Clinton maintains it has been a banner year (416K wav sound)

Many names were suggested for the new pup (544K wav sound)

The first dog has finally been named (384K wav sound)

Reluctant to embrace anything that would deny military women opportunity (384K wav sound)

Wants to see the Bosnian peace process continue (416K wav sound)

Refuses to discuss confidence in FBI Director Freeh (160K wav sound)

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is "clever crazy" (160K wav sound)

Perhaps there can be dialogue with Iran (352K wav sound)

He didn't snub Israeli President Netanyahu (352K wav sound)

Believes the race initiative is working (352K wav sound)

NATO alliance will meet in the U.S. in the spring (256K wav sound)

Says the state of the country is better than five years ago (416K wav sound)

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Clinton News Conference

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Clinton Declares '97 'A Banner Year'

Bosnia, Mideast and his new dog 'Buddy' dominate a year-end news conference


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 16) -- President Bill Clinton today brushed off critics who say he is sleepwalking through a second term, saying his administration "confronted the big issues in 1997."

At a wide-ranging, 90-minute news conference, Clinton was asked about a comment by his former political consultant Dick Morris that he had "gone to sleep."

Clinton ticked off a list of accomplishments in the past year, including the balanced budget agreement, expanded funds for children's health and college aid, treaties on chemical weapons and global warming and his dialogue on race relations.

"I think it was a banner year for America," Clinton told reporters. "We had a good year, because we're all working hard." (416K wav sound)

Clinton made one piece of news when he revealed the name of his new dog, "Buddy." The puppy, a three-month-old Chocolate Labrador, was named after a longtime Clinton family friend who died recently. (384K wav sound)

But most of Clinton's final, full-fledged press conference of the year touched on weightier issues, particularly the American role in Bosnia, Mideast peace prospects, the Asian economic crisis and the possibility of tax cuts in next year's budget.


Clinton indicated the U.S. is talking with its European allies about the future of peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia after next summer, but said he was not yet ready to announce what he thinks the U.S. should do.

When a reporter suggested he was clearly laying the groundwork for a continued U.S. mission, Clinton said he wants to see the peace process continue and it's vital to beef up the civilian police effort there. (416K wav sound)

Clinton plans a pre-Christmas visit to U.S. troops, and one senator just back from his own trip to the region says he has concluded a continued U.S. troop presence of at least two more years will be required.

"The United States must continue a ground presence -- we call it 'boots on the ground' -- along with our allies in Bosnia," Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) told The Associated Press in an interview. "I would say it's going to be an uphill climb to get Congress behind the president."

Clinton defends his race relations dialogue

Clinton bristled briefly when a reporter said some critics had dismissed his recent Akron, Ohio, town meeting on race relations as little more than "presidential Oprah," referring to the TV talk show star Oprah Winfrey.

"If that's your opinion, state your opinion," Clinton said, who pointedly asked the reporter to identify the critics by name.

Clinton said he thinks the dialogue is worthwhile and the first time the nation has tried to discuss race in the absence of a crisis, like the Civil War, Jim Crow laws or riots in the streets. (352K wav sound)

"I believe talking is better than fighting," he said.

Clinton ducked a question about whether he still considers former Democratic fund-raisers John Huang and Charlie Trie friends, using it to reiterate his view that existing campaign finance laws are inadequate.

Huang and Trie are at the center of the controversy over Democratic fund-raising in 1995 and 1996. Clinton did say, however, that anyone who deliberately violated campaign finance laws should be held accountable.

On Iraq, Clinton said he would "not rule out anything" to force Saddam Hussein to allow U.N. weapons inspectors full access to sites they want to visit.

"There are those who would like to lift the [economic] sanctions," Clinton said. "I am not among them." Asked whether he thinks Hussein is crazy, Clinton said, "He's clever crazy on occasion." (160K wav sound)

Twice Clinton sought to lower expectations he might propose tax cuts in next year's budget because of the strong economy and a lower-than-projected budget deficit.

Clinton said the nation has made good progress in reducing the deficit, but needs to maintain its fiscal discipline. "We need to stay at that task," he said. "We don't have a surplus yet."

Clinton also refused to be drawn further into the controversy over the administration's humiliating put-down of FBI Director Louis Freeh. Press Secretary Mike McCurry, in a clear signal of presidential dissastisfaction, told reporters earlier this month that Freeh was leading the agency "as best he can."

Said Clinton: "I think there's been too much back and forth, and I don't want to get into it." He did say Freeh's support for an independent counsel in the fund-raising controversy had no effect on his opinion of the FBI director.(160K wav sound)

Buddy's the name

Clinton thanked the thousands of people who suggested names for his new dog, and said he narrowed the field to seven and then three before deciding on "Buddy."

One of the suggestions, Clinton said, was DOTUS, for dog of the United States, modeled after the way staffers refer to him in memos as POTUS, or president of the United States. (544K wav sound)

In Other News:

Tuesday Dec. 16, 1997

Clinton Declares '97 'A Banner Year'
Reno Not Expanding Casino Investigation
Report: Separate The Sexes In Military Training
Reno Defends Lee Decision
Judge Dismisses Four Charges Against Espy
Freeh, Clinton Display Strained Relations
Freeh: 'No Closed Aspects' To Campaign Task Force Probe

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