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Excerpts of Remarks in a Meeting With White House Staff on the Death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, Jr.

July 21, 1993

First of all, I want to tell you how very glad I am to see all of you here today. I thought it was important that we come together for a few minutes. Forty-two years ago, when I met Mr. McLarty in kindergarten, I lived with my grandparents in a modest little house around the corner from Vince Foster's nice, big, white brick house. And our backyards touched. Yesterday, last night when I finished the Larry King show and I was told what happened, I just kept thinking in my mind of when we were so young, sitting on the ground in the backyard, throwing knives into the ground and seeing if we were adroit enough to make them stick.

When I started my career in Arkansas politics, he was there to help me. When I decided to run for attorney general, he was the first lawyer in Little Rock I talked to about supporting me. When the Rose law firm hired Hillary after I moved to Little Rock, Vince Foster and Webb Hubbell became her closest friends. I have two things to say about that: One is, he was a perfectly wonderful man on whom I relied and on whom I put a lot for a very long time. The second thing is, for all of you who are especially younger, you will find the longer you live, the more you mark the shape of your life by the people you have truly loved who, for whatever reason, aren't around anymore.

And so, I want you to think about the following: In the first place, no one can ever know why this happened. Even if you had a whole set of objective reasons, that wouldn't be why it happened, because you could get a different, bigger, more burdensome set of objective reasons that are on someone else even in this room. So what happened was a mystery about something inside of him. And I hope all of you will always understand that.

And the last thing I want to say is that all of us who loved him also did a little bit of laughing last night. Just as it is wrong to try to explain or understand something that cannot be grasped, it is very wrong to define a life like his in terms only of how it ended. And anybody in this room could be proud to have raised the children, done the work, been the friend that he was. God bless you.

NOTE: These remarks follow the text as released by the Office of the Press Secretary. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Excerpts of Remarks in a Meeting With White House Staff on the Death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, Jr. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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