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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 20, 1996

The Oval Office

5:24 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: It's Bill Clinton. How are you?

MR. MCNAMARA: Well, I'm great. How are you? We have a room full of supporters here.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm very glad that Secretary Pena and I could join you today, at least by telephone, to congratulate all of you who have worked so hard to make the expansion of the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport a reality.

I know that a lot of people deserve praise for their hard work, but I want to say a particular thanks to Senator Carl Levin and Governor Engler and former Governor Jim Blanchard and Congressman Dingell, Congresswoman Rivers, Congressman Knollenberg, the Executive Vice President of Northwest Airlines, Don Washburn. But I especially want to thank you, Ed McNamara, for all the work you've done.

We had to have this day; otherwise I could never look at you again without remembering all the times you twisted my arm and put bruises all over me. (Laughter.)

MR. MCNAMARA: Well, you've got to know we never would have done it without you. You were the most key individual in this whole show, and you've helped turn Michigan's greatest generator of jobs and economic activity into a reality. So we're grateful.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm very pleased that we can provide some extra funding. The $150 million in new funds, in addition to the millions already committed, as you know, will fund the infrastructure for the airport's domestic and international terminals. And this is just a great example of the kind of partnership we need between the federal, state, and local governments and the private sector.

And I agree with you, it's going to have a tremendous impact on Michigan's economic future. It will help to create nearly $3 billion in business activity in the Detroit area every year. It will create thousands of jobs. And it will enable the metro airport to be a world-class airport well, well into the 21st century. So it's very exciting.

And let me say that there's one other person that deserves some credit here, and I want to introduce him -- our Secretary of Transportation, Federico Pena, who strongly supported this project and worked with us. And I'd like to have Secretary Pena say a word to you, too.

SECRETARY PENA: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for your leadership.

Ed, it's good to be sharing another great announcement for Michigan. I remember we were there just a few weeks ago when we announced the new non-stop service to Beijing by Northwest Airlines, and so this is another great day.

Ed, as you know, the President asked me to focus on Wayne County Airport because the President has always understood the importance of your airport to your economy and to improving the quality of life of everybody there in Michigan.

These improvements are needed not only for the people of Michigan, but also for the thousands who are involved in international trade and tourism. And in addition to the service that we just announced to Beijing, Wayne County Airport has flights to Japan and Germany and France and Canada and the United Kingdom.

Your new runway is going to reduce thousands of hours of delays at Wayne County Airport, and also will make our entire national aviation system more efficient. So this is a national investment, which is worthy of the additional $150 million.

So I want to end by congratulating the can-do leadership of all the people of Michigan. It's the same kind of leadership that the President has brought to our country, in focusing on these transportation investments.

So, Mr. President, I want to thank you for your leadership and for your encouragement of our efforts in the state of Michigan.

Q You know, Secretary, Don Washburn and I still remember the cattle prod you used to put us back at the table, and it was very effective. You might tell the President, and I might also tell you, that Mayor Dennis Archer just dropped by to say hi and to congratulate us. He happens to be in the room with us also.

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Mayor.

MAYOR ARCHER: How are you doing, Mr. President?

Q He says, how are you doing, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm doing great. I think you all are too.

Q We certainly appreciate all of your efforts and the fact that you were with us today. And we will promise not to make any more great demands on you for at least a couple of years.

THE PRESIDENT: Just make -- (laughter) -- I know you will.

Q I got my fingers crossed.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Good-bye.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary.

SECRETARY PENA: Congratulations. (Applause.)

END 5:22 P.M. EDT