Office of the Press Secretary
(Chicago, Illinois)

For Immediate Release October 27, 1997


Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago, Illinois

9:25 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. You can hear I'm a little hoarse tonight, but I'll do my best to be heard over the din. Let me say to all of you, first of all, thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you Mrs. Daley; thank you, Lois Weisberg. I thank all the committee, everybody who had anything to do with this day today. You have made Hillary and, I might say, her mother and her brothers who came with her today, you've made their whole family very happy. This has been an unforgettable day in her life and I am profoundly grateful to all of you and I thank you very much. (Applause.)

You know, before I met Hillary, you could put what I knew about Chicago in a thimble and have space left over. (Laughter.) About a week after I met Hillary, I thought there was no other city on the face of the earth. (Laughter and applause.) I'll never forget the first time I came here to visit Hillary. I remember only two things: her father would not come outside to say "hello" to me -- (laughter) -- which I thought showed good judgment on his part -- (laughter); and she took me to Chicago and showed me the city. And I fell in love with it then -- that was a long time ago now -- and I have been ever since.

This is a magnificent place. You have done unbelievable things. You're in the process of doing other unbelievable things. They may well make a larger chapter in the history of this city, but you will never have a kinder, better, warmer gesture than the one you've given Hillary today and I will never forget it as long as I live. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: It's not constitutional. (Laughter.) I want to ask Hillary to come up now. You have to remember -- this birthday -- she wore it lightly for a long time, but her staff started celebrating 50 days before the event. They wanted her to recognize precisely how old she was by giving her one present a day for 50 days up to the blessed event -- (laughter) -- which occurred yesterday. Now she's still celebrating it as if she's going to hold on for dear life. (Laughter.) Whatever she wants to do, I'm for. Ladies and gentlemen, our First Lady. (Applause.)

MRS. CLINTON: Well. I am --

(Audience sings "Happy Birthday.")

MRS. CLINTON: That sounded pretty good. (Laughter.) I am so thrilled by seeing out in this crowd so many people whom I know. And I've had the most fabulous day here, starting early this morning at O'Hare and culminating here tonight in this magnificent building.

I want to thank Lois Weisberg, who has done such a great job as the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for this city. (Applause.) And I am so pleased that the Mayor and Maggie are here. And while Maggie was talking about how much the Mayor enjoyed birthdays, Lois leaned over and said, we celebrate his for a week. (Laughter.) I have a fellow lover of birthdays in the Mayor. And I am so grateful to the Mayor and his staff and to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and to everybody who designed this extraordinary day. I'm still overwhelmed by the park, which we saw this afternoon, and my visit to Orchestra Hall and to the Chicago Historical Society, and now here tonight.

I think there really is something -- I've always thought there really is something unique about Chicago, about growing up in the Chicago area. I don't know whether it's the food, which we're going to get to taste again tonight, or whether it's 16-inch softball, which nobody else in the world plays -- (applause) -- I don't know whether it's surviving the winters and feeling so virtuous and strong and resilient every time we do. But there is something about this city and the hold that it has on those of us who love it. And I'm just thrilled beyond words to be here to celebrate my half-century mark.

I've put up, I think, a pretty good face all day --(laughter) -- but there's something about saying "half century" which really brings it home. I'm half as old as this magnificent building. (Laughter.) But being here and being able to see all of you and to go back and see some of the sights and meet some of the people who were part of my growing up just reinforces my feelings about this city and my love for it. And I want to thank you all.

Chicago is on a real roll. I was so proud to show off the city during the Convention. I'm so proud every time I come here. And I want to thank everybody in the leadership, the political and governmental and business and academic and social leadership of this city for making it the great city that it is and giving it such an extraordinary future. And I'm just proud to be from Chicago. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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