THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Des Moines, Iowa) ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 3, 1994
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT RECEPTION FOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES
Hotel Savery Des Moines, Iowa
7:00 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Boy, I like being here. (Applause.) When I got off the airplane today and I thanked the people at the airport rally for giving me a drier reception than I had the last time -- (laughter) -- I began to think about all the times I've been to Iowa and how every time I come away with a renewed energy, a renewed connection to the people of this country; a renewed sense of energy that I can make a difference because of the feelings, the spirit, the character of the people I sense here. And I just want to thank you for that.
I was listening to Tom give a sermon up here. (Laughter.) And I was thinking, you know, Harkin just has no strong feelings about anything. (Laughter.) You never know how he stands, doesn't have any energy for the task at hand. (Laughter.) I'll tell you what -- if the rest of us had half as much energy and conviction as he did, this country would have about half as many problems as it has. (Applause.)
I want every one of you to know that he has been in ways that have been public, like the fight on ethanol -- in ways that haven't been so public, like the fight to get more money into health research, more money into projects to look into women's health, more money into the general development of our educational emphasis in all areas of research, he has made a critical difference not only for the people of Iowa, but for the people of the United States. I don't know what I would have done without him last year. (Applause.)
Let me also tell you, I am honored to be here with Bonnie Campbell for many, many reasons. The first is, we do have an affinity for the same kinds of issues; and I understand what it takes to be a governor. I had the privilege of being elected several times to be governor of my state. I loved that job. On the really tough days in Washington, I sometimes think it's the best job I ever had. (Laughter.) One nice thing about it was that it was a lot harder for people to separate me from my constituents and to sort of turn my positions upside down than it is when you're President, you're in Washington and you're a long way from the 255 million or so folks you represent.
But it's a wonderful job. A governor has to embody the hopes and the spirit and set the course for a state. The economic policies a governor follows make a difference. The United States can shape the economy of any state and region, but how well it really does depends in part on the decisions that are made state by state. She has a strategy that I think is a very good and sensible one to build more high-wage jobs here; to deal with the problems of rural areas that have been left behind even in times of economic recovery. She cares about things that will help families and help people raise their kids. She's right. I'm doing my best to stiffen child support enforcement. I'm doing my best to radically change the welfare system in this country. I'm doing my best to have the criminal justice system deal with crime in the streets but also with crimes against women
and children where they live; I think that's important. (Applause.)
To be a really great governor, you have to have a strong sense of partnership as well as leadership. You have to be a leader and a partner. Your people, first and foremost, have to feel connected to you. They have to feel that you carry their hopes and their dreams and their best values; that you're both strong and compassionate. Then you have to be able to work with people in the legislature who often disagree with you in a spirit of good humor and goodwill and continuing confidence that at least you have the right motivations. And it helps if you have a partner in the White House and if you really are working together to take responsibility instead of to place blame. And for all those reasons, I think she would be an absolutely superb governor for this state. (Applause.)
You know, I was just asked today about -- I did a little set of television interviews before I came out here, and one of the people asked me, said, well, how do you explain this voter alienation that they say is as deep as it's been in 15 years when the economy was spinning out of control and now the economy is doing well. And I said, well, one thing is a lot of people still have a lot of personal problems even though the economy is picking up and we passed the crime bill, a lot of people still feel personally insecure in this economy and personally insecure on their streets, so they haven't felt the impact of the work we've done.
But for another, it is just in fashion to be as negative as possible today, isn't it? We're just bathed with negative information. It blows away the positive. Very often in our communications, in the way we get our information, we hear it in attack form where people are screaming at each other and down at each other instead of talking to one another about their differences and our common problems. And in election times, as a matter of survival, even the most positive of candidates have to defend themselves from the most negative of ads.
But what I want to say to you today is that we need more responsibility in this country, both from our leaders and from our citizens because cynicism is, more than anything else, a state of mind. Most of you probably will remember that -- it's been almost a year ago now that my mother passed away. And I miss her, I think, most of all in election seasons because this is the first campaign season I've been involved in in a long time where she hasn't been there.
My mother was widowed three times, including once before I was born. And she had a lot of tough problems in her life. And, honest to goodness, if I behaved the way some of these people in public life do today -- (laughter) -- doing nothing but spreading cynicism, being negative, pointing the finger of blame -- and she were around, she would whip me, as old as I am. (Laughter and applause.) I never saw the like of it -- all these people in positions of power and responsibility, and all they want to do is blame somebody else for their problems.
This is a great country. You heard Tom Harkin talking about what the United States has done just recently to restore democracy in Haiti, to work for peace in Northern Ireland after hundreds of years of the Catholics and Protestants fighting each other -- (applause) -- to stand up against aggression in the Persian Gulf, to help to make peace between Israel and Jordan, to facilitate the peace between Israel and the PLO, to work to finish the job in the Middle East, to work to diffuse the nuclear threat in North Korea. And for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age there are no Russian missiles pointed at the children of Iowa. This is a great country. (Applause.)
And while we have reduced the nuclear threat we have expanded trade opportunities, through NAFTA, through the GATT
agreement. When the election is over I have to go all the way to Indonesia -- dead tired -- to try to meet with the leaders of the Asian countries. Do you know why I'm going over there? Because it's the fastest growing part of the world economically, and because I want them to buy more American products. And it's important to our future. (Applause.)
This country, for all of our problems, is in better shape than it was 21 months ago when I took office. Every conceivable thing -- (applause.) And I've already told you, there are a lot of problems. The Bible says there will be problems even until the end of time. The issue is are we doing our part to go in the right direction, to make progress, to move forward. That is the test.
We are moving forward on the economy. The unemployment rate has dropped across the country. We've got 4.6 million new jobs. We have more high-wage jobs this year than in the previous five years combined. Our economy has been rated in the annual vote of international economists as the most productive in the world for the first time in nine years. And for the first time in 15 years, American auto companies have sold more cars worldwide than Japanese companies. (Applause.)
We are moving forward. We're moving forward on the deficit. Our opponents cursed the deficit and exploded it. We have said, why don't we quit whining about it and do something about it. (Applause.) Our opponents cursed the government and put all their political appointments in all the jobs they could get in before I took office. (Laughter.) They talked bad about the government, but they were there when the checks were written. (Laughter.) We, the Democrats, have reduced the size of the federal government by 70,000. We have reduced federal regulation, saving billions of dollars for people. And we have taken the money that we got from the savings and given it to you to fight crime in the streets of Iowa and every other state in the United States. (Applause.)
They said they were for family values. We said, we appreciate that, but our government follows the policies that hurt families. We passed the family and medical leave law, which my opponent vetoed at least once, maybe twice, I can't remember. We passed the bill to immunize all kids under the age of two by 1996. We expanded Head Start. We gave tax cuts to 15 million working families with children in the home, because we don't think people who work full-time and have kids at home should live in poverty -- the tax system should lift them out, not put them down. (Applause.)
And, yes, I tried to solve the health care problem in America, and I'm proud of it. (Applause.) The day after Senator Mitchell said we couldn't pass a health care bill this year, the newspapers were once again filled with the stories: More Americans are losing their health insurance. Middle-class people are having to pay more for less health care. The costs of health care are running through the roof. The government deficit will start going up again in a couple of years even if we cut everything else because health care costs are exploding. America spends 40 percent more than any other country, can't figure out how to keep working people secure. This is the fact.
What I tried to do was give you a private system that would let farmers and small business people buy health insurance on the same terms that people like Tom Harkin and I can get it from the federal government or people that work for big companies can get it. That's what I tried to do. (Applause.)
And by the time the interest groups that are making a killing out of the present system got through spending a couple of hundred million dollars, they had me giving a big government program and a thousand-page bill that gave people a headache and convinced them they were going to lose what they got. It wasn't true, but they did a good job of it. So we have to find another way to come back and convince the American people we are not going to have the government take over health care, but we do think every American who goes to work should know they're not going to lose their health care, they can keep what they've got. They ought to be able to buy it at a fair price, and if they don't have it, they ought to be able to get it.
We had a million people in working families -- not people on welfare -- people in working families lose their health insurance. This is the only country in the whole world with an advanced economy where the percentage of people working with children in their homes with health insurance has gone down for 10 years in a row now. The only one. I say we can do better than that, and we ought to. (Applause.)
But even there we are making progress. Never before in the history of the country has a bill to do that even gotten to the floor of both Houses of Congress. So you have to say, well, people are cynical; well, they're frustrated; well, they get a lot of negative information; well, they still have problems. All that is true -- people will always have problems. I say, what is the issue?
We're moving forward on jobs, forward on the deficit, forward on reducing the government and giving the money back to you to fight crime, forward on crime, forward on issues that help working families; the world is more peaceful, it is more prosperous. We are moving in the right direction. We do not need to turn back. We need to stay with the people and the course that is moving this country forward. That is what we are doing. (Applause.)
We are going to decide next Tuesday whether we're going to keep going forward or turn back; whether we're going to vote for hope over fear; whether we're going to vote for responsibility over blame. I have challenged the American people to do what is best, which means not only having the government do something for you, but having people do something for themselves. Nearly everything I have done simply empowers people to take more responsibility for themselves. That's about all the government can do these days. And that's what we ought to be doing.
I don't know anybody who wants a hand out, unless they are flat on their back and can't do for themselves. That's what we're trying to do -- we're trying to empower the American people to make the most of their own lives. The other side has come out with a contract. They talk so tough and they cuss the government, but what does their contract do? It's nothing but a big government giveaway. They want to give a tax cut -- most of it to real rich people, but they'll give the rest of you a pittance. (Applause.) They want to get you to vote, too. They figure if you're cynical enough, you'll say, oh, well, rich people always get more; I'll get a dollar and a half. (Laughter.) So they promised everybody a tax cut; promised defense increases; promised to bring up Star Wars, and balance the budget in five years. That's their deal. (Laughter.)
That is the tough, strong, responsible Republican party platform. (Laughter.) And we say, well, okay, how are you going to pay for it? We'll tell you after the election -- (laughter) -- but meanwhile, we're going to blame you for the problems we created in the 12 years before you showed up. (Laughter and applause.) That's their deal. That's their deal.
I'll tell you how this contract is going to go down if they gain in the Congress. There are only two options if they get their way. If they slash taxes with the deficit like it is, give 70 percent of the benefits to the wealthiest Americans, have a big increase in defense, big increase in Star Wars and commit to balance the budget, there are only two options.
First of all, if they're telling the truth, the only way they can do it is to cut everything 20 percent across the board -- that's $2,000 per person for everybody in Iowa on social security a year. If they say, oh, we never said we'd cut social security, then they have to cut everything else in the government 30 percent. That's a 30 percent cut in Medicare for every elderly person. That's a 30 percent cut in all the farm programs, regardless of what happens to the farmers. That's a 30 percent cut in veterans benefits; that's a 30 percent cut in middle-class college loans. The other possibility is that they were kidding. (Laughter and applause.) Right? (Applause.)
Now, if they were kidding, what you get is exploding the deficit, putting a terrible burden on our children, shipping our jobs overseas again, running people out of Iowa, running the economy in the ditch, putting us right back where we were in the 1980s with trickle-down economics. Those are the options. Why are they making any headway at all? Because when people are cynical and mad, they don't always think straight. (Laughter.) And I don't mean this to insult the American people. I'm just telling you, the people of this country, this is a great country. They almost always do the right thing. But it is very important for you not to let people vote just their cynicism and their anger.
What is the test of our administration? Have we done everything right? No. If you make as many decisions as I do, you take on as many fights as I do, you'll make a mistake now and then. Have we won every fight? No. But do you know what the objective, so they show? That for the third time only since World War II, we've had two years in which a Congress supported a president in more than 80 percent of the initiatives the President asked the Congress to pass -- for the third time since World War II. (Applause.)
And people say, well, it doesn't make a difference. Don't tell me it doesn't make a difference. It does make a difference whether you put the deficit down or up. It does make a difference whether we're taking a serious approach to crime. It does make a difference whether your policies expand trade and create jobs for America. It does make a difference whether people can take a little time off when their babies are born or their parents are sick. It doesn't make a difference whether kids in this country are immunized at the same rate other children are in other countries. It does make a difference whether poor children get to go to Head Start or not. It does make a difference. It matters; it matters; it matters. (Applause.)
So I go back to the cynicism issue. Mrs. Roosevelt said once that you could spend your whole life battling all the demons in the dark, or you could just walk across the room and flip on the light switch. (Laughter.) What you folks need to do for Bonnie Campbell, for Neal Smith, for Dave Nagle, for all these other candidates, is to walk across the room and flip on the light switch in Iowa between now and Tuesday. (Applause.) That's what you need to do.
I'm telling you, if my mother were here, that's what she'd say. She'd say, you're the President, you don't have to blame anybody else; you're taking responsibility, get out there and tell people what you've done. I have reached out my hand to these Republicans; I have asked them to work with us, but what have they done? They have constantly said no. They have constantly said no. I think the Republican leader is here today. And I don't know if anybody asked him about the comments of Mr. Kristol -- that he was going to call for eliminating the farm support programs as soon as the election was over. That's the way they do it. (Laughter.)
But that's what he said. And Mr. Kristol is the same fellow that told them that they shouldn't cooperate with us on health care. And then he proudly released the memo and said, you can't cooperate with the Democrats on health care; if you do and you solve the health care crisis, the middle class will support the Democrats again. If you leave it like it is, we'll be able to upset the middle class, and we'll keep them voting for us, but tell them the Democrats don't share their values -- they're aliens. (Laughter.) And then he was so proud of it, they released it. They're not even ashamed of it. (Laughter.) I'd feel better if they were a little ashamed of it. (Laughter and applause.) He's the same fellow that says they're going to gut the farm prices.
Well, he did what they told him to -- they did what he told them to on health care. You ask Tom Harkin. At the end of the last session of the Congress, they killed campaign finance reform, they killed lobbying reform, they killed the Superfund legislation to clean up toxic waste dumps -- that was amazing. Wasn't anybody in America against it -- (laughter) -- except slightly more than 40 Republican senators -- and the House leadership.
We have the chemical companies, the labor unions and the Sierra Club for it. You couldn't get them to agree on when the sun's coming up tomorrow. (Laughter and applause.) But they wanted us to do this, but they would have rather left the poison in the ground and let Tom Harkin and Neal Smith* come home and say, we helped to clean it up.
Now, folks, we have a fundamental choice here -- whether we're going to vote for people to assume responsibility and roll up their sleeves and do what Americans have always done or people that sit around and point the finger, whether we're going to vote for hope over fear, whether we're going to keep going forward or turn back.
I want you to imagine on a Tuesday every American is sitting at home looking at their television and the movie on the television is the story of America. And on election day every American's got the remote control in his or her hand. You can push forward. You can push fast forward if you want to -- (laughter) -- or you can push reverse. Now, that's what it is.
And when Tom Harkin asks you to go out between now and election day and call your friends on the phone, I think you ought to go out and find people who haven't made up their mind in this governor's race and these other races and have a cup of coffee with them, and sit down and say, listen, I understand you're mad, you're cynical and you're upset.
The first thing you try to teach your kids as soon as they're old enough to understand it is never to make a decision when you're mad. How many parents, how many times have you said to your child, if you're really mad, count ten before you say or do anything.? How many times have every one of us made a mistake in this room because we said or did something before we got to four? (Laughter.) What the Republicans want is for you to get to one and go out in a snit and vote for them. And what you can do as a friend and a neighbor is to say, look, you've got the remote control in your hand; push forward -- vote for Bonnie Campbell, vote for your children, vote for hope, vote for tomorrow.
This is a great country. If we only saw ourselves as others see us, we would know that. This is a very great country. Thank you and God bless you all. (Applause.)
END7:24 P.M. CST