Public Papers

Exchange With Reporters in the Cabinet Room


'92 Election

Q. Mr. President, is Buchanan doing the right thing thinking about running?

The President. I haven't paid much attention to that yet.

Libyan Indictments

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the Lockerbie indictments?

The President. We will have, but I want all that to come out properly. And then I'll undoubtedly have something to say. That was a terrible event. And indictments -- we have a system of justice in this country. But I gather from briefings I've had that they're serious. I mean, this isn't some quick hit, quick fix on trying to find the answer; that this is very serious business that we're involved in. But I'll have more to say about that after I have had a chance to get briefed on the indictments themselves. I've been briefed on things that are leading up to all of this.

Q. Well, are you concerned that although, sir -- Mr. Barr said that it's believed that the two Libyans were operating as part of the intelligence operation.

The President. As I say, I'm not going to comment until I am briefed on the formal indictments. I've been briefed on events leading up to the indictments and the paper trail and a lot of things that go into all of this. This has been a serious search for a long time. And some have been unfairly condemned because of lack of information. So, I don't want to comment on that until I've gone into it in more detail.

But I've seen enough of it to know that there's been some very good work done on the part of the U.S., working in cooperation with others to get this far. But I just have to stop short of going further until I am thoroughly informed as to exactly what counts are in this indictment and all of that.

Legislative Initiatives

Q. Mr. President, have you now decided to wait until the State of the Union to put forward a growth package?

The President. Well, we are going to be, as I keep saying, we've got a growth package out there, and it's got some fine ingredients. In fact, one of the subjects we're talking about today has some growth aspects to it, as a matter of fact. And we're talking energy here today. But I just wish that the Democratic leadership had moved on the initiatives that I've been talking about for a long, long time in terms of growth. But I'll get some advice here this afternoon on that and see what we've got.

But I'm glad we got together on this unemployment compensation bill, as a matter of fact. We've been saying all along we want a bill that is temporary, doesn't lock in more and more mandates. We want a signable bill that would not invoke the emergency escape from the budget agreement, from the fiscal -- and we've just insisted on that. We wanted a signable bill that is paid for and doesn't burden the 96 or 94 percent of the people, whatever it is, that are working. And we've gotten such a bill. And we could have had it last summer if certain leaders up there hadn't wanted to try to inflict a political defeat on me.

And the people that are hurt are those that need help, those whose benefits have run out. And so I had to insist on these fiscally sound measures. And to the credit of the Senate, Bob Dole particularly, who's taken a strong leadership position, we now have a bill that meets those three criteria. And we didn't have it before. And I find the only way you can get good legislation with some, the way it works up there on Capitol Hill, is to beat back bad legislation. And that's what's happened.

Q. But you're going to let the economy ride as it is for a few more months before you propose anything new?

The President. -- -- certain things that we may be doing. But I'll have a very strong State of the Union message that hopefully can mobilize the Democrats that control Congress, to do what they should have done some time ago. And we've got -- and I talked about it last night out there -- we've got several very strong growth initiatives out there. And as these Members of Congress know, you just don't get them through. But we will because that case will be taken strongly to the American people later on. So we'll see.

Q. Are interest rates about as low as they can go, sir?

Q. -- -- take a final shot on the Cuomo question?

The President. What is that, Laurie [Laurie Santos, United Press International]? Get out of here. We're talking energy. If you want to hear about energy, that's something else.

Note: The exchange began at 11:30 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House following a photo session with Senate Republican leaders. Patrick Buchanan is a television commentator and journalist. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.