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Clinton Opposes Slavery Reparations

But he says he's considering an apology for slavery

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 17) -- President Bill Clinton says he does not favor compensating the victims of slavery, because the nation is so many generations removed from that era that reparations for black Americans may not be possible.

But Clinton, in a radio interview that aired Monday, said he would still consider extending an apology to African Americans for their ancestors' suffering. Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) proposed the idea last week.

"I think it has to be dealt with," Clinton told the American Urban Radio Network. "There's still some unfinished business out there among black and white Americans."

Clinton said rather than reparations, the nation needs to continue to work to erase the effects of past discrimination. Over the weekend, the president called for a new national dialogue on race, saying the nation should strive to become a "truly multiracial democracy."

Clinton elaborated, too, on why he has undertaken the race relations initiative, and he urged skeptics to join the effort.

"If we can pull this off, the United States will be by far the best positioned country in the global society of the 21st century," Clinton said. "And if we act like we don't have to think about it 'til the wheel runs off, there is a chance the wheel will run off. And even if it doesn't, we will never be what we ought to be.

"That is what this whole thing is about," Clinton said. "So I ask you, go out there and tell people, if they want to be cynical, skeptical, say, 'I don't know if it will amount to anything, I don't know about that Clinton, he has to have something to do in his second term,' whatever they are saying out there. Let them say it, tell them to participate anyway, saddle up. They don't have anything to lose by trying."

Also on Monday, Clinton appeared at two fund-raising dinners for black and Jewish supporters, netting the cash-strapped Democratic National Committee (DNC) $700,000.

The party, under investigation for fund-raising excesses last year, faces a $16 million debt. Party leaders plan to return $3 million in questionable donations, but have had to postpone doing so until they raise more money.

At the dinner for black supporters, couples gave $10,000 each; the price was $25,000 per couple at the second dinner, a shared fund-raiser between the DNC and the National Jewish Democratic Council.

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