By Adam Kramer
“Look at this, guys. This is why we are here,” a mother screamed to her two sons as their eyes lit up watching Clinton leave Special Mission 28000, the name for Air Force One, just hours after turning over the Oval Office to President Bush.
The Beach Channel High School matching band played Creedance Clearwater Revival's tune, “Rolling on the River,” as the first rock 'n' roll president was welcomed into his adopted home state.
More than 2,000 loyal supporters of the former president watched movies of Clinton's life on a giant screen, while holding signs reading “New York Loves Bill and Hill,” “Thank You Mr. President,” “Eight Years of Peace and Prosperity,” and “Welcome Home” as they waved to Bill, Hillary and Chelsea, who climbed to the podium to greet the crowd.
“Thank you in this cold weather for giving us such a warm welcome,” U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) told the screaming crowd. “It is an honor and privilege to be serving the people from New York state and it is great to be here in New York City.”
Hillary Clinton said there was a lot of work to be done and that she was looking forward to getting down to business in the Senate next week. She said holding public office was a privilege and it “has been a pleasure to watch my husband over the past eight years serving the people.”
As Clinton took the podium – without a presidential seal, only the words “Eight Years: Putting People First” – he thanked the crowd for their support of his wife in her senate campaign against Republican Rick Lazio and for the support given to Democratic contender Al Gore in his presidential race.
“Thank you for being here in this cold weather and the cutting wind to welcome Citizen Clinton home,” he said “I am delighted to be here.”
Clinton and his family then stepped down from the podium, walked into the crowd and began shaking hands while Fleetwood Mac's song, “Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” – Clinton's first inaugural song – played in the background.
“If he wants to run again, I would support him,” said Betty Mallory of Springfield Gardens and one of three busloads of Clinton supporters from the Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club in St Albans. “I wish he was here as the president.”
She said Clinton had done an excellent job during his eight years in office, especially for all minorities.
“I am here to say hello and goodbye to a president who has done a fantastic job over the past eight years for our country,” said Ed Lewis, assistant commissioner for the city Parks Department and a city council candidate. “He has done so much for the entire country.”
Lewis said that under the Clinton administration there has been an economic boom and new jobs have been created. He said Queens has seen an increase in jobs and business activity.
“I am already missing the vitality, presence, diversity and the intellectual stimulation Clinton brought,” said Joan Decamp of Richmond Hill. “He was interested in policy, especially international policy, which was positive for peace in Ireland and the Middle East.”
City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) said she attended the event to welcome the Clintons to New York and to honor him for all he had done for the country.
“The president has helped the economy and lowered crime throughout the country. What else could you ask for?” she said. “In addition, he brought us Hillary and closer to the presidency.”