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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Immediate Release July 27, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT RECEPTION FOR CONGRESSMAN RICHARD A. GEPHARDT
The Mayflower Hotel
7:17 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That's the way it will be on
January 20th. (Laughter.) Just one hand left, that's all. (Laughter.)
Let me say first of all, I'm glad to see you all here. I'm delighted
that you have contributed so much money to our cause, and I thank you for
that. I want to thank Chevy Chase and Jane for being here; they've been
great friends to Hillary and me. I always tell everybody that I knew that
I would be friends with this guy for life in our first two encounters. I
mean, our first two meaningful encounters.
You may remember that I gave a very ill-fated speech in 1988 at the
Convention. (Laughter.) I'm still looking for the chance to finish it.
I've just never -- (laughter).
And so everybody's making fun of me. And that summer I went up to
Long Island, and I went to this charity softball game they have up there
every summer between writers and artists. And the guy that was calling the
game, they asked me to be an umpire; so I said, okay, I'll do that. I know
how to play ball. And by then, I thought I was finished anyway, so I
didn't mind making all those writers mad at me. (Laughter.) Strike, you
And so the guy starts ragging me about this speech I gave at the
Convention, and between innings, this big tall guy gets up out of the
stands, walks down. I looked up, and I said, lo and behold, it's Chevy
Chase. And he comes to me, and he says, the hell with them all. I liked
the speech. (Laughter.) Now only my mother said that to me before he did.
The second time I saw him was -- to really have an encounter, was June
the second, 1992. A great night -- I won the California primary, the Ohio
primary, the New Jersey primary. It was the first time I knew for
absolutely sure I'd be the nominee of the Democratic Party on the first
The whole story in the press that night was, we did all these exit
polls, nobody's for Clinton, he's in third place. They really want Perot.
He's dead; it's the first time anybody ever got nominated who was dead meat
before he was even nominated. He came to my suite in Los Angeles, at the
Biltmore Hotel, and said, to hell with them, I'm still for you.
(Laughter.) I will never forget that as long as I live. (Applause.)
Now, he is, however, a terrible golfer. (Laughter.) "Caddyshack" was
not only a comedy, it was a fraud. (Laughter.) But I can tell you
truthfully it's only because he never made an effort; he was actually quite
extraordinary when he took a little instruction. (Laughter.)
What is he doing back there, anyway? (Laughter.)
Let me say on a more serious note, anything I have been able to do for
our country would have been impossible without the leadership in the
Congress; in the Senate, over these last seven and a half years, that's
George Mitchell and Tom Daschle; and in the House with Dick Gephardt.
I was sitting here looking at Dick and Jane tonight thinking about the
time he came to Arkansas to give a speech in 1988, and I brought him back
to the Governor's Mansion, and we ate french fried. Do you remember that?
It's really unhealthy -- 11:30 p.m and we're eating french fries on the
kitchen counter at home. And I really liked him.
But I have to tell you that I hope that in some way I have grown in
this job I have had, because we're supposed to grow with the experiences we
have in life. I can tell you, I have never seen anybody -- he was good
when I first met him. But he's probably the best leader we have ever had.
Certainly in the 20th century; certainly in any of my experience and
And if ever anybody deserved to be the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, and earned it, he did. He didn't quit the Congress, he
didn't do something else, he didn't turn away, he didn't get bitter, he
didn't get cynical. When we got beat in '94, he just kept working. And we
worked together. We learned some things about how to work together from
our defeat. And we got more effective. We picked up seats in '96.
Then we picked up seats in '98, the first time that we'd won in the
mid-term of an incumbent President since the '30s; the first time in the
sixth year of an incumbent President since 1822. Dick Gephardt did that
with his leadership and the unity of our Democratic Caucus. (Applause.)
And we're just five little seats away now. And soon I think it will
become apparent that we have an excellent chance of winning, thanks in no
small measure to your support. One of the people that I expect to help
make up our new majority is here tonight, and he is a congressman from a
district that includes a little town in which I was born and I want you to
make him welcome, State Senator Mike Ross from Arkansas. Mike, come up
here and weigh in. (Applause.) He's a good candidate and if you want to
write him an extra check, it will be all right with me. (Laughter.)
Now, let me just say a few words -- and I realize I'm preaching to the
saved tonight. But it's very important that every one of you recognize
that in all probability this will be a close race -- for the presidency,
for the House and for the Senate. We have an excellent chance to win the
House. We have a realistic chance to win the Senate. And I have always
believed we would win the White House when the American people understood
what the issues were and what the choices were. You have to make them
There are just three things you need to know about the 2000 election
-- only three. It is a huge election. We are deciding how to use our
prosperity. And it is a stern test of our character and judgment. And a
lot of Americans don't believe that yet. The biggest problem we've got --
a lot of them think that we couldn't mess this economy up if we tried,
everything is going along all right. You know, maybe we're electing a
President of the student body. (Laughter.) I'm telling you, it's a
You have got to go out and remind people that how a nation handles its
prosperity is, if anything, a sterner test of its judgment, its values and
its character than how you handle adversity. We all talk about, you know,
what a miracle '92 was. I'll never forget President Bush derisively
referring to me as the governor of a small southern state. I was so naive,
I thought it was a compliment. (Laughter.) And I still do. (Laughter.)
But, you know, the country knew we had to change. They knew we -- we
didn't have an economic policy that worked, we didn't have a social policy
that worked, from education to welfare to crime. We didn't have a
political theory about how we could pull the country together. We didn't
really have a clear vision about what our national role was going to be in
the world. We knew we had to change.
The worst thing that can happen to the Democrats this year is if
people think this is an election without consequence. So I'm just telling
you, the first thing you've got to do is convince everybody you know
anywhere in America that this is a profoundly important election. I've
waited all my life to see my country in a position to paint a picture of
the future; to realize our dreams for our children.
We've got that chance now. I don't know if it will ever come around
again, and neither do you. And it may not happen in your lifetime. It is
a big election. If people think that, we're halfway home.
The second thing you need to know about this election is there are
real and profound differences between the two parties and our candidates
for President, Senate and Congress; differences on economic policy, on
crime policy, on health care policy, on education policy -- right across
The third thing you need to know -- and this is all you need to know
-- is only the Democrats want you to know what those differences are. What
does that tell you about who you ought to vote for? (Applause.) I never
thought I'd live to see it. All over America, these Republicans are
moaning, crying these big, crocodile tears about how mean and negative the
Democrats are. These are people that brought us over the last 20 years the
most vicious era of personal destruction politics in modern American
history -- (applause) -- and what is it they're crying about? Is it
because we're doing what they did? No. We're telling the voters how they
voted. And they say, oh, this is so mean, it's so negative; how dare you
tell people back home how I voted and what my positions are. (Laughter.)
Do you think I'm kidding? Just look at any race involving a
Republican in Congress. And that ought to be sobering to you. Because the
only reason they have a chance to get away with this is because times are
going so good, people are doing well. People are optimistic and they're
upbeat. And, goodness knows, one of the best things about America is we
always want to believe the best about people.
Well, I don't think we have to believe the worst about people. I
don't want anybody saying anything bad about these folks. I want us to say
we assume they're honorable, good and decent people and they mean exactly
what they say; they intend to do what exactly what they say. But they
shouldn't be able to hide all they have done and said, starting at that
Republican Convention and going all the way to November. And it's your job
to make sure people know what the differences are, because they don't want
you to know.
If we run ads in a state to say they voted against the patients' bill
of rights, they come back ads that say, how dare they say that; I voted for
a patients' bill of rights. There is a big difference between "a" and
"the," all the difference in the wide world. And I could go on and on.
Now, I want you to think about this. And I want to say a word about
the Vice President. I always tell everybody there are four reasons you
ought to vote for him, and all but the first applies to all the rest of the
The first is, never in the history of the Republic has anybody held
the office of Vice President to such great effect with so much influence
and so much impact. I noticed the other day that the prospective nominee
of the Republican Party said he'd be a more conventional Vice President, Al
Gore had done too much. Well, I don't want anybody working for me that's
not trying to do too much. I thought that's what we hired on for. Did you
hire us to take vacations? (Applause.)
I'm telling you, from breaking the tie on the economic plan in '93,
which broke the back of the deficits and the big debts in this country and
got us going again, to his leadership on technology, on energy, on
empowering poor communities, there has never been anybody in this job that
did so much good. There have been a lot of Vice Presidents that made great
Presidents, but no one as Vice President who ever did remotely as much as
Al Gore. He's the best, qualified person to be the President of the United
States to run in my lifetime and you ought to make sure every American
voter knows that. (Applause.)
The second thing I want to tell you is, that if you want to keep
making enough money so you can afford to come to fundraisers like this --
(laughter) -- you should vote for us. (Laughter and applause.) Because
we'll keep this prosperity going.
Their proposal -- last year they passed this big old tax cut and I
vetoed it. And they went out in August recess and they tried to stir up
the folks and it turned out the people agreed with us. So this year they
did something smarter. They did a salami tax cut. They just slashed it a
little bit along. And every one of them sounds great. It's like going to
a cafeteria, you know? If you pick everything off a tray that sounds good
and looks good and you want to eat it all, by the time you eat it all
you're really sick -- (laughter) -- even though it was all good.
They have passed in this Congress in the last 12 months tax cuts
totalling almost $2 trillion, the entire projected surplus
-- no money to lengthen the life of Medicare and Social Security; no money
to invest in our children's education; no money to do what we need to do in
health care to provide Medicare prescription drugs; never mind the
environment or medical research or any emergencies that will come up along
the way. They want to spend right on the front end our whole projected
Now, let me ask you this. This is like one of those -- did you ever
get one of those letters in the mail from Ed McMahon? (Laughter.) You may
have won $10 million. Did you go out the next day and spend $10 million?
If you did, you should support Governor Bush and the Republicans.
(Laughter.) If not, you better stick with us and keep this economy going.
Now, this is serious. There was an article the other day in one of
the major papers saying the voters saw no difference in the economic
policies of the two candidates and the two parties. And I said, you know,
they keep saying I'm a good communicator; I must have totally flubbed here.
(Laughter.) It's just because things are going well.
They had the White House for 12 years. And they quadrupled the debt
of this country, four times what we've run up in 200 years before. And
they want to go right back to the same policy and convince you that things
are so good, they couldn't mess it up if they tried.
You've got to make sure people know that. If the American people want
that; if they want to read the Ed McMahon letter and say, I'm going to
spend that $10 million right now. I hope it comes in. (Laughter.) Then
that's fine, it's a free country, it's a democracy. People ought to be
able to get whatever they want.
But they don't want that, and you know it. So if they vote against
our nominees from President to Senator to Congress, it's because they don't
understand that that's a choice. You know that by two to one they will
agree with us. You know they will.
If I ask you what you were going to make over the next decade -- what
are your projected earnings? Every one of you just think about it. Just
think about it. What do you think you're going to make for 10 years?
Now I'm going to set up a chair here and a desk, and I've got a Notary
Public, and I want you to come up here right now and sign a contract
spending it all. (Laughter.) If you'd do that, you ought to vote for
them; if not, you better stick with us. Now that's a pretty clear choice.
The second thing I want to say to you is we have differences over
social policy that I think are profoundly important. We're for a patients'
bill of rights that's real, and they're not. We're for a Medicare
prescription drug benefit that all of our seniors can buy who need it, and
our disabled Americans, and they're not. We want to close the gun show
loophole, and they don't. The head of the NRA says they're going to have
an office in the White House if they win the next election. They won't
need it; they'll have their way anyway.
Now I'm not saying anything bad about them; that's the way they are.
(Laughter.) No -- they believe that. They believe that. You don't have
to be a bad person to have a difference of opinion. But it's very bad to
try to obscure the difference of opinion and hope the voters don't know.
If the voters want, by a majority, to have a Congress that won't close
the gun show loophole, that won't provide a genuine Medicare prescription
drug benefit for our seniors, that won't pass a real patients' bill of
rights, that won't help our schools with new building and hire more
teachers, and do these things that need to be done -- they have a right to
choose that. But they must know what the choice is. And if they don't,
it's our fault.
Because if I were them, I wouldn't tell them either. They know if
anybody finds out where they stand, they're sunk. So they have to paint
these pretty pictures.
And the last and most important thing I want to tell you, more
important than anything else, is that Al Gore and Dick Gephardt and our
crowd, we want to take everybody along for the ride. That's why we're for
hate crimes legislation; that's why we're for employment non-discrimination
legislation; that's why we support strong civil rights enforcement; that's
why we want to extend the benefits of this economic prosperity to everybody
in every corner of this country. (Applause.) That's why we want to raise
the minimum wage. That's why our tax cuts are targeted toward helping
people send their kids to college or pay for child care or pay for
long-term care for the elderly and disabled. That's why we want to give a
big income tax cut to low-wage working people with three or more kids.
Because we think the people that are here working in this hotel
tonight, that could never afford to pay a ticket to come to a fundraiser
like this deserve the same chance we do to send their kids to college and
to live the American Dream. That's who we are. And that's what we are.
So if you believe that we ought to keep the prosperity going, and you
want to extend it to everybody; if you believe that we're right in trying
to do the sensible thing on health care policy and crime policy and
environmental policy; and if you think we ought to take everybody along on
a great ride in the 21st century, you need to make sure that Al Gore is the
President and that Dick Gephardt is the next Speaker.
Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 7:30 P.M. EDT
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