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CNN Today

Now and Then: President Clinton to Give State of the Union With More Political Strength, More Urgency

Aired January 27, 2000 - 1:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: President Clinton will go up to Congress, this evening, to do something he'll never do again. In his seventh State of the Union speech, Mr. Clinton will lay out his plans for his final year in office, and those plans include some $350 billion in tax cuts. The cuts will be aimed in part at encouraging retirement savings and charitable giving. As usual, there will be many other plans and proposals, but unlike last year, the president's political footing is firm, lame duck or no.

CNN's Chris Black explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, I stand before you tonight to report that the state of our union is strong.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS BLACK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The union may have been strong last year, but the president had been impeached by the House and was on trial in the Senate. One year later:

CLINTON: The thing I regret most, except for doing the wrong thing, is misleading the American people about it. I do not regret the fact that I fought the independent counsel.

BLACK: Following his acquittal in the Senate, there was an impeachment hangover on Capitol Hill. The president had mixed success on domestic issues and found himself preoccupied by international affairs, particularly the war over Kosovo. As year eight begins, he is still setting the political agenda. Polling shows his job performance rating consistently higher than any other president since World War II.

ALLAN LICHTMAN, HISTORY PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: As Herbert Hoover once said, the president gets the credit for the sunshine and the blame for the rain. As long as the economic sun keeps shining, President Clinton is going to be riding high in the polls and is going to have a lot of clout when it comes to dealing with Congress.

BLACK: A president concerned about legacy and redemption is now spending his political capital on initiatives from protecting the Grand Canyon to setting new emission standards for SUVs.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER: He may be a lame duck, but he's still quacking. He's -- he is -- his State of the Union this week will, I think, demonstrate that he continues to hold an enormous -- a set of powerful tools in his hand as president.

BLACK: Mr. Clinton is recycling big initiatives Congress did not approve last year: prescription drug coverage for seniors, health insurance and lower taxes for the working poor, tax breaks to make college and long-term care more affordable for the middle class, and using the surplus to wipe out the national debt by 2013.

(on camera): He may be recycling some of these proposals from 1999, but the year 2000 models are bigger and grander, reflecting renewed political strength and the urgency of a president running out of time.

Chris Black, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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