Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Brunch

January 19, 1997

Thank you very much. Thank you. When I see all of you here with your enthusiasm—this is actually the first event I have attended—and I see the pictures of all the thousands and thousands of people in the shivering cold who were out on The Mall yesterday, all the children taking in the exhibits, and I sense the freedom and the feeling and the enthusiasm on the streets as I—maybe this will be better the second time around. It's pretty good. I like this.

I want to thank my friend Alan Solomont for taking on this immense responsibility. And obviously, I'm indebted to my longtime friend Governor Roy Romer and to Steve Grossman and to Carol Pensky. I'll have more to say about all that the day after tomorrow. I thank Don Fowler and Chris Dodd and Marvin and Scott and everybody else that helped us so much in the last 4 years. And I ask you only to think about this—I have to be very careful because I've been thinking about nothing but my Inaugural Address; if I'm not careful I'll give you half of it right here. [Laughter] How can I say this differently?

I actually, in the darkest days of 1994 and '95, always believed that we would be doing this on this day. But it didn't have so much to do with me or even our wonderful Vice President, but what I think about the American people, what makes us tick, where we are in history, and where we have to go. And I ask you to think about that, because we've come a long way here in building a party that is true to the internal principles of the Democratic Party but geared to the challenges of the present and the future.

And I've run my last race, but we haven't done all the work we need to do for our country for the 21st century. And we have to maintain both the commitment to progress and a commitment to community. That's what's unique about us; we believe that we'll all do better if we all do better. That's what's unique about the Democratic Party.

And so, with a heart full of gratitude for all that has been done for me, I ask you to redouble your efforts and to renew your commitment and not to grow exhausted from doing so in the next few years, because we've only begun to scratch the surface of what can be done to mobilize younger people, what can be done to mobilize people who have never been active in political affairs before to participate, financially and as citizens, in our common endeavors. And we have to do that. We have to leave here with a system, with a structure for ordinary citizens to participate more in the affairs and the life of this party in order to have really been successful.

In that regard, I would like to mention just two other people. First of all, I would like to thank Reverend Jackson, who is over here to my left, appropriately enough, who has never flagged in his belief in our country and his determination to get more people involved in it, to get people to register to vote, to vote, to participate. We all need to do more of what he has been doing.

The second thing I'd like to ask all of you to do on this Sunday, each in your own way, is to say a prayer of gratitude for the life of Senator Paul Tsongas. You know, we had an interesting campaign in 1992. I had read both the books that he had written by that time. We went all over New Hampshire, in that wonderful atmosphere that only New Hampshire has, where you're supposed to meet every voter 3 times before they take you seriously. [Laughter] And we had—he and I had these crazy ideas that people might actually not object to policy wonks running for President. It might be a good thing if the President actually knew something about the problems of the country. [Laughter] And it was really quite an interesting phenomenon, the town meetings that the two of us had and the crowds that would show up just to hear people talk about the issues.

And my admiration for him and for his sense of commitment to our future, to the integrity of the political process, and to the ultimate ability of America always to renew itself, only grew with all of our contacts. Our country is deeply indebted to him for having had the courage to stay active in public life and to battle through his own illness and his own pain and his own disappointment to continue to fight for America's well-being. That is citizenship in the best sense. So I ask you to say a prayer of gratitude for the life and the soul and the family of Paul Tsongas.

Finally, let me encourage you to have a wonderful time. This is supposed to be fun in the best sense. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope every day for the next 4 years you will always be immensely proud of what you did to make this day come about.

Thank you, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:44 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to the following Democratic National Committee officials: Alan Solomont, incoming national finance chair; Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, incoming general chair; Steve Grossman, incoming national chair; Carol Pensky, incoming treasurer; Donald L. Fowler, outgoing national chair; Senator Christopher J. Dodd, outgoing general chair; Marvin Rosen, outgoing finance chair; and Scott Pastrick, outgoing treasurer; and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Brunch Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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