Press Briefing by Jake Siewert (10/27/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                          October 27, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                               JAKE SIEWERT

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

2:03 P.M. EDT

     Q    Week ahead?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I was just going to ask.  (Laughter.)  I think we
covered the waterfront out there in the Rose Garden.  So I assume you just
want a schedule.

     Q    Please.  That's what we want.

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'll do it if you want.  This is pretty straightforward.

     Q    What can you tell us about the afternoon event today?

     MR. SIEWERT:  The President will be meeting with African American
community leaders to discuss what's at stake at the budget battle, some of
the remaining issues that Congress has on the table -- minimum wage and
education initiatives that are before Congress.  And then he will take the
chance and probably talk a little bit about the election, which is, I
think, 10 days, 9 days, 11 days -- 11 days away.

     Q    Just a little list.

     MR. SIEWERT:  He's got some remarks.  The remarks are actually
substantive about the progress we've made for America in general, African
American community in particular, on economic and education and social
policy.  But I imagine he might improvise a little bit off those prepared

     Q    Can we call that a get out the vote effort?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm not going to call it that, but you're free to
describe it however you want, having heard the speech.  It's designed,
essentially, as I said yesterday, the community leaders were in town for
some budget briefings, were invited into town for some budget briefings,
and the President decided he would like to speak to them.  So we'll have
the event, and then we can all characterize it however we see fit.

     Q    The President said that he spoke with Bill Daley yesterday.  Do
you have any idea about exactly what the substance of that conversation

     MR. SIEWERT:  He speaks to former Secretary Daley quite often, and I
probably won't get in the habit of characterizing those discussions,
particularly as we get closer to the election.  But I've said a number of
times here that he talks to him regularly.  They're obviously good friends.
Bill Daley was a very close advisor to the President during both his
presidential bids, and the President speaks to him from time to time to
discuss what's going on out there.

     Q    Can the President rule out the possibility of Congress being
called in a lame duck session after the election?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We don't think that's necessary at all.  They have some
work to do, but as the President said in the Rose Garden, there's not that
much work; it's just a couple -- an appropriations bill or two, and we're
making good progress on the one on Labor-HHS.  We think we could solve that
pretty quickly.  There are negotiations on that even today, and there is no
real reason why Congress should work through the weekend, finish up the
work that they have before them in a couple of days.

     It's not a tremendous amount of work, but it is important work, and I
know they've got the time to do it over the next couple of days.

     Q    Was the Daley conversation designed to plan the President's
schedule between now and the election?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't think so.  We work that out on a staff level.

     Q    Oh, and could you tell us about that?  What is the plan from now
until election day?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Is that a call for the week ahead?  (Laughter.)  I
thought we could try.  No, I wilL be able to take you through the next
seven days, not beyond that, when we do the week ahead, if we get around to
that, hopefully soon.

     Q    There was talk on the Senate floor today about three or four-day
CRs.  The President just sort of --

     MR. SIEWERT:  We don't think that's necessary.  We think that Congress
ought to stay in town and finish their work this weekend.  They haven't had
a lot of weekends here in Washington, and it's not that bad.  The sun comes
up every day and goes down every day, just like the rest of America.

     Q    What if they pass four separate one-day CRs today, for each of
the next four days, and then went out of town?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We think that a strategy right now of going home for
these extended weekends and kind of coming back into town on Tuesdays and
trying to do a little bit of work hasn't produced much yet, and hasn't been
able to bring the closure to the congressional session that we thought we
could have wrapped up a long time ago.  They're about three or four weeks
behind in their work, and they ought to stay in town and finish it up.
     Q    The Senate Majority Leader has said that he's not going to take
the tax cut package to the Senate floor for a vote until either Tuesday or
Wednesday of next week.  He's saying he prefers "some hard bargaining," as
opposed to sending it to the White House for a veto.  Are you --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, that's encouraging, if it means that they're
willing to try to address some of the problems that the President laid out
in his letter.  As we've said, we'd like to see the school construction
piece fixed.  We'd like to see the health care piece fixed, and there are
some other concerns we have about the bill, but we think it's important
that they take some time to get it right.

     I don't know why we would need to wait until next week.  I mean, these
are relatively simple problems.  We outlined in some detail what the
problems were in a series of letters this week from the President to the
leadership, and there's no reason why that work couldn't be done on a staff
level or, if necessary, at a higher level, in the next couple days.

     Q    In anyone from the administration going to be going up to the
Hill?  Are any talks --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know that we've been invited, but we're always
ready to work on that.

     Q    Jake, the President said he would stay in town to finish up the
process, and so on, or that that wouldn't stop him.  Just what exactly does
he need to be here for, other than signing the bills?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, he's available.  Obviously, he's available to do
more, but he works very closely with the staff.  They met with him
yesterday and again today to sort out where we are.  He gets regular
updates on the budget.  As you saw in the Rose Garden, he knows a great
deal about the details here, and the details are important.  And he's
heading up our effort to wrap up this session and wrap it up in a way that
meets the needs and priorities of the American people.

     So he's here, working with his staff, obviously.  We send negotiators
to the Hill.  That's the way we've always done it.   But the President is,
overall, in charge of guiding this process, and wants to make sure that as
Congress completes its work, it does it in a way that meets his needs.
There's no reason why he can't -- there's no reason -- he finds it also
useful from time to time, as you saw today, to go out and explain exactly
what our positions are, so that the American people have an understanding
of what we're asking for in the last days of this Congress.

     Q    Jake, if it turns out they just end up having a pro forma session
tomorrow, where they just open up for a minute and shut the gavel, would
the President make himself available, as he mentioned?

     MR. SIEWERT:  That's very possible.  We think that's its long past
time for Congress to finish its work, and they ought to stick around and do
it.  If they don't, there may be some consequences to that, but those are
-- I think the American people have a right to expect that Congress
finishes the work that it's assigned to do every year, and as I said, they
are about a month behind.

     There is some very basic stuff that they haven't done.   Despite a lot
of promises in March and April to wrap this up early, we're well in to the
new fiscal year, and they haven't finished the budget.

     Q    Well, what else can you do tomorrow other than complain about
what he's complained about today, unless -- is he planning at all --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Can talk to you I guess, and you'll all be here I
assume, right, Saturday morning, bright and early?

     Q    Jake, the President has been pretty engaged in the past week on
the First Lady's campaign, particularly within the realm of fundraising.
What does the President think about the First Lady having to return $51,000
in controversial contributions from Arab American groups that allegedly
have links to terrorist organizations?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I have not discussed that with him.  I saw the action
that the campaign has taken, and they seem to have addressed that
themselves.  I don't know that he has any opinion on that.

     Q    Does he support -- does he support giving the money back, would

     MR. SIEWERT:  I haven't talked to him about it.  But, obviously, the
campaign took action that they think is appropriate.  I have no reason to
think that we wouldn't think that's appropriate.

     Q    Is there any evidence that either the NSC or the State Department
warned the First Lady's campaign against accepting this money ahead of

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know why they would be involved in that kind of
a decision making process.  But I'll double check.

     Q    I'd appreciate that.

     Q    What's leading the President to grant these sort of extended
interviews to various magazines?  Is he hoping for some kind of
reassessment of what has transpired over the last eight years?  Does he
think it preforms some service for the public?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We're used to an ongoing assessment of what has
transpired here over the last eight years.  We get one every day in the
newspapers, but magazines have long lead times, as you know, and a lot of
them were planning issues in and around the end of the administration,
wanted to talk to the President.  We selected four, five interviews, and
the President did them.

     But I think that had more to do with the requests that were coming in;
we certainly didn't go out and solicit any ideas.  Magazines sometimes take
a month or so to produce, and so we've granted some interview requests and
done them.  I expect we'll probably be doing other interviews in the days
and weeks ahead.  But those will probably be a relatively short lead time
between their completion and actual publication of them.

     Q    Did he know in August when he did the Esquire interview, which is
just hitting now, it's in the December issue -- did he know that that was
the timing of it?  Did he realize it would be on the eve of the campaign --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Actually, I'm not sure.  We knew certainly that some of
these interviews would be coming out in October, November and December, but
I doubt we told them the precise publication date.

     Q    Is there any evidence that he has second thoughts about
suggesting that maybe the GOP owes the American people an apology over
their handling of impeachment and the Lewinsky appeal?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think he's -- just a frank assessment, it's not
dissimilar to other things you've probably heard him say in broadcast
interviews and print interviews.

     Q    Jake, why do you think that was such a populist message that Gore
is delivering all the time that the American people will understand why the
President vetoed the minimum wage?

     MR. SIEWERT:  The President -- first of all, we haven't had a chance
to veto that particular bill because it hasn't come to us.  But there is no
reason why we can't pass the minimum wage bill in a minute, in a second.
The Republicans can pull that right out of the tax bill if they needed to,
and we think they ought to do something that makes it acceptable to us.
But they can't just attach it to a bunch of special interest provisions
that were -- they've designed for some of their friends in the business
community and just expect us to sign onto that.

     We've said we would be willing to accept some small business tax
reforms in conjunction with the minimum wage bill.  We understand why that
makes it more palatable to Republicans and to small business.  So we're not
dead-set against some special interest provisions that are in there that
might help small businesses.

     But the minimum wage could be done on its merits, should be done on
its merits, regardless of whether the Republicans are able to come up with
a compromise tax bill that we want to see done this year.

     Q    Why didn't the President take the opportunity to tell the
Congress to send him a stand-alone minimum wage bill?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We're still hopeful that they can resolve some of the
differences we have on this tax bill.  There's no reason why we can't have
a less substantial tax relief package this year, and we hope Congress can
get to work and get it done.

     Q    Jake, it looks like -- I wasn't reading this that well -- it
looks like the Majority Leader is also not going to take the
Commerce-State-Judiciary to the Senate floor until Tuesday or Wednesday,
also in line to try and get more work done.  I mean, is this --

     MR. SIEWERT:  There's no real reason why they need to wait until next
week to get this work done.  They have spent a lot of weekends at home this
year, they've been having shorter and shorter work weeks.  This is
certainly not a 24-7 Congress, and we expect them to finish up their work.
It's long overdue and they ought to be here and get it done.

     Q    They're saying the reason is to work out these differences --

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, let's get it done.  We've outlined our problems
with that bill.  In fact, heard a lot of wild accusations thrown around on
the floor of the House and Senate in some of the press conferences there,
about our unwillingness to work.  I don't want to outline every exchange of
phone calls between here and the Hill, but we're ready to get this stuff
done.  We've outlined in letters and position papers that if they don't
want to actually come down here and get them, most of them are available on
the web.

     But they understand what it is that we need to see in these bills, and
we're happy to sit down with them and try to work it out.  That's what
we're doing on the education initiatives.  That's why Jack Lew and Sylvia
Mathews have been talking to the leadership of those committees and trying
to resolve those, but it shouldn't take too long.  It's more a reflection
of will power than anything else.

     Q    Week ahead?  (Laughter.)

     Q    Can the President focus on the campaign?  As he campaigns, can he
keep his focus on all this stuff, or is he going to have to cut back on his

     MR. SIEWERT:  We're actually staying around for the next couple days,
so that we can focus on this work and do the job.
     Q    But then you announced a trip on Tuesday, and then a trip on

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think we can probably handle both.

     Q    Is there any thought given to curtailing any of it?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, I think -- there's no reason why the Congress
shouldn't be able to wrap up its work by Tuesday.  They could wrap it up
over the weekend if they gave it a dime's worth of effort.

     Q    Just going back to Josh's question, then, so is it going to be
the White House just doing these daily, so Saturday they'll have to come in
and do an extension through Sunday night, through Monday night to Tuesday
night to keep the government running if they're not done with their work?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, yes, that's what we've said.  We've said that 24
hours -- we need a new approach, essentially, to try to break the deadlock
up there, and these extended weekends haven't really done much to speed the
pace of work on Congress, and so we're hoping that they will step up their

     In the end, the substance matters more than how they get it done, but
it's important that they adopt a new work ethic and try to get more of this
material passed and into a form that the President can sign it.

     Q    Week ahead?

     MR. SIEWERT:  The President's weekly radio address will be broadcast
at 10:06 a.m. on Saturday, October 28th.  It will be on the budget.

     Q    Live?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, it's being taped this afternoon, although if we have
new developments, we'll probably try to find a way to comment on them.

     The President on Saturday night will make remarks at the National
Italian-American Foundation, the 25th Anniversary Gala Awards Dinner at the
Washington Hilton Hotel.

     On Sunday, the President will be at two churches in the area, Shiloh
Baptist Church at 7:45 a.m., for those of you who are working that day.
(Laughter.)  You guys aren't early risers?  That's on 9th Street, NW.  That
will be pool press.  Later in the day he'll be at Alfred Baptist Church at
10:55 a.m.  That's in Alexandria, Virginia.

     On Monday --

     Q    Jake, can I just ask -- he will speak at both of those churches,

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes.

     Q    So it'll will be full setup, transcript, the whole nine yards?
For those of us who have pool duty.  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  Lucky you.  Yes, we'll have a full setup.  We'll provide
all the services that you've grown accustom to.  You'll be there, right

     Q    What's the occasion for both of these appearances?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Sunday is church day, in the Christian tradition --
(laughter) -- as my mother reminded me, every Saturday night, as I headed
out.  (Laughter.)

     Q    He normally limits his attendance to one church a day.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Some days he's feeling particularly religious.  I think
he was invited to Virginia by Senator Robb's wife, Linda Robb, and she will
probably accompany him there.

     Q    Why is he speaking?  He doesn't traditionally speak every Sunday.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Well, that I think is a fair question.  I think he took
the opportunity to -- he'll just take the opportunity to talk a little bit
about what's on his mind Sunday.
     Q    About the election, perhaps?

     MR. SIEWERT:  We'll wait and see.  Baited breath.

     Q    Is there photo coverage?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, the pool will be there.  If they wake up in time.

     And on Monday, October 30th, the President will make remarks at a
reception for African American ministers in the East Room.  That will be
late in the day, 6:30 p.m., but it will be open to the press.  And we'll
let you know if we have anything additional to put on the schedule on

     Q    CelebritY phone call?

     Q    And, Jake, what's the purpose of that?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Very similar to the event that we're doing today.

     Q    What's the common thread, Jake -- (laughter) -- for all of these
events this week?  (Laughter.)

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know, I'm not very good at tying things
together.  I'm just a spokesperson.  We'd have to ask one of our
communications people.  The President will be there.  That will be one of
the events.

     On Tuesday the President will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to make
remarks at a campaign event for Eleanor Jordan.  As you know, she's running
against the Republican Congresswoman from Louisville.

     He will then go to New York City for an event for Mrs. Clinton and the
Senate race there, returning to Washington on Tuesday evening, a little too
late for trick or treating.

     Q    Do you know what kind of event that is for Mrs. Clinton?

     MR. SIEWERT:  No, but we can try to find out.  I think there's some
fundraising involved, but there may be some other pieces of it.  We'll try
to let you know next week.

     MS. CHITRE:  It's a GOTV rally and a fundraiser.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Rally and fundraiser.

     Q    The Hillary event?

     Q    Is a rally?

     Q    Which one is which?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I think we're -- there may be some other pieces to that
trip, as well, in New York.

     Q    So is this a GOTV trip or --

     MR. SIEWERT:  It's a mixture of campaign events for the candidate in
Kentucky and the candidate in New York.

     On Wednesday the President will make remarks at a DNC dinner in
Washington, and then attend a DSCC dinner in McClean, Virginia.

     On Thursday the President will travel to Los Angeles, California,
where he'll speak at a GOTV rally and receptions for a number of Congress
people and candidates that are running, Cal Dooley, Gerrie Schipske, and
Jane Harmon.

     Q    Is he stopping over on some states on the way there or one the
way back, besides California?

     MR. SIEWERT:  He's not stopping on the way there.  We'll let you know
about the rest of the schedule.  On Friday he will travel to Oakland,
California, where he will speak at a GOTV rally.  And the rest of the
schedule, beyond that, is to be determined.

     Q    So the overnight is in Los Angeles on Friday?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes.  On Thursday.

     Q    Thursday, I'm sorry.  Excuse me, yes, Thursday.

     MR. SIEWERT:  And then Friday's overnight is still up in the air.

     Q    Is there an overnight in New York on Tuesday, or we come back

     MR. SIEWERT:  I thought I said that.  Return to Washington, beyond the
trick or treating hour.

     Q    Will he spend election eve at Chappaqua or in town at a rally
with Mrs. Clinton?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't have any announcements on that, but I think -- I
don't have any reason -- well, let me just wait, and we'll check.  We'll
try to make an announcement on his election day plans next week.

     Q    Is the schedule at the end of the week, beginning with say,
Friday -- Friday night, is that up in the air?

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes, it is very much up in the air.

     Q    Do you anticipate -- I'm sorry -- do you expect
him --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I expect the President will be doing more -- will find
some way to involve himself in the various campaigns that are going on
around the country, but we don't have any times, dates and locations yet
for you.

     Q    Do you think he'll return to the White House after -- between
Friday and --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I don't know.  I don't know.

     Q    In his conversation with Daley, was he trying to --

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm not -- this is a little silly.  The President talks
to Bill Daley all the time.  We're not going to go in to all those
conversations.  He happened to reference one conversation, but I've told
you before, he talks to Bill Daley all the time, and most of them are on
the order of discussing the campaign.  I'm not going to detail them for

     Q    Is the President doing anything else next week that is campaign

     MR. SIEWERT:  Yes.

     Q    I mean, is he making any phone calls, is he making any ads?

     MR. SIEWERT:  I'm sure he'll be involved.  He is involved, to a
certain extent, as I've said before, in doing some radio scripts for
candidates who have asked, probably doing some interviews that might help
energize people about the election.  There will probably be some other
things that are not public but the President will be involved in his spare

     Q    Jake, we've been hearing Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri.

     MR. SIEWERT:  As I've told some of you, there are other ideas out
there.  There are a lot of requests for the President to come and campaign.
That's something we'll coordinate for the campaigns, with the Democratic
National Committee, and with the Gore campaign, and when we have something
firm, we'll let you know.

     THE PRESS:  Thank you.

     MR. SIEWERT:  Thank you.

                            END                 1:20 P.M. EDT

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