SPEAKER: JAMES E. CARTER,
FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
CARTER: Thank you very much.
President George W. Bush, former Presidents Clinton and Bush, members of the first families and other distinguished guests:
First, I want to congratulate Little Rock and the state of Arkansas on this beautiful presidential center. It is a wonderful gift to all Americans.
And I am also here to express my admiration for the great leader whose name it bears and whose records it holds.
There is a special tie that binds those of us together who have lived and served in the White House and then moved on to other things, retired either as required by the Constitution or involuntarily as a result of elections.
My life has been closely intertwined with Bill Clinton's. The first time I met Bill was exactly 30 years ago when I was governor and charged with helping Democratic candidates throughout the nation.
I came to meet an unknown Congressional candidate in Little Rock, in a Little Rock hotel. It may be a surprise to some of you to learn that he was late for the appointment.
Finally, what I thought was a young messenger arrived, and I said, where the devil is -- and I looked down at my notes to see who I was talking about -- William Clinton?
And he said, "I'm William Clinton."
He didn't win that election, but in a couple of years he was attorney general and then governor of Arkansas.
And he and his wife helped me be elected as president.