BILL CLINTON: Recaps Presidency, Touts Gore at Convention
Taking his party's center stage for the final time as president, President Clinton opened the Democratic National Convention Monday, recounting the past eight years of his presidency and embracing Vice President Al Gore as his chosen successor, the Los Angeles Times reports. "To those who say ... the progress of the last eight years was an accident, that we just kind of coasted along, let me be clear: America's success was not a matter of chance. It was a matter of choice," Clinton said (Barabak/Gerstenzang, 8/15). He praised Gore as a strong leader who "was always there" and would maintain America's prosperity over the next four years, explaining that Gore and running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) "will keep our prosperity going by paying down the debt, investing in education and health care, moving people from welfare to work and providing family tax cuts we can afford" (Luebsdorf, Dallas Morning News, 8/15). Clinton also criticized Republicans for lavish spending proposals. "[T]he GOP wants to spend every dime of our projected surplus and then some -- leaving nothing for education or Medicare prescription drugs, nothing to extend the life of Medicare and Social Security, nothing for emergencies, nothing in case the projected surpluses don't come in," he charged (Kranish/Scales, Boston Globe, 8/15). Emphasizing the importance of the upcoming election and imploring voters to restore Democrats to power in the House and Senate, Clinton said: "Consider this: America would already have a real patients' bill of rights, a minimum wage increase, stronger equal pay laws for women, and middle class tax cuts for college tuition and long-term care for elderly and disabled family members, if the Democratic Party were in the majority today, led by Speaker [Dick] Gephardt [D-Mass.] and Majority Leader [Tom] Daschle [S.D.]. Come November, we will be." (New York Times, 8/15)
Hillary Speaks Out
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton also spoke last night, hailing the administration and praising Gore and Lieberman. "They have what it takes. And they'll do what it takes," she said (Humbert, AP/Nando Times, 8/15). Specifically highlighting health issues, she said: "You may remember I had a few ideas about health care. I've learned a few lessons since then. But I haven't given up on the goal. That's why we kept working step by step to insure millions more kids through the Children's Health Insurance Program. And that's why it's time to pass a real patients' bill of rights and provide access to affordable health care for every single child and family in this country." She listed the progress accomplished in the last eight years and the work that is left to do. "When a child's illness is not treated because a hard-working parent can't afford health insurance -- that's a child left behind," she said, continuing, "Don't let anyone tell you this election doesn't matter. The stakes in November are the biggest for the littlest among us" (New York Times, 8/15).