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Bill Clinton: Obama Will be Uniter, Not Divider

Monday, 19 Jan 2009 02:06 PM

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WASHINGTON – Former President Bill Clinton said on Monday that American politics over the next 30 years will be marked by a practical, inclusive approach rather than the partisan battles that defined the last 40 years.

The victory last November of President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, closed the curtains on the post-1960s era during which politicians used divisive issues like gun control to motivate an ideological hard core, Clinton told a gathering of mayors.

In the future, Democrats and Republicans will try to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters concerned with effective government and other nuts-and-bolts issues, Clinton said.

"We will not go forward anymore, I don't think, with the politics of division and destruction that for too long have dragged us down," said Clinton, like Obama a Democrat.

Clinton's 1993-2001 White House term was marked by stark partisan battles with a Republican-controlled Congress, even as the country enjoyed peace and economic prosperity.

Those battles reflected the culture of alienation and suspicion of government that emerged after Republican Richard Nixon's victory in 1968, Clinton said.

Americans have since grown comfortable with the country's increasing ethnic and religious diversity, he said.

Democrats have benefited from this shift since 2006, but that does not necessarily mean the country is moving to the left, he said. Democrats' continued dominance is not assured if Republicans take a more inclusive approach, he said.

Clinton offered praise for Obama, who defeated his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, in a heated Democratic primary last year.

She is likely to be confirmed as secretary of state shortly after Obama is sworn in as the 44th U.S. president.

"I think he's done a very good job to this point, both in his personnel selections -- I especially like that secretary of state -- and in his policy decisions," Clinton said.

Clinton said a proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package needs to include measures to improve buildings' energy efficiency, an approach that will create jobs as well as reduce energy consumption and fight climate change.

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