Excerpt From Clinton's Comments
Wednesday, September 9, 1998; 10:51 p.m. EDT Excerpts from President Clinton's fund-raising speech in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday as transcribed by Federal Document Clearinghouse, and from another fund-raiser later Wednesday in Coral Gables, Fla.
I have been your friend. I've done my best to be your friend, but I also let you down and I let my family down and I let this country down. But I'm trying to make it right. And I'm determined never to let anything like that happen again. And I'm determined...
Wait a minute, wait a minute.
I'm determined to redeem the trust of people like (Florida Lt. Gov.) Buddy (MacKay) and Anne who were with me in 1991. A lot of the rest of you were, too, when nobody but my mother and my wife thought I had a chance to be elected.
When I was over at the Hillcrest school -- Buddy and I were over there a few minutes ago -- I was shaking hands with all these little kids out there. And this kid reminded me a lot of myself when I was that young. He was bigger than the other students and kind of husky.
He said: "Mr. President, I want to grow up to be president. I want to be a president like you."
And I said -- I thought, I want to be able to conduct my life and my presidency so that all the parents of the country could feel good if their children were able to say that again. I'll never forget that little boy, and it's a big guide for me.
So I ask you for your understanding, for your forgiveness on this journey we're on. I hope this will be a time of reconciliation and healing, and I hope that millions of families all over America are in a way growing stronger because of this.
But I tell you one thing that I hope you won't let happen: There are a whole lot of people, in Washington especially, or who write about this who would like for this -- once again -- would like for something going on in Washington to be the subject of an election in November instead of what's going on in the lives of the American people. And I want to be open with you. I want you to understand these have been the toughest days of my life, but they may turn out to be the most valuable for me and my family.
And I have no one to blame but myself for my self-inflicted wounds. But that's not what America is about.
And it doesn't take away from whether we're right or wrong on the issues or what we've done for the last six years or what this election is about.
So what I want to say to you is you've been kind and understanding to me today. And I hope you'll tell your friends and neighbors that I'm grateful, and that I'm determined to redeem the trust of all the American people.
In Coral Gables:
All of you know that I've been on a rather painful journey these last few weeks and I've had to ask for things that I was more in the habit of giving in my life than asking for in terms of understanding and forgiveness, but it's also given me the chance to try to ask, as all of us do: What do you really care about? What do you want to think about in your last hours on this earth? What really matters?
I've tried to do a good job taking care of this country even when I haven't taken such good care of myself and my family, my obligations. I hope that you and others I have injured will forgive me for the mistakes I've made, but the most important thing is you must not let it deter you from meeting your responsibilities as citizens.
There is always, at a moment like this, those who seek not to deal with the substance of whatever is at issue but those who seek some advantage and hope that the attention of the public will be diverted from the public's business, and these next eight weeks ought to be devoted to your and your children and your grandchildren and the future of this country and the future of this state.
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