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Public Papers - 1990 - November

Remarks Announcing the Resignation of William J. Bennett as Director of National Drug Control Policy and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters

1990-11-08

The President. I am announcing today that Bill Bennett, America's first Director of the Office of National Drug Policy, has offered his resignation and, with much regret, I have accepted it. His decision to return to private life is obviously welcome news to his family, but there is no doubt that his energetic contributions to public life will be sorely missed.

When we took office, Bill Bennett took on one of the most important initiatives of our administration, the national drug control strategy, our blueprint, if you will, for the war on drugs. He confronted the problem head on, helping lead America's determined effort to take back the streets. And his hard work has paid off. We devoted unprecedented new resources to the fight: new money, new material, new manpower for law enforcement, for treatment, for prevention. Never before has so much effort, involving so many people, been applied to the battle against drugs.

Bill's efforts have helped spark a fundamental change in attitude, an awareness that drugs can take away your family, your job, your health, your freedom and, indeed, your very life. As we've seen on the road firsthand, he's inspired communities across the country to get involved in this battle. And I've enjoyed my many travels with him.

Both Bill and I are encouraged by recent, very promising signs that suggest the drug problem is diminishing not only in the suburbs but in the cities as well. And I know he believes, as I do, that we're on the road to victory. So, we're going to stick to our comprehensive drug strategy. We're going to renew our call for Congress to pass a true crime bill -- one that's tough on criminals, not on the police. And my administration will remain on the front lines until this scourge is stopped.

On behalf of all Americans, I want to thank Bill for his leadership on this issue and express my gratitude for all that he has done to unite the Nation against the scourge of drugs. Block by block, school by school, child by child, we will take back the streets; and we will never surrender.

Bill Bennett has done a superb job for this country, and I will always be very, very grateful to him. And now I'd like to ask him to say a word or two, and then I'll be glad to take a couple of questions, and I'm sure he would as well.

Director Bennett. Mr. President, thank you very much for your words and for the confidence that you put in me in asking me to take this job. As you remember, I volunteered for the job. I had an opportunity earlier on in the Reagan administration to serve this country and the children of this country. And to have a second opportunity to do that was a rare privilege indeed. All I want to say now -- and of course, I'll be happy to take questions later on about our policies and our programs -- but all I want to say now, again, is thank you and talk a minute about the difference that you have made.

Your taking this issue on, your saying in that Inaugural Address that this scourge will stop, coincided with the great American change of mind about drugs. But your leadership at crucial points has made a great deal of difference. You said in your inaugural: ``This scourge will stop.'' That was against the advice of some to take on this issue. But you took it on. Second, you remember that trip to Cartagena. And many advised you not to go, and public opinion polls were advising you not to go. But you thought it was serious and merited your being there, and you were there. About a month and a half ago, when we issued our report update on the war on drugs, you stated again that this was a top priority of yours. You have been there every time we have asked you to be there, and you have taken this issue unto yourself. The American people know that and are grateful to you for it.

The midterm elections just took place. No one has commented because, I guess, it hasn't been noticed yet. But there was hardly any sign during those elections that any Democrat sought to challenge you on the issue of drugs -- because you were credible, because you have taken this task up, because everyone knows that you have taken it seriously and made an unprecedented commitment.

While we're on politics, it's my belief, Mr. President, you will conclude this term very successfully. You will be reelected as President of the United States in 1992 -- [laughter] -- and in 1996 you will be thanked by your countrymen for a profound and great service, not least of which because in 1996, when the American people look at this issue, they will see the drug problem much improved.

Thank you very much, sir.

Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. Mr. President, Margaret Thatcher [Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] said yesterday that either Saddam Hussein [President of Iraq] get out of Kuwait soon or Britain and its allies will remove him by force. Do you agree with that, and how soon is soon?

The President. Well, let me say -- I should have thrown a caveat in. I'm going to take some questions on the Middle East this afternoon, so if you'll excuse me, I'll defer them until then. But I won't take any now on that subject at all.

Q. All right. I'll try politics.

The President. Try that. [Laughter]

Q. Do you have a replacement?

Midterm Elections

Q. Okay. You went around the country telling Americans you had to have more Republicans in Congress to get the economy going and to cut the deficit. You didn't get any more Republicans. In fact, you lost a little ground. What does that mean for your relationship with Congress?

The President. Hey, listen, it means I didn't do as well as I'd like. I'd like to have had more; I still feel that way. I think if you want to put it in proper perspective -- I think everyone is aware of the fact that the party in power normally loses in an off year. I'm told we did a little better than the norm, but that doesn't make me happy. I'd like to have more Republicans.

Q. Well, does it tie your hands now -- I mean, the fact that the Democrats -- --

The President. No, it doesn't tie my hand. The changes were very small. I regret terribly the loss of Senator Boschwitz. He's an outstanding Republican Member of the Senate. But we lose one there. I don't want to go into a lot of political statistics, but I'm told that's far fewer than normally happens in an off year, and certainly in the House -- nine, compared to some of the gloom and doom predictions is not as substantial. But look, every one that we dropped I don't like. I don't like to see us lose seats at all. I'd like to see us gain.

Administration Vacancies

Q. Mr. President, do you have a replacement for Bennett, and do you have a replacement for Elizabeth Dole [former Secretary of Labor] as a result of the election?

The President. Not yet. Not yet. And I haven't even begun to really sit down seriously with lists. Bill, out of courtesy, whispered in my ear not so long ago that he wanted to go back to private life; and maybe I've just been hoping he would think more rationally. But I understand that. I love his family, and it is right for him and his family. And somehow, I think that's going to prove to be right for me and this administration in the long run.

But, no, but we've got to start soon on that, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]. I wanted to wait until after the election to keep my focus on the campaign trail and then on these big problems we're wrestling with halfway around the world. So, I'm not misleading you. Heard a lot of names floated, but we're not down to the decisionmaking point on either of these two or -- --

Q. Will it be a woman? And will it be someone like Lynn Martin [Republican senatorial candidate in Illinois]?

The President. Well, as I say, we're not there yet, so I can't help you. Nice try, however.

Midterm Elections

Q. Mr. President, a couple of months ago, predictions were that Republicans might actually make gains in the midterm election.

The President. Hey, listen, that's what I wanted.

Q. And then their fortune seemed to turn when you changed your mind on the possibility of new taxes and then during the drawn-out budget process. To what extent do you blame yourself, if at all, for the Republican showing in this past election?

The President. I think if the past year were significantly different than other years -- in other words, if we'd have taken a bath for every off year heretofore people had gained, the party in power, I think maybe I would have had to accept a little more responsibility and blame. I'm not talking victory because I am very disappointed the way some of the races turned out. On the other hand, when you look overall, I think most people that understand American politics are saying this administration did not come out worse than predecessors. Indeed, some make the point that we came out a little better.

So, it's pretty hard to assess that. And I haven't looked at it in terms of those who supported the budget package -- whether they did worse than others. But I made very clear to the American people I was concerned with some of the provisions in the budget package. I happen to believe in the long run it's going to prove in the best interests of this country. And so, I'm not suggesting that that was popular or made me popular with everybody. But I can't really answer it until we've seen a little more analysis. You've asked a very technical question in a sense.

1992 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, are you running for reelection in 1992?

The President. Ann [Ann Compton, ABC News], I'm going to put you down as one of the first I'll let know when I make that decision. No decision has been made. You all go through this kind of coy dance now for a while. The minute the election is over everybody shifts gear and starts pointing at '92. It's understandable. So, therefore, I understand where you're coming from, but I can't give you an answer yet.

Q. Are you giving any consideration in not running? Is that a possibility?

The President. Not today. Not today. I'm shifting gears now and trying to shift into the role of trying to lead this country in getting things done. And we're going to have a good agenda to take to the Congress. And clearly, I want to see the country remain united in our determination to succeed halfway around the world. So, I really have not started a focus on '92.

The Economy and the Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. Mr. President, some of the polling taken in conjunction with the election, exit polls and so forth, showed an impression growing in the country that the United States is headed for war in the Middle East and very serious economic problems here at home. Would you address those fears?

The President. Well, I'm concerned about the economic situation -- been very frank about that. I will be meeting with our top economic people in the next few days -- a series of meetings, both inside -- top economic people in the White House, and then I'll be inviting some others in to talk about it because I am concerned about a slowdown in this economy. And I'm concerned what that means to the average workingman in this country and the women that work with their kids -- having to support them. I mean, it's a terrible worry that people have. And we've been enjoying rather robust growth for many years, and now we all know the economy is slower. So, I want to be sure that, to the degree a President can do something to soften the blow or to stimulate economic growth, that he tries to do it. So, we'll be having a lot of discussion about that.

And what was your part on the Gulf?

Q. About the prospects for war in the Persian Gulf.

The President. Well, I've been very clear that we want to see the sanctions be so successful we don't have to have anybody shooting over there, and I've also said we're not ruling any options out.

Civil Rights Legislation

Q. Sir, you're getting a lot of free advice on which way to go politically over the next couple of years -- --

The President. Yes.

Q. Mr. Viguerie and Howard Phillips [conservative Republican consultants] are telling you you've got to go right and reestablish your conservative credentials. Marlin [Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to the President] did remind us yesterday that you are a conservative. But people like Ed Rollins [cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee] are saying you've got to be more broad-based and go after the Democrats. What do you see now? Do you have to appeal to a wider section and got to go after blacks again after the veto of the civil rights bill?

The President. One of the things I -- since you raised the civil rights bill -- is that I want to have a good civil rights bill. And so, we'll be sending one up early on. It will not have quotas. It will not lead to quotas. It will be fairplay in trying to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. And there were some politics involved in that, John [John Cochran, NBC News].

We sent a bill up there that was a very good bill, and the leaders wouldn't even permit it to be voted on because they thought they could stick me with being anti-civil rights. I am pro-civil rights. I am pro-fairness in the workplace, against discrimination in the workplace. And we can fashion that kind of civil rights legislation if we can get some of the politics out of it. And maybe we can as we start a new Congress, because I've got a good record in that regard. I have not changed in that regard. But I don't think it is fair to recommend to the American people legislation that in my view, would inevitably result in quotas.

But now we're out of the political give-and-take on that, and I think maybe we can get something positive done.

Washington Politics

Q. Can I ask you about the reaching out in a broad-based way? And would you reach out to Ed Rollins? You willing to work with him and let him stay on?

The President. I'm not going to get into this beltway stuff. One of the things that I loved was outside -- I got needled by some -- let's see if I can find him or her here -- a writer about saying it's nice to be outside of the beltway. It is. I didn't get one single question about the future of any individual consultant or member of whatever congressional or Senate committee or national committee. We stayed on different subjects. So -- --

Q. We're here.

The President. Yes, we're here, but my mind is out there. So, I refuse to get into all of that.

Relations With Congress

Q. Mr. President, as you approach the new Congress, do you think you will be able to extend the hand of friendship the way you -- the tone of the first -- in your first inaugural, or do you think this will be partisan and confrontational from the outset?

The President. Well, it takes two to -- when you extend the hand somebody else has to reach out and shake it. And we've been through a highly partisan political dance here for a while. It's the great American way. And those with whom I've worked cooperatively, needless to say, went out and tried to bash the President. And we've heard all kinds of rhetoric about how I should be doing things differently. But look, there are going to be certain things where we will continue to try to work with the Congress.

I also will be being sure I can do the best job I can in leading a united Republican Party. We have some -- he mentioned a couple of critics that aren't in the Congress or anything who -- there's nothing I can do to placate those who have been some of the severest critics of Ronald Reagan even. So, I'm not going to even worry about that. But I do think that it's worth trying to move the country forward. And on some areas, we're going to have to do it, and on some, I'm going to be appealing strongly for Democratic support, and in some I'm going to use the veto so as to stop a lot of bad things from happening to this country. And that veto power is there. And I am more determined than ever to use it.

I was elected to take this country in a certain direction, and the liberals in the Congress want to take it in another direction. So, our system decrees: Who wins? How are we going to move it? And they're going to shoot stuff back at me over and over again that I cannot accept. Now, will I try to avoid that? Will I say to them on a civil rights bill: ``Look, I want civil rights, and I don't want quotas. You tried it your way; now let's give me a vote my way''? Absolutely. I have to do that. That's part of my responsibility. All kinds of growth incentives -- when the economy is slow, you want growth incentives. So, I've got an agenda. We're going to be fashioning it. And whether they are going to be willing to cooperate, I don't know.

But it's hard when you have a majority -- take capital gains. There was a majority last year in the House for it. There was a majority last year in the Senate for it. And it never could get voted on. Now, I think the American people can see that. And so, let's hope we can make progress on some of these incentives. When you have a slow economy, or worry about a slower economy, that's a good time to put incentive into the economic spectrum.

Manuel Noriega

Q. Mr. President, CNN [Cable News Network] has obtained tapes which apparently were recorded between Manuel Noriega [former Panamanian dictator charged with drug trafficking] in prison and his defense team. Although certain calls are permitted to be monitored, we understand that those with a defendant's attorneys are supposed to be privileged. Were you aware of this monitoring, or any specific order that would have authorized monitoring of privileged conversations?

The President. No, and I'm not aware of it now. I'm learning something from you. So, I'm not going to comment on it if I don't know anything about it, and I don't.

Q. Under what circumstances would you favor monitoring -- --

The President. I would favor abiding by the law.

Federal Budget Agreement and Taxes

Q. Mr. President, with all of your explanations on midterm perspective taken as a given, do you think you paid a political price for compromising with the Democrats and agreeing to new taxes?

The President. I don't know, because I used to get accused in this very room by question, not direct accusation, but by living and guiding myself by the polls. That was: Hey, you won't make a tough decision because of the polls. Have not heard that recently, and maybe that has something to do with how I'd answer your question. Because I don't think it was popular, what I did, with anybody. But I think it was the right thing to do, and so, I will try to make that point. You know, like the umpire, you've got to call them as you see them.

So, I have some remedial work to do, I think. I wish I could go back and give a clearer answer to whether this helped or hurt in the election, because I just don't know the answer to that. But I think in the final analysis, if it's good for the economy, long run -- we're in some tough times right now -- but in the long run, if it's good for the economy, then that should be good for the country. And if it's good for the country, hopefully it would be good for the views that I represent.

Q. I ask that because so many of the Governors on the Democratic side and your own side seemed to have certainly been punished where they raised taxes, and I wonder if that's a lesson you take away from this election.

The President. I think there is a lesson. I think people feel they're taxed too much. I happen to believe that, and I've said that. I haven't changed my view: that we think we ought to go out and raise people's taxes. What I think we're going to see coming down the pike at me, in terms of the offered hand, is a whole wide array of tax proposals out of the Democrats. Maybe I misread what some of their leaders said when they talked about now going back and trying to raise income tax rates. And they're going to do it over my dead veto or live veto or something like that, because it ain't going to happen, I'll guarantee you.

And so, I can identify with that. I've always felt that way. I made one compromise to try to get a budget agreement that, in my view, I felt was essential. And I got the message. I had the message long before America went to the polls to say, Hey, we don't want any more taxes; we want to do something about spending. And one of the great things about this budget agreement is that -- we'll get to you in a minute -- one of the great things about that is that there is some enforcement provisions in here that I am determined to live by and that I am determined to make Congress live by. And if we live by them, then we can negate the insatiable desire on the part of some in the Congress on the Democratic side to raise taxes.

But the good news on that, Wyatt [Wyatt Andrews, CBS News], is I think some of the Democrats got the message as well as Republicans. We had the message. We've understood this. And you're right, they spoke up against Governors, some Democrat, some Republican. But I don't think there's any confusion on the part of people as to how I feel about taxes. I oppose raising taxes. And we had this one compromise, and that just reinforced my view, frankly.

Q. If I may, are you saying it's one time only?

The President. I'm just saying I'm going to hold the line on taxes and fight back all these plans that are coming at me that I think will -- maybe I'm getting paranoid about it when I hear them talk about let's go out and raise taxes again -- but I thought that was kind of the message coming out of the end of the budget debate. And if that's the case, we're in for a whale of a fight. And the proffered hand may miss the shake because we're not going to compromise on that.

Q. Could we go back out beyond the beltway again for a minute?

The President. Let's do it, Michel [Michel McQueen, Wall Street Journal].

Campaign Tactics

Q. A couple of years ago, the Texas Republican Party passed an ``English only'' amendment as part of its party platform, and you spoke out against this. You said that this was an alienating message to send to people you want to participate. This year the North Carolina Republican Party sent postcards to minority voters, Democrats, suggesting that they had given false information to elections officials, giving them false information. Is this an appropriate campaign tactic? And why have you been silent about this?

The President. Because I haven't tried to get into the campaign tactics in 50 States. On the postcard -- I mean, the ``English only'' -- I don't think it's a good thing to have. I mean, I want every kid to speak English. I've been for bilingual education all my life -- continue to support it -- but I think the goal of it should be that every kid in this country speak English. But I just don't think the ``English only'' approach is the way to do it. I think it could result in certain discrimination.

But I'm sorry, I can't help you on the details of a race for the United States Senate or a Governor's race or a congressional race. I just have not gone into that.

Q. Sir, are you saying that you don't know anything about this postcard situation?

The President. Yes, just what I've read in the papers. I've read a lot of charges and countercharges. And I've heard some people say it's bad, and I've heard others say it's not. I do recall -- anytime somebody puts in what they call a voter's security program, some people raise hell about it. And that's not right, either. So, it ought to be -- it depends how it's done. And I just don't know enough about what you're trying to get me into, to get into that.

Midterm Elections

Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you have any reaction to the margins of victory of Mario Cuomo [Governor of New York] and [Senator] Bill Bradley, two Democrats thought to be looking at challenging you in 2 years. [Laughter]

The President. I told you I'm not thinking about '92.

Q. Could you say that a little louder?

The President. I just told Michel I haven't gone into the details of all these races. I don't know. I don't know.

Director Bennett's Resignation

Q. Mr. President, may I ask you about Director Bennett? We've heard stories of threats against himself, against his family, and maybe that's why he's leaving. What do you know about that?

The President. I'd let him respond to that question, but I -- maybe -- Bill, why don't you -- --

Director Bennett. I've got one question. Come on, let me take it. [Laughter] So far, I've read that I am bored, restive, restless, tired, unhappy, moping about lack of media attention, sulking about not being in the Cabinet, in a snit with John Sununu [Chief of Staff to the President] -- all sorts of things that I've read about -- and being stampeded out of town -- none of which are true.

There have been people who haven't liked me since I've been in public service. The Yale English department -- they may be threatening. I don't -- [laughter] -- the National Education Association and this latest crowd. But I mean, I'm not the stampeded-out-of-town type. There's nothing there.

Q. How about personal threats to your safety?

Director Bennett. I mean, there are threats. There are always threats in this kind -- --

Q. -- -- to your safety?

Director Bennett. Yes, well they've been there since the beginning of this job, and that's always the case. I think what people are picking up on is when I went up to Alaska to talk about the recriminalization of marijuana, which, by the way, occurred -- that took place, that initiative passed. There were some anonymous threats from some potheads: that they were going to blow me up. But the notice that went out from one of the pothead societies said -- [laughter] -- said, ``Come confront Bennett.'' But the date they put on it was 2 days after the day I was there. [Laughter] So, if they did leave anything dangerous, it's probably going off up there on the icecap somewhere without -- --

Q. Why are you leaving?

Director Bennett. I don't want to tie you up. Should we go into this?

Q. Why?

The President. No, no. I'll just take two more and then -- --

Director Bennett. When the President and I talked 20 months ago, we talked about things that needed to be done. I had two jobs in Government: Humanities Chairman and Secretary of Education. We decided that what we needed to do was to get a good strategy, which we've got; to get bipartisan support for it, which we've got broadly -- there are still some things Democrats need to do, like the crime bill; third, that we needed to get the right amount of resources for it, which we've achieved; and fourth, begin to see some progress, some results.

We said at that time -- I remember the President saying to me, ``If you can get this thing started, going in the right direction, moving, I'll be very grateful.'' I think we got that. And so, I took the job freely, and now I leave freely.

Q. Why don't you want to see it through?

Director Bennett. Seeing it through is going to -- I mean, I think if this nation stays on course, I think, we will probably beat the goals that we stated in the National Drug Control Strategy of 10 years. I think we'll be there in 5 years if the States do the things that they're supposed to do and if others do what they're supposed to do. The Federal commitment, I think, is clear -- unprecedented commitment, unprecedented amount of money, resources, and so on. That's 5 years.

You know, I've had 9 years in Government. I think that's enough for now. I mean, I do want to tell my critics I am not leaving public life. And worse than that, I may not even be leaving public service forever. I may be back. One needs to be careful about this.

But I don't leave with any sense of remorse or apology. I'm proud of what we've done, and I think what we've done is a good thing and we really are making progress.

The President. With your permission, let me just take two -- Jessica [Jessica Lee, USA Today] and Ellen [Ellen Warren, Knight-Ridder Newspapers] -- and then leave you to the others. But before I -- well, go ahead, and then I want to just conclude my part.

Taxes

Q. Mr. President, you say that your reading of the election shows that people didn't and don't want their taxes raised. Upon reflection, do you wish you had kept your campaign promise and not supported higher taxes?

The President. Do I wish I had been able to? Yes. Very much so.

Q. But sir, you told -- --

The President. In fact, we tried. We sent a budget up there, and it kind of died for lack of a second. It had no taxes in it. And that's a very -- I wish I had a Congress who would do it just my way, because I am still convinced we can get by without having raised anybody's taxes of any kind. So, yes, I have serious regrets about that.

Q. Can you make the promise now, sir, that you will not support new taxes in the future?

The President. Can I make the promise I won't support them? Absolutely. But sometimes you run into some realities. I'm girding up my loins to go into battle to beat back the tax attempts that I think are coming because I think the American people are fed up with it. I think that was very clear. I think in my case they probably know that there had to be some compromise, at least from the way you look at does the American people support the deficit agreement or not. But I want to be on the side of no tax increases, and we're going to go right to bat again in the Congress at that. We fight that battle all the time.

Persian Gulf Crisis and Director Bennett's Resignation

Q. Mr. President, there seemed to be not very much debate about the Persian Gulf during the election, even though we have our young people there with their lives on the line. I'm wondering if you take the fact that you weren't seriously challenged by the opposition party on this matter -- if you take this as support for any decision that you might make with respect to having to go to war there, without respect, say, to the House's adjournment resolution that says they should come back if you were to go to war?

The President. Jessica, I said I didn't want to take any Persian Gulf questions.

Q. It's not -- --

The President. Well, it is, so therefore I will reply to this, and then -- this is the last one anyway. Look, we have had extensive consultations with Congress. We will continue to have extensive consultations with Congress. I think the people in the campaign, for the most part, recognized that I was trying very hard to separate support for the Persian Gulf policy from the pure head-on-head confrontation of domestic politics.

Again, I tried continually on the road to salute the Democratic leadership and Democratic Members along with Republican leadership and Republican Members for what I think has been extraordinarily solid support. And I think that support has led to good support from the American people. But we have a major foreign policy objective there. I am determined to see the objective fulfilled. I am determined to hold this coalition together. But that must be done without partisan politics intervening.

And so, that then leads me to say I will continue to consult. I know the responsibilities I have to do that. I know the importance of the support of the Congress. And I will continue to reach out to them and keep them informed and consult. And they know my views. So, I don't think that the campaign has driven any wedge between me and the leaders on Capitol Hill or of the American people on this very important problem.

Q. So, that does mean that you feel that there is widespread national support for -- --

The President. No question about it.

Q. -- -- whatever it is that you have to do, that you decide to do?

The President. Well, I like to feel the American people would support their President on whatever decision is made. And I think one way to guarantee that is to be sure that you consult, to be sure that you spell out your objectives as clearly as possible, be sure you keep their historic coalition together. And the importance of the [Secretary of State] Baker trip, for example, I think, is obvious. And so, so far, I think that the ingredients are there for full support. And I view my responsibilities as such that I must be sure that's right. I'll go the extra mile here at home and abroad to see that the common objectives as stated by the United Nations are met.

Now, I'll turn it over to Bill. And let me just say, I've read some silly speculation about Bill Bennett's leaving. And he has my total confidence. There's no internal politics that's caused him to make this decision. If he feels like it, he can tell you when he -- I don't want to violate confidences -- when he and I had our first and subsequent talks about this. He knows the affection that Barbara and I have for him and his family. I know the kind of sacrifice that anyone serving this country goes through not just in the controversy of the job but in terms of financial aspirations for their families that need to be educated. And so, please discount some of this understandable speculation. He has my confidence; I think I have his. And I know that he has the love and affection for his family from Barbara and me.

I think he's done an outstanding job for this country. And even his severest critics, I think, will tell you that -- those that started off the most critical. We've made progress in an area that is vital to every single family in this country, and I will never get over being grateful to Bill Bennett for what he's done.

Note: The President spoke at 11:08 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

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