THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE VICE PRESIDENT
Room 450 Old Executive Office Building
1:20 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, just two days ago America learned that in its eleventh hour desperation, the Republican attack machine had gone into overdrive, pouring millions and millions of special interest dollars into negative ads that personally attacked the President.
Today I was shocked to learn from this morning's Washington Post that this entire partisan plot was personally masterminded by Speaker Newt Gingrich. Other Republicans profess not to have known about it. Still others are now renewing their attacks against Speaker Gingrich.
So just a few days before the election of 1998, it's safe to say the Republican Party is in such disarray the right hand doesn't know what the far right hand is doing. But these attacks, personally devised by Speaker Newt Gingrich, are wrong.
The choice this November 3rd, as a result, is now clearer and starker than it has ever been. On one hand we have the Gingrich plan: more negative ads, more personal attacks, more partisan investigations, more of the politics of personal destruction. On the other hand, we have the Democratic plan: pass the patients' bill of rights, save Social Security first, rebuild and modernize our schools, protect our environment, raise the minimum wage, make affordable child care available. That's quite a contrast, and with stakes as high as these, we know this is no ordinary election.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: we want to legislate; they want to investigate. We want to educate; they want to instigate. We want to help the sick; they're playing partisan tricks.
And it's all a partisan smoke screen so the Republicans will not have to talk about their real agenda, which starts with a risky $700 billion tax scheme that would squander the surplus and jeopardize America's ability to save Social Security. With that kind of agenda, no wonder they are unleashing the personal, partisan attack dogs.
I believe the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives should be working to pass real legislation for the American people, not hatching desperate partisan plots. To play politics with Congress's investigative powers and to use these negative ads to mask their real right-wing agenda may be in the spirit of Halloween, but it's not the kind of progress that the American people deserve.
This election should be about the future of our country. The Democratic Party is talking about a plan that will safeguard the future of our country. The American people want to hear a discussion of those real issues, and I call on the American people to send that message loudly and clearly on Election Day. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
I'll just take one or two, and then I'm going to have to go.
Q Considering the Speaker is one of the highest ranking -- the titular head of the Republican Party, why shouldn't he have a hand in devising a strategy, a campaign strategy at the eleventh hour for the elections to the House? And what is wrong with making the President's personal behavior an issue for the campaign?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that the American people have served notice that they want to hear a discussion of the issues that affect them. What about saving Social Security first? What about a health care patients' bill of rights? What about rebuilding and modernizing our schools? What about protecting the environment? What about a higher minimum wage and child care for American families?
Personal, partisan attacks aimed at the President of the United States, written and devised by Speaker Gingrich just a few days before the election, is just a smoke screen to avoid a discussion of the real issues. And I think the American people have served notice that they don't like that kind of approach, and I think you'll see a reaction.
In New York, when Senator D'Amato hit below the belt, the voters there reacted very negatively. And Chuck Schumer has been really climbing in the polls, partly as a result of that. I think what you've seen here is that Newt Gingrich has made the same mistake nationally that Al D'Amato made in New York State.
Anyway, thank you very much. I appreciate it. (Applause.)
END 1:26 P.M. EST