BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Clinton bows out with pride
Bill Clinton
End of an affair after eight years in office
Outgoing US President Bill Clinton has set out what he sees as the achievements of his administration in a televised farewell address to the nation.

The president-elect, George W Bush, is due to take the oath of office at 1700 GMT on Saturday, becoming the 43rd US president. He has already begun his inaugural celebrations, pledging to "give America a fresh start".

America must not and cannot disentangle itself from the world

Bill Clinton

In a relatively short speech on Thursday, Mr Clinton said the country was in a strong position after his eight years in power.

"America has done well," he said, listing prosperity, a drop in crime, stronger families and a cleaner environment among his successes.


But Mr Clinton also offered some advice to President-elect Bush.

Bush (right) with Ricky Martin
Mr Bush in buoyant mood with singer Ricky Martin

He listed three things that America - and by implication Mr Bush - should do.

He said that America should maintain fiscal responsibility and continue paying off the national debt.

He cautioned against isolationism and urged Americans to remember their country's international responsibilities.

"America must not and cannot disentangle itself from the world," he said.

And he called for harmony in race relations at home. "America cannot lead unless we weave threads of our coat of many colours into one America," he said.

I leave the presidency more idealistic, more full of hope than the day I arrived, and more confident than ever that America's best days lie ahead

Bill Clinton

Mr Bush began his inaugural celebrations with a concert in Washington starring Latin pop star Ricky Martin.

In a short speech, Mr Bush said he intended to be a president of all the people.

"I will treat the office with care, never take it for granted, and always remember to whom it really belongs," he said in a veiled reference to the scandals which dogged the Clinton presidency.

High ratings

Mr Clinton leaves office with poll ratings higher than any other modern president, despite the scandals. At the age of 54, Mr Clinton is also the youngest president to leave office since Theodore Roosevelt left the White House at the age of 50.

Clinton's high points
Economic boom
Welfare reform
Peace efforts in Kosovo and Northern Ireland

He thanked people who had supported him and worked for him throughout his presidency and offered his best wishes to Mr Bush in meeting the challenges ahead.

He said that he was more idealistic and full of hope than when he arrived in office in 1993.

"I am more confident than ever that America's best days lie ahead," he said.

But he also expressed the hope that his own days of service were not over.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky: The scandal taints Mr Clinton's legacy

"In the years ahead, I will never hold a position higher or a covenant more sacred than that of President of the United States. But there is no title I will wear more proudly than that of citizen," he concluded.

There was no mention in the speech about his affair with Monica Lewinsky or his impeachment by the House of Representatives which resulted from the sex-and-lies scandal. Nor was there reference to the Whitewater property scandal.

Clinton's low points
Impeachment and the Lewinsky affair
Failure of health care reform
Deadlock in Middle East peace
The address followed weeks of farewell visits to places signifying landmarks in his political career.

On Wednesday, Mr Clinton made a last official road trip to his home state of Arkansas, spending a nostalgic few hours at the State House chamber where he started off his life in politics.

The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"There's a great belief in the office of presidency"
The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"America's next president is taking the stage"
The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Washington
"If Ronald Reagan was the great communicator, Bill Clinton was the great negotiator"

President ClintonGoodbye
Watch President Clinton's farewell address
AUDIO/VIDEO  real 56k
See also:

14 Jan 01 | Americas
The Clinton years
19 Jan 01 | Americas
Analysis: Clinton's farewell
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories