2000-10/22 President of the United States remarks at NY Senate 2000 Dinner in Hempstead, New York
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Hempstead, New York)

Immediate Release                        October 22, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                    TO THE NEW YORK SENATE 2000 DINNER

                              Lowenfeld Hall
                            Hofstra University
                            Hempstead, New York

8:13 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  You know, I have been on a tour
of New York today.  I've been to Binghamton and Watertown -- actually, to
Alex Bay.  And here I am with you at Hofstra.  And I hear the sound of
victory everywhere I go.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

     I want to thank Carolyn McCarthy for representing you and representing
everyone in America who wants to build a sane, safe society.  She is a
brave and good woman and I am honored to serve with her.  (Applause.)  I
want to thank Congressman Gary Ackerman for being with us today.
(Applause.)  He has been my friend and ally for eight years, and he
represents all of you so well.  But what all of you should know is, he has
quite a global reach.  I took him with me on my trip to India, and all
these people kept coming up to him in India saying, Gary, who is that tall,
gray-headed fellow with you?  (Laughter and applause.)  It was amazing.
India has 900 million people, strangers were walking to him on the street
saying, hello, Gary, how are you.  (Laughter.)  I loved it.

     I want to thank Carl McCall, who has been a great leader for New York
and a great friend of ours.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And thank you, Judith
Hope, for being a great chair of the State Democratic Party.  (Applause.)
Some of you may know that Judith Hope, like me, was also born in Arkansas,
proving that we can be accepted in New York -- (applause.)

     I want to thank the Nassau County Chair, Tom DiNapoli, for being such
a wonderful leader and for sticking with Hillary and helping us to win.
And I think one of our congressional candidates, Steve Israel, is here
tonight.  I thank the President of Hofstra University, Dr. James Shuart,
and all the people from Hofstra who have made us feel so welcome.

     And now, here's what I want to say.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Look,
we're all having a good time tonight, but the truth is that this is Sunday
and so if you'll forgive me a little religious reference, I'm quite well
aware that in the terms, the words of my tradition, I'm here preaching to
the saved.  (Laughter.)  And so I want to ask you, just for a moment,
amidst all the good time and all the cheering we're doing to let me say a
few things seriously -- because every one of you know lots and lots of
people, your friends, your family members, your co-students, your
coworkers, people in this state and people in other states who will never
come to an event like this, don't you?  You know people who have never been
to an event like this; never heard a President speak, a First Lady speak, a
member of Congress speak; but who will show up on election day if they
understand what the stakes are because they're good citizens.

     And what bothers me about this election is that I keep reading that
there are all these sort of undecided voters who don't think there is much
difference between the two candidates for President, aren't sure there is
much difference between the two parties, may not show up, or may show up
and make the wrong decision because they don't know.  So before I introduce
Hillary, I just want to say a few things that I hope you will say to
somebody every single day between now and the election.

     I want to begin by saying, thank you.  New York has been wonderful to
me and to Al Gore for eight years.  (Applause.)  In 1996, we won a great
victory in New York, even in Nassau County we won, and won big, and I thank
you for that.  (Applause.)  But I'm concerned, and here's why.  If people
know what is at stake, if they understand the differences, the nature of
the choice and the impact on you, your families, your community and your
nation, we'll do fine.  So what we want is clarity.

     Now, what the other guys want -- because we win if you understand --
is cloudiness.  And it's easier to be cloudy than clear, so you've got to
be Hillary and Al and Joe's weather patrol between now and the election, to
make it clear.

     There are three great questions in this election, nationally -- and as
they affect New York, and I'll come back to New York when I introduce
Hillary.  But there are three great questions that affect every American
and, therefore, that affect the people of New York.  Let me begin by some
of the questions that have been raised in the debate and in the statics
around the campaign that this election is not about.

     This election is not about a choice between change and the status quo.
America is changing too fast.  Look around here.  And we're going to be
rapidly changing every year for at least 10 years, probably 20, in dramatic
ways we can't even perceive.  The question is not whether we're going to
change, it is how; what will the direction of change be; are we going to
build on the success of the last eight years or take a U-turn and go back?
That is the question.  But it's not change versus the status quo.

     The other thing I heard from the debates from the other side is that
this election is supposed to be about whether you're for big government
making all your decisions or whether you trust the people.  Let me tell you
something -- and the implication is, of course, that the Democrats are the
big government and the Republicans are the people.  That's just not so.
And if anybody asks you that, let me just point out a couple of things.

     Number one, our Democratic administration has reduced the size of the
federal civil government to the lowest level since 1960, when John Kennedy
sought the presidency and Dwight Eisenhower was President.  Don't put up
with that.  That's not true.  (Applause.)

     Number two, we got rid of 16,000 pages of federal regulations that
were on the books when they were in.  Number three, I heard them talking
about all the burdens we put on the school districts.  Have you heard that
in all the debates now?  The federal government just wants to burden the
school district.  Number three, under the leadership of our Secretary of
Education, Dick Riley, states and school districts have had their paperwork
burden from the federal government cut by two-thirds below what it was when
they were in office.  So this is not about big government versus the
people.  We have reduced the burden of government -- we've just increased
the ability of government to help ordinary people live better lives.
That's what the real truth is.  (Applause.)

     Another thing I heard is how we needed somebody to swoop in from
outside Washington to end the partisan atmosphere so we could have
bipartisan solutions.  (Laughter.)  In other words, they would like to be
rewarded for the problem they created.  (Laughter.)

     Now, let's look at the facts here.  We had a bipartisan welfare reform
bill, a bipartisan Balanced Budget Act of '97, a bipartisan Children's
Health Insurance Program.  Yes, we initiated it, but we got the Republicans
to vote for it and we worked with them.  We had a bipartisan
telecommunications law that has created thousands of businesses and
hundreds of thousands of jobs; a bipartisan vote to create 100,000 teachers
and 100,000 police -- a bipartisan vote.  The partisanship has come from
the other side.

     Don't you worry about Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary being
willing to work in a bipartisan fashion.  We are willing to work in a
bipartisan fashion, we're just not willing to be run over.  And that's what
the issue is.  (Applause.)

     Let me say one other thing.  Now, I might get in some trouble for
saying this, but I'm going to say it, anyway.  I hear that on Long Island
and all across the country in the middle west, there are people taking off
work to go to work for the NRA, to work against our candidates because they
say we're trying to take their guns away.  And they're spending a fortune
doing that.

     Now why in the wide world would they do that?  One possibility is it's
true.  But it isn't.  It's a lie.  I want every hunter and sportsman within
the sound of my voice who missed a day of any hunting season because of any
proposal I made to vote for the other guy.  (Applause.)  But if you didn't,
they're lying to you and you should get even.  (Laughter and applause.)

     Now, what did we do?  What did we do?  Let me tell you what I plead
guilty to doing.  We did pass the Brady law -- (applause) -- we did that.
And we asked people to undergo a background check before they got a
handgun, to prove they weren't a felon, a fugitive or a stalker.  We did
that.  (Applause.)  And, you know, a half million felons, fugitives and
stalkers didn't get handguns; gun crime is down by 35 percent; the crime
rate is at a 26-year low; the murder rate is at a 33 year low.  I think we
were right.  Who can defend the other side of that?  (Applause.)  And we
banned assault weapons.  And I think we were right.  (Applause.)  And God
knows, as the experience of Carolyn McCarthy's life shows, we were right.

     Now, listen, what is it that we really want to do?  Well, we think
that the background check law worked well, but there are a lot of gun show
sales that it doesn't apply to, and we think it should.  We think that
child trigger locks should be mandatory when new handguns are sold.  And we
think that large scale ammunition clips should not be able to be imported
in America -- because if you allowed that, then you can just rejigger the
guns that are already here and turn them into assault weapons.

     And most of us believe that you ought to get a license when you buy a
handgun, like you do when you buy a car, showing you're not a crook and you
know how to use it safely.  Now, will that cause anybody to miss a day in
the deer woods?  Will it cause anybody to miss a sport shooting contest?
Does it confiscate weapons -- constitute weapons confiscation?  No.  That
is not what this election is about.  So if you hear somebody on Long Island
say that, you just tell them it's not true.

     You know, it is a crying shame, as hard as we have worked to get this
crime rate down, to run the risk of turning it right around and sending it
up again by people who not only want to control the criminal policy in this
country as it relates to this, but have also promised -- listen to this --
promised to repeal the law we passed putting now 150,000 police on the
street.  They're wrong, we're right.  You've got to fight.  Don't take this
laying down and don't put this stuff out there.  (Applause.)  Don't do it.
Don't put with people saying things that aren't true.  (Applause.)

     Now, what is the election really about?  Number one, it's about
whether we're going to keep the prosperity going and extend it to people
and places left behind.  That's the first thing.  (Applause.)  How are we
going to do that?  How are we going to do that?  We're going to do that by
giving people a tax cut we can afford, not one we can't afford.  A tax cut
that benefits more middle class families than theirs does -- even though
it's much smaller; a deduction for college tuition; a credit for long-term
care for the elderly and disabled; extra help for child care; extra help
for lower income workers with lots of kids; help to save for retirement;
and extra incentives to invest in people and places that have been left

     Now, why do we have a tax cut that is smaller than theirs?  Because we
save money to invest in education and health care and the environment and
national defense and to get this country out of debt over the next 12 years
so we can keep interest rates down and the economy growing.  (Applause.)

     What is their deal?  What's the difference?  Their tax cut is at least
three times as big as ours.  I admit it is.  And a few of you might do
better under it.  But it's three times bigger.  What's the problem with
that?  Well, that's 75 percent of the surplus.  And then they've got a
trillion dollar cost on their partial privatization of Social Security, and
then several hundred billion dollars of spending -- and the problem with
that is, it doesn't add up.  By the time you spend all that money, you're
back in deficits, which means higher interest rates and slower growth.

     I had some people analyze this for me and they say that if the
Gore/Lieberman/Hillary tax cut is adopted -- (applause) -- we'll probably
have -- and we stay on the path to pay the debt off -- we could leave
interest rates a percent lower every year for a decade.  Do you know what
that's worth to you?  Listen to this.  Lower interest rates; $390 billion
in lower home mortgages; $30 billion in lower car payments; $15 billion in
lower college loan payments; lower credit card payments; and lower business
loans, which means more businesses, more jobs, more raises, a higher stock

     Look, we tried it our way, we tried it their way.  Our way is better.
You want to keep the prosperity going, you've got to vote for the
Democrats.  (Applause.)

     Point number two:  if you want to keep building on the progress of the
last eight years in the non-economic areas, you've got to vote with us.
The crime rate is down, I already talked about that.  We reversed the
increase in the number of uninsured, the number of people with health
insurance is going down for the first time in a dozen years.  The
environment is cleaner -- cleaner air, cleaner water, safer food, safer
drinking water.  More land set aside in permanent protection than any
administration since that of Theodore Roosevelt a hundred years ago.  And
the economy has gotten better.  (Applause.)

     So we've got a better crime policy, a better health policy, a better
environmental policy, welfare rolls cut in half.  And we have a better
education policy.  Listen to this.  In the last eight years, we've gone
from 14 states to 49 states with standards for a core curriculum.  We have
seen a decline in the drop-out rate, an increase in the graduation rate;
college-going is at an all-time high; we have a 50 percent increase in the
number of kids taking advance placement in high school; a 300 percent
increase in Latino kids doing it, a 500 percent increase in African
American kids doing it; we've already opened the doors of college
completely for the first two years, and if we pass this college tax
deduction that Senator Schumer and Hillary are pushing so hard, we'll open
the doors of college for four years for every young person in the entire
United States of America.  (Applause.)

     In every single one of these areas you've got to decide whether you're
going to build on the progress or go back to another policy.  In crime,
it's not just about guns.  They want to repeal our commitment to putting
150,000 police on the street.  In education, everybody can be for
accountability -- we think we've got to help the states meet it.  We're for
doubling the number of kids in pre-school and after-school programs.
They're not.  We're for funds to help local school districts build or
modernize schools, because they're overcrowded or broken down and we know
that the property tax can't carry the whole burden.  They're not.
(Applause.)  We're for 100,000 teachers qualified in smaller classes.  They
don't want to do that.  Huge difference.

     In the environment, they say our clean air rules are too tough.  They
say that my order setting aside tens of millions of acres in the national
forest as roadless acres is wrong.  They say they ought to revisit all
these areas I've protected in perpetuity.  They say it's too burdensome on
the economy.  If I were trying to hurt the economy, I didn't do a very good
job.  (Laughter and applause.)  You have to decide.

     But you've got to tell people.  If you want to build on the progress
of the last eight years, you've got to vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman
and Hillary -- you don't have an option here.  It's clear.  (Applause.)

     And the third thing I want to say -- the third thing I want to say --
and maybe most important of all -- is that we have got to keep working to
build one America across all the lines that divide us, across all the
racial and ethnic and religious and gender and sexual orientation lines
that divide us.  We've got to do it.  (Applause.)

     Now, this is a big deal.  And I can only tell you what it means to me.
And I'll only take the issues where there is a difference.  We believe a
big part of building one America is equal pay for equal work.  We want to
strengthen the equal pay laws for women and they're against it.
(Applause.)  We believe a big part of building one America is a strong and
comprehensive hate crimes law.  (Applause.)  And they're not for it.

     And I really regret that in the debate we didn't get into the details
of this as much -- you got a feeling that we were for it and they weren't,
but they're not for it because they're conservative wing does not want to
vote for a national hate crimes bill that protects gays against hate
crimes.  Now that's the truth.  I've been there trying to pass this for two
years.  I know what's going on.  And I'm telling you, we need it.

     I wish you could all hear the police commissioner from Wyoming that
had to supervise the Matthew Shepard murder case.  He was always against
hate crimes, he didn't know how he felt about gays.  And then he saw that
little boy stretched out on a rack to die.  And he needed the federal
government to come in and help him deal with the cost of dealing with that
crime.  And he has become perhaps our most articulate advocate for hate
crimes.  This is a big deal, going way beyond the number of people that
will be victimized by hate crimes.  It talks about what kind of people we
are and whether we're committed to one America.

     We have big differences on what kind of court system we ought to have,
and whether we will preserve a woman's right to choose or get rid of it and
throw it back to the states, the way it used to be.  It only takes one
vote, and the next President will get to appoint at least two judges to the
Supreme Court.  And then there will be all these other appointments.

     And everybody who studies this knows that there is the most radical
reassessment since the 1930s of the ability of the national government to
protect the American people, not just the right to choose, going way beyond
that and all kinds of health and safety and education and other areas; or
whether the courts will start to say the Congress can't do this anymore.
They even threw out a provision of the violence against women act.

     Now, I'm telling you, you've got to think about this.  This is a big
deal.  And I believe it would be a mistake to return to the constitutional
theory which existed in the 1930s that said, basically, the federal
government can't do anything if the states don't like it.  Now, think about
this.  If somebody asks you what the difference is, somebody says, oh,
there's not much difference, or, I don't like this, that or the other thing
that Al Gore or Joe Lieberman or Hillary said.  You say, wait a minute, you
want to keep this prosperity going?  Do you like the fact that we've got a
cleaner environment?  That the number of people without health insurance is
going down?  That the number of people going to college is going up?  That
the schools that were failing are turning around?  That the crime rate is
going down?  Do you want to build on the progress of the last eight years?
And do you want to keep building one America?

     That's what I want you to do.  I want you to promise yourself that
every day, sometime between now and the election, every day you're going to
say to somebody, vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary to keep the
prosperity going, to build on the social progress and to build one America.

     That brings me to my appointed duty -- (laughter) -- as the spouse and
Cheerleader-in-Chief in America.  (Laughter and applause.)  I want to make
a couple of points that I hope you will share with the voters particularly
on Long Island in the days ahead, before the election.

     I met Hillary almost 30 years ago, and for 30 years I have watched her
devote her heart and soul to the interests of children and families,
education and health care.  For more than 20 years, I have watched her work
on bringing economic opportunity to people and places who were left behind,
something that's very important to upstate New York.

     For the last eight years, since we've been in the White House, she has
been the most active First Lady if not in history, certainly since Eleanor
Roosevelt.  (Applause.)  She was an advocate for the first bill I signed as
President, the Family and Medical Leave law -- over 22 million Americans
have now taken some time off when a baby is born or a parent is sick
without losing their job.  (Applause.)

     She held the first White House conference ever held on early childhood
and brain development.  She worked hard to get mammograms for women under
Medicare, and to do other things in the way of preventive care.  She led an
effort in the federal government to examine the problems that veterans of
the Gulf War were having that might have been associated with their service
in the Persian Gulf a decade ago.

     She has represented our country all over the world, traveling to more
countries than any other First Lady in history, talking about women's
rights and children's rights, reminding people that the national security
of the United States depends not just on our military strength, but on our
ability to help ordinary people with economic opportunity and education and
health care.

     She has helped me in our endless efforts to make peace in Northern
Ireland.  She has gone to the Balkans and in the Middle East, where we have
worked so hard for the cause of peace.  (Applause.)  When Mrs. Barak asked
her to come, she went again.  She has been there -- we've gone I don't know
how many times to the Middle East or to Northern Ireland or to see our
troops in the Balkans, to try to advance the cause of peace and stick up
for our friends in Israel, in Bosnia, in Ireland.
     And you will never know -- because I don't have the words to say --
how hard she has worked or how deeply she cares.  But I want to tell you
this, this is the first time in 26 years they're having an election and I'm
not on the ballot.  (Laughter.)  But I care more about this election than
anyone I've ever been involved in.  I care about what happens in the
presidential race because everything we've worked for is on the line, and
all the progress America has made is still out there.

     And I care about this Senate race because of the hundreds and hundreds
of people I've known in public life.  And I can tell you, on balance,
they're better than they get credit for being, the Republicans and the
Democrats.  On balance, they work harder, they're more honest and they try
harder to do what they believe in than most people know.

     But I have never known anybody else in public life who had the
combination of brains and heart and caring and tenacity and ability to
imagine solutions and get people together to get things done than Hillary
has.  She would be a worthy successor to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to Robert
Kennedy, and a great partner for Chuck Schumer.  (Applause.)  Please
welcome the next United States Senator from New York.  (Applause.)

                          END                  8:40 P.M. EDT

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