THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY DAN TARULLO
The Briefing Room
1:20 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. What do you want to talk about today?
Q Fast track.
MR. MCCURRY: Good, because I brought with me some super special experts -- Dan Tarullo, who is Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy, is here and can take your questions. Vicki Radd, who has been, along with Jay Berman, coordinating our internal White House fast track force, is also here. Dan is probably the best to whack away at any questions on the paper we have now given to you to outline the legislation that is now been discussed, briefed on the Hill, and that the President will address when he goes to see the caucus at 4:00 p.m. So why don't I just turn it over to Dan and see --
Q Which caucus?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is speaking to the House Democratic Caucus, but we've had administration officials before the Senate as well. There's a luncheon -- is that the Senate Democratic luncheon -- which both Ambassador Barshefsky and Secretary Daley were at -- correct? And Secretary Rubin. So we've had a plethora of administration officials fanning out, along with White House officials, all over Capitol Hill, spreading the message that open and free trade will contribute to this nation's vibrant economic performance.
Q When did the legislation go up?
MR. MCCURRY: It went up this morning and it will be introduced at requests later today, we hope.
MS. RADD: It was transmitted about an hour ago.
MR. MCCURRY: So we are well underway.
Q How are you going to overcome the labor objections? Is there any -- have you found the key?
MR. TARULLO: Well, Helen, what we tried to do is to craft a bill that could engender bipartisan support, and I think we've done that. If you've had a chance to look at the summary that's been give you, you see that there is included as a principal negotiating objective the pursuit of labor standards and environment standards in the World Trade Organization.
Whether this -- this, in all honesty, is not going to satisfy all those who have had concerns, but I think what you will see is a genuine bipartisan basis of support for the legislation.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that what the President wants is authority that allows him to pursue the three objectives he has in this area -- to open markets for U.S. exports, to promote the observance of labor standards, and to promote sound environmental practices abroad. And we believe that this legislation, while it might not be everything that everyone wanted, allows him to continue to pursue those three objectives.
Q Are those three equal objectives, or is the first objective the prime one?
MR. TARULLO: Well, when you're doing a trade agreement, obviously what's motivating you in the first instance is trying to tear down trade barriers, and so that's what puts you into the negotiation. The labor and environmental issues have throughout the President's first term and into the second been important factors in the negotiation of trade arrangements.
I would also add that the labor and environmental agendas are by no means limited to the trade area. We have pursued them in the international financial institutions, in the ILO, in our bilateral contacts and a variety of other ways.
Q Besides promoting these objectives, labor and environmental objectives, and WTO, your analysis indicates on page four that the President wants fast track authority to include legislation that is related to trade. Is this the Archer compromise, so that not only would you promote labor and environmental objectives in the WTO, but you could actually incorporate them in trade agreements you submit to Congress if these items are related to trade -- is that correct?
MR. TARULLO: That's correct. If the provisions are directly related to trade then they may be included in the implementing legislation in the agreement itself. That phrase came about, actually, in discussions a couple of years ago and has been revived this year, and we did include it in the legislation.
Q This is the Archer idea, right?
MR. TARULLO: Well, I believe that a staff draft from the House Ways and Means Committee earlier in the year included it, yes.
Q Let me give you a hypothetical -- under this authority, if you get it, you could have an agreement, let's say, with Chile or any other country to open up markets, but have a proviso that they could not export child labor manufactured goods -- wouldn't that be related to trade?
MR. TARULLO: Well, it would surely depend -- obviously it depends on the meaning that is eventually attached to it, something that's going to be addressed, I'm sure, by the Ways and Means and Finance Committees and the full House and Senate as they go through. We don't try to define trade related; it's context obviously differs from agreement to agreement. I think it's fair to say that there would be a reasonably discreet set of provisions that would be encompassed by it, but what exactly it means in a particular trade agreement would presumably need to await that negotiation.
Q And, finally, with regard to the NAFTA precedent where you had side agreements, are these still an option to the President?
MR. TARULLO: Absolutely. In fact, the President's pursuit even within the trade area of the labor and environmental standards really is three-pronged. First you do have the possibility of trade-related provisions in the agreements themselves. Second, we decidedly do have side agreements as an option, and in fact, Chile has already indicated its willingness to negotiate side agreements when we get into full negotiations with them. Third, as I mentioned earlier, we are pursuing the labor and environmental issues through the World Trade Organization.
Q Well, I was just going to ask if you could give us exactly when those side agreements might kick in -- what would be unrelated that you would --
MR. TARULLO: Well, you can have -- as you may know, the side agreements under the NAFTA, for example, cover environmental and labor practices generally in the countries that are members of the NAFTA, and so they apply to labor standards in general throughout the country and you can have discussions, consultations and dispute settlement within the side agreement context about them. And I would anticipate that the Chilean -- the kind of model we'd be looking at in the Chilean case would be similar to the basic approach that was taken in the NAFTA. That's what Canada did in their recent negotiation with Chile of side agreements. There was some variance on it, but it was essentially that.
Q But labor unions argue that the NAFTA side agreements are not enforceable. How have you addressed that concern?
MR. TARULLO: Well, there have been -- in the labor area, for example, there have been seven proceedings brought before the Commission on Labor under the NAFTA. There have been very tangible results as a result of some of those consultations. The recognition of a trade union in one case, the order that there be secret ballots in voting for certification in a couple of other cases.
So I think actually, there is a record showing that there can be some effectiveness here, but it's obviously a piece of a larger strategy that needs to be pursued in parallel tracks and other institutions as well.
Q How quickly are you going to come to a vote and what do you rate the prospects?
MR. TARULLO: I'm quite confident on the basis of the consultations we've done over the course of the very late summer, but since Labor Day in particular, that we do now have a strong bipartisan basis for support. Obviously, the timing of the vote depends on the rules of the House and the Senate, but our hope and expectation is that it will be quite expeditious.
Q Before the President's trip?
MR. TARULLO: Oh, I don't know -- I would assume that we will see movement before the President's trip. Whether it comes to a vote before then, obviously that awaits Chairman Archer and Chairman Roth's determination to some degree.
Q You say you have a strong bipartisan base of support. That's not the same as a majority. Do you feel you have a majority in both Houses?
MR. TARULLO: I don't know -- I think we're going to have to wait and see over the course of the next days and weeks whether that is the case. That's why the President is going up this afternoon, and that's why the group to whom Mike alluded earlier is fanning out to discuss this. I'm sure we're going to have a good deal of support. How much in each party will remain to be seen, but I think there will be a lot.
Q Dan, a lot of fence-stragglers on the Hill say they are undecided because they are unsure about the success of NAFTA, particularly as -- manufacturing jobs. Do you find this to be true? Are you having to resell NAFTA all over again, and how are you going about trying to win over these folks?
MR. TARULLO: The President feels quite strongly that NAFTA has been a success. It's been a success for Mexico; it's been a success for the United States. But it's important to note that whatever one's views on NAFTA, fast track isn't and ought not to be a referendum on NAFTA. Fast track is about the agenda which Ambassador Barshefsky has laid out repeatedly in public testimony and speeches and the like. That includes the pursuit of the post-Uruguay Round built-in agenda -- things like government procurement, high-tech agriculture services. It, secondly, includes some of the sectoral initiatives that we've begun, trying to reduce tariffs, for example, in the basic telecommunications area, as we did earlier this year. And third, it does entail a bilateral or regional element as well; the first piece of which and the only piece that we've specified is Chile.
So that you can see the breadth of that agenda is such as to encompass U.S. export interests throughout the world, and not dealing with a big country on our border. We have literally run out of borders; there are no more countries to negotiate border arrangements with.
Q How certain are you of continued strong Republican support with the labor and environmental provisions that are in this proposal?
MR. TARULLO: I want to let them, the Republican members themselves speak to that. My understanding was that Chairman Archer made a statement earlier in the day that was reported on the wires which indicated he thought that this was a constructive beginning and something that they could work with.
Q What is the administration's position with regard to Chile as to whether you are going to negotiate to incorporate Chile in NAFTA in the tripartite agreement you now have with Mexico and Canada, or whether you are going to negotiate separately with Chile?
MR. TARULLO: Our discussions with Chile over the last year or two, we have indicated that we might be interested in a bilateral arrangement, much as Canada did a bilateral arrangement with Chile. I don't think there's any final decision on that yet, but that possibility has certainly been discussed, discussed quite seriously, and I think it's one to which the Chileans are amenable.
Q And wouldn't it be easier to do it that way?
MR. TARULLO: Be easier to do it that way?
Q Then have Mexico and Canada --
MR. TARULLO: For technical reasons alone it would be easier to do that, because the NAFTA is set up in many respects with three countries in mind and there are some quite specific provisions which would have to be renegotiated. You can't really just accede to that arrangement.
Q Dan, does the White House selling strategy include using the former Presidents again?
MR. TARULLO: I'm not aware of any imminent involvement of the former Presidents. My guess is that since each of them had and used fast track authority during his term that he would be supportive of it, but I don't know that for a fact.
Q How does this bill differ from the one that Archer proposed in '95?
MR. TARULLO: Well, there are a number of differences, one of which I've already alluded to which is the special provision on labor standards and environmental standards to be included as a principal negotiating objective in the WTO. A second is that references made to those standards when they are trade distorting and trade related. Third, we've included agriculture as a specific negotiating objective, which we feel is important. Those are some of the salient differences. There are a number of others -- I mean, things have evolved over time and I don't want to mislead you that -- there are differences between the Archer draft of '95 and the majority draft of earlier this year, but those are some of the important differences.
Q Is the administration going to have to make offers to Republicans in other areas to try to galvanize their support for this?
MR. TARULLO: I'm not aware of any -- you mean apart from the discussion of fast track itself?
Q Right. There was some talk of maybe trading census language with Gingrich support on fast track. Is there any discussion like that going on right now?
MR. TARULLO: We, to the best of my knowledge, have introduced a fast track bill which we think can and will stand on its own merits and will galvanize a good deal of support for it. It's not, in our view, tied to any other issue.
Q Does labor have an argument under NAFTA? Have they suffered -- I mean, has labor suffered? American workers.
MR. TARULLO: Well, Helen, I think you have to look at in a slightly broader context, which is what's happened over the last few years. As you know, in the wake of the peso crisis of late '94 and into '95, Mexico experienced a substantial contraction in its economic growth and performance, as a result of which it imported a lot less from the rest of the world, including the United States. When you're growing, you tend to import more; when you're not doing so well, you tend not to buy as much. Thus, the growth effects of the -- the overall effects of trade between the United States and Mexico over the last few years have been substantially distorted by the peso crisis.
If you look just in the last year, as Mexico has recovered, our exports to Mexico have recovered much more quickly than those in the rest of the world. Ours went down less even during the peso crisis and that was because of NAFTA, because of Mexico's obligation to keep zero tariffs on -- or very low tariffs on many imports coming in from the United States. So we think the NAFTA both stabilized Mexico economic policy in general and, in particular, assured U.S. products of the most favorable access to the Mexican market, as it was contracting, but as it began to grow again.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, Dan. Thank you, Dan. Vicki, anything to add? Any other subjects today?
Q Do you have a new land mines agreement, and has the President consulted with anyone like the military, the Joint Chiefs, on that today?
MR. MCCURRY: We do not have any word from Oslo that the discussions underway there have concluded. They were extended by decision of the chair another 24 hours so that additional ideas could be considered. This is in the aftermath of the United States putting forward a counterproposal over the weekend, as you know. And the President, yes, has been very actively involved on this issue and has reviewed it closely with our team here, with the Joint Chiefs and with others.
Q Would that account for his delay here in leaving here to go over to CIA, do you know? And can you tell us --
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of, but I think the President has been actively engaged on this issue.
Q This morning?
MR. MCCURRY: Throughout the evening and this morning, yes.
Q Well, Mike, on this point, are there new American proposals then?
MR. MCCURRY: We've indicated, as you know, in Oslo that we have put forward a counterproposal that was under consideration, and within the last 12 to 24 hours there have been additional ideas discussed. And at this point, there's a negotiation underway, so I'm not going to attempt to get ahead of where our negotiators are in Oslo. But we're determined to see if we can achieve an outcome that gets what the President wants, which is a ban on antipersonnel mines consistent with his own obligations as Commander-In-Chief to protect our national security interests and the safety of troops that he would send in harm's way around the world.
Q There is some concern that those proposals will water the treaty down to a point where it's basically ineffective, and some are saying no treaty is better than a watered-down one.
MR. MCCURRY: No. We want an effective treaty and that's what our negotiations are aimed at achieving.
Q Can you tell me if Canadian Prime Minister Chretien talked to the President last night and was instrumental in helping get the postponement --
MR. MCCURRY: I will say only that the President has been engaged at the highest levels. It wouldn't be a surprise if he had contact with Prime Minister Chretien on this issue, but at this point I don't want to detail the work that he's been doing on it. The status of the negotiations at this point is quite sensitive. They're clearly in something of overtime at this point, and we hope for a successful resolution of all of the issues that have been under discussion in Oslo.
Q Can you tell us when he talked to Chretien?
MR. MCCURRY: Not long after midnight.
Q Mike, on the subject of tobacco, some of the people who have been negotiating on the side of the attorneys general say today that the White House has been disingenuous, that the White House was involved in the negotiation "paragraph by paragraph, line by line," and to now say it's not good enough is simply dishonest.
MR. MCCURRY: You followed here, day by day, our participation in those discussions and you knew all the way along the way that we were actively monitoring them and following the ideas and sharing our thoughts when that was appropriate, but we made clear from the outset that we would have to submit any settlement that resulted from these discussions to a very thorough and meticulous review, which the President has done. And the President continues to believe, as he has said, that there was enormous good work done by the parties in this discussion, that they have put in place something that may, in fact, become the foundation for a very forward-looking national policy on tobacco use by young people that will accomplish the President's principal public health goal, which is to protect kids from tobacco addiction.
So, no doubt, as we get closer to the President's announcement tomorrow, the parties themselves are going to, in a sense, continue some of the vibrations from their own discussions, but that's to be expected. And more importantly now, the effort moves to Capitol Hill and what reaction Congress will have to the President's message tomorrow and what we will lay out is what we think of as the principles without a guide, the formulation of a national strategy on tobacco use by young people.
Q Why is the President only going to give us an outline tomorrow? Why not details and legislation? He's had months to look at this now.
MR. MCCURRY: A lot of things will go into crafting legislation, and we've just been talking here about fast track legislation. It's clear to you, I would imagine, that the result of long, productive consultations with Congress is that we have fashioned something that we think can achieve a majority of support in Congress. It will take exactly that same kind of work, working with Congress, to get a legislative vehicle that would ultimately be enacted as a new national law on tobacco use. But the President will get some pretty clear direction on the way in which we can move forward on this issue and Congress has a great deal of interest in this issue and we'll be debating it vibrantly and actively.
You are, of course, no doubt mindful of the comments that have come from the leadership that they are not likely to take this issue up this year, and it seems wise to us to engage in specific legislative language at the point that there is a specific legislative debate occurring in Congress.
Q Mike, will the tobacco industry be party to tomorrow's announcement, or are they now outside the deal?
MR. MCCURRY: They have to speak for themselves. I think they have a good understanding of where the President's thinking is and where he will try to head policy. And we believe that as we engage with Congress and as we make the merits of the argument the President wants to make and as the industry considers its own responsibilities on this issue and the work they put into the discussions to date that, in the end of day, when Congress enacts legislation the tobacco industry, we hope, will supportive of the final legislation. But I can't speak for the industry.
Q Do we have a better idea of when and where now?
MR. MCCURRY: The President I expect has some things to say in the Oval Office tomorrow around 10:30 a.m. He'll be joined by Bruce Reed, the President's assistant for domestic policy, along with Secretary Shalala, from the Department of Health and Human Services really constructed the review of the proposed settlement. And Secretary of Agriculture Glickman will be there as well. The settlement does not address the needs and concerns of tobacco farmers in/and* tobacco producing states. The President is very keen on seeing that whatever we do looking forward addresses some of those concerns.
Q The Attorneys General won't be there?
MR. MCCURRY: I expect some of them will be there and we'll let you know tomorrow which ones will actually be there.
Q Have you been consulting -- you have been consulting with tobacco all along in this review. Are you at all fearful that in order to strengthen it, you may end up scuttling it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we have tried to take an assessment of where the parties are and we have tried to incorporate some of the concerns we've heard from the industry. They'll have to tell you tomorrow -- satisfied with the presentation the President makes.
Q Mike, is it accurate that the President can support a price increase up to $1.50 a pack? And also, is it safe to assume that if you have administration officials briefing on the Hill this afternoon that this is finalized, or could it still change this evening?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's safe to assume that as we share, I think, on the Hill that we're largely done with the work, the President may want to fine-tune his own presentation tomorrow that he makes. And as to the first part of your question, I think it would be accurate to say that as you review the concerns, amendments, additions that the President would make to the proposed settlement and take into account the structure of things like penalties if we don't achieve goals and things like that, the net effect over 10 years, if we fail to meet some of the goals that are set forth in the proposed policy would be an increase per pack in cigarettes of up to $1.50.
Q When we were doing the day-by-day sort of assessing as this deal was going by, you then at that point said one of the reasons the White House was so involved was so that the settlement -- they didn't come up with something that was unacceptable to the White House. But that, in fact, is what happened.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't necessarily think that's the case. I think they've done a lot of work; the President will certainly applaud the work that's done and point to the parameters of the settlement being a very good building block for what could now become a national policy on tobacco. But I think we've made clear through this process that we had certain fundamental concerns about protecting the public health, especially the public health of children that had to be met, and that we would examine the work done by these negotiators in that light -- does it achieve the public health goal that the President set forward, and I think the President tomorrow will build on the impressive work that's been done by the parties in this negotiation and suggest here is a way we can take it all the way to the finish line and achieve for him what has been a major public health objective.
Q Mike, you mentioned that Congress has signaled that it won't do anything on tobacco this year. But that's in part because the White House made it clear that it wouldn't embrace the deal. So let me ask two questions: Number one, what makes you think that this is not just a missed opportunity, that come next year, nothing happens, and have you concluded that doing nothing is better than this deal? And if I could follow up, why do you think that next year in a political year, Congress would be willing to do something that's not this year?
MR. MCCURRY: First, the leadership of Congress made clear what the calendar will be on Capitol Hill and so we're realistic about what volume of work is going to be done up on the Hill between now and their adjournment. Second, the pressure that the industry will face because of litigation that they have state by state is not going way, and cases involving claims that have been brought by plaintiffs, those cases are not going away, and many of them are of considerable significance to the populations of major states and no doubt a source of some fear within the industry. And that doesn't go away, and more importantly, the American people are actively engaged on this issue. They're paying attention to this debate, they're following it carefully. And I guess we would argue that would probably heighten sensitivity on this issue as we go next year into an election period.
Q Mike, how much flexibility is there with Congress in terms of legislation? For example, $1.50 --
MR. MCCURRY: Just as we did with this proposed settlement, we will have a very clear public health objective in mind, and that will continue to be the standard the President will use to evaluate the work of Congress as they consider the proposals that we send forward and the ideas that we share with them. If we don't believe in the end of the day that whatever Congress is working on is going to protect the public health and deter children from beginning to smoke, then the President will not and cannot be supportive of the legislation.
On the other hand, given our assessment of where the temperature is on the Hill, we believe that there's a growing consensus that we need to act, that there needs to be jurisdiction to protect children from tobacco, that that jurisdiction should be asserted by the FDA, and that many of the things that are contained in the settlement ought to be codified into law, so that we enact now a policy that will begin to protect children so we don't see this issue wind up in the courts where it's endlessly litigated, and where nothing is done in the interim to protect children.
Q There's more than one permutation to meet those goals in terms of legislation?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, there are endless -- we discovered very quickly in this review of the proposed settlement, there are endless permutations, and that's one of the reasons that the issue itself contains a great deal of complexity.
Ah, construction noise -- love that. Vice President Gore will also be with the President at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. Can you -- these guys are not supposed to be drilling and stuff during the daily briefing. (Laughter.) Just remind them -- yeah. Yes, one last question. Yes.
Q On the penalty -- I don't know if I can talk over this --
MR. MCCURRY: I can hear you. Go ahead. The transcript will reflect whatever brilliant question you ask. Either that or a lot of aarrggh -- a lot of noise.
Q On the penalty enforcement issue -- can you hear that?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q Drs. Koop and Kessler had recommended a stronger or harder tax treatment on the tobacco industry, eliminating some of the tax deductibility that they can now -- they would have under the settlement. How does the administration stand on eliminating deductibility?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll leave it to the President to do the specifics of his presentation tomorrow, but I do believe that Drs. Koop and Kessler plan to be available tomorrow and will probably be in a position where they can react to the presentation made by the President.
Q Mike, what are the major issues the President is going to touch tonight with the Hispanic Caucus?
MR. MCCURRY: He is certainly going to go over the agenda that he has reviewed in various meetings he's had with leaders from that community. Education is first and foremost on his list, and he knows that there are concerns they have. Immigration policy, the effect of the recently enacted welfare reform bill -- these are all likely subjects, although I think the President will also talk about the importance of reaching out to that community, acknowledging the role they play in the life of a very diverse American community. And I think that he will have a good time as well, given the nature of the event.
Q Very good, Barry. Very nice.
Q Well done, Barry.
MR. MCCURRY: Let's see if that lasts. The Assassin at work once again. (Laughter.)
MR. TOIV: I took the entire press office out.
MR. MCCURRY: I think we're missing a few construction workers who are no longer with us. (Laughter.) Good work, Barry.
Q I know the Hispanic Caucus doesn't like the tests that the President -- the national tests, and particularly they want the English -- the test in reading to be in Spanish, too. What does the President think about that? Should we have a test in Spanish, too, as well as in English?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think you already know are thinking on that. We have acknowledged, and the Department of Education has said, that they will work closely with the community and develop a test in mathematics that could be administered on a bilingual basis. They are exploring ways in which you can deal with the question of people who are English-deficient and how they can properly be tested for reading comprehension. But the tests that would be administered to examine and to relate performance to the standard required for reading would be tests that would be done in English.
Q Does he plan to discuss his fast track legislation over at the Hispanic Caucus?
MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't doubt that that would come up. I think the President will probably want to hear from some who have been participating in sessions of the Caucus, and identify some of the specific concerns, and then maybe work through an agenda of items. We haven't really set the agenda finally that he's going to address tonight.
Q On another construction matter, has the President weighed in at all on the Air Force Memorial issue at Iwo Jima?
MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to check. Do you know, P.J.?
MR. CROWLEY: I think they're still working through the various committees that review that.
MR. MCCURRY: Why don't you check with NSC press staff on that later.
Q Mike, did you say that tonight's address is part of the outreach race relations drive?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, and, of course, he will also talk anybody the importance of his initiative and reaching out to those communities and hear from these groups. One of the things the President enjoys about this, as he did at the Congressional Black Caucus the other night, is the opportunity to hear back and get feedback from some of the leaders in these communities.
Q Mike, speaking of the race initiative, has the President actually started his once-a-month event schedule? And if so, is this month's event the Little Rock event, and what is next month's?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes and yes. And I think the Advisory Board has indicated that either at the end of September or early October they plan to have a meeting and there will be additional meetings coming forward -- nothing that we have publicly announced at this point, but they are planning some additional meetings.
Q Mike, as a replacement for Governor Weld, does the President intend to put a name up before Congress recesses?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to say that because, given the reality of the vetting process, I consider that somewhat unlikely, although we did begin today -- activated our effort to generate additional names to begin building a series of recommendations or options for the President. That just started today and there are no favorites and no short lists that have been developed at this point.
Q Mike, can you give us any guidance for anything that might happen in California, besides Chelsea starting school?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe the President, just for guidance purposes, is planning an education event at a charter school on the San Francisco peninsula. It will occur Saturday morning, and we'll get you more details of that as we develop it. It will be an opportunity, in an appropriate setting, to highlight some of the important aspects of his education initiative.
Q U.S. News and World Report says you're going to make the Clintons and Chelsea available on campus in a restricted fashion.
MR. MCCURRY: I think the First Lady and the President understand that there's enormous national interest in this story and they're trying to satisfy that interest appropriately, as good parents would, by allowing a story to be told, allowing it to be told in a way that respects the ability of their child to continue to lead as normal a life as you can lead under the circumstances. I'll leave it to the First Lady's Office to tell you the kinds of arrangements that they're making, but they are making some and they've been working hard on it.
Q Can I follow up? Were you ever able to find out, check out whether the Latin America summit was postponed because of a spring break?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't really bother to do that because it seemed pretty far-fetched to me. If that was a factor, it was certainly not as important a factor as other factors.
Q Well, was it a factor at all?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll check. I don't know whether it was or not.
Q Mike, the date is drawing nearer -- when will we get the schedule and the order of the visit of the President to Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina?
MR. MCCURRY: When it's available. I don't know.
Anything else? Okay. Thanks.
END 1:55 P.M. EDT