THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary September 1, 2000 PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The James S. Brady Briefing Room 1:58 P.M. EDT QUESTION: Any reaction to Bush's comment on NMD announcement? MR. LOCKHART: I saw something; I think his comment generally said that he supported deferment. He made a comment about us not leading on national security issues. I think those comments reflect his political position right now, rather than the facts. I think if you look -- if you go and talk to objective analysts, they'll continue to say that we have the finest fighting force in the world, and our American leadership is - has been continued and sustained throughout the last seven and a half years. Q: Is there an advantage, actually -- you, the President said, you all made clear -- delay was technological reasons, but is it sort of a blessing in disguise? Sandy referred to the fact it gives the next President more time to try to placate the Russians and our allies who have doubts about it, and also it gives the next president time to try to sell this to the American people. MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't -- Q: Was there always some unease at having to go ahead, being pushed into a decision that really the next president was going to have to live with? MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think obviously there's a balance here, and it's somewhat of a balancing act that balances the threat versus the technology within the criteria that the President laid out, and I think the President made quite clear in his speech this morning, that while we're at this point, this decision made the most sense. As far as the consequences and opportunities that that leaves the next President, I don't think that that was central to the decision-making. There are always consequences to a decision; but I don't think that that was a central part of trying to come to this decision about providing further flexibility. I think if we were faced with a different set of facts that would have warranted another decision, that's the way the President would have gone.