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19 December 1998

CLINTON SAYS DECEMBER 19 HE WILL COMPLETE TERM IN OFFICE

(He hopes for a bipartisan solution in the Senate) (1150)
By Wendy S. Ross
White House Correspondent

Washington -- President Clinton says he will complete the last two
years of his term in office, despite the December 19 vote by the House
of Representatives to send to the Senate two articles of impeachment
against him.

Speaking from the South Lawn of the White House at a televised rally
only hours after the House action, Clinton said he is "still committed
to working with people of good faith and goodwill of both parties to
do what's best for our country -- to bring our nation together; to
lift our people up; to move us all forward together. It's what I've
tried to do for six years; it's what I intend to do for two more,
until the last hour of the last day of my term."

Standing on the podium with Clinton were First Lady Hillary Rodham
Clinton, whose hand he tightly clasped, Vice President Al Gore, House
Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, and Chief of Staff John Podesta.
Flanking them were more than 100 Democratic members of the House of
Representatives, who had come to the White House by car and bus
directly following the voting.

Clinton said Republicans in the House of Representatives had rejected
"a reasonable, bipartisan and proportionate response" for what he had
done wrong in his personal life, for which he had "accepted
responsibility."

He said he hopes "there will be a constitutional and fair means of
resolving this matter in a prompt manner" in the Senate. Under the US
Constitution, articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate for
resolution by that body.

He asked "the American people to move with me -- to go on from here,
to rise above the rancor; to overcome the pain and division; to be a
repairer of the breach -- all of us. To make this country, as one
America, what it can and must be for our children in the new century
about to dawn."

Clinton is only the second President in the history of the United
States to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The first was
Andrew Johnson, who was impeached 130 years ago, but the subsequent
trial in the Senate failed by one vote from removing him from office.

Gore said it was "the saddest day" he had ever seen in the nation's
capital, "because today's vote in the House of Representatives
disregarded the plain wishes and goodwill of the American people, and
the plain meaning of our Constitution.

"Let me say simply: The President has acknowledged that what he did
was wrong, but we must all acknowledge that invoking the solemn power
of impeachment in the cause of partisan politics is wrong. Wrong for
our Constitution; wrong for the United States of America.

"Republican leaders would not even allow the members of the House of
Representatives to cast the vote they wanted to; they were not allowed
to vote their conscience. What happened as a result does a great
disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as
one of our greatest Presidents," Gore said.

Gephardt too spoke out against the way the House Republicans conducted
the impeachment process. "We've just witnessed a partisan vote that
was a disgrace to our country and our Constitution," and "violated the
spirit of our democracy," he said.

The House Minority Leader urged the Congress to "turn away, now, from
the politics of personal destruction, and return to a politics of
values. The American people deserve better than what they've received
over these long five months. They want their Congress to bring this
issue to a speedy, compromised closure. And they want their President,
twice elected to his office, to continue his work fighting for their
priorities," he said.

"The constitutional process about to play out in the United States
Senate will, hopefully, finally be fair and allow us to put an end to
this sad chapter of our history," the House Minority Leader said.

Prior to the South Lawn event, the Democratic members of Congress met
privately with Clinton in the East Room of the White House.

At that meeting, they told Clinton "in clear terms that he cannot and
must not resign, and I heard him very clearly say that he will not
resign," Gephardt told the press as he departed the White House
grounds.

According to Gephardt, the President told the group, "how saddened
this has made him and how sorry he is that we all had to go through
this. He has apologized to us in a very sincere way on a number of
occasions but today was as somber and as genuine and as meaningful as
anything that we have heard in the time that we have been with him,"
Gephardt said. "This is a President who is deeply saddened by what has
happened and what he has caused not just us but the American people."

Clinton did not see as the House voted earlier in the day to approve
the first impeachment article -- testifying falsely before a grand
jury -- because he was in the Oval Office praying with his spiritual
adviser Reverend Tony Campolo, according to a White House press aide.

Douglas Sosnik, Counselor to the President, and Chief of Staff Podesta
told him about that vote. Reverend Campolo then left and Clinton,
Sosnik and Podesta watched the subsequent three votes on television
from the presidential study off the Oval Office.

Clinton was disappointed but not surprised by the results of the
votes, given the way the process had been run up until now, but
despite his disappointment he will continue to work for a bipartisan
solution, the press aide said.

The First Lady visited Capitol Hill early in the morning before the
House began its historic debate. Accompanied by White House Chief of
Staff Podesta, she met with House Democrats in the Cannon House Office
Building. Pinned on her shoulder was a golden American eagle brooch,
symbol of strength and endurance. The meeting was closed to the press.

The First Lady talked about her "profound love and support" for
Clinton. And, "she talked a bit about why," said Chief Deputy
Democratic Whip Chet Edwards of Texas.

He quoted her as saying "We have committed our lives to the values of
quality of opportunity and a better life for the children of America."

When the House votes were cast, aides said Mrs. Clinton was with their
daughter, Chelsea, in the White House family quarters.

The evening of December 19 the Clinton's hosted a long-scheduled
holiday party for hundreds of supporters. Prior to that, the President
in a televised appearance from the Oval Office announced that he had
halted the air strikes on Iraq because "I am confident we have
achieved our mission."

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