THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
3:08 P.M. EDT
MR MCCURRY: Now we go to part three. I've got a technical team from the Council of Economic Quality here to brief on global warming. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: You don't want to do that?
Let me do -- I think you've been well briefed today. I want to do two things for tomorrow.
First, the Vice President will host a tobacco event tomorrow in the Roosevelt Room, just to build on the President's announcement today -- expect Doctors Koop, Kessler, and representatives from Smoke-Free Kids there, maybe in fact, some kids themselves. But it will be another opportunity for us to talk further about the President's announcement today.
Q What time is that?
MR. MCCURRY: That'll be at 10:00 a.m., pool press in the Roosevelt Room.
The President has decided, today, just a short while ago, to attend tomorrow at the Pentagon at 1:15 p.m., 50th anniversary ceremonies for the U.S. Air Force. And he'll be making brief remarks there. And then the rest of his plan is as previously scheduled to depart for California.
MR. MCCURRY: 1947 was some year: NSC, CIA, the Pentagon building, the Air Force --
Q What time is the Air Force event?
MR. MCCURRY: 1:15 p.m., I'm told. We'll give you more details as we develop. We just had that --
Q Mike, what can you tell us about the five Americans who died in this helicopter crash in Bosnia?
MR. MCCURRY: We are -- not much at this point, Wolf. They are in the process, as I understand it from the Pentagon, of notifying next of kin now. We believe they were associated with part of the international community's presence in Bosnia, specifically through the U.N. Commissioner on -- High Commissioner on Refugees and through the Office of High Representative --
MS. LUZZATTO: The Westendorp --
MR. MCCURRY: The Westendorp Operation there. The others, I think, were associated with the task forces training the international police force there, but these were U.S. citizens associated with those international community efforts. I assume that, as they can and will, they will be releasing names.
Q Do you know what caused it?
MR. MCCURRY: I have to defer to the Pentagon. They're looking at that, obviously.
Q Mike, given the two anniversaries, how do the comments from the professor at Texas University that blacks and Hispanics are not predisposed to learning fare with the White House as it observes the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine; and, on the flip side, since the House voted no on standardized tests.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not sure that they relate directly to Central High. But, obviously, those kinds of remarks don't go down well with the President, period, which is one reason why he has initiated his dialogue on race. I think the individual in question has had a somewhat checkered past when it comes to outrageous statements.
The encouraging thing to the President is that it's very clear that his attitude and remarks have provoked a response both on campus at the university by the faculty that indicates that a majority of the faculty and the student body believe that his remarks are out of line.
Q On the smoking issue, the President said that in the coming weeks he would ask bipartisan members of Congress here to talk about passing legislation. Do you know when that's going to start?
MR. MCCURRY: In a sense it started today. I think some of the people that we will work with on that effort were clearly there at the Oval with the President today. But we'll be reaching out for them in the coming days to begin to structure the effort to write the legislation.
Q Can I ask a stupid question?
MR. MCCURRY: If you want a stupid answer, sure. (Laughter.)
Q So the settlement the attorneys general negotiated cost $368 billion, and this would more than double the penalties for not reaching the smoking target. Is it fair to call this a $700 billion deal?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think there is a precise price tag you can put on it. It could be that, it could be more, it could be less. Some have suggested the potential dollar volume might even be more. But it would depend, of course, on the volume of the penalties that would be assessed to the industry, what the anticipated flow of revenue would be from both those penalties. And then it depends also, as we negotiate further, what kind of contributions or expectations would arise from the industry itself as they pay into things like the fund that would eventually take care of other purposes, like assistance to rural communities where tobacco farmers live or additional counter-advertising to discourage use or additional cessation of -- programs to encourage people to quit smoking.
So I think it in part depends on how they fashion and negotiate the provisions that would be in the legislation itself. I don't think you can put a price tag on it, in short.
Q Do you know anything about these reports that Roger Tamraz supposedly told some staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that one of your ambassadorial nominees tried to get $50,000 from him to secure a meeting with the former Energy Secretary?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know a thing about what Mr. Tamraz may have told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, no.
Q Can you give us an idea tomorrow if you're going to brief what the U.N. speech is going to include?
MR. MCCURRY: We can try. I can try. I don't think it's been written yet, but I'll try to make up something.
Q You'll brief before we all depart, or you'll brief out there or how will you do it?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we'll do something here, maybe before the Air Force event tomorrow. And then you're essentially going to be turned over to Marsha Berry from the First Lady's staff once you're in California, and she will provide such detail as is available.
Q Can you tell us who the President is going to be meeting with on Monday at the U.N.? What leaders?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he has, I think beginning Sunday night, some pull-asides that we'll tell you about as they occur at the reception that's going to happen. And then we have some formally structured bilats on Monday. And I haven't looked at the list -- I know some of them that they were talking about, but let's do that either tomorrow or -- let's do that tomorrow.
Q After his speech?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again?
Q After he addresses the U.N.? Bilaterals.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, bilateral meetings, yes.
Q Has the President seen the final version of the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines, and if so, does he have any comment on that?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether he has yet or not. The final guidelines -- I know that they were --
MS. LUZZATTO: On what?
MR. MCCURRY: The U.S.-Japan final defense guidelines. We'll have to find out or you can check with the NSC staff on that.
We have been -- obviously, followed that very carefully and the President has had direct discussions with Prime Minister Hashimoto on it in the past, but I think they're going to do a review of that at the Pentagon, if I recall correctly, and then present an analysis.
Q The President going to have a meeting with the the Prime Minister of India in New York at the U.N. Do you have any idea who asked -- requested the meeting and what they will discuss?
MR. MCCURRY: You can try -- the NSC staff can help you.
Q And also, the President and Chelsea went to the Indian restaurant.
MR. MCCURRY: They did. They went --
Q The Bombay Club. Do you have any idea they liked at the Indian restaurant?
MR. MCCURRY: I think we did provide some information on the menu, but it is Chelsea's favorite restaurant and they've dined there often.
Q Can we get a report of that?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I'm not going to do that.
Q On Mexico, you said you were starting the process over again on the search for ambassador, but do you think there is any realistic chance of getting a name before Congress adjourns?
MR. MCCURRY: Nancy, I don't think so. I think just given the reality of the vetting process, we might be able to begin narrowing down the list, but it would be highly unlikely we would be able to forward a name to the Senate prior to their adjournment for the year, just simply because of the process involved in properly vetting and clearing a nomination. The process that the diplomatic security folks use to do background checks for ambassador appointments takes I think at least six to eight weeks, if I'm not mistaken -- something like that in any event.
Q And you wouldn't consider a recess appointment?
MR. MCCURRY: We have no ambassador designate at this point obviously, so there would be no one to grant a recess appointment to, and the President is very confident in the staff in Mexico City. We've got a great group of foreign service career professionals down there, and I think we've got certainly adequate mechanisms in place to continue an important bilateral dialogue in the interim. But we've been using that since Ambassador Jones left earlier in the summer anyhow.
Q Mike, are you happy about the Senate, at least in the committee stage, giving a thumbs-up to the highway funding bill?
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't even realize that they had done that, but we've got some concerns -- we've got a long list of some concerns that you can get in our Statement of Administration Policy on the surface transportation, the intermodal transportation acts that are developing in both houses. And I'll defer to the paper we've already put out on that.
Q Mike, is the President doing anything special with Chelsea today, given that it's her last day?
MR. MCCURRY: He's waiting for her to get back. She was, I think, running last-minute errands and is coming back later, and they're going to continue to do some packing. I think the President ran out to do a little recreation until she gets back --
Q Ran out is right.
MR. MCCURRY: They are going to do -- among other things, they're going to have to probably negotiate over certain CDs later this evening, I understand. (Laughter.) And they're going to continue packing some boxes. But that's going, as the President said early, somewhat bittersweetly.
Q How much stuff is she taking with her?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know, but the normal for a college kid.
Q Mike, I guess the President is playing a typical role of being daddy watching his father go. What kind of fatherly advice is he giving his daughter, his little girl, who goes off to college -- that you can tell us?
MR. MCCURRY: Mostly private, but when the President has talked about it in the past, he's suggested that both the President and First Lady take a lot of pride in the way their daughter has turned out, and you just kind of hope and pray that you've done the best you can to prepare them for what they will face in adult life. And I think the President's advice would be much like any father to a daughter: to use common sense, use the values that we've tried to teach you to make good judgments in life, and enjoy and embrace all the wonderful challenges that lie ahead. And the President has expressed that, and by the way, I think, you'll all want to see the First Lady's column, which she's written, which is on this subject and will be available from the syndicate that distributes her column. She's written in a very poignant way on exactly that point.
Q Did the mother or father do anything on college boys -- the seniors in particular? (Laughter.) She's a freshman, come on.
MR. MCCURRY: I think the Clintons have had good luck keeping their -- aspects of their roles as parents in the life of their daughter reasonably private, and I think that one reason why she's turned out to be a remarkably fine young lady is that we haven't pried too much in details like that, and I certainly hope that will be the fashion in which her life continues to be reported.
Let me just say with -- I think we've got some fact sheets on the land mine issue, but with that we've got a lid for the day. He's obviously out. I'm not aware of any plans. They've got a travel group out with him now, and we've got one FEMA release that's got to go out, too. But that's with -- with that, that will be a lid for the day.
Q What's he going to be doing on campus actually? Anything?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll leave that up to the First Lady's office. They're going to tell everyone. They're going to run everyone through that.
END 3:20 P.M. EDT