Address in Little Rock, Arkansas Accepting Election as the 42nd President of the United States
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. [shouts of "We love you, Bill."]
My fellow Americans—[cheering]—on this day, with high hopes and brave hearts, in massive numbers, the American people have voted to make a new beginning. [cheering] This election is a clarion call for our country to face the challenges of the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the next century, to restore growth to our country and opportunity to our people, to empower our own people so that they can take more responsibility for their own lives, to face problems too long ignored, from AIDS to the environment to the conversion of our economy from a defense to a domestic economic giant. [cheers and applause]
And perhaps most important of all, to bring our people together as never before so that our diversity can be a source of strength in a world that is ever smaller, where everyone counts and everyone is a part of America's family. [cheering]
I want to begin this night by thanking my family, my wife, without whom I would not be here tonight—[cheering]—and who I believe will be one of the greatest First Ladies in the history of this republic. [cheers and chants of "Hillary."]
I also want to say a special word of thanks to our daughter for putting up with our absence, for supporting our effort, for being brave in the face of adversity, and for reminding us every day about what this election is really all about. [cheering]
I want to thank my mother, my brother, my stepfather, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, my brothers-in-law, and my sister-in-law, who carried this campaign across this country and stuck up for me when others were trying to put it down. I love them and I thank them. [cheers and applause]
I want to thank the people of this wonderful small state. [cheering] Time after time, when this campaign was about to be counted out, the Arkansas travelers exploded out of this state around the country to tell people the truth about what we had done here together, how we had pulled together, what we believed in, and what we could do as a nation. I had the best staff and cabinet you could imagine. They kept this state together. And even when we weren't here, we continued to lead the country in job growth, in keeping taxes and spending down, and in pulling the people of Arkansas together to show what we could do if the nation pulled together and moved forward, too. [cheers and applause] I want to thank the people who were in that infamous group, the FOB's, the Friends of Bill and the Friends of Hillary. No person who ever sought this office was more aided by the friends of a lifetime and I will never forget you.
I want to thank the people in the new Democratic Party headed by our Chairman Ron Brown, the new members of Congress, the new blood, the new direction that we are giving. [applause]
And finally, I want to thank the members of my brilliant, aggressive, unconventional but always winning campaign staff, they were unbelievable. [applause] And they have earned this. [applause]
I want to say, if I might, a special word of thanks to two people who lost their lives in the course of this campaign, without whom we might not be here tonight, our friends Paul Tully and Vic Razor. Our prayers are with them. They're looking down on us tonight and they're awful happy. [applause]
Not very long ago I received a telephone call from President Bush. [applause] It was a generous and forthcoming telephone call of real congratulations and an offer to work with me in keeping our democracy running in an effective and important transition. I want all of you to join with me tonight in expressing our gratitude to President Bush for his lifetime of public service, for the effort he made from the time he was a young soldier in World War II to helping to bring about an end to the Cold War, to our victory in the Gulf War, to the grace with which he conceded the results of this election tonight in the finest American tradition. Let's give Mr. Bush and his family a hand. [applause]
I heard tonight Mr. Perot's remarks and his offer to work with us, I say to you of all the things that he said, I think perhaps the most important that we understand here in the heartland of Arkansas is the need to reform the political system, to reduce the influence of special interest and give more influence back to the kind of people that are in this crowd tonight by the tens of thousands and I will work with him to do that. [applause]
And finally, let me say how profoundly indebted I am tonight, beyond the folks at home, beyond the wonderful people that worked in this administration, Lieutenant Governor and others, to keep our government going, beyond all the others, I have to say a special word of thanks to my magnificent running mate, Senator Al Gore and his family. [applause]
I want to thank...I want to tell you that Al and Tipper, and Hillary and I have become friends. I admire them for what they stand for. They're enjoyable to be with, they believe in our country. Al Gore is a man of almost unparalleled combination of intelligence, commitment, compassion and concern to the people of this country, to our obligation to preserve our environment, to our duty to promote freedom and peace in the world and together we're going to do our best to give you a new partnership for a new America. [applause] I want to thank Al's children, his brother-in-law and his wonderful parents. They made about as many votes in some states as we did. I think we carried every state that Senator and Mrs. Gore campaigned in and their percentage was the best of all.
I want to say that we have established a partnership in this campaign that we will continue into this new administration. For if we have learned anything in the world today it is that we can accomplish more by teamwork, by working together, by bringing out the best in all the people that see. And we will seek the best and most able and most committed people throughout this country to be a part of our team. We will ask the Democrats who believe in our cause to come forward, but we will look too among the ranks of Independents and Republicans who are willing to roll up their sleeves, be a part of a new partnership and get on with the business of dealing with this nation's problems! [applause]
I remind you again tonight, my fellow Americans, that this victory was more than a victory of party, it was a victory for the people who work hard and play by the rules, a victory for the people who feel left out and left behind but want to do better, a victory for the people who are ready to compete and win in the global economy, but who need a government that offers a hand up not a hand out. That is what we offer and that is what tomorrow we will begin to work to provide to all of you.
Today the steelworker and the stenographer, the teacher and the nurse had as much power in the mystery of our democracy as the President, the billionaire and the Governor. You all spoke with equal voices for change. And tomorrow we will try to give you that. You can trust us to wake up every day remembering the people we saw in the bus trips, the people we saw in the town meetings, the people we touched at the rallies, the people who had never voted before, the people who hadn't voted in 20 years, the people who'd never voted for a Democrat, the people who had given up hope. All of them together are saying "We want our future back." And I intend to help give it to you! [applause]
I say to all of those who voted for us, this was a remarkable coalition for change. Many of you had to put aside this or that personal ambition to be a part of a broad, deep commitment to change in this country. I ask you to keep that commitment as we move from election to governing. We need more than ever for those of you who said, "Let's put the public interest over personal interest," to keep it right there for four year so we can turn this country around. [applause]
I say to all those who voted for Mr. Bush or Mr. Perot, those who voted for the President, those who voted for Ross Perot, I know you love your country too. I ask you to listen to the voice of your leaders. I ask you to join with us in creating a "Reunited States," a united country with a new sense of patriotism to face the challenges of this new time. We need your help, too. And we will do our best to deserve it.
When we seek to offer young people the opportunity to borrow the money they need to go to college and the challenge to pay it back through national service; when we challenge the insurance companies, the drug companies, the providers, and the consumers, the government to give us a new health care system; when we offer those on welfare new opportunity and the challenge to move to work; when we ask companies to take the incentives we offer to put American people to work and export American products, not American jobs; all of this is a part of a new patriotism, to lift our people up and enable all of us to live up to the fullest of our potential. [cheers and applause]
I accept tonight the responsibility that you have given me to be the leader of this, the greatest country in human history. [cheers and applause] I accept it with a full heart and a joyous spirit. But I ask you to be Americans again, too, to be interested not just in getting, but in giving; not just in placing blame, but now in assuming responsibility; not just in looking out for yourselves, but in looking out for others, too.
In this very place, one year and one month ago today, I said we need more than new laws, new promises or new programs; we need a new spirit of community, a sense that we're all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American dream will continue to wither. Our destiny is bound up with the destiny of every American. We are all in this together, and we will rise or fall together. That has been my message to the American people for the past 13 months, and it will be my message for the next four years.
Together, we can do it. Together, we can make the country that we love everything it was meant to be.
I still believe in a place called Hope.
God bless America. Thank you all. [cheers and applause]
And now, I would like to ask Senator Gore to come up here and say a few words as we begin our new partnership for a new country. Please welcome him to the platform. [cheers and applause]
William J. Clinton, Address in Little Rock, Arkansas Accepting Election as the 42nd President of the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345916