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Special Event

President Clinton Addresses Arkansas State Legislature

Aired January 17, 2001 - 3:06 p.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: As we continue to follow the confirmation hearing of John Ashcroft for attorney general, at the bottom left-hand of your screen, President Clinton has arrived at the Arkansas state capital. He is going to be addressing this joint session of the Arkansas legislature with a farewell address. We are going to listen in for a moment.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the first time in over 20 years I have been here when I don't have to get asked for a racing pass.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And I heard somebody utter that hated phrase. And I understand that, for a variety of reasons, you that have all gotten rid of that burden. So progress continues. Governor Huckabee, Lieutenant Governor Rockefeller, Senator Beebe, Speaker Broadway, General Pryor, Secretary Priest, Jimmie Lou, Charlie, Gus, my friends, I'm delighted to be joined by Senator Pryor -- about whom I would like to say more in a moment -- Congressman Snyder, Congressman Ross, and a large number of people who came here with me from Washington.

I -- I want to say that I am honored that the last trip of my presidency is to come home to Arkansas and home to the legislature, where I spent so many happy days.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you. There are...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you. There are -- there are a lot of people in this body who got their start in politics working with me, a few who got their start in politics working against me...

(LAUGHTER) CLINTON: ... and some who got their start doing both, depending on the issue and the time. I brought with me a large number of people from Arkansas today. And I would like to mention them and a few others, because I would like to begin by telling you that, in these last eight years, over 460 people from our home state worked in this administration and helped to make America a stronger country. And I am very grateful to all of them.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Mack McLarty, my first chief of staff, my first envoy to the Americas is here today. When he led the White House, we made four of the most important decisions we made during the entire eight years: the historic balanced-budget agreement, where Senator Pryor cast the tie-breaking vote -- so did everybody who else. It passed by both one vote in both houses -- the NAFTA agreement, which joined us with Mexico and Canada; the Family and Medical Leave Bill, the Brady law and many others. He did a superb job.

I want to thank the three Arkansans who have served in my Cabinet: Rodney Slater, who is the here today, our secretary of transportation; Hershel Gober, who is secretary of veterans affairs and started out helping me with veterans in Arkansas and in New Hampshire and has been absolutely superb; and James Lee Witt, who could not be here today because disasters don't only occur in Arkansas. There are other place as well, although I know that you have been through a doozy latest.

I want to thank Buddy Young, who worked as our regional official in Texas, who is here today. Two other former legislators in a different -- in addition to Mack, have been part of this administration: Gloria Cabe, who served with many, if not most of you here. Her daughter also works in the White House, in the White Counsel's Office. And she is here today -- and Karl Whillock, who, after he was a legislator, became the president of Arkansas State University, head of the CO-OPS.

But he is most important to me because the first trip I took out of Fayetteville, in the first race I ever made in 1974, was across the hills of North Arkansas with Karl Whillock, when only my mother thought I had any business in that race. And I thank them for being here. I would also like to acknowledge just a few people. As I said, some of them are here and some of them are aren't. But Bob Nash, who has been with me for 21 years, and his wife, Janice Kearney, my diarist, who is here -- Nancy Hernreich, who is not here, who has been with me since I first ran for the attorney general and has worked for me for 15 years, just got married.

PHILLIPS: President Clinton arriving at the Arkansas state capital, giving his farewell address to the joint session of the Arkansas legislature, going into the more than 460 people from Arkansas who helped him in his administration, and taking it upon himself to thank them. And, of course, he will be addressing the nation Thursday night. We will carry that live also.

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