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Clinton urges patience in stalled presidential election

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton on Saturday urged Americans to be "patient and wait for the results" in the presidential election, as vote recounting took place in Florida.

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"The people have spoken," said Clinton in his weekly radio address. "The important thing for all of us to remember now is that a process for resolving the discrepancies and challenges to the election is in motion."

Clinton has said little about the unprecedented situation, careful to balance his desire to see Vice President Al Gore succeed him with his responsibilities as the nation's leader to try to maintain stability and calm throughout the country.

"The events unfolding in Florida are not a sign of the division of our nation, but of the vitality of our debate, which will be resolved by the vibrancy of our Constitution and laws," the president said. "Regardless of the outcome, we will come together as a nation as we always do."

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The president congratulated Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush for a "vigorous and hard-fought campaign," and said the current situation demonstrates how important each and every vote is in any election.

"If there was ever a doubt about the importance of exercising the most fundamental right of citizenship, it sure was answered on Tuesday," he said. "No American will ever again be able to seriously say: 'My vote doesn't count.'"

Clinton said while the world waits for the answers to the unresolved election, "the nation's business continues."

Upcoming trip to Asia

The president also discussed his upcoming trip to Asia, which will include the first presidential visit to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War.

"I will go to open a new chapter in our relationship with its people," said the president in his radio address.

Clinton said for nearly a decade, the United States has been normalizing relations with Vietnam, based on "progress" made in the accounting for Americans missing from the war.

"We've made great strides, repatriating remains, obtaining documents, never forgetting that each case represents a brave American with a name, a family that cares about his face," the president said.

Clinton said he will "make clear" during his historic visit to Vietnam the United States expects "continued cooperation." He also will focus on trade, human rights and religious freedom.

The president is to depart Monday for Asia and stop in Hawaii for some rest and relaxation, Brunei for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, and then to Vietnam.

Before departing, he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the White House, part of his on-going efforts to quell the violence in the region, and help the Israelis and Palestinians return to the peace process.

Unfinished business

The president also talked about pending business at home, with Congress returning next week for a lame-duck session to wrap up work on the remaining spending bills to keep the government funded through the fiscal year which began last month.

"Let's finish the job of improving our schools, resolve our differences on immigration and worker safety, and let's raise the minimum wage. We should pledge to get these things done for the American people before the next president takes office in January," he said.

The White House has said it would support a continuing resolution which would keep the government running, through approximately November 20, when the president returns from Vietnam.

The current temporary spending bill expires Tuesday at midnight.

White House officials have said they believe all the work can be completed before the Thanksgiving holiday.


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Saturday, November 11, 2000

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