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Clinton Previews State Of The Union Address

Voinovich, Gore, Clinton

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 3) -- In a meeting with the nation's governors, President Bill Clinton previewed elements of tomorrow's State of the Union address, pledging to address issues important to the states.

Clinton told the National Governors Association, meeting in Washington, D.C., "In the State of the Union address tomorrow night, I'm going to lay out the challenges that I see not only for the president and the Congress, but also for the states and local communities and private citizens."

Clinton will deliver the State of the Union at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, before a joint session of Congress. He invited the governors to attend, as "there will be a great deal in that speech about the states, and the issues of education and welfare reform."

As a former governor, the president seemed to feel at home with his former colleagues. He took a practice run at outlining the broad points of the administration's 1998 budget, which Clinton will also summarize in his national address.


Clinton told the governors one new initiative he plans to unveil in the State of the Union would be vouchers so that poor children will have health insurance.

Bipartisanship is expected to be another State of the Union theme. The president said today that they may not always agree, but both parties have to work together on domestic issues.

"I want you [the governors] to feel that you can always call this White House and will have, even if we don't agree, someone who understands your concerns and will do his best to address them," Clinton said.

Ohio's Gov. George Voinovich (R) echoed the sentiment. "I think that all of us recognize that if we're going to be successful, we have to work together, that we do have a symbiotic relationship with each other," he said. (544K AIFF or WAV sound)

Welfare, Medicaid, the new federal clean-air standards and federal highway spending topped the agenda for this year's governors' meeting held this past weekend in Washington. Clinton told the group he would concentrate on those issues as well.

"I know that many of you have concerns about welfare reform, or Medicaid spending, or education and the environment, transportation. I'm looking forward to addressing those concerns beginning today at this meeting, but also every day for the next four years," Clinton said.


Welfare reform raged as the hottest topic at this weekend's conference. Sunday, the association asked Congress to find ways to restore disability and food stamp benefits to legal immigrants who will lose them when new welfare laws take effect this summer. The request stopped short of saying that changes to the recently-enacted federal law were needed.

Most governors, both Republican and Democratic, emerged from the meeting upbeat. Some said they were willing to give the president a chance to prove that his proposed Medicaid spending caps could work.

Nevada's Gov. Bob Miller (D) praised the Clinton Administration's efforts to improve federal-state relations, citing improvements in the operation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Anthony Collins contributed to this report.

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