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Clinton remembers Ruff as loyal friend, ally, citizen

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton attended a memorial service Saturday for one of his closest allies during his impeachment, remembering White House counsel Charles Ruff as a much-loved, even-tempered man who served the United States with love and wisdom.

"Every single day," Clinton said, "I was so profoundly grateful that my counsel was so strong and wise and good, and that he believed so profoundly in our Constitution and rule of law."

Ruff was the president's chief defender during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment and served as a Watergate special prosecutor. He died last month from heart disease at age 61.

"He never sought the spotlight," said Clinton, "but when the moment came, he certainly shined."

Ruff never lost his cool, even at the height of the impeachment ordeal, Clinton said. Instead, he said, Ruff was a source of support, especially to younger White House staff members.

He was also faithful to the nation's capital, his hometown.

"I wish so much that every person out there on the streets of Washington, D.C., whom he loved could know just a portion of what he labored to do for them," said the president.

Ruff, confined to a wheelchair since contracting a mysterious infection in Africa in the 1960s, was "equal parts grace and guts," Clinton said.

"He had more moves than Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan and, when he teed it up, he could hit any ball further than Tiger Woods because he was so intensely committed to doing right and doing good," the president said.

A host of Clinton Cabinet members joined Ruff's family and friends for the service at the National Cathedral.


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Saturday, December 16, 2000


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