Index


THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

September 1, 2000



PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART



The James S. Brady Briefing Room



1:58 P.M. EDT



QUESTION:  Any reaction to Bush's comment on NMD announcement?



MR. LOCKHART: I saw something; I think his comment generally said that
he supported deferment. He made a comment about us not leading on
national security issues. I think those comments reflect his political
position right now, rather than the facts. I think if you look -- if
you go and talk to objective analysts, they'll continue to say that we
have the finest fighting force in the world, and our American
leadership is - has been continued and sustained throughout the last
seven and a half years.


Q: Is there an advantage, actually -- you, the President said, you all
made clear -- delay was technological reasons, but is it sort of a
blessing in disguise? Sandy referred to the fact it gives the next
President more time to try to placate the Russians and our allies who
have doubts about it, and also it gives the next president time to try
to sell this to the American people.


MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I don't --



Q: Was there always some unease at having to go ahead, being pushed
into a decision that really the next president was going to have to
live with?


MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think obviously there's a balance here, and it's
somewhat of a balancing act that balances the threat versus the
technology within the criteria that the President laid out, and I
think the President made quite clear in his speech this morning, that
while we're at this point, this decision made the most sense.


As far as the consequences and opportunities that that leaves the next
President, I don't think that that was central to the decision-making.
There are always consequences to a decision; but I don't think that
that was a central part of trying to come to this decision about
providing further flexibility. I think if we were faced with a
different set of facts that would have warranted another decision,
that's the way the President would have gone.