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Special Event

Bush Spokesman Ari Fleischer Addresses Questions About Campaign Finance Reform at Transition Briefing

Aired January 5, 2001 - 1:13 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to join Ari Fleischer. The incoming White House press secretary is holding his daily briefing. He has just announced that Mary Matalin, who has been a long-time Republican operative and is one of the members of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," is being appointed as a senior adviser to Vice President Cheney.

Let's listen to Ari Fleischer to see what else is happening today.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: ... that corporate soft money is abolished, that union soft money is abolished, that creates a level playing field for all concerned.

And we take note of Senator McCain's legislation, of all legislation introduced on the Hill. And we hope and believe we can make progress.

QUESTION: Is this what the president-elect announced in South Carolina -- I think it was while campaigning?

FLEISCHER: That is correct.

QUESTION: Would that be good basis for beginning negotiations on campaign finance reform?

FLEISCHER: That is the president's proposal, and we believe that the president's proposal will always be a good basis for interaction with the Congress.

QUESTION: As the president-elect watches the busy schedule which President Clinton keeps up protecting federal lands, issuing executive orders, making recess appointments, doesn't he wonder what the president is up to?

FLEISCHER: Well, President Clinton is exercising his prerogatives as President Clinton sees fit. He is the nation's president through January 20, 2001, at noon. And it is his right to issue executive orders or regulations as he sees fit.

We are taking careful note on each and every one of them. This administration in its final days has been a busy beaver. And we will review all regulations and executive orders upon coming into office on January 20.

QUESTION: Don't you think he's trying to do an extraordinary amount in his last days?

FLEISCHER: I'm not going to quantify what an extraordinary amount may or may not be. This is his purview.

QUESTION: You did say he's been busy.

FLEISCHER: He has been busy.

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: I did not modify my adjective.

QUESTION: Small investors are worried. What advice you have for them for the future? Should they continue to invest in the stock market which is going down, or should they take out money?

FLEISCHER: I would refer them to a good broker. And since I'm entering government service, I no longer know one.

QUESTION: Ari, does the new president have plans for his first State of the Union and when?

FLEISCHER: Again, we've talked about this a couple times. In the literal sense, there is no State of the Union in the year which you have a -- or the incoming president does not deliver a State of the Union in the year in which they assume office. Historically, there has been an address to a joint session of Congress, if you are invited by the Congress, early in the president's term. That is up to the Congress to invite, but we anticipate a similar event, that tradition will hold.

QUESTION: There's no date set?

FLEISCHER: No date set.

QUESTION: Ari, there's a report today that if there is additional -- if the surplus is larger than it had been thought, that the additional money would be used for Social Security reform. Is that your plan? Is there some, sort of, lockbox being contemplated?

FLEISCHER: No. I noted that report and there is no determinations. Let's wait and see what the new estimates are. The Congressional Budget Office will come out with its new baseline I believe on January 27, and OMB. Of course, we will take a look at all those numbers and that will probably be part of our February submission to the Congress of our economic blueprint.

WATERS: More questions about the economy for the designated White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, holding his daily briefing at the transition office in Washington. Questions today about campaign finance reform because of yesterday's big push by Sens. Feingold and McCain, joined by Thad Cochran, to push for campaign finance reform early in the new administration. Some talks going on between the Bush team and members of Congress on that scare. And, again, Mary Matalin assigned a senior adviser to the incoming vice president, Dick Cheney.

We'll continue to monitor Ari Fleischer's comments and his daily briefings and keep you up to date on what's going on with the transition.

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