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Federal Judge OK's Tobacco Regulation (4/25/97)

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CLINTON: I'll take one more, and then I'll (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: I understand that the United States (OFF-MIKE) and said that the United States doesn't want a significant increase in U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

I think that the strong dollar has been helping boost U.S. -- Japan's exports to the United States, and that's an increase in U.S. deficit with Japan. Do you want a weaker dollar to help cut -- to help prevent U.S. trade deficit with Japan from increasing significantly?

CLINTON: You have asked an excellent question and one to which I must give a careful answer, otherwise, I will affect the value of the dollar, which I don't want to do.

Here is our position: We do not want a weak dollar simply to improve our trade position. We think that would be -- that is not our economic policy to go out and seek a weak dollar. We want our dollar to be healthy and strong because we have a good, strong economy and good economic policies.

But neither do we want any other actions to have the effect of throwing the exchange system out of whack in order to gain undo advantage in international trade. So what we would like to see is what we have campaigned -- what I have personally campaigned around the world for for four years, are good, coordinated, balanced economic policies among all the strong economies of the world a commitment among all of us to expand into a global trading system that will give other countries a chance to grow wealthier on responsible terms. That is what I think is the best policy over the long run.

John? And then I'll take one. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a follow-up to today's news. You have said in regard to the talks the tobacco companies are involved in for a possible global solution that your goal would be a solution that protects the health of children. My question is, does today's news not put the tobacco companies more on the run than ever before, at least more on the defensive, and does that not in some way weaken their hand in these negotiations and make the outcome you're looking for all the more likely?

CLINTON: Well, I certainly hope it makes the outcome I'm looking for all the more likely. Of course, just as we intend to appeal the advertising portion of the decision in North Carolina, I'm doubtless they will appeal the other portion of it. So we've got to -- we've got some to go, and we'll have some other legal steps to go through. But I hope this will strengthen the hands of the public health advocates.

The only point I was trying to make earlier, John, is I simply do not know. I'm not -- I'm not the house expert here, I don't know that we even have an expert in house, about where the right balance is in these negotiations with the public health at large.

We originally began to monitor the negotiations with a very limited purpose, to ferociously protect what we had fought so hard for, to get the FDA to do.

But we know there is a larger public health interest here, and I hope that today's decision enhances the likelihood that the public health of the United States can be advanced, not only for children, but for our country as a whole.

I'll take one more.

You're having a -- we're having a good time. But we do want to...

(LAUGHTER)

And I'll do -- Karen, you're next. I've got to have -- otherwise, I'll get blasted for having all men I called on today. Properly blasted. Properly blasted.

You're next.

QUESTION: You mentioned domestic amendment, and are you confident that Mr. Hashimoto's package of deregulation measures will be strong enough and (OFF-MIKE) enough to sustain votes in Japan without any kind of help from the fiscal side?

CLINTON: Well, I hope so. He's confident that it will be, and that's -- you know, he has to make the call.

But we had a very good and, I thought, pretty sophisticated conversation about it today. Because -- I understand why Japan also wishes to cut its deficit, increase its savings rate, and I understand. We have similar long term, demographic challenges in Japan and the United States. You will face them before we will, and I understand that.

But it's also important to keep our systems open, to keep opening them up and to not let the trade balance get out of whack, and we're committed to working on it and I think we'll be reasonably successful if we work at it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Last question.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: All right.

QUESTION: Mr. President, your aides have said that in coming weeks, you plan to make -- to announce a major initiative on the state of race relations in this country.

Why now and what do you expect a blue ribbon panel or commission or task force, whatever you decide, to produce in terms of tangible results that will make a difference in people's lives?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say I have not yet settled on a final form of an initiative, but what I -- what I think we need to do is to examine the nature of our relations with one another as Americans and what America is going to be like in this new century.

I think it is time for a taking of stock. We have been through some huge upheavals over race in America. We fought a civil war over slavery and race, and then we had a series of constitutional amendments that gave basic citizenship rights to African Americans.

When we had a long civil rights struggle which was marked by steady, explicit forbidding of various kinds of discrimination.

And then we had the Kerner Commission report in '68 which basically said even if you eliminate all these negative things, there are certain affirmative things you have to do to get people back to the starting line so they can contribute to our society.

And then we had 25 years of affirmative action, which is being rethought now, reassessed and argued all over again.

But America has changed a great deal during that time. The fastest-growing minority group now are the Hispanics. There are four school districts in this country, including one right across the river here in Virginia, that have children from more than 100 different racial and ethnic groups in one single school district.

And I personally rejoice at this.

I think this is a huge asset for the United States as we go into the 21st century -- if we learn how to avoid the racial and ethnic and religious pitfalls that are bedeviling the rest of the world today.

So that's what I want to do. I want to take stock, see where we are, and see how we can get into the 21st century as one America, respecting our diversity, but coming closer together.

I think -- and by the way, I think this Summit of Service will have a lot to do with making it better. But I'm making the final policy decisions and I'll have some announcement to make before too long.

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

END

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