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Remarks at Press Secretary Joe Lockhart's Last Press Briefing and an Exchange With Reporters

September 29, 2000

The President. Most people think Joe's leaving for purely selfish, monetary reasons, but the truth is, he told me that I was no longer in enough trouble to make it interesting for him— [laughter]—that getting up every day and going to work and making policy and helping the Democrats, you know, it's boring him to tears. [Laughter] And he said he couldn't stand to be alone in his office crying anymore, and so he had to leave.

So I have one little gift for him, a memorial of our one and only day playing golf together. [Laughter] It happened a couple of weeks ago. Here's Joe. [Laughter] And the caption is, "Joe, typical day as Presidential Press Secretary, lost in the weeds." [Laughter] "Unlike the press corps, I'll give you a mulligan." [Laughter]

Let me say seriously, I know what a difficult job this is, and I know it takes a toll on everyone, and I know Joe's spent a lot of time away from his wonderful wife and beautiful daughter, who are here. I remember when I appointed him, there was all this yapping about whether he was heavy enough to do the job. [Laughter] He leaves with gravitas and gravy toss—[laughter]—and a lot of gratitude.

I know that I have a different perspective than the members of the press corps, but I've been following this business a long time, a long time before I showed up. I don't believe I've ever seen anybody do this job better. I admire you. I'm grateful to you. I'll miss you, and I'll try to keep you bored. Thank you, friend.

Press Secretary Lockhart. You don't have to hang around for this part. You don't really want to talk to them. [Laughter] I'm still on the clock. [Laughter]

The President. You want us to go? Well, wait, I've got to do one thing. I have a gift for your successor, Jake. [Laughter]

[At this point, the President presented Press Secretary-designate Jake Siewert with a helmet.]

The President. They're going to try to get even with you, and they're also going to try to get even for everything they couldn't get away with with Joe, so I thought you ought to have this. I hope you'll wear it to your first briefing. [Laughter]

Press Secretary-Designate Jake Siewert. I worked enough on the Dukakis campaign not to put this on. [Laughter]

The President. Joe?

Press Secretary Lockhart. No, I won't put it on. [Laughter]

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Mr. President, can I ask you, I guess on a serious note, about the violence in Jerusalem, and what that might mean to the peace process, and whether you would like to contact Chairman Arafat to see what you can do?

The President. I'm working on all that right now, but I think the less I say about it, the better. I may have something to say tomorrow, but I think today I'd like to say less and try to keep working.

2000 Campaign

Q. What about the campaign? You seemed to be having an awful good time at that fund-raiser a little while ago. [Laughter]

The President. I was having a good time. It's easier for me when you don't have to run. It's easier. I'm having a good time.

Do the briefing, Joe.

Press Secretary Lockhart. Okay. [Laughter]

The President. Keep me out of trouble. Stay bored. [Laughter] Bored.

Press Secretary Lockhart. I can do that.

The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 2 p.m. in the James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Mr. Lockhart's wife, Laura Logan, and daughter, Clare. A reporter referred to Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority. The President's remarks were included in the transcript of the press briefing by Press Secretary Lockhart.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at Press Secretary Joe Lockhart's Last Press Briefing and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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