View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 11, 1997
                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT 
                        AT CONGRESSIONAL RECEPTION

                              The East Room

8:14 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Al. Thank you, Tipper. Thank you, Marianne. And to Trent and Tricia, and the Speaker was here earlier -- to all of you, thank you for coming.

We tried to put speakers up in the other rooms, we can't get everyone in here. Sometimes the best laid plans don't work. I love it when there's a picnic outside. But if we'd done this last night all of our food would have been destroyed; and then if we'd done it tonight, it's not raining, but right before you came it rained, so all of our food would have been destroyed again. And we thought at least we ought to feed you well. (Laughter.)

But there is a long history of this. I actually thought the Vice President was going to tell you the story of the very first time a President had the Congress to the White House. John Adams was the first President to live here. He spent the last four or five months of his term in the White House. And the first time he invited Congress here it was a bitter, bitter cold day in Washington. And as you can imagine, back in 1800 we didn't have any central heat. So John and Abigail Adams literally, themselves, as the Congress members and their families were coming in, were going from room to room, from fireplace to fireplace. They started with 20 cords of wood, they were trying to throw them into the fireplace and get the fire started. You can imagine how it was. And when they finished it, they'd work themselves to death -- they looked around, it was so cold all the members of Congress were filing out. So at least you haven't left yet. I feel I'm ahead. (Laughter.)

I'd like to say a special word about two groups of people here tonight. First of all, all of you who brought your families, I thank you for doing that. I love seeing the children here. There's one child here I especially like to see, Senator Boxer's grandson, because he's also my nephew. And there he is, I'm glad to see him. I'm glad all the children are here. (Applause.)

The second thing I'd like to do is to say -- I haven't got a list here, so I get myself in trouble -- but I want to mention especially with appreciation, Lee Hamilton, Elizabeth Furse and every other member of Congress of either party who is retiring at the end of this session. Thank you for your service to the United States of America, and thank you for being here tonight. We're very grateful to you. (Applause.)

Finally, let me say, as Tipper said, Hillary wanted to be here tonight, but she's going to Mother Teresa's funeral and I think it very important that we send a delegation there. I know there's also a Congressional delegation going and I think that is a very appropriate thing to do.

I hope we'll go on, have a little fun tonight. We'll here more from the Floating Opera -- what a great name. I feel like that's what we are, half the time. (Laughter.) Then we're going to go in the room over here and shake hands with anybody that wants to come by. But I stood in the hall for a while and tried to visit with as many of you as I could -- do not feel that you have to; this is not an obligatory receiving line. There is no obligation here tonight except to try to have a good time. Let's give the band a big hand and listen to them.

Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)

END 8:17 P.M. EDT