Do you speak Portuguese?
Click Here
ad info
Click Here

Book your next
vacation online.
Check the low fare ticker
Reservation Desk

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Save up to 50%
on gifts for Dad


Clinton says gun control no 'political bonanza'

Clinton talks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday in Cologne

Focus on
related videoRELATED VIDEO
CNN's Wolf Blitzer conducts an exclusive interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton (Part 1)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

CNN's Wolf Blitzer conducts an exclusive interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton (Part 2)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

CNN's Wolf Blitzer conducts an exclusive interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton (Part 3)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K
KFOR enters Kosovo

NATO rolls into Kosovo
G-8 summit ends with promise of 'strong action' in Balkans

NATO air war officially ends as Yugoslav troops leave Kosovo

U.S. officials upbeat after Clinton-Yeltsin meeting

Focus on Kosovo
Focus on Kosovo
President Clinton talks with 'Late Edition'

June 20, 1999
Web posted at: 5:46 p.m. EDT (1846 GMT)

In this story:

Russian presence in Pristina 'acceptable'

Speech reviews

Post-presidency plans


COLOGNE, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton said Sunday he was seeking a "safer America" -- not a "political bonanza" -- when he pushed for House legislation that would have required three days for background checks at gun shows.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday, Clinton cheered progress on the Kosovo peace plan, discussed first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's possible run for Senate seat from New York and critiqued campaign announcements by Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.

But the House gun debate was still fresh with the president, who lamented Friday's defeat of a bill that would have required background checks for the purchase of firearms at gun shows.

"No one seriously questions, after the experience of the last five years of the Brady bill, that if we close the gun show and flea market loophole, that there will be fewer improper sales and it will make America safer at minimum disruption to people who buy and sell guns and use them lawfully," he said.

"I didn't want a political bonanza, I wanted a safer America, and our party didn't seek political points on this," Clinton said.

Moments before a final vote on the gun bill, the House of Representatives defeated an amendment from Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, that would have allowed three days for background checks at gun shows. Then the House passed a National Rifle Association-backed amendment sponsored by Michigan Democrat John Dingell that would limit the waiting period to one day.

Democrats, upset that the bill had been weakened by an amendment from one of their own, comprised a majority of the no vote on the final gun bill.

The debate on gun control took center stage on Capitol Hill following the attack at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two months ago.

Investigators believe the guns used in the attack, which left 15 people dead, may have been purchased at gun shows. They ended up in the hands of two students at the school, police said.

Russian presence in Pristina 'acceptable'

On the subject of Kosovo, Clinton said that Yugoslav troops' withdrawal from the Yugoslav province marked a good day, and that Russia's role in peacekeeping efforts there is acceptable to NATO.

"It's a very happy day," Clinton said, referring to the Yugoslav pullout. NATO formally ended its 11-week air war against Yugoslavia on Sunday.

"We have about 20,000 of our NATO peacekeepers in there. Sixty-two thousand of the Kosovars have already come home. So I feel very good about where we're going with this now, and I'm leaving here with real confidence that we are going to succeed in achieving all of our objectives," Clinton said.

After meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsinon the last day of the G-8 summit, Clinton said he was satisfied with Russia's role at the airport in Kosovo's capital, Pristina.

Originally planned as a staging ground for NATO peacekeepers, the airport was unexpectedly taken over by Russian troops last week.

"The division of labor they've worked out at the airport is quite acceptable to us and guarantees that the mission can go forward," Clinton said. He did not elaborate.

The U.S. president downplayed reports of Yeltsin's poor health.

"His behavior was neither erratic or shaky today. He was strong, clear, forceful and looking to the future," Clinton said.

Speech reviews

Discussing the 2000 presidential election, Clinton praised Republican George W. Bush's campaign announcement last week. But he said the issues will decide how well Bush does against Gore on the Democratic side.

"We've got to see where he stands on the issues," Clinton said. "So far we know almost nothing of that except what we know from his record as governor."

"His announcement speech was very well-crafted. But on the specifics, I just don't know. I mean, for example, he said nothing about this gun battle going on in the House. He signed a concealed weapons bill in the Texas legislature. That's just one example."

Clinton was more effusive in his praise of Gore, who he said presented a good mix of experience and the future.

"All elections are about tomorrow," Clinton said. "So if you've been a good vice president or a good governor of Texas, for the voters at election time, that's only valuable if it's evidence that you'll do good tomorrow. They hire you, they give a check every two weeks to do a good job, so I think the most important thing he did was to talk about his 'future vision.'"

Post-presidency plans

On Hillary Rodham Clinton's possible run for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, Clinton said reports that the first lady planned to move out of the White House in the fall were untrue. He said he would be "enthusiastically supportive" if she runs.

Asked what was ahead for his personal life after he leaves office, Clinton said he would continue to work on issues he cares about, such as getting young people involved in public service and promoting racial and religious harmony.

"It's too early to quit work, and I'm not good enough to go on the senior golf tour, so I expect I'll have to just go on doing what I'm doing."

Yugoslav military presence in Kosovo drawing to a close
June 19, 1999
Cohen receives warm welcome from Kosovar Albanians
June 19, 1999
Gore launches presidential campaign
June 16, 1999
Bush sounds 'compassionate conservative' theme in Iowa
June 12, 1999
Hillary Clinton confirms plans for exploratory committee
June 04, 1999

The White House
U.S. Senate
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


NATO air war officially ends as Yugoslav troops leave Kosovo
G-8 summit ends with promise of 'strong action' in Balkans
U.S. officials upbeat after Clinton-Yeltsin meeting
Clinton: 'Happy day' as Yugoslav pullout completed
U.S. officials upbeat after Clinton-Yeltsin meeting
Author Stephen King in good spirits after surgery
Review: 'Tarzan' -- Disney goes ape

Stewart only player under par at perilous Pinehurst
Canseco hits 27th HR; Boggs collects 1,000th RBI
Positive end to Wall Street's week
Revelation of Microsoft flaw debated
A fund investor's S.O.S.

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 1999 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.