Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart (9/28/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release              September 28, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART

                  The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:35 P.M. EDT

          MR. LOCKHART:  I have no announcements, except for that the
President will meet with his Cabinet at 2:40 p.m. this afternoon.  We'll do
a pool spray on the top of that.  I think as he indicated just out on the
lawn a few moments ago, he'll be happy to take domestic questions there, as
he took some questions about Yugoslavia out in the Rose Garden.


          Q    Joe, a domestic question.  Congressman DeLay, the Whip, said
today, "Listening to President Clinton call for spending restraint is like
getting a lecture on sobriety from W.C. Fields."  I wonder if you had any
reaction to that.

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, when he gets out of the slop of the pork
barrel spending pit, maybe he'll have a little more credibility.  Until
then, we'll continue to work with the rest of the leadership.

          Q    I thought you'd have a reaction.

          Q    What do you really feel?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I haven't seen it.  If you'd given me a little
time, I could come up with something much better than that.  He probably
worked for two or three days on his.

          Q    Is the President going to play any role in trying to
resurrect the new markets legislation that seems to be in trouble now?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know if it's in trouble.  I think that
there, as always with these legislations, people are trying to add things
on for other reasons.  But I think we've been talking with leaders on both
sides of the aisle on the Hill, and we still think we have a pretty good
chance to get this passed.

          Q    -- the administration is going to meet with Mr. Fujimori,
and is the U.S. going to help him maintain a safe transfer to power?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we've been working with President Fujimori
in the context of the OAS.  That's what he's here for.  He flew in, I
think, last night.  I don't know that we have anything -- there's certainly
no one here -- I mean, the President is not meeting with him.  Is anyone at

          MR. CROWLEY:  It's possible.

          MR. LOCKHART:  Yes, it's possible.

          Q    What about Berger?

          MR. LOCKHART:  No, I don't know.  You'll have to ask the State
Department if they've got any -- I think we've made very clear that the
transition should move forward in the context of what the OAS has done, and
we'll continue to work in that context.

          Q    Do you have anything on the FDA and the approval of the
abortion pill?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think the FDA made their announcement
today, and the important thing is that announcement was based on the
science.  It's important that as they move forward in their regulatory
efforts on all new drugs, that these decisions are based on the science,
and this one was.

          Q    Joe, Yemen has just announced they're going to do a flight
to Baghdad.  They're the fourth country now to flout the sanctions on Iraq.
What's your reaction to that?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think we have expressed some concern over
what the Russian flight and a French flight.  That work is done within the
context of the sanctions committee at the U.N.  I know there was a
Jordanian flight, and my understanding is that was approved through the
U.N. with prior consultation.  I haven't seen anything on Yemen and whether
they've worked with the council as far as     this, and whether this is
something that's approved or not.

          Q    Joe, does the President hope his statement about lifting the
sanctions on Yugoslavia will encourage and inspire the opposition to push
ever harder, and perhaps entice some members of the Milosevic regime to
switch sides?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think if you look at what's going on
there, there is a broad-scale and deep movement toward a new government,
and toward a democratic government.  I think he's seen the Orthodox Church,
a very powerful part of that society and culture, has spoken clearly on
what they think is the right thing to do, and the people have gone to the
streets to say what they want, after going to the polls over the weekend.
So I don't know that this is a process that needs a push, because I think
internally there are a number of institutions and the people who have
spoken clearly.

          Q    Why did he stop short of calling on Milosevic to resign or
to leave?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think he has said very clearly that
Milosevic should leave, because all reports, all credible reports have said
that he lost the election, and that's how elections work.  When you loose,
you leave.

          Q    Would the President urge the Serbian people to rise up
physically if, indeed, Milosevic refuses to leave?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think if you look at the demonstrations that
have gone on over the last few days, the Serbian people are making their
views very clear.  They've gone out in a peaceful way, made clear that the
elections spoke clearly for where they want their country to go, and that
Milosevic needs to heed their call.

          Q    The United States favors peaceful demonstrations, not
violent --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think it would be obvious that we always think
that protests should be done in a peaceful way.

          Q    Joe, is that the message that you think the President was
giving out there in the Rose Garden, that Milosevic has run, lost, there
should not be a runoff, and he should leave?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think that the message is that all credible
reports are that the opposition clearly won the election, and the results
of the election should be heeded by all parties.

          Q    Going back to Iraq and sanctions issue, ignoring Yemen for a
second, though -- we've had three countries who have done or announced
flights to Iraq.  Are you concerned about the erosion of international
support for the sanctions --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think there's some concern that there are now
some variation, interpretation of the resolution pertaining to flights, and
we are working hard to resolve that within the sanctions committee at the

          Q    Joe, can you comment on Judge Kessler's ruling on tobacco?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.  I think we believe that moving forward on
the basis of racketeering, on mail fraud racketeering, wire fraud
racketeering is an important victory for the Justice Department and for the
American people.  We think that the most egregious abuses of the tobacco
companies can and will be addressed in the context of this court case.  We
think it's a victory that she has refused to dismiss these racketeering
counts because we think this will be an effective way to seek judicial

          Q    But, Joe, I mean, she did throw out two other counts, saying
that you can't collect the money based on Medicare and the Federal Health
Benefit Act, and she says your case remains to be proven on the
racketeering issue.  I mean, is that really a victory?

          MR. LOCKHART:  We think it's a victory because we think the
strongest part of this is -- and we will prove this in court -- that they
violated the racketeering laws in this country by intentionally misleading
through mail fraud and wire fraud, those statutes, the American public,
particularly young people.  So we think that the judge allowing this to go
forward and refusing to dismiss these charges is a victory for the American

          Q    So are you pleased with her verdict, all in all?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Certainly we're pleased.  We're going to be moving
forward on these fronts and we think we can make our case based on these

          Q    Do you consider the other issues settled as far as
litigation is concerned?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Certainly in this context the judge has ruled.  I
don't know -- you'd have to talk to the Justice Department about any
process they might move forward.  But, clearly, we think we can make our
case on the counts that the judge actually refused to dismiss.

          Q    In a vaguely related issue, I mean, Hollywood executives
said yesterday -- some of them said that they will not stop marketing R
rated films to children.  Is there any -- do you see any similarities
between their actions and the tobacco company, which also targeted children
with their marketing efforts?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think it's very difficult to try to compare
those two things.  But I do think that industries need to take
responsibility for their own action.  I think we saw a mixed picture
yesterday.  You have companies that are coming forward and trying to be
responsible, but you also seem to have companies who weren't aware of what
they were doing within their own company as far as some of the most
egregious abuses -- bringing in 9-year-olds to help test and screen movies
for studios.

          So I think, clearly, the message out of yesterday is that more
needs to be done and we need to work closely together and, as we've said
all along, we will have to cross this bridge when we get there.  If the
industry can't do this together, we'll have to look at other options.

          Q    -- Cheney yesterday, and other Republicans suggested that
the administration is not the correct entity to fight this fight, simply
because of the fundraising that the President and others have done out in
Hollywood.  What do you say to that?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I won't bring up her books if she doesn't decide
what we can get into.  We have made clear -- and I'll tell you something --
I think it is a test of your political character when you can go to people
who have been supportive and are your friends and say, we think you're
wrong, on something.  I think there's a lot of big industry, special
interest groups on the other side that would be a lot better off in this
country if the Republicans could stand up to them -- you know, the
insurance companies, the tobacco companies, and the big oil companies.

          Q    How has Joe Lieberman stood up to Hollywood?  He said, there
will be no government regulation.  How is that standing up --

          MR. LOCKHART:  There is a lot of things we've done on that front
that are not censorship.  We've done things like the v-chip.  We've worked
with the entertainment industry to take a number of steps.  More needs to
be done, and we're going to work closely with them.

          Q    Joe, apparently Jaycee Watts said he was confident the next
administration will overturn the abortion pill ruling --

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I'll tell you something.  I think that's one
of the more disturbing things I've heard and something that obviously all
members of Congress and those who seek office are going to have to face up
to directly.  But to somehow argue that the FDA Commissioner should be
subject to a political litmus test, and not a commitment to science, is
quite a dangerous thing to say.  And I think we believe that it is not a
political position, it is a position where science, and only solid science,
should be used to make decisions that protect the best interests of
Americans.  I think it's a very dangerous idea that's being floated by some
groups, and this particular Congressman, to say that somehow we're going to
provide a political litmus test for the next FDA Commissioner.

          Q    In that regard, Joe, do you think this decision will make
abortion politics ever more inflamed, or do you think it will actually
constitute a change or a turning point?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think you have to talk to those who are involved
in this.  As far as the government goes, this decision is based on science
and science alone.

          Q    On October 26, there is a national festival of India -- the
Festival of Lights, and the new community will celebrate here in Maryland.
President Clinton this week promised at the fundraiser in the Silicon
Valley in front of some Indians that he will look into it if the White
House can also celebrate, just like celebrating other major festivals in
the White House.  So what is the policy of the White House -- can you look
into it? Because he promised to look into it.

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think the policy is that the White House is
looking into it.

          Q    Joe, is the President going to extend legal immigration
status for Liberians?

          MR. LOCKHART:  The President has made a decision on that.  I
think later today the paperwork will be executed and he will extend or
defer the deportation of Liberians for one year.

          Q    Joe, the Cabinet meeting, is it specifically to take up
last-minute budget issues and plan the strategy?  Any other topics?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think we'll certainly, with the good
auspices of the foreign policy team, get an update from Secretary of State
Albright and Sandy Berger on a number of places around the world.  But the
primary focus is to get all the Cabinet Secretaries in the room as we move
towards the last push on the budget appropriations and tax issues that
we'll face over the next two or three weeks.

          Q    Can you comment on the congressional action on the New
England oil reserve, apparently stripping New England out of the

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, the congressional action that I saw was
there apparently was some movement to try to limit the ability to use the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  I guess I would raise the question, what is
the alternative idea?  What do the Republicans believe they want to do to
help people heat their homes this winter?  They wouldn't move on a
Northeast home heating oil reserve, we had to do that administratively.
They now are criticizing the release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,
even in the face of the unanimous support from the G-7 ministers and the
Central Bankers.  They have blocked the President's program of conservation
and energy efficiency, and they seem to have no answers.

          We're going to move forward with this, and we're going to make
sure that any potential supply problems down the road are taken care of
with prudent and precautionary steps now.

          Q    Joe, what's being done about natural gas reserves?  The
President's spoken out about oil a lot, but --

          MR. LOCKHART:  I know that we have -- as part of the overall
effort, we have, the President has put forward some ideas in terms of
natural gas and home heating oil.  I don't know if there's a particular
element that's involved in the discussions right now.

          Q    How about the Cuba food sales legislation?  Where are you on

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we have said all along that we would favor
something along the lines of what Senator Lugar put forward some time ago.
We don't believe that food and medicine should be used as a tool in foreign
policy, and we have taken steps to make sure that doesn't happen.  As far
as the particular deal that's been reached, it was a deal reached among
Republicans.  And they have not briefed, as far as I know, the Democrats on
the Hill about it or the White House.  So at this time we'll just withhold

          Q    Joe, I just want to sneak in a light question for a
Washington history piece.  Why was the briefing room built over the
swimming pool?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I think Richard Nixon decided that, A, he didn't
like swimming, and B, he didn't like the press.  And it's killed two birds
with one stone.  (Laughter.)

          Q    Was there ever any discussion about reopening it?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, not during my tenure here, but there may be
now, since I understand Jake's an excellent swimmer.

          Q    Do you have any objection to the Firestone bill that was
marked up on the Hill?

          MR. LOCKHART:  I haven't seen it.  I know that we've been working
closely with them on new legislation, but I'd go to the Department of
Transportation on that because they've taken the lead.

          Q    Joe, do you like the press, and can you talk about your
tenure in the White House, and also how the press treated you and how the
President treats you also, among other things?

          MR. LOCKHART:  That would leave me nothing to talk about
tomorrow, so I'll take a pass.  (Laughter.)

          Q    Are you having any second thoughts, Joe, about leaving?

          MR. LOCKHART:  Are you kidding me?  (Laughter.)

          Are we all done?  Good.  Thanks.

                              END    1:50 P.M. EDT


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