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Press Briefing by David Gergen and Mark Gearan

June 07, 1993

The Briefing Room

1:15 P.M. EDT

MR. GERGEN: Good afternoon. This is an unfamiliar posture to be in, but I am delighted to see so many of you again. I'm really here just briefly to make some announcements about the communications operations, press operations here in the White House.

As a preface, I might tell all of you that the announcements we have today were all agreed upon Saturday by the President in a meeting that Mack McLarty and George Stephanopoulos and I had with the President. And we all, the three of us on the staff, unanimously recommended these moves to the President, enthusiastically recommended them to the President. He signed off on all three at that time and wanted to go forward as quickly as possible.

First of all, I'm delighted, on behalf of the President, to announce that Mark Gearan is going to become the Communications Director of the White House. He will serve as Assistant to the President for Communications. We'll have a statement for you in just a little while from Mack McLarty about his service as Deputy Chief of Staff. Mark, as I think you know, has served extraordinarily well here as Deputy Chief of Staff. I'm also aware that he is very wellrespected by many of you in the press. You respect him for his credibility as well as his friendliness. And those were two important qualities, I thought, in having a Communications Director. He's someone who respects the press, understands what you're about.

Q: That will be refreshing. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Some things haven't changed. (Laughter.) Including Helen. It's wonderful to see you again, Helen. (Laughter.)

I must -- I will also tell you that Mark was recommended to me by many people here as someone who should be the Communications Director. I didn't know him terribly well. We spent some time together and I found out from talking to him he sounded like a very, very good choice. And I've been pleased, in fact, really impressed by how many people within the staff, as this news has broken over in The Washington Post this morning, how many people on the staff have come forward and said what a wonderful choice it is.

So Mark will be here in just a second and talk to you more. Now, the second --

Q: What will be his job, before you go on?

MR. GERGEN: Let me just go ahead. If you don't mind, I'll just finish up.

The second announcement I wanted to make was that the President wants to reaffirm his support in Dee Dee Myers as Press Secretary. He's been extremely pleased with her performance here. He has a very high regard for her as an individual and as someone who has served extraordinarily well in the Press Office.

The President has also expressed a desire, in view of her continuing role and the fact that she'll be doing more briefings, that he wants to ensure that she has maximum access to him and to others within the administration; that's it's important when someone comes out to this podium to talk to you all that that person be wellinformed, well-briefed on what's going on inside. And he believed very strongly in that principle, so Dee Dee and Mark were both in seeing the President this morning to talk about events of the day.

Now, the third announcement I want to make is that we are going to be opening the door of the press room this afternoon. It will be open as soon as we finish this session. And I might just say by way of background, because I know some of you may be curious, when I had -- I don't know the history, frankly, of what happened before, for whatever reason it was closed. I'm just not privy to that.

I do know this, that in my first meeting with Mack McLarty --we had dinner together over at his home, I think some of you know, after the reconciliation bill was voted through the House. And I raised the question about press relations as part of my discussion with him about a number of issues that were pertinent to me before coming here. And he, at that time, said, I think it's time we opened the door to the press. And I said, I would enthusiastically support that. I had my first conversation with George about this -- George Stephanopoulos about this. He said, I believe it's time to open the door. My first conversation with the President, he said, I believe it's time to open the door. (Laughter.) So we opened up the door.

Q: We've always believed it.

Q: Are you moving the press to the Old EOB, David?

MR. GERGEN: Well, that's the bad news. (Laughter.) You have to be outside the gate, but other than that, the door is open. (Laughter.)

Q: Really. I'm serious. There's more rumors about that again.

MR. GERGEN: No, no, no. That thought has never -- no, there's been no discussion of that. I said there's been -- I cannot conceive of the circumstance. The only time I know the press has ever been in the Old Executive Office Building --

Q: Since you were last in here.

MR. GERGEN: -- was when this room was being renovated in preparation for renaming it after Jim Brady. And remember there was that period of time. But, listen, I think it's only fair before taking questions that Mark have a chance to say a few words and Dee Dee have a chance to say a few works.


MR. GEARAN: Thank you.

Q: Will you extend the five-minute rule?

MR. GERGEN: Yes, sure. I think that -- I think we can extend it through this discussion and then we'll go to the regular briefing.

MR. GEARAN: Thank you, David.

As David has outlined, Mack's plan here is to have David think the big thoughts, Dee Dee to do most of the briefings each day, and for me to seemingly make you happy. (Laughter.)

Q: No problem. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: I'm glad that's your role.

MR. GEARAN: A task that -- there are many great traditions, though, here in the White House. And one, of course, is for the prior occupants of the Communications Director's office to leave notes to one's successor. And when I arrived yesterday to move in, I was left a note by George Stephanopoulos, along with all of the other notes from prior communications directors and press secretaries. It's a wonderful tradition of the White House. And it's dated the 5th of June. "Mark: I can only give you one piece of advice: Open the hallway! George." (Laughter.) So with that, and based on all that David outlined that that's where we're going.

But I am very honored to take up this assignment for the President and for the Vice President. I certainly take the job with a full understanding of what you all have to do. I don't know why you do it, I don't know how you do it, but that's your problem and not my problem.

But I view this as an opportunity for the press staff and the communications staff as a chance to make sure that we don't go around you, past you, or underneath you, but to face on, really head on what our responsibility is. And that is to explain and communicate what the President is doing, what this administration is all about, and the direction that the President want to move this country.

We want to make the Communications Office open and accessible and responsible, certainly. And we pledge to you to commit all of the staff of the Communications Office, certainly the sense of humility in our public service as we approach our job each day and to approach it certainly with the energy of our President.

Thank you. I look forward to working with all of you on most difficult days. We may have to bring back Madeleine Gearan if things are really tough. (Laughter.) Thank you.

MS. MYERS: Well, I think we've all learned a lot of the course of the first four months. I hope we can build on those lessons. I hope we can have a little bit of fun, a few good laughs and some good humor. And I hope that we can well serve you with this new arrangement, provide the kind of information that you all need to do your jobs on a day-to-day basis, to serve both the administration and the needs of the American people, to try to communicate our goals and objectives on a daily basis. So, hey, it's been fun so far and look forward to -- (laughter) -- continued good times.

Q: David, can you give us a breakdown of how the jobs will work? Whose responsibility is what?

MR. GERGEN: Well, Mark Gearan, as Communications Director, will take responsibility for running the department, which has -- what -- some 52 people in it, I believe.

Q: There were changes when George came in, though, in the structure of that office and it was more political and less independent than it had been under his Republican predecessors. Is that going to change? Is it going to be independent of politics and policy now? And where do you fit in to the communications role -- that sort of thing?

MR. GERGEN: Well, the arrangement -- I perhaps can speak more to my side of that arrangement. When I took this job I was first approached and asked if I would -- Mack McLarty recruited me here, to begin with, and he said, "I'm looking for someone who can" -- and I think he used these words when all of this was announced -- he said, "I'm looking for someone who will serve at the intersection of policy and politics and communications. Would you be willing to consider that in a role as counselor?" And our conversations proceeded from there.

He said, "We would also like to have the communications department report through you." Now, and it was my view then, has been since, that we needed a new Communications Director, someone who would actually run the department. My hand, frankly, will be a very light one on the communications department. They have very able people there and I would expect that Mark and Dee Dee will be handling all of the day-to-day arrangements. I will obviously have some ideas. And the President's going to have some ideas. But I want to make it clear that they're running the shop. It's their shop, and I think Mark will do extraordinarily well.

Now, as to the critical element, I mean the thrust of the communications department is to explain the President's policies and views to the country. And, of course, a central core of that is its relations with the press. The Press Office has always been, in my judgment -- I mean, this podium is one of the most single most important offices in the White House.

And so, I think that that is going to be very central to it. Now, does politics ever color that? Of course, it does. Is it going to serve as a political office? No. That's not the purpose of the Communications Office. It is -- the central thrust of it is to explain. Now, is there advocacy in a Communications Office? Of course, there is. But I don't see it as a political arm of the White House. That's not what I see it.

Q: Could we have just more facts and less advocacy? Really, I mean that seriously. Can we have the situation presented very fairly. I understand the advocacy; it's inherent.

MR GERGEN: I understand what you're saying. I think -- this is my first day here. I've asked to meet with the White House Correspondents Association quickly. I'd like to meet with them this week. I'd like to talk to people in print about their concerns. It seems to me that's the representative group. There may be others or as individuals or whatever I would want to talk to. I'd like to make sure that Dee Dee and Mark are part of those conversations. I need time to think about this and I think Mark need time. And I think Dee Dee needs to -- this is a time for us to turn a page. We're turning a new page now and I think this is an opportunity for us to look at these things.

Q: Is Clinton's staff a part of this, press staff?

MR. GERGEN: Formally they're not, but it's been quite striking to me how deeply involved they are. We had a meeting with the communications staff last Friday that I had a chance to speak to them and meet them for the first time. And I invited not only the President's Press Secretary, but the Vice President's Press Secretary, Mrs. Clinton's Press Secretary, as well as the Vice President's -- Mrs. Gore's Press Secretary. So there is more integration here than I'm accustomed to in the past. And I think it's healthy, it's good.

Q: David, why do you consider it necessary to make a new beginning?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I think that the change allows us -- the change in personnel allows us to turn the page.

Q: But why is it necessary to turn a page?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I said here the first day that I came here, and Mack and I had a briefing here after that announcement Saturday morning, that for whatever reason, the relationship between the White House and the press was not all that it should be. I think you all -- many in the press have told me it's not all that it should be. I think there are people inside who feel it's not all that it should be. I think we can do better.

Q: David, what other changes can we expect to see? We heard there were some other changes coming down the road. What kind of things can we see this week?

MR. GERGEN: I think what you should -- the background of this is that Mack McLarty, at the direction of the President and working with the President, has been spending a good deal of time in the last two, three, four weeks -- I don't know how far back this goes -- thinking about ways to strengthen the staff. When he reached out to me he said, this is part of a larger effort. And he's pretty far along on that. And I would anticipate that within a matter of days he will be in a -- he will be here --

Q: Will any other new people be brought in?

MR. GERGEN: I really think that since he's leading the charge on that, I think it's important that he be the one to talk to you about it. He'll be here and he will talk to you when that's completely -- hold on one second.

Q: Has he decided on a Supreme Court nominee?

MR. GERGEN: Glad to see you.

Q: Has he decided on a Supreme Court nominee? And will it be Bruce Babbitt?

MR. GERGEN: I think that ought to be part of the regular briefing, if you don't mind. I'm not here for that. And we're going to turn to a regular briefing in just a moment.

Q: David, as this reorganization was undertaken, did anybody consider that it's possibly not the way the message is being sold, but it's the message itself? That Americans simply aren't buying what the White House is selling?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I think it's early to reach conclusions like that from my point of view. And I think probably a lot of people in here have strong views about that inside the building, but I'm not prepared to reflect on that.

Q: Do you expect more formal presidential press conferences?

MR. GERGEN: I think that all of us on the communications staff would like to encourage more regular contact between the press and the President, and I think the President is interested in that. He's expressed to me an interest in that. He and I talked in our first long conversation -- I guess it was a week ago Friday night we had a lengthy conversation about the relationship with the press and some of the things he'd like to do. Because it was one of the issues I wanted to explore with him as well as Mr. McLarty, and I was very pleased by the answers I got.

Sarah. Sarah is such a wonderful institution here. Please.

Q: Thank you, sir. You may not always agree with that. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: This is probably the last day I'll agree with that. (Laughter.) Okay, go ahead.

Q: David, there's a lot of confusion. A lot of people are wondering out there -- they've heard that you're an independent, they've heard that you're a Republican. What do you consider yourself to be -- either independent or Republican politically?

Q: Or a Democrat? (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Or all of the above. Or none of the above.

Q: United We Stand. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Or United We Stand. I'd forgotten about that. (Laughter.)

Listen, let me just -- can I just say -- I grew up in a state that was largely Democrat. I grew up in North Carolina, and I was a registered Democrat. And I think many of you know that when I was in college, I worked for Terry Sanford on civil rights in North Carolina. When I first was approached about a job in the Nixon White House, frankly, I thought that they would never be interested in me. When I had my first conversation -- someone said, why don't you come over and have a conversation. I said at that time you should know that I'm a registered Democrat and that that's been my background. And they reached out to me and said we'd like to have you come in here.

I was surprised, frankly. I never thought I would pass muster with Bob Haldeman. But I did. In fact, he was one of the first people that called me after I took this job -- and a positive conversation, too, I might add. (Laughter.)

Q: Start the tape machines. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Or stop the tape machine. (Laughter.)

In any event I came in here, and I think it's only fair to say that I worked as hard as I could to support the presidents I worked for. And there's no question that there was some suspicion of me at that time by some who were here and had been working Republican circles for a long time and wondered why they were bringing this person who had had a Democratic background in.

Over time -- and I was a loyal as I could possibly be to the three Republican presidents I worked for. Over time I acquired obvious Republican -- I began wearing Republican cloth and I voted Republican and everything like that. And I'm proud of the service that I had the opportunity to do. And I think it is a privilege to serve here no matter who the President is.

Now, things evolved. When I left here and entered the ranks of journalism, at least the best I could, I thought it was important that I not be "seen" as a Republican. I just didn't think that was appropriate. I didn't think that's what I owed the people who were willing to listen to me or read what I was writing. And it's also fair to say that I evolved during that period of time and I was trying to build an independent voice.

But I'm not walking away in the slightest from my background or what I did, and I'm proud that I had the opportunity to serve. And when Bill Clinton reached out for me he knew I was moderately right of center. We had known each other for a long time. We'd been friends for a long time. And he knew where I came from and knew both what my strengths and my weaknesses. And many of you are aware of my weaknesses. So he knows that I bring a voice that's moderately right of center. I'm not sure that -- we can keep defining all of this, but I'm not sure where it gets us.

Q: What did you and Ross Perot talk about last week, David, in Bermuda?

MR. GERGEN: We talked about fish and about underwater coral and things of that sort. (Laughter.) Bermuda was -- it was --

Q: Any relationship to the administration being under water or --

Q: Is that the coral he blew up illegally?

MR. GERGEN: I want to tell you something. I covered Ross Perot as a journalist, as many of you have, in fact, probably all of you have, and got to know him. Interviewed him several times. I interviewed him there at the -- we did a cover at U.S. News on "Why is this man smiling?" which appeared about four weeks ago. And Gloria Borger, a wonderful colleague of mine at U.S. News, and I went to Dallas to interview him. And so I'd had some contact with him, and our visit in Bermuda was a social visit.

I was there with my family and I had called him to simply say that, I want to make sure you know I've joined President Clinton and I hope we can talk from time to time. And he said, I understand you're in Bermuda, and I said I was, and he said, why don't we get together? So we had a social visit. It was family to family. We, frankly -- my hope is that there will be times he can support this President. Yes, I understand he's going to oppose him on some things, but at bottom, the Ross Perot I've known, essentially he's a patriot.

Q: Did you ask him that?

MR. GERGEN: I talked to him. I said I hoped there were times, that just in the same way I think there ought to be times the Republicans can support the President.

Q: What did he say?

MR. GERGEN: I think -- it's interesting -- I think that -- we'll have to wait and see how things work out. I don't think it's appropriate to talk --

Q: You said you had had numerous conversations with the President about his relations with the press, et cetera. How does he view his relations with the press right now?

MR. GERGEN: I think he believes it's time to turn the page.

Q: What do you mean? Well, I mean, does he think that the press has been responsible for his problems? Does he think he's been misfairly represented? Does he think he messed it up? What does he -- how does he view this?

MR. GERGEN: I don't think it's appropriate for me to put words in his mouth. That was a private conversation. But I do believe he supported all the changes we're announcing today. He is very enthusiastic about them. I'm not sure I can shed much more light on it than that.

Q: David, did you just get inducted into the Bohemian Club recently?

MR. GERGEN: I have not been inducted.

Q: Did you join that? What is that?

MR. GERGEN: You mean the Grove?

Q: Yes.

MR. GERGEN: It's called the Grove not the club.

Q: Sorry. It's only men so it's hard for me to know these things.

Q: Are you going to run around nude? (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: No, you run around bald. (Laughter.) Yes, I was approached about joining the Bohemian Grove some -- oh, I don't know, I was approached two or three years ago about it. And my name is up for -- I guess I am now formally a member. It's a long process to get in.

Q: It's a long process --

MR. GERGEN: Yes, it's a long process. Typically --

Q: Are you going to do what those men do? (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: I don't know what that is.

Q: That's all male and all white?

MR. GERGEN: It's definitely not all white. I went there once about three or four years ago for a weekend, and it was --

Q: To try out? (Laughter.)

Q: Are you going to remain a member?

MR. GERGEN: I have no intentions to resign.

Why don't we move on? I think we'll close this down.

Q: Mark Shields said it took a long time to get you to switch back toward the Democratic camp. How did he do that?

MR. GERGEN: Well, it was interesting. I think there were times that Mark and I were crossing. He seemed to be moving right sometimes when I seemed to be moving left on the issues over the years. But Mark has been a wonderful, wonderful partner. I could not have asked for a better partner. He has been just splendid. We had a long conversation about this, and it was one of the saddest parts and the hardest parts of my coming into government was to end that partnership.

Let's take a couple more and let's move on.

Q: Where's your office?

Q: You said that the communications shop would report through you. Who do you report to?

MR. GERGEN: I report to the President, but I do everything in coordination with the Chief of Staff. Mack McLarty runs the White House. He is the captain around here. And we do everything together and we've had a very, very splendid relationship. And I must tell you, I've been terribly, terribly impressed by -- everything that he said we would try to do together we've been doing, and it's been a good, close working relationship. So I'm looking forward to it.

Why don't we just take one or two --

Q: Are the two of you coequal?

MR. GERGEN: I don't see it in those terms at all. I'm not, frankly, interested in that kind of question at all.

Now, Helen asked about the office space. Mark Gearan will be sitting in the office where George has been sitting. That will be -- he's been moving in. You'll see boxes up there this afternoon if you care to visit.

Q: David, how much input will you have on the actual policy-making of this presidency? Or will you have any?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I think we'll have to wait and see. Let me just say this: I've been invited to go to all the major policy meetings and to have a voice in them. And, I mean, that's what the role of counselor -- in part what the role of counselor was about. That, in part, is what attracted me here. I wanted an opportunity, if I could, to advise him both on a wide range of issues. And they were very, very receptive to that. They, in fact, reached out and said that's what we would like.

Now, I understand there are people who know far more about some individual elements of policy than I do, and I would not presume on many of those issues to say I think this is a detail or this, that, or the other. But I think there are some elements on which, so far he's been -- the President's been very receptive to my thoughts. We'll see if I overstay my welcome.

Q: Has a decision been reached about who is going to succeed Mark as Deputy Chief of Staff? Has a decision been reached about who is going to succeed Mark?

MR. GERGEN: Mark, do you want to respond to that?

MR. GEARAN: No. As David mentioned, Mack is reviewing the entire staff organization. And to the extent that there is some further fine-tuning, I think you'll hear more about it later.

Q: When?

MR. GEARAN: Later. But Roy Neel is the Deputy Chief of Staff doing the day-to-day operations here in the White House.

Q: Do you know when the decisions will be made, or that review --

MR. GEARAN: There's no final date for that, but I think within the week you would hear something.

Q: Mark, any other departments reporting to you, or just the communications?

MR. GEARAN: Communications. (Laughter.)

Q: Would you answer my question? Who did you vote for for President last fall?

MR. GEARAN: You don't want to ask me that? (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: I don't think -- respectfully speaking, respectfully, I don't think I have to answer that.

Q: You don't have to answer it, I'm just asking you.

MR. GERGEN: Well, I guess the only hesitancy I had was that I was --

Q: Too embarrassing?

MR. GERGEN: No, it's not embarrassing at all. Look, the truth is I voted for Bill Clinton. And I did so happily. I thought it was very, very important that this country move forward aggressively to address its underlying social and economic needs. And I thought he offered a program that held out -- not that I agree with everything -- I thought he held out a program that represented hope, that represented change. And I wanted to see him succeed at that. And I think it's extremely important for this country to move forward.

I am not here because I need -- I've been here before. And one of the things you find if you cover this as a member of the press, it's not necessarily an assignment you seek out again, I believe. (Laughter.) And if you served here in a staff position, it's not necessarily an assignment you seek out again. But I think it's of overriding importance to our children that this country move forward. And if I can help in some modest way in that, and I know that my help will be extremely modest, I'm willing to do that.

I've been quite touched by Republicans who have called me and said we understand that when a President calls you should answer. And there have been others in the past who have done that. Someone reminded me last night -- I don't think I need to go into analogies -- I think that would be pretty presumptuous --

Q: David, what message should the President send with a selection of a Supreme Court justice? Who do you think can help him most with choosing that person?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I think it's totally inappropriate for me to answer the latter part of that question. I just refer you back to what he said during the campaign about the qualities he's looking for.

Q: Is he looking for judicial experience?

MR. GERGEN: I think that's inappropriate for me to get into that, please.

Q: During the transition or around that period you apparently wrote some memos and came around for some talks in the White House. And the White House staff says that these memos were very helpful to the new administration. How did you reconcile that with your role as a journalist at the time?

MR. GERGEN: Yes, there were some memos that I wrote that, as I understand, were looked at with great care by the White House and were examined. And, in fact, I was told on several occasions that they were circulating. It happened that I wrote those in the transition of 1980.

Q: 1980?

MR. GERGEN: 1980.

Q: Oh. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Next question.

Q: there are some issues where even Republicans should be able to be garnered for support. Does that apply to health care as well as budget? Will there be a redoubling of effort to get bipartisan support on these issues?

MR. GERGEN: Well, I think it's quite striking that Mrs. Clinton has already been meeting with Republicans on a fairly regular basis and having extensive conversations. Of course, the administration hopes that some Republicans would come forward and that the President's proposal will attract bipartisan support.

Q: Having worked for other presidents, have you ever seen the climate as bad so early on in a new administration?

MR. GERGEN: You may remember I was here during the '73, '74 period. (Laughter.) I've seen worse and so have you.

Q: I'm talking about the early part?

Q: You said you were going to be invited to all the policy meetings. Will Mark and Dee Dee also have that sort of access?

MR. GERGEN: I think we're going to work that out as we go, but there's no question that the President wants to ensure that Dee Dee and Mark -- particularly as Dee Dee comes out here. The deal on briefings essentially will be that Dee Dee will do most of the briefings, but Mark will be out here on a periodic basis, maybe once a week or so, depending on how we work out. (Laughter.) Come on, Mark. (Laughter.)

But it's important that they have access. It's important that you all feel and know that the people who are talking to you can speak authoritatively for the President. And that's part of what we're doing. I would like to see that other people come forward out here. I'd like to look at how often do I let people within the administration come out and talk to you all. I don't know the answer to that question, but it's one of the questions I've been posing and I'd like to look at that.

I think it's been particularly helpful to me to serve a stint in the press. It's given me a much better understanding of the needs of the press. I always respected the press, but I think I understand it better. And I've certainly have a great deal of respect for what your job is. You are an incredibly important part of the democratic process. It's important that you are here. And it's important that you have your questions answered in a way that's authoritative and straight. You all believe that. I believe that and I think these folks believe it. So we'll have to figure out -- how you structure that to make sure that happens I can't speak to that on a day-to-day basis.

Q: Your conversations with the President -- does it strike you that he still has some lingering bitterness to the press from the campaign?

MR. GERGEN: I really don't have a response to that.

Q: David, did you come away from your meeting with Ross Perot with any sense of whether he will again attack the President in the way he did a couple weeks ago -- the attacks that many people called personal?

MR. GERGEN: As a journalist, I tried to predict what Mr. Perot would do from week to week, and I did not have a very good batting record. And I don't think that I really ought to say that. I do think that he's -- I regard Ross Perot as a patriot.

Q: You said that -- you referred us back to '73, '74. Are you saying that this is the worst since Watergate?

MR. GERGEN: No, of course not. I don't think that's a fair interpretation and I certainly didn't mean to imply that. I find that many people in the press -- let me just say this. I've had many people in the press come to me and say, we would like a better relationship. There are things we think that could be done that would improve the relationship, and we ought to look at those. We ought to be very open to that. I don't think there's any -- I don't think it's in the same league. I'm sorry if I meant by that -- I didn't mean to imply that.

Q: was not the relation to the press, but just the condition of the White House and the problems that --

MR. GERGEN: Oh, good grief, no, no, no, no. This White House -- listen, what I think the President would like to convey over time is that sometimes some of the stories, the flaps and so forth, have gotten in the way of his accomplishments and what he actually has taken on and what he has accomplished. I think he would like to communicate that message more clearly than has sometimes been possible. But we'll see. Let's take it day to day.

Why don't we have one more question? Yes, sir, please.

Q: David, in what ways or way are we likely to see a change in the President's message and the way it's delivered because of your joining the team here?

MR. GERGEN: Well, we have a new Communications Director. I'll be looking to him for some thoughts. I will have some thoughts. There are others here who have thoughts. And we'll take it on a day-to-day basis. I'm not prepared to say. This is my -- I have now been officially here 14 hours. It's 2:00 p.m. What time do people get here? (Laughter.) I have been here only -- this is my first day. And so it's very early to talk about things like that.

Thank you very much. Mark, did you have anything more to add here?

MR. GEARAN: No. (Laughter.)

Q: Don't be incommunicative.

MR. GEARAN: What's that?

Q: Don't be incommunicative. (Laughter.)

MR. GERGEN: Well, Madeleine may have some things. Where did Madeline go?

MR. GEARAN: Madeleine is off camera.

Q: Who can answer on Supreme Court?

MR. GERGEN: And Mary -- this is -- Mary, you can kiss Mark goodbye now. This is the last time you'll see him for a couple of years. (Laughter.)

MR. GEARAN: I guess the only thing is we do welcome you up into the Press Office. Dee Dee Myers is going to be cutting a ribbon -- (laughter) -- to open up the hallway. And we look forward to seeing you. And I guess early mornings on -- we're going to spend a lot of early mornings together, I'm told. (Laughter.) Look forward to it.

MR. GERGEN: Okay, it's all Dee Dee's. Thank you very much.

END1:49 P.M. EDT

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by David Gergen and Mark Gearan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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