Clinton opens second term urging end to bickering

WASHINGTON (AP) — William Jefferson Clinton began his second term as president Monday, promising to lead the nation into the 21st century with a government that “does more with less.” In a day of inaugural fanfare and political reflection, he urged an end to Washington’s “petty bickering and extreme partisanship.”
The nation’s 53rd inauguration stretched from a rousing morning prayer service to all-night revelry at 15 black-tie balls.
Five minutes after noon, as a warming sun shone down on the chilled Capitol audience, Clinton put his left hand on the family Bible held by his wife and raised his right hand to recite the 35 words spoken by every president since George Washington.
“Good luck,” Chief Justice William Rehnquist said when the president finished the oath.
The crowd broke the silence with a roar of cheers. The president turned and swept up Hillary Rodham Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, in a two-armed hug. Cannons fired a military salute.
Clinton will be the first president of the 21st century and the approach of a new millennium was very much on his mind at the rebirth of his presidency. Clinton’s vision of his second term was one of practicality.
“As times change, so government must change,” Clinton said. “We need a new government for a new century — humble enough not to try to solve all our problems for us, but strong enough to give us the tools to solve our problems for ourselves; a government that is smaller, lives within its means, and does more with less.”
“Our land of new promise will be a nation that meets its obligations, a nation that balances its budget but never loses the balance of its values; a nation where our grandparents have secure retirement and health care.”
In a capital city often torn by dark political division, it was a bright day of unity and reconciliation. Republicans and Democrats tipped hats. Clinton was ushered to the podium by Republican nemeses, House Speaker Newt Gingrich among them.
Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., praised the tone and the substance of Clinton’s speech. “It was clearly one given with an outreached hand, I believe, to all of us to work together. I thought the inaugural was very positive, almost spiritual … and hopefully a healing event as well.”
Bob Dole, the defeated Republican presidential nominee, was in Washington but kept out of the public eye and issued no statements. He was remembered at Clinton’s inauguration in comments by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and the Rev. Billy Graham.
In the spirit of the day, Gingrich presented Clinton and Vice President Al Gore with flags that had flown over the capital that morning. At a lunch in Statuary Hall, Gingrich said the flags were a reminder that “while we may disagree about some things, here you’re among friends.”
Gingrich would benefit from political reconciliation. On Tuesday, the House was to vote on penalties for Gingrich over ethics violations.
Clinton’s first official act was to sign a proclamation declaring Monday a national day of hope and renewal.
Madeline Albright, meanwhile, won unanimous approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be secretary of state. She is the first of Clinton’s new Cabinet nominees to pass committee scrutiny, and the full Senate is expected to confirm her quickly.
The inaugural parade route was a wall of patriotic bunting, and thousands of people lined the streets. There were 116 bands and marching units from around town and across the nation.
The Clintons rode most of the way in their limousine but then delighted the crowd by walking the last two blocks to the White House. The president and Chelsea stripped off their coats despite the cold.
“A lot of excitement is hitting us all at once,” gushed Samuel Montoya, who played a guitar in a mariachi band sponsored by New Mexico’s Highland University.
Madelyn Sheets, a fourth-grade teacher from San Diego, said Clinton’s inaugural address “really showed a vision.” “It’s about history. It’s about continuity. It’s the time for the country to stop and ask where do we want to go?”
Clinton was the first Democrat in 60 years elected to a second term.