THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Las Vegas, Nevada)
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART
Mirage Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada
12:20 P.M. PDT
MR. LOCKHART: Can I just give everybody a quick update on what I've learned on the budget?
I was just told that within the last half hour or so our budget team went up to the Capitol, so I believe that a meeting has begun between our team, led by Erskine Bowles, and the Senate leadership. I believe the focus of the first part of that meeting will be on the spending part of the budget package, and then we'll try to keep you up to date on where it goes and what we find out from that group.
The President from here goes to a private lunch organized by Senator Harry Reid, with some of his political supporters here in the Nevada area. It's actually a group that includes both Democrats and Republicans. From there he'll go off to a golf club. Somewhere between -- I don't know whether it will be at the lunch or at the golf club -- he's going to take some time and get on the phone with his budget negotiators to get a personal update. And then he'll play golf with, as we told you before, some of the governors and Michael Jordan.
Q Is it raining outside?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the weather is supposed to clear, but if it doesn't then we'll reassess.
Q Does Michael live out here? Is that --
MR. LOCKHART: No. I know he has -- someone told me that he runs some sort of basketball camp, so I think that may be why he's here today. I know that when the President talked to Mr. Jordan the day the Bulls won the championship they said that they were going to try to organize, once he was back on the golf course, an outing, if they could get their schedules together. So I think this is probably the first time that they've been in the same place.
Q Will there be wagering?
MR. MCCURRY: I think not.
Q Joe, what did the President mean when he was talking about the fiscal integrity of the budget, of keeping it balanced?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think the President has talked over the past months about how important it is to not only balance the budget, but not to do things that might blow a hole in the deficit five and 10 years out. And there have been various issues that we think would cause concern. I mean, we talked at length about indexation of capital gains as one of them. And I think he's just laying down as one of his principles that we need to balance the budget but also make sure we don't recreate the problem in the out-years of the budget and undo the work that we've done over the last five years and for the next five years.
Q Is indexation still pending?
MR. LOCKHART: I think Chairman Archer was fairly clear yesterday. I don't want to get into what the Republicans' position is, but I think he was pretty clear in his television appearance on the status of that feature.
Q Joe, has the President spoken to Governor Weld, or has he said anything about Weld's decision to resign?
MR. LOCKHART: He has not spoken directly with him, but I do understand that Governor Weld's decision was based on his personal view of what was best for his constituents, the state of Massachusetts, and his desire to focus on winning support for his intention to become the Ambassador to Mexico.
We're going to be working very closely with him to try to build that support and move him forward because the President believes now, as he did when he announced his intent to nominate him, that he's highly qualified and will be an excellent ambassador.
Q Does the White House think this was a good strategy on Weld's part?
MR. LOCKHART: I think Governor Weld was really the only person who could make the judgment of what was in the best interests of the state of Massachusetts and how he could go forward in moving forward to try to build the support he'll need.
Q Joe, what happened to the President in Lake Tahoe that he's now referring to it in all of his speeches when he talks about the more idealistic goals of his administration for racial harmony? What did he see in Lake Tahoe that now he thinks he can compare all of this to?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that Lake Tahoe is by its nature a part of the country that almost by its nature needs a partnership agreement. You have a lake, which is a national treasure, which is partly in California, partly in Nevada, partly owned by the federal government -- the forest area around it. And for it to work, people have to work together -- people who may have different political views, have different points of view.
And I think he was struck by people's desire to work together in partnership to come together to save this lake. And that really struck him on a smaller point to go more broadly into the idea of one America for the 21st century that's he's talked about.
Q Does he view it as kind of symbolic of what he'd like to do or a model?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think it's symbolic or a model of how he views government as a whole, though -- about going in and using innovative techniques, partnering between state, local, private business, nonprofit groups, all of which have part of the solution that the federal government alone or the state government alone doesn't have the solution. It's a result of working together among these groups.
And I think he was struck by the cooperative effort in that area.
Q Joe, what's on for tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: The only thing I know of tomorrow is the 10:00 a.m., the Brennan funeral. The President will be delivering the eulogy. That is the only thing that I believe is on the schedule.
Q Where is that?
MR. LOCKHART: St. Matthew's Church.
Q What time do you expect the President will get home tonight?
MR. LOCKHART: Late, late.
Q Or early.
Q In time for the funeral?
MR. LOCKHART: Or early, depending on your point of view. In time for the -- yes.
Q Do you expect him --
MR. LOCKHART: Even later -- or even earlier, depending on your point of view.
Q Nothing else besides that on his schedule?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Do you expect any more ambassador appointments this week?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of any that are coming this week. I'm just -- I'd need to go back and check to see how close we are on some things.
Q -- can you put on any kind of a paper lid today?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think we have at least one piece of paper coming, but as soon as we can -- because there's nothing else to do here, except sit in this room.
END 12:27 P.M. EDT