THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Sun City, Arizona) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 11, 1996
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE SUN CITY AREA
Sun Dial Recreation Center Sun City, Arizona
2:05 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I'll tell you, we're off to a pretty good start. (Applause.) Hello, Desi. I'm glad to see you. See that lady right there? She used to take care of my daughter right after she was born. Her name is Desi Centers (phonetic). Give her a hand, she did a good job. (Applause.)
I'll tell you, all the reporters on the plane wanted to know why I was coming to Arizona, and was it about politics and did we really think we could win. And I said, look, I just got my AARP card, I thought I'd come check it out. It looks pretty good to me. It looks pretty good to me. (Laughter and applause.)
Well, Rose Mofford did what she usually does, she stole the show already. (Laughter.) Thank you, Governor. When I saw her backstage she said, well, I'm still your adopted mother. (Laughter.) She and my mother had a lot in common. I have always loved Rose's irrepressible optimism and her very straightforward manner. And I can tell you this: When we served together as governors, she loved the state of Arizona and she took care of you. And I'm glad to see her here today. (Applause.)
I want to thank my good friend, Ed Pastor, for being here with me today. (Applause.) He is a true leader in the Congress, leading for the people of Arizona, leading for the Hispanic Caucus, leading for the concerns of people all over the United States. (Applause.) And thank you, Dennis Jensen, and thank you very much for this beautiful bollo, which I will treasure. I collect them. I love to wear them when I have different attire on. (Laughter.) I did wear my boots. If I'd known I was going to get a bollo, I wouldn't have worn a tie. (Laughter.) Thank you very, very much. Is the gentleman who did that here? Stand up. Give him a hand, he did a wonderful job. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
I want to thank a number of others who are here -- the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, Sam Coppersmith, former member of Congress, a very good man. (Applause.) State house minority leader, Art Hamilton. (Applause.) Steve Owens, our nominee for Congress in the 6th congressional district and a very good man. (Applause.) Barbara Sherman, our nominee for Corporations Commission, thank you for being here. (Applause.) Thank you, Mayor Paul Johnson, from Phoenix, for being here. (Applause.) Thank you, Vice Mayor Crawford, from Tucson, for being here. Thank you, State Senator Sandra Kennedy. And I want to thank the labor leaders, the Native American leaders, the county officials who are here. All of you who have come out to be here, we are very, very grateful to you.
This is a great day for me to be back in Arizona and to be here with all of you. I want to thank the Temptations -- the Temptations were singing when I came in the back. I heard them and they were just great, weren't they? (Applause.) For a moment I thought I was crashing a dance instead of coming to a political meeting. (Laughter.)
I want to echo what has been said already about other distinguished Arizonans. I am personally very, very grateful to Bruce Babbitt for his willingness to serve in our administration and for the heroic fights he has taken on -- (applause) -- to preserve our natural resources, to fight back on ill-advised attempt to sell some our national parks, to help to save Yellowstone from a gold mine -- (applause) -- to create in the Mojave Desert the largest national park in American south of Alaska, and to be a good steward of our national resources.
I was profoundly honored to present to Mo Udall's son Mark the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I gave him a couple of days ago. And no American deserves it more. All of you can be very proud of that. (Applause.)
And I know I join all Americans in wishing Senator Goldwater well in his recovery. And let me tell you -- you are probably like me, if a person is -- I first met Barry Goldwater 28 years ago when I was 21 years old -- almost 29 years ago now. And he was giving a speech at the University of Arkansas at the invitation of Mack McLarty, who later became my Chief of Staff and is now the White House Counselor. And we were there. And I worked at the time for Senator Fulbright from Arkansas who, as some of you, maybe most of you know, was a Democrat. And he and Senator Goldwater had a great difference about the war in Vietnam which was the major issue back then. I will never forget how kind Barry Goldwater was to me as a 21-year-old college senior, a person he could never have known would amount to a hill of beans, and some of his fellow Republicans still think hasn't amounted to a hill of beans. (Laughter.)
I'll never forget that. But the thing that means the most to me is the incredible kindness and sensitivity he has shown toward the First Lady over the last four years. It means a great deal. So I wish him well. And I thank God for his civility and his service to our nation. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be here. I've had an interesting couple of weeks. A lot has been going on in the Nation's Capital and a lot has been going on out in the country. We had our great convention in Chicago. And before that, I was on the rails, on the track to Chicago. And after that, Al and Tipper Gore and Hillary and I took a bus trip. And since then, I have been going back and forth to work in Washington and then back to the campaign trail when I could.
When I ran for President in 1992, I told the American people I had a very straightforward, but profoundly important vision for our country in the 21st century -- that we were going through this huge period of change in how we work, in how we live, in how we relate to each other and the rest of the world -- a sweeping period of change -- and that I wanted to see us manage this change into the next century in a way that kept the American Dream alive for every single person in this country, that kept this country coming together as we grow ever more diverse and not being driven apart as so many nations are by their diversity, and that kept us the strongest force for peace and freedom and prosperity in the world.
I said then and I reiterate today, I thought the only way to do that was to find a way to meet our challenges and protect the values that have made us the greatest country in history. And that our strategy should be simple, straightforward and profound. We should work for opportunity for all; for responsibility from all and for an American community that really is growing stronger together; where we respect each other for our shared values and we accept our differences, and we're proud of them because we know it makes us stronger -- and stronger especially in a global society where there are people from all over the world with whom we must do business, with whom we must make peace and with whom we must relate if we want to beat back the problems and seize the opportunities that the next century is going to offer us.
And for four years, I've worked on that. And I have to tell you that it may be a little immodest, but I think the evidence shows that we're better off than we were four years ago. (Applause.)
Look at the evidence. The latest evidences we have is that unemployment is down to a 7.5-year low -- 5.1 percent in the nation -- (applause) -- the highest consumer confidence in years; 10.5 million new jobs. The economy is on the right track. We have almost 4.5 million new homeowners. Another 10 million homeowners have refinanced their mortgages at lower rates because we've been able to get those interest rates down. I see those folks everywhere. We have record numbers of new small businesses formed in each of the last four years. Our exports of American products and services are at an all-time high.
Twelve million Americans have been able to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave law to take a little time off for the birth of a baby or the illness of a parent without losing their job. (Applause.) Fifteen million of our hardest-pressed working Americans got tax relief so that if you work 40 hours a week with children in the home, you'll never be in poverty now. That's very, very important. (Applause.)
Forty million Americans -- and this is something that's important to a lot of people in this room -- in 1994, we passed a bill to protect the pensions of 40 million Americans --40 million Americans. (Applause.)
Our air is cleaner. Our drinking water is safer. Our food is purer. We have closed more toxic waste dumps in the last three years than the previous administrations did in 12. (Applause.)
And in the last two weeks -- in the last two weeks before Congress left office, we had some more good news. On October the 1st, 10 million Americans will get an increase in the minimum wage. (Applause.) And every, every single small businessperson in the country who invests more money in his or her business to make it more productive, to hire more people to grow will get a tax cut. (Applause.)
And 25 million Americans, because of the passage of the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill, will be eligible not to lose their health insurance just because they got sick, someone in their family got sick, they had to change jobs. (Applause.) The minimum wage bill also made it easier for people in small businesses to take out pensions and for the employees in small businesses to keep those pensions if they move from job to job. And it gave families a $5,000 tax credit if they adopt children. So that bill was pro-work, pro-business and pro-family. (Applause.) The country is moving in the right direction. We are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
The welfare rolls are down by 1.8 million from the day I took office, and child support collections are up by 40 percent -- $3 billion. (Applause.) The crime rate has dropped in each of the last four years, as we are about the business of putting 100,000 more police on the street -- (applause) -- attacking violence against women and children, working for safe and drug-free schools. And, yes, we passed the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban. (Applause.) But contrary to all the hysteria that was whipped up in 1994 against the people who voted for the crime bill, not a single Arkansas hunter or sports person lost their weapon. But 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers did lose the right to get a handgun because we passed the Brady Bill, and we're better off because of it. (Applause.)
The government we have today in Washington is very different from the government we had four years ago. It is, first of all, smaller by 250,000. The government is now the smallest its been since John Kennedy was the President of the United States in the early '60s. (Applause.) And I might say, to give you a better impression of how much we've shrunk the government, it's a bigger country now than it was in 1960, more people live here. As a percentage of the civilian work force, the federal government is today the smallest its been since Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office for the first time in 1933. (Applause.)
We have reduced the size and burden of the federal government, but we still have a government that is strong enough to help us meet our challenges and protect our values. The role of the government today is to create the conditions and give people the tools to make the most of their own lives, and that's what we are attempting to do.
And, finally, let me say, we have plainly maintained our responsibility to be a force for peace and freedom and prosperity, with 200 new trade agreements -- 21 with Japan alone -- American exports up 85 percent in the areas covered by our trade agreements with Japan, the United States number one again in automobile production and sales around the world for the first time since the 1970s. (Applause.)
Working for peace in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland, in Haiti, throughout the world; reducing the nuclear threat for the first time since the dawn of the Nuclear Age in the last four years, there's not a single nuclear missile pointed at the children of America. And you can be proud of that. (Applause.)
Just a couple of days ago I had the great honor of supporting and then being able to announce that the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to ban nuclear testing forever, a huge event. (Applause.) And now the United States Senate is considering something called the Chemical Weapons Convention, and if we pass it, 160 nations have signed it, 60 have ratified it, we need to follow suit and ratify it in the Senate because it will enable us to reduce the availability of chemical weapons for terrorists, for countries that would promote chemical weapons and use them in an inhumane way. Nobody is immune from this. You saw from the terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway what can happen when innocent people are subject to this.
So I implore the Senate to go on and ratify this. This is a bipartisan thing. This treaty was negotiated when President Bush was in office, but it has never been ratified. And we must ratify it so we can continue the work of making the world a safer place, especially from terrorists. (Applause.)
And finally let me say on that subject, as all of you know, in recent days it became necessary for me to order our pilots to take certain actions in Iraq, to increase the chances that we could prevent Saddam Hussein from threatening his neighbors because of what he was doing to his own people. I just want to say, again, that we are going to do everything we can to make sure our own pilots are safe, that they can fly their missions in safety. We will do whatever is necessary to protect them. And the determination of the United States in dealing with the problem of Iraq should not be underestimated. We will do what we must do to protect our people and our soldiers. (Applause.)
Now, you heard Rose Mofford say that I called her back in 1988. When I was a governor I was often appalled by what I saw coming out of Washington, frankly, because it seemed to me that the further you got away from the people and the closer you got to Washington, D.C., the more our politics became about rhetoric and the less about reality. (Applause.) There was more name-calling and less working in ways that would change people's lives.
The things that I have just said to you, it seems to me, document beyond question that we are capable of working together in a partnership that will have a positive impact on the lives of the people of the United States.
So let me say again, I have tried to change the politics of your capital from who's to blame to what are we going to do. (Applause.) And I hope -- and even though we have come a long way in the last four years, I think we all know we still have a lot of challenges to meet to make sure when we start that new century and a new millennium, our country is the kind of country we want it to be. We do have to build a bridge to the 21st century, but we've got to build it on ideas, not insults. And this campaign ought to be a campaign of ideas about what is best for the American people. (Applause.)
Now, let me say very briefly where I think we should go and the bridge that I hope you will help me build. First of all, if we're going to build a bridge to the 21st century of opportunity, we have to make sure that every American who is willing to work has a chance to participate in that opportunity. In a world dominated increasingly by high technology, by rapid movement of information, by global competition, education is more important to the well-being not only of individual Americans, but to our country than ever before in the history of the United States. (Applause.)
In the past four years I worked on a broad front to improve education, from increasing Head Start to giving our schools funds to raise their standards, stay open after school for kids that are in trouble, try innovative reform measures that would enable them to achieve higher levels of learning. We reformed the student loan program to make the loans lower cost and to have better repayment terms so more people could go. (Applause.) And we fought back what I considered to be very ill-advised efforts to cut back on education funding at a time when education is more important to our future than ever before. (Applause.)
Now, what are we going to do in the future? I think, first of all, we should have a clear agenda that includes at a minimum the following items: Number one, 40 percent of the eight-year-olds in this country still can't read a book on their own. Even though improvement in math and science is going up, even though our schools are plainly getting better, 40 percent of those kids can't. I propose to put together an army of 30,000 mentors from national service volunteers, from young people on work-study in college, from trained reading tutors, to mobilize a million true volunteers to go into every high school in this country -- I mean -- excuse me -- every grade school in this country where it is needed to make sure by the year 2000 every eight-year-old in America can pick up a book and say, "I read this myself." (Applause.)
Second, we have an opportunity that is truly revolutionary because of technology to do something never before done. We are working hard not only to get computers and educational materials and software to go into computers in all the classrooms of America, we've also worked to train teachers who can at least keep up with all these young kids who are computer whizzes -- something I can't do.
This summer the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the school principals and other education groups put together 100,000 teachers who began the work of training 500,000 more teachers to make sure that the teachers could actually use the computers in the classroom to teach the students. And now it is time to make sure that we do the last thing. We need to make sure that every classroom and every library and every school in America is hooked up to the Information Superhighway -- to the Internet, to the Worldwide Web, to all these networks of information. (Applause.)
Now, let me just say for a moment what the significance of that is. What this means is that for the first time ever in the history of the country, if we do it, children in the smallest, most isolated rural school districts in America, children in the poorest inner-city school districts in America, no matter where these children are, they will have access to the same information in the same form in the same time at the same level of quality as children in the wealthiest school districts in the country. It has never happened before. We can do it in the next four years, and we should. (Applause.) And we should.
Finally, in the next four years we should truly open the doors of college education to anyone of any age who needs to go -- of any age. (Applause.) And I propose to do the following: Number one, we ought to set as a national goal in four years, we'll make at least a community college degree as universal in America as a high school diploma is today. (Applause.)
How? Almost every American is within driving distance of a community college, and those places work. They're open, they're flexible, they're results-oriented, they're democratic -- small "d," that is they're open to everybody. They work the way America ought to work more. And all we have to do to make community college available to everybody is to say to people, if you'll go we'll give you a tax credit of up to $1,500 a year for the tuition, which would cover the typical tuition cost throughout the country. (Applause.)
Second, we should give a tax deduction of up to $10,000 a year for the cost of any education after high school so we can encourage people to go forward, encourage parents and grandparents to help their children and grandchildren go to college. (Applause.)
The third thing I want to do is to recognize that a lot of adults need more education as well, and that we have 70 -- 70 at least -- different programs in the federal government that have developed for the best of reasons over time. But you need a slide rule to figure out whether you qualify for them. And what I want to do is to say to someone, if you qualify for federal educational help because you have lost your job or because you are grossly underemployed, instead of these 70 different programs you have to figure out I want to put all that money in one pot and give a skills grant worth up to $2,500 a year to people and say, take it to your local community college, take it wherever it's best for you. But here it is, go get an education so you can go up not down on the job scale if you lose your job.
Will you help me build that kind of bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.) I need your help.
I think we should promote more homeownership. Our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros has worked hard, and we have cut the average closing costs for first-time home buyers by nearly a $1,000. We have a 15-year-high in homeownership. But I want this to be within reach of every American. We have lots of initiatives to do that.
But one of the things that I think we should do is to change the law so that people simply do not have to pay taxes when they sell their home even if it appreciates in value up to a half a million dollars. (Applause.) I think we should do that.
And finally, let me say, if we want to have opportunity, we've got to keep this economy going. And that means that we have to continue to finish the work to balance the budget, but we have to do it in the right way. And I want to talk a little about that. There's been a huge debate about that in the last two years since our friends in the other party won the Congress. And you can see from outside that they're a little sensitive about the fact that America didn't like their budget. (Laughter.)
But let's talk about it. We do have the balance the budget. Why? Well, one thing that our Republican friends said last year that I agree with is, they said last year -- not this year, but last year -- they said, if we're not on a path to balancing the budget, interest rates will be two percent higher. I agree with that. Now what does that mean? That means -- you just figure it out for yourselves -- that means two percent on your car payment, your credit card payment, your home payment. Even more important for the overall health of the economy, it means two percent on those loans that business people need to take out to start those new businesses or to expand the businesses. And keep in mind, we've had four years in a row of record formation of small business. But that's where most of the new jobs are coming from.
So we do need to go on and balance the budget. So the question is how. And that's what we're revisiting in this election. The budget I vetoed that the Congress passed I vetoed not because I didn't want to balance the budget but because I thought it was wrong to basically end Medicaid's 30-year guarantee of health care to poor women and little babies; to end the 30-year guarantee of health coverage to middle class families who had members with disabilities where they were struggling to take care of those people in their own homes and go to work every day; wrong to end the guarantee of those who had very limited incomes and needed that help if they had to be in nursing homes.
I thought it was wrong to create a two-tier Medicare system which said to people, if you're unfortunate enough to be older, poorer and sicker than most other seniors, you could well get second-class care. I thought it was wrong not to keep up with inflation and population growth in Medicare and instead to have real cuts that were going to force people to make payments out of pocket, designed to fund a budget system that had an enormous tax cut that went to people like me and I didn't need it. I thought that was wrong. I don't apologize for that. I still think it was wrong. I still think it was wrong. (Applause.)
I thought it was wrong. I thought it was wrong for us to be cutting the Safe and Drug-free Schools law, to be abolishing AmeriCorps, to be turning our back on our commitment to put 100,000 police on that street, to pass a budget that would have raised taxes on 9 million of our poorest working people -- actually raise taxes on them. I thought it was wrong to allow a raid on the pension funds in America of nearly $15 billion. (Applause.) We went through that pension collapse just a few years ago. Are we going to go back and make that mistake all over again? I thought that was wrong.
So I plead guilty. I vetoed it, and I'd do so again because I thought it was wrong. (Applause.)
But that does not mean -- again, that does not mean that we should not balance the budget. It does not mean that we don't have to have some savings in Medicare to stabilize the program so it's going to be there not just next year but 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now for all who need it. But the changes should be made by someone who believes in Medicare and believes it's served our country well, not someone who doesn't care whether it exists or not. (Applause.) Now, that should be done.
But we have to keep doing the work of balancing the budget. But, you know, if we turn around and walk away from our obligations to invest in environmental protection, in new technology and education, we'll hurt ourselves. Let me give you one other example. Arizona has become a center for precision manufacturing because of the dry air and because of the good climate for manufacturing and for working. You have a huge stake here in this state in seeing that we continue on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology, high technology.
Whether you do anything that has anything to do with that or not, everyone who lives in Arizona has a big stake in seeing that America maintains its technological lead. That means that we have to do some public investment in research and elemental development. We must do that.
In biomedical research, government-funded research has led to unprecedented gains in many areas in the last four years. Public research has led to a lot of things that we now take for granted -- the Internet, the Internet is the product of a federal research project. But as soon as it was obvious that it was going to work, the government did exactly what the government should do -- we couldn't run it, we got out of it and let the private sector take over.
Right now we are engaged in a joint venture with IBM to develop a supercomputer that will do more calculations in one second than you could go home and pick up a pocket, a hand-held calculator and do by yourself -- listen to this -- in 30,000 years. (Applause.)
Now, we have to make those kinds of investments because the private sector can't afford to do it, it's too problematical. You have to break through these barriers, but this will make a huge difference in the future of our country.
So I say to you, go out and tell your fellow Arizonans, whether they're Republicans, Democrats, independents, you name it: Yes, balance the budget, but do it in a way that brings us together instead of drives us apart. Do it in a way that honors our obligations. And do it in a way that build that bridge to the 21st century. That's what we have to do. (Applause.)
Folks, let me just make a couple of other points more briefly. We have to build a bridge to the 21st century that honors responsibility. And I'll just mentioned two points there. I just signed a welfare reform bill that was fairly controversial and I didn't think it was perfect. But I did it because I think it is imperative to end the isolation of those people who are trapped on welfare generation after generation. (Applause.) I think it is imperative to bring people into the world of work, to bring those families into contact with other families, to make them believe that they can change their lives.
And now the challenge is to take this new system and make it work. The new system says, if you're poor, we will still give you health care for your children, we will still give you nutrition, and now we will give you more in child care if you go to work. But now the income check will go to the state and they must find a way to move able-bodied people from welfare to work within two years.
My challenge is to every governor in this country, and every private business person: now we have to create the jobs, a million more jobs, at least, in the next four years for people who have been trapped on welfare. We have reduced the welfare rolls by 1.8 million. If we can do a million more with the hardest-to-place cases, you will see that we can end welfare as we know it and bring people back into mainstream America and make poverty a temporary, not a permanent, condition for a whole generation of young people. We have to do that and I want you to help me do that. (Applause.)
The second thing I want to talk about briefly is the crime problem. Crime is still a big problem in America. Yes, the crime rate in the country has dropped for four years. Yes, in most major cities it's going down. But it's still going up in some suburbs and small towns. It's still a problem. And it will be a problem until you can go home at night and turn on the evening news and the first story is not a crime story; or if it is a crime story, you're absolutely shocked, instead of saying, what else is new. That's how you will know. We'll always have some crime. You'll know when we've got this thing whipped when you're shocked when you see a crime story leading the evening news at night instead of saying, what else is new.
Now, instead of four years of a declining crime rate, we need eight years of a declining crime rate. (Applause.) That's what we have to do. We have to finish putting those police on the street. We ought to take the cop-killer bullets off the street; they have no hunting or sporting purpose. We ought to extend the Brady Bill. The Brady Bill has worked well. It now applies to any felons. I think the Brady Bill ought to apply to anyone who abuses a child or a spouse in the home, as well. We should try to reduce that. (Applause.)
The last thing we have to do is build a bridge to the 21st century that strengthens our American community. And I want to mention some things real quickly. The problem I hear young people talk most about, and even people that aren't so young, who may still have children in the home -- is that they are constantly finding examples where they feel torn between their obligations to spend time with their children and do things with their children, and their obligations at work. That's why I fought for the Family and Medical Leave law. I didn't want to interrupt the free enterprise system, but it seemed to me that if you had people all torn up and upset at work because their kids were in trouble at home and they couldn't take care of them, that wasn't going to be very good for the economy.
It also seems to me that if we make Americans make a choice between succeeding at work and succeeding at home, we are defeated before we start. Whichever choice they have to make --whichever choice they have to make, we lose, because most parents are working and most parents have to work. Whether it's a single-parent household or two parents in the household, it's not as if it's an option for most people.
So if we want to come together as a community we have to begin with the building block of our community, the family. That's why I thought Family and Medical Leave was important. That's why I thought more Head Start and more immunizations for kids was important. That's why I thought it was important to try to protect children against the dangers of marketing and selling tobacco, which is illegal in every state in the country, but it happens everywhere. (Applause.) That's why we fought for the V-chip and the television rating system, so parents could have some control over the programming their young children see. If it's inappropriate, they'd have some control over that. Because I think we have to struggle to help people succeed at work and at home. And that will be a continuing challenge for us.
I'd like to see a very limited amendment in the Family Leave law which says you can also have a little time off without losing your job to take your children or your parents to regular doctor's appointments, and to go to parent-teacher conferences at school. I think that would be a good thing. It would be very limited. (Applause.) I might say to you that there has been a study on the Family Leave law in which almost all the businesses in the country say that it hasn't cost them any money to comply with. And it obviously hasn't hurt the economy, since we're growing like crazy. (Applause.) So I think we ought to do that.
The second thing I'd like to say is we can't preserve our sense of community unless we're committed to growing the economy while preserving our natural environment. I am very proud of the things we've done to make drinking water and food safer, to set aside more national parks, to make the air cleaner, to expand community right to know. This is going to be a challenge that every one of us has to face. But let me just point out, there are still 10 million children in this country -- 10 million children living within four miles of a toxic waste dump. And that's in spite of the fact that we closed down more in three years than we closed down in the 12 years before I came here to Washington.
I propose to close 500 more, two-thirds of them, the two-thirds worst, in the next four years so I can go to a crowd like this and I can look in the eyes of these children and I can say, the children of this country should grow up next to parks, not poison. And I want you to help me do that. It's very, very important. (Applause.)
The last point I want to make is this: This country has come a long way in its relationships with each other across racial and ethnic lines and religious lines since I was a boy. But we're having even more challenges. You know, when I had the honor of representing you at the Olympics it was thrilling to me to see teams there from 197 different nations. And when I was watching all the teams go in carrying their flags, it, all the sudden, struck me that the biggest county in America -- Los Angeles County -- has people in one county in America from 150 of those 197 places. That's a stunning insight.
Then I looked at American Olympic team and it struck me that if they didn't have American jackets on, the wouldn't have a clue which country they were from. (Applause.) These are from the Middle East. And those are from Asia somewhere. And those folks are from Latin America. And these are from the Caribbean. And those are from Africa. And, well, those folks are from Scandinavia. You get the picture.
And, really, if you look at the Olympics -- I think one reason we like it is we think that we ought to live that way all the time. (Applause.) Everybody agrees to the rules. Most people don't win medals, but even the ones that don't win are better off because they tried in an honorable way and they do their very best. Nobody disqualifies you because of what your religious faith is or what your race or your ethnic group is. You can't get ahead -- you can't break in your opponents room the night before and break his legs and get a medal for it. (Laughter.) Nobody admires you if you stand up behind a microphone and tell everybody how terrible the person you're racing against is. We sort of like the way the Olympics work. We think the world ought to work that way. (Applause.)
And so that's the last thing I leave you with. We have to stand -- when you see these church burnings or these synagogues being defaced or these Islamic centers being burned, you have to stand against that.
Remember how much of your time as President -- because all my time belongs to you -- you think about how much time, your time, I've had to spend dealing with places where people insisted on killing each other because of their religious, their racial, their ethnic or their tribal differences. You just think about it. Rwanda, Burundi, the Middle East, Haiti -- you name it. Any of these countries. We're trying to hold elections in Bosnia where they lived in peace for decades, where there is biologically no difference between the Muslims, the Croats and the Serbs. They belonged to different religious groups because of historical developments, and they started killing each other in the flash of an eye, and did it with abandon for four years.
And so when we see the slightest evidence of that in this country we have to say, no, no, no, no, no. America is a place where, if you believe in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and you're willing to show up tomorrow, you're our kind of person and we're going to walk across that bridge to the 21st century with you, too. (Applause.)
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 2:45 P.M. MST