Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton haven’t always gotten along — especially when Obama ran against Hillary Clinton in 2008 — but the current president couldn’t have been more effusive about his predecessor on Wednesday.
In awarding Clinton the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Obama said he is grateful for “the advice and counsel that you’ve offered me — on and off the golf course.And most importantly, for your lifesaving work around the world, which represents what’s the very best in America.”
Obama’s other remarks about the 42nd president:
“Now, last, but never least, we honor a leader who we still remember with such extraordinary fondness. He still remembers as a child waving goodbye to his mom — tears in her eyes — as she went off to nursing school so she could provide for her family.
“And I think lifting up families like his own became the story of Bill Clinton’s life. He remembered what his mom had to do on behalf of him and he wanted to make sure that he made life better and easier for so many people all across the country that were struggling in those same ways and had those same hopes and dreams.
“So as a governor, he transformed education so more kids could pursue those dreams.
“As President, he proved that, with the right choices, you could grow the economy, lift people out of poverty. We could shrink our deficits and still invest in our families, our health, our schools, science, technology. In other words, we can go farther when we look out for each other.
“And as we’ve all seen, as President, he was just getting started. He doesn’t stop. He’s helped lead relief efforts after the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake. His foundation and global initiative have helped to save or improve the lives of literally hundreds of millions of people.
“And, of course, I am most grateful for his patience during the endless travels of my Secretary of State.
“So I’m grateful, Bill, as well for the advice and counsel that you’ve offered me on and off the golf course. And most importantly, for your lifesaving work around the world, which represents what’s the very best in America.
“So thank you so much, President Clinton.”