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19 December 1998

TRANSCRIPT: CLINTON, GORE, GEPHARDT ON IMPEACHMENT VOTE DEC. 19

(President indicates he intends to complete his term)  (2020)

Washington -- President Clinton indicated soon after the House of
Representatives voted to impeach him that he intends to continue in
office "until the last hour of the last day of my term."

In a December 19 appearance on the South Lawn of the White House with
Vice President Gore and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
(Democrat-Missouri), Clinton said: "I am 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."

The President also said: "We must stop the politics of personal
destruction. We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive
partisanship, obsessive animosity, and uncontrolled anger. That is not
what America deserves. That is not what America is about."

Following is the White House transcript:

(begin transcript)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

December 19, 1998

STATEMENTS BY THE PRESIDENT,
THE VICE PRESIDENT,
CONGRESSMAN RICHARD GEPHARDT,
AND CHIEF OF STAFF JOHN PODESTA

The South Grounds

4:15 P.M. EST

MR. PODESTA: On behalf of the President and the First Lady, the Vice
President and Mrs. Gore, the White House and the entire
administration, I want to thank the members who came here today, and
all the members who stood with you on the floor of the House over the
past several days.

Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. Thank you for
standing up for fairness. Thank you for standing up for the American
people. Thank you for standing up for the Constitution. And thank you
for doing so with dignity and determination, passion and patriotism.

I would like to introduce a man who has done so much for our country,
a great leader, a great friend to the American people, Congressman
Dick Gephardt.

CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, First Lady
Hillary Clinton: We've just witnessed a partisan vote that was a
disgrace to our country and our Constitution. Chairman Henry Hyde once
called impeachment, the ultimate weapon, and said that, for it to
succeed, ultimately it has to be bipartisan. The fact that a vote as
important as this occurred in such a partisan way violated the spirit
of our democracy.

We must 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.

The Democratic Caucus in the House will continue to stand alongside
our President, and we will work to enact the agenda that we were sent
here to pass. We look forward to supporting his agenda in the upcoming
session of Congress.

The President has demonstrated his effectiveness as a national and
world leader, in the face of intense and unprecedented negative
attacks by his opponents. I am confident that he will continue to do
so for the rest of his elected term of office.

Despite the worst efforts of the Republican leadership in the House,
the Constitution will bear up under the strain, and our nation will
survive. 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.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor to present our great Vice
President of these United States, Al Gore.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Leader. To you and to
David Bonior, and to the entire Democratic Caucus leadership, thank
you for what you have done for our country. I would also like to
single out for special thanks and praise, Congressman John Conyers and
all of the members of the Judiciary Committee who are present here
today.

And to you, Dick Gephardt, I would like to repeat a judgment that I
made to the smaller group earlier. You and I came here on the same
day, 22 years ago, and in all that time, I don't believe I have heard
a finer speech on the floor of the House of Representatives than the
one that you delivered this morning.

But in all that time, I do believe, this is the saddest day I have
seen in our 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.

There is no doubt in my mind that the verdict of history will undo the
unworthy judgment rendered a short while ago in the United States
Capitol. But we do not have to wait for history. Instead, let us live
up to the ideals of this season -- let us reach out to one another and
reach out for what is best in ourselves, our history and our country.
Let us heal this land -- not tear it apart. Let us move forward -- not
toward bitter and angry division.

Our founders anticipated that there might be a day like this one, when
excessive partisanship unlocked a form of vitriol and vehemence that
hurts our nation. We all know that a process that wounds good people
in both parties does no service to this country. What America needs is
not resignations, but the renewal of civility, respect for one
another, decency toward each other, and the certain belief that
together we can serve this land and make a better life for all of our
people.

That is what President Clinton has done. That is what he is doing, and
that is what he will continue to do for the next two years.

I feel extremely privileged to have been able to serve with him as his
partner for the past six years. And I look forward to serving with him
for the next two years. I have seen him close at hand, day after day,
making the most important decisions about peace, prosperity, and our
future; and making them always by asking what is right for the
American people, what is right for all of the American people.

I know him. I know his wonderful First Lady. I know his heart and his
will. And I have seen his work. Six years ago, he was left with the
highest budget deficit in history, and he ended it. Six years ago, he
was handed a failing economy. Today, because of his leadership, we're
on the verge of the longest period of peacetime prosperity in all of
American history. And I know nothing will stop him from doing the job
that the American people sent him here to do.

I say to you today, President William Jefferson Clinton will continue
and will complete his mission on behalf of the American people.

I'm proud to present to you my friend, America's great President, Bill
Clinton.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Good afternoon. Let me begin by expressing my profound and heartfelt
thanks to Congressman Gephardt and the leadership and all the members
of the Democratic Caucus for what they did today. I thank the few
brave Republicans who withstood enormous pressure to stand with them
for the plain meaning of the Constitution, and for the proposition
that we need to pull together, to move beyond partisanship, to get on
with the business of our country.

I thank the millions upon millions of American citizens who have
expressed their support and their friendship to Hillary, to me, to our
family, and to our administration during these last several weeks.

The words of the members here with me, and others who were a part of
their endeavor, in defense of our Constitution, were powerful and
moving, and I will never forget them. The question is, what are we
going to do now?

I have accepted responsibility for what I did wrong in my personal
life. And I have invited members of Congress to work with us to find a
reasonable, bipartisan and proportionate response. That approach was
rejected today by Republicans in the House. But I hope it will be
embraced by the Senate. I hope there will be a constitutional and fair
means of resolving this matter in a prompt manner.

Meanwhile, I will continue to do the work of the American people. We
still, after all, have to save Social Security and Medicare for the
21st century. We have to give all our children world-class schools. We
have to pass a patients' bill of rights. We have to make sure the
economic turbulence around the world does not curb our economic
opportunity here at home. We have to keep America the world's
strongest force for peace and freedom. In short, we have a lot to do
before we enter the 21st century.

And we still have to keep working to build that elusive "one America"
I have talked so much about. For six years now, I have done everything
I could to bring our country together across the lines that divide us,
including bringing Washington together across party lines. Out in the
country, people are pulling together. But just as America is coming
together, it must look -- from the country's point of view -- like
Washington is coming apart.

I want to echo something Mr. Gephardt said. It is something I have
felt strongly all my life. We must stop the politics of personal
destruction. We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive
partisanship, obsessive animosity, and uncontrolled anger. That is not
what America deserves. That is not what America is about.

We are doing well now. We are a good and decent country. But we have
significant challenges we have to face. In order to do it right, we
have to have some atmosphere of decency and civility, some presumption
of good faith, some sense of proportionality and balance in bringing
judgment against those who are in different parties. We have important
work to do. We need a constructive debate that has all the different
voices in this country heard in the halls of Congress.

I want the American people to know today that I am 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.

So, with profound gratitude for the defense of the Constitution and
the best in America that was raised today by the members here and
those who joined them, I ask 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.

Thank you very much.

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rd 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. So, with profound gratitude for the defense of the Constitution and the best in America that was raised today by the members here and those who joined them, I ask 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. Thank you very much.

Return to Main Page Millat

   Sponsor this site   

TOP OF SCREEN
1998 Green World Publishers Inc.
Send your comments to editor@millat.com