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Hillary Clinton: Gore-Lieberman best for America

Clintons will not steal convention limelight

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton says she and her husband are not stealing the spotlight from all-but-crowned presidential nominee Al Gore and plans to tell Democrats on Monday "why a Gore-Lieberman administration would be the best thing for America."

In an exclusive CNN interview that aired Sunday, the first lady dismissed criticism of lavish weekend galas in Los Angeles to raise money for Mr. Clinton's presidential library and her U.S. Senate bid from New York as Gore winds his way westward on a campaign tour that will bring him to California Wednesday, the day before his acceptance speech.

"The other party offers a recipe for going back to the past," she said of the Republican party agenda. "They wrap it up in the talk of the future and nice-sounding rhetoric, but if you look at their economic plans and where they stand on other important issues like education and health care, it's really a sound for retreat."

Asked how she responds to critics who say the first couple's fund-raisers are overshadowing Gore's -- and his running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's -- big moment, Mrs. Clinton said, "Of course that's not the case. We are trying to shine the spotlight on Al and Joe by talking about the issues that they stand for."

But this weekend, the Clintons are in Hollywood's limelight. Saturday night, President Clinton served as master of ceremonies for the star-studded "New York Senate 2000 Hollywood Gala Salute, Concert Tribute to the President" that was billed as a $1 million fund-raiser for his wife, but was expected to generate at least three times as much.

"I want you all to know that for me this was not only the greatest honor of my life, but every day, even the bad days, were good days -- as long as I remembered who hired me and what I was doing there," the president told the celebrity crowd.

Sunday, it was a brunch featuring singer Barbra Streisand, a longtime friend of the couple, that was expected to raise a cool $10 million for a planned presidential library in Arkansas.

Mrs. Clinton said her husband's legacy is that he "restored our economic well-being and our national spirit," and his partnership with Gore "has really positioned America well for the 21st Century."

She said that at the start of the Clinton administration in 1993, "there was a lot of work to be done. Now we're in a very strong position here at home and around the world, and the question is, 'What are we going to do with that?'"

Addressing the president's legacy in an interview to be aired on CNN's "Larry King Live" program Monday, Mrs. Clinton said she didn't "have anything to add" to her husband's latest mea culpa -- in a discussion with ministers Thursday -- on his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"I think that what's important at this convention and this election is the future," she said. "It's very clear to me that if you look at the public record of this administration and what Clinton and Al Gore have meant to America and the world, then this shouldn't be a close election ... We need to get people to focus on what's at stake in their lives and what the decisions are going to be."

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