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What Are President Bush's Expectations for His Meeting With Mexico's President?Aired January 26, 2001 - 4:42 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: So now we've heard President Fox's expectations for that meeting. Now on to what President Bush expects out of it.
CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us from the White House -- Major.
MAJOR GARRET, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, the first thing to say about this trip is it represents a significant shift in hemispheric relations for this White House. Traditionally, the first visit by a U.S. president within the hemisphere has been with Canada. The last time our president saw a new president was 1993 and a lot has happened since then, namely 1995, the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
What did that do? Well, it transformed trade relations within this hemisphere. No longer is Canada the dominant U.S. trading. Mexico has moved ahead. There are a lot of issues dealing with trade that President Bush wants to discuss with Vicente Fox. Also, as President Fox mentioned, issues dealing with immigration and drug- trafficking.
Vicente Fox represents a seachange in Mexican politics. He, after all, won in July, defeating a candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, a party that had run Mexico for 71 years. The Bush team believes that revolution in Mexican politics is one they can seize and capitalize on, address issues that have gone long since unaddressed or at least unresolved between the U.S. and Mexico. That's on the agenda when President Bush makes his very first trip to Mexico, San Cristobal, on February 16th -- Joie.
CHEN: Major, those are pretty heady topics. Let's talk about something a little bit closer to home today. The president seems to have been pretty quiet on the subject of what happened on the day he first came into office, but there's been a lot of pressure, a lot of questions of what he thinks about those pranks leftover by the Clinton administration? Did he say anything about that today?
GARRET: Well, what he said was, Oh, there may be have been a cartoon on the wall. That's OK, those are exactly his words. Trying to downplay all the controversy. There's been a considerable amount of finger pointing and finally somebody on the record, someone representing the outgoing Clinton White House, Mark Lindsey, who was director of administration for the outgoing White House transition.
He tells CNN that he took a tour of the West Wing and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, two of the spots where some of this alleged vandalism may have taken place. He said he toured both facilities afternoon on Saturday, the day of the inauguration, found no widespread vandalism, found none of the episodes of vandalism that have since been reported this past week.
That's a strong denunciation, at least from the Clinton side, as to all of these vandalism suggestions. They say it's not true. We'll what shakes out from here, but so, far somebody on the record from the Clinton side, saying this has been exaggerated. They saw no evidence of it, and they resent the accusations -- Joie.
CHEN: All right, Major Garrett at the White House.
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