Press Briefing by Jake Siewert and P.J. Crowley (9/12/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release               September 12, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                       JAKE SIEWERT AND P.J. CROWLEY

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

1:15 P.M. EDT

     MR. SIEWERT:   We don't have any announcements, so we'll take your

     Q    Do you have anything on the Justice Department study that finds
wide racial and geographic disparities in the quest for the death penalty?

     MR. SIEWERT:  The Department of Justice is releasing something today.
They've sent over a copy of that report.  I'll wait for their briefing
which I believe is at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon to have more reaction.  But
the President has flagged this as something that he finds very important.
He spoke about this report at his most recent full press conference, and he
said repeatedly that those of us who support capital punishment have a
special obligation to do what we can to ensure the death penalty is
administered fairly.

     But we've seen the numbers.  At first glance, those numbers are
troubling.  We need to know more about exactly what's behind the numbers,
and I think the Attorney General will have a little bit more to say about
that this afternoon.  We'll wait to see that and give you some more
reaction then.

     Q    Will the President have something to say, I mean, what his
interpretation of the numbers are and what he thinks the government should

     MR. SIEWERT:  I expect -- obviously, you'll have a chance to see him
around the time that the Attorney General is making her announcement; if
he's asked, I'm sure he'll be prepared to answer that question.  But he, as
you know, had some access to a preliminary report on these and mentioned
that in his press conference.  And he thinks, as I said, that these numbers
are troubling and that we need to know a little bit more about how the
system works and what's behind those numbers.

     There are greater protections built in for defendants in the federal
system than in most state systems, but we don't know all the reasons why
minorities in some geographic districts are disproportionately represented.
So we expect the Department of Justice will take some steps to answer those

     Q    And how about a moratorium on the death penalty?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't have anything new for you on that today.
Obviously, the President wants to see this information and make his own
judgments, but I wouldn't expect anything on that.

     Q    What's the administration's reaction to a comment that Prodi said
that it was in U.S. interests to intervene with other central banks to
support the Euro?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, we have a very longstanding policy here of not
commenting on currency fluctuations, and I'll leave any comment to the
appropriate officials in the U.S. government, and those are the Treasury
Secretary, and the -- I think everyone knows how the system works.  The
Secretary of the Treasury and occasionally the Chairman of the Fed have
some things to say about currency, but we here at the White House do not.

     Q    Jake, the President said this morning it is reviewing options
regarding oil prices.  Can you expand on what those options are?  I have a
second question, and that is, what is the hang up in the budget at this
point?  Is it the riders or the funding levels?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Both, but I'll get to the first question and then hit
the second question.  The President has a number of options at his
disposal.  I'm not going to detail them for you here today, but obviously
he's saying that we -- he said this morning that we have a number of
options at our disposal.  We've already taken one administrative action,
which is to create the home heating oil reserve, and that work is on track,
and that was something that we had to do because Congress had failed to

     We still have other administrative action, but we expect Congress also
to move, and begin passing some of the conservation measures we have, that
could over the long term help ease some of the pressure that's brought to
bear by our over-reliance on home heating oil in some areas and on in some
areas and on oil more broadly.  We need to diversify our energy base, and
that's something that we've asked Congress to move forward on.

     On the budget, there are countless riders that are unnecessary.
Congress knows our position on those riders.  They know that for this
process to go very smoothly -- and it's way behind schedule -- they need to
clean up these bills, get rid of a lot of these anti-environmental
provisions.  And we've asked them to do that.  That's a point the President
will make again this afternoon.

     But the funding levels are inadequate; but it's not just about the
funding levels, it's also about policies.  Congress seems to be deciding to
add some more money, but a lot of it's going to pork, rather than to
programs that we know work.  We ought to have money put into programs we
know that work, programs like reducing class size, programs like the
programs to modernize America's schools, programs like the COPS program.
We can't just add some money and then hope that everything will be okay.
The President will be making the point this afternoon that we ought to look
at where the money goes and what it is spent on.

     Q    I want to make sure.  When will the President meet Indian Prime
Minister Vajpayee?

     MR. SIEWERT: P.J.?

     MR. CROWLEY:  Friday and Sunday.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Friday and Sunday.  The dinner is on Sunday, and Friday
is the official State Visit, where we'll be having a press conference.

     Q    At what time?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think it's 3:30 p.m. -- it's in the late afternoon.
We'll, give you -- the press conference is.

     Q    Why do you guys expect to come out of that, of his meeting here?
Why is he coming at this time?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'll have Mr. Crowley do that since I'm --

     MR. CROWLEY:  Well, as the President noted in his trip to India this
spring, we are the world's oldest democracy, India is the world's largest
democracy.  And with the end of the Cold War, we have the opportunity for a
new and strengthened relationship with India.

     We've taken some very specific steps with India since the President's
trip, continuing high-level political consultations.  They were part of the
Community of Democracies meeting that we held in Poland earlier this year.
We're trying to improve our commercial, energy and scientific base.

     For example, we are already both the largest foreign investor in India
and its largest trading partner, and I think during the course of Prime
Minister Vajpayee's time here, we'll have the opportunity to deepen our
economic relationship as well.

     Q    And, Jake, can I ask about some other areas while you're there?

     MR. CROWLEY:  A follow-up?

     Q    I want to ask about Trimble and about the Middle East.  What do
you expect to come out of the meetings, the result, with the Northern
Ireland officials?

     MR. CROWLEY:  It's really an historic visit by the leading members of
the Executive:  First Minister David Trimble, Deputy First Minister Seamus
Mallon, and it's their first trip to the White House and to the United
States since the Executive was put into place.  I think they'll talk
primarily about the progress that has been made in terms of a full
implementation of the Good Friday Accords and will talk about what further
steps they need to take supported by Britain, Ireland and the United States
to continue full implementation of the Good Friday Accords;
that's -- I think it will be the primary focus.

     Q    What's the latest on the Middle East from here, the prospect of
talks from here --

     MR. CROWLEY:  Well, obviously, the fact that there has been a delay in
declaration of Palestinian statehood.  It's both consistent with the
approach that we have encouraged, that unilateral steps at this stage would
not be helpful to the peace   process and it's consistent with the
commitments that the two parties expressed to the President and others last
week, that they remain committed to the peace process and to continue to
work to see if they can't narrow the gaps, resolve the differences and
reach an agreement.  That's their commitment.  There have been some
contacts in the region since New York.  The Secretary, Dennis Ross, others
will continue on the margins of their activity in the U.N. over the next
couple of weeks to continue to have further meetings.

     We have no illusions here.  This is an extraordinarily difficult
process.  There are still very hard decisions that both parties have to
make.  We continue to review the situation and formulate ideas that we
think can help bring the parties closer together.  The President, as he has
reiterated several times, remains fully committed to support the parties
and is willing to do everything that he can to help them reach an

     Q    What, specifically, does the President expect to come out of this
budget summit today with the Republican leaders?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, he would hope that we could begin to make some
progress in the budget.  As I said, we've only seen -- we've seen very
little work get done on the appropriations bill so far this year.  We only
have two of the 13 bills that fund the operation of the U.S. government.
The fiscal year runs out in just several weeks.

     There is some work that could very easily be done, that's easily
achievable -- work on patients' bill of rights, work on a minimum wage,
bills that we have bipartisan support for, that have majorities in both
Houses of Congress, that should be done instantly.  And there is no reason
why they can't get done instantly.  The Speaker has talked about getting
them done.  The President has been talking about getting them done since
last year.  And there is no reason why they can't get done, they've just
been held up by the Republican leadership.

     But those bills have Republican support, they have Democratic support,
they could be done quickly.

     There are other bills that are a little more difficult, but bills that
should get done in this next couple of weeks -- and that includes some
targeted tax relief, like the marriage penalty, that the President has said
he is willing to -- an area where the President said he's willing to go
along with a lot of what the Republicans have asked for if they're willing
to address the critical problem of providing real prescription drug
coverage.  So that's an offer he'll reiterate again today, that he's
willing to sign a bill, like the Republican marriage penalty bill, if
Republicans are willing to provide meaningful prescription drug benefits.

     So those are just some of the areas.  We obviously need to get the
budget done.  As I said, we need to clean out a lot of the garbage that's
been tacked on to them.  We need to clean out some of the pork that's been
thrown in some of these bills, and we need to fund programs that work,
programs that make sense, and that's something he'll be reiterating today.

     Q    Can you identify some of the pork, as you see it?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I noticed that they had an entire Republican radio
address this weekend accusing the White House of adding a lot of pork into
these bills.  In reality, I saw some reporting about projects in
Mississippi that are things that we did not request, at all, in our budget.
So if you want to look at where the pork is, look at our budget and see if
you see anything that's unnecessary.  We'd be willing to talk about why we
think those are important.  Our budget's been available since February, but
a lot of the projects that have been added, a lot of the special projects
are added by people in Congress, and that's where that pork comes from.

     Q    So basically all these things are on the table for this meeting,
patient's bill of rights, minimum wage, the budget and so forth?  Is that

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yeah, and I actually expect they'll probably talk a
little bit about China, just because the vote's coming up.  We've been
consulting on the Hill on that in the last couple days, and as you know, a
vote could come any day now.  We're intent upon seeing a clean bill on
China, that can -- so that we can move quickly towards finishing up our
work on that.

     Q    Can I just follow up, though, about the budget, before we move
on, and that is, given the political landscape we now face in this country,
with an election looming, the polls pretty much tied, what would be the
Republicans' motivation to go along with some of these things?  If you were
a Republican, wouldn't you just say, well hold on, I'll wait and see what
I'm dealing with in January?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, you might, since you're being voted on in
November, you might want to have something to have people vote for.  You
might want to go home and say, I did something this year.  You might want
to go home and say, I raised the minimum wage.  You might want to go home
and say, I did something on managed care.  You might want to go home and
say, I did something for our schools that are falling apart.  You might
want to go home and say, that I did something to provide meaningful
prescription drug benefit to people who really can't afford prescription
drugs right now.

     So, you might want to go home and say I did something this year,
rather than go home and say let's wait until next year and maybe I can do
something then.

     Q    Dick Armey says that the GAO report on web site security shows
that the adminstration has failed to live up to its own privacy standards.
What do you say?

     MR. SIEWERT:  The report is seriously misleading on privacy.  What it
does is, we've actually made significant progress in this area.  There's a
recent study, a separate GAO study that was released last week surveyed
2,700 different points of entry in the government, and found that 99.7
percent of those sites now have privacy policies.

     They're comparing it to a policy that was designed for commercial web
sites, which is very different; you have very different sets of concern,
and then seeing what doesn't meet up to those standards.  So I think we're
comparing apples and oranges here.  We take these concerns seriously, we've
actually made very clear we have a government-wide policy on privacy and
we've put forth an enforcement mechanism to make sure that agencies comply
with that policy.

     Q    Jake, when you talked about a meaningful prescription drug
benefit, are you talking only about the President's plan, or are you
willing at all to look at the Roth idea or -- smaller-scale, more targeted

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, the Roth plan's seriously flawed; I think we've
made that clear.  More than 20 million beneficiaries would get absolutely
no help at all from that plan and they would have no choice for at least
four years, under the Republican plan.  And more than half the
beneficiaries today that don't have any drug coverage would get no benefit
from the Roth plan.  So we have some serious concerns about that.
Obviously, we're willing to look at some new ideas, but we want to make
sure that it's universal, we want to make sure that it's affordable.

     One of the biggest problems in their plan is that it shifts
responsibility for Medicare drug coverage to the states.  And it's not
clear -- the states don't want it, they said so.  The National Governors
Association said that if Congress decides to expand prescription drug
coverage, it ought to make sure that it's done through the federal
government, not through the states.  And why we would create a new
bureaucracy in the states to deal with these programs, particularly when
states have very different approaches today under Medicaid, is not clear at

     Q    Also, on the targeted tax -- is pension reconciliation bill that
seems to be --

     MR. SIEWERT:  That's a bill where we share the same concern that
Congress does about increasing savings, increasing savings for retirement.
The President has a number of proposals on that, some of them have been
incorporated into the House bill, some have been incorporated into the
Senate bill.  And so that's an area where we think we can work together.

     The Senate, particularly Senator Baucus, did some good work in
including some provisions there that would help lower and middle income
workers save for retirement.  So we think we can work through our
differences there.  We'd like to work through our differences and get a
bill that would help increase savings, but we have to do it in a way that's
fiscally responsible; but we think that that's an area that's ripe for some
cooperative work.

     Q    The Republicans, apparently, in the meeting are going to
emphasize debt relief, and maybe even say that some of the individual
appropriations bills, that a certain amount of money should be set aside
for debt relief.  How is the President going to respond to that?

     MR. SIEWERT:  That's a startling approach from a party that recently
passed hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts that would undermine our
ability to pay down the debt.  It's a party that seems to be penny-wise and
pound-foolish.  They don't seem to care very much about spending hundreds
of billions of dollars and, yet, they're concerned about nickels and dimes
that might go to help places that need to repair their schools, seniors
that need to pay for drugs.

     So they're willing to spend literally trillions of dollars on tax
relief, without any concern for the ability of the government to meet its
obligations to pay down the debt.  And, yet, they want to bring that
concern into an appropriations process where we're talking about very
narrow differences, that Senator Lott, himself, said between the two

     Q    Well, I understand you can't resist attacking the Republican tax
proposal, but how about just this idea of debt reduction, itself?  Is that
something --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, we have a budget that puts

     Q    -- or maybe even more out of the appropriations process going --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I don't know that we need to look necessarily to
the appropriations process.  We have a budget framework that -- our budget
framework takes all the money that would go to Medicare, that comes in from
Medicare in excess of what we spend today, and dedicates that to a lockbox,
uses that to pay down the debt, to put us in a better situation.

     That's several hundred billion dollars that could easily address some
of the concerns that have been raised there.  We take all of the money that
comes in, in excess of what we need today for Social Security, the Social
Security surplus, and dedicates it to debt reduction.  So by any measure,
our approach -- which has smaller, more targeted tax cuts -- dedicates
massive amounts more of money to debt relief than a lot of the Republican
plans which involve these hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.

     Q    Jake, the President is not holding hostage the
budget -- agreement on these various appropriations items to the other
legislation he wants on such things as patients' bill of rights or minimum
wage, is he?

     MR. SIEWERT:  As you know, it's very difficult for us to force
Congress to do something they don't necessarily have to do.  We have to
rely on the American people to make their wishes known.  And I think the
American people want minimum wage, they want a patients' bill of rights.
But as you know, the appropriations process has to get done and it will get
done, one way or the other.  But we're going to urge Congress to do more
than just the bare minimum to get out of town.  We're going to urge them to
work on minimum wage, work on a patients' bill of rights and work on a
prescription drug coverage.

     But as you know, we're going to have use our -- the podium here, the
bully pulpit the President has, to force some action on those, because
those are not necessarily bills that Congress needs to get done.  We've
given them offers, we think a good faith offer, on the marriage penalty
where we would accept a lot of what they want in return for something that
we think is very important for the American people, and we'll have to see
what they do about it.

     Q    Your spending bills are entirely separate, they're not tied in
any way --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, that's the way the budget process works.

     Q    The minimum wage bill has about $76 billion in tax cuts  --
attached to it, and Daschle says that's too much.  Do you have a ceiling
that you think is acceptable?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know that we have a specific dollar figure in
mind.  We understand that Republicans and Democrats want some small
business provisions attached to that.  We don't think that's unreasonable.
But we have to look at them, we can't just accept bad policy because it's
attached to good policy, we have to look at the tax cuts individually.

     Certainly, the pension reform area where we could work together is
something that might see its way into that kind of a bill -- and that's not
unacceptable.  But we don't have a dollar figure in mind; but we agree with
the Minority Leader that there is a lot of -- there are some provisions in
there that just don't make much sense, aren't high priorities for us and we
ought to be attaching things to that bill that don't undermine our effort
to build bipartisan support for it.

     Q    Jake, what's the state of play with China and the votes?

     MR. SIEWERT:  China?  Obviously, we're working very hard.  We have the
votes for the underlying bill to grant China permanent normal trade
relations.  There's no doubt about that.  We have close to 70 senators, by
all counts, who have publicly expressed their support for moving China into
the WTO.  What we do have are some amendments, and so far we've been very
successful in beating the amendments that are extraneous to this bill, and
we're going to continue to work on that.

     But the key point for us is that any amendment to this bill, any
change for this bill is a recipe for delay, and delay in an election year
is -- leads to all kinds of uncertainty.  We want to get this done.  We
think the House did an admirable job of passing a bill that's balanced,
that opens the market to American workers and consumers and business and
farmers, and we want to just -- we want to pass what the House did, which
is very simple, and anything that isn't -- that doesn't mirror the House
bill is going to mean delay for American businesses and farmers and workers
that want access to China's markets.

     Q    Back on the fuel crisis and the fuel shortage, what are the --
what plans, if any, do you have for drawing down any of the reserves from
the strategic petroleum reserve?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, as I've said, I mean, that's obviously one of the
options that has been publicly bandied about.  I think I told Alex that we
don't have anything new to say on that today, other than to say that we
haven't ruled anything out, and all of our options remain on the table.

But we're going to have to -- OPEC has made a decision, we think that's a
positive step.  We would urge them to increase production.  They've done
so.  We're going to wait and see how the markets settle in in the wake of
that announcement, and make some decisions about what further steps we can
take.  As I said, we're working administratively through executive action
on the home heating oil reserve, and we're going to push Congress in it's
closing weeks to address some of the longer term issues, tax credits to
increase energy efficiency, but we can also -- we have some executive
action available to us, and we're not ruling it out.

     Q    Is there a particular time at which you have to make that

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't believe so, no.

     Q    Is the President pleased with the level of the announced
expansion of production, or is he hoping for a little more?  Is it about
what he expected?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't want to get into the numbers, but I'd think we'd
urged an increase in production, OPEC has taken
that -- taken a step, a very positive -- a positive step there, and I think
that we'll have to wait and see how the markets react, and see what, if
anything, what, if anything, we do in the wake of that announcement.

     Q    The President doesn't think it was too modest?

     MR. SIEWERT:  As I said, we had urged an increase in production.  I
don't want to get into the particular levels.  Overall, our policy has been
that we think, as the President has said publicly a number of times, that
oil prices ought to be in line with their historic average.  Right now
they're not, and we're going to keep on top of the situation and keep
monitoring it.

     Q    Is the United States considering imposing sanctions on Japan over
whaling practices?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I've seen some of the reports about whaling.  Certainly,
the new practice by the Japanese.  I'll check on that and get back to you.

     Q    Is it your initial reaction that 800,000 new barrels is enough to
bring the prices back in line?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, I said we'll have to look at the market and see how
it reacts to that news.

     Q    Chelsea* left today for Australia.  Is she actually heading up
the U.S. delegation for the Olympics, and who else is going with her?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't have the full list.  We should have it, Nanda,
later today, but she is -- I believe she's the head of the delegation.
She's representing the United States in Australia, and I'm sure she'll do a
wonderful job, and I think

*  Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala
Secretary Shalala is traveling with her, and there are a number of other
administration officials, and I think we're going to put the list out later

     Q    The First Lady's first debate with Lazio is tomorrow night, and
as we've heard, the President is helping coach her.  Without giving away
her strategy, can you tell us some of the things he's going to help her in
debate prep?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Oh, I wouldn't overplay his role in this.  I think he's
obviously following her campaign with a great deal of interest.  I'm sure
he'll watch the debate, and have his own thoughts about that.  I don't know
if he'll share them with me, but the President has dropped in and out of
some of the sessions she's done preparing for this, and certainly he's an
experienced debater.  As she said, she's never done this before.  This is a
first for her, and I'm sure he's offered some advice, but I'm sure we'll
keep it private for now.

     Q    Jake, what's all this about the President showing up at work
angry every day?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I haven't seen much evidence of that.  I don't know,
have you seen him angry, Mark?

     Q    At me, yes.  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, that's a different story.  No, the President -- I
read in a Washington Post Magazine piece this weekend that the President
was at peace.  So what The Washington Post says, I believe.  (Laughter.)

     Q    Jake, can I ask another question about some of the things we've
seen in the last couple of days?  Yesterday, an FTC press conference early
in the morning, both the President and the Vice President were on that
message, he was on the message out on the campaign trail.  Today, both the
President and the Vice President seem to be hitting educational themes.

     How much cooperation and coordination is there going on right now
between the White House and the Gore campaign, as per message of the day?

     MR. SIEWERT:  You know, it's no secret that the White House talks to
both the Gore staff here in Washington and the Gore staff that's on the
campaign from time to time.

     The FTC announcement was simply a major announcement.  We had
requested it.  The Vice President and the First Lady had been involved in
the request for such a study, so it's obvious we would have had something
to say on that.  When the report came out, we spoke about it.  I don't
think there is anything terribly mysterious there.

     Today, obviously, education is something that has been near and dear
to the President's agenda for a long time, and the Vice President's.  But
I'm not going to tell you it's entirely coincidental.  On the other hand, I
wouldn't expect to see us doing the exact same thing every day.  But from
time to time we're going to talk about issues that matter.

     We're in a period now where we're trying to influence Congress and
trying to get them to act; as said earlier, we don't necessarily have --
can't force them to act on some issues where they don't want to act, but
we're going to try to make them.  And the way to do that is by talking to
the American people about what Congress ought to do.

     Q    A follow up to that, if I could, please.  I notice we had the
negotiations going on in Albuquerque over Wen Ho Lee.  Regardless of how
that comes out, I noticed that the Secretary of Energy has made comments
that he'd like to see the hard drive investigation wrapped up, some
indication that he'd be pleased to see the Wen Ho Lee problem go away.

     Has the President weighed in, through the Justice Department, about
him wanting to see this wrapped up in a -- fashion?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Not that I'm aware of.  I know that -- it sounds like
the prosecutors are working with Wen Ho Lee's attorneys on resolving that.
I think the government has an interest in finding out what happened to the
missing tapes, and that's in the best interests of our national security.
That's probably all I'll have to say on that.

     Q    Jake, you said there was no reason there couldn't be instant
action on the patients' bill of rights.  But I believe it was today the
Republicans were proposing a major expansion in medical savings accounts.
Are you saying that that wouldn't be a problem, expanded MSAs --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Actually, I haven't seen that.  The patients' bill of
rights is actually attached to an appropriations bill by the Republicans.
So that's something that they've put on.  That's actually a rider that we
could stomach if we got it passed.

     But that's something that they've wrapped up in the appropriations
process.  We've made our views known on the medical savings account for a
long time now.  We allowed some trials of those.  They weren't particularly
successful.  But I haven't really seen their new proposal, so I can't
comment on it.

     Q    Jake, the First Lady this morning said that the White House was
offended by Rick Lazio's criticism of the President over the handshake with
Castro.  Was, in fact, the White House offended and could you, for the
record, state what the specific role of the White House was, if any, on the
release of the Lazio-Arafat photograph?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know if the building was offended, but in any
case, certainly we received a request from the media for this photo.  They
seem to have known about it, and we made that photo available.  To us, that
wasn't a close call.  It was obviously -- I mean, I'll let others judge
whether his comments warranted that or not.  But the reality is that this
is just a photo.  We get requests from time to time for photos, and we
release them when we think it's a reasonable request.

     Q    Has the President seen the rats ad yet?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, but we're looking forward to it.  (Laughter.)  I
don't know.  I'll leave it for you to judge whether that was just an
accident, or a dirty trick.

     Q    Are you now accepting requests for other photographs in the White
House archives?  Say, like the President and John Huang, or --

     MR. SIEWERT:  We'll judge them all.  Well, I think there's plenty of
footage of a lot of -- I mean, listen, on that, we made thousands of tapes

and photos available to the committees on the Hill that requested those in
the wake of the campaign finance investigation.  If you remember, we took a
great deal of criticism for not releasing some of them earlier because we
hadn't found them.

     But we literally turned over dozens of tapes and lots of photos to the
committees on the Hill that were looking at that incident so they could
judge for themselves.  And even now, two years later, we're still working
with them on some of those tapes that they believe had been mishandled.

     April.  Congratulations, by the way.

     Q    Thank you.

     MR. SIEWERT:  You're welcome.  April has been married since we last
saw her.

     Q    I was married before, but --  (laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  We celebrated.

     Q    Yes.  Getting back to the Gore campaign, has the President been
made aware of Cynthia McKinney's comments that basically says that Gore has
a low tolerance for black people?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Oh, no.  I have not been aware of those myself, so I
doubt he has.

     Q    Well, let me ask you this, then.  Since the President is very
close with members of the CBC, do you think that he would talk to them,
because some people are still rumbling about the Lieberman situation, and
about Vice President Gore themselves.  They're still some --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, I'll take a look at it.  This is the first I've
heard of it, so --

     Q    When do you expect we might see the President do the first event
for Gore --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know.

     Q    -- of the fall campaign?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know.  We have a number of campaign events
scheduled for October, but we're still working through the President's full
schedule, particularly towards the end of the campaign.  Right now, as you
know, we're focused on doing a lot of fundraising.  That takes a lot of
pressure off the Vice President, frees him up to go out and do message
events in the states, and I expect we'll continue to do some of that.  But
we haven't really scheduled -- we haven't sat down and figured out the full
schedule for the late fall.

     Q    Can I ask about this Friday press conference?  Is that a
full-blown press conference, one of those two questions for each press
corps --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think it's somewhere in between.  It's a hybrid.  All

     MR. CROWLEY:  One thing.  Before you go, we'll have an announcement
after the briefing that the President is pleased the Italian Prime Minister
Amato has accepted the President's invitation for an official working visit
on September 20th.

     Q    Thank you.

     Q    September --

     MR. CROWLEY:  Twenty.

     Q    Thank you.

                      END                1:45 P.M. EDT

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