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Bill Clinton, Bob Dole Announce Scholarship Fund

Aired September 29, 2001 - 09:38   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you quickly now to Georgetown University, former senator Bob Dole.


BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: ... Jazeera want to go to college or if they want to go to a trade school, junior college, whatever.

And also, I think we understand this covers children of all the victims. They may come from Great Britain, maybe from Mexico, but all of the countries will be included. And I think that's a big, big plus.

And we want to thank Mr. McKelvey (ph) for you leadership.

And I would just say it seems to me this can be a living memorial, and they will understand as they grow older, the young people, the children, that America continues to care. And we care long after the TV is gone, and long after you move on to the next event.

But by this effort, these young people, who may be infants, one, two, three, four years old, 10, 15, 20 years from now, will understand that somebody, somebody in America cared enough to make a contribution to make it possible for them to pursue their dreams. And that's really what this is all about.

And I thank President Clinton for joining in this effort. And together, again, there's not any politics or partisanship in an effort like this. We're both Americans. We both love our country. And we would like to do something in a positive way.

And I think the Families' (ph) Freedom Scholarship Fund is a step in the right direction.

DOLE: Thank you.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, Indiana (ph), I want to thank you for your generosity and your energy and the determination with which you pursued this.

And, Bill, thank you for agreeing to run this fund and helping us raise some of this early money.

And I want to thank my friend Bob Dole. As evidence of how totally how unpolitical this is, I hope somebody noted that he was standing on my left today.


CLINTON: I just want to echo a couple of things that Senator Dole said.

First let me say, as the spouse of New York's junior senator and a citizen of that great state, how profoundly grateful I am for the breathtaking generosity of the American people and, indeed, people throughout the world who have made pledges to help the victims, the families, the people who have been dispossessed in human and material ways by this awful tragedy. It has been truly breathtaking.

But I suspect the costs will be far greater than anyone had anticipated. So that even though it appears that a great deal of money has been committed for people who have lost all their income, for people who are disabled, for people who have lost their homes -- a lot of people haven't really stopped to think about that, where they were living -- there are a lot of costs that are only now, just now, appearing.

And one of the problems with even a tragedy of this breathtaking magnitude is that, as it fades and we return to normal life -- and we all know that someday sooner or later that will happen -- the long- term needs can be forgotten.

And there is no more important long-term need than to see that the children who were affected by this tragedy, when they come of age, whether it's this year or 18 years from now, will have the opportunity to have an education.

When we were looking at this, we discovered that there was a provision under New York law for the children of the public servants who were killed to get tuition to state institutions in New York. But even that will be nowhere near enough to cover the costs of their education.

And for all of the others who are the children of private citizens, or the spouses of private citizens, there is no existing programs.

So this is something that the American people can do, both our corporations and individuals, that will really have a profound, long- term effect on the young people's lives and will have an immediate and enormous psychological effect on families that are feeling bereft.

I have stood in those lines at the crisis center and talked to the victims' families. Some of the people who will benefit from this are even not yet born because the young women who lost their husbands are pregnant now. And so this is gift that will be giving for quite a long while. And our work will probably not be completed for slightly over 20 years. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

CLINTON: Well, all I can do -- I will make you a prediction. I predict that there will be at least a dozen children of victims of this crisis that, within 25 years, will have made major contributions to the public life of America because they lost their fathers, their mothers in this terrible event.

I think that all you have to do is look around you, see how united we are. We all support the president. We all support our country's efforts. We all are absolutely open-eyed about the difficulties that lie ahead.

And the terrorist attack has had exactly the opposite effect that was intended. We are more united across racial and religious lines. There is more outspoken effort on the president on down, something I particularly appreciate against discrimination against Muslim Americans, or Arab Americans, or people who wear turbans like Sikhs, who don't have anything to do with, but have been subject to some discrimination.

There is greater unity here and the greater love for and belief in our country. Did you see there is a survey yesterday that said that belief that the government will do the right thing most of the time is at the highest level since 1966, which was at the end of the civil rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

So I believe one of the things -- if we take care of these young people and give them an education and let them know they're not forgotten, I bet at least a dozen of them will make notable, marked, high-visibility contributions to America and to the world within the next 20, 25 years. And we will look back and see the searing experience of losing a parent and being embraced by America and our values will have had a major impact on the decisions they make throughout life. That's what I believe will happen now.

You will be around 25 years from now and I probably won't be, but you out to check in and see if it turns out to be right.

DOLE: I think, just, it's reminiscent in a way for those of us who were veterans of World War II, didn't have any money, and they came along with what they called the GI Bill of Rights.

And thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of us who otherwise would have had no opportunity to go to college or trade school or whatever had an opportunity.

And again, this is in a much -- you know, it's not as vast as that program was. But the president is right, I mean, these are going to be outstanding young men and young women. And hopefully, whoever makes a contribution will keep that in mind.

And just keep on giving until it hurts. In this case, I don't think it will hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take one more for the president and Senator Dole.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) demonstrations in Washington against war and for peace, for a peace effort. What is your opinion about them? Do you have anything to say to the people who are demonstrating (OFF- MIKE)?

CLINTON: Yes, I would like to make -- I will make just three brief points, and no one else has asked me about this so I'll -- number one, this is America. And I would just like to ask those people to remember that they're welcome to say whatever they want to say. No one will put them in jail. No one will beat them. I certainly hope no citizen will act wrongly against them.

Jazeera lived in Afghanistan, or if the future of the world of the Middle East was what Mr. bin Laden wants it to be, they would not be able to speak their mind.

CLINTON: They would not be able to have an unconventional view, and Jazeera were women, they would have to be demonstrating with a burqua over their head, and Jazeera opened their mouths, they'd be beaten.

I don't know if you've been seeing the films that many of the networks have been showing, excerpts from "Behind the Veil (sic)."

So I would just ask them to remember that they can say whatever they want to say and do whatever they want to do because this is America. And the people who did this to America would not permit them the same right.

The second thing I'd like to say is, I agree that we should not intentionally bring violence to innocent civilians even in Afghanistan, but it's obvious that the president and the national security team are trying to avoid that.

I think that I could speak for all Americans in saying that I have been very impressed by the fact that they have told us truth, that these were difficult decisions, that the tactical decisions are difficult. And they didn't go off and try to get vengeance and carelessly cause a lot of lives of people who can't help the fact that they're trapped in Afghanistan.

So America has not shown a great deal of bloodlust here. Even in New York, where I have been going to the schools, you know, where the people you would expect to be angriest because they've lost the most, they are very thoughtful about what we should do now.

And I think the peace demonstrators should be reassured by that. You know, our leaders, I think, are approaching this in a very measured way.

And the final thing I would like to say is, these decisions are hard enough, and I think insofar as we can, we should continue to be a unified nation. Because I promise you the violence will not stop if we walk away from it.

Peace requires two sides. Just like a fight requires two sides, peace requires two sides too.

And so, you know, I think most Americans will continue to be united behind the president and the direction we're taking. And I think that, you know, America has acted like anything but a warmonger in this.

We're just trying to do the right thing long term against a very serious threat, not just to Americans but to what we think about human nature and truth and hope people should live.

Do you want to say anything about that?

DOLE: No, I don't disagree with anything President Clinton said. I think there has been a demonstration of prudence and patience, and we have no desire to harm or kill or otherwise cause any problems for innocent victims anywhere. And I think that's always been the American thinking for those who have this tremendous responsibility.

Collateral damage will probably happen. Some of it you can't avoid, but it certainly -- and I agree with President Clinton and also President Bush, because I understand there were some urging an immediate response -- "Do it now; make you feel good" -- but that was declined fortunately, and I think now we're on a proper path.

And I would also say as we're talking about people in need, don't forget the Afghan people. I mean, millions are already fleeing for the border. They don't represent or reflect the views of the Taliban or bin Laden. They're human beings with children who probably haven't had a meal in a week.

And so the United Nations is stepping forward in that effort. Our own government authorized, I think, $25 million yesterday, which is not nearly enough, but it's a start. There are going to be a lot of innocent people involved in this process that we're going to have to reach out to.

And America is always there. We're always there, generally first, generally with the most because we have the capacity and the resources.

KING: You're seeing here handshakes, former president Bill Clinton, former senator Bob Dole, campaign rivals back in 1996, joining together now to announce a new scholarship fund, a $100 million effort, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, that money to be raised would go to the children and the spouses of the victims of the Twin Towers attacks in New York and over at the Pentagon.

Both men also, at the end of the question and answer period, applauding President Bush's leadership, urging Americans to be tolerant of Arab Americans and others in this country, both saying they believe the president was on the right path, "a measured response" was the words of former president Clinton.




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