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New Clinton documents released

1:44 PM, Mar 14, 2014   |    comments
Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
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(USA TODAY) The National Archives released another batch of Bill Clinton presidential documents on Friday, including records on the 2000 presidential election, that year's recount in Florida, and the activities of then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The collection of notes, memos, and speeches features jokes Clinton made at press dinners -- including some about his wife, who may decide to seek the presidency herself in 2016.

"I think putting Hillary's office in the West Wing was a good idea," Clinton said at the 1993 Gridiron dinner. "It's a shorter walk for me."

Other records relate to then-Vice President Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee who lost the recount to George W. Bush after a still-disputed Supreme Court case.

In one Gore document, adviser Ron Klain urges aides to "underspin" a USA TODAY poll showing him closing the gap on Bush during the 2000 campaign and to tell reporters: "Polls go up, polls go down."

As with document disclosures last month, this group will be carefully scrutinized by journalists and political opponents as Hillary Clinton decides whether to seek the presidency herself in 2016.

The document dump also featured preparation notes for President Clinton speeches, including remarks after the Supreme Court decision that essentuially stopped the 2000 recount in Florida and enabled Bush to claim victory.

Some include barely legible hand-written edits. In one draft, the phrase "just as a fabric torn and repaired becomes stronger than before" is crossed out. An editor calls the phrase "too negative" and the nation was "never torn apart" by the disputed election.

Other snippets: Talking points prepared in case vote Quebec decided to secede from Canada, a discussion of whether to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Carl Sagan, and prepared texts for Clinton comedy monologues at the Gridiron and other dinners with Washington journalists.

One proposed joke for a 1997 event got cut, a line drawn through it: "I can't stay too late, I'm starting to get nervous about leaving Al Gore alone in the White House."

Another document said House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and his backers -- swept into power after the 1994 elections -- were "not ready for prime time."

In a file on counter-terrorism, one handwritten note -- author unknown -- recommends that the State Department find "a prominent Muslim associate" to deal directly and indirectly with the United States government.

Other topics in the Friday release include records on the transition to the Bush presidency, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, records from then-health care adviser Ira Magaziner, and dealings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The documents were released at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., and on its website.

Many of the documents released Feb. 28 detailed the Bill Clinton administration's failed health care plan, led by Mrs. Clinton, as well as efforts by aides to "soften" the first lady's image.

Friday's release is the latest in a rolling series that is expected to total more than 30,000 pages this year.

These documents have previously been exempted from disclosure requirements because they involve appointments to federal office and confidential advice to President Clinton, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.

When the disclosure exemptions expired in 2013, the National Archives notified representatives of Clinton and President Obama of its intent to disclose the records. Lawyers have been reviewing the records to determine if new exemptions should apply.

Interest in Hillary Clinton's first lady years revived recently with the discovery of records from the late Diane Blair, a long-time friend of Mrs. Clinton who wrote about interviews she had conducted with her. Blair died in 2000.

Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2008 Democratic presidential race to then-Sen. Barack Obama, is considered the front runner for the party's nomination in 2016, should she decide to run.

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