[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 6, 1998]
[Pages 902-903]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
June 6, 1998

    Good morning. Before I begin today's address, I want to speak very 
briefly about the most important issue before the Congress right now, 
one that affects our children most of all: the tobacco bill.
    This is a critical moment of truth for Congress. Senator 
McCain and Senator Hollings and others have brought to the floor a landmark proposal 
to protect our children from tobacco. There's broad consensus for this 
bill. It's reasonable, bipartisan, in the best interest of our children. 
But for weeks now the Senate hasn't acted, as a few Members have done 
everything they could to protect big tobacco by putting off a vote.
    Today I say to them: The delay has gone on long enough. You are not 
just trying to kill the tobacco bill; you are standing in the way of 
saving 1 million children's lives. The American people will not stand 
for it. The Senate should do nothing else until it passes tobacco 
legislation, and it should pass it this week.
    Thirty years ago, like millions of young Americans, I scaled the 
heights of hope with Robert F. Kennedy in his campaign for President. I 
watched intently in the last days before my graduation from college as 
he took his case to the American people, confronting new challenges, 
posing new questions, reaching across the racial divide, and reaching 
out to the forgotten Americans. Thirty years ago today I, like so many 
others around the world, felt pain, despair, a sense of deeply personal 
loss, and a sense of loss for my country that our troubled land had been 
denied a leader who could bind us together, change course, and move us 
    Today I'm pleased to be speaking to you from the home of Congressman 
Joe Kennedy in Massachusetts, where 
Hillary and I have gathered with Mrs. Kennedy and her children, Senator

[[Page 903]]

Edward Kennedy, and other members of the 
Kennedy family to observe this day. Robert Kennedy would wish us not to 
dwell upon his loss but to celebrate his life and carry on his legacy. 
In his all too short life, he lost much, but he never lost faith. In 
suffering, he struggled to find wisdom.
    On the night our Nation lost Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy 
appeared before a shocked and grieving crowd in Indianapolis. The night 
was cold; the moment, tense. Hunched in a black overcoat, he stood 
before the crowd and said, ``Let us dedicate ourselves to what the 
Greeks wrote so many years ago, `to tame the savageness of man and make 
gentle the life of this world.'''
    Like Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy dedicated himself to that, 
and his life enriched and ennobled our Nation. Robert Kennedy ran for 
President, he said, to close the gaps between black and white, between 
rich and poor, between old and young. In a time of division, more than 
any American, he bridged those gaps, reaching out to starving families 
in the Mississippi Delta and to factory workers in Chicago, to migrant 
workers in Northern California and struggling teens in Harlem. He 
touched their lives and, just as important, they touched his.
    He changed and grew as a result, becoming a fuller person and a 
better, wiser leader. In changing times, Robert Kennedy was one of the 
first to see that old solutions did not always fit new challenges, 
either at home or abroad. We can do better, he so often said, and he 
pushed his Government and himself to do no less. To him, in a time of 
change, labels like ``left'' and ``right'' meant little. Dogmas that 
kept us from moving forward were to be discarded. But he did not discard 
his passionate convictions or his steely determination to act on them. 
They infused his public service and his last campaign with a power and 
purpose we can still feel today.
    Yes, Robert Kennedy's legacy is alive today in the work of his 
family in public service, in the work of those of us he inspired, in the 
hearts of his fellow Americans. The distance of three decades cannot 
silence the strength of his words or lessen the impact of his actions. 
We still hear his voice appealing to the best qualities of the American 
spirit. We still strive to answer his insistent challenge to do good and 
to do better.
    And on this day of reflection, when the thoughts of all Americans 
are with his large and loving family, we can do the memory of Robert 
Kennedy no greater honor than to dedicate ourselves as he did, to tame 
the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 5:45 p.m. on June 5 at a private 
residence in Boston, MA, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on June 6. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
June 5, but the first three paragraphs were embargoed for release until 
10:06 a.m. on June 6. The remainder of the transcript was made available 
for immediate release on June 5.