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Transcript: Clinton reacts to impeachment vote

December 19, 1998
Web posted at: 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT)

Good afternoon.

Let me begin by expressing my profound and heartfelt thanks to Congressman Gephardt and the leadership and all the members of the Democratic caucus for what they did today.

I thank the few brave Republicans who withstood enormous pressures to stand with them for the plain meaning of the Constitution and for the proposition that we need to pull together, to move beyond partisanship, to get on with the business of our country.

I thank the millions upon millions of American citizens who have expressed their support and their friendship to Hillary, to me, to our family, and to our administration during these last several weeks.

The words of the members here with me and others who are a part of their endeavor in defense of our Constitution were powerful and moving, and I will never forget them.

The question is, what are we going to do now? I have accepted responsibility for what I did wrong in my personal life, and I have invited members of Congress to work with us to find a reasonable bipartisan and proportionate response.

That approach was rejected today by Republicans in the House, but I hope it will be embraced by the Senate. I hope there will be a constitutional and fair means of resolving this matter in a prompt manner.

Meanwhile, I will continue to do the work of the American people. We still, after all, have to save Social Security and Medicare for the 21st century.

We have to give all our children world-class schools. We have to pass a patients' bill of rights. We have to make sure the economic turbulence around the world does not curb our economic opportunity here at home. We have to keep America the world's strongest force for peace and freedom.

In short, we have a lot to do before we enter the 21st century.

And we still have to keep working to build that elusive one America I have talked so much about.

For six years now, I have done everything I could to bring our country together across the lines that divide us, including bringing Washington together across party lines. Out in the country, people are pulling together. But just as America is coming together, it must look -- from the country's point of view -- like Washington is coming apart.

I want to echo something Mr. Gephardt said. It is something I have felt strongly all my life. We must stop the politics of personal destruction.

(APPLAUSE)

We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive partisanship, obsessive animosity and uncontrolled anger.

That is not what America deserves.

That is not what America is about. We are doing well now. We are a good and decent country but we have significant challenges we have to face.

In order to do it right, we have to have some atmosphere of decency and civility, some presumption of good faith, some sense of proportionality and balance in bringing judgment who are in different parties.

We have important work to do.

We need a constructive debate that has all the different voices in this country heard in the halls of Congress.

I want the American people to know today that I am still committed to working with people of good faith and good will of both parties to do what's best for our country, to bring our nation together, to lift our people up, to move us all forward together.

It's what I've tried to do for six years. It's what I intend to do for two more until the last hour of the last day of my term.

(APPLAUSE)

So with profound gratitude for the defense of the Constitution and the best in America that was raised today by the members here and those who joined them, I ask the American people to move with me -- to go on from here to rise above the rancor, to overcome the pain and division, to be a repairer of the breach -- all of us -- to make this country as one America what it can and must be for our children in the new century about to dawn.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)


Investigating the President

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