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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 15, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                           Private Residence
                            Washington, D.C.

7:39 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. You know, when the Mayor said he was going to run for mayor, he was absolutely terrified about making a political speech. I think he's about got the hang of it, don't you? (Laughter.) I thought it was great. (Applause.)

I want to thank him and Diane for their willingness to serve. I want to than Greg and Kathy and the others who put on this event tonight, and Ron and Beth for opening their home once again for an imminently worthy cause. I want to thank Senator Dole or President Dole or Bob -- (laughter) -- for being here and for speaking, and Jack Kemp who came and left and, Judge Webster, thank you for being here.

I'd like to thank all the Republicans and Democrats and the Independents who are here in support of our Nation's Capital tonight. I will be very brief; but, I hope, to the point. Because I'll be moving out of Washington in a few months. But when I moved here, I had very rich memories because I had gone to school in Washington, and I lived in Washington for four year in the mid-'60s. So I was here when the city burned, I was here when the city's main thoroughfares were often full of empty stores. I've seen it at its best, at its worst and at its in-between.

When I came back here and Hillary and Chelsea and I moved into Blair House in the three weeks before I took office, one of the first things I did was to walk down Georgia Avenue and meet with the merchants and talk to them. And I always wanted to have a chance to be a good citizen of Washington, D.C.

I worked with Senator Moynihan and others who were rebuilding Pennsylvania Avenue and was proud to be there at the dedication of the Reagan Building, which I think has been a wonderful addition to this great city. I went with Steve Case not very long ago to a high school here, to talk about how we could improve the quality of education with technology.

I was, just today, with Reverend Wintley Phipps, whom lot of you know, at the U.S. Dream Academy here in Washington, doing wonderful work giving kids from very tough backgrounds a chance to have a better life. I love this place. And I was honored that we had a bipartisan big block of support for the legislation to revitalize D.C.

Essentially, what we did was, we took -- the federal government assumed the functions that the D.C. government was having to pay for, that no other city in America had to pay for because all the other cities had a state to pay for it. We've also provided big tuition support for D.C. students to go out of state to school as in-state students, and tried to provide some initiatives to encourage more private investment here, as well as to have the government do more directly. And we've got a lot more to do, and I hope in the next six months, working with Speaker Hastert and others, you will see a big bipartisan initiative which will lead to more investment in the District of Columbia. So I hope that will happen. (Applause.)

But, you know, it has been my great honor on your behalf to travel to over 60 other countries. Senator Dole and I did an event the other night, and he said he was glad that the event could be scheduled on a night when I was visiting America. (Laughter.) And I took it pretty well, considering I was jet lagged. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny.

But I've been to all these other capitals. You know, I've been to Paris, I've been to London, I've been to Moscow. I've seen the billion-dollar restoration of the Kremlin, which is breathtaking, if any of you ever get a chance to see it. But there is no capital city in the world as beautiful as Washington. (Applause.) And there is no city now that is any more diverse.

Yes, we've still got a lot of these problems; but what Tony Williams did was to prove that the Mayor's Office was a job, a very important job, a job that required vision and leadership as well as management skills, but a job where arithmetic still counted, a job where it still mattered if you showed up for work and really worked hard, all day, every day. A job where it mattered if you treated everybody just the same, whatever their race or political affiliation, and because all of us love the District of Columbia, he enlisted in an overwhelming response by being extraordinarily good at doing what he'd be the first to tell you he simply should have done.

And now that we have the kind of leadership that he has given our city, I want to ask all of you, when I'm gone from here and I'm no longer a citizen of this city, it will always be a big part of my childhood, always be obviously the major part of my adult life and service, but we can make this city in every way the finest capital in the world, and a good place for all the children who live in it. And, ironically, in order to do one, we have to do the other.

We owe it to this man to help him, not just with contributions, but every day. No one could ask for more from a mayor than he is giving us. We have to be willing to give whatever he asks from us.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 7:45 P.M. EDT