[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 32, Number 19 (Monday, May 13, 1996)]
[Pages 792-795]
[Online from the Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner

May 4, 1996

    The President. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Carl, 
Terry, Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Gore, Mr. Speaker, Governor, to 
distinguished head table guests, to all the honorees tonight, my 
colleagues in the administration, to all the entertainers that made all 
the politicians feel that they came out to get a thrill instead of 
listen to me.
    I apologize for being late tonight, but, as you know, I was at a 
charity event at Chelsea's school, auctioning off a game of golf. It 
brought in a few dollars.
    Audience member. How much? Tell us how much.
    Audience member. Could I ask a follow-up? [Laughter]
    The President. Well, I can tell you this, I know I was criticized 
for putting it up, but it was not bought by the ambassador from Iran. 
[Laughter] I was hoping Ralph Reed would buy it, but he didn't even bid. 
    Anyway, it got a little money, but the thing that disappointed me 
was that it didn't generate as much as I had hoped. So I was able to 
generate some serious cash for the Sidwell Friends School; I auctioned 
off the shoes I wore the day I shook hands with President Kennedy. 
    By the way, if there's anybody here who would be willing to pay 
$500,000 for a Presi- 

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dential humidor, I'll be happy to go out and buy one for you.
    Even though I was late, my staff kept me apprised of the evening. 
This may come as a surprise to you, but you're not the only ones who do 
pool reports. Since not everybody at the White House can be at every 
public event, we distribute our own pool reports on what the press has 
been up to.
    And so Mike McCurry handed me these notes when I arrived. This is 
what happened before I got here:
    6:02: Helen Thomas arrives at the Hilton. In accordance with time-
honored tradition, at 6:04 she asked the first question--[laughter]--
``Mr. Bartender, can you make a wine spritzer?''
    6:22: A van pulls up to the front door. All five members of the 
McLaughlin Group emerge--[laughter]--without a referee, bickering 
loudly. [Laughter] The topic: Is it Kondracke's turn to sit up front on 
the way home? [Laughter]
    6:25: Andrea Mitchell arrives on the arm of Alan Greenspan. 
Greenspan pays the coatroom attendant one dollar--[laughter]--and 
mentions that last year it only cost 75 cents. One minute later, five 
people in the immediate vicinity rush to call their brokers. [Laughter]
    6:52: Jim Miklaszewski discreetly tells Brian Williams he's sitting 
in Tom Brokaw's chair. [Laughter]
    7:09: Bill Plante arrives at the CBS table and receives many 
favorable comments about his new George Clooney haircut. [Laughter] One 
CBS executive present, however, suggested he might try a hairstyle from 
``Chicago Hope'' instead. [Laughter]
    7:15: Joe Klein introduces the entire Newsweek table to his 
imaginary friend--[laughter]--whom he identifies as ``Anonymous.'' 
    7:39: Brian Williams is back in Tom Brokaw's seat. [Laughter]
    8:09: Sarah McClendon confronts a man seated at the Vanity Fair 
table, demanding to know what he has done with the real Oliver Stone. 
[Laughter] Visibly flustered, the man offers up a half-hearted 
explanation involving Cuban nationalists. [Laughter]
    8:35: Breaking news. Wolf Blitzer breathlessly does a live feed from 
the front lawn of the Hilton to announce, ``CNN has learned the dessert 
will be mocha puffs and chocolate sauce.'' [Laughter]
    9:06: The President finally arrives at the southeast entrance. 
Running after him is pool reporter Mark Knoller who appears to be 
wearing the shoes President Clinton wore when he shook hands with 
President Kennedy. [Laughter] Paid a pretty good price for them, too.
    Well, that's what happened before I got here. Hillary and I are 
delighted to be with you tonight. I have only one criticism. I took a 
look at those ticket prices. They seem pretty high to me. So tonight, by 
Executive order, I am authorizing the release of 1,000 additional 
tickets. [Laughter]
    You know who I'm really glad to see here tonight? Howard Fineman--
[laughter]--where I can keep an eye on him. [Laughter] And I mean that--
sincerely. [Laughter]
    I'm glad to be here tonight with our guest speaker. Now, I make it a 
policy not to mention inflammatory public figures by name, but I am very 
pleased to share this podium tonight with the author of--[laughter]--
``What's-His-Name Is a Big, Fat Idiot.'' [Laughter]
    I feel a certain kinship with Al Franken. We, frankly, had a 
terrible 1994. I had Speaker Gingrich's victory in the midterm 
elections, and he had ``Stuart Saves His Family.'' [Laughter] He asked 
me to tell that.
    But we have rebounded pretty well. I mean, after all, I am still 
here, and he made a gazillion dollars on that book. As much as I enjoyed 
Al's book, shortly after buying it, I came to regret my purchase. The 
very week I bought the book, it replaced Hillary's as the number one 
    We have another noted author here, Speaker Gingrich. He's right over 
there. He's the fellow next to the baby raccoon and the iguana. 
[Laughter] Mr. Speaker, as long as you're here, I think, out in public, 
in front of everybody, we ought to do a little work on the budget 
negotiations. You give me my Medicare plan, and you can have my mocha 
puff and chocolate sauce. [Laughter]
    It's too bad Senator Dole couldn't join us tonight, but thank 
goodness one of us is free to watch the kids. [Laughter] I must say, 
seriously now, that was a very interesting asser- 

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tion he put forth. I sort of thought most kids would rather stay with me 
than Bob Dole. I mean, after all, they'd get to play Nintendo in the 
Situation Room. [Laughter] Leon promises to let me know whenever 
``Barney'' comes on.
    But this babysitter debate raises only one of many pertinent 
questions that voters have to ask themselves before they choose the next 
President. An interesting line--for example, let's say you were going on 
vacation for a couple of weeks. Who do you trust to water your plants? 
[Laughter] Bob Dole or Bill Clinton? [Laughter]
    And suppose you were too busy shaking hands tonight and you didn't 
get to eat. And you go home tonight and you decide to order a pizza. Who 
do you trust to select the toppings? [Laughter] Bob Dole or Bill 
Clinton? [Laughter]
    Or what about this scenario? Bob Dole is on a train headed toward 
Spring Valley at 65 miles an hour. [Laughter] Bill Clinton is traveling 
by car from the opposite direction at 35 miles an hour. Given the fact 
that the train has twice as far to travel as the car, who do you trust 
to arrive in Spring Valley first? Bob Dole or Bill Clinton? [Laughter]
    Now, if you don't think these questions are relevant, and they may 
not seem relevant, I ask you, who are we to question the wisdom of 
Senator Dole's focus groups? [Laughter]
    Let me say this, too. This is a serious comment. I think Senator 
Dole made a mistake not keeping Mary Matalin on his team. And Mary, I 
saw you up here earlier. Where are you? You are welcome on my team, and 
I don't care who you're married to. [Laughter] Any bald-headed Cajun 
knows we're right and they're wrong. [Laughter]
    As you know, this is the very first time in our Nation's history a 
sitting President is facing a sitting majority leader in the fall 
campaign. To be fair to all concerned, it's a difficult situation. Just 
imagine trying to do the job you were hired to do with an adversary 
breathing down your neck, questioning your every move, waiting for your 
next misstep. Trent Lott ought to just cut it out. [Laughter]
    Now many of you have been writing about my so-called ``stealth 
campaign'' for reelection. We hit our first major setback this week when 
the RNC broke the code on our press releases. But I want you to know I'm 
holding firm to my strategy. And my strategy is working. In fact, 
according to the New York Times, my Vice President is closer to formally 
announcing his candidacy than I am. [Laughter]
    By the way, I want to congratulate the Times on that ``Al Gore Wants 
to be President'' scoop. [Laughter] Pulitzer's in the bag. [Laughter]
    Some of you have been asking for 6 months now, when is this 
announcement speech? In keeping with the stealth campaign strategy, Mike 
McCurry had this idea that instead of the traditional announcement 
speech, tonight I should just give an off-the-record announcement on 
what he calls--he calls--``psych background.'' [Laughter] As if we 
didn't have enough trouble. So that way I could give you some insight 
into my truly secret, private thoughts about this election.
    So, if we can all agree on the ground rules--[laughter]--I'd like to 
give you a sense of the musings of my inner candidate. [Laughter] You 
can attribute these remarks to a source inside the President's suit. 
    Now, I had occasion to give this topic considerable thought last 
weekend as I was going through the Sunday classified ads. [Laughter] 
Gosh, there must have been 8\1/2\ million listings, all of them at good 
wages. [Laughter] But I couldn't find a single job I'd prefer to this 
    So, in lieu of a formal announcement speech, you can report on 
``psych background'' that Bill Clinton is under the strong impression 
that America is a great country, and that we are living in an age of 
possibility. Bill Clinton suspects that America is moving in the right 
direction, but we have to keep working together to find common ground. 
Bill Clinton is inclined to think he can help us meet America's 
challenges with just one more term.
    Now, I'd like to go back on the record to say thank you and good 
night. [Laughter] So you may report that Bill Clinton said, ``Thank you, 
and good night.''

Note: The President spoke at 10:17 p.m. at the Washington Hilton Hotel. 
In his remarks, he referred to Carl Leubersdorf, outgoing president, and 
Terry Hunt, incoming president, White

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House Correspondents Association; and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas.