Informal Exchange With Reporters

 

January 26, 1988

 

Aid to the Contras

 

Q. Mr. President, are you ready to give a figure on contra aid yet?

 

The President. That's what we're going to discuss this morning, and you'll be hearing about it very soon.

 

Vice President Bush

 

Q. What do you think about last night's encounter between Vice President Bush and Dan Rather?

 

The President. I am only going to talk about the other encounter -- contra aid. [Laughter]

 

Q. Do you think he upstaged your State of the Union last night? [Laughter]

 

The President. No comment.

 

Q. Do you think Rather was too tough on the Vice President?

 

The President. That's, again, no comment.

 

Q. Well, could you tell us what the Vice President said to you in confidence and help clear up some -- [laughter]. You could get him off the hook, Mr. President, by telling us what the Vice President urged you about the Iranian arms sales.

 

The President. No, I think he has been exactly right, that that would set a precedent with regard to private conversations between Presidents and Vice Presidents, and I don't think we have a right to do that.

 

Q. Was he present when Shultz and Weinberger expressed their objections to this arms sale? There's some confusion about that.

 

The President. No, he wasn't.

 

Q. He was not present?

 

The President. No.

 

Israeli Response to Palestinian Protesters

 

Q. Do you think it's civilized to break the arms and legs of protesters?

 

Senator McCain. Are the Sandinistas still doing that? [Laughter]

 

Q. He answered the question. The Sandinistas and the Israelis are doing it.

 

The President. That's one of those questions that if I try to ignore it or something I look hard-hearted. And I'm opposed to violence wherever it's possible to avoid violence.

 

Note: The exchange began at 11:23 a.m. prior to a meeting with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House. Dan Rather interviewed the Vice President on the CBS Evening News on January 25. John McCain was a Senator from Arizona.