CAMPAIGN '96: WHAT CLINTON IS DOING RIGHT

HE SEIZES THE MIDDLE GROUND FROM FRUSTRATED REPUBLICANS AND SUDDENLY LOOKS PRESIDENTIAL

ON THE AFTERNOON OF the day of the State of the Union address, Bill Clinton held two rehearsals of his speech in the White House family theater. He was relaxed, in a plaid shirt, drinking tea, cracking wise. Present were a sprinkling of advisers and speechwriters and Vice President Al Gore. "Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the 104th Congress," the President intoned, then smiled. "Thank you and good night." Laughter.

Historians, take note: that would have been the briefest State of the Union on record. The presidential joke had a certain self-deprecating quality, as Clinton's infamously long 1995 address...

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