CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (AP) â€” President Clinton says the arrival of Election Day â€” when the political stars of his wife and his vice president could rise to eclipse his own â€” may make him wistful, but it doesn't make him a lame duck. ``I've got another 10 weeks to quack,'' he said.
Clinton flew to New York on Monday night so he could rise early Tuesday to go to the polls with his wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea. He said he would begin calling radio stations in hotly contested states sometime after dawn to encourage people to vote, but beyond that, his Election Day schedule is rather loose.
Clinton predicted Al Gore would win the presidential election and the first lady would become the next junior senator from New York, provided that minorities, immigrants and the working poor vote ``in the same percentage they are in the population.''
``I've just got a good feeling,'' Clinton said about Gore's chances. ``I think he's run a good campaign. I think he's really been good out there the last couple of weeks. ... I think he's really been in gear and you also see a lot of our people getting energized.''
As for his own sentiments about not being on the ballot, Clinton said he was a little sad but had come to accept it. ``I've had my time, and it was a good time,'' he said. ``I've loved it.''
He pledged to ``manage the transition well'' for whoever wins the election, but doesn't plan to go gently into lame-duckdom. He said he would focus on pursuing peace in the Middle East and improving relations with North Korea and would work on several legislative matters still pending before Congress â€” an agenda that would keep him busy until he leaves office Jan. 20.
``Some people thought I was a lame duck in '95,'' Clinton said. ``I'll just keep quacking. I've got another 10 weeks to quack.''
Dressed casually in slacks and a tan jacket from the recent President's Cup golf tournament, Clinton told reporters he was basing his prediction of a Gore victory on the fact that many Americans are satisfied with the current economic prosperity and would want a steward who would stick closest to the strategy that built that success.
``There is a feeling in the country, that I pick up, that people want to keep the prosperity going. They want to keep moving in a good direction, and I think that rebounds to his favor,'' Clinton said of Gore. ``He's gone out there and made his case to the American people, laid out a program that's different and new, and ... I think he's got a chance to do real well.''
Of the election in general, he said Republicans raised far more money than Democrats did, ``but we tried to make up for it in elbow grease.'' He disputed assertions that his absence from the campaign trail has hurt Gore. ``I think that's overrated,'' he said. ``The fact that I was out there hard this weekend, and that many of you reported ... the substance of what I was saying, it really didn't matter where I was.''
Clinton did not mention the election during his lone public appearance Monday, a ceremony to sign debt relief legislation for developing countries. Instead, Clinton heaped praises on Irish rock star Bono for his commitment to lowering the debt burden of poor nations.
``And next year, when I'm just Joe Citizen, I'll do my part too,'' Clinton said.