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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 10, 1999
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         AT GORE 2000 RECEPTION
                            Hay Adams Hotel
                            Washington. D.C.

6:57 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I was back there deep in conversation. (Laughter.) Let me, first of all, say to all of you how glad I am to see you, how pleased I am that you're here, and how much I appreciate your support for the Vice President. I will be very brief.

When it was apparent that I was going to become the nominee for the Democratic Party in 1992, I had Warren Christopher, the person I probably trusted most in the world, organize a vice presidential search for me. And we went through all the candidates, and I said, well, what do you think. He said, I don't think you have a choice. He said, I think Al Gore is much better than all the others. And I said, I agree. And I said, you realize they'll all say we're crazy. I mean, we're the same age, we're from the same part of the country, we're more or less from the same wing of the Democratic Party.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not quite the same -- (laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Not quite the same. Yes, and I can't climb Mt. Rainier. (Laughter.) And if I could, I wouldn't. (Laughter.)

So, anyway, we did it. It violated all the sort of conventional wisdom. And I made a lot of decisions in the last eight years, some of them were good and some of them weren't, but none were better than that one.

And I just want to say -- basically say three things about it. Number one, in all the success this administration has had -- from the economic renewal to the decline in welfare rolls, to the decline in crime, to the efforts to make our air and water cleaner and our food safer, to our search for peace around the world, and managing our big, difficult relations with Russia and China, reaching out to Africa in a comprehensive way, really, for the first time for any administration -- right across the board, every single success we've had is a success that belongs not just to me, but to the Vice President. If he hadn't cast the deciding vote on the economic plan, I'm not sure any of us would be here tonight having this conversation. (Applause.) So the first thing I want to say is, the record of this administration is his record.

The second point I want to make is that he has made it clear what he would do if he got the job -- to a greater degree, and in greater detail, than anyone else running. Even though, arguably, he should have to do less since people know more about him, that's not what he did.

The issue in this election will not be whether we should vote for change or not. The issue is what kind of change we'll vote for. We're living in an inherently dynamic time. You know, each year, as all of you know who follow this, I try to lay out an agenda to the Congress and the American people in the State of the Union address that continues to push the envelope, that continues to push the boundaries of change, that continues to challenge the people and public servants to do what needs to be done.

The first four years of this millennium will be dramatically different from five, ten years ago. The way we work and live and relate to each other 20 years from now will be almost unrecognizable from what we were doing on the day I first took the oath of office. So the issue is not whether we will change, it is what kind of change. Are we going to build on what we've done that works? Are we going to take the evidence of success and then build on that and go beyond it? Are we going to revert to policies that we know don't work from hard experience?

I think one of the reasons that we've had some success in this last six and a half years is because I took the time to think through what I would do if I got the job, and I told the American people in greater detail than any American candidate had up to that point what I would do if I were hired. Then when Al joined the ticket, we sat down together and reissued our economic program, and thought it all through again in great detail.

And a lot of people said, these guys are crazy, they're being so specific, why are they doing this, it violates all conventional wisdom. But you'd be amazed how much it helps when you get a job if you've actually told people what you'd do if you got it. So I think the fact that he's laid out a program is profoundly important.

The third thing I want to tell you is that we have been together under all kinds of circumstances. You know some of them. Some of them were highly public and political. There were times of great elation, times of great triumph, times of defeat, times of frustration, times of intense difficulty. But we've also been together in personal ways. I've talked to him about everything. Both of us lost a parent since we've been here in the White House. We've been through a lot of challenges. We've talked about our children and our hopes for them. And I can tell you that he is a good human being. He is a profoundly good man.

So if you've got a person with a stunning record, a great program, who's a good person, a proven leader, I think that's a pretty good decision. That's a decision that I hope for my daughter's sake and the next generation's sake, the American people will make this year. And you're helping them to make it, and I thank you very much.

The Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)

END 7:04 P.M. EDT