THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Miami, Florida) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 11, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART Radisson Hotel Miami, Florida
2:00 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: Let me do a couple of things on the schedule. The President will hold a press conference on Monday of next week at 2:00 p.m. Because of the Christmas and holiday decorations in the East Room, the East Room is not available. We have decided to hold the press conference in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department. Some of you who are historians of these things will remember some famous press conferences held there by President Kennedy. And due to the unavailability of the East Room, we've decided to go over there and do that.
Q 2:00 p.m. Monday?
MR. LOCKHART: 2:00 p.m. Monday, yes.
Q Is it a kind of the end-of-the-year summation?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I don't want to speculate about what might or might not be in an opening statement, but I'm sure that some of your questions will focus on asking the President to reflect on the year.
Secondly, on tonight's schedule, President Arzu of Guatemala is coincidentally in the country to accept an award in the room next to the room we're having our event tonight at the Biltmore Hotel. The President -- it's an award from I think a group called Latin Trade Magazine, so the President, before he goes to the event, will have a private session with the President and some of the other award winners.
Thirdly, I know you --
Q Could you give us the spelling of that name, first name?
MR. LOCKHART: A-r-z-u. I'll get that for you, Terry, okay.
Q Does this change the schedule at all, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: No, no. He'll start a little bit earlier.
Thirdly, I know you've been getting some of the briefings going on in Washington. We will refeed the whole Vice President session when I'm done. And I understand that Mr. Sperling and Mr. Steinberg and others are doing a session with some of your colleagues. We'll feed that down if I can get done in time. In fact, I'll try to break when I know that's starting, because I know you want to listen to that.
That's it. Questions.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I'm sorry, transcripts of all of them.
Q Joe, do you have any reaction to the First Lady being apparently bounced out of some private club in New York?
MR. LOCKHART: "Apparently" I think is the operative word. I think the President, who spoke to the First Lady -- they share the view that this is much ado about nothing. My understanding of the situation was on the way out the First Lady was having a conversation with a journalist, and having her picture taken by her staff photographer, which raised an objection from someone. They were on their way out. They left. They were planning to leave. I have no reason to believe that the characterization which you used is correct.
Q Was the First Lady offended by whatever happened at this club?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think she's thought very much about it.
MR. LOCKHART: I said, I don't think she's thought very much about it. She was on her way out. She stopped to have a conversation. She proceeded on out.
Q Did she really say, let's get out of here, when the confrontation or whatever it was --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know what words were used, but I don't believe that either the President or the First Lady look at this as a big deal.
Q Joe, in the fundraising speech last night and again today, the President sort of gave the view that he thinks the Democratic Party has not been adequately rewarded by the voters for their achievements over the last five years. Is that his view? There is almost a sort of whining quality, almost sort of --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think it's more that we believe we have a strong record, a strong record to run on, and we need to do a better job of communicating it. And we are heading into a season when there is a premium on communicating what you believe and what you've done. And I think that's what he's talking about.
If you look back over the five years, and I think you have to look at it in the timeline that it was in, much of the benefits that you're now seeing come from economic policies pursued early on in the administration. And those -- the 1994 election cycle was not one where we went out and communicated effectively what we were trying to do.
I think it certainly was done more effectively in 1996, and the challenge is for us to go forward into 1998. I think if we do that job, we stand very good chance of changing the dynamic in the current Congress.
Q Can I follow, Joe? Does the President have any new plans of how to do that better, other than addressing a bunch of the choir at these fundraisers, where he seems to give this spiel --
MR. LOCKHART: Absolutely. And I think we have been working very closely with our colleagues from the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats -- Senator Daschle, Representative Gephardt, and their people -- working on both the policy agenda for 1998 and how we plan to go out and communicate our ideas as we move into a very political season.
So I think you will hear a lot more about that. We're certainly not ready to lay out many of those issues, but I think you'll see, as we get into the political season of next year, a common and unified agenda and themes from Democrats.
Q Joe, UNSCOM head Richard Butler is headed to Baghdad I believe tomorrow. What is the White House hoping for out of this trip?
MR. LOCKHART: The White House is hoping very simply that Mr. Butler and UNSCOM will be given unfettered access to the areas which they wish to inspect.
Q And if I could follow, Louis Farrakhan had some comments in Baghdad earlier this week. He called on the Arab world to, among other things, consider an oil embargo to force the U.N. to repeal the sanctions against Iraq. What is your reaction to that?
MR. LOCKHART: I think Mr. Farrakhan's views defy the unanimous opinion of the world community.
Q Was there any attempt to control his going to Baghdad?
MR. LOCKHART: As you know, there are restrictions that apply. He was aware of them. I think, if my memory serves, one of his representatives may have talked to someone at the U.N. and at the State Department. So he certainly should be aware of the restrictions that do apply.
Q And is there any possibility of a repercussion?
MR. LOCKHART: I couldn't speculate on that.
Q Joe, where is Janet Reno today and why is she not here on this trip? It's her hometown, drug interdiction.
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know what her schedule was today.
Q Was she invited by the White House?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I think that it was generally Secretary Slater and General McCaffrey who took the lead on this, because it was an event to highlight the Coast Guard, so I don't have a -- I just don't have a -- clearly she's an important player, as General McCaffrey referenced several times, in our overall fight on drugs. But I don't have a definitive -- you know, whether it was a scheduling thing or more of a Transportation Department issue, because we were highlighting the Coast Guard.
Q Joe, are there more fundraisers this year, or does this close out the cycle?
MR. LOCKHART: Terry, I'm not aware of any. I promised to check earlier and I just didn't, so I will. I'm not aware of any more this year. There certainly aren't any more out-of-town trips that have fundraisers on them for the year. But I'll go back and check.
Q Do you have a tally of the money raised by the President in this recent --
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Are you volunteering to get one?
MR. LOCKHART: No. No. I think there's a fairly effective public reporting mechanism that you can all check with.
Q Are you finding more people are willing to donate at this point, because of the upcoming elections? Or is there --
MR. LOCKHART: I think if you go in and look at a breakdown of political fundraising, you'll find that the closer you get into an election cycle, the more people's attention turns to politics and who they want elected -- whether it be their congressman, their senator, or their city councilman. So I think you find that there are more people who get involved in contributing to political candidates the closer you get to the election.
So I think you'll find whichever party you're talking about, there will be an increase in actual fundraising as you get into 1998.
Q There have been a lot of stories that people are sort of gun shy about it, just because of the media attention over the campaign financing controversy, and I wondered --
MR. MCCURRY: We've spoken to that before. I think there has been a certain demonization to the whole process that's gone on in the last year, and that's unfortunate. I think the President believes very strongly that contributing financially to a candidate that you believe in is part of the system and is something to be proud of, rather than something to try to hide. But it's been an unfortunate side effect, or spillover, I think, in the flurry of accusations and charges that we've seen in the last year.
Q Is the President doing anything today on Kyoto, other than the statement he made this morning? Is he talking to foreign leaders, senators, anything like that?
MR. LOCKHART: He spoke this morning to Chancellor Kohl on a variety of subjects that included climate change. He has sent messages to a group of foreign leaders, thanking them for their efforts.
I know he spoke to Senator Daschle last night about this, and I know it is his intention to reach out to some congressional leaders soon. I'll just have to get back to you on how --
Q Does "soon" mean today?
MR. LOCKHART: In the coming days. I don't know that it will be today.
Q And what would be the message that he would want to deliver? Is he worried about Senate confirmation?
MR. LOCKHART: No. I think -- without getting into the details of the negotiations, which I'll leave to the others who are more closely involved -- I think he will repeat the message that he has told you now a couple days, that this is environmentally strong and economically sound. This is a good treaty, and that he's going to work for it.
Q Did he get an assessment from Daschle about its prospects at this point?
MR. LOCKHART: They talked a little bit about it. I don't know that they got very deeply into the congressional strategy or the prospects. But they did spend some time on it.
Q Did they talk about other things, like Bill Lann Lee or any other subjects?
MR. LOCKHART: You know, they talked about a couple other things. I don't know if Bill Lee came up.
Q Joe, on the call to Chancellor Kohl, did he talk about Iraq?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.
Q And back on climate change. The agreement includes a sharper cut in greenhouse gas emissions than, of course, the U.S. originally proposed. Was it the feeling -- and yet the President says it's environmentally strong. Was it the feeling that we could not show our hand, could not indicate -- because it was a negotiation, we could not indicate, even to the American people, how far we were willing to go, for fear that we would tip, say, the Europeans to push us farther?
MR. LOCKHART: I think --
Q How do you justify -- if not, how do you justify the President indicating the proposal that we took to Kyoto was the best we could do?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President and the proposal going to Kyoto indicated principles and laid out principles, but also stressed, as the Vice President did, flexibility. Now, as far as the details of those go, I'm going to leave it to others who are closer to the negotiations.
Q Joe, on the latest subject of the First Dog, there are some published reports that the President has been making some phone purchases or doing some shopping for the First Dog. Do you know anything about that? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: I think on this issue we have the appearance of our first shaggy dog story. The President made no such call and I'm not quite sure where this came from. I talked to him about it and he --
Q So you're denying it flatly? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that he didn't call the pet store.
Q So what kind of presents wasn't the President buying for the dog?
MR. LOCKHART: I will tell you, though, that in talking to him and sort of relaying a lot of the interest that you all have expressed, and the various contests and web pages, he was actually surprised that there were so many people interested. And we sort of went through, to cut some of the volume of the thousands of people who have written in names. He has asked us to try to compile in some way some sampling of these suggestions and he said he wants to use it in how he goes forward and actually picks the name.
Q Is that the announcement at Monday's press conference?
MR. LOCKHART: I couldn't tell you that, Peter.
Q Joe, do we have any timeframe yet for when the First Dog will be in residence?
MR. LOCKHART: No. It's the one issue I just don't know and they're working on it now.
Q Do we feel it's days, weeks?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't get the sense it's in the next couple days.
Q These dogs take awhile to house-break, I think. Weeks, months.
MR. LOCKHART: Do you have expertise on this? Guest briefer, Steve Holland, will now give us a little bit more on house-breaking -- (laughter) --
Q Larry McQuillan --
MR. LOCKHART: Oh, it's Larry McQuillan who's the expert on that. Okay.
Q Is he is golfing this afternoon?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, sir.
Q He is golfing?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, sir.
Q Do you know with whom?
MR. LOCKHART: His brother-in-law is one of the people on the list. I'll get a list of the others for you.
Q One more on the phone call --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm being told I have to go.
Q Did they talk about Bosnia?
MR. LOCKHART: Briefly, yes.
Q Was it a central part of the discussion?
MR. LOCKHART: No, they really spent a good bit of the time going over some of the things on the U.S.-E.U. agenda last week, Bosnia being one of them. So there was a brief discussion of that.
Q Thank you.
END 2:16 P.M. EST