THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT BY OF NY1-TV, NEW YORK The Westin Hotel Detroit, Michigan
2:57 P.M. EST
Q Thank you for appearing here on New York 1, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Glad to do it.
Q Mr. President, this has been a bitter, nasty campaign season across the country in which Republicans have made you the issue of local races -- in commercials linking you directly to the local Democrats. While many Democrats have held open arms to campaign with you, some have kept their distance. How do you feel that you are the direct target, your administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they've worked hard on this for along time. The Republicans tend to be a presidential party, and they are unfortunately now very extremist, very negative, and that's what they've tried to do. But you know, there is beginning to be a backlash.
First of all, the American people see that I am keeping the commitments I made to them in 1992. In 21 months, we have moved the country forward. We're making the government work for ordinary Americans with things like family leave and college loans. We've reduced the debt, we've reduced the size of the federal government, we've got more jobs coming into this economy. The world is safer and more prosperous than it was when I took office. People are feeling that, and I don't believe they're going to buy these Republican promises in this contract, this $1 trillion worth of hot check promises to go back to the 1980s and trickle-down economics.
I also would point out, Dominick, you know, there is beginning to be some division within the Republican ranks. People are recoiling, good Republicans are recoiling from this extremism and this negativism. That's why former First Lady Nancy Reagan hit Oliver North; and, of course, Mayor Giuliani supporting Governor Cuomo -- I think a very statesman-like decision. Mayor Riordan out in Los Angeles, supporting Senator Feinstein. Mrs. Heinz in Pennsylvania, attacking the Republican candidate for Senator up there.
There are a lot of good Republicans who do not like what has been happening in our country, and they don't like seeing the Republican Party being so negative, so bitterly partisan and so extremist. So I think we've got a chance in the last eight days to get a real vote for the future and not a vote for the past. And I'm very hopeful.
Q Mr. President, you touched upon a couple of topics that I want to get to, but just yesterday you were campaigning for Democrats in Pittsburgh, and we're told that you're headed to New York once again to campaign Thursday for Mario Cuomo.
The last time you were here, you said Mr. Cuomo is a national treasure, that he's New York's treasure. How do you explain him being in the tough battle against George Pataki?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, first of all, he has been Governor. And after you've been governor a while, you'll pick up your fair share of enemies if you take on the tough decisions and you deal with the tough issues.
Secondly, as we all know, Senator D'Amato and Mr. Pataki -- their group, they're very good at attacking their opponents and they've done a good job of that. But I think Governor Cuomo is coming back. And I think if you look at the action that Mayor Giuliani took, he was a person who had to say, look, never mind all this negative back-and-forth; how are the people of my city going to live, and are they going to be better off depending on who the governor is? So he endorsed Governor Cuomo.
When I said Governor Cuomo was a national treasure, but is New York's treasure first, I would just remind the voters of New York who wonder whether he really wants to be governor again that I offered him a chance to have a very different career in Washington, D.C., and he rejected it to stay with New York, because he wanted to have a chance to be governor while he has a partner in the White House, someone really committed to helping improve the fortunes of the people of New York.
That was clear evidence to me that his heart was first, foremost, and forever with the people of New York, and I think that they'll be very well pleased with his performance in the next four years if they'll give him a chance to be governor.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. We'll see you in New York on Thursday.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.