[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 4, 1998]
[Pages 1976-1977]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the Legislative Agenda and an Exchange With Reporters
November 4, 1998

    The President. Good afternoon. Now that the election is over, it is 
time to put politics aside and once again focus clearly on the people's 
business. In yesterday's election, I think the message the American 
people sent was loud and clear: We want progress over partisanship and 
unity over division; we should address our country's great challenges; 
above all, now we must address the challenge to save Social Security for 
the 21st century.
    We have work to do in other areas as well. We should move forward to 
pass a Patients' Bill of Rights. We should strengthen our schools by 
finishing the job of hiring 100,000 teachers and then passing the school 
modernization initiative, to give us 5,000 remodeled or new schools. We 
should increase the minimum wage. We should pass campaign finance 
reform. We must maintain our fiscal discipline to strengthen our own 
economy and maintain our efforts to stabilize the global economy.
    But above all, now we have to seize this opportunity to save Social 
Security. And we're about to have another meeting here, one of many, in 
anticipation of the White House conference. I have spoken tonight and 
today with Senator Lott and Speaker Gingrich, with Senator Daschle and 
Mr. Gephardt, to ask them to join with me in this effort. On December 
8th and 9th we will hold the first-ever White House Conference on Social 
Security, bringing together people from Congress and the administration, 
from the public and experts of all persuasions. We will only be able to 
do this if we reach across party lines, reach across generational lines, 
indeed, reach across philosophical lines to forge a true national 
    I believe we can do it. I believe we must do it. Yesterday's 
election makes it clear that the American people expect us to do it.

1998 Election Results

    Q. To what do you attribute, Mr. President, the Democratic gains? I 
mean, was there one factor that you think was really the motivation?
    The President. Well, let me say I'm very proud of what our party did 
yesterday in the face of the tide of history and an enormous financial 
disadvantage. I think it's clear what happened. I think that they stayed 
together; they had a message that was about the American people, their 
needs, their opportunities, and their future. I think that they won 
because they had a clear message that was about America, about saving 
Social Security, and improving education, and passing the Patients' Bill 
of Rights, and raising the minimum wage and those other things. I think 
that's why they won. And they were able to get an enormous outpouring of 
support in all quarters of the country. And I'm very proud of what they 
did. But I think they did it by putting progress over partisanship.

1998 Election Results and Impeachment Inquiry

    Q. Mr. President, do you think the election results will have an 
impact, or should have an impact on the impeachment inquiry?
    The President. That's in the hands of Congress and the American 
people. I've said that before; I'll say it again. I have nothing else to 
say about that.
    Q. Mr. President, the Republicans have made no secret of the fact 
they intend to look at these elections and draw a lesson in terms of how 
they conduct an impeachment inquiry. What lesson would you hope they 
draw from these elections on that point?
    The President. That's a decision for them to make. I'm not involved 
in that, and I'm not going to comment on it. I think that the lesson all 
people should draw is that the people who were rewarded were rewarded 
because they wanted to do something for the American people. They wanted 
to do something to pull this country together and to move this country 
    If you look at all the results, they're clear and unambiguous. The 
American people want their business, their concerns, their children, 
their families, their future addressed here. That's

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what the message of the election was. And because the Democrats were 
able to do that in a unified fashion, even while being badly outspent 
and while running against a tide of history that goes back to, really to 
1822, they were able to have an astonishing result. And I'm grateful for 
    But I think that people of both parties who care about these issues 
and want to pull the country together should now put the election behind 
us, put Social Security reform and education and health care reform 
before us, and go forward. That's what I want to do.

1998 Election Results

    Q. [Inaudible]--the outcome is a vindication of your policies?
    The President. I think it is a vindication of the policies and of 
the general policy of putting partisanship behind progress and of 
putting people before politics and of trying to find ways to bring 
people together instead of to divide them. It was clearly a vindication 
of the message that the Democrats put out there on education, health 
care, Social Security and the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, the 
environment, a number of other things.
    A lot of people worked very hard in this election--the Vice 
President did; the First Lady did; a lot of people did--but I think the 
American people basically said to all of us--all of us--``We sent you 
there to work for us, and we want you to find a way to do it, to address 
the challenges we face and to bring this country together and move this 
country forward.'' I think that was the loud, clear, completely 
unambiguous message of the election.

Governor-Elect Jesse Ventura of Minnesota

    Q. [Inaudible]--the election of Ventura in Minnesota----
    The President. I don't know. I think that you're going to have a lot 
of politicians spending time in gyms now. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 1:15 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White 
House, prior to a meeting with the economic team.