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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 21, 1999
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

The East Room

8:35 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Governor and Mrs. Carper; Governor and Mrs. Leavitt; ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the White House.

Two of my proudest possessions, which I have over off the Oval Office, are an original printing of the proceeds of the first Governors Conference, held at the invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt, formerly governor of New York, in 1908. And the subject was the conservation of America's natural resources.

The second is a picture taken on the front steps of the White House of the President and all the governors in that year, with a letter signed with the picture by every serving governor in 1992. Some of you signed it -- to me on the occasion of my election as President.

I see the picture every day; I see the book every day; and it reminds me of how much I enjoyed being a governor and how much I very much enjoy these governors meetings.

Six years ago, when I took office, I pledged a new era of partnership with the governors. I have done my best to deliver on that pledge. I found when being a governor that it was easier to do the job when the economy was working than when it wasn't. (Laughter.) So I hope you have found the same. I pledged to work on eliminating the deficit, and now we are into our second year of surpluses. I pledged to work with you on welfare reform, and I know all of you are very proud that the welfare rolls are about half the size they were in 1993.

I pledged to work with you and your communities on crime, and the crime rate is at its lowest level in 25 years. I pledged to work on a cleaner environment in a way that would permit the economy to continue to grow, and together we have made progress on that, and many other areas.

I also pledge to continue the practice I adopted as Governor of stealing the best ideas from other states I could possibly find. (Laughter.) Among other things, we have adopted Georgia's HOPE scholarship, and many other ideas that many of you brought into being.

For all these things, I thank you. I thank you for the work you continue to do. I thank you for the model you continue to set. In six years, I have concluded what I suspected when I came here, which is that Washington works best when it works as governors -- and as the National Governors Association -- work: across party lines; focusing on ideas, not ideology; on people, not politics; on unity, not division. For all that you do to build that kind of America in the 21st century, I thank you.

I look forward to our meeting tomorrow, and I ask you to join me in a toast to Governor and Mrs. Carper, Governor and Mrs. Leavitt, the governors, their spouses, and our beloved country.

END 8:41 P.M. EST