracy, top industrial democracies club, top economies. Russia is far from a top economy. Isn't this just a pay-off to the Russians to let them into this thing?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think it's more a recognition that we've got a vision of what Russia's future can be. It is a country with enormous potential, vast natural resources, a well-educated, energetic population that is capable of generating enormous economic growth as we look ahead. And our aspiration for Russia is that it fully integrate into the community represented by these countries in many ways.
Q But it's hardly there now.
MR. MCCURRY: Economically, it's far from there now. I think we take note of that by having some discussions that President Yeltsin will not participate in. But on balance, as we think about all the issues that we deal with -- remember, let's just step back for a second -- what are some of the other issues that these industrialized leaders are going to deal with? They are much different from the issues that arose during the period of the Cold War. They're talking about international crime. They're going to be talking about drug trafficking. They're going to be talking about money laundering. They're going to be talking about bribery.
And the economic effects of -- those are all issues of foreign corrupt practices -- is something that will be, in fact, part of this agenda. Those are all issues that in one way or another the Russian Federation, as its economy matures and grows and prospers are going to be a part of if integration is successful.
You can't separate this summit, obviously, from the next summit in Madrid and the important impact that the question of the future of NATO has, too, on how we think of Europe -- going from the United Kingdom to the Urals.
Q But I think that's the question, Mike, because --
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, Wendell, thanks, we'll keep this going for a while.
Q Let's talk about that. (Laughter.)
Q No, but you all four months ago were saying that the summit really didn't have anything to do with NATO. This is not a NATO summit, it's a G-7 summit.
MR. MCCURRY: It's not --
Q And as we got closer to the --
MR. MCCURRY: Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. They are not directly related because we won't be dealing or resolving NATO issues at the summit. But the changes that are occurring in this world that these leaders of these economies have to deal with are precisely those that reflect the new security situation that exists in Europe, the purpose of a trans-Atlantic alliance. I mean, they are inner-woven in the kind of work that you would do at a G-7.
The work that you do at a summit like the one in Denver is directly related to the kind of issues that arise then when we meet in Madrid.
Q If the McVeigh panel comes back, do you think you'll have a statement before the President leaves?
MR. MCCURRY: We will probably have some kind of statement, but I doubt very much we'll do anything in person given the reality of ongoing and federal litigation and other federal cases pending.
Q Do you expect the summit to result in any specific proposals on integrating Russia to the global economy better?
MR. MCCURRY: I think there will be some specific discussions reflected in the communique about the ways in which assistance to Russia can produce greater integration, more harmonization of issues related to commerce and trade and a discussion about the role that Russia will play in international economic institutions.
Q Mike, what about China? China is one of those issues that people say are going to be part of the underground summit-- the stuff that's not talked about publicly, but it's important with WTO and Hong Kong and all these other -- and China MFN. I mean, aren't leaders going to be addressing --
MR. MCCURRY: It is not -- I'm not aware that it has been formally entered as a subject for discussion. But one of the features of this summit now is that the leaders, themselves, have grown to kicking their sherpas and their ministers out of the room so that they can really have what they like to refer to as informal dialogue. Every time the President has encountered, individually, these leaders bilaterally they have spent time talking about China, about how we see China's role in not only the Asian-Pacific community, but in the world economy. And I very much think that will be a part of the discussions. And whether that leads to a specific deliverable at the summit, I can't predict for you at this point, but I suspect that they will have that discussion.
Q What are the chances that there will be some excepts of the speech tonight for some of us with bad deadlines?
MR. MCCURRY: That's going to be placed in Mr. Lockhart's capable hands. I've talked to the President about the reality of the deadline problems, and I think he understands that. So they'll go for at least something that represents pithy excepts, if nothing more.
Q Will those excerpts be embargoed or will they be for release right away?
MR. MCCURRY: They will be embargoed so you couldn't go put then on CNN.
Q When will they be embargoed until?
MR. MCCURRY: Delivery.
Q And what about the radio address, is that --
Q When would we get them, ideally?
MR. MCCURRY: Ideally, you get them -- my guess is he'll work on the speech on the plane, so try to do it when you get out there.
Q What about the radio address, the timing for that?
MR. MCCURRY: We're taping it today so I think we can have that available sooner.
Q Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: Wait a minute, wait a minute. No, sit back down please.
Q McCurry wants to keep going.
Q There is another question, which is, is there any concern at the administration level that the French elections may lead Europeans to be a little softer on the fiscal front, that they may inflate their deficits after all the work they've done --
MR. MCCURRY: I think it is wise given the moment that Europe is at in discussing the European currency reform generally, as they approach decisions that they have to take individually and then collectively within Europe, it is probably best for the United States not to inject itself into that debate. So I think I should refrain from that question in particular.
Q And one thing on the tax legislation that came out yesterday -- what's the President's disposition? I must have missed the top of the briefing.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we are -- the Ways and Means bill included, despite the protest of the President before the BRT yesterday, some of those very features that he considers quite objectionable. This is not the bill that's going to be signed into law. It wasn't going to be the bill that was going to be signed into law in any event, because there's a lot more work that's left to do. We'll be seeking ways in which we can improve the provisions, get them closer to the type of targeted tax relief for middle income families that the President has suggested.
And we think we will have ample opportunity as we work with the Senate and with the -- as the bill moves into conference to effect a more positive outcome.
Q Do you have any initial concerns on the Senate Finance tax package that's coming out today?
MR. MCCURRY: To the degree that it's described as resembling Chairman Archer's mark, yes. And to the same types of concerns arising -- the tax relief not targeted to middle incomes, disproportionately skewed to higher incomes and not focused on education and doing those things that represent a long-term investment in the health of the economy. We've got -- this economy is doing well in part because we are providing incentives for those things that will grow the economy in the future. And any legislation that skips away from that central premise is something, as you know from the President's own remarks, that he will take a dim view of.
Let's keep going. Come on. (Laughter.) Thank you. We'll see you Monday.
END 1:00 P.M. EDT