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Governor George W Bush
"I cannot thank the President enough for his hospitality"
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The BBC's Paul Reynolds
"Eight years ago it was Bill Clinton who was welcomed by George W Bush's father, now the Bushes are back"
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Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 21:35 GMT
White House welcome for Bush
George W Bush and Bill Clinton
New and old: 'Get a good team'
George W Bush has spent two hours talking with President Bill Clinton, the man he will succeed, in his first visit to the White House as President-Elect.

The two men, who were both looking relaxed, met for 30 minutes longer than scheduled in the Oval Office with their chiefs-of-staff before a private lunch.

I'm here to listen, if the president is kind enough to offer me advice

George W Bush
"It's actually been such a huge honour to come as the president-elect. I am humbled and honoured, and I thank the president for his hospitality," said Mr Bush.

"I'm here to listen, if the president is kind enough to offer me advice."

Mr Clinton said the only advice he had to offer his successor was "to get a good team and do what you think is right".

Mr Bush later met his vanquished opponent Al Gore at the vice-president's residence, from where the Democratic Party candidate made his concession speech.

Their meeting lasted less than an hour and neither man would comment publicly afterwards.

The future first lady, Laura Bush, has already met Hillary Clinton, to discuss the transition to the White House.

The US Electoral College completed the formality of officially electing Mr Bush president on Monday, after weeks of bitter legal wrangling over the controversial result.

Economy talk

Despite attacks by Mr Bush on Mr Clinton's character during the campaign the two men spoke congenially as they met for the first time since the election.

Bill Clinton
The Bush team may roll back President Clinton's foreign agenda
At a joint news conference Mr Clinton said he did not think the US economy would sink into recession.

"But we couldn't keep up 5% growth a year, you know, forever," he added.

Mr Bush declined to comment on his recent statements that he is concerned about an economic slowdown.

Healing wounds

Mr Bush met congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties on Monday.

He has said he will try to heal the wounds from the bruising presidential contest.

But, while Mr Bush has stressed his determination to press ahead with his plan for big tax cuts, both parties in Congress are more cautious.

Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton
Hand in hand: the future and present First Ladies
The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Washington says the Texas governor will need all the skills he claims to have as a bipartisan leader to forge a consensus.

Having moved quickly to nominate senior members of his administration, Mr Bush arrived in Washington to start trying to be, as he has always described himself, a uniter not a divider.

With Congress almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, Mr Bush joked with party leaders that he might have to resort to some arm-twisting.

"I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's okay", he said.

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator," he added.

On a more serious note, he said the closeness of the election "should make it clear to all of us that we can come together to heal whatever wounds may exist, whatever residuals there may be".

The Democrats have welcomed this message.

"It's an opportunity for us to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew, with the a recognition that we have many, many challenges ahead," said Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle.

"And as we face those challenges, the only real choice for us is to recognise that bipartisanship isn't an option, it's a requirement."

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See also:

19 Dec 00 | Americas
Chat at the White House
16 Dec 00 | Americas
In pictures: Gore parties on
16 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Cook hails Powell as 'good friend'
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Pressure mounts for electoral reform
14 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Bush gets Hollywood approval
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Powell's speech - excerpts
14 Dec 00 | Business
Tax cuts and free trade
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