THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 30, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE CITIZENS OF BATON ROUGE
Pentagon Barracks Baton Rouge, Louisiana
7:26 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I want to thank Senator Breaux and I want to thank Keith, Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band. Let's give them a hand, they were great. (Applause.)
I've had a wonderful day in Louisiana. I started off in New Orleans and met with 20,000 people there at the Church of God in Christ Women's Conference. And then I had a big lunch and I came up here. I enjoyed speaking to the Legislature. I emerged unscathed, as you can see -- I'm still standing here. And I think you heard the speech, didn't you? (Applause.) So you shouldn't have to go through another one.
Let me just briefly make a couple of points. First of all, I want to thank all the young people in this audience today for coming out here. (Applause.) And I want you to know that, more than anything else, day in and day out, I try to imagine what this country will look like when you're my age. I try to think about what we can do to make this country what it ought to be when you raise your children and when you raise your grandchildren.
I want this country to be a place where everybody can live out their dreams if they're willing to work for it. I want it to be a place where we come together and we cherish and we respect the differences among us, instead of looking for ways to keep being divided in the same old way. That's a paralyzing, frustrating, ultimately self-defeating way to live. (Applause.)
I want your country to be the strongest force in the world for peace and freedom and prosperity. I want to be able to say when I leave this office that -- not that we solved all the problems in the world, but that America has a way to solve its problems at home by coming together, and a way to lead the world to make the place safer for everybody.
I want you to be able to look at your country and say, you know, I believe that we're going to do fine. I believe we're going to grow together. I believe we're going to go forward together. And I don't have any doubt that the 21st century will be the greatest years this country ever had. That's what I want you to believe. That is the test of what we will do. (Applause.)
Now, I know we're going into an election season and, frankly, we're going into it a little sooner than I think we ought to. (Laughter.) I'd like to see everybody in Washington just settle down and keep on passing bills that the people need. We need to raise the minimum wage and pass the health care reform -- (applause.) We need to pass the Kassebaum-Kennedy health care reform bill so you don't lose your health insurance if you change jobs and somebody in your family is sick. (Applause.) We need to pass the right kind of balanced budget amendment that protects Medicare and Medicaid and environmental programs and educational programs, including the AmeriCorps program that is represented here. That's what we need to do. (Applause.)
So I wish we could put it off a while. But the main think I want you to know is that I'm going to try to give this year back to you. And when this year is over, I want you to feel that American democracy has flourished. But that means you have to do your part. Don't let your friends and neighbors say it doesn't make any difference. Don't let your friends and neighbors be cynical. It makes a huge difference.
You have here a great debate going on in our country about how we're going to march into the 21st century; two very, very different visions of change, two honestly different visions of what we should be doing in Washington and what we should be doing at the grass roots. And they are honest and forthright. For all of the things that may not seem right, there are real differences between the way I believe we should reach the next century and the way the leaders of the other party believe we should reach the next century.
Now, we can make a lot of agreements, and if we just do things that we agree on, we can get a lot done for America, but the election will be a discussion about where the disagreements are. And what I want to do is to give it back to you. I want you to feel that you are participating in it, that you're shaping the election, that your questions are being answered, that your hopes are being nourished, not that it's just some sort of couch potato mud fight. (Laughter.)
But to do it, you've got to do your part. I'm encouraged by seeing you out here today in large numbers. I'm encouraged by your good spirits. I'm encouraged by your enthusiasm. I'm encouraged by your energy. (Applause.) But you just remember: This country has been around for more than 200 years because more than half the time, more than half the people have understood enough to know what the right thing to do was to move our country into the future, to keep it growing and going and coming together instead of being divided and diverted and distracted.
So I say to you: If we can create opportunity, if we can act responsibly in a way that comes together instead of letting our country be driven apart, the best days of this country lie ahead of us. That is my dedication. That is your dedication. That's what we ought to together give to the United States in 1996.
Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 7:32 P.M. CDT