remarks of the President at DNC dinner in Charlottesville, VA
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                August 8, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                               AT DNC DINNER

                                    Private Residence
                           Charlottesville, Virginia

10:54 P.M. EDT

          THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very, very much.  First of all, I want
to thank Pat Kluge for having us here.  Thank you, Bill.  Thank all of you
for coming tonight.  Some of you, like Alan, are my old friends; some of
you I met for the first time tonight; some of you we've met along the way
over these last eight years.  I know the hour is late and the main
attraction of this dinner is coming to this magnificent house.

          I may ask for your permission to use this in an ad, the tag line
of which will be, "if you want to live like a Republican you have to keep
voting Democrat."  (Laughter.)

          I'll be very, very brief.  First of all, I thank you for your
support of the DNC, and I thank you for -- those of you particularly from
Virginia who supported Senator Robb.  But I want to ask you to think about
what you should do now.  The Republicans have had their convention in
Philadelphia, and they presented themselves in a very appealing way.  And
we get our chance next week in Los Angeles, a place, I would remind you,
which 40 years ago this month launched John Kennedy on the New Frontier,
and I believe will launch Al Gore as the first President of the new

          But I want to be very brief, but I want you to just try to listen
to me, even though it's late and I may not be very good because I got up
very early to go to Idaho -- about what I hope you will say to other people
about this election.  I have always believed -- always -- no matter what
the polls said, ever, I've always thought the Vice President would be
elected President.  I always believed Chuck Robb would be reelected to the
Senate, for a combination of personal and political reasons.

          But the only thing that I'm concerned about this year is whether
or not the very success that we've worked so hard to effect will put people
in such a good humor -- which I love, I want everybody to be happy, you
know -- not every President wants that -- that people will be under the
illusion that things are going along so well nobody could mess it up if
they tried, and there aren't really any consequences to this election; and
secondly, that everybody seems perfectly pleasant in this election year,
and therefore, the differences between the two candidates for President and
Vice President and the candidates for the Senate and the House and the two
parties must not be very great.

          Now, I am all for positive campaigns.  Having been the
beneficiary of some of the negative campaigning of the last 20 years, I
think it would be a good thing if we called a halt to campaigns where the
main strategy was to convince voters that your opponent was just one step
above a car thief.  And I think we can do without that.  The truth is most
of the people I've known in politics were honest, hard-working, and did
what they thought was right.  And I've been in it for a good while.

          But it's very important that we go back to the main thing -- I
always tell people, there are just three things you need to know about this
election.  One is, it is a truly important election, a big election; two is
that there are big differences between the candidates; and three is we're
the only side that wants you to know what the differences are.  What does
that tell you about who you ought to vote for?  (Applause.)

          Now, let me just say on each point -- why is it important?  You
can make a very strong argument that this election is just as important, if
not more important than the election of 1992, which had an historically
high turnout, where people were full of energy, and where there was a very
good response to the message that I laid out and the specifics in our
program, much of which was developed when I worked with Chuck Robb in our
years as governors, in our years with the Democratic Leadership Council --
which I hasten to add, Joe Lieberman is now the chairman of.  So Chuck and
I and our whole crowd, we're elated by this because it proves that the
Democrats are going to keep moving the country forward, looking to
progressive new ideas, trying to be relevant and to reach out to all
thoughtful people without regard to their background and their party.

          But this year, you can understand why people would think that the
election is not so important.  We're in the middle of the longest economic
expansion in history.  We just -- there's going to be an announcement
tomorrow that the teen pregnancy rate is at several decades low rate.  All
the social indicators are going in the right direction -- crime at a
25-year low; welfare rolls at a 32-year low, cut in half in the last seven
and a half years.

          But the truth is this is the time which is even more important.
Why?  Because none of us have ever been in the position before where we
could build the future of our dreams for our children because of our
prosperity, first.  Second, we live in a world where change is the only
constant and where we know we still have big challenges out there.  What
are we going to do when the baby boomers retire?  How do we propose to give
all of our children a world-class education?  We have the largest and most
diverse group of schoolchildren in history.

          How do we propose to keep the economy going and do something
about climate change, which even the oil companies now say is real -- 12
years ago, and even 8 years ago, all they did was make fun of Al Gore for
being the first one to tell us to think about it.  And those are just three

          So you've got to convince people they need to pay attention, this
is really important.  What you do with your prosperity is at least as stern
a test of character, judgment and values as what you do with adversity.
Because, really, if you've got any sense, if you're faced with adversity
you only have one choice -- change and work.

          The second thing is there really are real differences here.  And
we can posit the fact that our opponents are good people and patriotic
people and want to do what they think is right, but there are real
differences.  I just want to mention two or three, because they affect not
only the President's race, the Vice President's race, but Chuck Robb's

          One, on economics.  Our position is we worked hard for this
surplus.  It's kept interest rates down; it's kept the economy booming.
From the minute -- as Chuck said, the most significant vote for the economy
cast in this administration was way back in August of 1993, when we said we
were going to reduce the deficit by at least $500 billion over the next
couple of years, and we were going to do some very unpopular and
controversial things to do it, and we were prepared to do it and take the

          By one vote in both Houses it passed.  Not a single Republican
voted for it.  They said it would bring a recession, increase the deficit,
increase interest rates, the sky would fall, the world would end.  That was
their basic position.  And so it is fair to say that they are not to blame
for the consequences of our economic vote.  (Applause.)

          Now, to be perfectly fair, a few years later they did come along,
and we passed the balanced budget bill with big bipartisan majorities in
both Houses, but that's because the hard work had been done by the
Democrats alone.  People like Chuck Robb, who put his neck on the line,
knowing he was going to have to run for reelection in a very difficult
environment, and he did it anyway.

          So what do we do now?  Our position is, yes, we have a big
projected surplus, but we think it would be a big mistake to spend it all
because it's projected and because, the truth is, the way it's done doesn't
take account of a lot of things we know we're going to have to spend.  We
know there will be emergencies.  We know government spending will grow by
more than they say because it doesn't take into account the population.  So
what do we say?

          We say, let's give the American people a tax cut that we can
afford and focus on things that we really need -- universal access to
college; access to long-term care; working families' access to child care;
more retirement savings; relief from the marriage penalty.  But let's keep
it at a place we can afford.

          And I want to be quite candid.  It's only 25 percent the size of
the Republican tax cut; 80 percent of the American people would get more
money under ours than theirs, none of you would.  You'd all get more money
under theirs.  But why should you be for us?  Because, among other things,
you get at least interest rates a percentage lower for a decade, which is
lower business loans, a stronger stock market, more jobs, higher profit,
and for ordinary people, literally $250 billion in mortgage payment
savings, $30 billion in car payment savings, $15 billion in college loan

          What's their -- now, it took me a while to say that.  They've got
a much more appealing position.  Their position is, hey, it's your money,
we're going to give it back to you.  Why is the government keeping your
money?  Vote for us, it's a $2 trillion tax cut over 10 years.  What's the
problem with that?

          Number one, they have said they want to partially privatize the
Social Security system, which means those of you who are younger can take 2
percent of your payroll and invest it in the stock market.  But in order to
do it and keep everybody happy, they have to guarantee the benefits of
everybody over 55 under the present system.  Well, the thing is scheduled
to run out of money in 2034 anyway.  Under the Vice President's plan, it
would go to 2054, which would take it out beyond the life expectancy of all
but the most fortunate baby boomers.

          But if you lower the date of bankruptcy of Social Security from
2034 up forward, obviously that's a non-starter, so that costs a trillion
dollars over 10 years just to keep it where it is.  And then they promised
to spend money and all that.  But the most important thing you need to know
is, this surplus is projected, it may not be there.  And as I've said all
over America, now, this is kind of like getting one of those letters from
the sweepstakes signed by Ed McMahon.  (Laughter.)  You've all gotten them
-- "You may have won $10 million."  And you may.  And when you got that
letter, if you went out and spent the $10 million the next day, you really
should think seriously about supporting the Republicans this year.
(Laughter.)  But if you didn't you ought to stick with us and keep this
prosperity going.

          Now, this is important.  You have to explain this to people.
There was a big, big headline in USA Today, one of the big newspapers, just
in the last couple of months, saying people didn't understand the
differences.  This is a gaping difference.  They want to go back to the
economic policy we had before we showed up here.  And Chuck Robb sat there
all these years and voted for -- took all these tough votes in a state that
was anti-tax, stated it was conservative, put his neck on the line to get
this country in the shape it's in now, and all of a sudden we're going to
have an election and allow it all to be thrown away just because we don't
understand the consequences?  This is a huge deal, folks.  This is not a
casual conversation here.  This is a gaping difference.

          I'll give you another couple -- crime.  We supported 100,000
police, the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban, and their leadership was
against it.  Their past and present leadership.  Now we want to put 50,000
more police on the street in the highest crime areas, close the gun show
loophole in the background check law, mandate child trigger safety locks
because a lot of kids die by accident every year -- and stop the
importation of these large-capacity ammunition clips.  They allow you to
get around the assault weapons ban because you just get the clips from
overseas legally, and then you add them to a weapon that you buy legally
here, because it's not an assault weapon, and, presto, you've got an
assault weapon.  It's a huge loophole.

          And the Vice President thinks that people who buy handguns from
now on ought to have a photo ID license showing that they've passed the
background check and they know how to use the gun safely.  I agree with
that.  That's our policy.  Their policy is, they've never supported on the
100,000 police, as Chuck will tell you, or the 50,000 more.  We've had to
just drag it out, fight for it every year.  And their policy is what we
really need is to have more concealed weapons and people should be able to
carry them everywhere, even in houses of worship.  (Laughter.)  No, they
believe this.

          I was on a town hall meeting the other day and I spoke to one of
the advocates of this position in Texas, which is the Texas policy.  And
she made a very heartfelt, compelling case of why this was the answer to
all the crime problems in America, and why I was wrong.  The point I want
to make is you have to assume when people say they're going to do
something, they believe it, and they get elected, that they'll do it.  So
there's a real difference here.

          There are differences here on the patients' bill of rights, on
the minimum wage, on a whole host of other issues.  There's a profound
difference on the choice issue.  The next President will appoint between
two and four judges to the Supreme Court, in all probability.  The next
Senate will confirm or deny those appointments.  The nominees of the
Republican Party for President and Vice President have repeatedly said they
believe that Roe v. Wade is wrong and should be changed.  The nominees of
the Democratic Party support it.  And because they're honorable people, you
have to expect them to do what they believe is right when they get these

          And I think that this should be something we deal with soberly,
not in slogans, and not by attacking people.  People who -- everybody has
very deep feelings about this, but we should assume that they will do what
they believe is right.  And I know that Al Gore will do what he believes is
right.  And I know what Chuck Robb believes is right.  And it's not just on
this issue, not just the choice issue, but this relates to civil rights
enforcement and how the ordinary citizens are treated in the courts of the
land, and all these matters are very important.

          So you need to think about this, and you need to tell people who
tell you it doesn't matter who wins that they're wrong -- that the rhetoric
may have been similar at both conventions, and we're pleased by that, but
that we have changed our policies, here's our policies, we tell you exactly
what we're for.  There's a reason that they didn't have as much detail at
their convention, and that is that they hope you think there's not much
difference here.  There is a huge difference.

          And I could give you lots of other examples.  But I don't want to
keep you any later, but you get the point.  We may never have another
chance in our lifetime.  And I want to say a couple of things about the
Vice President, a couple of things about Joe Lieberman, and a couple of
things about Chuck Robb, because I'm really proud to be identified with

          Al Gore is the best Vice President this country has ever had, by
a good long way.  (Applause.)  We have had a lot of very fine Presidents
who we're Vice President, including Senator Robb's father-in-law, who gave
us Medicare, the civil rights laws, and did a lot of other things of
enduring value for America.  Teddy Roosevelt was Vice President; Thomas
Jefferson was Vice President; Harry Truman was Vice President.  We never
had anybody who in this job did anything remotely as much as Al Gore has
done -- to support the economy, to advance the cause of education, to make
sure all of our schools were hooked up to the Internet, to help us deal
with the environmental challenges of the country in a way that was good for
the environment, to downsize the government in a way that didn't require us
to put people in the street.

          I could give you example after example after example.  He is,
therefore, the best qualified person in my adult lifetime to be President,
to run.  There's not even close.  No serious student of the presidency,
whether they agree with any of my policies or not, would seriously dispute
this.  There has never been a Vice President who did so much good for the
country as Vice President and had this much influence and this much

          The second thing you need to know is he's got the right economic
policy.  And I think that's pretty important.  I'd kind of like to keep
this thing going a while.  I've got to go out and be a citizen, earn a
living here -- (laughter) -- and I'm going to be really steamed if after
all these last eight years it doesn't work out for me.  It will be
terrible.  Think about my daughter and my continuing educational
responsibilities and -- I'm kidding, but it's serious.  Dead serious.  It
couldn't be clearer.

          The third thing you need to know is, this guy really does
understand the future.  I saw Governor Bush took a shot at him on this
whole Internet thing.  That's another one of the many bum raps you get.  If
you stand around in politics enough you'll get some bum raps.  What Al Gore
said he did and what he did -- what he actually did is he sponsored
legislation to turn the Internet from being the private province of a few
physicists into a broadly-available communications technology which is
sweeping the world.

          Do you know how many sites there were on the Worldwide Web when I
became President -- 55 -- 5,0 -- in 1993.  It's now the fastest growing
communications exchange in history.  He did have a lot to do with that.  He
is the first person I ever heard say the Library of Congress will be on the
Internet and ordinary people will be able to get it.  And he did lead the
fight for the e-rate, which means that all the poorest schools in America
can now hook up to the Internet.

          When we started this thing only 3 percent of our classrooms were
hooked up to the Internet, only 11 percent of our schools.  Today, over 90
percent of our schools and two-thirds of our classrooms are hooked up to
the Internet.  That's pretty good.

          He understands climate change.  Like I said, people made fun of
him for years.  I don't want the Florida Everglades to flood.  I went to
too much trouble to try to save them.  I don't want farm fields in the
middle West to burn up.  I want somebody who understands this.

          He understands all our medical records and our financial records
are on the Internet, and somebody ought to be able to say yes before
somebody else can go get them.  He understands the human genome issue and
what we have to do to try to maximize its benefits without letting people
lose the ability to get a job or health insurance because they got a bad
little gene card.

          He thinks about these things.  I want somebody in the White House
that understands the future, and he does.  And the fourth thing that's most
important to me of all is that he believes in one America.  He thinks we
all ought to go along for the ride.  He thinks that the people who served
this dinner tonight deserve the same chance to send their kids to college
as the rest of us have.

          And I'll tell you just a couple things about Joe Lieberman.  When
I was a first-year law student at Yale he was a 28-year-old candidate for
the state Senate, whom I had the honor to support.  He's been my friend for
30 years.  He believes ideas are serious.  He was -- Chuck will tell you
he's been an integral part of everything we've done with the Democratic
Leadership Council over the last gazillion years -- since we've been
working on it, 15 years -- and has firmly said that the Democratic Party is
the party of the vital center and of tomorrow's ideas and we're going to
keep changing in the right direction, which I think is very important.

          And I agree with what Chuck said -- his wife will soon be one of
the most quoted people in Washington.  But I should tell you that we didn't
mean that in a pejorative sense.  She is a wonderful woman and will become,
I think, terrifically popular around the country.

          Now, the last thing I want to say is one of the reasons I always
love to come to events like this is I get to embarrass Chuck Robb.
(Laughter.)  Here's a guy who never talks about his military service.  Do
you ever hear Chuck Robb give a speech about Vietnam?  You'd think he was
teaching college somewhere talking about it, because he thinks all he did
was do his duty.  He never talks about the votes he cast in terms of
putting his neck on the line.

          I'll never forget the night that he was sitting in the White
House with me in 1993, and they were trying to literally eviscerate me over
my gays in the military issue.  And Chuck Robb -- the only time I ever
heard him talk personally about his record in Vietnam and supported me on
that, based on his personal experience, knowing he was going to have to
face a terrible reelection battle in '94, knowing he was going to have to
take a very tough vote on my economic plan, knowing that he was going to
have everybody in the well-known groups in Virginia that don't agree with
us about anything going after him and trying to basically politically
decapitate him.

          And this man is very modest and very restrained in what he says.
But I do not believe there is a braver person in public life today than
Chuck Robb.  I do not believe it.  (Applause.)  And I've always thought
he'd be reelected.  The people of Virginia need to know what kind of
governor he was, what kind of senator he's been, what kind of person he is.
You need to take care of that, too.  This country needs him.  This country
needs him.

          All that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are saying, all the stuff that
I've tried to do these last few years, he was out there in the early '80s,
from then on, arguing that our party should take this course and our
country should take this course.  And I feel the same way I do about him
and Joe and Al, altogether -- we must not let the people who did so much to
bring America to this magic moment be punished in this election because
times are so good people don't think it makes a difference.  I'm telling
you, if people know what the election is about, know what the differences
are, I can go on vacation between now and November.

          But our job is to make sure they know that.  So I thank you for
your contribution, thank you for your support.  But remember, you may not
get a chance like this in your lifetime again.  You may not ever get a
chance when there's so much economic prosperity, social progress, the
absence of crippling domestic crisis or overpowering foreign threat, to
literally shape the future of your dreams for your children.  It may not
happen to you again.

          You ought to carry that as a personal responsibility every day
between now and November.  For Al Gore and Joe Lieberman; for Chuck Robb;
for my favorite Senate candidate from New York; and from everybody else
we've got running.  It's worth fighting for, and we have to win.

          Thank you.  (Applause.)

                                 END    11:35 P.M. EDT

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