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WHITE HOUSE REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING
SPEAKERS LIST: MICHAEL MCCURRY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY
MCCURRY: Other subjects in a moment. Let me read a statement on behalf of the president.
From the president -- he says, "With great disappointment, I accepted Governor Bill Weld's decision today to withdraw as my nominee for ambassador to Mexico. He would have been a superb ambassador to Mexico. The American people have not been well-served during this process for several reasons. "First, they have lost the opportunity at being represented in one of our most important ambassadorial positions by this outstanding public servant. "Second, because Governor Weld was denied his right to a fair hearing, the American people lost their right judge his qualifications for themselves. "Third, they were denied a voice in this issue because their representatives in the United States Senate were prevented from voting on the nomination. "And finally, at a time when we had been making strides towards a bipartisan foreign policy, the treatment my nominee received reflected divisiveness that does not well serve the American people. "Our relations with Mexico are critical to our national security and to our economy. I will now work to find a replacement for Governor Weld who will meet the same high standards he would have set.
And, this is a statement from the president, and Helen, in answer to your question we have not designated a new nominee. It will be some time before we do so and in many senses our review processes is back at the starting point now.
QUESTION: What has this episode done to President Clinton's relationship with Senator Helms?
MCCURRY: Well, we certainly tried those relationships, but at the same time, we -- throughout this process -- have said that while we were fighting hard for Governor Weld, we hoped that we were fighting fair and square. And we hope the chairman will recognize that and that we can continue to do the business that we need to do together as a country to advance America's interest in the world.
QUESTION: Does the White House agree with Governor Weld's caustic assessment of Senator Helms?
MCCURRY: Excuse me?
QUESTION: The caustic assessment of Senator Helms?
MCCURRY: The president expressed himself on his sense of Chairman Helms himself the other day. I don't want to offer a contrary view point to the one that the president offered.
QUESTION: The governor said that part of the reason he was leaving was because he didn't want to rupture the relationship between the administration and the Republican leadership in the Senate. And yet, how else can Trent Lott, for example, view this in-your-face approach that the governor took today -- to the degree of even saying that Lott's just carrying water for Jesse.
MCCURRY: Let me make sure I understand the question. What was in-your-face about what the governor decided to do today.
I think he decided to act in the best interest of the country he has served and would have served well, and he did so knowing that there are many important issues that a Republican Congress and a Democratic president are going to have to work together on. I think if there was any threat, it was the one that the president said the other day was explicitly made by the chairman.
QUESTION: Mike, given the state of relations between the United States and Mexico, does the president feel that it will be better to have a career diplomat or a political appointee as ambassador?
MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on who the president, at this point, might turn to for what is arguably, is one of the most important ambassadorial postings that we have anywhere in the world. But it will be someone of high caliber, someone who respects the importance of the relationship and someone who bring dignity to the mutual search for answers to the problems that together we work on with the government of New Mexico.
QUESTION: Mike, given that -- even if the battle had been fought and even if he had won and had been confirmed somehow, the cost would have been very high.
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