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Clinton, Bush Boost A Volunteer Summit

By Wolf Blitzer/CNN


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 24) -- Two presidents, a Democrat and a Republican, came to the East Room of the White House to announce plans for a three-day conference in Philadelphia in April to promote volunteerism.

President Bill Clinton and former President George Bush were joined in the announcement by Vice President Al Gore and retired Gen. Colin Powell.

The message of the day was bipartisanship, although having Gore and Powell on the same stage created some speculation about presidential politics in the year 2000.

Sources close to Powell dismissed talk that he's thinking about the race, although sources say it's very much on Gore's mind.

On this day, though, Gore spoke of the need to work together. The vice president recalled his boss' call for bipartisanship in Monday's inaugural address.

"And with those words the president voiced a sentiment shared by so many Americans: enough partisanship, enough bickering. Join together, get on with the public's business," Gore said.

Powell, who will chair the volunteerism conference, echoed those thoughts.

"This is about Americans getting off the sidelines and getting onto the playing field," Powell said. "This is about each and every one of us who have been blessed by the wealth of this country sharing that blessing by reaching down and reaching back and lifting up somebody in need. That's what America is all about. That's what being American is all about."

Clinton is known to be a big fan of Powell, even though the retired general has joined the Republican Party and is seen as perhaps the strongest Republican presidential candidate in the year 2000.


Said Clinton: "General, we're grateful that you're joining us, and I remember well when you had your retirement ceremony, you said that you were going to devote more of your life to helping young people to have better lives and better futures. There is nothing, nothing you could do that would have a bigger impact on that goal than this, and we are very grateful to you, sir."

Bush also suggested getting beyond politics.

Joining together for the volunteerism summit, Bush said, "sends a simple and a strong message, and that is, that when it comes to addressing many of the problems we face as a nation, it isn't a question of partisan politics, one side against another. It's a question of all pulling together for the common good."

When he was in the White House, Bush launched his volunteer Thousand Points of Light Foundation. And he's now returned to help Clinton launch this new initiative.

The conference will be April 27-29 and is expected to attract about 1,500 people.

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