Public Papers - 1991 - October
Exchange With Reporters
Q. Are you going to control the jobless?
The President. Yes. What I want is a bill that doesn't bust this budget; I've made that very clear from day one. We're prepared to extend unemployment benefits. In fact, I'd like to see it done, but I'm not going to go and put the burden on all the rest of the people in this country. So, we've got a good package and, once again, the Senate is testing us in this administration, and I'm trying to protect the taxpayers as well as those who are unemployed.
And that's our position, and I'll send it back, and I hope that they'll then send us a bill that we can sign. And we've got one before the Congress right now, but you just cannot -- we're getting some partisan politics here, and I am determined to stand for principle. And that's what I'm doing.
Q. Mr. President, what are you doing with that billion that belongs to these unemployed people? What are you doing with it? Are you using it to run the Government?
The President. What are you talking about?
Q. That billion that's there for these unemployed people, the trust fund.
Q. The trust fund. The trust fund for unemployment.
Q. What are you doing with it?
The President. The whole budget explains that. The debate explained it. It's just too complicated to go into.
Q. Well, why don't you use it for these poor people who are hungry?
The President. Because we are using tons of money for -- to pay unemployment benefits.
Q. It'll run out.
The President. And what I want to do is to see one that does not break the budget and further burden a burdened economy. And we're very clear on it, and I'm just a little annoyed at the constant political pressure. They know very well I can't sign it, and if they want to help the unemployed and those who have no benefits, they ought to work cooperatively with this administration.
I was elected to try to protect the taxpayer as well as those who are unemployed, and that's exactly what I'm doing.
Q. But don't you think the unemployed -- --
Q. How about the coup in Haiti, Mr. President? What can you do about Haiti?
The President. I'm worried about Haiti. I'm very worried about it. Here's a whole hemisphere that's moving in a democratic way, and comes along Haiti now, overthrowing an elected government. We care very much about it.
I was just talking to the Secretary of State, who will be representing the United States at the OAS meeting. This is one where the OAS, a newly revitalized OAS with Canada now as a member, has a special role, and we will be supportive of OAS action to try to reverse this coup out. But it is very difficult.
The President. Well, we'll see what happens over there. But that would be my inclination -- --
Q. Troops, or -- --
The President. -- -- that the problem with that one is, you start hurting the Haiti people. No, I am disinclined to use American force. We've got a big history of American force in this hemisphere, and so we've got to be very careful about that. But we'll see how others feel at the OAS. There's some talk over there now abut a multinational force, so we'll have to wait and see.
Q. Are you worried about Gates, Mr. President, after yesterday -- --
The President. No, I'm not worried about him. I'm strongly for him and -- --
Q. Are you and Mr. Sununu going to permit offshore oil drilling in Vietnam?
Q. How do you feel about what was said about him here yesterday, that he's cooked intelligence to meet policy -- --
The President. Well, I think he'll have his chance to clear the record up. And, frankly, I don't know where these people have been all these years with all their anxiety they've felt about these estimates. It seems funny that all surfaces right now. But I know Bob Gates, and I know he wouldn't slant an estimate for some political purpose. And I also know, having been out there, that you have a wide array of views amongst analysts, and somebody has to be responsible for the final product.
I was at the agency. I know how it works. And my confidence in Bob Gates has not been diminished one single bit. He's a good man. He deserves confirmation, and I'm confident that he will be confirmed, just as I'm confident that Clarence Thomas will be. Now the Senate will vote affirmatively on that one.
So, I see no reason to waver on any of this, and I simply am not going to do that.
Thank you. I had better get going to Pennsylvania. Thanks.
I don't know anything about offshore drilling in Venice. Where was it?
Q. Vietnam. Offshore drilling on Vietnam. Are you going to arrange to let that start? Mr. Sununu, I think, has been working on it.
The President. Offshore drilling --
Q. Offshore drilling off Vietnam.
Q. With Elvis. [Laughter]
Q. Will you look into it, and let me have an answer later?
The President. If Sununu knows the answer, ask him. He's standing right there.
Are you for it, or against it? I want to be with the people on this one.
Q. Sir, I'm no expert on it either way, but -- [Laughter]
Q. Are you campaigning for reelection?
The President. No. You'll know it when I start doing that. But I'm going to be up there working for Dick Thornburgh today.
Q. When are you going to announce?
The President. And for Larry Hopkins in Kentucky.
Q. When are you going to fill Thornburgh's job?
Q. November or January?
The President. Good question. It's moving. It's moving a little bit there.
Q. Are you going to have Thornburgh explain the Inslaw case, Mr. President? The Inslaw case, are you going to have Thornburgh explain that?
The President. I know his views on that. He doesn't have to explain it.
What was the last -- this is the last question, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International].
Q. When are you going to announce for reelection, which is very obvious?
The President. Well, what's obvious?
Q. That you're running.
The President. That the date has approached? Listen, you try to go out and express yourself on the need for good education in this country and put forward a sound program. I put forward a sound program on unemployment benefits. We want to help the unemployed, put forward a sound crime package, and all of a sudden, everybody says it's purely political.
Now, I assume that's just because we're getting close to 1992. But I'm going to continue to put forward what I think are the domestic priorities for this country and work to see them fulfilled. I realize that it's that time of year. And as each Democrat gets out there and starts announcing, why, it's going to increase the propensity for people in the media to say, hey, everything I do is political. But I remember a little -- it's better. Things are better now because I remember when they said I wasn't doing anything domestically, which happened to be untrue, also.
But things are moving in the right direction, and I think people understand we've got a very sound education program, and I'm going to continue to pursue it. And, yes, I expect people to say it's political, but that's just the time of year. That's just the season. So, I'm not going to worry about it, nor am I going to be deterred by that, nor am I going to let a handful of Democratic candidates announce -- and I'm not announced -- set the agenda for this country. They weren't elected to do something, I was, and I'm going to keep on trying to do it.
Q. Who do you want to run against?
The President. No more questions of any kind. [Laughter]
Note: The exchange began at 10:38 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House prior to the President's departure for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During the exchange the following persons were referred to: Secretary of State James A. Baker III; Robert M. Gates, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency Director and former Deputy Director of the CIA; John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President; Clarence Thomas, nominee for Supreme Court Associate Justice; Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh; and Representative Larry J. Hopkins of Kentucky. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.