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Press Briefing by Mike McCurry

February 03, 1995

The Briefing Room

1:35 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I would like to start with an introduction. And, Marlene, would you please stand up, because we do these introductions formally here in the press office. Some of you know Marlene McDonald, who really started working here in the White House in the Counsel's Office, worked in the Counsel's Office I believe through September of 1994, and then worked over in George Stephanopoulos' office, where she was very helpful to many of you, I know, day in and day out, although she probably doesn't know many of you by face, but only by voice. But she is now in the press office and will be working there every day, taking up some of the duties that Nancy Ward had. And we're delighted to have her there and delighted to welcome her to the team.

Q: Is she a lawyer? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Let me do, since, by popular request you wanted a readout on the meeting with the Italian Prime Minister, I will provide you. I haven't had a full readout on the meeting, but I will tell you a little bit.

The President had a very good working lunch with Prime Minister Lamberto Dini today. They discussed, among many other subjects, the current Italian political situation, which, needless to say, is somewhat turbulent. But the Prime Minister stressed Italy's strong commitment to democracy and to the permanence of democratic institutions.

The President, I would say, stressed in his discussion with the Prime Minister the importance of the upcoming G-7 Summit in Halifax towards the end of June. The Prime Minister, who had served as Finance Minister, is here on his way to Toronto for a meeting of the G-7 finance ministers. And it was a good opportunity from the President's perspective to stress the importance that the President attaches to the upcoming dialogue they will have in Halifax on the future of the post-World War II economic institutions that grew up to structure the international economic order. This is the subject that the President put on the agenda when the G-7 leaders met last in Naples, and it's a subject that he thinks will play a very important role as the leaders gather in Halifax later this year for their summit.

They also discussed the situation in Russia. They exchanged their views on the concerns that both Italy and the United States have about the fighting in Chechnya. They discussed the role that the OSCE could play in monitoring any future peace settlement in that conflict. They discussed the role of the Partnership For Peace in the future of NATO, and had a good discussion about Italy's contribution to NATO and to European security. They discussed security issues related to the MIddle East, including Iraq and Iran. And the Prime Minister concluded by indicating to the President that he hoped the United States would continue to provide leadership in the world, making the point that no one else is in the same position as the United States to provide that leadership in the post-Cold War era. And the President, of course, responded that the United States would accept that challenge and offer that leadership.

Q: Didn't they discuss the ever-expanding and deepening bilateral relationship at all? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: They discussed the warm and very productive and fruitful relationship the United States and Italy enjoy, and the very deep ties that --

Q: On another subject --

MR. MCCURRY: We won't run out of time.

Q: All of this was over a luncheon?

MR. MCCURRY: This was all over a luncheon that included a brilliant red tortellini, consumed in great quantity. (Laughter.)

Q: On another subject, the Surgeon General nominee -- has he personally performed abortions?

MR. MCCURRY: Let me get to my note on that, and have a glass of water. You don't think I'm stalling do you? The press inquiries about Dr. Foster are going to be -- I'm referring over to HHS because they've been working with the nomination, and during the course of the confirmation process, they'll be in the best position to answer questions. They are very shortly going to release what I understand to be a fairly detailed statement covering that, but it will indicate that in almost three decades as a private practicing physician, Dr. Foster believes that he performed most likely fewer than a dozen pregnancy terminations in hospital settings, none in outpatient settings, as far as Dr. Foster recalls. They were primarily cases that involved rape, incest, or cases where the life of the mother was in jeopardy.

During that same period, Dr. Foster delivered more than 10,000 babies in that same period of time. And more information related to that I think, will be included in the statement that HHS will have later on. Now, questions about that, I think, are best left to the nominee, as he prepares for Senate confirmation. I suspect that members of the Senate appropriately might want to ask him further, so my guess is --

Q: He was asked that when he was being considered?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I was asked this by Brit yesterday, and I felt it was important for me to -- I said I'd track down an answer, and I did.

Q: Mike, was the President upset about the statements by Betsey Wright, as quoted in the Maraniss book?

MR. MCCURRY: No. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, she has issued some type of statement via her attorney, and I think that statement speaks for itself.

Q: Did the President ask her to issue such a statement, or any statement?

MR. MCCURRY: No, the President had a conversation with her on Wednesday. This followed -- I believe Betsey had appeared, perhaps over the weekend, on a television show that the President happened to see. The President put into a call to her, didn't connect to her until Wednesday. And at the point that he talked to her, there was beginning to surface here at the White House some information about the book that David Maraniss has written.

I would like to, in the interest of full disclosure, say that I did work at one point with Dave Maraniss, and considered him at that time -- which was some time ago -- but consider him now, as well, a very talented journalist. But I think I say this in fairness to him, in fairness to a book that is 464 pages long, we will most likely spend the next several minutes talking about two or three paragraphs in that book. But just to note for the record, we're talking about a very long book here that I can't possibly describe in any great detail.

Q: Does the President have any comment, or can you tell us whether it's accurate that he was presented with a list of women with whom he might have had relationships?

MR. MCCURRY: On the substance of what appears in a news story in The Washington Post today I'll say what I said to the Post last night; that there are some matters discussed in that book that were raised during the course of the President's 1992 campaign, and they were effectively dealt with at that time. And beyond that, I'm not sure there's anything that's particularly newsworthy that deserves further comment.

Q: His telephone call to her, was that prompted by something that he didn't like that she said on the TV program?

MR. MCCURRY: No, Helen, as I just said, it was prompted by having seen her on television. And he wanted to touch base with her, as he does from time to time, mostly to compliment her on her appearance on that program.

Q: Does the President feel, or is there a feeling that the President's moral authority in certain areas, particularly now that he's launching this teen pregnancy campaign, is compromised by news stories like this?


Q: Mike, who all from the White House called Betsey Wright on this matter?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any information that anyone else did?

Q: Why is it not compromised when it appears to be he's behaving in one standard and asking people to behave in another?

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, I think that that's not a fair characterization of the leadership that the President has offered on issues that go to the moral concerns of many Americans. The President has addressed himself to the strength of the American family. He's talked about the importance of building an economy that can help reward people for work and for the values that are associated with work. And I think those are values that the Americans share. I don't think in any sense he feels that those values are compromised.

Now, the President did address himself -- this subject happened to come up in an interview that he conducted with some religious reporters yesterday. And I think the President directed himself personally to those remarks. And if I'm not mistaken, we've made that transcript available.

Q: Do we have a transcript on that?

MR. MCCURRY: That transcript is available to you.

Q: Mike, when did the President place his first call to Betsey Wright?

MR. MCCURRY: His recollection is that it was earlier in the week. And I believe that she appeared on the -- he recalls seeing her on this program, I guess, over the weekend or earlier in the week.

Q: Did he call her again on Wednesday, or did she call him back?

MR. MCCURRY: No, she returned the call on Wednesday and they didn't connect the first time she returned the call and they connected later in the day.

Q: In raising the question of the Post story, what did he say to her?

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, his recollection is he said, by the way, there's this book coming out. And they did have a discussion about some of the information that is contained in David Maraniss' book. But that conversation was very consistent with the statement that has been issued by Betsey Wright's attorney last night.

Q: On minimum wage, can you name one Republican specifically who the White House consulted with in the last week and a half on this issue?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe Secretary Reich indicated he had consulted with several, but felt that in the privacy nature of those conversations he didn't want to identify them. I think you can -- it wouldn't be too hard for you if you wanted to ask individual Republican members who were on some of the relevant committees that they would communicate whether they talked to the White House.

We attempted to invite several to see if we could get some here to demonstrate bipartisan support for a proposal that we believe deserves bipartisan support.

Q: But you didn't get any?

Q: But yesterday you indicated that there had been bipartisan consultations.


Q: This morning you also said there had been bipartisan consultation --

MR. MCCURRY: The Secretary of Labor stood here and indicated that he had consulted.

Q: But in conversations with Republicans on the Hill, including Senator Kassebaum and Representative Goodling, the two Republicans with the most jurisdiction on this area, their offices say that there was no consultation, they had not been contacted.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'll have to check with Legislative Affairs staff here and see who they consulted with and how, but the Secretary of Labor stood here and indicated he had consulted himself.

And he chose not to say with whom because I think we're conscious of not wanting to put people in a position of suggesting that they support a proposal, whether they -- when they may not, in fact, support that proposal. But we do believe that the proposal deserves support from the Republican side of the aisle, and we think eventually, as we make the case for it, it will have bipartisan support.

Q: Was your vote of confidence shared for the author shared by the President? Your vote of confidence for the author of the book.

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't ask him, I just -- I said --

Q: You were simply injecting your own feeling about him?

MR. MCCURRY: I put that on because I think it would be important for you to know that I worked with him at one time as I answer these questions.

Q: Mike, before we leave tonight, what specifically is the President doing -- (laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: And the question is?

Q: What specifically is the President doing this weekend on the baseball strike?

MR. MCCURRY: The President, this weekend, will take a 40-ounce Louisville Slugger to both parties and tell them to get a settlement by Monday. (Laughter.) That's what he would like to see happen. He's instructed his mediator to work closely with the parties to see whether we can come up with progress in these talks. And on Monday, he's asked his mediator to provide suggestions to the parties and to the President if they have not made that progress. But we'll have to hope that they hunker down and miss the winter snowstorm in Washington, and make some progress.

Q: On that subject, Mike, will he order them back to work if they can't get something worked out?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that I would say he will order them back to work. We'll have to evaluate what steps we take once we reach Monday and once we assess whether or not there's been the progress that the President would like to see -- whether or not there's been that progress.

Q: Mike, on the President's legal defense fund, how much money have the Clintons spent already on their own defense, do you know?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. There were some -- I haven't even looked at the materials the legal expense fund put out earlier.

Q: Separate from what they're putting out?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll take that question and see if I can find that out.

Q: Mike, the lawyer for that fund said that the President and First Lady were pleased and happy that people had sent money in. Can you address that?

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, yes. That very difficult question that I will attempt to answer. No, the President and First Lady are gratified that Americans from all walks of life, friends of theirs, and many, many others have been willing to support them and support what's right.

Q: Mike, could you take a question of what television show the President saw Betsey Wright on --

MR. MCCURRY: Say again?

Q: What television show the President saw Betsey Wright on and when it occurred.

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I will say it was a show -- his recollection, he remembers seeing her either interviewed or in a discussion with Marvin Kalb and former Senator Lowell Weicher. So it may have been the show --

Q: It was on C-Span.

MR. MCCURRY: It was -- I believe it was an event, a panel discussion that had been taped at the National Press Club earlier this month.

Q: Betsey Wright's statement is very ambiguous. It says that she may have been misunderstood. Can you answer the question of whether or not the President and Betsey had a conversation in which she asked him about a list of women and he was not able to give her a satisfactory answer?

MR. MCCURRY: No, on specific matters like that I think my view is that these were matters that were addressed by the President on the campaign, and I just don't have a lot more to say on them, not seeing much more news there to address. We tend to deal with news here, day in and day out.

Q: Has he read the book? The review copy has been out for a while. Has he read the book, or portions of it?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I know that I've had some discussions with him about some of the specific things in the book. And he seems to know something about the book. I don't know whether he has knowledge beyond my conversations with him or not.

Q: Mike, considering Foster's background, was the White House at all worried that they were picking a battle with abortion foes?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, given Dr. Foster's enormously impressive record in the area of reproductive health and the work that he has done to counsel those teenagers who face pregnancy situations and the work that he's done to discourage people from having births out of wedlock, the President was well-satisfied that that record would stand up even to those who might criticize him from that particular perspective.

Q: Mike, in the fewer than dozen pregnancies that were terminated, I don't recall your exact words, but you said primarily in cases of rape, incest and --

MR. MCCURRY: And cases where the life of the mother was in jeopardy.

Q: Were there any of those cases what would be considered abortion on demand, as opposed to rape, incest or life- threatening?

MR. MCCURRY: Mick, I would prefer to refer to the more complete statement that will be coming out of HHS. I think that that's the best way to address that. And I've shared with you -- I got the specific question from Brit yesterday, and I wanted to come back with the specific answer. But it no doubt will be a question that will be asked as Dr. Foster goes through the Senate confirmation process.

Q: On the legal defense fund, the lawyers today said there were a couple of people whose money the Clintons asked be sent back because they could be seen as government employees. Can we get those names?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to refer that question to the legal expense fund.

Q: What is she talking about?

MR. MCCURRY: Sarah, she's asking a question -- there were some cases in the disclosure materials made available by the trustees of the legal expense fund today where checks were returned because those contributing were apparently government employees. And under the rules that were established when the fund was set up, contributions from federal employees were specifically prohibited. So the questions was whether or not we could get some indication of who's contributions had been rejected, or returned, and that is a question we will refer to the legal expense fund.

Q: Next week you have on the week ahead an immigration report event. Is that an announcement of your immigration controlled proposals, or is that some interim step?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to learn more about the event, Mike, and find out. Maybe someone here can find out. I think that has to do with some -- one feature of the federal budget that will be released on Monday.

Q: But you are planning a -- we were told earlier that there is immigration control proposals that are going to be made as a package.

MR. MCCURRY: That's correct, and some of that will be reflected in the budget as it's released on Monday.

Q: Back on the minimum wage, do you have the support of any Republican member of Congress for this proposal, and if you don't, why do you think you'll be able to get it through a Congress that's controlled by Republicans?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, we -- let's be honest about what we saw today. We have a good cross-section of Democrats from the Democratic side of the aisle making the case that this is a good proposal. Now, we believe this proposal will generate support from the Republicans, including Republicans who have voted for exactly the same type of increase in 1989, including Republican members of the leadership.

But what we did today was to demonstrate that the Democrats on the Democratic side of the aisle are going to be united behind this proposal, and we hope that as we build support for the proposal there will be Republicans who will see that it makes a lot of sense for the economy; it makes a lot of sense in raising the value of the minimum wage for those who are working for a living and moving away from welfare, to be there and to be supportive of this proposal. That may take some time, so we may not have sponsors or co-sponsors ready to go today, or when the bill is introduced, but we believe over time, we can generate that.

Q: An honest answer with an honest question -- does your strategy include the calculation that if the Republicans shoot down this proposal that that will have been a useful contrast issue that shows the public the difference between the President and his opponents?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there will be ways in which the President and Democrats in Congress will be able to contrast their vision of the American future with the vision of the Republican leadership, and Republicans in Congress. But what would be preferable in the view of the President is to do what the President thinks is important, which is to raise the minimum wage for those working at the minimum wage. In a sense, the President's view is both sides of the aisle will claim credit for something that's right, if they all get behind the proposal that he thinks is fair, is balanced, and will protect the economy, will not result in any job loss, and that will ultimately reward those who are trying to work and who ought not to be in poverty because they are working.

Q: Mike, did Bruce Lindsey or Bob Reich carry any specific message from the President to Usery yesterday when they met?

MR. MCCURRY: I think they reaffirmed in perhaps stronger terms what the President himself said in his statement last week, that he thinks it's time for this strike to be settled.

Q: Would it be possible to get a question from the back of the room?

MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely. Go ahead.

Q: That's one. (Laughter.)

Q: Well, I've had my hand up for some time. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Ms. McClenndon, I'm anxious for your question.

Q: Is the White House concerned at all about the fact that Kenneth Starr was collecting funds for the legal defense of Paula Jones before he took the position as Independent Counsel; also, the fact that he collaborates with Judge Sentel and Jesse Helms, who planned to name Starr as the Independent Counsel after they conferred?

MR. MCCURRY: That's -- the operations of the counsel are not something I think I should comment upon here at the podium.

Q: And that concerns the work of Kenneth Starr and the attitude of Kenneth Starr, and I would think -- the White House is not concerned with that?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it's more proper for the operations and work of the counsel to be reviewed and addressed by the legal counsel or the legal counsels to the President that are involved in these matters.

Q: Doesn't this show a conflict of interest?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's three times -- and as in baseball, three times and you're out.

Q: Everybody else gets charged with conflict of interest. Why doesn't Kenneth Starr get charged with conflict of interest?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on that here at the podium. That's a matter that is within the province of the counsel and thus is something that I think is more proper for the President's legal counsel to address.

Q: Mike, a few more questions on the legal defense fund. There seem to be some suggestion this morning that because this fund has raised substantially less than their legal bills, even at this time, that another fundraising entity might be set up. Is that correct?

MR. MCCURRY: I have heard nothing that would suggest that that's the direction that they will go. I'm only aware of this one legal expense fund.

Q: Could you take that question, and also whether they're --

MR. MCCURRY: Whether there is and will be an attempt to?

Q: -- set up, any kind of -- and also the question of how much of their own money has been spent on --

MR. MCCURRY: Whether or if any of their own --

Q: No, I think they indicated this morning that they have spent some of their own money, and the question is --

MR. MCCURRY: I'll review that and see if it's appropriate for either us to answer the question or refer it over to the expense fund for an answer.

Q: I just wondered if you said when the budget briefing would be.

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, 450 Old EOB, 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

Q: Why don't you do it today?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, look, we all know the situation we're in -- The New York Times with a confidential copy of galley proofs.

Q? Did you give it to them?

MR. MCCURRY: No, this was not an authorized leak. I am told it was not an authorized leak and --

Ahhhhhh! (Laughter.)

Q: Mike, that being the case, do you have any problem with any of the numbers that authorized leak -- unauthorized leak?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there were a lot of numbers out. Let me run -- let me do some things on the record here for people who are going to have to file in some manner or other, budget stories. And I won't be able to match the New York Times, but at least I'll give you some grist for the mill.

Q: That's a matter of record, that's in the record.

MR. MCCURRY: What's that?

Q: Can't match The New York Times.

MR. MCCURRY: That's all right, I don't mind saying that. That's fair. I can't match UPI or the Washington Post or anybody in this room, either. But that's not my job.

The President -- I think, you all know, the President has already said that we anticipate reaching about $140 billion in budget savings over the next five years. I wouldn't be surprised if it's close to $144 billion. (Laughter.) Starting with that $140 billion and then subtracting about $60 billion to pay for tax cuts, that leaves about $80 billion in new deficit reduction over the next five years. And we're going to find those deficit reduction savings by terminating 130 programs; by consolidating 271 programs into 27 performance partnerships.

The President talked about that earlier in the week. That will give states more flexibility to spend money, in exchange for more accountability and better performance from them. And then we will be restructuring the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Transportation, as well as the General Services Administration and the Office of Personnel Management. There will be other savings reflected in the budget as well.

We are going to build on our successful method of deficit reduction to date. We've already cut the deficit by a record total of $505 billion over five years as part of the President's 1993 economic plan. We also cut taxes for 40 million of Americans of modest means, and made 90 percent of small businesses eligible for a tax cut. We did this without a single Republican vote. With $80 billion in new deficit reduction, this budget brings our record to nearly $600 billion in deficit reduction. We have also, reflected in this budget, be proposing a Middle Class Bill of Rights, as you know -- tax cuts for middle-income Americans and a new GI Bill for America's workers that provides grants with which unemployed or dislocated workers can purchase job training.

Now, you will hear from the Republicans, as they begin to discuss the various news stories related to the budget, that, gee, there's not enough deficit reduction in the budget proposal that the President will send to Congress. But we would say, in response, that the President and this administration have demonstrated leadership when it comes to deficit reduction in the last two years and in this proposal. We will have to lay specifics on the table that show where we would achieve deficit reduction and how we would move closer to a balanced budget, although obviously not, in anyone's mind, close enough to a balanced budget. But the point that has to be made in fairness is that while criticism comes form the Republicans, we have not seen any specifics at all from them.

So in our sense, on Monday we will give to the Congress a budget and say, here's ours, where's yours?

Q: What has changed that has caused the President to abandon his campaign pledge of cutting the deficit in half over four years?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is proceeding with his pledge to reduce the deficit; to move towards a balanced budget; to reduce to achieve one-half, I think, by the -- that even in this budget, the budget will be one-half as a percentage of gross domestic product, although I would want to check that.

Q: That was not the pledge.

MR. MCCURRY: That's not his campaign pledge. I didn't suggest that. I'm just saying that that's what we would be able to achieve. But the President also pledged a strong economy that would produce 8 million new jobs. We're close to six million new jobs now, and the President does not want to do anything that, one, jeopardizes the strength of this economic recovery, which has put millions of Americans back to work and restored economic life to hundreds of thousands of American communities; and two, he also does not want to erode that safety net that protects those poorest Americans and disadvantaged Americans who sometimes are in need of assistance from their government.

Now, a very good question to pose to the Republicans is how do they propose to move towards that balanced budget by the year 2002, constitutionally mandated, without harming the economic life of Americans who depend on those types of benefits from government.

This is hard work. We don't deny that writing a federal budget is hard work and it's hard to reach those types of deficit targets. But it is not fair to tell the American people that you would by a year certain, for example, 2002, balance the federal budget without spelling out to them how you propose to do that because we can prove to you -- on Monday when you see the budget -- just how hard that task is.

Q: But have you determined that meeting the President's campaign pledge would be too injurious to the economy and economic expansion to do? Is that why he is not going to do it?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to rewrite that pledge in his campaign here now. I can say that we know, and the President knows it will be enormously difficult to reach that, and these budget documents will make that clear. But at the same time, moving -- building on the record of deficit reduction that, in fairness, you have to acknowledge we have demonstrated, and then further achieving reductions in the federal budget is part of the work that lies ahead for the President and for the Congress. And for the Congress it now becomes a task of taking this proposal and saying, all right, if you have better idea of where you would make the cuts that would move closer towards a balanced budget, where are they? And so far none have been forthcoming from the new majority in Congress.

Q: Mike, what are the other dividing lines between the Democrats and Republicans so far as talking about Medicare? Would you comment on the President's treatment of Medicare in his budget?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't. I mean, it -- I can't answer that without -- I've given you what I've got that I can do.

Q: Mike, earlier this week after the Mexico package was announced, there was still some discussions going on hammering down details. Can you say at this point that the whole Mexican peso package is at this point a fait accompli, it's over, it's done with? And have you heard any statement of support formally from Chairman Greenspan in support of the Mexican package?

MR. MCCURRY: On the last question first, I have not seen anything reported from the Chairman. But I have been in sessions where those in the administration have indicated to the President that the Chairman is supportive of the package.

On the first part of your question, the package as such included both the lending and the support that the United States was willing to offer through the Exchange Stabilization Fund. But it also included the IMF's participation. And I think you've seen reflected some of the decision-making and specifics of the IMF consideration of this even today, but we expect as the IMF does consider the package that they are responsible for, that portion of the package they are responsible for, specifically, the $17.8 billion, that they will be supportive, they will lock in the specifics, and they will proceed with Mexico to finalize the arrangements. There are some negotiations that must take place between the government of Mexico and the IMF as they close in some of those --

Q: Are the U.S.-Mexican negotiations over?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll have to continue to structure the facility that's available to them, but some of that has already been made available. And as, I believe if I heard the Treasury correctly the other day, the are implementing aspects of the program that was outlined by the President. The Treasury will be able to help you out more on specifically how they're putting some of that together.

Q: On that, Mike, at the G-7 meeting, the Prime Minister said it -- Britain and Germany have apparently refused to go along with the IMF loans. Does the President have a reaction to that? Is he going to call? Is he going to get involved?

MR. MCCURRY: It is premature to say that they are refusing to go along. I believe they indicated that they would like to be consulted with further. They expressed irritation, perhaps, that given the urgency of this matter the United States had to act so quickly that they could not fully consult with some of the other participating members of the IMF Board. That will happen, is happening now. We're confident that once those consultations take place, those governments will be supportive.

Q: Does the President need to make any calls on that?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of him having made any. He is prepared to do what it takes to move that process forward, but I don't know that his participation in dealing with support at the IMF is suggested at this point. I believe that we are continuing to consult through the Treasury and, perhaps, through others to make sure that other governments and other IMF members are conscious of and aware of the importance of the package and the common sense way in which it was developed.

Q: Consider that members of the Cabinet, I guess, by the tick-tocks you guys gave, spent maybe 200 hours working on this over three or four days, why would it have been so difficult for the President spending maybe an hour calling leaders of the European Union on it?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the reason that they did not approach -- one reason, among others, that they did not approach foreign governments prior to the promulgation of the proposal was because of the market effects of early public knowledge of this. We wanted to act quickly, wanted to act once the package had been locked into place. There were consultations in some sense because Under Secretary Summers --

Q: -- to the markets?

MR. MCCURRY: No, no. It's just that once it was circulating, the discussions as the package was being put together occurred over the course of, I believe, Monday night with the President intending to act, you know, very early on Tuesday prior to any further erosion of the value of the peso in the markets on Tuesday following what was a very rocky performance in the markets on Monday.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:20 P.M. EST

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Mike McCurry Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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