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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly
Investigating The President

MLK's daughter: 'Leave our president alone'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A chant of "leave him alone" broke out in the East Room of the White House Tuesday evening as the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon on forgiveness.

The outburst came during a reception for South African President Nelson Mandela, who first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said was at the White House for a "slumber party."

Clinton enjoys Mandela's speech as the Rev. Bernice King looks on  

The Rev. Bernice King, a Baptist minister, offered her forgiveness to President Clinton.

"None of us is perfect, because we have all, everybody, everybody, from the highest to the lowest, from the news media to Capitol Hill, we have all, from pulpits to the pews, we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory," King said.

"I wish to say that it's time, I think, for us to leave our president alone."

The audience, including the first lady, responded with rousing applause and a standing ovation, as some people chanted, "Leave him alone, leave him alone."

Comments of support from the Rev. Bernice King and South African President Nelson Mandela
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"Knowing that, as we leave him alone, we are leaving him in trusted hands," King said, as she continued her sermon.

"We're leaving him in the hands of an able God ... and we're also leaving him alone to his family, who will help in the healing process.

"Forgive, that we might be forgiven by Him and He might speak to us and heal our land," King said.

She then turned the podium over to Clinton.

"The scripture says it's more blessed to give than to receive," Clinton said. "I was sitting here thinking in this case I wish I was on the giving rather the receiving end."

To introduce Mandela, Clinton said, "Every time he walks into a room we all feel a little bigger. We all want to cheer because we'd like to be him on our best day."

Clinton, Mandela
Clinton greets Mandela after his speech  

Mandela received two standing ovations when he spoke in support of Clinton.

"We're aware of the national debate on the president," Mandela said. "It's not our business, but we wish to say that President Clinton is a friend of South Africa, and a friend to minorities and the disabled of the U.S."

Mandela said that Zambian President Frederick Chiluba told him to support Clinton, and added that Chiluba said he was not speaking just for himself, but "for the continent of Africa."


Tuesday, September 22, 1998

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