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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 8, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                              MIKE MCCURRY 

The Briefing Room

12:50 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Before we get started, some of you know Nyda Budig, who is from the State Department here, who has been helping us out over at the NSC Press Office, done a very good job. She has to go back to Consular Affairs over at the State Department and talk about visas and things like that. We very much appreciate the time she's spent here helping us while we were short-staffed. Nyda, have fun back at the State Department. A lot of people think you can have a lot more fun over at the State Department than you can here. I wonder why they think that?

Q You thought so, too. (Laughter.)


Q How come you didn't tell us about the leadership meetings this morning?

MR. MCCURRY: It was not firmed up at that point and it is now, and the President looks forward to seeing the House Democratic leaders here tomorrow morning for coffee, early in the morning, around 8:30 a.m. And they've got a lot to talk about.

We're going to adjust some of the times on the trip to Florida, so I think the event at the school now happens in the early afternoon, after lunch instead of before lunch. We'll put out an updated schedule.

Q What's the purpose --

Q On Thursday you have the Republicans?

MR. MCCURRY: There's been some discussion -- the President, as Congress comes back, obviously having a lot on its agenda, the President wants an opportunity to talk to the leadership, beginning with the House Democratic leaders tomorrow morning, and then possibly on Thursday the combined bipartisan leadership. We've talked about that and I think that's entirely possible, but I'm not prepared to say that's a definite meeting at this point.

Q Both Houses?

MR. MCCURRY: House and Senate.

Q Is the Lewinsky matter going to come up tomorrow? Is that the reason the President is --

MR. MCCURRY: It's certainly going to occupy some time in the next six weeks, so I imagine it will.

Q What is the President looking for from these House leaders?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's got a number of -- I think he's got a number of things he wants to say to them, a number of things he wants to ask them about, and first and foremost, he wants to talk about the work that Congress and the President need to do to address the people's business over the next six weeks.

Q What does the President need to express that he hasn't expressed already in the Lewinsky matter?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, if he has anything to express on that, I'm sure you'll find out about it tomorrow.

Q Is the President planning on giving another speech or --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to preview the event.

Q No, no, another interview or speech or at the prayer breakfast Friday morning?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is getting a lot of advice about things he might do in the days ahead, and he will do what he chooses to do and what he believes is right to do.

Q But, Mike, you do anticipate that tomorrow morning the President will have something to say about the Lewinsky matter to these House leaders?

MR. MCCURRY: If he does, I'm sure you'll hear about it.

Q No, I'm asking, is that what you anticipate?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't anticipate anything. I just show up for work and see what happens.

Q Let's go back to today. As you said this morning, let's replay this to some extent. The President is going this afternoon and the Governor of Maryland has made it very clear publicly that he is not going to attend because of the scandal. What's the President's feeling about that?

MR. MCCURRY: That we have an open day on the calendar and some of the people have now called us to see if they can fill that date. We'll see if we go and do one of their events.

Q Sam is talking about today.

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, today. I was talking about his fundraiser.

Q I tried to ask a very respectful question --

MR. MCCURRY: Look, the President has made it very clear that there's nothing that anyone could say critical about him that he hasn't said to himself. So I think he probably understands why the Governor feels the way he does.

Q But if Democratic officeholders don't want to be seen with the President, where is his base?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's going to be seen with Democratic officeholders tomorrow in Florida. And I imagine some will and some won't -- it will be 535 members of Congress and the Democrats among them will make their own choices.

Q -- in Florida turned down the invitation, Mike? Is that what you're saying?

MR. MCCURRY: No, he's going ahead with the schedule tomorrow.

Q Does the President feel that he has harmed Democratic chances this fall?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think the President has an assessment on that at this point.

Q Mike, does the President believe that Ken Starr has a legal obligation to make his report to Congress available to the President's attorneys in advance of submitting it to Congress?

MR. MCCURRY: I think Mr. Kendall's letter sets forth the thinking of the President on that.

Q Could you tell us what the thinking of the President is?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have the letter in front of me, but it's pretty straightforward and very clear. And I think it's a matter not so much of legality as of fundamental fairness, that the President ought to have a right to respond to any report, if there is such a report.

Q Has he heard back yet?

MR. MCCURRY: Not to my knowledge.

Q I mean has his lawyer heard back?

MR. MCCURRY: Not to my knowledge.

Q If there is such a report, would the President prefer to have the matter settled sooner rather than later? There is some talk that it would go over until next year.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think there's any way for the Executive Branch to predict how the Legislative Branch might deal with the report, if and when there is a report.

Q Is there any talk about seeking a restraining order of Judge Johnson in the event that Starr does not agree to --

MR. MCCURRY: I have not heard any such talk, but I can't imagine there would have been, but that's really a question you should direct to the President's attorney.

Q The Watergate grand jury report was presented not to President Nixon, but instead to Judge Sirica, who in turn passed it along to Congress. Why should this procedure be any different? Why should President Clinton get a chance to see it first?

MR. MCCURRY: I mean, there are a lot of things different now -- the facts are different, there's an underlying statute, the Independent Counsel statute, so I think the letter from Mr. Kendall sets forth the argument as best it can be set forth.

Q Any response from the President to Senator Boxer's remarks on the Senate floor --

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't gotten a response from the President on those remarks. I'm not sure if he will choose to make one. Again, as the President has said, there's not much that anyone could say about this that he has not said to himself and I think he respects and understands people who are expressing themselves on the matter.

Q Any response from the President to the head of the Southern Baptists asking him to resign?

MR. MCCURRY: No. There are a variety of leaders in the religious community and some have taken a contrary point of view, but they need to speak for themselves out of their own conscience and their own spirituality.

Q Mike, how would you characterize what we expect will be the Starr report?

MR. MCCURRY: What we expect to be the Starr -- Wolf, in fairness and in truth, you have no idea what's going to be in the Starr report and neither do we, so how can you characterize it?

Q Because a lot of the President's supporters are already saying it's going to be a one-sided, unbalanced report that deals with hearsay and no cross examination --

MR. MCCURRY: They have no way of knowing whether that is the truth or not. And you don't, either.

Q Well, let me ask you this question, then. Since much of the Starr report presumably will be based on secret grand jury testimony, Rule 6(e), does the White House --

MR. MCCURRY: You can't presume something you don't know. You don't have a clue. You might as well make that up. You don't know.

Q Well, we assume that that's going to be based on grand jury --

MR. MCCURRY: Did Mr. Starr or Mr. Starr's folks tell you that that's what's going to be in the report?

Q Well, it's logical if it is. I mean, it makes sense that a lot of that report would be --

MR. MCCURRY: There's a lot of guesswork there. I'm not going to try to hazard a guess.

Q Well, there are stories that the President may decide that he wants to come forward before the Starr report is made public and discuss more details --

MR. MCCURRY: Sam, I know there a lot of people who have got a lot of advice. Some of them are rendering that advice semi-publicly. And as I say, the President will do what he thinks is the right thing to do each and every day, and I know you'll all show up here and report the story as it unfolds.

Q Can I just finish that question, Mike?

MR. MCCURRY: No -- Connie.

Q Does everything that happened in the Oval Office, is it always observed --

MR. MCCURRY: One way or another, probably, yes.

Q All right. If there is secret grand jury information released in the Starr report, would the President be concerned that that's a violation of rule 6(e)?

MR. MCCURRY: Wolf, I am not going to speculate about what may or may not be in the report. I think if you look to Mr. Kendall's letter, there is a presumption that there would be a rule 6(e) governance over any such report if a report is made. That's the argument that Mr. Kendall makes. But it's sheer speculation to try to guess at what may or may not be in the report, unless Mr. Starr and his associates are briefing you on it -- and I don't believe they are. I imagine they're not.

Q Mike, Paul Schenk of the National Clergy Council, said today that the President ought not be attending this event with school children, that he's surrounding himself with school children to try to bolster his own image.

MR. MCCURRY: That's not true, but I'll stand by the previous answer I gave on that question.

Q Which was what -- I'm sorry.

MR. MCCURRY: I gave it already.

Q Mike, does the President expect to be getting a lot of advice from the Democrats tomorrow?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think the President would want to guess at what their response may or may not be.

Q On Sunday, Senator Moynihan said in his view what the President has admitted to concerning Monica Lewinsky is in itself an impeachable offense. Does the President have a reaction to that?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any response from the President to that. Senator Moynihan may or may not end up being, in effect, a juror sitting in judgment on any such allegation.

Q The President is getting a lot of outside advice. What's happening among his advisors inside the White House? Is there a central clearing place for this advice to go through --

MR. MCCURRY: I think the staff functions the way the staff usually functions. The Chief of Staff is in charge of the efforts underway on a range of fronts and we've been doing our jobs.

Q Approximately how many Democratic members -- or members of Congress has the President spoken with in the last several weeks, and what has been his message, what's he asking?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the full list and I wouldn't want to guess, and the conversations have been private.

Q Is there coverage tomorrow?

MR. MCCURRY: They're going to meet in the Residence, so I imagine we'll keep that private.

Q Mike, what's the general mood around the White House these days?

MR. MCCURRY: Determined, to go ahead with the nation's business.

Q What do you mean, determined? Determined about what?

MR. MCCURRY: Determined to go ahead with the nation's business.

Q Mike, do you have any update on the -- and also, what is the future of Afghanistan?

MR. MCCURRY: What is the future of Afghanistan? Well, it's not entirely clear, although the statement from the State Department issued yesterday indicated the United States government's views as to respect to the territorial integrity of the countries in the region.

Q Mike, does the President believe that the Starr report should be made public by Congress or kept private?

MR. MCCURRY: The only views of the White House or the President on the subject of the report, if there is a report, have been set forth in Mr. Kendall's letter.

Q Mike, does the White House have a view on what North Korea launched last Monday, whether it was a satellite, as the North Koreans claim or --

MR. MCCURRY: The long and short of it is we don't know if they, in fact, launched a satellite. There is not information that the United States government has at this point that confirms such a launch. The Defense Department can tell you more about what U.S. Space Command has learned or failed to learn about this -- and they probably are doing that at their briefing right now.

Q Mike, is there a special group monitoring the situation in Russia, is the President being given updates and --

MR. MCCURRY: There's not necessarily a special group, but a large part of our government is following very closely the events there. They are obviously part of the internal dynamic that the Russian people have to sort out for themselves, but it's one that we are watching with great interest, yes.

Q Mike, how does the President expect to go ahead with the nation's business, business as usual with Congress, when Congress is increasingly tied up with the procedural deliberations on how they're going to handle this report if and when it comes? And the leadership meeting -- are the Republican and Democratic leadership meeting with each other on how to handle all this.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President was elected to do a job by the American people and so was the Congress. The President is going to do that job to the best of his ability and Congress will do its job to the best of the abilities of the individual members. Some of it will involve this matter, but some of it -- the work of our government continues and will continue to be of interest to the members and continue, obviously, to be of interest to the President.

Q How much of an impediment is this matter?

MR. MCCURRY: It will occupy a lot of electrons and a lot of space, to be sure.

Q Trent Lott said over the weekend that the administration seems distracted from doing the people's business. Is that not the case?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think that's a fair judgment. Look, most of the people here, the truth be told, try as hard as they can to avoid this other matter by staying focused on the jobs that they were hired to do, on the work that the American taxpayer expects them to do on their behalf. That's how most people deal with this around here. The quantity of people who have to spend time absorbing this matter is pretty small.

Q But it includes the President, does it not?

Q Is the President still able to compartmentalize this as much as he always has?

MR. MCCURRY: The President has addressed a lot of that personally and I don't want to try to go beyond what he said.

Q Mike, the President wants to get this behind him and it does not look like Congress can dispense with the matter by the election. Should Congress come back immediately after the election --

MR. MCCURRY: Congress and its timing and how it deliberates really ought to be commented upon by members of the Congress.

Q Mike, have any Democrats canceled appearances with the President since Glendening?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm told they have not, and I'm told that some have sought out the date that's now available because Governor Glendening cancelled the fundraiser.

Q No other cancellations then?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I have hear d.

Q If the President really wants to wind up appropriations process by October 1, why does he support attaching education tax credits and other issues that the Republicans are bound to reject?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, look, the President, first and foremost, wants to fight for his priorities and fight for those things that he's laid before Congress and the American people all the way back to his State of the Union address. We're now in the final crunch of writing appropriations bills and it's perfectly appropriate for the White House to use the leverage we have at this point to gain whatever we can out of the appropriations process that addresses the President's priorities. There's no secret to the fact that this is the time of maximum leverage and maximum bargaining back and forth with the Congress as they complete the appropriations process.

Q Who is the President sending to the Northwest talks, and is this an indication he's prepared to end the economic damage this has caused in those regions of the country?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President has had good conversations with the elected representatives from the regions that are feeling the effects of the strike. The Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater; Bruce Lindsey who, as he frequently does in the White House Legal Counsel's Office on labor management issues, has been monitoring this. I think they all might play a role. Exactly what happens and whether or not meetings occur between any of these representatives and the parties remains to be seen at this hour.

Q I don't mean to be splitting hairs here at all, but let me ask this question. Have any venues declined to host presidential events?

MR. MCCURRY: I wasn't trying to -- I have not heard of any cancellations other than the Glendening thing, Scott. I wasn't trying to be cute.

Q Has he been distracted from following the strike because of his personal problems?

MR. MCCURRY: Not at all. In fact, he's gotten regular updates even while we were traveling abroad.

Q The Asian economies are affecting the U.S. economy and also including Wall Street, so what is the future, what is the U.S. doing to bring --

MR. MCCURRY: Most importantly, we're trying to get the funding for the International Monetary Fund that we need to achieve to give them the capacity to respond to some of these effects in the Asian regional economy. And so finding that funding and getting it secured from the Congress and making it available so that when the special facilities need to be made available they can be made available has been an important part of the work that we are going to get done in these closing days of this session.

Q Apart from the issues that are linked to appropriations process, what is the likelihood of other stand-alone legislation getting through, like the HMO --

MR. MCCURRY: I think it's hard to predict, but I think we are in that period as Congress is winding up its work for the year in which those things have got the best chance of moving forward, and we'll just have to see how things unfold.

Q The campaign finance bill is ready to make a comeback this week on the Senate floor. Does the White House think it has a realistic chance of getting by this time?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, yes, because it has been true for a long time that that is a piece of work that this Congress needs to do, should do, and I think politically we inevitably find within its interest to do. So we hope that will pass. Obviously, we're going to do everything we can to try to help those that are getting the bill through.

Q Is there anything different on the ground at this point that gives you more cause for optimism?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, only the determination of the Majority Leader to bring it back for a vote. We'll have to see what happens. Obviously, it's going to be a cloture vote and that means that you're not dealing with a straight up or down situation. But it will be clear if people vote to allow the filibuster to continue that they're voting against campaign finance reform.

Q Mike, you suggested a few minutes ago that we should talk to members of Congress about the timing of their consideration of Starr's report. Are you suggesting that the White House does not have an opinion as to whether they should consider it before they recess or after they come back?

MR. MCCURRY: The only statement on timing is the one that Mr. Kendall has made that there should be some opportunity briefly for the White House to review the report. But then how it's dealt with and dispensed with by Congress will have to -- it will be some time before we know the answer to that.

Q If I could follow up -- if the will then of the majority of Congress is to consider this, for example, before they were to leave, that would be fine with the White House?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, the President is clearly reaching out to leadership in the Congress and among things I think he probably will want to hear more about is what their sense of the timing is.

Q Has the President spoken with Senator Lieberman or is he thinking of doing it?

MR. MCCURRY: I know he talked to him prior to the Senator's speech on the floor. I don't know if they've spoken since.

Q Moynihan and Kerrey?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware.

Q In the case of Mr. McHale or Mr. Burton, the stories that are injurious to them, did they originate in any way through anyone here at the White House?

MR. MCCURRY: Everyone has assured me that they have not and I am not aware of any reason to believe that they have.

Q Well, may I just use the name -- Mr. Blumenthal is often accused of being the person who has done this --

MR. MCCURRY: I know he was on your show yesterday and he specifically and categorically denied that to me this morning.

Q Did they come from anyone hired by the White House or anybody else --

MR. MCCURRY: I've been told that as near as anyone can determine there is no involvement whatsoever by the White House with those stories.

Q Not even indirectly, not even through a private investigator --

MR. MCCURRY: Not as near as anyone can determine here, as I have been told.

Q Mike, how close are your contacts with the President these days? This morning you said you speak with him from time to time. Does that mean less --

MR. MCCURRY: I spent most of last week with him and a considerable time on the trip. I guess my last direct personal conversation with him was early Sunday morning.

Q Do you have any assessment as to why we here in Washington are so out of step with the rest of the country, the rest of the world?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't. You have to ask yourself and answer that question yourself.

Q You said the Democratic leaders tomorrow. Is that just going to be Gephardt and Daschle or will there be ranking members?

MR. MCCURRY: It goes down through Deputy Whip, so I guess a half a dozen or so.

Q You said House only, right?

MR. MCCURRY: Only House -- only House. Only House Democratic leadership from Minority Leader Gephardt down through Deputy Whips.

Q This is a touchy question, but you were willing to discuss the relationship between the Clintons at Martha's Vineyard. Is it better now?

MR. MCCURRY: I was not willing to discuss it. I gave one very simple, cryptic comment on it, and otherwise I said it was -- their business was private.

Q Do you have any comment now?

MR. MCCURRY: I stand by what I said at the Vineyard.

Q How do they feel now about Kenneth Starr? Can you bring us up to date as to their view of him --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to get into that.

Q -- and his work?

MR. MCCURRY: There's no point in getting into that.

Q The President's meeting tomorrow, is it a strategy session? Is he looking -- is it more a listening session on the President's part?

MR. MCCURRY: It's going to be both. He's going to have some things to say to them and presumably he wants to elicit from them their view of what's going to happen in the next six weeks.

Q One of the things in the next six weeks are the appropriations bill. Is Clinton standing firm? What is his position on shutting down the government this time?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's an awful idea and there would be no reason if the Congress wants to cooperate to do the nation's business, no reason why we'd need to reach that point. They know clearly what the President's priorities are. They know that in our system of government the President and the Executive Branch needs to come to terms with the Legislative Branch to move the nation's business forward. And that can, should, and most likely will happen.

Q Mike, when is the White House sending up the paperwork on Holbrooke's nomination?

MR. MCCURRY: I have to check and see. I know that they were clearing final matters and I'll have to check and see what the status is and see if it's been sent.

Q On Libya, you talked earlier about the Libyans wanting to renegotiate. What is the White House response?

MR. MCCURRY: That was a non-negotiable offer.

Q Is one of the purposes of tomorrow's meeting for the President to, in effect, appeal to the House Democrats?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't preview the meeting any better than I already have.

Q What's the message -- you said that he has some things to say to them. What's the message he wants to --

MR. MCCURRY: For right now, we'll just let him convey the message himself when he does so.

Q Mike, according to Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri, the IRS has now confirmed that it wants to collect $150,000 from the gentleman that caught the 61st home run of Mark McGwire yesterday.

MR. MCCURRY: I heard that. I thought that was about the dumbest thing I'd ever heard in my life. But I'll leave it up to the Treasury and the IRS to address that matter.

Q So the White House, which oversees the IRS --

MR. MCCURRY: No, we -- on personal tax things, we don't get into overseeing individual private taxpayer cases.

Q The world is laughing at what's going on in the U.S. -- how long this will continue?

MR. MCCURRY: At who? You or us?

Q How long this will continue -- the President has so many other things to do.

MR. MCCURRY: Look, the President goes about doing his job.

Q My understanding is that on fast track the White House has gone from sort of a hands off view to being more actively against it. Is that true? Are you lobbying people on the Hill --

MR. MCCURRY: What we have told them -- we've told them clearly the President needs to have the ability to negotiate free and open trade agreements and that's important. But what's most important, as I referenced earlier, is the funding that the IMF needs to address some of the urgent matters that exist in the world economy, and that needs to move first.

Frankly, moving fast track into view right now or trying to attach it to the other matters would be a purely political step designed to make life miserable for the Democratic Party on the Hill and no doubt the Democrat in the White House. And so we have suggested let's not politicize this with the elections so close; let's concentrate on doing the work we need to do right now, which is the funding necessary for the IMF, and then move on to address the fast track issue in an orderly manner.

Just one last point on Pakistan. The President just had a phone call with Prime Minister Sharif. They discussed a full range of issues, obviously related to some of the things we've been talking about -- the regional economy in Asia, but also proliferation matters; the non-proliferation treaty, the importance of it; some regional issues such as Kashmir; and to follow up directly with the Prime Minister on some things that arose in conversations that Deputy Secretary of State Talbott had in his meetings a week ago.

Q Chairman Greenspan says that --

Q Who called whom? Who called?

MR. MCCURRY: We initiated the call to Prime Minister Sharif.

Q Do you have any idea what they discussed on Kashmir?

MR. MCCURRY: We'll have Mr. Crowley -- Colonel Crowley will follow up for you on that?

Q What's the status of a visit to India and Pakistan?

MR. MCCURRY: Still under review.

Q Chairman Greenspan now suggests that the recession may be the biggest danger and that the Fed may cut interest rates. Does the President think that's a good idea?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think that we routinely comment on monetary policy as it's discussed by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. I will say that the President is interested in keeping in place those fundamentals that keep the United States economy strong in the midst of the bad weather that the global economy is experiencing. And certainly the ability to sustain growth over time with low interest rates, low unemployment, the kind of inventory labor market indicators that we've seen in recent economic statistics is the sort of thing that ought to reassure the American people as we see turbulence in other economies around the world. We've got some good things going for the U.S. economy, and we want to keep those things going.

Q Mike, the question on fast track was whether or not the White House is actively opposing it at this point in time, convinced people not to do it. Does what you said before mean that that's going on?

MR. MCCURRY: We've made clear our views along good lines of what I said.

Q Did you see that cartoon that shows the Dow plunging and people saying, right about here is where it stops being between him and her?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't see that. (Laughter.) Thanks for sharing it, Sam.

Q Is the President going to call the Indian Prime Minister since he called the Pakistani Prime Minister?

MR. MCCURRY: If he does, we'll let you know.

Q Is this an effort to let them know what needs to happen for the trip to go forward in November?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it's more importantly to address the regional security issues that are fundamentally important in the relationship, the economic issues that are important globally that we've been discussing, and to talk about the agenda.

And, sure, meetings are important, but the importance of getting right those things that we need to do to protect the security of citizens throughout South Asia and to work on the economic problems that are fundamentally important as well -- that's the purpose of meetings, phone calls, discussions across the board.

Q When you say the President -- Democrats can't say anything that the President hasn't already said to himself about the Lewinsky matter --

MR. MCCURRY: I said the President had said that.

Q Okay. What about the statement yesterday from Moynihan that said we ought to get on with an impeachment procedure?

MR. MCCURRY: That falls in that category.

Q Is the President planning to meet both Prime Ministers, India and Pakistan, in New York at the U.N.?

MR. MCCURRY: Were they on the schedule? Do we have a bilat schedule yet?

COLONEL CROWLEY: There are some bilaterals. I don't think --

MR. MCCURRY: The President does anticipate having some bilateral meetings when he's there the third week of the month in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meetings, but we have not put out the schedule of his bilaterals at this point.

Q Going back to that IRS tax on the baseball, Senator Roth is saying they should pass a law to change that. Do you think the White House would support such a change in the law?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure that we probably would support anything that would keep nonsensical things from happening, but I'll leave that to the Treasury and the IRS to address.

Q Just to clarify, are you saying that the President has said we ought to get on with an impeachment proceeding?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say that. I just said that people are entitled to their points of view in how they respond to this. And the President understands that they will and different members are going to have different points of view.

Q Mike, two quick follow-ups on IMF funding. Has there been a response to Newt Gingrich's letter last week asking about the funding, A? And, B, does the President plan to speak on IMF funding at any point this week?

MR. MCCURRY: I certainly think it's possible the President will address the need for funding for the IMF, and he has, if you recall, during the trip, taken several opportunities to do that. I'll have to check on the response to Speaker Gingrich.

Q Is the President going to be accompanied by elected Democrats in Florida and by Democratic candidates?


Q Do you know who?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have the full schedule, but I know we're going to down there to -- there are some other locally elected officials who will be there, too.

Q Did anybody decline?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I have heard.

Q Is MacKay going to win?

MR. MCCURRY: I hope so.

Q Is the President considering attending any of the memorial services for any of the family members of Flight --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there's a memorial service, if I understand correctly, at Halifax, and the United States will be appropriately represented I believe by the Ambassador, although there's a chance that we might have other U.S. officials there, as well. Then there will be a service here and we are still sorting out who will do that. There's a memorial service, I think, around and about the same time for the victims of the embassy bombings in Africa.

Q How did this meeting for tomorrow come together? Who asked for it?

MR. MCCURRY: This came together from the President's sense of, Congress is back in session, there's a lot to talk about and he wanted to talk to them.

Q Mike, he asked them to come --

MR. MCCURRY: It was our idea -- or his idea for a meeting.

Q Mike, can you rule out the President going to Halifax for this memorial service?


Q Chernomyrdin has been voted down now twice. He's got one more opportunity. Is the White House concerned that Yeltsin may either have to pick somebody that was less friendly to reform or that the Duma might dissolve and there be --

MR. MCCURRY: From the meetings the President had with President Yeltsin, he fully understands the complexity of the internal political dynamic in Russia. But it is up to the leaders of Russia and the people of Russia to sort out how they configure the government that's arising.

Q Mike, can you please clarify one more time -- you said the President made the call to Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan. Why the call was made at which time? What were the reasons?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the proximate cause was to follow up on some things that arose in the meetings that you're aware of that Deputy Secretary Talbott had. But they had an opportunity then to review a range of things on our dialogue and Colonel Crowley can help you with more.

Thank you.

END 1:20 P.M. EDT