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U.S. Department of State
96/11/07 Resignation Remarks
Office of the Spokesman
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 7, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER
The Cross Halls of the Residence
2:50 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: We are truly about to make a new beginning. Yesterday
at the wonderful welcome home that Hillary and Al and Tipper and I had
at the White House I saw a remarkable sight -- Warren Christopher was
wearing a t-shirt. (Laughter.) He did have it on underneath his
Saville Row suit. Nonetheless, it was there. This is the same Warren
Christopher, I would remind you all, who made People Magazine's "best
dressed" list; the only man ever to eat presidential M&Ms with a knife
and fork. (Laughter.)
Yesterday Secretary Christopher gave new meaning to my conviction that
we are entering an age of new and remarkable possibility. Today it is
with great regret at his departure, but deep gratitude for his service
to our administration and to our country, that I have accepted Warren
Christopher's decision to step down as Secretary of State.
He has left the mark of his hand on history -- not in some theoretical,
intangible fashion, but in concrete ways that have made a real
difference in the lives of the American people and people around the
world. He has served three previous Democratic administration, as a
trade negotiator, a deputy attorney general, a deputy Secretary of State
when he brought home our hostages from Iran. These past four years I
have been proud and privileged to have him by my side as Secretary of
Today, if the children of the Middle East can imagine a future of
cooperation, not conflict; if Bosnia's killing fields are once again
playing fields; if the people of Haiti now live in democracy instead of
under dictators, in no small measure, it is because of Warren
Christopher. The cause of peace and freedom and decency have never had
a more tireless or tenacious advocate.
Those of us who have worked with Chris know that his quiet dignity masks
a steely determination. Let me cite just one example.
History will record that Bosnia's peace was secured at Dayton. It will
also recall that, literally, until the last minute the outcome was in
doubt. Our negotiators had their bags packed and were ready to head
home without an agreement. But Chris refused to give up. And the force
of his will finally convinced the Balkan leaders to give into the logic
For all Secretary Christopher's skill at diffusing crises, I believe his
lasting legacy was built behind the headlines, laying the foundations
for our future. Under his leadership we've taken on new threats like
terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and environment
degradation. We're seizing the opportunities to make the 21st century
more secure and prosperous for every American -- working toward a Europe
that is undivided, democratic, and at peace; building a new partnership
with a strong and open Russia; meeting the challenges of change in Asia
with strength and steadiness; opening more markets abroad and helping
American businesses to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Perhaps most important, Warren Christopher's life provides powerful
proof that America has a unique responsibility and a unique privilege to
lead. He has helped the American people to understand that we cannot
lead on the cheap; it takes time, energy and resources. And as we go
forward, I pledge to protect and preserve the resources for our
diplomacy that Warren Christopher has put to such good use.
Finally, let me say, as all of you know, I owe Warren Christopher a debt
that extends far beyond the broad range of his responsibilities. Few
individuals did more to shape my first administration. He chaired our
vice presidential search committee, and I'd say he came up with a pretty
good recommendation. (Laughter.) The American people have him to
thank for my selection of Al Gore and the subsequent development of the
most unique partnership in the history of the presidency and the vice
presidency. And I think it is clear that the Vice President has been
the most influential and constructive force ever to occupy the vice
Warren Christopher directed the 1992 transition, in particular, in
building a Cabinet team that helped to put America on track as we enter
the 21st century; one which a scholar of the presidency wrote me and
said was the most loyal Cabinet since Thomas Jefferson's first
These past four years, time and again I have reached out to my friend
for his counsel, his judgment, and his support. It is no exaggeration
to say that Warren Christopher has literally been America's elder
statesman. It's also no exaggeration today that retains the energy, the
vigor and the capacity of a person half his age.
I thank Secretary Christopher for agreeing to stay on until we select a
successor. I will consult closely with him in that process. In the
weeks ahead I may have a hard time finding him, however. The Secretary
is continuing to do the vital business of our nation, participating next
week in the Cairo Conference, traveling to China and throughout Asia,
moving on to Europe to work on Bosnia and adapting NATO to the future.
Secretary Christopher already has set a four-year record as America's
most traveled diplomat in chief. If you could earn frequent flyer miles
for government travel, we would owe him at least a round trip on the
space shuttle. (Laughter.) And the Vice President says that with the
travel he's already logged in, he could go to the Moon and back, and
back to the Moon again. I want him to travel a few more miles, so he
will finish on the right planet.
Through dignity, determination, hard work and skill; through an
unbelievable, powerful collection and combination of his intellect, his
integrity, and his good heart, Warren Christopher has earned our
nation's admiration and a debt that can never be fully repaid. From the
bottom of my heart, I thank him for his service to the nation and his
unique friendship to the President.
Mr. Secretary. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Mr. President, it would just be absolutely
impossible for me to express fully my gratitude to you for entrusting
this post to me at this extraordinary moment in history. I'm grateful
for the unfailing and unstinting support that you've given me in moments
of high success and at the difficult times as well. I also want to
thank you and Hillary for the many kindnesses that you've extended to
Marie and to me and our family.
I also want to express appreciation to you, Mr. Vice President, for
being here today, as you've always been for me, and want to pay tribute
to the remarkable role, as the President said, that you've played in
shaping and carrying out our nation's foreign policy.
Being Secretary of State is to take part in history's relay race. It's
been a great privilege for me to have an opportunity to run this
challenging leg over the last four years. I've done so with the sure
sense that we've begun to shape American foreign policy for the 21st
Mr. President, the world looks to the United States for leadership and
you have responded magnificently. Thanks to your leadership, America is
more secure, more prosperous and our values are most ascendant than they
were when we took office four years ago.
No Secretary of State could ever have had stronger support than I've had
from the President and the Vice President, or from my colleagues in the
National Security Agency, many of whom I'm proud and pleased are here
today. I've also been tremendously honored by the opportunity to work
with so many talented members of the State Department, many of whom I
see down here today, including the dedicated men and women of the
Foreign Service and the civil service as well.
On a personal note, of course, I am especially grateful to my wife,
Marie, who has supported me with love and fresh orange juice every
morning -- (laughter) -- through four adventures in Washington and
through, next month, 40 years of happy marriage.
I'm, of course, also very grateful to the American people. It is their
values and their aspirations that I've sought to uphold as I've traveled
around the world these last four years. I'm convinced that especially
as this time of change in the world -- this time of challenge and change
-- the American people expect our nation to maintain a strong and
principled global leadership. They can be assured that I will be doing
that, maintaining our active engagement, as I travel to the Middle East,
Europe and Asia over the next several weeks before the time of
transition actually takes place.
I've been very generously blessed by Providence and I will leave office
with a deep sense of gratitude and humility. I also leave with great
confidence, Mr. President, that you are laying the foundation for the
next American century.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Mr. President, how will you go about choosing a successor?
What's your plan for doing that?
THE PRESIDENT: Don't sit down now. It won't take long for me to answer
this question. (Laughter.)
Let me say to all of you here in the press, I intend to have a press
conference tomorrow afternoon and I'll be more than happy to answer all
of your questions in greater detail.
But I will go about selecting a successor, first of all, by soliciting
the Secretary of State's advice and the advice of others on our National
Security team and others beyond that with whom I have worked and whom I
trust. And I'm sure I'll get some unsolicited advice as we go along,
and that's a good thing. I believe that the Secretary will be difficult
to replace, but I think there will be worthy Americans who can
contribute, who are willing to serve. And with all these places where
we have vacancies, I want to cast a wide net.
And I think the American people sent us another message on Tuesday.
They want us to work together. They like it when we try to have
principled compromise. And they want us to create a vital center --
that is, not one that just splits the difference, but one that moves the
country forward in an aggressive way, Republicans and Democrats and
independents alike. And I will be looking, in all these personnel
decisions that I have to make, across a broad span of American people to
try to get the best people to create that vital center and take this
country into the 21st century.
And I'll see you all tomorrow and look forward to answering your
questions. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.
END 3:02 P.M. EST
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