THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT CALIFORNIA DAY RECEPTION
The East Room
6:38 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. All those conversations you saw going on up here when the Vice President turned around and everything, I said, would you talk a little more, I'm losing my voice. (Laughter.) So I had to get some water and get geared up.
I want to ask you something. If, on the day after the election, someone had said to you, in 18 months this administration that you helped to put in would have, number one, passed an economic program that cuts spending by hundreds of billions of dollars; gave 15 million working families a tax cut; reversed Reaganomics and asked the top one and a half percent of America to pay a little more; made 90 percent of the small businesses in the country eligible for a tax cut they'd just invested in their business; reduced the federal government between now and the end of the decade to its lowest point since Kennedy was president -- 272,00 as the Vice President said; produced three years of deficit reduction for the first time since Truman was president; passed more new trade laws with GATT and NAFTA and other things in releasing all that high-tech equipment to California to be exported than in any single year in 30 years, and the result was 3.8 million new jobs and one and a half percent drop in the unemployment rate; and the largest numbers of new businesses incorporated since World War II, you'd have been pretty happy, wouldn't you? (Applause.)
If somebody said -- I'm getting to the serious point of this -- is somebody had said that after seven years of gridlock you would pass the Brady bill; after seven years of gridlock you'd pass the family and medical leave law; after seven years of stalling with other countries we'd get this worldwide trade agreement, you'd say that's not a bad year and a half's work.
If somebody said we'd get the Russian troops out of Central and Eastern Europe for the first time since World War II, and the nuclear weapons wouldn't be pointed at us, and there would be two of the three big pillars of peace in the Middle East accomplished and a whole new security system for Central and Eastern Europe to replace the Cold War, you'd say, well that's not a bad day's work. (Laughter.)
If somebody said that we would pass a radical reform in the Head Start law; a dramatic change in the education programs for people who don't go to four-year colleges; that we would make 20 million young people eligible to refinance their college loans at lower interest rates and better repayment terms; pass the National Service Act; in short, do more in a year and a half than in any previous time period in 30 years, you'd say that wasn't bad. You might say, what was he smoking and did he inhale. (Laughter.)
Now, if somebody said all that, you'd say, Gosh, I'm glad I work for those guys. But there's a headline from the Los Angeles Times -- everybody in California still likes Clinton but is not sure he should be reelected. Why? They do not know. And they are reacting to all that disinformation the Huffington campaign has put millions and millions and millions of dollars in television ads.
And the fact that they cannot hear -- we're up here right now working on health care, and for the first time in the history of the republic we have bills on the floor of the House and Senate that would guarantee universal health care to all Americans. It never happened before. (Applause.)
We have here, we have in conference tonight, tonight, a crime bill that would increase the police forces of this country by 20 percent and give police a chance to work with children to prevent crime, not just to catch criminals, that has a ban on assault weapons that no one ever thought would pass -- (applause) -- that has $8 billion in prevention programs to give kids
It adds $8 billion in prevention programs to give kids something to say yes to that come from broken neighborhoods and broken homes and broken communities.
You know -- and people do not know it. And it's going to pass. We have passed in both Houses dramatic reforms in campaign finance and in lobby reform. And I think it is highly likely that both of them will pass the most important laws of their kind in more than two decades.
All this has happened. Why? Because, number one, while we're up here working on jobs and health care, education and crime, a lot of our adversaries in the forces against change are working on whatever they can work on to bring this administration down, and sometimes that makes more news.
Number two, because you've got a campaign going there with a man with unlimited fortune running down Senator Feinstein's record because she supported me -- well, I'll tell you something. You go back and look at what was in that economic program. Ask Leon Panetta. That's one of my achievements as President -- Mr. Panetta. (Applause.)
You've got a great choice in this Senate race. You've got somebody who voted for a bill to reduce the deficit by cutting hundreds of billions in spending -- somebody who voted against it. There was money in that economic program that her opponent voted against -- hundreds of millions of dollars to give more money to the states, including California, that are burdened by immigration. All these folks that are out there posturing on immigration, what have they done?
We have increased funding to California and other states burdened by large numbers of illegal aliens by one-third in a year and a half. I think that's pretty good, after years of nobody doing anything about it. (Applause.)
We cut spending for the first time in 25 years in nondefense areas, and still found more money for medical research, for AIDS research, for treatment and for things that will help people deal with their elemental health problems in this country. I think that's pretty good. That's what people need to know about. She voted for it, he voted against it. You've got a clear choice here.
You know, if anybody had told you before you had the earthquake, the fires and all of the other things that have happened after your experience before, that a president can come in an office and put somebody in FEMA who actually knew what he was doing, it would become the most popular, not the least popular government agency, you wouldn't have believed that.
But we got the money out there in record time, we rebuilt the roads in record time, we delivered in record time. You cannot let -- (applause) -- you cannot let this massive campaign of distraction and disinformation overcome the common sense and the vision and the hopes of the people of California. You must not do it, you must make sure in this election people vote for what has happened. (Applause.)
You know, I had a very simple set of ideas that drove me into this presidential race in late 1991 when everybody thought I had slipped a gasket. (Laughter.) And President Bush was at 70 percent in the polls. I thought the country was going in the wrong direction, I thought we were coming apart when we ought to be coming together, and I thought we had to take on tough decision and forces against change. And we had to be willing to make our friends and our foes angry to make the decisions that had to be made to get us into the 21st century.
I thought we had some very simple things we had to do. We had to restore economic growth, rebuild American communities and families, empower individuals to take responsibility for their own lives, and make government work for ordinary people again. Those are the four things I wanted to do. And I think we have made remarkable progress. When history books are written, they will say that. Why do people not know it?
First of all, because our adversaries are better at dumping on us than we are at talking about what we've done. (Applause.) Secondly, because conflict is better news than progress, thirdly because when you do too many things, people may think you haven't done anything. That may be my fault. (Laughter.) I see all these things that need to be done, and I don't take time for the victory lap. I understand that.
You know, there are a lot of problems that I have, I guess, in communicating this. But let me also tell you there is something in the history of this country at work here, and you need to be aware of it. Because California always points the way to the future. Now you've got these two big races, and a lot of Congress races which will shape that, and let me just tell you what it is.
We are at the end of one era, the Cold War, and no one has yet defined exactly what the contours of the new era are. This has happened twice before in this country -- at the end of the first world war, and at the end of the second world war; in both times, what the country needed was vision and building and progress, and pulling people together. And both times, the mood of the people was skeptical, fearful, divisive, vulnerable to hatred. At the end of the first world war, we had this huge upsurge in the Ku Klux Klan. We had this massive red scare. Before Joe McCarthy, 30 years before McCarthy, because people didn't quite know what to think of the world they were living in and where their country was going.
At the end of the second world war, Harry Truman faced an impossible situation. He passed the G.I. Bill, he gave people coming home a way to integrate themselves back into society, building a middle class with education and housing and jobs, and grew this economy and brought down the massive deficit from World War II, and set in motion the whole brain work that enabled us to win the Cold War, rebuilding Germany and Japan, the Marshall Plan, the containment policy against communism.
And you know what? When he started running for reelection, his approval rating was somewhere in the high 20s. Why? People did not know what he had done, and they didn't get it. And they were vulnerable to all of those people that presaged Joe McCarthy and all that hatred and all that division. And every time I go to a crowd and a bunch of these kind of reactionary antichange posters are put up there. I look at those folks and I said, you people probably think Harry Truman ought to be on Mt. Rushmore.
Well, I come from a family who was for him when he was living, and he fought people just like you the whole time. (Applause.) That's the truth. Put yourself in a position of the ordinary American. Turns on television last night, and doesn't know whether we made peace in the Middle East, or spent our time talking about Whitewater. It's not that they believe it, they just think we're wasting time and money fooling with it, and they want their problems --
You pick up the paper this morning and you say it's great -- Russia is leaving Estonia, we're making peace in the Middle East, but, my God, we're having to go to Rwanda. Most people couldn't find it on the map, and they desperately want to do something about it, but it's confusing, and they have problems. This is not an easy time to sort of pierce through. And when you lose all those old thinking patterns that organize the way you look at the world. And things start changing really rapidly, and you're sweeping into a new time. These difficulties present themselves. So I know one of my great jobs is to do that.
I just watched the whole TV series one night in a row -- I had it together -- it was done on Lincoln, with Sam Waterston and Mary Tyler Moore -- you may remember -- it was a magnificent series. But it's easy to forget that if an election had been held a year early, he was a gone dog. (Laughter.) Nobody would have known -- why? Because he kept trying to tell people this is about the Union. But all they knew was it was things were coming apart instead of coming together. This is not an easy time but it is an exhilarating time.
And the most important thing is that we continue to work and to do those things and to have those accomplishments which matter. But you will send a signal to the rest of the country about what the future will look like. Now, that's what this Senate race is about. That's what this governor's race is about. That's what these Congress races about. And I am telling you all to get the government off our crowd back, I know what their mantra is, what they're really saying is -- we want to go back to the days of Reaganomics when we told you one thing and did another. When we talked tough and acted soft. And you must not turn away from these people that have given America, California a chance to have a future.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END6:50 P.M. EDT