THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                          November 6, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                               JAKE SIEWERT

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

10:45 A.M. EST

     MR. SIEWERT:  The President today has some phone and office time, and
he'll be signing -- he's got some meetings with his advisors and he's been
out of the office for a couple of days, so he'll get an update from Mr.
Berger, an update from Mr. Podesta.  He'll be signing a couple of dozen
bills, most of them relatively innocuous --

     Q    Innocuous?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, that's fine -- minor bills.  But he will be signing
the foreign ops bill, which I expect you'll hear about at the event in the
East Room, which was a significant achievement, particularly on the foreign
debt relief piece.  He'll also be signing the Needle Stick Safety bill --
he's doing that right now in the Oval Office, which I'm informed has
nothing to do with knitting, but involves blood-born pathogen standards
under OSHA.  But that's a -- there are a number of members of Congress in,
along with the American Nurses Association, in the Oval Office right now.

     And that's about it.  We leave for Chappaqua later today.  Haven't set
a time yet, but I expect it will probably be later in the afternoon.

     Q    On this day before the election, what is the President doing

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think he'll probably get an update from his staff on
what the --

     Q    He doesn't need an update.  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  -- state of play on the ground out there is.  But it's a
relatively low-key day.  We'll be focused on work here.

     Q    Is he anguished that he's not out there campaigning?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think those of you who saw him over the weekend know
that he is having a good time.  He enjoyed his time on the road.  He's done
a couple hundred events this year, another dozen or so over the weekend,
and he thoroughly enjoyed it.  He enjoyed the time we spent in California
and New York and Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and he's --

     Q    But does he wish he were out there today, Jake?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know.  He seemed very pleased last night when I
last saw him that we'd had a good couple of days on the road, and he felt
like he's played a valuable role this year in helping raise money and
energize Democrats and make the case for why Al Gore, Joe Lieberman and
Mrs. Clinton and others should be elected.

     Q    Has he said anything about George Bush finishing his campaign in

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, not that I'm aware of, although the President made a
forceful case yesterday in Arkansas for why George Bush was the wrong
choice for Arkansas and for America.
     Q    Does he expect both Gore and his wife to win?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, absolutely.  He absolutely expects the Vice
President -- he said he thought for a long time now, for two years, that Al
Gore would win this election and he continues to believe that.  And he
certainly expects and hopes that his wife will win tomorrow.  But these are
decisions that are in the voters' hands and, frankly, what we expect here
doesn't have much to do with what happens on the ground tomorrow.  But
we're hopeful.

     Q    Does he have any private polls that would educate --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Certainly.  I think they'll probably remain private.

     Q    Are you speaking from --

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, look, we over the weekend watched both -- mostly
what the press reported about the situation on the ground, although we're
in touch with the campaigns -- with Mrs. Clinton's campaign and with the
Gore campaign about the latest surveys, as the President likes to say.  But
I think that, ultimately, everyone around here knows that this is a very
tight election and that no one knows what the outcome will be.  But we are
hopeful that the Vice President, Joe Lieberman and Mrs. Clinton and
Democrats around the country will have a good day tomorrow.

     Q    Jake, this morning Tipper Gore said that Al Gore was the last,
best hope for the nation, not the next best thing for the nation.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Much has been made of a passing comment that the
President made in an interview in which he was harangued a little bit on
the success of the last eight years and urged to run again, which you all
know is an impossibility.  And, frankly, that was a little over-blown in
the press.  I made that point perfectly clear to those of you who I
discussed that with on Thursday.  And I don't have anything to add to what
we've said about that.

     The President clearly believes and has been working very hard to see
the Vice President elected, and that's what he thinks Americans should
choose tomorrow.

     Q    Does the President regret saying it?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, it was a passing comment on a radio show where he
made perfectly clear -- and I saw this very carefully excerpted in a number
of different places, where the President went on to talk at great length
about why the Vice President is the right choice for America.  And most of
you didn't note that and focused on a quick phrase that was made in

     Q    That wasn't news.  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, you all decide that and that's your choice.  I'm
free to sit here and criticize it.

     Q    What does he hope to achieve with the meetings on the Middle

     MR. SIEWERT:  We are hopeful -- for those of you who weren't on the
road yesterday, I'm sure you've all seen or read now that Chairman Arafat
has been invited for the 9th, and the Prime Minister has been invited into
the White House on the 12th --  that's Thursday and Sunday.  They both
accepted the invitation.  And we'll continue to work with them to end the
violence and to discuss with them how best to move forward toward a
political dialogue.

     Q    Jake, who is going to handle the budget negotiations?  The Senate
is back in session on the 14th now; the President, obviously, will be gone
then or expected to be.  How is that work going to get done?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I think the President is perfectly able to keep in
touch with his budget team that will be here on the ground, and I expect
they'll be conducting the bulk of the work.  Obviously, Chuck Brain, who
runs our legislative affairs shop, will be in town a little later than he
expected.  And I expect that Jack Lew and Sylvia Mathews and the entire
team at OMB will be engaged in that process.  And we'll see how it goes.

     Q    How about Podesta, who's been --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'll check with John.  I know John had been planning to
travel to Vietnam.  I don't know if he's revised those plans, but I'll
check with him.

     Q    Is the stop in Korea ruled out now?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes.  We will not be stopping in Korea as part of this
trip.  The President has not made a final decision on whether to travel to
North Korea to follow up on the good work that Secretary Albright did
there.  But we expect to make that decision in the coming weeks, and we
will let you know.  But it is certainly not going to happen as part of the
Brunei-Vietnam trip.

     Q    What is the reason that the President is not stopping there on
this trip?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I think we made some substantial progress in the
discussions on missiles and we're doing that in a systematic way.  We want
to be perfectly clear about where we are and where the North Koreans are,
and have a full understanding of that.  But the missile talks are one
factor that we'll base that judgment upon, and they were useful in helping
clarify where the United States stood, where the North Koreans stood,
expand some areas of common understanding.  But there are gaps there, and
as a practical matter, the trip is very close and no decision is made
ultimately on North Korea.  But it's just not feasible at this time to do
that trip, to pull it together.

     Q    When is the next round of talks on the missiles?

     MR. SIEWERT:  You should check with State.  I think they're having
some follow-up talks at a different level, but why don't you check with the
State Department on that.

     Q    Are you saying there is no stop in North Korea for logistical
reasons or for diplomatic reasons?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, it's just not feasible to pull together a trip at
this point, both because the substance isn't there and it's just not --
we're just not in a position right now where we can make a decision to go
forward.  But we'll make a decision about whether the President goes there
before the end of his term at a later date.

     Q    Either way on the election, what impact do you think that's going
to have on your ability to get things done on the budget after the
election, no matter who wins, whether it is Gore or Bush?  What impact will
it have?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I think that's relatively unknowable at this
moment.  We certainly hope that Congress will get back to work when they
return.  They left a lot of unfinished business, from the education agenda
to a middle class tax cut, to the minimum wage and some other initiatives
that really demand action.  And we'll be pressing them very hard to
complete that work.  We left tax cuts and new markets, on education, on
health care unfinished, and we think Congress has the duty and
responsibility to finish up the budget, create a real education budget,
raise the minimum wage, do some work on health care.

     But it's very difficult to predict how an election that hasn't
happened yet will have an impact on a lame duck session -- that's fairly
unprecedented.  I'm not pretending to know here how that will all play out.
But we'll push them very hard to get their work done.

     Q    But haven't you gambled here?  I mean, wouldn't you be in a worse
position if Bush won the presidency with less leverage over --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know that we've gambled at all.  They walked
away from the table, so we're going to meet them again after the election
and we'll see what happens.

     Q    But aren't you in a worse position if Bush wins the presidency --

     MR. SIEWERT:  As I said, I'm not going to comment on 15 different
hypotheticals based on an election that hasn't happened yet.

     Q    Jake, jumping back to the Middle East, if I remember correctly,
when these meetings between Barak, the President and Arafat were first
proposed, they were conditioned on the fact that you would make progress in
the Sharm el-Sheikh --

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, we have talked at great length about the importance
of implementing Sharm el-Sheikh.  I have never said here that there is one
specific set of preconditions before such a meeting would take place.
We've said that it's important to continue to take steps to implement Sharm
el-Sheikh, to end the violence and to begin to find a way back to some sort
of political solution and how best we could do that.

     But we have said all along that we'll make any judgment about any
visits based on an overall assessment of whether they might be useful.

     Q    Jake, on the Middle East again.  Iraq has now begun flying
passengers in military aircraft into the no-fly zone.  What sort of risk
does this present and what do you think they're trying to do?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We have not -- I'm not going to speculate on their
motives, but we have never had an objection to civilian flights.  But the
no-fly zones remain in effect and are designed to protect people on the

     Q    I think the Iraqis have rejected a U.S. proposal that would give
them -- that the Iraqis provide 48 hours notice on these flights.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, we think that notice would be helpful and that
we're maintaining a no-fly zone there that's designed to stop military
aggression against Saddam Hussein's own people on the ground there and
against the Kurds.  And we're going to continue to have that no-fly zone in
place.  It's important that we have the best information in order to do so.

     Q    Jake, is the meeting that are going to be here designed to
shore-up Sharm el-Sheikh or move also beyond that, and try to move
somewhere back in the peace process, in other words, to get the President
in a position where he can do more with the two leaders before leaving

     MR. SIEWERT:  They are designed to discuss the current situation on
the ground, to find ways to restore calm and lower the level of violence
there, and how best to move forward towards a political dialogue.  But,
ultimately, that's a decision the parties will have to make.

     Q    What state would you say Sharm is in right now, based on what
you're seeing on the ground?

     MR. SIEWERT:  It's not very useful for me to stand up here every day
and pretend to assess the situation on the ground.  That's best done in the
region.  We think that Sharm el-Sheikh is the best possible means of
reducing the violence and finding a way back to a long-term political
solution.  That's our policy and that's what we'll be stating and restating
as the two parties arrive here.

     Q    But my question wasn't to ask you what you think of the state of
things on the ground.  My question was, how do you think Sharm el-Sheikh is
going and how do you think the two sides are moving toward implementation

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think we've seen some steps -- the Prime Minister said
this morning in the region that there have been some steps taken to
implement Sharm el-Sheikh, and we certainly share that assessment, there
has been some efforts to reduce the violence.  But much more needs to be
done.  There is too much violence still in the streets and that's part of
the reason why we're trying to gather both of the parties here, to try to
find a way to implement the security measures that were anticipated by the
agreement at Sharm el-Sheikh and to begin to restore calm and lower the
level of violence.

     Q    Jake, back on the election.  The President said yesterday he'd be
making phone calls to radio stations or something like that.  Is that
happening today or tomorrow?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We may do some tomorrow.  I don't think anything has
been scheduled for today.  But from time to time, the President has made
phone calls during the course of an election day just to remind people of
the importance of voting.  We may do some of that tomorrow, but we haven't
set anything up yet.

     Q    Jake, do you expect the President tomorrow night to come out at
some point and comment on the presidential race and on the Congress --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm not sure.  We'll let you know.  The reality is that
this might be a long night.  We'll make an assessment tomorrow and see
where we are.  But the races, as we all know, are very close and it's not
clear when they'll be decided.  My guess is that you'll probably here from
him the following day, if you hear from him.

     Q    How is the President going to spend his day tomorrow, beyond
voting and --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think he'll vote in the morning and then I expect
he'll spend most of the rest of the day secluded, away from the press,
hiding from all of you.

     Q    Is he voting with his wife?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, I think tomorrow we'll, basically -- he'll vote in
the morning in Chappaqua, and then at some point during the day he'll go
down to New York where there are some events planned in conjunction with
Mrs. Clinton's campaign.

     Q    Do you think he'll spend most of the day, though, in Chappaqua?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know yet.  We'll let you know.

     Q    Is he going to play golf?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No plans to play golf.  What's the weather out?

     Q    In the rain?  (Laughter.)

     Q    Jake, the events that you just mentioned, in association with her
campaigning, are you talking about events before the polls close, or are
you talking about --

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, I'm referencing -- I think he'll spend the day --
she has some sort of thank-you for supporters that he may attend.  I don't
think he'll speak at that.  And then --
     Q    But they're not going to go shake hands at subway stops or do
anything like that?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We're not planning anything like that.

     Q    Is Mrs. Clinton going with him to Vietnam?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know, check with her office.

     Q    Is he disappointed he isn't going to Korea?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, the President has always wanted to go to Korea if
he thinks it will be helpful in advancing our agenda there in helping
reduce proliferation in the region and helping bring an end to the missile
program there.  But that's the only reason why we would go, if we think
that such a summit meeting would be productive in advancing our interests
in the region, our interests in national security.  We have not made a
final decision on that at this point.  As part of this trip, it's too early
to make that decision.

     Q    On the Mideast, Jake, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that the
United States is testing the waters in Israel on the idea of an
international force in the occupied territories.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, I'm not going to discuss what we may or may not be
exploring with the parties.

     Q    Why not?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Because our diplomacy is best conducted, I think, in
private there.  These are all the final status
issues --

     Q    It doesn't sound very private if they've got it.  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  Interesting.  (Laughter.)  As you know, we have a
limited ability to control leaks within our own government, not to mention
governments around the world.

     Q    Are you glad you signed the -- vetoed the official secrets.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Thank you.  All of your views were well represented to
the President, and --

     Q    Are you taking credit for that veto, Jake?  (Laughter.)
     MR. SIEWERT:  No, no.  But I did pass on what I heard from members of
the press.

     Q    Seriously, Jake, what did he say about that, why he was doing it?
Did you --

     Q    Just to clarify that point, you're not denying it are you?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Excuse me?

     Q    Just to clarify his question, you're not saying --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm not commenting on it, deliberately.

     Q    How about the position, the U.S. position on an international
force?  Has that changed?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm not going to discuss those sorts of negotiating
issues that -- negotiating stances here at this podium.

     Q    Jake, did you talk to the President at all about why he decided
to veto that intelligence authorization bill?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes.

     Q    Wasn't it out of great affection for the press corps and its
role?  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't think affection or lack of affection had
anything to do with it.  The President thought that the bill, while other
wise well-intentioned, had a provision in there that simply was not worth
the risk it might have.  It might well have chilled the work that you do,
the work that people in government do, important work, and he didn't think
that it was worth the risk that this bill would be used by those who might
have an interest in not seeing information that should be in the public
realm brought to light.  He just did not think that this was worth the
risks that were associated with that particular provision.

     Q    When Congress comes back, are you going to go back to this policy
of one-day CRs, or how are you --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know.  We haven't made a judgment on that.  I
expect that we'll probably make a judgment closer to the time that they

     Q    And also, apparently there was a large amount of agreement on
some issues, specifically the Labor-H bill.  Is it the White House view
that things that were agreed to before Congress left are written in stone
and are unbreakable?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I mean, since Congress already broke its word on that
bill, it's a little hard to pretend that they didn't.  We had what were the
makings of an agreement on Labor-HHS bill, and we think that that's worth
putting back together.  There was a significant education budget there that
provided for the needs of America's schoolchildren, and got hung up over a
special interest provision that Republicans couldn't accept.  But we think
that that's work that's well worth doing, but they got -- after having
worked out some sort of compromise on the ergonomics rule, they backed down
on that and they've thrown the whole bill into limbo.

     But we think that the work that was done on that bill was important,
it provided significant improvements in investments and modernizing schools
and after-school care and class size, and that that's an agreement worth
reviving when Congress returns.

     Q    Okay, so when DeLay says that everything -- Tom DeLay says that
everything is negotiable once Congress comes back, you don't agree with

     MR. SIEWERT:  That's his position.  I said that they've walked away
from that bill once; I can't limit their ability to walk away from it
again.  But we think it's well worth doing, and we think that they would
have to explain to the American people why it's not worth providing for our
children's education simply because Congress can't tell some of the special
interests that this isn't the place for that particular provision.

     Q    Just to be clear, other than the ergonomics rule, you're
satisfied with that bill?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We thought that we had a good-faith compromise worked
out the night before that bill was blown up over that one particular

     Q    Couldn't the election, though, complicate the budget
negotiations, in the sense that that ergonomics compromise, for example,
wouldn't work very well after the outcome of the election is --

     MR. SIEWERT:  It was actually our intention on that bill to work that
out, to leave some discretion for a future administration to administer
that rule, and that was exactly the point of our compromise with the

     Q    Wouldn't it be more difficult to agree to that, depending on the
outcome of the election?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't see any reason why the election would change our
basic premise, which was to leave some discretion to a future
administration to deal with that.

     Q    And you think Republicans acted in bad faith on that, when that
deal broke down on that, on the ergonomics rule?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, sir. I do.

     Any other tough questions?  (Laughter.)

     Q    One more question on the telephone calls.  You know, the
President had been doing some of these conference calls -- Get Out The Vote
conference calls -- thousands of people.  Is there anything like that
planned today?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No.  No.  He did some more calls over the weekend.  I
think they were slightly smaller.  But he's found ways to be in touch with
people who either weren't in Washington or weren't in the states he
visited, to emphasize for them how important the election was.  And as I've
told you, he's taped a lot of phone scripts and radio ads as well, dozens
and dozens and dozens, but we have done some calls.  There are not any more
planned for today, though.

     Q    And tonight --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes. I don't think -- we don't have anything planned,
and I think he will just go to the house.  But I'll let you know if
anything changes on that.

     Thank you.

     Q    When are you going to put out more information on this trip?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think we'll have a briefing later in the week,
probably -- well, I don't know, Thursday or Friday.  And then we'll have a
schedule on Wednesday.  Okay.

     Q    And he's not going to Hawaii, right?

     MR. SIEWERT:  He will go, but it's shorter now.  It's just one day, 24

                           END                  11:07 A.M. EST

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