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CNN Today

Former President Clinton Moves Uptown to Harlem

Aired February 13, 2001 - 1:01 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story, he has been out of office for 24 days, but former President Clinton has never been out of the headlines. Today's news: Clinton is giving ground, literally, on one of the controversies that have clouded his return to private life.

He says he now wants to set up his post-presidential offices, not in sky-high midtown Manhattan, but right here uptown, in relatively affordable Harlem.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa joins us now from West 125th Street with the latest. Maria, hello.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Natalie, that's 125th Street, just off of Fifth Avenue, for those who are concerned because for some, 125th is a very posh address and in fact, the former president took his first tour of this office building where he might be renting out an entire floor with panoramic views of Manhattan.

The difference here from West 57th Street is that this would be a place that would only cost taxpayers about $210,000 a year as opposed to West 57th Street. That was going to cost about $700,000 a year. Over the weekend, Mr. Clinton said he thought about where he would most like to be if he were back in New York City and not on West 57th Street and he said he thought about Harlem.

This is a community he says that he always felt at home in; a community that he was walking the streets of even in the 1970s because he says he always wanted to be coming back to this community. And he says, in fact, that one of the reasons why he wants to return to Harlem is not only because he feels at home here, but because he helped to create the empowerment zone that has in fact given a rise to the Harlem Renaissance, as some people calling it, This is the empowerment zone that brought development here that the former president says he helped create.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FRM. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel in a lot of ways because of the empowerment zone, because of what the people are doing here, because they've made me feel so welcome here today, and because this is what my presidency was about, and it's a lot of what I want to do in my post-presidential years, bringing economic opportunity to people and places who don't have it here at home and around the world and bringing people of difference races and religions and background together.

This is what this means to me. I feel wonderful about it and I'm very, very grateful. I hope we can work the lease out and all the details. I feel confident we can, and I'm looking forward to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: Now, the former president was really warmly welcomed here. People had been waiting in anticipation for his arrival. When he arrive, the started cheering. There was applause. When he said that he wanted to take this space, even more applause and cheers. The former president then left the area and walked around the corner, stopping in in a restaurant called The Bayou, which is a Cajun restaurant that's pretty famous here in Harlem.

And the one question here, now, is whether or not these details can be worked out. One of the details that CNN has just discovered is that the same office space that the former president is looking at was leased out in December to Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to set up offices for the administration for children's services. So, we will have to see whether or not that can be worked out.

Back to you, Natalie.

ALLEN: That sounds like an interesting bugaboo there. Maria, did he address at all the flats over where he was presumably going to set up offices in midtown?

HINOJOSA: I'm sorry, Natalie?

ALLEN: Did he address the issue of the midtown office that he decided not to take?

HINOJOSA: No. In fact, what he said was that he just wanted to thank all of the people involved in helping him look at the space on West 57th Street and then he wanted to thank the people who were involved in this space. But he didn't address the specific controversy, the fact that that other space would have cost $700,000. This place would be half a million less a year coming out of taxpayers' money -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, we'll talk more about that with our guest coming up. We thank you, Maria Hinojosa.

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