President of the United States remarks at NY Senate 2000 Dinner in Hempstead, New York (10 /22/2000)

                         Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Hempstead, New York)

For 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

     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.

     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 behind.

     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 market.

     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.

     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

     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.  (Applause.)

     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.

     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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