THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts) _______________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release August 19, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY BARRY TOIV
Edgartown Elementary School Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
1:29 P.M. EDT
MR. TOIV: Good afternoon. A birthday flag is flying at the President's residence today -- a lovely, temporary gift.
Q What is a birthday flag, Barry?
MR. TOIV: Well, a birthday flag is a multi-colored affair with a very pretty cake on it.
Q Thank you.
Q Was this a gift to the President or does he bring his own?
MR. TOIV: This was a loan from a family here on the island, the Fabers, who sent it over.
Q Were they the makers of the birthday flag?
MR. TOIV: I don't believe so. I believe it is a family tradition, and they will need it back shortly, apparently. They'll need it back shortly.
Q Is it a generic birthday flag, or is it for people of 51 years of age?
MR. TOIV: I think it's generic.
Q How many candles on the flag?
MR. TOIV: Sorry, Ann, didn't count. But not 51. Not 51.
Q Would you get back to us on that? (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: For those really dying for color, I believe it was four colors.
Any other questions?
Q Thank you.
Q What were the colors?
MR. TOIV: What were the colors? Light blue, pink, orange, and yellow.
Q Barry, what can you tell us about the party tonight since many of us are going to have to write something, we'll need something before 10:00 p.m., if possible?
MR. TOIV: I'm not sure I can tell you any more than you already know, which is that it will be hosted by Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen. And beyond that, I think you'll have to find out later.
Q Is it at their residence?
MR. TOIV: It is at their residence, which I believe is in Gay Head, unless somebody knows different. I was told Gay Head.
Q Do you know anything about the guest list?
MR. TOIV: No. Friends.
Q The people who are in the pool tonight will be able to get some kind of readout, Barry?
MR. TOIV: Yes, I think they'll get a readout. They'll get some idea of who is there. I think -- the way they will be situated is that they'll see at least some of the folks go in. There will probably be a face or two that are recognizable.
Q Do you have any other issues coming up like the land minds announcement yesterday, things that the President is signing off on later in this week?
MR. TOIV: I think the NSC might put out one or two pieces of paper later in the day. I'm not sure what they are yet. We will -- I hope they'll do it shortly, but we'll check when we're done here.
Q And is there any legislation that's finally coming -- is everything from this past session of Congress, last meeting of Congress, everything is done, there's no other paperwork, vetoes or --
MR. TOIV: I think he got the bill signings done before he left. I'm pretty sure he did. We'll check on that.
Q So you don't really expect -- other than, again, land mines which came out yesterday and whatever today -- do you expect any other issues on which the President will act this week?
MR. TOIV: That is always difficult to predict. This is not particularly a working vacation, though, but I don't want to swear to you that he's not going to make any decisions while he's here, but there are not any major issues pending that he's going to be working on, at least as of right now.
Q And does the NSC release have anything to do with Dennis Ross and the Middle East?
MR. TOIV: No, I don't think so.
Q Barry, are you putting out any appointments while we're here, personnel announcements while we're here? Do they continue to come out while he's on vacation?
MR. TOIV: They will. I mean, obviously, not as -- we won't be sending any nominations up per se, but there will be personnel announcements here and there.
Q Is that the only party he's going to tonight, or is he going to any others?
MR. TOIV: I'm not aware of any other. I think he gave his itinerary for the day.
Q Is he planning on meeting Lady Di this weekend, since she is apparently on her way and planning on staying here for the weekend.
MR. TOIV: I don't know.
Q What about Tiger Woods?
Q Streisand, Wood and --
MR. TOIV: The President did -- I can say that the President did not attend the Streisand wedding.
Q The New York Post said it could happen again this weekend here on the Vineyard.
MR. TOIV: The New York Post says it's this weekend? Stay tuned.
Q Yes, here on the Vineyard.
Q What do you mean stay tuned?
MR. TOIV: I don't mean anything. (Laughter.)
Q Any gifts, anything exchanged among --
MR. TOIV: We have not gotten any reports on any gifts at this time. We will do our best to find out what gifts were exchanged and get you all that information. But we don't have that information yet.
Q Has the President seen the Common Cause report out today which describes how badly the Democrats have been out-raised in the soft money field by the Republicans this year, and is he outraged?
MR. TOIV: I don't think he's seen that report, but nobody would be surprised by it.
Q Hey, Barry, can you tell us, did the President shoot an 80 or 79 yesterday, and why doesn't he include those three shots that he cheated on? (Laughter.) Or does that include the cheated shots?
MR. TOIV: I did not talk to the President about his golf score yesterday, so I don't know what his score was.
Q Are you allowed to ask him any questions?
MR. TOIV: Sure am.
Q Okay. So, get in there and --
Q And so you admit that he did cheat? (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: Nobody gave me that question. You should have given me that before, Paul. I would have checked it out.
Any other, like, real questions? (Laughter.)
Q Have you got any other real answers? (Laughter.)
Q Can you tell us any more, for those of us who are writing UPS stories, what led up to his statements Sunday morning before he left the White House and then his comment --
MR. TOIV: Yes. He had a conversation with Secretary Herman just before he departed, and he decided, based on the optimistic report he got from her as well as the reports of progress that we all saw on the Sunday morning shows, that it was a good time for him to kind of give a little extra push. He felt that a statement by him would give them the little extra push that they needed.
The report he got was that they were fairly close, and that they ought to be able to reach an agreement, and so he thought that was -- this was the appropriate time for him to speak up, so he did.
Q And then the second statement later that night?
MR. TOIV: He continued to feel optimistic based on what he was hearing, and the whole -- throughout this process, the actions of the administration have been geared towards keeping the parties at the table and working to reach an agreement. And he felt that at that point in the process, the best role that he could play was to continue to encourage them to show optimism and by doing that, help keep them at the table and working to reach an agreement.
Q On the Cuba story, any comment on the report about that he might ease the travel restrictions to Cuba?
MR. TOIV: Yes, somewhere in here. Which report --
Q It's the report saying he might do it in January for the Pope's visit -- for the Pope's visit in January?
MR. TOIV: We've received requests as you know from the Archdiocese of Miami. The Cuban Catholic Church and others permit travel to Cuba in connection with the Pope's visit. We've begun to receive license applications and we'll consider their merit on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law and the humanitarian needs of the Cuban people -- travel and shipment of humanitarian assistance, which was also -- has been requested -- will require appropriate licensing by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce. So far, no licenses have been granted. A request by the Archdiocese of Miami to conduct a pilgrimage by a cruise ship is being considered under OFAC regulations governing religious travel. Another non-answer.
Q Do you have anything on Mir? Is the President concerned at all about American involvement in this project that seems to keep going wrong at every turn?
MR. TOIV: As you know, NASA is doing their best to help the Russians with the current difficulties. As far as future American involvement, I think we've made it clear before that we would be looking at the program very closely to determine what our future involvement should be, and that's a process that's ongoing.
Q Has he said -- do you have any Clinton words on this? Has he been watching this saying --
MR. TOIV: I don't have any words from him on it, no; but he is aware of it.
Q Barry, you said this is not particularly a working vacation. Can you give us some sense besides the UPS strike what the work portion of the vacation consists of? I mean, is he still getting a security briefing, and what else?
MR. TOIV: He gets a security briefing every day and obviously Erskine talks to him as needed. Probably speaks with him most days to let him know what's going on. But that's -- on an average day, I think that will be his primary work. He has reading with him, although I noticed today that he had made -- that he seemed to have made his way almost all the way through the Marshall book that you all heard about -- at least if I'm to believe where the bookmark was.
But that's what he's spending a lot of time on at the moment. That's -- in terms of work, hopefully there's not going to be a lot of it.
Q He cheats when he reads? Are you suggesting -- (laughter.)
MR. TOIV: Any other questions? All righty.
Q When will you brief again? (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: Tomorrow.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:39 P.M. EDT