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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 2, 1999
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         AT FUNDRAISING DINNER

                   The Pennsylvania Convention Center
                       Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8:42 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you, David, Bill, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great honor for me to be here tonight. You know, I'm preparing for what it will be like a year from now when I am just a member of the Senate Spouses Club -- (laughter) -- when I have to know my place more. And I thought that there could be no better preparation than to come be the warm-up act for Ed Rendell tonight. (Laughter.)

Let me say, in all seriousness, I a profoundly honored to be here. I'll never forget the first time I met Mayor Rendell here in Philadelphia in 1992 when I was running for president. And we were walking down the streets of a neighborhood where he had an anti-crime program going. And we shot a few baskets. We made very few, but we shot more. (Laughter.)

And I thought, this -- I have met a kindred spirit, because not only did we agree on so many of the same philosophies on crime, on welfare, on the economy, but we agreed on how public life should be conducted. I have thought about it so many times since, but I got into the political race for president in 1991 at a time when, not just Philadelphia, but the whole country, was facing economic distress and social division, political drift and then kind of the whole discrediting of the enterprise of government.

And I was really frustrated, as the governor of what my distinguished predecessor used to refer to as a -- of a small southern state, when I would see all these people in Washington just sort of throwing brickbats at each other and, you know, struggling to get their 15 seconds on the evening news, which they knew they could always get if they repeated the same thing over and over again, and made sure there was a real wedge dividing the American people in all kinds of ways.

And it struck me that if we ran our business life or our family lives or our personal lives the way we were running our national political lives, the country would just run off the tracks entirely. And I was determined to try to go to the American people with a unifying theory of how we ought to do our common work -- to create opportunity for everybody responsible enough to work for it, to build a community of all Americans, amidst all the differences among us. And, mostly, to get to work on our common challenges. And I went to Philadelphia.

I had no idea how I'd do here or whether I would be embraced here, but I liked it, and I liked Ed Rendell, and I knew that he was committed to turning this city around and to moving it forward. And we're walking down the street having a discussion, not so much about politics, but about what it would really take to get the crime rate down, what it would really take to give people on welfare the dignity of work without forcing them to sacrifice their responsibilities as parents. What it would take to bring genuine economic growth back into urban America.

Ed always says, well, you know, he couldn't have done it without you and then he says he couldn't have done it without me, and he talks about the Vice President and I putting the empowerment zone here and the 1,000 police and all that -- that's all true. But the success that we have enjoyed here in this country would not have happened had it not been for leaders like Ed Rendell. And there is nobody in America -- nobody -- who does it better. (Applause.)

Along the way, we've become very good personal friends. He's always been there to try to help raise financial support for me and the Vice President, for our party. At a time when he might have been taking at least a breath, he agreed to our request to become Chairman of the National Democratic Party. He has always been there. And I've thought about it -- near as I can figure, all I've done in return is make his wife a federal judge, so he can't even campaign for him anymore. (Laughter.) So I have disabled him as he has empowered me. It doesn't really seem fair.

I would just like to say one other thing. You know, in this wonderful life that you have made it possible for me to enjoy -- and no city in America has been any better to me than Philadelphia -- and the State of Pennsylvania has been very good to me and the Vice President and to Hillary and to Tipper. I have had the enormous privilege to get up and go to work every day and try to make something good happen in America.

But I have never been under any illusion that I could do anything other than create the conditions and provide the tools for the American people who really make this country go every day.

Today in this country, the most innovative, the most effective public servants are the best mayors, because they understand our common humanity and our limitless possibility, and because people like you hire them to get things done. And I just hope that we can continue to do that sort of thing in Washington. People ask me all the time -- they say, well, you know, it's amazing how well the country is doing and you must be a great politician. I said, well, a lot of it was, we just showed up for work every day.

There's a lot to be said for just showing up for work every day and keeping your eye on the prize, and remembering who the customers are, and believing in the potential of this country. Philadelphia is at the heart of everything that's important about America -- our history, our founding documents, our spirit. And it is altogether appropriate that in this remarkable time for our country, no city was better led, made more progress, or proved to be a better partner than the city of Philadelphia.

So I have a lot to be grateful to Ed Rendell for. Most important of all, from your point of view, is, he proved that the ideas we shared would work with hard work and good will. And the results are here for all to see, embodied in this beautiful film. He helped to sustain our common political efforts, but most important to me, in the good times and the dark times, he was always there as a real friend. And when all is said and done, that counts most of all. Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)

Don't sit down. This is going to be brief. But you see, you can tell which one of us is not really term limited. He tried to charge up here to the microphone and was going to deprive me of my one little role here of introducing him. But I still have a little capacity to pull rank. (Laughter.) So this is my job.

Ladies and gentlemen, the person we all came here to honor tonight, Mayor Ed Rendell. (Applause.)

END 8:50 P.M. EST