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Special Event

Clinton Prepares to Depart Washington

Aired January 20, 2001 - 2:40 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And we're taking our viewers right now back to Andrews Air Force Base. Right now, Bill Clinton, we think that's he, either in the car or getting out of the car, has finished shaking hands, and is about to climb on board the plane. Bernie, did you say Special Forces One?

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Special Forces One, that's what Steve Redish (ph), our executive producer of this live coverage, says.

WOODRUFF: And, well, he and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea, you can see how -- the wind is blowing, it looks like somebody's umbrella just inverted there -- they are going to fly up to New York, stay there for a few days, and I guess come right back to Washington -- John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senator Clinton will come right back to Washington. Former President Clinton will spend some time getting his new office up and running in Manhattan. He also promised the people of Arkansas he'll spend considerable time back there as he builds what will be a $125 million presidential library.

As we listened to those remarks earlier, reminded there have been so many subplots of this presidency, so many political battles, some of them about his policy agenda, many of them about his personal character.

Notice he paid tribute to one man in the crowd, Senator Chuck Robb, former senator Chuck Robb of Virginia, another Democrat who lost his office, perhaps for standing too close to this president. Virginia a conservative state, but Chuck Robb lost his reelection battle this past year to now-Senator George Allen, a former governor.

Remember back in 1994, the Democrats lost the Congress. For the first time in 40 years, they lost the House of Representatives. Why? Because they stood with Bill Clinton in the health care fight. They stood with Bill Clinton passing a crime bill that included some gun control measures that hurt many Democrats and cost them their seats.

This president, the subplots of this presidency, quite remarkable. As Mr. Clinton passes from power and leaves Washington, we will be debating his impact on this town and on the Democratic Party for some time.

Also in the audience, quite striking, he paid tribute to John Sweeney, the president of the AFL-CIO, the labor unions that formed the traditional base of the Democratic Party. Also on hand, Al Fromm (ph), the president of the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist group Mr. Clinton helped found to wrest the party away from the control of those labor unions, of the liberals they thought had led the party too far to the left in the '80s.

So as Mr. Clinton passes away here, the debate over the direction and the fight for the control of the Democratic Party likely to play out now as the Democrats are in the unique role of being completely in the opposition to a Republican president and a Republican Congress, debating how to handle the Bush agenda, and for many Democrats debating, just when to step forward and start thinking about a presidential run of their own.

SHAW: Bill Clinton getting ready to walk up the stairs at Andrews Air Force Base. On the east side of the Capitol, back in Washington, President George Walker Bush getting ready to walk down the stairs and get into a motorcade and proceed on to lead the parade and watch it from the reviewing stand.

Bill Clinton, the first Democratic president to complete two full terms since Franklin Roosevelt. And he will get an annual lifetime pension, currently $157,000.

WOODRUFF: And I think, is this the first time a former president has spent two hours and 45 minutes in Washington after he was no longer president?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think that's a record that's (inaudible)...

WOODRUFF: Immediately.

GREENFIELD: ... likely to stand for some time.

I guess we should also mention, since the weather's going to be a dominant theme, I think, of (inaudible), this is -- there's a reason why nobody's ever written a song called "January in Washington," as opposed toy, say, "April in Paris." It -- and many inaugurals have been afflicted by weather. Some of us senior citizens remember that the night before President Kennedy's inaugural in 1961, there was a humongous snowstorm, thousands of cars, literally, thousands of cars trapped in the snow...

SHAW: The Army spent the night.

GREENFIELD: Clearing the streets.

WOODRUFF: Eight inches of snow.

GREENFIELD: People walking to their inaugural -- to the preinaugural galas in high heels through inches and inches of snow. We remember in 1985, it was so cold Reagan's inaugural had to be held indoors.

So it's -- and it's bipartisan. The weather afflicts Democrats and Republican presidents alike.

SHAW: Now the president and vice president, their wives, under military escort...

WOODRUFF: No umbrellas. They are going down those stairs to...

SHAW: Present arms, no?

WOODRUFF: ... what will be George W. Bush's first ride in the -- well, it won't be the first ride. He came over to the Capitol with Bill Clinton, but this will be his first ride as president in the brand-new limousine that Bill Clinton was talking about the other day. He said it's a fancier version, and I can't tell you what's different about it, because there are all sorts of security things.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, one thing we know is, the license plates will be different. Bill Clinton put license plates on that were issued as a protest by the District of Columbia, that said, "No Taxation Without Representation." George Bush had them removed and said he doesn't want license plates that make a political statement.

SHAW: This is a working administration, this president has been taking action.

Chris Black has some word for us. Chris?

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, in what could be seen as a first show of bipartisanship, Senate Republican leaders in the Senate have agreed to approve the first seven members of George W. Bush's cabinet today. That will take place on a voice vote when the Senate comes into session shortly after 3:00 today.

Negotiations between Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, and Trent Lott, the Republican leader, continued almost up until the inaugural ceremony began at noontime today. Trent Lott, the Republican from Mississippi, said that they had reached agreement last night to approve the big three, a secretary of state, Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, and Paul O'Neill for secretary of Treasury.

He wanted to add three more today, but they've added four, Spence Abraham for secretary of energy, Ann Veneman for secretary of agriculture, Don Evans, secretary of commerce, and Rod Paige for secretary of agriculture. That should take place shortly after 3:00.

Back to you.

SCHNEIDER: Ron Paige is the secretary of...

SHAW: Things are moving rather quickly...

WOODRUFF: Education.

SHAW: ... as the president here watches the Army band go by.

Let's listen.

GREENFIELD: We have some (inaudible) -- some good news to report for the new president. In the last few minutes, the rain of which we were speaking has ebbed considerably. It's still wet out there, but the dire threats of sleet, at least for the moment, have stopped. So maybe all those references to religion in the inaugural speech had some impact.

GREENFIELD: Appealing to a higher power.

WOODRUFF: Do you think they're exchanging business cards? I don't think that's what they're -- I don't think presidents do that. But they were -- he was handing the president -- the gentleman was handing the president a small white card.

Now, this is the car, this is the new presidential limousine that Bill Clinton said he only had to ride in for a few days. George W. Bush, this is his car.

GREENFIELD: You know, even though we talk about parades and the assumption might be they have almost no political significance, it's worth nothing that Abraham Lincoln's inaugural in 1861 was the first time African-Americans were ever in a parade. Woodrow Wilson's second inaugural was the first time women participated in the parade. And at John Kennedy's inaugural, he noticed that an honor of -- an honor guard marching by, and he quizzed the military commander as to why it was all white. And that was integrated within a matter of a couple of days.

WOODRUFF: And while we're on that theme, Jeff, and as we watch the president's motorcade pull away from the Capitol, we are going to take a short break. And when we come back, we're going to talk about civil rights under the Bush presidency, and we are going to look, as the plane carrying Bill Clinton, Special Forces One, taxis and prepares to take off from Andrews Air Force Base, heading north to New York State.

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