THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Phoenix, Arizona)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE PHOENIX AREA Lawn, Grady Gammage Auditorium Arizona State University Phoenix, Arizona
10:23 A.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Hello, Arizona. Good morning. Let's give the band a hand. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Are you going to the Rose Bowl? (Applause.) Are we going to win on Tuesday? (Applause.) I want to thank the people who performed before I came here -- the ASU Student Saxophone Combo, the Mariachi del Sur (pho.), the Clandestine (pho.), the Tempe High School Marching Band. Again, thank you. (Applause.) And Jeff Goodman. I thank those who spoke earlier, including the students, Sadonna Stone (pho.) and Michelle Carson, the legislators who were here, the other candidates, the Vice Mayor.
And I want to say to Juan Rokay (pho.), you're having a great system and I wish you would play offensive line for me for the next five days. Thank you. (Applause.) I thank Governor Rose Mofford, my friend and former colleague. Thank you, Congressman Ed Pastor, Mrs. Pastor. Thank you, Steve Owens, for running for Congress and trying to turn the Congress around and put it back on the side of the American people and their future. Thank you. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank Bill Bratton (pho.) for coming all the way to Arizona to endorse our candidacy -- to be here with Mike Petchell (pho.). While Bill Bratton was the Police Chief of New York, violent crime decreased almost 40 percent, the murder rate was decreased by 50 percent. We can make our streets safer for our children and their future if we all work together. Thank you, Commissioner Bratton, for being here. (Applause.)
Five days from today, the American people will choose the last President of the 20th century and the first President of the 21st century. I am very, very glad that there are so many young people here today because this election is about your future. (Applause.)
You know, there are many different issues in this election, many matters on which Senator Dole and I disagree, many matters on which I disagreed with Senator Dole and Speaker Gingrich over the last two years. But the big issue that embraces them all is what you want America to look like when we cross that bridge into the 21st century and what you are prepared to do to get us there.
I want an America where the American Dream is alive and well for any person responsible enough to work for it, without regard to race or gender or background or where they start out in life. I want everybody to have a chance to live up to their God-given capacities. (Applause.)
I want an America that is still the world's leading force for peace and freedom, and for prosperity. And I want an America that is rejecting the racial, the ethnic, the tribal, the religious division that is tearing apart so much of the rest of the world -- and says we're going forward into the 21st century as one community together. We need each other and we'll do better when we work forward together. Will you help me build that kind of America? (Applause.)
Four years ago when I came to the American people with Al Gore and said we wanted a different kind of political direction, we wanted to break out of the mold of the old debates and take America forward, we thought the right and left, liberal and conservative debate was sterile and outdated and the issue was what we had to do together to move our country forward, the American people took me on faith, and we came within one percentage point of carrying Arizona. I hope you'll help us do just a little better on Tuesday. (Applause.)
But today, you don't have to do that. There is a record. You can make a judgment based on the evidence about whether this approach is going to make you more likely to live out your dreams in the 21st century, more likely to make this a more responsible and caring society in the 21st century, more likely to preserve the greatness that has always been America's hallmark.
Compared to four years ago, we have 10.5 million more jobs, we have the lowest combined rates of unemployment, inflation and home mortgages in 27 years, the biggest drop in inequality among working families in 27 years, the biggest drop in child poverty in 20 years, the highest homeownership rates in 15 years. The deficit has been cut in all four years of an administration for the first time in the 20th century. We are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
The crime rate is down for four years in a row and is now at a 10-year low in America, the welfare rolls have been reduced by 1.9 million, child support collections have been increased by $4 billion a year -- 50 percent -- we are moving in the right direction. Just in the last few weeks we've seen the minimum wage go up for 10 million people, 25 million Americans protected by a law that now says you cannot lose your health insurance if you move from job to job or someone in your family gets sick -- (applause) -- a law that says insurance companies can no longer kick mothers and their newborn children out of the hospital after only 24 hours. (Applause.) We are moving in the right direction.
Income for the typical families up about $1,600 in the last two years, our air is cleaner, our drinking water is safer. We have preserved our natural heritage -- we fought all the vicious attacks on the environment by the members of the congressional majority who even wanted to sell some of our national parks and, instead, we've expanded more lands, we're protecting -- we are moving forward and growing the economy while preserving our environment. We are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
Just in the last couple of days we've seen that our annual growth rate is about three percent, that business investment increased by almost 19 percent, the highest rate since the Kennedy administration, incomes are rising nearly five percent, and in the face of that news and 10.5 million jobs, yesterday my opponent said that we had the worst economy in 20 years. Well, two weeks ago he said we had the worst economy in 100 years. We've made up 80 years in two weeks. That's a good record. We need to do more of that. (Applause.)
Way back in February, my distinguished opponent said what he knows is the truth when he said we actually had the best economy in 30 years. We are moving in the right direction, and we need to do more. (Applause.) As I stand here in this wonderful state, I know that one of the things most people in Arizona have felt over the years consistently is that we don't need a big, bureaucratic government in Washington telling us what to do, and that we do need fiscal responsibility. But I ask you to look at the record on this.
Our administration has lowered the size of the federal government by nearly 250,000; it is now as small as it was when John Kennedy was President. We have eliminated more government regulations, more government programs, we have privatized more government operations in 3.5 years than my Republican predecessors did in 12 years. Our budget would be in surplus today if it weren't for the debt they ran up in the 12 years before I took office; we are moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
The issue here today is not big government or small government, it is what do we have to do together, to give each other the tools to build strong lives, strong families, strong communities and a strong nation. There are those who honestly believe that we shouldn't do much together, that you're better off, your fiber will be greater if you're just told you're on your own. And then there are those of us who believe that it does take a village to raise a child, to build families, to make our streets safe. (Applause.)
There are those who believe -- they can say, there's that great, big future out there, there is a rushing river you have to cross, there's a big valley you have to get down through, there's a huge mountain you have to get across; I hope you make it; good luck. And then there are those who say that future is out there is for all of us and it'll be better for all of us if we just go on and build a bridge big enough, wide enough and strong enough for all of us to walk across together. Will you help us build that bridge to the 21st century? (Applause.)
On this Halloween day, we can make a lot of jokes, and I was thrilled to see all the people along the roadway already in their Halloween costumes and their masks on. But one serious thing I'd like to say about Halloween -- Hillary and I always loved the fact that our daughter loved Halloween, always wanted her own costume every Halloween, still likes to go out trick-or-treating. But one of the things that I think is important on Halloween is, we remember that we want Halloween to be Fright Night, but Safe Night for our families and our children, and we ought to think about today what I think is the critical thing for American families, which is, how can we make our families safe, how can we give them a clean environment, and how can we make it possible for parents to succeed economically while they raise their children responsibly.
Everywhere I go in America, people say to me, I'm having the problems doing the right thing by my kids and working. The average working family is spending more hours a week at work today than 25 years ago. So today I want to just take a minute to ask you what you think would build strong families, and would we be better off saying you're on your own, or here's what we can do together to give you the tools to build a stronger family life.
I supported the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Applause.) Now, my opponent led the opposition to it and tried to kill it with a filibuster in the Senate because he honestly believed -- he honestly believed that it would be bad for the economy. But now we know. After three years 12 million people have taken advantage of the Family Leave Law to take a little time off from work without losing their jobs when a baby is born or a family member is sick. We have 10.5 million new jobs, record numbers of new small businesses, this economy is churning along, we're moving in the right direction. You help the economy if you help parents take care of their children; they do better at work and they feel better. (Applause.)
And I'd like to see the Family Leave Law expanded a little bit so parents can go see their children's teachers twice a year and take them to the doctor without losing their jobs. (Applause.) I believe when parents earn overtime, they ought to have the option to take that overtime in pay, or if their parents or their children or their spouses are sick, I think they ought to be able to take that overtime in time with their families. That's the choice of the people who earn it. It'll make stronger families. But you have to decide.
I believe we value families when we have welfare reform that is good to children, but tough in work requirements, that requires teen mothers to live at home or in a supervised setting and stay in school to draw benefits, and requires able-bodied people to go to work, but gives them the child care and the jobs there to do the work and succeed at home and at work, just the way we want for everybody else in this society. (Applause.) And I believe we value families when we open the doors of college education to all Americans. (Applause.)
My fellow Americans, in the 12 years before I became President -- and this is no one in particular's fault, but many of you will know this -- the only basic thing in a family's budget that increased at a higher inflation rate than health care was the cost of a college education. We have worked hard through AmeriCorps to give 70,000 more young people a chance to work their way through college by serving their communities. Some of you are here today. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.) We reformed the Student Loan Program to give 10 million students lower-cost loans and the right to repay those loans as a percentage of their income so they would never go bankrupt trying to repay their college loans after they got out. (Applause.)
But I want to do more. I believe we should make two years of education after high school as universal as a high school diploma is today by giving people a dollar for dollar reduction on their taxes for the typical cost of a community college if they go there and make their grades, and I think we can do it. (Applause.) I believe we strengthen our families if we give a $10,000 a year tax deduction for the costs of any college tuition at any level for people of any age, and I intend to do it. (Applause.)
I do not believe we will strengthen our economy or our families or our future by doing what my opponent has advocated -- cutting the Student Loan Program and abolishing the Department of Education and entering the 21st century as the only country in the world with no one to speak for the education of our children at the President's Cabinet. I will not do that. I will improve education in America, working with you and our teachers for all Americans. (Applause.)
I believe we strengthen families when we take steps to protect our young children from gangs and guns and drugs and tobacco. I worked hard for the Crime Bill that Commissioner Bratton talked about. A lot of people in Arizona and my home state of Arkansas and other places voted against people who supported the Crime Bill because they said we were trying to take their guns away. Well, now we know. It's been two years. Not a single hunter or sportsperson in Arizona or Arkansas has lost a weapon, but 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers did not get handguns because of the Brady Bill. We were right and they were wrong. They were wrong. (Applause.)
We are in the midst of putting these 100,000 police on the street. We've funded about half of them. My opponent led the fight against the 100,000 police; then, passed a budget that abolished them; then, when I vetoed the budget, they shut the government down, trying to force us to stop putting police on the street. I couldn't believe it. But I'll tell you one thing -- we're going to keep doing it because it's making our communities safer. (Applause.)
I believe we strengthen families by supporting the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program and doubling the number of people who are in it and getting that message out to our young children when they're young enough to listen, that drugs can kill you. They're wrong. They're not just illegal, they're wrong and they can kill you. Turn around, don't do it. I believe that's making a difference, and I think our opponents were wrong when the tried to cut the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program in half, and deprive 23 million children of the chance to get that message, and I'm going to keep on going until we turn that around, and I want you to help me do it. (Applause.)
I believe we were right to take on the big tobacco interests and say you have to stop selling and marketing tobacco to children in this country; it is wrong. Even though we have taken that action officially, it's being challenged in court. My opponent is opposed to it. We may not get that fight won unless you make the right decision on Election Day. I think it would be folly -- 3,000 young children in America begin smoking cigarettes every day, 1,000 of them will die sooner because of it. It is wrong. We should stay on the course we're on and I ask for your help to protect our families and our future. (Applause.)
I believe that we support stronger families when we do things which support grass-roots community action. I have worked hard to help to mobilize another 1 million volunteers in citizen action groups to work with police officers to get rid of gangs and guns and drugs on the streets.
I want to recognize a person here with me who is sitting with me -- Delia Gonzalez, the first President of the Escalante Neighborhood Association here in Tempe for the work that she and others have done. I want 1 million more people doing that work, and we will get it in the next four years if we do it. (Applause.)
Folks, you have to decide. You have to decide if our families will be strengthened if we do what I want to do, which is to balance the budget, but to do it in a way that continues to invest in education, in the environment, in research, in technology, in protecting Medicare while reforming it, and saying we are not going to take away the guarantee of health care from our poorest children, from families with disabilities, from seniors in nursing homes. We're not going to repeal the standards of quality care. We're going to go forward. That's what I want to do; not adopt some risky tax scheme that will blow a hole in the deficit. (Applause.)
I believe we should stay the course in bringing the crime rate down. I believe we should get tougher on dangerous gangs. I believe we can do more if we finish the work of giving our children something to say yes to instead of just saying no to them. We have to give them a future that is worthy of their dreams, their aspirations and their potential, and I want you to help me do it. Will you do it? (Applause.)
Your vote will decide whether we strengthen our families by giving our children world-class education, whether we mobilize 1 million volunteers, including college students all over America, to make sure every young person can read a book independently by the third grade. (Applause.) I want you to know just before the Congress went home I signed a bill that created 200,000 more work study positions. I want 100,000 of them to go to people who say, I want every 8-year-old to be able to pick up a book and say I can read this all by myself. Will you help us do that? (Applause.)
Will you help us connect every classroom and library in America to the Internet and the World Wide Web, the Information Superhighway? Will you help us open the doors of college education to all? (Applause.) I say again, the issue for Arizona, the issue for America is this: we stand on the threshold of a new century, on the threshold of a very different time. All of you know that we are undergoing dramatic changes in the way we work and live and relate to each other and the rest of the world. We are becoming an increasingly global society.
We are working in different ways. When I became President, only 3 million Americans made their living by working at home. Today, 12 million do. In four years, 30 million will. That's just one example. We are pushing back the frontiers of learning as never before. When I became President, AIDS was still thought to be a death sentence. The life expectancy of people with HIV and AIDs has more than doubled in the last four years, thanks to medical research and faster movement of drugs. (Applause.) We have now for the first time ever medical treatment for strokes. We've identified two of the genes that cause breast cancer, and we may be able to eliminate it entirely. (Applause.)
For the first time ever, laboratory animals with their spines completely severed have regained movement in their lower limbs through nerve transplants to the spine from other parts of their bodies. We are building a supercomputer in cooperation with IBM that will do more calculations in a second than you can do on a hand-held calculator in 30,000 years. We are moving into a very different future. And what you have to decide is whether you have the courage to say I believe that our best days are still ahead, if we have opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and an American community in which we all have a part to play and a place at the table.
You have to decide whether we're going to go into the future by saying you're on your own, or whether we're going to build a bridge. And you have to decide whether you're really willing to say, whether you're Hispanic or African American or Asian American, or Native American, or Polish or Irish, or whatever -- it doesn't matter. If you believe in the Declaration of Independence, in The Bill of Rights, in The Constitution, if you're willing to show up tomorrow and work or study and do your job as a citizen, we don't need to know anything else about you. You are part of our America and we're going forward. Will you help me in Arizona to build that bridge? Will you be there on Tuesday? Will you talk to your friends?
God bless you. Let's do it. Your best days are ahead. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 11:00 A.M. MST