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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991 - May

Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters

1991-05-15

President's Health

Q. How are you feeling?

The President. Fine. Very good report on the health today. And today's really, literally -- and I'm not just saying this -- the best I've felt since this onset of all this problem.

Q. You're not tired?

The President. Have been, but today I'm not. Yesterday I was dead tired. But they've got a report back now that I think the doctors will comment on later, but it was very good on getting this thyroid in balance. So, for some reason, I'm itching to get back into action here outside, get some -- --

Q. Miss your jogging?

The President. I miss my exercise. I really do. It's the longest I've been in my life, I think.

Legislative Agenda

But let me just say -- you expressed an interest in what we were doing at the Senate. I was up there making a strong pitch for Fast Track. I feel that the Republican side and many of the Democrats are going to be very supportive in the Senate on Fast Track. It's important to world trade. It's important to the United States economy; that's the point I made.

It's not going to cost us jobs; it will create jobs. And of course, if the United States bugs out of participation in these -- in the GATT round, the European -- the GATT round -- I mean the GATT round generally, and then working with the EC, why, we're in trouble. And I don't want to see us do that. I want us to have full negotiating authority. And we will not bring back to the Congress a deal that they cannot enthusiastically support. There's no purpose in that. We know the parameters within which we have to operate.

I also made a strong pitch for our crime package. I want a comprehensive crime bill. And I challenged the Congress to act within 100 days, and there's no reason in the world they can't. It's been 67 days, I believe, since that challenge, and so I'm very anxious to get a comprehensive crime package out.

We talked about energy, and we talked about transportation. So really, it was -- --

Q. Did you say you would veto the Brady bill?

The President. -- -- just a review of the agenda, the domestic agenda. And then I talked to them about other international subjects. So, that was about what we were doing at lunch.

Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], did I hear you ask -- --

Q. Yes. Did they ask you not to veto the Brady bill?

The President. No, there wasn't any discussion of the veto on that because they did not ask it.

Q. Are you going to?

The President. Well, I'll keep all options open. I want a comprehensive crime package. And that's the way we're going to play it, and that's what we should be; the American people should be entitled to that.

China

Q. Did you discuss China, sir?

The President. We discussed China, MFN. I want to see MFN for China continue, and I made a strong pitch for it. We do not want to isolate China. And I go back to the days when I was in China as the equivalent of Ambassador, and though there are major problems in China -- things that we don't like about their system -- things are an awful lot better than they were back in 1975. So, I look at the big picture. I look at the support we got from China in Desert Storm. I look at the importance of China as a country. And I don't want to see us isolate them.

I do want to see them come forward more on some of the things that we've been asking them to do.

Iraq

Q. Is Iraq going to accept some form of police force?

The President. I don't know on that. We may -- we're contemplating going to the United Nations on that to get further authority, although we think that we have authority under existing resolutions.

Q. And a related question: Would you be happy with Iraq paying 25 percent of its oil revenues in reparations?

The President. I don't have a percentage in mind. We're working out administration positions on that. But the main thing is full compliance with all the U.N. resolutions. And so, that's the key point. I don't know where the talks stand between the Kurds and the center and Saddam Hussein, but that could offer some hope. But I don't think that we can just entrust the fate of the Kurds to the word of Saddam Hussein.

Soviet-U.S. Relations

Q. We understand that you have blocked out the two last weeks in June for a possible summit. Has that moved at all since yesterday?

The President. No. Nothing's happened since I talked to Mr. Gorbachev last weekend. And I want to have a summit. They know and we know what the conditions have been and are. But there's no decision on that, Helen. I keep reading that somebody in Moscow says there's a date, and we don't know where that comes from, unless you do, Marlin.

President's Health

Q. Are you going to take a longer Memorial Day vacation?

The President. You got it.

Q. How many days more?

The President. I don't know.

Queen Elizabeth's Visit

Q. How come you didn't take out the step for the Queen, Mr. President?

The President. What?

Q. How come you didn't give the Queen a step to stand on yesterday?

The President. That's what we hired Joseph Reed for. [Laughter]

Q. Oooh.

President's Health

Q. How about giving us a little bit more on your health report? What did they say about your thyroid? Is it destroyed?

The President. Well, I asked the doctor if he wanted -- I got this when Marlin was doing his briefing. I almost sent in a little note -- I was listening to your questions, wonderful questions, to Marlin about my property taxes. [Laughter] And I asked Burt, and he said he'd rather wait until he talks to the other doctors. But he came in with a very good report about the thyroid now being in balance.

Q. Is it gone?

The President. Well, I don't know. It's not gone. I'd better keep a little of it because you don't want to get those hormones out of shape, you know what I mean? [Laughter]

Q. No, I haven't the slightest idea. [Laughter]

Q. How much weight have you lost? Five pounds, more, eight?

The President. No, about 10.

Q. Ten pounds?

The President. Yes.

Q. Over how long a time?

Q. How long?

The President. Over about a 3-week period.

Q. Are you happy?

The President. Yes. Yes, I'd like to keep it off.

Q. What are you, 190 now, Mr. President?

The President. Help. Here she comes. [Laughter] No, 187 last night.

Q. That's the lowest you've been in how many years?

The President. Lowest I've been in 30 years.

Queen Elizabeth's Visit

Q. How did you like the Queen?

The President. Very, very impressive; an engaging conversationalist and most impressive. I do feel badly -- --

Q. Why didn't you raise the podium?

The President. Well, I feel badly I didn't. And I thought about it and -- but she started to speak. And I didn't realize how it would look from a straight angle, or I would have interrupted her because it wasn't fair to her. And I'm just sorry that it was overlooked.

Grandchild's Birthday Party

Mrs. Bush. You've got the birthday party.

The President. We've got to go see the birthday party.

Q. Whose birthday is it?

The President. Marshall's. Marshall.

Q. Are you allowed to kiss her?

The President. No, I can't. Bar can.

Queen Elizabeth's Visit

Q. He's apologizing for not pulling the step out for the Queen, Mrs. Bush.

Mrs. Bush. He doesn't need to apologize.

The President. I kicked it over to the -- --

Mrs. Bush. It was someone else's job -- come on. [Laughter]

The President. See, we've got our line together.

Note: The session began at 1:50 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. In his responses, President Bush referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to the President; Joseph Verner Reed, Chief of Protocol; Burton J. Lee III, Physician to the President; Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom; and Marshall Bush, President Bush's granddaughter. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this session.

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