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McCurry Has Left The Building

President Clinton's top spokesman held his last press briefing Thursday, saying he's off to the golf course and looking forward to making some real money.

CBS News Correspondent Jonathan Freed reports that while Mike McCurry endured months of withering questioning by Washington's toughest reporters, he managed to retain their respect.

Most people would rather be shot out of a cannon at the circus than do what Mike McCurry's done for the past three and half years.

"Most of the time I feel that I'm double-parked in a no-comment zone," McCurry once said and indeed, facing down the White House press corps every day can be like walking a political tightrope without a net.

Mike McCurry has managed to do what many of his predecessors have not: maintain the respect of the media, and the public -- while not taking himself too seriously.

McCurry stayed on at the White House longer than planned to help the administration with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. To avoid being consumed by the controversy, McCurry intentionally took himself out of the inner loop so he could truthfully duck certain questions.

It frustrated reporters. On his last day, playing to a standing room only crowd, he insisted it was necessary to protect the President.

"He would have, in effect, forfeited his attorney-client privilege," said McCurry. "He would have been an open, sitting duck for Ken Starr."

McCurry wrapped it all up by saying that he always tried to remember that it was the American people who he was working for.

On Friday, the new photo on the proverbial press corps dartboard will be of Joe Lockhart. He's been McCurry's deputy, and he was also the spokesperson for the Clinton re-election campaign in '96.

Reported by Jonathan Freed
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