Public Papers

Exchange With Reporters in Houston


Presidential Campaign

Q. Mr. President, Marlin Fitzwater says Buchanan is a town bully.

The President. Hey, I don't want to take any questions. We're here talking rodeo.

Q. They're Fitzwater's words, not ours.

The President. I have great confidence in Marlin. [Laughter]

We've got to see the big guy here.

A little jackass coming up here. Get him over.

Q. I'm afraid to ask a question after that remark. [Laughter]

The President. That's right -- [laughter]. I wasn't speaking about anybody in the traveling -- --

Q. Look out -- --

The President. Look out for that jackass there, guys -- miniature mule, watch out for the miniature mule over here. These things can kick you.

Q. Are you getting tired of getting beat up by Pat Buchanan, Mr. President?

The President. No -- --

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. That's not what these guys thought.

Q. This is the symbol of the Democratic Party. [Laughter]

Q. Are you embracing this animal? [Laughter]

Q. -- -- gloves off, Mr. President?

The President. Well, some people are suggesting that, but I feel comfortable with where we are. I don't think a President should get down there in that level. I think just keep trying to do my job and try to say what I believe, as I did over here. And I was very pleased with the response here, incidentally. You can ask these guys -- --

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, I feel comfortable with where we are.

Q. Do you think that voter discontent will remain so long as the economy -- --

The President. I think the economy has a lot to do with it. I think there's a little too much negative about it, but yes, I do think it will. I have to bear my share of responsibility. What I want to do is put the emphasis on the good things about this country and about the fact that things are beginning to move and about the fact that we've got some fine programs. But when you get into a campaign year, why, things are a little distorted.

The American people are a little tired of all the attack; I think they're a little tired of that. You know, five Democrats out there and then one other guy. So, I'm just trying to do my job and stay calm and say what I'm for and continue to lead this country. I think people -- --

Q. Are you resigned to losing the 20 - 30 percent in the primary?

The President. No, I'm resigned to winning the nomination and winning the Presidency. And I really feel very confident about both. I hope that confidence is justified, but I feel confident about it. And I can't be dissuaded by a lot of political attacks. I've just got to keep -- you know, this drug summit yesterday happened to be important if you believe in the lives of our children, if you believe in trying to strengthen families by getting rid of some of this narcotics. So, I have to do certain things that the attackers don't have to do. One of them is be President. And I think I'll be there for another 4 or 5 years.


Q. Mr. President, in the campaign, agricultural issues haven't been at the fore -- --

The President. No. Part of that is because the early States haven't been as -- [applause] -- hey, wait a minute. Where's the response? Where's my response, hey. [Applause] Some of that I think is because Iowa normally is a battleground, and normally we get our ag policies out there. And I think that's one of the reasons you haven't heard quite as much about it, but a very important issue. But I think we've had good agricultural programs.

One of the main things to do -- and this gets into whether you get into the attack business in the primaries -- what we're trying to do is conclude a Uruguay round of the GATT that will expand markets for agriculture and avoid some of the terrible Democratic policies of the past like agricultural boycotts. And I've been a President that understands that. And I think farmers, I hope they'll understand it. But I think the reason I gave you is why you're not hearing quite as much about ag issues.

School Named for President

Q. How many schools are named after you, Mr. President?

The President. One, and the vote was 3 to 2. [Laughter] But I won it, and the school is in Midland, Texas.

Q. So it's tied now.

The President. Yes, but she got a unanimous school board -- --

Mrs. Bush. Now, wait a minute.

Note: The exchange began at 4:26 p.m. at the Houston Astrodome. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.