[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 29, Number 29 (Monday, July 26, 1993)]
[Pages 1351-1352]
[Online from the Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

<R04>
Interview With WGEM Radio, Quincy, Illinois

 July 17, 1993

Disaster Assistance

    Q. Good morning, Mr. President.
    The President. Good morning.
    Q. How are you, sir?
    The President. I'm fine. As you know, I'm now on Air Force One, on 
my way to St. Louis to a meeting with the Governors of all the affected 
States and a number of Cabinet-level officials. I think we have about 
seven or eight going down today, as well as a number of Members of 
Congress who have jurisdiction over the committees that are writing the 
relief legislation.
    I wanted to call you, because your radio station has done such a 
remarkable job of kind of coordinating the information and keeping 
people in touch and keeping them up in the middle of this. I really 
respect what you've done, and I appreciate it very much.
    Q. Mr. President, this is Steve Cramblit. The people that have 
really done the work are the people who have been at the levees slinging 
the sandbags on the Mississippi River water out of their homes and out 
of their agricultural lands. They're really the heroes in all of this.
    The President. Yes, I've seen a lot of them working, as you know, on 
my two previous trips. It's been an amazing effort. And of course we're 
not out of the woods yet. I know you lost a dam there last night, and a 
lot of people on the other side of the river had to evacuate. And then 
the county down from that, Pike County, I think the name of it is, is 
really concerned. So we've got a few anxious days left to go.
    Q. Mr. President, this is Jeff Dorsey with you now, and I was down 
in the Pike County area yesterday. Are there any words that you can give 
them, something to pick up their spirits at this point after 3 weeks of 
fighting the Mississippi off? Can you tell them anything? They're all 
listening out there to you right now, sir.
    The President. Well, first of all, let me say that I think, you 
know, we may have a few more days of this, but I think in a few days it 
will be over. And as tough as things are, we are doing everything we can 
to make sure that we've got in place emergency relief help and that we 
are planning for the long run to stay with this process, the long run, 
to help people get back on their feet and go on with their lives. I've 
seen an awful lot of brave people in the Midwest in the last 2\1/2\ 
weeks, and I just would urge the folks to hang in there and not expect 
the worst but to prepare for it, and then we'll deal with whatever 
comes.
    Q. Mr. President, this is Bob Turek. You have already asked for $2.5 
billion, and we understand that Senator Paul Simon and some of the 
others are saying that damage might be a lot higher. Are you going to 
try and seek--allow for emergency relief?
    The President. Yes. As the evidence comes in to support it, we 
decided that we really needed to get a bill up to the Congress and start 
moving it through. Now can you hear me? We decided we needed to get a 
bill up to the Congress and start moving it through. But as we get new 
damage estimates, we'll be giving them to the congressional committees, 
and the bill can be amended in the House and in the Senate to reflect 
the new damage estimates. And then if something comes in later, we can 
take new legislation up there.
    But we felt very strongly that we needed to start getting the help 
out there just as quickly as possible and that we ought not to wait 
another month or so to present a bill. So that's why we're doing what 
we're doing. And I think it's the right thing to do. But it's not the 
end of the road. The bill we presented will be modified, I think, in the 
Congress, if the evidence comes in to support

[[Page 1352]]

the need for more aid. And I think we'll fulfill our responsibilities. 
We just want to be quick about it so that we can really give people 
help, and they don't get caught in the bureaucratic delay.
    Q. Mr. President, this is Rich Cain. We've had a number of listeners 
who are very concerned over the National Guard troops who have been in 
the area for quite some time now who are becoming somewhat fatigued and 
have been, in battling this fight, as well as a number of volunteers. 
The question is, Mr. President, is there any consideration towards 
possible activation of troops on the Federal level?
    The President. That's one of the issues that I want to talk to the 
Governors about today. I'm concerned that in some of the States 
involved, they have used all their available Guardspeople and they may 
be exhausted. Some of them have been working virtually around the clock. 
And I think that we need to look at either bringing in Guard folks from 
other States or maybe activating some Federal troops if, in fact, all of 
the State resources have been exhausted. And I'm going to take that up 
with the Governors today.
    I know you're going to carry the meeting live on your radio station, 
which is something I very much appreciate, and so we'll get some answers 
from them and then I'll give an appropriate response. But I appreciate 
your bringing that up and I will check into it--in particular, in your 
area.
    Q. Mr. President, we appreciate taking your valuable time, and I 
know that you are preparing for that meeting today. We thank you very 
much. And would you give us one final word to the people of this area 
from the President of the United States?
    The President. I just want you to know that we're thinking of you, 
we're praying for you, we're pulling for you, and we're working. All of 
us are working as hard as we can with your Governors and your local 
representatives to try to make this crisis pass as quickly as possible. 
We're not in control of this situation entirely, because Mother Nature 
is having its way with us, as periodically happens. But I do believe 
that we're going to be able to get our way through this, and the courage 
and the good humor of the people of the Midwest has been the key 
element, if we can keep people thinking positively, looking toward the 
future, preparing for whatever might happen. We'll do our best to be 
there as your partners. And the rest of the country is thinking about 
you and really is determined, I think, to have the National Government 
do what it takes to help you put your lives back together and get back 
on track here.
    Thank you so much. Goodbye.

[The telephone interview ended, and reporters on Air Force One asked the 
President questions.]

    Q. What are the chances of Federal troops?
    The President. I need to ask. It's something I thought about in Iowa 
the other day, where the Guardsmen there obviously have been working 
around the clock. What we need to do--of course the folks there, we have 
no way of knowing whether they are--have they mobilized the entire State 
Guard, can they send other Guardsmen there? You know, I need to ask 
about the facts, but I will, because they brought it up and because they 
also brought it up in Des Moines last week. We will raise that with the 
Governors today in the meeting. But I don't think it's appropriate for 
me to make that decision. They may have a lot of other Guard troops 
within the States that can be mobilized.
    Q. What's the--[inaudible]--decisions?
    The President. I have nothing to add to what's been said or 
speculated about. I think the Attorney General--I would refer you to her 
on that.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. from Air Force One en route to 
St. Louis, MO. A tape was not available for verification of the content 
of this interview.