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Democratic National Convention: President Clinton Touts Economy, Praises Gore in Keynote Address

Aired August 14, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The long-awaited hour for Democratic delegates is here, at their first night's session.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: First Hillary Rodham Clinton not leaving the spotlight, then President Clinton in one of the most important speeches of his life.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight from Los Angeles, the 43rd Democratic National Convention. The party of Jackson and Roosevelt is back in the city that launched the campaign of John F. Kennedy. For 5,000 conventioneers, the task is tradition: nominating candidates for president and vice president of the United States. But their goal is transition, a transfer of the White House keys won by Johnson, Carter and Clinton to yet another Democratic son of the South.

Now from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, here are CNN's Bernard Shaw, Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield.

SHAW: Seldom has William Jefferson Clinton worked so long and so hard on a speech he is prepared to deliver tonight.

WOODRUFF: Given longer speeches, his staff says. In fact, we were just talking to Leon Panetta, who's going to be joining us a little bit later, and he said, well, I'm happy to be up here with you all, he said, but in a way I'd like to be over there on the stage telling him to get off when he has to get off.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: It's really symbolic of a larger point, I think, that this president, from the time he was a candidate, would stay and talk to people, as he would put it, until the last dog died. His staff would literally have to drag him out of halls, because he believed if he talked to every person in America, sooner or later he could persuade them.

Tonight, his job is to persuade the country to turn to his vice president, Al Gore, and in effect give him the third term that the 22nd Amendment forbids him from seeking.

SHAW: And in a way, this is a kind of State of the Union address.


SHAW: With all the particulars.

GREENFIELD: Well we know already, Judy and Bernie, the president is going to list in detail some of the accomplishments. He's going to tell us about the prosperity and why specific programs of his helped make this prosperity the longest in American history. And the argument's going to be, if you want it to continue, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are your guys.

WOODRUFF: And the point of that, much of that, is to defend the Democrats, defend his administration against the onslaught that was delivered at the Republican convention, when point after point from Dick Cheney and George W. Bush was we had their chance -- they had their chance. Eight years, they have not led, we will. We heard the refrain.

GREENFIELD: I think you're going to -- well, I don't think, because we know. These excerpts were given to us. The argument's going to be, much like George Bush tried to say about the end of the Cold War, he said that Soviet communism didn't fall, it was pushed. President Clinton is going to say about the economy, it didn't happen by accident. It wasn't just a force of nature. We helped make it happen with our programs. And that's why when the Republicans tell you not to worry about prosperity, you have to ask where they were when we were building this prosperity. That's the centerpiece of their argument.

WOODRUFF: Our correspondent Frank Sesno down on the floor with Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and some questions -- Frank.

SESNO: Well, we are down here on the floor now with Alexis Herman, the labor secretary, responding and discussing some concern that was expressed earlier today regarding Joseph Lieberman on the part of many of the African-American delegates who are attending this convention, specifically on his position over affirmative action and a discussion that took place some time ago. You are being dispatched, as well as others, to set the record straight. First, what is the nature of the concerns?

ALEXIS HERMAN, LABOR SECRETARY: The nature of the concern essentially has to do with a language that was a part of the dialogue on mend it, don't end it here in California. But we are intending to let everyone know that Joe Lieberman has been very solid on the whole issue today of affirmative action. He supported the president's position of mend it, don't end it.

SESNO: So you have been dispatched along with others to set this record straight because your concerned was?

HERMAN: Those of who know Joe Lieberman know that he has a strong civil rights history. We know he's had very solid votes in the United States Congress in support of the affirmative action programs, and we believe it's important to get that information out, to get the record out. So Eleanor Holmes Norton, John Lewis, many of us are communicating with our delegates so they know what a terrific leader Joe Lieberman is. SESNO: Is it not the case, though, that when Ward Connerly, an African-American himself here in California, called and organized the proposition that would end affirmative action in the state, that Joe Lieberman did, in fact, express at least interest in it?

HERMAN: I think what Joe Lieberman said was when he read the language, the language on the surface seemed not to be inappropriate. Because if you will remember, the language talked about embracing equal opportunity for all Americans. On the surface, it sounded very good. But on a closer review and a closer examination of what the full intent and impact was, it was not something that Senator Lieberman ended up embracing. In fact, he supported the president's position of mend it, don't end it. That is where the confusion lies.

SESNO: And we're hearing elsewhere that Lieberman will address congressional black members, or black members of this convention tomorrow.

HERMAN: Joe Lieberman will be addressing the black caucus delegates here at this convention tomorrow, and I believe he will speak directly to his record, to the fact that he marched with Dr. King as a part of the '63 march, that he has been very strong and very solid on opening opportunities for all Americans.

SESNO: Alexis Herman, thank you very much.

For more from the floor then, Jeanne Meserve.

MESERVE: I'm here with Congressman Mel Watt of North Carolina.

You were a participant in this meeting this afternoon. How did the subject of Mr. Lieberman's record on affirmative action come up?

REP. MEL WATT (D), NORTH CAROLINA: A press person raised it, and it was not a big deal as far as I'm concerned. I mean...

MESERVE: What was the response of the panel when this was raised?

WATT: There was no response, other than we thought Lieberman compared to Cheney is like the difference between day and night. And then I tried to turn the discussion back to the primary purpose of the meeting, but there was no confrontation of any kind.

MESERVE: Do you have problems with his record on affirmative action?

WATT: No, I don't know that he has a record on affirmative action. He's taken a position expressing concern about affirmative action. But...

MESERVE: Does that cause you problems?

WATT: ... if I started listing all the things I had problems with Dick Cheney about, I'd be here the rest of the day. So I don't know why this becomes a big issue at this point. Our vice presidential nominee is completely satisfactory on 90, 95 percent of the issues, and I don't know why this is being made an issue by any press people, which seems to me to be what this is all about at this point.

MESERVE: Is Mr. Lieberman going to come and address the black caucus tomorrow?

WATT: I have no idea. I'm not the chair of the black caucus. I'm sure he'll be invited, and I'm sure he'll accept the invitation. But I don't know when that will happen.

MESERVE: Mel Watt, thanks so much for joining us from North Carolina.

Back now to the booth.

WOODRUFF: It is interesting that there may be African-American delegates here who haven't been satisfied yet with regard to Joe Lieberman's record.

SHAW: This is not a monolithic group of delegates, delegates in the hall, we in our booth, everybody is watching the clock, because we're talking about prime time -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, we remember how the Republican Party ran its convention as though it were a moon shot, to the second. Even George W. Bush was off the air at 11:00. They have attempted to put Hillary and then Bill Clinton into prime time, when the broadcast networks cover, ending at 11:00 when many people begin to go to sleep.

Well, we now are told that Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak at about 18 minutes after the hour, which is about 12 to 15 minutes later. And that is going to push her husband's speech at least 15 minutes past prime-time, if he speaks for as little as he's supposed to, which the president has almost never done in his life.

SHAW: And, Judy, we haven't calculated demonstrations, nor have we calculated applause.

GREENFIELD: Well they tried.

WOODRUFF: They may be banking on the fact that Bill Clinton has been known to hold an audience in his lifetime. But we'll see how far that can be tested.

John King, you are down on the floor.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. Great anticipation down here, first for the first lady, then for the president. Many of the whips down here on the floor have been complaining that the program is running late, some of them even being critical of the fact that early on, you'll remember -- perhaps we didn't show them on our air, but when we had many guests -- there were long musical interludes. There was no action on the podium. Now the program running 30 minutes behind. Looks like the president could slip way back. He'll certainly keep the attention of those in this hall, but his most important audience is the audience watching around the nation, as he tries to rebut the Bush speech to the Republican National Convention, offer his endorsement of Vice President Al Gore. The president certainly running late here, as we get closer to the first lady.

It will be fine inside the hall, the question is how will it affect the Democratic campaign and the strategy to convey the message of this president to the American people?

SHAW: John, any indication that the convention planners might just say to the senators, please, let's stop, let's continue this maybe tomorrow, but let's get the first lady and the president on prime time?

KING: No, Bernie, it appears they're going straight through the program. We do know in the earlier discussion, you had Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Governor Gary Locke of Washington in a discussion with working people, the real people this convention wants to beam around the country. We know they were told to try to speed it up, but that program took quite a bit of time, too. Hard to speed it up when you want to speak to each of the individuals on the program. They don't want to insult any of them.

Again, though, the Democrats wandering off their program. That's not unusual at Democratic conventions. It happens quite frequently, but on opening night it means the president's speech will run well past 11:00 on the East Coast.

WOODRUFF: John King, just one other question. We know at the Republican convention, there's no question that the George W. Bush campaign was calling the shots. To what extent is the Al Gore campaign calling the shots here at this convention?

KING: Oh, the Al Gore campaign is in complete charge of this convention. All of the senior officials at the convention, most of them came out of the DNC or Democratic organizations around the country, but only with the explicit approval of the Gore campaign. They are in charge of the podium, just as the Bush campaign was in charge of the podium. They're just not keeping as disciplined a schedule.

WOODRUFF: All right.

SHAW: And on that podium, Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Bernie, I just saw Terry McAuliffe, he's the chairman of this convention. He was obviously very upset, because he said, in his words, they're running about 12 minutes behind schedule. That may not seem like a big deal, as we point out to a lot of viewers out there, a lot of people out there. It's a huge deal here, in fact, if they go beyond the 11:00 p.m. Eastern time zone. They've been very anxious all along to try to keep it within this prime time, within 11:00. If you can see over here, standing in this aisle, the first lady will be walking through here momentarily, after she's introduced by Barbara Mikulski. And as she walks by, maybe she'll stop and say hello. We'll see.

SHAW: And, Judy and Jeff, do you suppose that George McGovern is either in the hall or watching this and saying to Bill Clinton, I feel your pain?

GREENFIELD: His speech was about around sunrise semester.

When we come back, while we wait for action inside the hall, we're going to go outside the hall for a report on the demonstrations in a minute.


GREENFIELD: For months, Los Angeles has been concerned about the issue of demonstrators. How many? How peaceful?

Right now, we're going to go to our Martin Savidge, who is with protesters outside Staples Center -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jeff, we're located on a platform that is over the official demonstration area, just outside, about 100 feet away from the Staples Center.

On stage in the background now is a rock group performing that is called Rage Against the Machine. The group was formed in this city in 1991. It's a combination of punk rock, rap music and other forms of heavy metal. It's also a rock group that performs music that's very heavily motivated, both from the political scene and from the activist scene. Many of those people in the background have been involved in the political demonstrations that have been forming in this city for the past few days. You can hear and perhaps even see they have the ability to get a crowd very riled up, and that is the concern for police officers.

There is a very heavy presence of police force from the LAPD here. The area is surrounded on three sides by a 12-foot-high fence and cement barriers. So it is very, very secure from the way it looks now. But the concerns for the Secret Service, the concern for the police department, is if anything should change. So far, it has been very peaceful. I say that ironically with the noise in the background, but the demonstrations have for the most part been peaceful.

There were about six arrests today. The World Trade -- anti- World Trade Organization protests that took place earlier were feared could have some consequences. They did not materialize, and apparently all those protesting here have cooperated with the idea right now to stay away from civil disobedience. But they are very concerned about how this concert goes tonight, and especially how it may end -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, Martin. At this point, at least, we're not talking about Chicago 1968 in any way, shape or form. We want to make clear that that crowd is large but so far peaceful.

WOODRUFF: But a real mixture of motives here, I mean, all the way from, you know, anti-poverty, the administration ought to be doing more for poor people, to protesting, as they did today, Al Gore's connections in stock investments in Occidental Petroleum. I mean, it's across the spectrum.

SHAW: Including the World Trade Organization.

GREENFIELD: In fact, one of the groups here are protesting meat. They are people who want meat taxed because they think it is unhealthy food and it's harmful to animals.

It is very much like the Seattle protests in the sense that there is no one cause that brings them, unlike, say, the anti-Vietnam protests, where it was the war, the war, the war.

WOODRUFF: And there was some speculation, I think, that after Philadelphia, maybe Los Angeles would also not fizzle but just be smaller. But people kept saying, you don't know Southern California. There are a lot of people here. Every group from the ones you mentioned -- and you mentioned all the way to the anarchists -- who may or may not decide they want to step outside the boundaries of what the police have said they can do.

SHAW: What's interesting is part of the backdrop to all this was the demonstrators going to a federal judge and getting a court order which, in effect, enabled the demonstrators to be moved closer to the Staples Arena.

GREENFIELD: And to show you the concern, one of my friends talked with a group of laborers on Saturday whose job it was to make sure the bricks in the pavement were secured because of the fear that, well, many some of the more radical demonstrators would pull bricks up and start to throw them.

There's no question that this is a much more apprehensive city than Philadelphia was.

WOODRUFF: No question.

SHAW: And I'm a gardener, and my heart went out to the shrubs and the saplings that were taken up, pulled out of the ground because police feared they might be used as weapons. They're gone. But the city says it will replant them.

WOODRUFF: We're going to go down to the floor right now. We mentioned a minute ago they're running behind. Let's see what's going on at the podium.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: ... Gore and get assault weapons off the streets of America.

WOODRUFF: California Senator -- senior senator, Dianne Feinstein.

FEINSTEIN: Do we really think sensible gun laws...

WOODRUFF: Just about wrapping up what tonight has been a tribute to the nine -- to the Democratic women in the United States Senate.

SHAW: And the other senator from California, Barbara Boxer, will be along very, very shortly, and she will be introducing very nearly, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And the president continues waiting in the wings.

GREENFIELD: Barbara Boxer has a relation by marriage to Hillary Rodham Clinton's family. I think that may have been one of the reasons for the introduction. But it really brings to mind Will Rodgers famous quote, I'm a member of no organized party, I'm a Democrat.

If the Republicans were running 15-20 minutes behind on the opening day of their convention, I shudder to think what would happen to the poor operative responsible for it.

WOODRUFF: It would be a painful punishment, I think.

SHAW: On this crowded convention floor, Candy Crowley has a New Yorker.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I do, Bernie. But I tell you, it wasn't easy getting to him.

Senator Charles Schumer, thank you for joining us.

You're awaiting someone you hope will join you in the Senate?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I sure do. And I think this is going to be a great speech. She asked me this morning what she should do -- we've talked about it before. I said, I have three words of advice: issues, issues, issues. Where Hillary Clinton predominates over Rick Lazio, after all the sturm and drang is simple: on issues, she's much closer to New York working families, putting prescription drugs in Medicare, making college tuitions tax deductible, getting a handle on energy and gasoline prices. She talks to the average family.

CROWLEY: But she's also, as you know, not a New Yorker. How much does it hurt to have her in L.A. out here with sort of a national podium as opposed to back in New York?

SCHUMER: Any politician would give their right arm to address the convention in prime-time.

CROWLEY: Now Rick Lazio said he didn't want to do it.

SCHUMER: I think Hillary Clinton's got more to say than Rick Lazio. She can use it as a great opportunity or squander it. If she talks about issues, talks to the average New Yorker and what she's going to do to make their lives better, it's a home run for her.

CROWLEY: One last one: Who wins by how much? Two percent.

SCHUMER: Hillary, 2 percent.

CROWLEY: OK, let's go back to the booth.

WOODRUFF: We're interrupting the conversation there with Charles Schumer to show you the Democratic women in the United States Senate, seven of them, if I'm not mistaken.

GREENFIELD: And a couple who want to join them, including Debbie Stabenow, who's a congresswoman from Michigan running against Spencer Abraham. And, as you might have heard, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

WOODRUFF: The one in the blue suit we see standing right there on the edge of the stage. I think somebody's explaining to her why she's a little bit later in the program than she was supposed to be.

SHAW: And Maryland's Barbara Mikulski will actually introduce the first lady. I misspoke saying Barbara Boxer would do it.

WOODRUFF: I believe Barbara Mikulski may be the senior woman serving in the United -- in the Senate, so perhaps that's it.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: And, my friends, we will have more Democratic women in the United States Senate, including a woman, a very special woman who has dedicated her life to being an advocate for children, a fighter for health care for all Americans, a voice for women at home and around the world.

Right now, she's the first lady of the United States. And in November, she'll be the first lady ever to be the first woman from the state of New York -- Hillary Rodham Clinton.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Thank you. Thank you so very much.


Thank you. Thank you all so much. And thanks to Senator Mikulski and all the women senators.

AUDIENCE: We want Hillary! We want Hillary! We want Hillary!

H. CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Let me thank all of you, let me thank you, and let me thank all of our Democratic women senators who brought their vital voices and their fresh perspectives to our public life.

It is so great to be here with all of you and with my mother and my family and to see so many old friends. And thank you, thank you for supporting my husband, whose visionary leadership and hard work led America into the 21st century.


We are a stronger, better country than we were in 1992.


You know, when Bill and Al and Tipper and I got on that bus after the 1992 convention we began a journey that took us into the heartland of America. Along the way we saw faces of hope, but also faces of despair. Fathers out of work. Mothers trapped on welfare. Children with unmet medical needs.

I remember a group of children holding a sign that said, "Please stop. If you give us eight minutes, we'll give you eight years." And we did stop, and we did listen, and what an eight years it has been.


I am so proud to stand here at this extraordinary moment: the most peaceful, prosperous, promising time in our nation's history. Now how can we continue America's progress? By electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the next president and vice president of the United States.


You know, even before he was vice president, I admired Al for his leadership in the Senate, his understanding of the future, his pioneering efforts to fight environmental threats that affected our children, his work with Tipper to promote responsible parenting -- and what great parents the two of them are. I've watched him as Bill's trusted partner in the White House. Together they made the hard decisions, to renew our nation's economy and our national spirit, to advance democracy, and defend freedom around the world.

And I can't wait until we watch Al Gore take the oath of office on January 20, 2001.


And standing next to him will be his wonderful wife and my dear friend, who inspires us through her work for the homeless and for advocacy on behalf of mental health. Tipper Gore will make a great first lady.


And the country...


... and the country has seen again Al Gore's leadership in his choice of Joe Lieberman. I first...


... I first met Joe 30 years ago...


... when Bill and I were law students. We saw then what America sees now: a person of common wisdom integrity. I admire Joe's work to reduce the violence in our media. And I appreciate his steadfast support for a woman's right to chose.


And with him is his remarkable wife, Hadasseh, the immigrant daughter of Holocaust survivors. Their story tells our children that in America no dream is beyond our reach.

You know in 1992, Bill and Al promised to put people first. That simply meant that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours and give them the tools and opportunities they need to build better lives.

That's the basic bargain at the heart of the American dream.

From a stronger economy, to more Americans attending college, to a cleaner environment, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have put people first. And not only that, they put children first as well.


More children lifted out of poverty. More children receiving Head Start, child care and after-school care. More children than ever getting immunized against disease. More children whose parents can take family and medical leave to care for them. And more neglected and abused foster children being adopted into loving, permanent homes.

Children like Diana, who came to a White House ceremony I held spotlighting the needs of children in foster care. Just 12 years old, not much younger than Chelsea at the time, she spent most of her life moving from house to house. She was so shy she could barely look up as she spoke of her longing for a home and family of her own.

As I listened I thought, "How can we let any child grow up in our country without a secure and loving home?"

I worked with a bipartisan coalition to help double the number of foster children adopted. And when the president signed the new adoption law, I thought of the first foster child I represented back when I was in law school.

I thought of what my own mother went through in her life as a child born to teenage parents who couldn't take care of her. And when she was 8, she and her little sister were sent alone on a train across the country to stay with relatives. At 14, she went to work caring for a family's children. And fortunately, her employer was a kind woman who saw her true worth and showed her what a loving family was really like.

And I thought of Diana, whom I have seen blossom into a beaming, confident young woman because caring parents opened their hearts and home to her. She finally had what every child needs: a family that puts her first. And for me, that's what it's all about.

Years ago, when I worked for the Children's Defense Fund, we had a trademark: Leave no child behind. And we've made great progress in the last eight years...


... but we still have a lot of work to do.

Because when a child can't go to school without fearing guns and violence, that's a child left behind; when a child's illness is not treated because a hard-working parent can't afford health insurance, that's a child left behind; and when a child struggles to learn in an overcrowded classroom, that's a child left behind.

Don't let anyone tell you this election doesn't matter. The stakes in November are biggest for the littlest among us.

What will it take to make sure no child in America is left behind in the 21st century? It takes responsible parents who put their own children first. It takes all of us, teachers and workers and business owners and community leaders and people of faith. And, you know, I still believe it takes a village. And it certainly takes Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. They have what it takes and they'll do what it takes.


You know, over the last eight years I've talked with mothers and fathers on front porches and factory floors and in hospital wards, and I've seen firsthand the joys and anxieties that parents feel when it comes to our children.

I remember a teacher with tears in her eyes because she had the only textbook in the classroom. It's time to give all our students the chance to succeed in the new economy by modernizing our schools, setting high standards and hiring more qualified teachers.


I've held the hands of mothers and fathers who've lost their children to gun violence. It's time to honor their pain by passing common-sense gun safety laws that keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals.


I've listened to parents distressed about a culture that too often glorifies violence. Why can't all of us, including the media, give parents more control over what their children see on TV, in the movies, on the Internet and in video games?


I've met mothers and fathers who are working full-time in fast- food restaurants and supermarket checkout lines and other tough jobs, but they're still poor. It's time to make the basic bargain work for all Americans by raising the minimum wage, enforcing tough child support laws and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.


And everywhere I go, I've heard from doctors and nurses who every day see children with illnesses that could have been treated earlier if their parents had been able to afford health insurance.

Now, you may remember, I had a few ideas about health care, and I've learned a few lessons since then, but I haven't given up on the goal, and that's why we kept working step-by-step to ensure millions of children through the Children's Health Insurance Program.


And that's why it's time to pass a real patients' bill of rights and provide access to affordable health care to every child and family in this country.


But we'll never accomplish what we need to do for our children if we burden them with a debt they did not create.

Franklin Roosevelt said that Americans of his generation had a rendezvous with destiny. Well, I think our generation has a rendezvous with responsibility. It's time to protect the next generation by using our budget surplus to pay down the national debt, save Social Security, modernize Medicare with a prescription drug benefit, and provide targeted tax cuts to the families that need them most.


At this moment of great potential, let's not squander our children's futures. Let's elect leaders who will leave no child behind; leaders who don't just talk the talk, but walk the walk; leaders like Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.


You know, the other day Bill and I were looking at pictures of our daughter from eight years ago, when this journey began. It's been an amazing eight years for Chelsea too, and we want to thank the American people for giving her the space to grow.


Bill and I are closing one chapter of our lives, and soon we'll be starting a new one. For me, it will be up to the people of New York to decide whether I'll have the privilege of serving them in the United States Senate.


But I will always -- I will always be profoundly grateful to all of you and to the American people for the last eight years.

Really, the most important thing that I can say tonight is thank you. Thank you for giving me the most extraordinary opportunity to work here at home and around the world on the issues that matter most to children, women and families.

Thank you for your support and faith in good times and in bad. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the honor and blessing of a lifetime. Good night and God bless you all. Thank you very, very much.


WOODRUFF: Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first, first lady to seek public office by seeking election to the United States Senate, thanking these delegate, thanking the American people for giving her these opportunities she's described.

She's finished. Her husband is yet to come. And the Democrats are behind schedule.

John King, you're down on the floor.

KING: That's right, Judy. As the first lady was speaking, I spoke to several convention planners at the back of the hall, listening to her speech, and they acknowledged that White House officials and some others involved in planning the convention had voiced concerns that the program was running too long. They wanted the president on by 10 o'clock tonight. They were assured he would be on early in the 10:00 o'clock hour. Obviously, they have not met that schedule.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We built our country with their optimism and their prayers: a story of immigrants who dared to dream of what their lives and their children's lives might someday become, a story of a land where even a boy from a small town in Arkansas could hope to one day, someday, help make those dreams...


SHAW: This film produced by the Democratic National Committee is intended to introduce the president to these delegates. When the lights go back up, we'll no doubt see him at the podium.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton has been shot, stabbed and electrocuted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On electiony eve, the polls show Clinton has bottomed out. An editor of a New Hampshire newspaper calls Clinton "toast."



PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think we know enough to say with some certainty that New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the comeback kid.




GOV. ANN RICHARDS (D), TEXAS: Bill Clinton is nominated as the candidate of the Democratic Party for president by acclamation!




PRESIDENT CLINTON: Al Gore and I want to liberate you from the raw deal of the last 12 years!



PRESIDENT CLINTON: When the history of this campaign is written, they may say, well, Bill Clinton took a lot of hits in this campaign. The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits that the people in this state and this country are taking every day of their lives under this administration.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our nation we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow Americans, this is our time.

We've got to turn our country around economically, person by person, family by family, town by town.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: At the end of the decade , the deficit will be $635 billion a year. We inherit an economy that is weakened by business failure, stagnant wages, increasing inequality.



JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: President Clinton has not stepped away from the American dream.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: The other day on the front page of our paper, a big article about an 11-year-old child planning her funeral. These are the hymns I want sung, this is the dress I want to wear, I know I'm not going to live very long.

That is not the freedom, the freedom to die before you are a teenager is not what Martin Luther King lived and died for.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, these are your people.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: We are white and black, Asian and Hispanic, Christian and Jew and Muslim, but above all we are still Americans.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: What you have done has demonstrated to a watching and often weary and cynical world that good can overcome evil, that love can outlast hate, that the light of human life can shine on through the most terrible darkness.



SEN. JOHN GLENN (D), OHIO: The current and next president of the United States, President Bill Clinton.




PRESIDENT CLINTON: Because we have acted, millions of children will be able to get medicine, and have their sight and hearing tested, and see dentists and doctors for the first time. (END VIDEO CLIP)


PRESIDENT CLINTON: We have cleaned up more toxic waste dumps. The deficit has gone down all four years.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: We cut crime with 100,000 community police and the Brady law.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: Because we have acted, millions of young Americans will be able to go onto college.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: My fellow Americans, the state of our union is the strongest it has ever been.




PRESIDENT CLINTON: From Belfast to Jerusalem, American leadership has helped Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Arabs to walk the streets of their cities with less fear of bombs and violence. From Kuwait to Sarajevo, the brave men and women of our armed forces are working to stand down aggression and stand up for freedom.



H. CLINTON: It is time for us to say that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights.



PRESIDENT CLINTON: In my travels as president, I've been touched by the ability that America has to fire the imagination, lift the hopes, and stiffen the spines of freedom-loving people everywhere.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: My fellow Americans, tonight for the first time in 79 days the skies over Yugoslavia are silent. The 1 million men, women and children driven from their land are preparing to return home.



EHUD BARAK, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: We have a profound trust in your resolve and your leadership so powerfully demonstrated again this year in Kosovo. I believe the extraordinary victory in Kosovo has been underestimated.



KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN: I've had the privilege of being a friend of presidents since late President Eisenhower, but on the subject of peace, I have never known someone with your dedication, clear- headedness, focus, and determination.



NELSON MANDELA: Few leaders of the United States have such a feeling for the position of the black people and the minorities and the disabled in this country.



BARAK: History will record that few have worked more tirelessly or more effectively than the president of the United States to prevent the breakdown of the peace process.



MANDELA: You should have seen the way he was received by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The applause was spontaneous and overwhelming.



TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN: If you look at the American economy, you look at the respect with which America is held right around the world today, if you look at the standing and authority of the president, it's a pretty impressive record for anyone.



MANDELA: That is the man, my friend, who I respect so much.


PRESIDENT CLINTON: As my chapter in the White House comes to a close, America's story is far from over. It's a dazzling, brave, improbable story, and each of us is blessed to have played a part in it.

Hillary, Chelsea and I are as awed today by the majesty of American and the simple grandeur of the White House as we were the first day we arrived. It's been an interesting, exhilarating, challenging, sometimes fun, and always rewarding journey, one that began eight years ago in a place called Hope, and led us not only to peace but to the longest period of prosperity in the life of this country.

I am humbled by our people's greatness and perhaps even more important by your goodness. The stars have never shone more brightly on any nation, anywhere, at any time.

To be alive at this moment, to call ourselves America is an honor few are given and all of us share. As I leave this great office, I believe the only things we have yet to achieve are the things we have yet to dream.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United State!


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Isn't it great to be here in California together? Forty years ago the great city of Los Angeles launched John Kennedy and the New Frontier. Now Los Angeles is launching the first president of the new century: Al Gore.


I come here tonight, above all, to say a heartfelt thank you. Thank you.


Thank you for giving me the chance to serve. Thank you for being so good to Hillary and Chelsea. I am so proud of them. And didn't she give a good talk? I thought it was great. (APPLAUSE)

I thank you for supporting the new Democratic agenda, that has taken our country to new heights of prosperity, peace, and progress. As always, of course, the lion's share of the credit goes to the American people who do the work, raise the kids, and dream the dreams.

Now, at this moment of unprecedented good fortune, our people face a fundamental choice. Are we going to keep this progress and prosperity going?


CLINTON: Yes, we are.


But, my friends...

DELEGATES: Yes, we are! Yes, we are!

CLINTON: ... we can't take our future for granted.

We cannot take it for granted. So let's just remember how we got here.

Eight years ago, when our party met in New York, it was in a far different time for America. Our economy was in trouble, our society was divided, our political system was paralyzed. Ten million of our fellow citizens were out of work. Interest rates were high. The deficit was $290 billion and rising. After 12 years of Republican rule, the federal debt had quadrupled, imposing a crushing burden on our economy and on our children. Welfare rolls, crime, teen pregnancy, income inequality all had been skyrocketing. And our government was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I saw this in a very personal way in 1992 out there in the real America with many of you. I remember a child telling me her father broke down at the dinner table because he lost his job. I remember an older couple crying in front of me because they had to choose between filling their shopping carts and filling their prescriptions. I remember a hard-working immigrant in a hotel kitchen who said his son was not really free because it wasn't safe for him to play in the neighborhood park.

I ran for president to change the future for those people.


And I asked you to embrace new ideas rooted in enduring values, opportunity for all, responsibility from all and a community of all Americans.

You gave me the chance to turn those ideas and values into action after I made one of the best decisions of my entire life, asking Al Gore to be my partner. (APPLAUSE)

Now, first, we proposed a new economic strategy: get rid of the deficit to reduce interest rates, invest more in our people, sell more American products abroad.

We sent our plan to Congress. It passed by a single vote in both Houses. In a deadlocked Senate, Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote.


Now, not a single Republican supported it. Here's what their leader said. Their leader said our plan would increase the deficit, kill jobs and give us a one-way ticket to a recession. Time has not been kind to their predictions.


Now, remember -- you remember, our Republican friends said then they would absolutely not be held responsible for our economic policies.

I hope the American people take them at their word.


Now, today -- today after seven and a half years of hard effort, we're in the midst of the longest economic expansion in history: more than 22 million new jobs, the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the lowest female unemployment in 40 years, the lowest Hispanic and African-American unemployment rate ever recorded, and the highest home ownership in history.


Now, along the way -- along the way in 1995, we turned back the largest cuts in history in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. And just two years later, we proved that we could find a way to balance the budget and protect our values. Today, we have gone from the largest deficits in history to the largest surpluses in history.


And -- and if, if but only if we stay on course, we can make America debt free for the first time since Andy Jackson was president in 1835.




... for the first time in decades, wages are rising at all income levels. We have the lowest child poverty in 20 years, the lowest poverty rate for single mothers ever recorded. The average family's income has gone up more than $5,000, and for African-American families, even more.

The number of families who...


... the number of families who own stock in our country has grown by 40 percent.

You know Harry Truman's old saying has never been more true: If you want to live like a Republican, you better vote for the Democrats.


Thank you.




... but our progress is about far more than economics. America is also more hopeful, more secure and more free. We're more hopeful because we're turning our schools around with higher standards, more accountability, more investment.

We have doubled funding for Head Start, and provided after-school and mentoring to more than a million more young people.


We're putting 100,000 well-trained teachers in the early grades to lower class size. Ninety-five percent of our schools are already connected to the Internet. Reading, math and SAT scores are up, and more students than ever are going on to college, thanks to the biggest expansion of college aid since the GI bill 50 years ago.


Now, don't let anybody tell you that all children can't learn or that our public schools can't make the grade. Yes, they can.


Yes, they can.

Now, we're also more hopeful because we ended welfare as we knew it. Now those who can work must work. On that, we and the Republicans agree. But we Democrats also insisted on support for good parenting, so that poor children don't go hungry or lose their health care, unmarried teens stay in school, and people get the job training, child care and transportation they need.

It has worked. Today, there are more than 7.5 million people who've moved from welfare to work. And the welfare rolls in our administration have been cut in half.


Now, we're more hopeful because of the way we cut taxes to help Americans meet the challenges of work and child rearing.

This year alone, our HOPE Scholarship and life-long learning tax credits will help 10 million families pay for college, our Earned Income Tax Credit will help 15 million families work their way into the middle-class, 25 million families will get a $500 child tax credit, our Empowerment Zone tax credits are bringing new businesses and new jobs to our hardest pressed communities from the inner-cities to the Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta to our Native American reservations.


And the typical American family today is paying a lower share of its income in federal income taxes than in any time during the past 35 years.


We are more hopeful, because of the Family and Medical Leave Act, a bill that the previous administration vetoed. They said it would cost jobs. It's the first bill I signed. And...


... we now have a test, 22 million new jobs later, over 20 million Americans have been able to take a little time off to care for a newborn child or a sick relative. That's what it means, that's what it really means to be pro family.


We are a more secure country because we cut crime with tougher enforcement, more than 100,000 new community police officers, a ban on assault weapons and the Brady law, which has kept guns out of the hands of half a million felons, fugitives and stalkers. Today, crime in America is at a 25-year low.


And we're more secure because of advances in health care. We've extended the life of the Medicare trust fund by 26 years, added coverage for cancer screening and cutting-edge clinical trials. We're coming closer to cures for dreaded diseases. We made people -- we made sure that people with disabilities could go to work without losing their health care and that people could switch jobs without losing their coverage.


We dramatically improved diabetes care. We provided health coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program to two million previously uninsured children. And for the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of our kids have been immunized against serious childhood diseases.

You can be proud of that Democratic record.


We are more secure because our environment is cleaner. We've set aside more land in the lower 48 states than any administration since Teddy Roosevelt...


... saving national treasures like Yellowstone, the great California redwoods, the Florida Everglades.


Moreover, our air is cleaner, our water is cleaner, our food is safer,and our economy is stronger. You can grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time.


Now, we're more free because we are closer today to the one America of our dreams, celebrating our diversity, affirming our common humanity, opposing all forms of bigotry, from church burnings, to racial profiling, to murderous hate crimes. We're fighting for the employment non-discrimination legislation and for equal pay for women.

Thank you.


We found ways to mend, not end, affirmative action. We've given America the most diverse administration in history. It really looks like America.


You know, if I could just get my administration up here, it would be just as good a picture as anything you saw a couple of weeks ago in Philadelphia, the real people running it.


And we created AmeriCorps, which already has given more than 150,000 of our young people a chance to earn some money for college by serving in our communities.

We are more secure and we're more free because of our leadership in the world for peace, freedom and prosperity -- helping to end a generation of conflict in Northern Ireland, stopping the brutal ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo and bringing the Middle East closer than ever to a comprehensive peace.


We have -- we've built stronger ties to Africa, Asia and our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. We brought Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO.

We're working with Russia to destroy nuclear weapons and materials. We're fighting head-on the new threats and injustices of the global age: terrorism, narco-trafficking, biological and chemical warfare, the trafficking in women and young girls, and the deadly spread of AIDS. And, in the great tradition of President Jimmy Carter who is here tonight, we are still the world's leading force for human rights around the world.

Thank you, President Carter.


Now, the American military is the best trained, best equipped, most effective fighting force in the world. Our men and women have shown that time and again in Bosnia, in Kosovo and Haiti and Iraq. I can tell you that their strength, their spirit, their courage and their commitment to freedom have never been greater. Any adversary who believes those who say otherwise is making a grave mistake.


Now my fellow Americans, that's the record.

Or as that very famous Los Angeles detective Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, ma'am."


Let's remember...


I ask you...


I ask you, let's remember the standard our Republican friends used to have for whether a party should continue in office. My fellow Americans, are we better off today than we were eight years ago?


You bet we are. You bet we are.


Yes, we are. Now...


Yes, we are. But... (APPLAUSE)

But -- but -- yes, we are. But we're not just better off, we're also a better country.


We are today more tolerant, more decent, more humane and more united.

Now, that's the purpose of prosperity.


Since 1992, America has grown, not just economically, but as a community. Yes, jobs are up, but so are adoptions. Yes, the debt is down, but so is teen pregnancy. We're becoming both more diverse and more united.

My fellow Americans, tonight we can say with gratitude and humility, we built our bridge to the 21st century.


We crossed that bridge together, and we're not going back.


Now, to those who say...


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


AUDIENCE: Not going back! Not going back! Not going back!

CLINTON: To those who say -- and I'm sure you heard this somewhere in the last few days, to those who say the progress of these last eight years was just some sort of accident, that we just, kind of, coasted along, let me be clear...


... America's success was not a matter of chance, it was a matter of choice.


And today America faces another choice. It's every bit as momentous as the one we faced eight years ago, for what a nation does with its good fortune is just as stern a test of its character, values and judgment as how it deals with adversity.

My fellow Americans, this is a big election, with great consequences for every American, because the differences -- the honest differences between our candidates and their visions are so profound.

We can have a good, old-fashioned election here. We should posit that our opponents are good, honorable, patriotic people and that we have honest differences. But the differences are there.

Consider this, just this. We in America would already have this year a real patients' bill of rights, a minimum wage increase, stronger equal pay laws for women and middle-class tax cuts for college tuition and long-term care if the Democratic Party were in the majority in Congress with Dick Gephardt as speaker and Tom Daschle as majority leader.


And come November, they will be.


Thank you.


Thank you.

Now, that has to be clear to people, and that's why every House and every Senate seat is important.

But if you will give me one moment of personal privilege, I would like to say a word about Hillary.


When I first met her 30 years ago, she already had an abiding passion to help children, and she has pursued it ever since. Her very first job out of law school was with the Children's Defense Fund.

Every year I was governor, she took lots of time away from her law practice to work for better schools or better children's health or jobs for parents who lived in poor areas. Then, when I became president, she became a full-time advocate for her lifetime cause. And what a job she has done.




She championed the family leave law, children's health insurance, increased support for foster children and adoptions. She wrote a best-selling book about caring for our children, and then she took care of them by giving all of the profits to children's charities.


For 30 years -- 30 years from the day I met her, she has always been there for all of our kids. She's been a great first lady. She's always been there for our family.

And she'll always be there for the families of New York and America.


Now, of course, we all know that the biggest choice that the American people have to make this year is in the presidential race. Now, you all know how I feel.


But it's not my decision to make; that belongs to the American people. I just want to tell all of you here in this great arena and all the folks watching and listening at home a few things that I know about Al Gore.


We have -- we've worked closely together for eight years now. In the most challenging moments when we faced the most difficult issues of war and peace, of whether to take on some powerful interest, he was always there. And he always told me exactly what he thought was right.

Everybody knows he is thoughtful and hard-working. But I can tell you personally, he is one strong leader.


In 1993, there was nobody around the table more willing to make the tough choices to balance the budget the right way, and take the tough stance against balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and working people of America.

I have seen this kind of positioning and this kind of strength time and time again, whether it was in how we reform welfare, or in protecting the environment, or in closing the digital divide, or bringing jobs to rural and urban America through the Empowerment Zone program. The greatest champion of ordinary Americans has always been Al Gore.


I'll tell you something else about him. More than anybody else I've known in public life, Al Gore understands the future, and how sweeping changes and scientific breakthroughs will affect ordinary Americans' lives. And I think we need somebody in the White House at the dawn of the 21st century who really understands the future.


Finally, I want to say something more personal. Virtually every week, for the last seven and a half years, until he became occupied with more important matters, Al Gore and I had lunch. And we talked about the business between us, and the business of America. But we'd also often talk about our families, what our kids were doing, how school was going, what was going on in their lives.

I know him. He is a profoundly good man. He loves his...


He loves his children more than life, and he has a perfectly wonderful wife who has fought against homelessness...


... and who has done something for me and all Americans in bringing the cause of mental health into the broad sunlight of our national public life.


We owe Tipper Gore our thanks.


Al has picked a great partner in Joe Lieberman.


There's the Connecticut crowd.


AUDIENCE: Joe! Joe! Joe!

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Hillary and I have known Joe for 30 years since we were in Connecticut in law school. I supported him in his first race for public office in 1970 when I learned he'd been a Freedom Rider, going into danger to register black voters in a then- segregated South.


It should not be a surprise to anyone that Al Gore picked the leader of the New Democrats to be his vice president.

Because Joe Lieberman has supported all our efforts to reform welfare, reduce crime, protect the environment, protect civil rights and a woman's right to choose, and to keep this economy going -- all of them.


And he has shown time and time again that he will work with President Gore to keep putting people and progress over partisanship.


Now it's up, frankly, to the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee to engage in this debate and to point out the differences. But there are two issues I care a lot about, and I want to make brief comments on them. And I hope I've earned the right to make comments on them.


One is the economy. I know a little something about that. And the other is our efforts to build one America.

First, on the economy -- Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will keep our prosperity going by paying down the debt, investing in education and health care, moving more people from welfare to work and providing family tax cuts we can afford.


Now that stands in stark contrast to the position of our Republican friends. Here is their position. They say we have a big projected 10-year surplus, and they want to spend every dime of it and then some on tax cuts right now.

That would leave nothing for education or Medicare, prescription drugs, nothing to extend the life of Medicare and Social Security for the baby boomers, nothing in case the projected surpluses don't come in.

Now, think about your own family's budget for a minute, or your own business budget. Would you sign a binding contract today to spend all your projected income for a decade, leaving nothing for your family's basic needs?


CLINTON: Nothing for emergencies?


CLINTON: Nothing for a cushion in case you didn't get the raise you thought you were going to get?


CLINTON: Of course, you wouldn't do that, and America shouldn't do it either. We should stick with what works.


Now, let me say something to you that's even more important than the economy to me. When Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish American to join a national ticket to be his partner...


... and he joined with our presidential nominee who has, along with his great mother and late father, a lifetime commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity for all, even when it was not popular down home in the South.


When they did that, we had a ticket that embodies the Democratic commitment to one America.

They believe in civil rights and equal opportunity for everybody. They believe in a woman's right to choose.


And, this may be the most important of all, they believe the folks that you're buying your soft drinks and popcorn from here at the Staples Center should have the exact same chance that they do to send their kids to college and give them a good life and a good future.


Now, my fellow Americans, I am very proud of our leaders. And I want you to know that the opportunity I have had to serve as president at the dawn of a new era in human history has been an honor, a privilege and a joy.

I have done everything I knew how to do to empower the American people, to unleash their amazing optimism and imagination and hard work to turn our country around from where it was in 1992 and to get us moving forward together.

Now what I want you to understand tonight is that the best is still out there. The best is yet to come if we make the right choices in this election year.


But the choices will make all the difference.

In February, the American people achieved the longest economic expansion in our history. When that happened, I asked our folks at the White House when the previous longest economic expansion was. You know when it was? It was from 1961 through 1969.

Now, I want the young people especially to listen to this. I remember this well. I graduated from high school in 1964. Our country was still very sad because of President Kennedy's death, but full of hope under the leadership of President Johnson. And I assumed then, like most Americans, that our economy was absolutely on automatic; that nothing could derail it.

I also believed then that our civil rights problems would all be solved in Congress and the courts. And in 1964, when we were enjoying the longest economic expansion in history, we never dreamed that Vietnam would so divide and wound America.

So we took it for granted.

And then, before we knew it, there were riots in the streets, even here. The leaders that I adored as a young man, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, were killed. Lyndon Johnson -- a president from my part of the country I admired so much for all he did for civil rights, for the elderly and the poor -- said he would not run again because our nation was so divided.

And then we had an election in 1968 that took America on a far different and more divisive course. And you know, within months, after that election, the last longest economic expansion in history was itself history.

Why am I telling you this tonight? Not to take you down, but to keep you looking up. I have waited, not as president, but as your fellow citizen, for over 30 years to see my country once again in the position to build the future of our dreams for our children.


We are -- we are a great and good people. And we have an even better chance this time than we did then, with no great internal crisis and no great external threat. Still, I have lived long enough to know that opportunities must be seized or they will be lost.

My friends, 54 years ago, this week, I was born in a summer storm to a young widow in a small southern town.

America gave me the chance to live my dreams. And I have tried as hard as I knew how to give you a better chance to live yours.


Now my hair's a little grayer, my wrinkles are a little deeper, but with the same optimism and hope I brought to the work I love so eight years ago, I want you to know my heart is filled with gratitude.

My fellow Americans, the future of our country is now in your hands. You must think hard, feel deeply and choose wisely. And remember, whenever you think about me, keep putting people first...


... keep building those bridges...


... and don't stop thinking about tomorrow. I love you. And good night.


WOODRUFF: It was only in a reference there at the very end, a very oblique reference, that the president referred to the personal mistakes of his administration, of his life over the last seven and a half years in the White House. Other than that, this was a speech focused on touting what his administration has accomplished and on saying "We've got to keep going in this direction. GREENFIELD: This was a speech of about -- just about 40 minutes, longer than Eisenhower's in 1960, shorter than Reagan's in 1988. He borrowed from a few Republicans. "Are you better off than you were eight years ago?" was a line made famous by Reagan in 1980. His reference to Sergeant Joe Friday, "Just the facts, ma'am," was a little lift from George Bush's 1988 acceptance speech.

And more important, in the tone, he kind of did what Ronald Reagan did in 1988 -- gently, gently mocked the opposition, referred to the Republican opposition to his program and said time has not been kind to their predictions, touted his own administration's achievement and said the way to keep it going is with Al Gore and Joe Lieberman -- a kind of classic passing-of-the-torch speech, I thought, by someone who clearly loves the idea of connecting with people and his supporters. He was enjoying every minute of this, I thought, Bernie.

SHAW: Indeed. He mentioned the word "Republican" six times in this speech tonight, only six times -- of course, never naming names. And did you notice his voice started trembling at the end, when he spoke of having waited 30 years to see his country once again in a strong economic position to help the future of the American children? And in defending his administration and underscoring its successes, he urged the election of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman using these words, especially when he referred to the economy, "We should stick with what works."

WOODRUFF: The message was also clear, "We built our bridge to the 21st century. We crossed it together, and we're not going back," a clear reference to -- to this election.

Joining us here in our skybox overlooking this convention, Mike McCurry, former press secretary to President Clinton, Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff under President Clinton.

Leon Panetta, what are you thinking?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I'm thinking that you've just listened to a master of the political speech. This is a president who really loves to give a political speech, particularly to a very receptive audience, which was the care here, certainly, at the convention.

But he's somebody who touched all the bases. He talked about his record. He talked about the issues, and that's where, obviously, the Gore campaign has to define itself for this -- for this coming race. He talked about Hillary. He talked about Al Gore, Joe Lieberman. And then he ended, obviously, with an indication of his thankfulness for the opportunity to serve the nation.

I think he touched all of the buttons. I think the crowd is reacting. And I think he did a good job, doing what he had to do tonight.

GREENFIELD: Michael McCurry, beyond the hall -- because delegates would love a speech like this, I think, of any party, if the president read the phone book to them. Beyond the hall, what's the message to the country that may be looking at Al Gore and not quite sure that he's the right fellow to take them down the road? What's he trying to tell us?

MICHAEL MCCURRY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, there's not much that President Clinton can do on that score, but he did do something that I thought was important. He laid out the economic case for the Democratic economic plan -- tax cuts, surpluses, Social Security. And he made it so simple and so clear, the choice between what Al Gore would present versus what we heard from the Republicans in Philadelphia. That sets a beautiful foundation for Al Gore now to come in and describe what the future is about.

You know, Bill Clinton -- it's almost corny -- "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." But in a way, his success and his brilliance as a politician was he always did point us forward. He never rested on the record or rested on his laurels -- considerable. He always pointed the country ahead to the future and did build that bridge. I think that's a critical part of what we saw tonight in this speech.

WOODRUFF: And this picture that he painted was a very different -- a picture of a very different America than the picture we heard two Thursdays ago, when George W. Bush stood before the Republican convention and talked about this administration having "squandered" prosperity.

GREENFIELD: The -- for my money as a retired speech writer -- and retired for good reasons -- one of the most effective lines in this was when he said of the Republicans, "Back in '93, they said they would not be held responsible for the results of our economic policies. I hope the American people will take them at their word," clearly meaning the economic circumstances are the best.

We are going down to the floor now to Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right down to here, Jeff. We're starting a number from "The Music Man," "We Got Trouble Right Here in River City." Not certain exactly what the context is, but the audience loves it, as they loved that speech. You don't have to ask them, they showed you. They were stomping. They were screaming. They were waving their signs. And some of them -- a lot of them, actually -- were crying down here. They -- controversial as Bill Clinton may be, this is a crowd that absolutely loves him. They liked his speech, particularly the humor in it, when he referred to Joe Friday, and "Just the facts, ma'am," they went wild where I was sitting. They were having a lot of fun with this speech, and they loved turning the tables on the Republicans.

Now to my colleague Frank Sesno.


Just in case folks know, and if you made reference, my apologies because I could barely hear anything, but we have a rendition of "The Music Man" behind us.

We also have a rendition of Senator Joe Biden right here.

You spoke -- not like this up front, but you spoke to the Iowa delegation today. Not to be a skunk at the garden party, but you said this party has been cowered in the past by -- by certain things, including Bill Clinton's indiscretions, and the party should not back away in any form from...

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I don't think we should back away at all. Look, Bill Clinton made serious mistakes in his personal life. He did a hell of a job leading this country. What I was saying to the Iowa delegation today -- this election should be about integrity, not just about the personal integrity of the candidates, but their intellectual integrity. Does anybody believe that George W. Bush really wants a "patients' bill of rights" where my mother doesn't have to pay anything for prescriptions after a couple thousand bucks? Does anybody believe -- is it -- does it require decency to lead people on to think they're going to be able to have a -- have their prescription drugs paid when they know damn well they have no intention of doing it? I think we should say "Let's make this about integrity." I'm all for that.

SESNO: The voters will obviously be balancing that and they'll be balancing those indiscretions you talked about.

BIDEN: Well, you know, I think the voters are pretty smart. They know Al Gore didn't have a darn thing to do with Clinton's indiscretions. Clinton was Clinton. His fault. He was wrong. As Joe Lieberman said, it was immoral and wrong, and he's been punished in history the rest of -- as long as he's written about. But that has nothing to do with Joe Lieberman. That has nothing to do with Al Gore.

SESNO: Joe Biden, thanks very much.

BIDEN: Thanks.

SESNO: Appreciate it.

Over to my colleague Candy Crowley.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Frank. I'm having the same hearing problem you have, between the exiting of this crowd, which is eager to get out of here, and "The Music Man."

I spent most of my time during both Bill and Hillary's speeches in the New York delegation. It was sort of a twofer for them. They got to hear the woman that they hope will be the next senator of New York, and then they got to hear the president. This was a home-town crowd, absolutely no doubt about it. They loved it. No tears here, but rapt attention even when he was in the rather calm parts of his speech -- lots of humor. This is a man they're going to miss. He, after all, did bring them out of the wilderness, 12 years of Republican rule, and gave them eight years of Democrat in the White House. Now to my colleague John King.

KING: Thank you, Candy.

Bill Clinton obviously a polarizing figure in the country. In the hall tonight, though, a very beloved figure, and a man who has run a lot of campaigns, not only his own. And he knows when you give a big political speech, you try to address your weaknesses.

Look at what he said in that speech. "Prosperity has a purpose," a direct rebuttal to Governor Bush there. Also said that Al Gore was a strong leader. Look at our polling. One of the vice president's problems right now, he is not viewed as a strong leader by many in the country. Also he said there was never more of a champion for ordinary Americans than Vice President Al Gore. Again, if you look at the polling in this race, ordinary Americans have questions about whether the vice president shares their values.

So as the president gave his farewell address here to the Democratic convention tonight, trying very much to help out his vice president. The question now, what will his role be from here on forward? Many state chairmen in states where the vice president is losing saying they would like to see a much more active role for Bill Clinton in the fall campaign. That, of course, still remains to be seen.

And for more now, up to the podium and Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: This is Bill Clinton's speech. There's no doubt that he was at his best tonight. The president of the United States using all of that experience that got him where he is today, sort of made sure that he was going to make this valedictory remarks to these Democrats here at this convention -- of course, seen on television around the world -- he was going to do the best he possibly could. And most of those who were up here do not doubt at all this was one of the best speeches the president ever delivered. If his intention was to leave on a mark, on a high note, he certainly did. It's going to be very tough for Al Gore Thursday night to follow this president's lead.

Now back up to the booth for more.

SHAW: Thank you, Wolf.

And while delegates here in this hall celebrated happily, outside the hall something else has been going on. Let's check in with Martin Savidge.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, while the president was speaking inside of the convention center, there has been a serious turn of events on the outside here regarding the protests. The protests had been, for the most part, peaceful. And then about an hour and a half ago, things started to change.

There was a very large crowd that had gathered for a concert performance. A small portion, a significantly small portion, about 100 to 200 people, had begin challenging the fences and the police there. That continued for some time. There were even small fires set, and the police began using pepper spray

And then the police turned the electricity off to the concert stage. They then announced to those that were gathered that the concert was over, and everyone was ordered to disperse, otherwise they could face being arrested. At that point, many of the people did begin to leave. They started heading for the exits. But there were still several hundred that remained behind, and then a heavy contingent of Los Angeles police, dressed in riot gear, began to move in on them. There was also a large group of Los Angeles police on mounted horse units moving in on the crowd.

Since that time, the crowd has dispersed. They've left the demonstration area. But there has been a running confrontation that has been taken place in the nearby streets around the Staples Center. Occasionally you could hear barrages of what sounded like tear gas or pepper balls being fired into the crowd. We could see a number of arrests that were being made.

It is quiet here now. However, it is not clear exactly what is happening on the streets immediately away from this vicinity.

You're looking at the live scene now out on Olympic Street. The police have been moving people away, the crowd, from Staples Center, obviously so they would not interfere with the delegates as they prepare to leave. And again, they've been trying to move the crowd away, but they still have been making arrests. It's just hard to tell you exactly how many, at this point.


SHAW: Martin Savidge with the latest outside.

And our live coverage from the Democratic convention will continue in just a moment.


GREENFIELD: Folks, back in the 1960s, the Congress once tried to define a riot as involving three or more persons. By that definition, this version of The Capital Gang will not be a riot because, thanks to security, only two fifths of The Capital Gang has made it.

So Hunt, Novak, welcome to "The Gang." All yours.

AL HUNT, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Thank you, Jeff! We'll try to make up what we lack in quantity in quality, right, Robert?


HUNT: You know, let me tell you something. Bill Clinton started too late. He went too long. But whether you agree or disagree with him, it was a political tour de force!

NOVAK: Well, he is a great political speaker. Now, the question is, is it too late to repeal the amendment to the Constitution forbidding a third term? Is it too late to un-nominate Al Gore? Because what the -- what Clinton can do is he can take the dull task of saying, "Boy, you never had it so good," and make it sound exciting, because, Al, I listened to much of the evening, and it was mind-numbingly boring right up until, well, President Clinton, including the speech by his wife.

HUNT: Well, I agree. The speech by his wife was quite ordinary. And he started off slow, but boy, what a -- I was standing next to Bob Herzberg (ph), the speaker of the California assembly. And halfway through, he tapped me, and he said, "We'll never see his like again." I mean, that's true.

NOVAK: No, he's a -- but that just shows the problem, I think, facing Al Gore. Can he do this? And this is a terrible standard to put Gore up against.

HUNT: Right.

NOVAK: I would -- I would have hoped, from Gore's standpoint, that the president was not quite so incendiary, not quite so charismatic, because he was a -- he was in a -- he loved it, too, out there. He just -- he just loved every line. What he hated about this was leaving.

HUNT: Bob, I'm stunned he left. I thought we'd be here tomorrow morning. I really was stunned. But I'll tell you, I think he set the predicate for Al Gore. He framed the debate very, very well. If they're still talking about Bill Clinton on Thursday, that's obviously bad news for Al Gore. But I think there is an analogy to the speech that Ronald Reagan gave 12 years ago on the first night of that New Orleans convention, and then left the next day. And I think he set the predicate for George Bush. And I think that -- I think that Clinton did that tonight.

NOVAK: Now, if I can intrude with a little facts...

HUNT: Yes, sir.

NOVAK: I hope you don't mind. The -- 1961 to '69 was not the second longest recovery. The second longest recovery was in the Reagan administration. But I tell you, President Clinton has never bothered playing loose with the facts. That's his trademark. And certainly, this audience wasn't going to call him on it. I hope you will call him on it.

HUNT: Well, Bob, of course, you know, he did say, though -- he talked about the predictions those Republicans made when the 1993 budget act was passed.

NOVAK: Well, you talk about it all the time.

HUNT: And of course, he said that time has not been kind to those predictions. You know, some pundits made some of those same predictions. And Bill Clinton's right. Time has not been kind to those nay-sayers back then, don't you think? NOVAK: And of course, the speech didn't mention Social Security in any degree. It didn't talk about international trade, didn't talk about the great split in the Democratic Party. He didn't -- and he did not issue a call to greatness. He did not issue a John F. Kennedy-type call made 40 years ago to go forward. But it was a great political speech, nonetheless.

HUNT: It was a great performance. And I noticed in the introduction, they had Nelson Mandela and they had the prime minister of Israel.

NOVAK: Oh, they brought every...

HUNT: I was looking for the prime ministers of Italy and Ireland. I think they'll get that next time.

NOVAK: No, they didn't -- they didn't quite make it. But I -- but I really -- I really do believe it was a political speech. It was not a great statesman's speech. I think you'll agree with me on that.

HUNT: Bob, how many statesman's speeches have you heard at political conventions?

NOVAK: I -- well, I...

HUNT: And this is your 22nd.

NOVAK: Well, this is my 22nd. My first was John F. Kennedy in the Coliseum on the other side of town, and he made a statesman's speech for the New Frontier. Let's -- let's make that the standard for Al Gore, not the Clinton political speech.

HUNT: Well, I think it was a terrific speech for Bill Clinton. I think it started the week in great shape for a very exuberant Democratic Party.

And this is a mini-version of "THE CAPITAL GANG" saying we'll be back tomorrow night from the convention floor. And back to Judy or Bernie or...

NOVAK: Hope we have more people, too.

SHAW: And all of us. Thanks very much, guys.

Speaking of the speech, Mike McCurry is still with us.

At one point in his speech tonight, President Clinton said of the American military, "The American military is the best-trained, best- equipped, most effective fighting force in the world. Any adversary who believes those who say otherwise is making a great mistake."

What was his point?

MCCURRY: That was a serious piece of business from a commander- in-chief. He was both making a political point, I think, about what was said in Philadelphia -- you recall the very next day after that case was laid out at the Republican convention, in a pretty extraordinary moment, the Defense Department came out and challenged that description of the readiness of America's fighting force. They took great umbrage at that, and I think that that anger about that description of our fighting men and women has stuck, you know, in the president's craw, very clearly.

WOODRUFF: And George W. Bush came back in response and said that he had read this report at the end of last year, and why hadn't they clarified it in the interim.

MCCURRY: Well, and they -- and I think that they had -- there's been a great debate about the force posture of the United States, readiness. And it continues, and you'll hear more about this in the debate about missile defenses. I mean, it's interesting. We may actually see some national security elements enter into this fall debate.

GREENFIELD: Mike, very quickly, one of the things a presidential speech does, when it's this powerful politically, is it overshadows everyone, I would suggest tonight perhaps include Mrs. Clinton?

MCCURRY: I think that's probably true. I think President Clinton gave a better campaign speech for her Senate race than she did. But you know, she had a lot to do. She had to say thank you as first lady. She had to do some serious business for herself as a candidate for office. And she clearly had to credential Al Gore from her own personal point of view. That's a -- that's a tough speech to give, and particularly after a long litany, very impressive litany of women in the Democratic Party who've risen to the rank of United States senator.

WOODRUFF: One-word answer. Were you surprised the president didn't say more about his own personal situation?

MCCURRY: No, but there was one interesting grace note in this speech that looked ad libbed, when he, as he credited Tipper Gore's work in mental health, referenced his own gratitude for that. I thought that was a very revealing and appropriate comment.

WOODRUFF: And at the very end, when he said, "Whatever you think about me, remember, keep putting people first."

MCCURRY: Yes. His 1992 campaign slogan, 1996 campaign slogan.

SHAW: Well, tomorrow is a big day, session two. Here's a look ahead.


SHAW (voice-over): Here's a look ahead to the second day of the Democratic national convention, Tuesday, August 15th.

One of the first famous faces for the primetime television audience outside the West Coast will be the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The nightly segment of American dialogues follows in their 9:00 o'clock hour Eastern, 6:00 local. It will again feature everyday folks with stories embodying convention themes.

Then the final hour of the evening, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg will deliver remarks to the convention, as will her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. Bill Bradley, who had challenged Gore for the Democrats' nomination, will then speak. He'll be followed by a relative unknown on the national stage, a Congressman from Tennessee, Harold Ford, Jr., the first African-American to succeed his father in Congress. Ford will deliver the keynote address of this night, Tuesday, August 15th.


SHAW: But this night, President Clinton rocked the house and teed up the Democratic Party for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

WOODRUFF: And this convention is off and running -- one night behind us, three to go.

GREENFIELD: And we think we ought to hear the campaign battle. The Republicans say "Honor and decency," the Democrats say "It's the economy, stupid."

Mike, you'll be here tomorrow.

MCCURRY: And it's good -- just a good night to be a Democrat, where you can be a little more partisan.

SHAW: Harold Ford Jr.?

MCCURRY: Harold Ford Jr., former intern of mine at the Democratic National Committee. I'll be a very proud former employer tomorrow.

SHAW: Excellent.

WOODRUFF: And tomorrow night, we'll have an interview with Caroline Kennedy and Senator Teddy Kennedy right here.

SHAW: Larry King Live is next with a very special guest, among other special guests.

Until tomorrow, for Jeff Greenfield, Judy Woodruff, I'm Bernard Shaw. Stay tuned. More coming up from Los Angeles.



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