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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mandela: World Is Rich While Clinton President

WASHINGTON -- South African President Nelson Mandela said Wednesday that the world is rich as long as Bill Clinton is U.S. president -- a tribute that appeared to move Clinton, who has been facing hard times politically.

"I must say that to have a strong leader highly competent but with a common touch, who worries himself about the needs of the people, is a species that is very rare in the world today," Mandela told a luncheon with the Congressional Black Caucus, held at the White House.

"In our president here," Mandela said as he nodded to Clinton, "we have a man who is endowed with such virtues, with such qualities. And the world is rich as long as he remains the president of this country."

The crowd in the State Dining Room burst into prolonged applause while Clinton sat very still at his table, gazing at Mandela and looking a bit choked up.

The president suffers from a low approval rating, with some public opinion polls showing that six out of 10 Americans dislike his performance in office, and he faces the possibility of losing Democratic control of both houses of Congress in elections next month.

For his part Clinton has heaped praise on Mandela since the South African leader arrived at the White House on Tuesday for a state visit.

"Here we are, South Africa is free, Nelson Mandela is president. Some dreams really do come true," Clinton said in his remarks at the luncheon.

Those present included many well-known African-Americans and cabinet members.