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Public Papers - 1991

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Cabinet Meeting


Q. Mr. President, did you know the conservatives were going to use personality attacks in their Thomas ads?

The President. We're not going to take questions, but on that one I will simply say that the White House properly and vigorously spoke out against the ad. I think I'd be very careful about saying ``the conservatives,'' you know, in the kind of broad context. But there was one ad that was offensive, and it was promptly and quickly condemned. It doesn't help in my view. Clarence Thomas himself spoke on that and spoke very clearly on that. So, you see these things from time to time that are totally counterproductive on all sides of the political spectrum. That one was not a good ad.

Q. Would you urge them to not run it?

The President. Yes, I'd urge them to not run it.

Q. Are you afraid that there may be some repercussions because of that?

The President. Well, I think the case for Clarence Thomas is so strong that it's not going to be determined by an ad from the left, a group speaking out from the left, and plenty of them have, political left in this country nor an ill-chosen ad from the right.

The case is too good for him. So, I don't have that fear, but I just don't think it contributes. If the hope was to contribute something positive to his confirmation, in my view that's not the way you go about it.

Q. What do you think was their motivation?

The President. I'm not in the analysis business. We're trying to have a Cabinet meeting, but I can understand your interest in all of that. But thank you very much.

Q. What are you going to talk about at the Cabinet meeting?

The President. Well, we're going to talk about the Soviet Union, the domestic agenda, the America 2000, and how everyone here will pitch in on that with a lot of enthusiasm -- that's our educational program -- the budget, 1993. And then we'll have what they call a general discussion. That's item six here. [Laughter] We've got a lot scheduled -- take 20 minutes.

Q. Are you sending Baker to Moscow?

The President. He will be available to respond for his travels. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 10:04 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In the exchange, the following persons were referred to: Clarence Thomas, nominee for Supreme Court Associate Justice, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

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