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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 21, 2000
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                              JOE LOCKHART

                 The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

11:46 A.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: Just to let you know about one thing before I get to your questions. The President has written a letter which is being sent today to Chairman Hyde on the issue of gun safety legislation. In that letter the President expresses his deep disappointment that the April 20th deadline passed without action from the House and Senate conferees on the gun safety legislation that is before them.

We'll make this available to you I think after the briefing, but you'll see that the letter -- the President expresses confidence that we can get something done. He cites the positive roll Chairman Hyde has played in trying to reach an agreement, how the proposal of last week comes up short, but confidence that Chairman Hyde can use his influence on the Hill to bring about an acceptable piece of legislation that will make the gun safety legislation pass, will make our streets safer and our children safer.

Q Does the President respond in that letter to what the Chairman wrote the President last week in which he said that the Democratic strategy is not to get a bill, but to have an issue to use against Republicans?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the Chairman, in making that argument, is not accurate. The President has made very clear that he wants legislation. We have more than 12 kids a day are killed each and every day. And I think you will understand when you see the tone of the letter that the President is reaching out and trying to find a way that we can pass gun safety legislation and make our streets safer, and not trying to score political points.

Q Does this have anything to do with the conferees who have not met --

MR. LOCKHART: It has everything to do with the conferees --

Q Is that what he's talking about?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I think Chairman Hyde and Representative Conyers have worked very hard to try to get a meeting of the conferees. The Republican leadership has blocked that.

Q But did he also say it in the letter to Hatch?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes -- no, because I think Senator Hatch has stood in the way of this happening. And I think if this is going to work it's going to work because of the leadership of Chairman Hyde and Representative Conyers.

Q Do you have a reaction to the Pew research poll that shows a majority of Americans really don't want more gun control, they want existing laws enforced?

MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I think those polls border on ridiculous. This is not an either-or situation. You ask the question the right way, you will find that the vast majority of Americans want both. They want laws enforced and they want further gun safety legislation. And any sort of twisting of numbers to indicate otherwise just isn't valid and isn't credible.

That's why we have a gun safety legislation proposal on the Hill that is languished now for nine months, despite the support of the vast majority of Americans, despite the support of a majority in both Houses to get this thing done, and that's why the President sent out the $280-million enforcement package to put 1,000 new prosecutors in courts, with 500 more ATF agents, to build on a record of success where more people are going to jail because of gun crimes, and they're spending longer in jail.

But that's not enough. The President has always said we need a balanced approach of prevention and enforcement. And those who like to make it a false choice are those who are trying to defend an unsustainable position that somehow things like common-sense measures, like child safety locks and trigger locks and closing the gun show loophole is not in the best interest of this country.

Q And does the President believe there's any -- on Elian -- any room for further mediation, or is it simply time now to enforce the law and get him out of Miami?

MR. LOCKHART: I think as the President said yesterday, the concern of the Miami relatives has been addressed with a court order from the 11th Circuit, and the time for them to come forward and effect a transfer to the father is now.

Q Joe, since the Justice Department petitioned the 11th Circuit to order Elian to be given to his father who, for five months, hadn't gone within 100 miles of this boy, since the court refused to give this --

MR. LOCKHART: Lester, get to the question, please.

Q I am.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't need a speech today. Get to the question, okay?

Q I'll be delighted. And since the court refused to give this order, asked for by General Reno, why does the President claim it's the law?

MR. LOCKHART: Because it is.


Q Joe, has the White House been receiving letter, faxes, e-mails in response to Juan Gonzalez's request for help?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know about faxes and e-mails. The phone -- there was a good volume of calls last night that ran overwhelmingly in favor of reuniting the boy with his father. But let me caution you that our comment line is not a scientific sampling, it's who chooses to call.

Q These are strictly coming in on the comment line, no calls fielded personally by the President?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know --

Q -- or has the President managed to talk to anyone who put in a personal request?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not sure I understand the question. Has someone from the public called in --

Q Has anyone managed to reach the President personally?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that anyone has managed to reach the President personally.

Q You said that now is the time to for the Miami family to hand him over. Has the government picked up any intimations of any willingness to do that on the part of the family?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the Miami relatives have taken a number of steps that have proven to be false starts, as far as indicating their willingness to reunite the boy with his father. I think it's quite clear that if that's what they like, they should come forward in good faith and do that. This is not about playing games. It's not about public relations. It's not about trying to influence the coverage of this. It should be about coming forward and doing what's right.

Q But you don't see any signs recently that they want to do this?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of any.

Q Has the President gotten in touch at all with the mayor of Miami, or has he gotten any ball rolling in terms of the police in Miami?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, the Attorney General and the Justice Department are handling that.

Q So there's no White House contact at all with the Miami authorities?

MR. LOCKHART: The Department of Justice is the appropriate authority to deal with the local police and law enforcement.

Q Joe, is the President being briefed directly by Janet Reno?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, the President spoke to the Attorney General Wednesday night. I think there were conversations between the Justice Department and the White House yesterday, to Mr. Podesta. The President was not briefed. I mean, I have seen all of the fevered speculation by those who get paid to feverishly speculate, but I can tell you that no decisions have been made that I'm aware of. And I would expect before decisions are made, the President would get briefed. And that hasn't happened.

Q So he will be briefed before a decision is made?

MR. LOCKHART: As I said yesterday, I certainly expect that as they reach decisions, the White House will continue to be briefed. And that includes the President.

Q Well, what specifically about the reports that the President pushed Reno to come up with a plan for sending officials in --

MR. LOCKHART: Those reports are inaccurate.

Q Joe, does the President believe Elian should be taken to that house in Bethesda, where Castro's people beat up peaceful protestors, evoking the deep concern of Senator Helms?

MR. LOCKHART: Anyone have a question?

Q I have a question.

Q Has the President talked at all directly with Greg Craig about this case?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.

Q Has anyone from the White House talked to Greg Craig?

MR. LOCKHART: I certainly haven't. I can't speak for everybody in the White House.

Q Why do you say feverish, when this is a story that's been getting warmer and warmer every day, you're very, very involved and --

MR. LOCKHART: When it gets warmer and warmer, it eventually gets feverish.

Q -- if you talk about feverish speculation, I mean, how can you say that?

MR. LOCKHART: I read the paper this morning; that's how I can say it.

Q Joe, one of the things in the paper this morning is an unattributed quote from a White House official expressing dissatisfaction with the way the Justice Department or the Attorney General has handled it.

MR. LOCKHART: I think someone who has been talking to reporters with their name on it is someone who is not in the loop on what's going on and, unfortunately, that's a common occurrence here in Washington.

Q Joe, you said this situation is not about playing games, not about public relations. Is it the White House position that that is what the family in Miami has been doing up until this point or at any point in this particular process?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that there have been a number of sort of false steps in this process. I think there are -- there certainly were legitimate concerns or concerns expressed by the Miami relatives, particularly on the fear that the boy would go back before the adjudication was finished. That fear has been addressed by a court. It had previously been addressed by the family and by the Attorney General, but it hasn't been addressed by a court. And I think that removes the concern and should lead them to come forward and reunite the boy with his father.

Q And if they don't, they would be playing games and doing something for public relations?

MR. LOCKHART: No, not necessarily. I'm just talking about, there have been a variety of offers made for how they would do this, and I'm not sure that those have all been serious.

Q Does the President feel, Joe, that the Miami relatives are dealing in good faith at this point?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the President believes that the Miami relatives have a chance to prove their good faith by getting together as a group, coming forward, indicating how they will transfer the boy, as the law stipulates, to the father, and then having their day in court.

Q So he has not yet concluded that they are no longer dealing in good faith?

MR. LOCKHART: He has not concluded one way or the other. But I think he certainly believes that they can demonstrate good faith, and they validate their statements about their respect for the rule of law by coming forward and working to reunite the boy with the father.

Q But judging by the President's tone on down, as of yesterday, is it fair to say that the administration's patience is now at the end of its line?

MR. LOCKHART: I think this is a situation, as I said yesterday, that requires a lot of patience. I think it's a situation that is complex and difficult. We're dealing with a six-year-old, and I think that we have a large reservoir of patience.

Q Patience seems to be running out, maybe even here.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't think so.

Q Could you be patient until May 11 when the hearing -- wouldn't that solve a lot of problems, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to speculate on the process here.

Q Joe, is part of the reason the White House is eager to keep the focus on the Justice Department and the Attorney General that the President hoped at the outset that this would be handled as a family situation and would not be dragged into the political conflict anymore than it needed to be?

MR. LOCKHART: I think your question indicates that somehow we've had an affirmative effort. The President has said from the very beginning -- and those of you who were surprised by him comments yesterday, all you need to do is go back and look at the transcripts to find that it was a consistent restatement of his position -- but he has said from the beginning that politics shouldn't be part of this, that this is a legal matter involving our immigration law, involving a six-year-old -- who, by law, is determined to speak for the boy. We have said that for four months. This issue is handled at the Justice Department and should be handled at the Justice Department.

Q Joe, back on gun safety legislation, you said that the proposal last week came up short. Which proposal was that, and why did it come up short?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we think that Chairman Hyde put forward some ideas on how to bridge the differences on the waiting period for the gun show loophole. Unfortunately, those ideas actually took the bill in the wrong direction by actually opening up more problems, rather than solving problems. I think the letter indicates -- when you get the letter, you can see specifically what our problems with that are.

Q Back on Elian, how concerned is the White House about the public's reaction to any possible action by the Justice Department? And how much of what we heard from the President yesterday may have been the President trying to make the case to the public about any action that Justice --

MR. LOCKHART: I think that this is a matter of law. It is a matter that we have tried very hard to keep out of politics. And the President's statements yesterday were a restatement of what he's been saying all along here, and was not designed to try to influence or sway the public.

Q Joe, a couple of psychologists close to the situation have described the situation for Elian as possibly, potentially abusive, in a psychological way. Juan Miguel implied that yesterday in his statement. Is the White House at all concerned about what's happening to Elian as a psychological matter, and in any way influencing the speed in which you may try to resolve this situation?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the White House believes that a six-year-old boy's place is with his father. And that's why the President has made the statements he has, and the Attorney General has made the statements she has.

Q Joe, is it fair to say that the White House is concerned, or the President was concerned, that if he is seen as spearheading this Elian Gonzalez issue, that that would intensify the political atmosphere around it, and would not help to solve the situation?

MR. LOCKHART: Listen, the appropriate place for a legal matter to be handled is at the Justice Department. I think the Justice Department is, with the career lawyers that run whatever it is, from this to civil rights enforcement to any other work they may do, is a place that is rightfully seen as a place where justice can be done in a nonpartisan atmosphere.

Q Does he see --

MR. LOCKHART: Let me finish, please. I think when you take something to the White House or to the halls of Congress, politics naturally spills in, based on the kind of debate we have on a regular basis. That's a positive thing on most issues, but on this issue it is not a positive thing. It should be based on the law. And that's why, from the beginning, the Justice Department and the INS has handled this matter. I think the President has been very supportive of the work they've done, but he has done his best to make sure that he does nothing to inject politics further into this.

Q Do you see a parallel with Little Rock?

MR. LOCKHART: If he has, he hasn't shared that with me.

Q Joe, for the cameras, could you give your reaction to the Duma's approval of CTBT today? And also, President-elect Putin has said that the arms control ball in now in Washington's court. How do you respond to that?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that we work very closely around the world and the United States leadership on arms control nonproliferation is unparalleled. We look forward to working with the new Russian government on a whole series of arms control issues. Obviously, it is an important step when a large country goes forward and ratifies CTBT. We welcome that. We hope that as time goes on and we are able to make our case to the Senate, our Senate will follow the lead of many other countries around the world and ratify an important treaty.

Q What do you think this decision by Russia will do in terms of will it give the President, do you think, any more ammunition to bolster his case with the Senate to ratify CTBT?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. It's probably more of a domestic political question than it is a foreign policy question at this point. I think we need to use the time available to us to continue to make the case that CTBT is in our national interests and the world's security interests. We're going to continue to do that, and I think the President is confident that ultimately the Senate will see this the way he does and will ratify the treaty.

Q Joe, this being Good Friday, would it be all right if I asked a question about a Catholic World News Service report from Rome?


Q The Vatican is protesting plans for a parade in the city called World Pride 2000, which plans to flood Rome with thousands of homosexual activists engaging in a parody of the Church. Does the President support this proposed event or not?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't think the President knows about the event.

Q Well, the organizer read a letter of endorsement of this event, saying that it is building a good and just society on the bedrock principle of opportunity, which letter was signed Al Gore. Is this another Clinton-Gore split like Elian, or what do you think it means?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I don't know that the President knows about it.

Q Gore supports it. Does the President support this?

MR. LOCKHART: Lester, I think if you heard my answer, I said I'm not sure if the President is aware of the event.

Q Would you take the question?


Q Joe, when you said earlier that there have been a lot of feverish speculation about this, what's your view generally on that subject? I take it you're saying that the press coverage has been -- gone overboard or -- given that you used the phrase, I'm just curious, is there some aspect where you think the media went out of control, or it's just the whole dynamic or --

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, I don't see the usefulness of going through what my opinion is on press coverage of this story. I don't think that it adds anything to the dialogue.

Q You're the one who labeled it.


Q So you should explain your --

MR. LOCKHART: And I did. And I did. Next question.

Q Joe, if the government brings about a reunion of father and son, have you received assurances that the boy would not be spirited back to Cuba, as some of the Miami relatives have expressed fears?

MR. LOCKHART: I think there is a public statement from the father's lawyer, from the father himself, and there is a court order that would forbid that from happening.

Q Joe, in response to a question yesterday about the court saying that perhaps Elian should be asked about his preference to stay in the country, and that he may have rights that are worth asserting in a legal situation, the President said, roughly, that that would be an interesting and unusual interpretation of the law. Was he in any way trying to inject himself into the legal process that is still going on by making a statement such as that?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I think that it shows some knowledge of what our immigration law here is. And if that were the case, and the court were to rule that -- and sometimes that's how laws are re-interpreted in this country, through the judicial system -- it would be a dramatic break in immigration law.

But I think what's important here is, I think many people have leapt to strong conclusions based on what, I think, in a legal sense are mostly like margin notes. In order to make the judgment on immigration law, there is a process. There's a process where both sides file briefs, exhaustive briefs. Both sides do oral arguments. None of that has happened. No one has really had a chance to make their legal case.

But the court, I think properly, needed to give some justification and some sense of what they were thinking here. But they have not ruled on this issue. They have not come to any judgment. They're not prepared to; they're not capable of it at this point, until the normal process is completed.

And I understand the desire to reach conclusion on these issues, and try to explain them in a comprehensive way. But there are some issues that can't be explained in a comprehensive way until the process is complete. And that's what the May 11th hearing is about. That's what the lawyers will be spending time on, on both sides, to file their legal arguments, their both technical and complicated legal arguments. And they'll have a chance to defend those arguments. And that's what the court system is all about.

Q What's the ceremony at 4:00 p.m. in the East Room?

MR. LOCKHART: It's the radio address. We have a larger-than-normal group coming in today for the radio address because there are a lot of people here for Earth Day. The subject will be Earth Day and the environment, so we've moved it to the East Room.

Q Is there any coverage?

MR. LOCKHART: No, just normal -- it's just the normal coverage.

Q Joe, in case we don't see you before Monday evening, can you talk at all about the fundraiser the President's doing with -- I guess it's going to be the whole big trio, the First Lady and the Vice President and everyone there. Is this something we're going to be seeing more of? Are there a series of major events like this scheduled, or is this a solo --

MR. LOCKHART: I expect you will see other occasions where the four principals have a chance to come together at a Democratic Party function. We don't do it very often because it's often the best way is to have them all going their separate ways. They each have their own interests. The Vice President and Mrs. Gore are going out and making their case to the American public about why he should be the next President; the First Lady in New York; the President on his own building support for the agenda that he's put forward this year, all of whom -- and then all-inclusive with all of them, trying to help raise resources to help Democrats around the country.

I think there will be other times when they come together, but it's an important time for Democrats to come together and show their support for what the President has done and for what the Vice President and the First Lady want to do.

Q What do you make of the reports that there is fatigue among donors that have been asked to go back to the well again and again and again?

MR. LOCKHART: I kind of take that as people got tired of trying to prove that it was Clinton fatigue, so they've got to find something else, and good luck.

Q Is there any component of those fundraisers that will specifically benefit Mrs. Clinton's Senate race?

MR. LOCKHART: This is -- as far as I know, it's a DNC fundraiser. Some may go to the New York state party, which could have an impact. Talk to the DNC.

Q Joe, on the subject of fundraisers, did the President ever figure out what the Vice President was talking about at last weekend's fundraiser when he said that he has seen the President on many, many occasions nearly buckle under the pressure of his office?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, you know, that did prompt quite an interesting conversation. (Laughter.) I think we're pretty clear on it now. There were some moments in the last seven years -- when we were at 19.9 million jobs and we weren't sure we were going to get over to 20 million -- (laughter) -- when the welfare rolls were only cut by 48 percent, and we were really sweating cutting them in half as we promised. When the crime rate was down, it was just a scant 28 percent, and not the third that it is now. And I'm telling you, we sweat them, and there were moments where we weren't sure. But as the Vice President said, he didn't buckle. (Laughter.)

When you guys give me a week to think about it, you know. (Laughter.)

Q Is that the President talking or is that you?

MR. LOCKHART: That would be me. That would be me. (Laughter.) It may not be funny, but it would be me.

Q Have you asked the President about it?

MR. LOCKHART: I haven't talked to him about it specifically.

Q Did the President call Barak to brief him on his conversation with Arafat?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.

Q And will he today sometime?

MR. LOCKHART: Will let you know if he does.

Q Joe, on the Middle East, officials indicate the U.S. is now going to be taking a more active role. Can you tell me whether that reflects disappointment with what the principals have been able to do on their own, or whether it reflects -- and what it might reflect in terms of what the U.S. might be able to bring to the process?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think it reflects a judgment that we have to make in our best wisdom of what can move the process forward and where we are in the process. I think the President felt the meetings of the last two weeks with the leaders face to face were very productive, quite useful, and believes based on those conversations that the negotiations that we expect to start at the end of the month would be helped by an American presence and a strong American role.

These are judgments we have to make throughout the process. Obviously there remain tough decisions and the time line grows short, and it's a judgment that the President, the Secretary of State, the team that works on this led by Ambassador Ross made as one that would be very useful at this time to be directly involved, to be at the table as the negotiations go forward.

We make judgments at various times in various negotiations. There are times that we believe it's appropriate to take a step back; there are times we believe it's appropriate to step forward. This is a time to step forward.

Q If I can follow, the last time we were actively involved in this was at Wye, and there was some difficulty then in the President delivering on some of the commitments he made. Is he concerned now that if the U.S. assumes a more active role, he will also have to pull Congress along to deliver, as the case may be?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think there's an example of, at a critical moment in the negotiations, the American government -- the President, Ambassador Ross, Secretary of State Albright -- coming forward and helping to bridge those differences in a variety of manners. I don't believe that there is a real concern here that should we move forward and make progress and come to an agreement, that Congress will do anything but support that.

But what's important here is getting the parties together, trying to reach an agreement. And as we move forward in this process, because Congress plays an important role, we will continue to consult fully with them.

Q Joe, there are reports that mid-session reviews could show larger budget surplus projections. What effect does the White House believe that could have on negotiations over prescription drugs or tax cuts, or the larger budget picture itself?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think clearly the economy is continuing to grow at a very strong rate, a slightly stronger rate than our conservative estimates anticipated. I don't have a new -- I think most of the reports are based on some private estimates, so I really can't comment on them one way or another.

But I think I could make a couple points. One is, obviously the economic philosophy of fiscal discipline is working. We are seeing the benefits every day now, as far as job growth, as far as the strength of our economy, as far as our ability to pay down our debt.

I think that at this point, it would be an enormous mistake to take a U-turn -- as many Republicans, including their presidential candidate, have argued -- to turn around our fiscal discipline, change our priorities and go for a large tax cut that we can't afford. We think that this only reinforces the argument that we need to move forward with shoring up Social Security and Medicare, providing a prescription drug benefit for Medicare, paying down the debt, and providing for tax cuts that have targeted to the middle class and that we can afford.

Q You're saying that no matter how much growth there is in surplus, the amount of it is devoted to tax cuts remains static?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the kind of numbers you're talking about will not change the nature of the debate or the nature of the choices. I mean, if you tell me somehow that $15 trillion will show up tomorrow, then it might be a different story. But I don't think anybody is talking about that.

What we're talking about here is getting to -- and it's a fundamental difference between the parties right now. We are arguing that from our position of strength here, because we've been fiscally disciplined, we should build on that and we should pay down the debt. And we also need to take care of Social Security and Medicare. Republicans, led by Governor Bush, have argued, let's do a tax cut, and then we'll worry about everything else later. I think any fair reader of the proposals that have been out there understand that the numbers don't add up. You can't do all the things they say they want to do, and while that may work in a campaign, it doesn't work when you're doing budgets and you're in charge of the nation's fiscal policy.

We will continue to make the case that we've made. I think the public supports it. I think they understand the benefits, whether it's from paying a lower mortgage rate or a lower car rate or it's from a better paying job than they had seven years ago, I think that the public is behind this and we're going to have this debate. I expect that not only are we going to continue doing that as far as the budget and appropriations process with Congress, I expect the election campaign of this year to focus in large part on this fundamental difference.

Q Joe, the 11th Circuit took note of the Immigration and Naturalization Service placed the plaintiff -- that's Elian, in Lazaro's care upon plaintiff's arrival in this country, and Lazaro was a blood relative. Does the President believe that that was a mistake? And do you know, did they, at the time they designated Lazaro, did they contact his father in Cuba?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of that.

Q You don't know?

Q What's the President doing for Easter and the week ahead?

MR. LOCKHART: Ah, the week ahead. The President will be at Camp David. I know he's got some family and friends in.

Q Is he going today?

MR. LOCKHART: Late today, yes.

Q Do you have a time yet, or is it still up in the air?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't expect it to be before -- the radio address is -- certainly not before 5:00 p.m.

Q Is he taking the helicopter or motorcade?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I'll check.

Q Weather's supposed to be --

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, if it is a weather call, it won't be made until much closer to the time. But let me do the week ahead for you.

Saturday and Sunday, April 22nd and 23rd, the President and the First Lady will depart Friday evening for Camp David. They will return to the White House Monday morning. There's no public schedule for the weekend.

Q Do you expect any outings from Camp David?

MR. LOCKHART: If asked -- the President has no plans to leave camp as of now.

Q I hate being so predictable.

MR. LOCKHART: I know. (Laughter.) It didn't say, "If asked by Knoller."

Q Yes, right. (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: They said, "If asked by second-row right-hand corner."

Q Is he going to have a religious service up there for Easter?

MR. LOCKHART: They have services on the camp, yes, with the Marines who guard the camp, which, when he's up there, he attends.

Monday, April 24th, the President and the First Lady will participate in the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. They will depart for New York around 11:00 a.m. The President will attend a luncheon in Manhattan for Congressman Michael Forbes, and a DNC dinner at the New York Sheraton hotel, which I think we've discussed. That dinner is open press; the Forbes is private residence, print reporter. I expect all four of the principals to speak at that event. I expect the President and the First Lady will remain overnight in Chappaqua.

Tuesday, April 25th, the President will depart Chappaqua about 9:30 a.m., arriving at the South Lawn about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday afternoon, the President will meet with civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials who have joined in his effort to promote hate crimes legislation in this Congress, that we came close on last year but were blocked at the eleventh hour.

Wednesday, April 26th, the President will depart the South Lawn at 11:00 a.m. for Whiteville, North Carolina. He will arrive about 1:30 p.m., and participate in a rural digital divide event. Following that visit, the President will travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, and remain there overnight.

On Thursday, the President will attend a memorial service for Daisy Bates at 10:00 a.m. I expect him to return later that afternoon.

Friday, the President will host a luncheon for Nordic leaders who will be in Washington to attend the opening of the Smithsonian Viking event. Press TBD.

Thank you very much for joining us.

Q Joe, can I ask you one more question about CTBT? What would you say to critics who say this administration doesn't really have much to show for itself on the arms control front, not a lot of new initiatives or new treaties?

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, I think all the critics have to do is look at the very simple figure of when we came into office, the number of nuclear weapons that were pointed in America's direction, and look at the number today. And I think that would change their mind.

Thank you.

END 12:19 P.M. EDT