Bill Clinton photo

Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN in Des Moines, Iowa

July 14, 1993

Economic Summit

The President. [Inaudible]—revised upward in about 5 days.

Mr. Blitzer. Significantly?

The President. Could be.

Mr. Blitzer. And tomorrow you're supposed to go up to Capitol Hill to meet with some Members of the House and Senate, I take it, to discuss this issue or the whole G-7 Tokyo summit?

The President. Well, I will certainly give them a briefing on this issue, and I want to talk about what happened on our trip and what happened at the Tokyo summit and how important it is for us now to pass this budget. This is our part of the bargain. We got a new trade agreement with Japan. We got an agreement to lower tariffs historically with the other major industrialized countries. We're trying to restore growth to the world economy, but to do it we've got to bring the American budget deficit down, too.

Mr. Blitzer. You come to this area here-helicopters are flying overhead even as we sped—to see the devastation. The G-7 summit must seem like 100 years ago, doesn't it?

The President. It's a long way away, but the focus of those high-flung summits is to affect the lives of people like the folks on this street for the better. So in a way, it's a good way to come home, and I should be here.

Midwest Flooding

Mr. Blitzer. Now, as a former Governor, you seem to be so comfortable dealing with these natural disaster type of situations, and you get really immersed into it right away. Am I wrong? Is that just my impression?

The President. No, you're right—

Mr. Blitzer. In certain areas you seem uncomfortable, but in this kind of area you seem very comfortable.

The President. Well, I think in every new job there's a learning curve, but I don't have much of one here. Most people who would become President, who would come out of the Congress, for example, might not have anything like the experience that I've had dealing with disasters. But my State, on a per capita basis, suffers from tornadoes more than any other. We've had major floods. We've had huge droughts. I've dealt with a lot of these, and I know what's been wrong in the past. And I'm glad that a lot of people think we're trying to put it right here. I feel good about it.

Mr. Blitzer. You're going to go back to Washington tonight. Any plans to come back to this area, visit other devastated areas in the Midwest?

The President. Well, I don't want to rule it in or out. I've got to go back and see where we are, first of all, on the aid package, and secondly, where we are with the budget negotiations, and thirdly, where we are in dealing with the States and the localities. That's the big issue. That's the thing we're trying to do a better job of, make sure everybody is sort of on board and we're all doing things together, singing out of the same hymnal. And I wouldn't rule it out, but I don't want to commit yet. I've got to go back and see what the job is, what we have to do in Washington.

Homosexuals in the Military

Mr. Blitzer. And on top of everything else, this week the Pentagon is supposed to give you its recommendations on the whole issue of gays in the military.

The President. They are.

Mr. Blitzer. What's your sense? Is it falling into place right now?

The President. My sense is there's still some difference of opinion even among the service chiefs about what they want. But I hope they'll come up with something that everyone can agree is fair and we can all live with. We'll just have to see.

Mr. Blitzer. How much after you get that recommendation do you think you will finally act on some decision?

The President. Oh, I won't take long, won't take long at all. No, I won't take long.

Mr. Blitzer. Have you basically made up your mind already?

The President. Well, I want to see what they say first. I think they're still debating it a little among themselves, and I want to see what they say.

Mr. Blitzer. Okay, Mr. President. Thank you very much once again for joining us.

The President. Thanks, Wolf. Thank you.

Mr. Blitzer. Pretty devastated area.

The President. It is.

NOTE: The interview began at 3:20 p.m. at the intersection of Fleur and Valley Drives. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this interview.

William J. Clinton, Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN in Des Moines, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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