By Ron Fournier
WASHINGTON — Former President Clinton, who led the nation through the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, urged Americans to rally behind President Bush in the aftermath of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.
"We should not be second-guessing. We should be supporting him," Clinton said in a telephone interview while traveling in Australia.
Clinton, who left office in January after serving two terms, said he was stunned and angered by the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
"The most important thing is, we all have to be strong, calm good Americans now and rally behind the president and support the actions he will doubtlessly take … in the days ahead — in both rescue and reconstruction of the area and especially in investigating and taking whatever action is necessary" against those responsible, Clinton said.
"The main thing is, we must send a clear and unambiguous message to the world that the people of America are completely 100 percent united and we’re going to follow our leaders and support whatever action (Bush) takes," he said.
Clinton had been president for only a few weeks when terrorists blew up a truck bomb in the World Trade Center’s basement in February 1993, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000.
He also dealt with the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, where 168 people died. Timothy McVeigh was executed this year for the crime, and conspirator Terry Nichols faces the death penalty.
On Bush and his team, the former president said: "We’re going to have to give them some time. They’re going to have to work on this. During my time, (authorities) forwarded any number of these potential attacks. I know they’re going to work overtime. I know they’re going to do a good job."
Former Vice President Al Gore, who has kept a low profile since losing the 2000 presidential election to Bush, also threw his support behind Bush’s terrorism-fighting efforts.
"Like all Americans, I strongly support President Bush’s statement that we will use every resource at our disposal to find out who did this and hold them accountable," Gore said in a statement to a high-tech group he was to address in Vienna, Austria. He canceled the talk.
"It is an unspeakable tragedy, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families," Gore said.
Clinton praised Bush for taking the advice of the Secret Service and flying from Florida to military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska since the tragedy.
"He needs to take every conceivable precaution in the event there are more attacks planned," Clinton said. "I’m sure he wants to return to Washington as soon as possible. He is doing what makes sense from a security point of view based on what he has been advised. I’m almost positive of that."
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