THE WHITE HOUSE
OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE POOL Hot Springs High School Hot Springs, Arkansas
1:59 P.M. CDT
Q What are your thoughts as you return to the state, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm very happy to be -- I'm gratified that I can be here. So many of my classmates and I have survived these last 30 years in reasonably good shape. We're here together. We're having a wonderful time. We just did a lot of reminiscing. I got to go through the high school and see some of the wonderful new things that are being done at the technology center here. But mostly it's just a time for getting together with family and friends.
Q What did you do inside the ceremony?
THE PRESIDENT: We listened to one of our classmates who is a minister compare our class to a family and talk about family reunions and what family values are really about, about our shared stories and experiences. It was a wonderful thing. We remembered the classmates that we had who are no longer with us. And we sang a lot of old songs.
Q Mr. President, -- spotlight on your reunion this year -- (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope most of them don't mind, you know. I just want them all to have a good time and be relaxed and have a wonderful time. It's really a been a, I think, a good thing for all of us. I've never missed any of my reunions. When I was governor we always had a gathering on Saturday night, and then Sunday afternoon after church I would have everybody over at the governor's mansion. So they may be regretting that I'm not governor so we can't go to the governor's mansion.
Q What are you going to be doing the rest of the weekend, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm just going to be here with my family and friends. And, you know, tonight we have an event. And tomorrow I'm not sure. I have to go back a little earlier than I wanted because on Monday we're having Prime Minister Rabin and King Hussein at the White House. It's a very big day --
Q Mr. President, what's your fondest memory of high school?
THE PRESIDENT: All my friends, no question about it. We had a -- you know, it was a different time, I think, although I think kids today are trying to get back to it. We were basically a close class, and we believed in our country, and we believed in our future, and we were kind of, I think, rosy in our outlook, not necessarily unrealistic. And my memories of those days are deeply personal -- almost like family, just like the minister said today, it's almost like a family.
Q Mr. President, what kind of person were you in high school? Were you a jock, a -- (inaudible) -- , or a nerd? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I wasn't a jock. I was probably, a lot of people probably would have said I was a nerd. But I liked my friends, I liked music, I liked the activities, but I liked to study, too. I had a normal childhood.
Q Mr. President, I know it's a weekend of reflection for you, but Whitewater hearings are getting ready to come up. What concerns do you have there because there's a lot of people in Arkansas that are paying close attention to it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think they should know that we'll do just what we've been doing all along. What I said is that we've been fully cooperative and we will be. And the only thing I ask of the Congress, the only thing I've ever asked of them is not to let any of this stuff interfere with the business of the people.
We're up there to do the people's business, and we've turned this economy around, we've got the deficit cut in half, we've got three years of deficit reduction for the first time since Truman because we're working on those things. We've got unprecedented expansion of trade and new training opportunities.
So now we've got to face our challenges. We've got a crime bill to pass, we've got a big trade bill to pass, and we've got a health care reform, an issue that's been on the floor of the Congress on both Houses -- for the first time in the history of America, we've ever considered it. So we've got big work to do, and my only concern is let's just keep putting the people of this country first, and I'll be cooperative, we'll see what happens.
Q Are you confident with the health care compromise?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're working on it, you know. It's no accident that seven presidents of both parties in 60 years have not been able to figure out how to cover all Americans.
But it's important to know that Hawaii has -- and in Hawaii small businesses pay 30 percent lower rates and they cover everybody. So, we can do it. We can do it, and I think we will.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me just say one word about that. I think at the moment rather than characterize that effort I would say that there are a lot of countries who wish to participate in a Rwanda-peacekeeping force who may not have the capacity to do so. And one of the things that we, those of us with a lot of capacity, need to examine is whether there's something -- this is over the long run -- whether there's something we can do to help countries who want to give men and women to these kinds of projects have the training, have the support, have the things they need.
I think the whole world is now focused on Rwanda; I think the hearts of the world are with the people who have suffered. I think that we're moving very quickly to try to save lives from the cholera outbreak, and I think we'll have progress there. I think that a lot of these African countries will do the very best they can. And if they're trying to do something that they can't do, then the rest of us need to help them develop the capacity to do it.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
2:04 P.M. CDT END