| || |
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release August 4, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO NEW YORK SENATE 2000 DINNER
8:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: When Smith started that story I didn't know where it
was going. (Laughter.) I thought he was going to say he called a surgeon
Let me say, first of all, I am delighted to be back here. I had a
wonderful time last year, and Hillary and I came back, Chelsea came with us
this year, just took a tour of Nantucket. And it's a beautiful place.
(Applause.) And I want to thank all of you for coming out here tonight to
You know, we just finished the Republican Convention, and now it's our
turn. And one thing that we apparently agree on -- they did agree that the
country was in good shape. (Laughter.) And I appreciated that act of
uncommon generosity on their part. (Laughter.) We disagree on how it
happened -- (laughter) -- and on what to do with it. I say that -- I like
to hear you laugh. I like to hear them laugh more. (Laughter.) I mean,
we need to lighten up here. But, on the other hand, we need to be more
serious about the election.
I actually think this is a great opportunity for the American people
because we don't have to say bad things about our opponents as people. And
if I have anything to do with it, the Democrats won't do that. I don't
like it, I've never liked it. And we don't need it. All we need to do is
to give the American people the chance to have an honest debate over the
issues, what are the differences and what are the consequences of the
But if I could just say three or four things. First, I am profoundly
grateful for the chance that I've had to serve. It's been a joy. Even the
bad days were good, and the fight were worth making -- if I had to fight it
all again I'd do it all again.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And secondly, when we ran in '92 we had a very clear
strategy -- I didn't have any idea if it would work or not. I mean, when I
started, the incumbent President was at 70 something percent approval, but
the country was not in good shape. And so I actually laid out to the
American people in great detail what it was I would try to do if I were
fortunate enough to be elected.
And I tried to make it a campaign of ideas, committed to change, but
change rooted in endless American values -- opportunity for everybody who
is responsible and a community in which all Americans can be a part. And
it's worked pretty well. I mean, we voted in '93 to get rid of the deficit
and the lower interest rates led to a boom in the stock market and lower
interest rates and getting rid of the -- and more jobs, and you know the
rest. It's worked pretty well.
Last year I couldn't say this, but now we've had the longest economic
expansion in our history and over 22 million new jobs. (Applause.) So if
it worked, and you have evidence, then the question is, which course is
more likely to keep this going and to spread the benefits of the recovery
to the people in places who still aren't part of it.
When I became President the crime rate was going up; now it's gone
down for seven years. We put 100,000 police on the street; we took assault
weapons off the street; we passed the Brady background check law. And it
plainly had a big impact on the crime rate. And so if there's a difference
in crime policy, you have to decide, since America is nowhere near safe
enough, which strategy is more likely to keep the crime rate coming down.
When we tried to do welfare reform, I had to veto a couple of bills
first, but then we said, okay, able-bodied people ought to go to work, but
the kids ought to be able to keep their guarantee of medical care and
nutrition. And the welfare rolls have been cut in half, and all the horror
stories that some people predicted haven't materialized because we went out
of our way to give people that we were requiring to work the education, the
transportation, and the support to be good parents so that it would work.
And so you have to decide what you think is best for low-income people, and
how to empower them to go to work.
The same is true in health care; the same is true in the environment.
Somebody came up to me tonight and asked me to sign a picture of the Grand
Canyon, and I was saying we just set aside another million acres around the
Grand Canyon to protect the watershed. And Al Gore and I have now set
aside more land in the lower 48 states than any administration in history
except those of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt. (Applause.)
And the other side is on record as to committing to repeal my order
setting aside 43 million roadless acres in the national forests. The
Audubon Society says it's the most significant conservation move in 40
years. So you get to decide which you think is better.
And I'd just like to say that for me -- I'm not running for anything
this year -- (laughter) -- and most days I'm okay about it. (Laughter.)
But I care a great deal about what we're going to do with this moment of
prosperity. Let me just mention one other issue -- in education, our
theory was have fewer regulations, but higher standards; invest more,
require more; more pre-school, more after-school, smaller classes, better
trained teachers; and a strategy to turn around failing schools. And then
open the doors of college to everybody.
Well, test scores are up. The dropout rate's down. The African
American high school graduation rate equalled the white majority rate last
year, for the first time in history. And we have record numbers of people
going to college. (Applause.) So we have a strategy about that, and there
will be differences and you have to decide which you think is right.
But all this is just to say the most important thing to me. All these
races I've run since 1974, I used to have a simple theory which is that I
wanted to make sure that on the election day, every person who did not vote
for me knew exactly what he or she was doing. Because I always felt that
if I lost then, I would have no complaint; that if the people who voted for
you and the people who voted against you knew exactly what they were doing,
I would have no complaint.
Therefore, I think it's important for people like you who come here to
help Hillary to make a commitment that goes beyond writing a check, because
you're obviously interested citizens. And what I think you should do is to
go out between now and November at every conceivable opportunity and say,
isn't it nice that we can have an election where we don't have to run down
our opponents, where we can posit that they're good, patriotic people, that
they love our country, that they will do what they believe in, and all we
have to do is to ask ourselves, what do we want to do with this moment of
It is literally unprecedented in our country's history that we would
have at once so much economic prosperity, so much social progress, with the
absence of crippling internal crisis at home or overpowering threat abroad.
So what is it that we're going to do with it? (Applause.)
More than half the people in this audience are younger than I am, and
a huge number of you have more years ahead of you than you do behind you.
What is it that we propose to do with this? It is a huge question. And
that -- my experience is that very often the answer you get in an election
depends upon the questions people ask in the first place. Or, to be
blunter, who wins the presidency, who wins the Senate race in New York, who
wins a lot of these other elections depends upon what the people really
believe the election is about.
And we have a chance, literally unprecedented in our lifetime, to
build the future of our dreams for our children. But it requires us not to
be complacent with our prosperity, but to look over the horizon, to take on
the big challenges, to seize the big opportunities.
I tell everybody who will listen that there are four reasons I think
Al Gore ought to be president. He's been the best Vice President in
history and had more influence in that job than anybody ever had. He's got
an economic program that will work, instead of one that will spend the
whole surplus on a tax cut today when the surplus hasn't materialized yet.
I tell everybody that our proposal is, cut taxes, but only to the extent
that we can afford it and still invest in education, provide a prescription
drug benefit for people on Medicare, and keep paying the debt down. So
that will keep interest rates low, which is a de facto tax cut, and
And so if you have a tax cut that essentially takes the whole
projected surplus away -- I can make you a good speech for it. I can say,
we're going to have this big surplus and it's your money, not the
government's, and we're going to give it back to you. Sounds good, doesn't
it? Except it hasn't come in yet. It's kind of like -- did you ever get
one of those letters from Ed McMahon and Publisher's Clearinghouse?
(Laughter.) Think about it. "You may have won $10 million." Now, if you
went out the next day and spent the $10,000, you should support their
program. But otherwise, you ought to stick with us and keep this thing
So that's the second reason that I think it's important. The third
reason that I'm for Al Gore is that he understands the future, whether it's
information technology or the Human Genome Project, or global warming.
They made fun of him in '88 -- I mean, when he wrote the book. They made
fun of him in '92 when we ran. Now even the oil company executives say
global warming is real. It could change the climate of the whole world.
It could flood the sugar cane fields in Louisiana and the Everglades in
Florida we've worked so hard to save, and change the pattern of agriculture
in the United States. And already you see in Africa malaria at higher and
higher altitudes because of the warming of the climate.
One of the biggest problems we've got -- many of you mentioned the
Middle East peace process to me. One of the biggest struggles we're going
to have is to figure out how to provide water for all the people who live
there, because of climate change. And I don't know about you, but if
that's really a big issue, I'd like someone in the White House that
understood it. (Applause.)
And that's not an insult, that's a plus for Gore. That's not a
criticism of his opponents. There's nobody that understands that in public
life as much as he does. That should not be interpreted as a criticism of
his opponent, it's a plus for him.
Look, all your medical and financial records are on somebody's
computer somewhere. Don't you think that we ought to have somebody in the
White House that really understands what the privacy issues are. It's
going to be wonderful -- all the young women in this audience, when you
start having babies, when you go home and within five to 10 years, you'll
take a little genetic map home with your baby. It will tell you, here are
the problems your baby has, but if you do the following five things, you
will increase the chance that the child will have a great life.
There are young women in this audience tonight who will have babies
with a life expectancy of 90 years. That's not an exaggeration. But it
seems to me that we ought to have somebody there that understands whether
somebody ought to be denied a job or a promotion or health insurance based
on their gene card.
We need somebody that really understands the future. And the last
thing is, we ought to have somebody that will take us all along for the
ride. That's what the hate crimes bill, the minimum wage, the employment
nondiscrimination bill -- that's what all that stuff's all about. Should
we all go along for the ride or not. And I presume that all of you believe
that or you wouldn't be here. Otherwise -- because the other guys are
going to give you a bigger tax cut than we are. (Laughter.) But we'll
give you lower interest rates and a better stock market; you'll make more
anyway. (Applause.) But I think we ought to all go along for the ride.
So now, that brings me to Hillary. (Laughter and applause.) And this
reason: It is very hard for me to say anything that is not either sappy or
I'm always afraid I'll be over the top and ineffective here.
But let me just tell you. I've been President for nearly eight years
now. It really matters who is in the Senate. There is a gentleman here
that I went to college with who is from South Dakota. We were bragging
about Tom Daschle and how I couldn't have functioned the last five years
without him, and it's really true.
Many of you came up to me tonight and said, I'm so glad not only what
you did, but what you stopped -- all the attempts to weaken the
environment, and all the attempts to weaken our economic policy or cut
education or do other things, all the things that were stopped over the
last five years. Well, it really matters who is in the Congress, and
especially who is in the Senate. They get to vote on the confirmation of
judges and if they don't want to bring them up, they don't. So I've tried
for seven and a half years to get an African American judge in the
southeastern part of the United States. There's never been one before.
But their side doesn't want one, so we've got two perfectly well-qualified
people that I still can't get confirmed.
There's an Hispanic American who grew up in El Paso and graduated
summa cum laude from Harvard. The ABA gives him unanimous high ratings. I
can't even get him a hearing in the Senate because he's not part of what
they think the bench ought to be about.
Senators make a difference. The next president will appoint two to
four judges to the Supreme Court. The Senate will confirm them. And
whether you like it or not, when you vote for president and you vote for
Senate, you better think about that, because the balance of the Supreme
Court will change. And you have to assume that any president you vote for
and any senator you vote for will vote and appoint his or her convictions.
You have to assume that.
The most important thing that I think that I could say to yo about
Hillary is two things. One is, this is just the last in a long line of
lifetime public service for her. When I met her in 1971, when she wasn't
old enough to vote, but I was -- (laughter) -- when I met her in 1971, she
was already involved with the Yale Child Studies Center -- (applause) --
and issues of children's health care, children's education, family law.
She took an extra year in law school to work at the Yale Hospital in the
Child Studies Center so that she would not have not only a law degree, but
a clear background in the legal issues affecting children's health and
children's welfare -- before anybody else was doing it -- that kind of
Her first job out of law school was at what became the Children's
Defense Fund, where she later served as chair of the board. Her first
project, when I was elected Governor of Arkansas, was to build a neonatal
nursery at the Children's Hospital in Little Rock. And when I left office,
in my little home state, that was the seventh biggest children's hospital
in the United States of America, and she ran the fundraising there. She
founded an advocacy group for children and families when we were living in
Arkansas, and then when she came up here, she took up the cause of
children's health care, our education reforms.
She led the way to a total revision of the laws affecting adoption,
cross-racial adoption and what happens to foster care kids and how to
improve their welfare. Things at a level of details unheard of for first
ladies to be involved in. And along the way, she found time to host
conferences on early childhood and brain development, children and violence
and a lot of other things.
And then this year, she ran our millennium program for the last two
years, which the gentleman who is the head of the National Historic
Preservation Trust told me that Hillary's millennium program, which has now
gotten $100 million for the preservation for American treasures, slightly
over half public money, the rest private, was the largest, single historic
preservation effort in the history of the United States of America.
So when Senator Moynihan announced he wasn't going to run again and
all these Democratic House members came and asked her to run, I can promise
you, it had never occurred to her before, because we assumed he was going
to run and we would support him.
And so she started traveling around New York. And she found out, A,
she kind of liked it, and B, not like New York, she kind of liked politics
-- she knew she liked New York, she liked politics. (Laughter.) And, B,
she found out that people understood that what they needed in a senator was
somebody that would put their families first and think of their children's
future and make the most of this moment of prosperity, which allows me to
close this circle here.
I cannot tell you -- again, I'll say -- no American who has not been
where I am can possibly appreciate the importance of every single Senate
seat. Nobody. (Applause.) And I can tell you this: I knew, and I told
her when we started, that we would have a hard fight the first time. But
if she wins in November -- and I'm convinced she will -- she'll never have
a close race again, because she'll be the best senator they ever had.
And I said something here last year I will say again. I have been
privileged in my life over almost 30 years in public life now, to work with
hundreds of people. I have known some magnificent leaders around the
world, I have known some wonderful public servants. I have never felt the
kind of personal animosity for people in the other party that some of them
seem to feel for us from time to time, because I wouldn't be able to get up
in the morning if I was that torn up and upset all the time. (Laughter.)
And I basically like people in public life. I've found most of them are
smart and honest and work hard and do what they think is right.
But of all the people I have ever known, bar none, she has the best
combination of heart, compassion, brains and just plain old
sticktoitiveness, persistence. And you need that in a senator. So you've
helped her tonight. And if you can do anything between now and November,
I'll be very, very grateful.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 8:30 P.M. EDT
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only