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Special Event

President Clinton Comments on Economy, NRA Video

Aired May 5, 2000 - 1:12 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We switch you now live to the White House. President Clinton has just stepped to the lectern. He is going to make some statements about the economy as he heads to Pennsylvania.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... where we'll discuss ways to keep our economy strong and our nation moving in the right direction. Before I leave I'd like to share the latest good news about our economy.

This morning we received the news that we've achieved 3.9 percent unemployment. That is the lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957. That was the year the Dodgers last played ball in Brooklyn.

Most Americans have never lived in a peacetime economy with unemployment as low as it is today. Indeed, it's the lowest rate overall in over 30 years.

Over the last seven years, our nation has created 21 million new jobs, cut the unemployment rate almost in half.

I just want to make the point again that this is clear evidence that our economy strategy works. Fiscal discipline. More investment in education, technology and training. The expansion of markets for American products and services.

It's given us the lowest unemployment rate for African-Americans and Hispanics ever recorded, the lowest unemployment rate for women in more than 40 years, strong wage growth among all income groups.

The American people deserve the lion's share of the credit for this historic achievement. But we have a responsibility to stay on the path that got us here -- the path of fiscal discipline, debt reduction, expanded trade and increased investments in our future. I hope we will do that. This is a happy day for the people of the United States.

Thank you.

QUESTION: What did you think of the video done by the NRA?

CLINTON: The NRA video? I haven't seen it. I thought you were great in mine.

QUESTION: Mr. President, we don't know if your office has been...

CLINTON: No, I really haven't seen. I'll be glad to comment on it once I see it or know what's in it, but I haven't seen it.

QUESTION: Have you read about it?

CLINTON: I heard about it, but I haven't -- the one where their -- oh, you mean the film where they say they're going to have an office in the White House? Did they make that video or was it just videoed by someone else? I thought they were trying to keep that a secret until after the election.

Well, what I think about it is, I don't know that they think that Mr. LaPierre will literally have an office here if President Bush -- I mean, if Governor Bush gets elected president. But I do believe that it's clear from the record of Governor Bush in Texas and from the statements and from the increased visibility of the role of the NRA in the Republican National Committee that whatever is done on this issue will only be done with their approval, that they will have unprecedented influence here if the American people should decide that's what they want.

But, you know, that's what you have elections for. And that's -- you can -- I can believe that without thinking anything bad about Mr. LaPierre or about Governor Bush. I think they may just really agree that we shouldn't close the gun show loophole or ban the importation of large-scale ammunition clips.

And I think, let me just say -- let me remind you the previous Republican administration was not for the Brady bill and they weren't for the legislation banning cop killer bullets. I mean, that's just the way they think.

But I think that one of the reasons I'm glad the Million Mom March is occurring is that it at least raises the possibility that Americans who disagree, who believe that we can have common-sense gun safety measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children without having something that they believe is destructive gun control, those people may vote on these issues this year.

But the American people need to understand this is one of the four or five big choices before them. And they'll just have to decide. And all the NRA did was to commit the truth. I mean, they told the truth, and what they said was right.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Mr. President, I don't know if your office has been infected or in any way, but what does this "I love you" computer virus say about the world, our society, et cetera, and how maybe even one person can effect it and create chaos?

CLINTON: Well, it says that -- first of all, we've been very fortunate that the government has faired well here. But it says that we've got a lot more work to do to protect all these systems in the private sector, and the government has to keep working, too. It says that as we become more interconnected in an open way that we become -- as we reap the benefits of interconnectivity, we become more vulnerable to the disruptive forces that would seek to, either for bad design or to provoke chaos, to take advantage of it. And we just have to keep working on this.

But I'm very gratified that the fundamental governmental system seemed to have been unaffected here and we just have to keep working on it.

QUESTION: Mr. President, the State Department the other day issued an international report on terrorism. And also, this was the last of your administration, sir. And Osama bin Laden is still at large, so what do you have to say about international terrorism and all this...

CLINTON: You mean about bin Laden still being at large?

QUESTION: Yes.

CLINTON: Well, we're doing our part to change it. And I hope we'll be successful.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

CLINTON: Well, I think that these numbers have to be seen in terms of yesterday's numbers. The -- yesterday's inflation figures were quite encouraging. And I think they show that the core inflation at something like 2.4 percent, and I think the overall inflation rate will come back toward that now that the oil prices are moderating.

So I think that should be quite encouraging not just to the Fed, but to all Americans and to American business, that basically the productivity of the work force continuing to be fueled by information technology has enabled us to have an amazing amount of growth and low unemployment at quite modest levels of inflation.

And so that's encouraging to me. And I think the facts speak for themselves on that.

Thank you.

ALLEN: President Clinton, on his way to Pennsylvania, stopping to talk about the excellent numbers on the economy. But as we have been telling you, although it is wonderful news, economists fear it practically guarantees another hike in interest rates.

He also was asked about an NRA video, which he said had not seen but he would like to comment on, if he saw it. This was apparently a video from a closed NRA meeting that's been released by the group Handgun Control Inc., and it shows the NRA vice president saying: If Bush wins in November, we'll have a president where we work out of their office. The Gore campaign has seized on this and said the tape is the proverbial smoking gun showing, once and for all, that George W. Bush is in the hop holster of the NRA.

Bush has fired back saying that video's release by the group seems like an attempt by my opponent to frighten people. So that's what that is all about.

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