President of the United States Remarks to the Democratic National Convention (8/14/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                         (Los Angeles, California)

For Immediate Release
                             August 14, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                   TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

                              Staples Center
                          Los Angeles, California


7:52 P.M. PDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.  Isn't it
great to be here in California together?  Forty years ago, the great city
of Los Angeles launched John Kennedy and the New Frontier.  Now, Los
Angeles is launching the first President of the new century:  Al Gore.
(Applause.)

     I come here tonight, above all, to say a heartfelt thank you.  Thank
you.  Thank you for giving me the chance to serve.  Thank you for being so
good to Hillary and Chelsea.  I am so proud of them.  And didn't she give a
good talk?  I thought it was great.  (Applause.)  I thank you for
supporting the New Democratic agenda that has taken our country to new
heights of prosperity, peace and progress.  As always, of course, the
lion's share of credit goes to the American people -- who do the work,
raise the kids and dream the dreams.

     Now, at this moment of unprecedented good fortune, our people face a
fundamental choice -- are we going to keep this progress and prosperity
going?  Yes, we are.  (Applause.)

     But, my friends, we can't take our future for granted.  We cannot take
it for granted.  So let's just remember how we got here.

     Eight years ago, when our party met in New York, it was a far
different time for America.  Our economy was in trouble, our society was
divided, our political system was paralyzed.  Ten million of our fellow
citizens were out of work.  Interest rates were high.  The deficit was $290
billion and rising.  After 12 years of Republican rule, the federal debt
had quadrupled, imposing a crushing burden on our economy and on our
children.

     Welfare rolls, crime, teen pregnancy, income inequality -- all had
been skyrocketing.  And our government was part of the problem, not part of
the solution.

     I saw all this in a very personal way in 1992, out there in the real
America with many of you.  I remember a child telling me her father broke
down at the dinner table because he lost his job.  I remember an older
couple crying in front of me because they had to choose between filling
their shopping carts and filling their prescriptions.  I remember a
hardworking immigrant in a hotel kitchen who said his son was not really
free, because it wasn't safe for him to play in the neighborhood park.

     I ran for President to change the future for those people.
(Applause.)  And I asked you to embrace new ideas rooted in enduring
values:  opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and a community of
all Americans.

     You gave me the chance to turn those ideas and values into action,
after I made one of the very best decisions of my entire life:  asking Al
Gore to be my partner.  (Applause.)

     Now, first, we proposed a new economic strategy:  get rid of the
deficit to reduce interest rates; invest more in our people; sell more
American products abroad.  We sent our plan to Congress.  It passed by a
single vote in both Houses.  In a deadlocked Senate, Al Gore cast the
tie-breaking vote.  (Applause.)  Not a single Republican supported it.

     Here's what their leaders said.  Their leaders said our plan would
increase the deficit, kill jobs, and give us a one-way ticket to recession.
Time has not been kind to their predictions.  (Applause.)

     Remember, our Republican friends said then they would absolutely not
be held responsible for our economic policies.  I hope the American people
take them at their word.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     Today, after seven and a half years of hard effort, we're in the midst
of the longest economic expansion in history.  More than 22 million new
jobs, the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the lowest female unemployment
in 40 years, the lowest Hispanic and African American unemployment ever
recorded and the highest home ownership in history.  (Applause.)

     Now, along the way, in 1995, we turned back the largest cuts in
history in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment.  And just
two years later we proved that we could find a way to balance the budget
and protect our values.  Today, we have gone from the largest deficits in
history to the largest surpluses in history.  (Applause.)  And if -- but
only if -- we stay on course, we can make America debt-free for the first
time since Andy Jackson was President in 1835.  (Applause.)

     For the first time in decades, wages are rising at all income levels.
We have the lowest child poverty in 20 years, the lowest poverty rate for
single mothers ever recorded.  The average family's income has gone up more
than $5,000 and, for African American families, even more.  (Applause.)
The number of families who own stock has grown by 40 percent.

     You know, Harry Truman's old saying has never been more true:  if you
want to live like a Republican, you better vote for the Democrats.
(Applause.)  Thank you.

     But our progress is about far more than economics.  America is also
more hopeful, more secure and more free.  We're more hopeful because we're
turning our schools around, with higher standards, more accountability,
more investment.  We have doubled funding for Head Start and provided
after-school and mentoring to more than a million more young people.
(Applause.)  We're putting 100,000 well-trained teachers in the early
grades to lower class size.  Ninety-five percent of our schools are
connected to the Internet.  Reading, math and SAT scores are up.  And more
students than ever are going on to college, thanks to the biggest expansion
of college aid since the GI Bill 50 years ago.  (Applause.)

     Now, don't let anybody tell you that all children can't learn or that
our public schools can't make the grade.  Yes, they can.  Yes, they can.
(Applause.)

     We're also more hopeful because we ended welfare as we knew it.  Now,
those who can work, must work.  On that, we and the Republicans agreed.
But we Democrats also insisted on support for good parenting -- so that
poor children don't go hungry or lose their health care, unmarried teens
stay in school, and people get the job training, child care and
transportation they need.  It has worked.  Today, there are 7.5 million
people who have moved from welfare to work, and the welfare rolls in our
administration have been cut in half.  (Applause.)

     We're more hopeful because of the way we cut taxes -- to help
Americans meet the challenges of work and child rearing.  This year alone,
our HOPE Scholarship and Lifelong Learning tax credits will help 10 million
families pay for college.  Our earned income tax credit will help 15
million families work their way into the middle class.  Twenty-five million
families will get a $500 child tax credit.

     Our empowerment zone tax credits are bringing new business and new
jobs to our hardest pressed communities -- from the inner cities to
Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta to our Native American reservations.
(Applause.)  And the typical American family today is paying a lower share
of its income in federal income taxes than at any time during the past 35
years.  (Applause.)

     We are more hopeful because of the Family and Medical Leave act, a
bill that the previous administration vetoed.  They said it would cost
jobs.  It's the first bill I signed.  (Applause.)  And we now have a test.
Twenty-two million new jobs later, over  20 million Americans have been
able to take a little time off to care for a newborn child or sick
relative.  That's what it means -- that's what it really means to be
pro-family.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     We are more secure country because we cut crime -- with tougher
enforcement, more than 100,000 new community police officers, a ban on
assault weapons, and the Brady Law, which has kept guns out of the hands of
half a million felons, fugitives and stalkers.  Today, crime is at a
25-year low.  (Applause.)

     And we're more secure because of advances in health care.  We've
extended the life of the Medicare trust fund by 26 years; adding coverage
for cancer screening and cutting-edge clinical trials; we're coming closer
to cures for dreaded diseases.  We made sure that people with disabilities
could go to work without losing their health care -- (applause) -- and that
people who switch jobs without losing their coverage.  We dramatically
improved diabetes care.  We provided health coverage under the Children's
Health Insurance Program to 2 million previously uninsured children.  And
for the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of our kids have
been immunized against serious childhood diseases.  You can be proud of
that Democratic record.  (Applause.)

     We are more secure because our environment is cleaner.  We've set
aside more land in the lower 48 states than any administration since Teddy
Roosevelt -- (applause) -- saving national treasures like Yellowstone, the
great California Redwoods, the Florida Everglades.  (Applause.)   Moreover,
our air is cleaner; our water is cleaner; our food is safer; and our
economy is stronger.  You can grow the economy and protect the environment
at the same time.  (Applause.)

     Now, we're more free because we are closer today to the one America of
our dreams -- celebrating our diversity, affirming our common humanity,
opposing all forms of bigotry, from church burnings to racial profiling to
murderous hate crimes.  We're fighting for  employment nondiscrimination
legislation and for equal pay for women.  (Applause.)   Thank you.

     We found ways to mend, not end, affirmative action.  We have given
America the most diverse administration in history -- it really looks like
America.  (Applause.)  You know, if I could just get my administration up
here, it would be just as good a picture as anything you saw a couple of
weeks ago in Philadelphia -- the real people loving it.  (Applause.)  And
we created AmeriCorps, which already has given more than 150,000 of our
young people a chance to earn some money for college by serving our
communities.

     We are more secure and we're more free because of our leadership in
the world for peace, freedom and prosperity, helping to end a generation of
conflict in Northern Ireland; stopping the brutal ethnic cleansing in
Bosnia and Kosovo -- (applause) -- and bringing the Middle East closer than
ever to a comprehensive peace.  (Applause.)

     We built stronger ties to Africa, Asia, and our Latin American and
Caribbean neighbors.  We brought Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic
into NATO.  We are working with Russia to destroy nuclear weapons and
materials.  We are fighting head-on the new threats and injustices of the
global age:  terrorism, narco-trafficking, biological and chemical warfare,
the trafficking in women and young girls, and the deadly spread of AIDS.
And in the great tradition of Jimmy Carter, who is here tonight, we are
still the world's leading force for human rights around the world.  Thank
you, President Carter.  (Applause.)

     The American military is the best trained, best equipped, most
effective fighting force in the world.  Our men and women have shown that
time and again in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Haiti and Iraq.  I can tell you
that their strength, their spirit, their courage and their commitment to
freedom have never been greater.  Any adversary who believes those who say
otherwise is making a grave mistake.  (Applause.)

     Now, my fellow Americans, that's the record.  Or, as that very famous
Los Angeles detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, used to say, "just the facts,
ma'am."  (Laughter and applause.)  I ask you, let's remember the standard
our Republican friends used to have for whether a party should continue in
office:  my fellow Americans, are we better off today than we were eight
years ago?  (Applause.)

     You bet we are.  You bet we are.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Yes, we
are.  Yes, we are.  Yes, we are.

     But we're not just better off, we're also a better country.
(Applause.)   We are today more tolerant, more decent, more humane and more
united.  Now, that's the purpose of prosperity.  (Applause.)

     Since 1992, America has grown not just economically, but as a
community.  Yes, jobs are up, but so are adoptions.  Yes, the debt is down,
but so is teen pregnancy.  We are becoming both more diverse and more
united.

     My fellow Americans, tonight we can say with gratitude and humility:
we built our bridge to the 21st century.  We crossed that bridge together.
And we're not going back.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     To those who say -- and I'm sure you heard this somewhere in the last
few days -- to those who say the progress of these last eight years was
just some sort of accident, that we just kind of coasted along, let me be
clear -- (applause) -- America's success was not a matter of chance; it was
a matter of choice.  (Applause.)

     And, today, America faces another choice.  It's every bit as momentous
as the one we faced eight years ago.  For what a nation does with its good
fortune is just as stern a test of its character, values and judgment as
how it deals with adversity.

     My fellow Americans, this is a big election, with great consequences
for every American, because the differences -- the honest differences --
between our candidates and their visions are so profound.  We can a have
good, old-fashioned election here.  We should posit that our opponents are
good, honorable, patriotic people, and that we have honest differences.
But the differences are there.

     Consider this, just this:  we in America would already have, this
year, a real patients' bill of rights, a minimum wage increase, stronger
equal pay laws for women, and middle class tax cuts for college tuition and
long-term care if the Democratic Party were in the majority in Congress
with Dick Gephardt as Speaker and Tom Daschle as Majority Leader.  And come
November, they will be.  (Applause.)

     That has to be clear to people.  And that's why every House and every
Senate seat is important.  But if you'll give me one moment of personal
privilege, I'd like to say a word about Hillary.  (Applause.)  When I first
met her 30 years ago, she already had an abiding passion to help children.
And she's pursued it ever since.  Her very first job out of law school was
with the Children's Defense Fund.

     Every year I was governor she took lots of time away from her law
practice to work for better schools, or better children's health or jobs
for parents who lived in poor areas.  Then when I became President, she
became a full-time advocate for her lifetime cause.  And what a job she has
done.  (Applause.)  She championed the Family Leave law, children's health
insurance, increased support for foster children and adoptions.  She wrote
a best-selling book about caring for our children.  And then she took care
of them by giving all the profits to children's charities. (Applause.)  For
thirty years -- 30 years, from the first day I met her, she has always been
there for all our kids.

     She's been a great First Lady.  She's always been there for our
family.  And she'll always be there for the families of New York and
America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     Of course, we all know that the biggest choice that the American
people have to make this year is in the presidential race.  Now, you all
know how I feel.  (Laughter.)  But it's not my decision to make.  That
belongs to the American people.  I just want to tell all of you here in
this great arena, and all of the folks watching and listening at home a few
things that I know about Al Gore.  (Applause.)

     We've worked closely together for eight years now, in the most
challenging moments, when we faced the most difficult issues -- of war and
peace, of whether to take on some powerful interests -- he was always
there.  And he always told me exactly what he thought was right.

     Everybody knows he is thoughtful and hard-working.  But I can tell you
personally he is one strong leader.  (Applause.)  In 1993, there was nobody
around the table more willing to make the tough choices to balance the
budget the right way and take this tough stance against balancing the
budget on the backs of the poor and working people of America.  (Applause.)
I have seen this kind of positioning and this kind of strength time and
again -- whether it was in how we reform welfare or in protecting the
environment or in closing the digital divide or bringing jobs to rural and
urban America through the empowerment zone program, the greatest champion
of ordinary Americans has always been Al Gore.  (Applause.)

     I'll tell you something else about him.  More than anybody else I've
known in public life, Al Gore understands the future and how sweeping
changes and scientific breakthroughs will affect ordinary Americans' lives.
And I think we need somebody in the White House at the dawn of the 21st
century who really understands the future.  (Applause.)

     Finally, I want to say something more personal.  Virtually every week
for the last seven and a half years, until he became occupied with more
important matters, Al Gore and I had lunch.  And we talked about the
business between us and the business of America.  But we'd also often talk
about our families, what our kids were doing, how school was going, what
was going on in their lives.  I know him.  He is a profoundly good man.
(Applause.)  He loves his children more than life.  And he has a perfectly
wonderful wife -- (applause) -- who has fought against homelessness and who
has done something for me and all Americans in bringing the cause of mental
health into the broad sunlight of our national public life.  We owe Tipper
Gore our thanks.  (Applause.)

     Al has picked a great partner in Joe Lieberman.  (Applause.) There's
the Connecticut crowd.  Hillary and I have known Joe for 30 years, since we
were in Connecticut in law school.  I supported him in his first race for
public office in 1970, when I learned he had been a Freedom Rider, going
into danger, to register black voters in the then-segregated South.
(Applause.)   It should not be a surprise to anyone that Al Gore picked the
leader of the New Democrats to be his Vice President.  Because Joe
Lieberman has supported all our efforts to reform welfare, reduce crime,
protect the environment, protect civil rights and a woman's right to choose
and to keep this economy going.  All of them.  (Applause.)   And he has
shown time and time again that he will work with President Gore to keep
putting people and progress over partisanship.  (Applause.)

     Now, it's up, frankly, to the Presidential nominee and the Vice
Presidential nominee to engage in this debate and to point out the
differences.  But there are two issues I care a lot about, and I want to
make brief comments on them -- and I hope I've earned the right to make
comments on them.  (Applause.)

     One is the economy -- I know a little something about that.  And the
other is our efforts to build one America.

     First, on the economy, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will keep our
prosperity going by paying down the debt, investing in education and health
care, moving more people from welfare to work, and providing family tax
cuts we can afford.  (Applause.)  That stands in stark contrast to the
position of our Republican friends.

     Here is their position:  they say we have a big projected 10 year
surplus and they want to spend every dime of it, and then some, on tax cuts
right now.  That would leave nothing for education or Medicare,
prescription drugs; nothing to extend the life of Medicare and Social
Security for the baby boomers; nothing in case the projected surpluses
don't come in.

     Now, think about your own family's budget for a minute.  Or your own
business budget.  Would you sign a binding contract today to spend all your
projected income for a decade, leaving nothing for your families' basic
needs, nothing for emergencies, nothing for a cushion in case you didn't
get the raise you thought you were going to get?  Of course you wouldn't do
that; and America shouldn't do it either.  We should stick with what works.
(Applause.)

     Let me say something to you that's even more important than the
economy to me.  When Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish
American to join a national ticket, to be his partner -- (applause) -- and
he joined with our presidential nominee, who has, along with his great
mother and late father, a lifetime commitment to civil rights and equal
opportunity for all, even when it was not popular down home in the south --
(applause) -- when they did that, we had a ticket that embodies the
Democratic commitment to one America.  They believe in civil rights and
equal opportunity for everybody.  They believe in a woman's right to
choose.  (Applause.)  And, this may be the most important of all -- they
believe the folks that you're buying your soft drinks and popcorn from here
at the Staples Center should have the exact same chance they do to send
their kids to college and give them a good life and a good future.
(Applause.)

     My fellow Americans, I am very proud of our leaders.  And I want you
to know that the opportunity I have had to serve as President at the dawn
of a new era in human history has been an honor, a privilege and a joy.  I
have done everything I knew how to do to empower the American people, to
unleash their amazing optimism and imagination and hard work -- to turn our
country around from where it was in 1992 and to get us moving forward
together.

     Now, what I want you to understand tonight is that the best is still
out there, the best is yet to come if we make the right choices in this
election year.  (Applause.)

     But the choices will make all the difference.  In February, the
American people achieved the longest economic expansion in our history.
When that happened, I asked our folks at the White House when the previous
longest economic expansion was.  You know when it was?  It was from 1961
through 1969.  Now, I want the young people especially to listen to this.
I remember this well.

     I graduated from high school in 1964.  Our country was still very sad
because of President Kennedy's death, but full of hope under the leadership
of President Johnson.  And I assumed then, like most Americans, that our
economy was on absolutely on automatic, that nothing could derail it.  I
also believe then that our civil rights problems would all be solved in
Congress and the courts.  And in 1964, when we were enjoying the longest
economic expansion in history, we never dreamed that Vietnam would so
divide and wound our America.

     So we took it for granted.  And then, before we knew it, there were
riots in the streets, even here.  The leaders that I adored as a young man
-- Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy -- were killed.  Lyndon Johnson, a
President from my part of the country I admired so much for all he did for
civil rights, for the elderly and the poor, said he would not run again
because our nation was so divided.  And then we had an election in 1968
that took America on a far different and more divisive course.  And, you
know, within months after that election, the last longest economic
expansion in history was, itself, history.

     Why am I telling you this tonight?  Not to take you down, but to keep
you looking up.  I have waited, not as President, but as your fellow
citizen for over 30 years to see my country once again in the position to
build the future of our dreams for our children.  (Applause.)   We are a
great and good people.  And we have an even better chance this time than we
did then, with no great internal crisis and no great external threat.
Still, I have lived long enough to know that opportunities must be seized
or they will be lost.

     My friends, fifty-four years ago this week, I was born in a summer
storm to a young widow in a small southern town.  America  gave me the
chance to live my dreams.  And I have tried as hard as I knew how to give
you a better chance to live yours.  (Applause.)  Now, my hair is a little
grayer, my wrinkles are a little deeper; but with the same optimism and
hope I brought to the work I loved so eight years ago, I want you to know
my heart is filled with gratitude.

     My fellow Americans, the future of our country is now in your hands.
You must think hard, feel deeply, and choose wisely.
And, remember, whenever you think about me, keep putting people first.
Keep building those bridges.  And don't stop thinking about tomorrow.

END                                                               8:34 P.M.
PDT


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