Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Former Presidents

September 13, 1993

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. The microphone's not on, so I'll just speak.

First, let me welcome you all to the White House and thank you all for being part of a great and promising day for the United States and for the Middle East and for the entire world.

I am so pleased that we could end this magnificent day with a gathering of many of the great American leaders who made this day possible. I want to salute all my predecessors who are here: President Ford, President Carter, President Bush, and especially acknowledge the contributions of President Carter at Camp David and President Bush in starting the peace talks in Madrid, President Ford for his wise leadership during a pivotal time in the history of the Middle East. I want to thank the Secretaries of State who worked tirelessly over many years for peace in the Middle East: Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Cyrus Vance, James Baker, Larry Eagleburger, and of course, my own Secretary and good friend, Warren Christopher. I thank the Congress for the essential role that it plays in providing the guidance, the resources, and the bipartisan support. The Speaker is here and our majority leader, Dick Gephardt, the Senate and House whips, Senators Ford and Simpson, Congressmen Bonior and Gingrich. And I want to thank all the rest of you who are here who have made a contribution to the remarkable events that are unfolding today.

In this room we represent both political parties and, I think it's fair to say, a fairly wide array of views about public events. But we do have this in common: We agree that the United States must continue to exert its leadership if there is to be hope in this world of taking advantage of the end of the cold war, great hunger of people all over the world for democracy and freedom and peace and prosperity.

In the days ahead I ask you all to be willing to provide counsel to our administration and bipartisan support to sustain the role that the United States must pursue in the world. In the face of difficulties and dangers and in the pursuit of a better world, we must lead.

One of our efforts begins tomorrow when all the Presidents and former Secretaries of State who are here join me in the formal kickoff of our efforts to secure passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. I know that will require great effort and bipartisanship, but I believe we will succeed because of the stakes for ourselves economically and politically in this hemisphere.

Tonight, however, let us for the moment rest on the laurels of the United States of America and toast peace and progress and the prosperity of the American people.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:15 p.m. in the Blue Room at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Former Presidents Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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