THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (San Diego, California) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 22, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT RECEPTION FOR SUSAN DAVIS FOR CONGRESS
El Cortez Hotel San Diego, California
6:30 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I'm sorry Susan couldn't be here today, but I'm glad she's doing her job. (Laughter.) That's what Democrats do. (Applause.) And I feel really comfortable having Steve here, because we're both campaigning for positions in the Congressional Spouse's Club. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Congressman Bob Filner for that rousing speech, and for the wonderful service he gives to you, to California and to our nation every day in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Somewhere in this crowd we have two other Democratic candidates for Congress -- George Barraza and Craig Barkacs -- where are they? They're here somewhere. Give them a hand. There they are. (Applause.) On my way in, the First Lady of California, Sharon Davis, met me. I want to thank her for being here. (Applause.)
And I want to say to all of you -- thanks. (Applause.) I think all of you know the role that this state played in our campaign in '92 and in '96; the unbelievable vote we got here against all the odds in 1992, when I became the first Democrat since Harry Truman to carry San Diego, and I thank you. (Applause.)
I just want to say one or two words. You know, I can speak with a certain freedom about this election because it's the first time in 26 years I haven't been on the ballot. (Laughter.) Most days, I'm okay about it. (Laughter.) I know it's hot in here, and I want to get out and shake hands and all that, but I want you to just listen for a minute. Somebody might ask you why you came here and I want you to be able to give a good answer.
Now, we have worked hard to turn this country around. (Applause.) And where I could -- where I could in good faith, I have worked with the Republicans. But they opposed our economic policy and said it would bankrupt the country. Instead, it gave us the longest economic expansion and the biggest surpluses in our history. (Applause.) They opposed our social policies. They were against the Family and Medical Leave law -- they said it would hurt the economy. Instead, we've had over 20 million people take advantage of it when a baby was born or a parent was sick. And we've got over 22 million new jobs. (Applause.)
Basically, they oppose us on the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban, putting 100,000 police on the street, putting 50,000 more on the street -- they said it wouldn't put a dent in crime. Instead, it gave us the lowest crime rate in 25 years and a 35 percent drop in crime. (Applause.)
They kept trying to put these riders to weaken our environmental protection on all the bills that I passed, ever since 1995. They opposed it when I tried to set aside national monuments, when I set aside over 40 million acres for roadless areas in the national forests. (Applause.) They said all of our efforts to have cleaner air, cleaner water were going to hurt the economy. Instead, we've got the strongest economy and the cleanest environment in history. (Applause.)
Now, what's the point of all this? We have had a contest of ideas. And that's what you have to remind the voters of this November, the people who aren't here, the people who don't follow this so closely -- but the people who love our country and love this state and want to do right by America when they go into the voting booth. We have had a contest of ideas: ours have been tested in the crucible of experience -- and, guess what? They worked. They worked. (Applause.)
I recommend you go out all across this community and to your friends all across the state and throughout the nation and say the following: Number one, this is a really important election. (Applause.) It is just as important as the election of 1992 or the election of 1996. And the danger is that people may not understand it. In '92, California was hurting; the economy was hurting; the open wounds of society were laid bare. We knew what the election was about. We knew we had to change. In 1996, the election was clear: were you going to ratify what we were doing or reject it and build our bridge to the 21st century.
What is the election of 2000 about? It is about what do we propose to do with our prosperity, with our surplus, with our good fortune, with our social progress, with our confidence. That's what it's about. (Applause.) I believe with all my heart, if the American people believe that's what this election about, we'll win. I believe Al Gore will win. I believe Susan Davis will win. I believe Hillary Clinton will win. I believe -- (applause.)
Here's the good news. You don't have to go out and say anything bad. All you've got to do is tell the truth about the differences. I'm sick and tired of elections. For 20 years, I have watched elections -- mostly driven by the far right in this country -- where, in the end, people were so angry and upset with each other, both sides were essentially trying to convince the voters that their opponents were just one notch above a car thief. (Laughter.)
Now, you don't have to do it, and you shouldn't. What you ought to say, number one, this is a big election; we've got the chance to build the future of our dreams for our children. Number two, there are real differences and they are profound, and you should assume that people on both sides are honorable and they will continue to do what they have done and they will do exactly what they say they will do. And, number three, only the Democrats want you to know what the real differences are in this election. (Applause.)
You watch -- I tell you, I love watching these Republicans now, butter wouldn't melt in their mouth. (Laughter and applause.) They want you to forget all about the fact that they even had a presidential primary campaign. And they certainly want you to forget the commitments they made in their primary campaign. And you watch a lot of them voting this year -- they want you to forget all about how they voted from 1995 until they figured out where the voters were. And they figured they could just get by this election and they could go back to being the way it was.
Now, look, there are real differences. On economic policy, they want to take all this marvelous projected -- the operative word is projected -- surplus and spend it on their plan for a tax cut, $1.3 trillion to $1.5 trillion; on their plan to partially privatize Social Security, which would cost about $800 billion. They want to spend more for their missile defense system and their other defense ideas, and for their school voucher program.
In other words, they want to spend it all now because they know it's going to materialize. Now, I ought to say that it will because it's self-serving for me. We turned this deficit around and we got a projected huge surplus. But I say again, it is projected.
Now, what Al Gore and the Democrats want to do is to, first of all, say it's projected, we don't have this money yet. How in the world can we give it all away before we've got it. Let's save 20 percent on the front end by taking all the taxes you pay for Medicare and putting it over here so it can't be spent on anything else, and keep paying down the debt. (Applause.)
Let's give the people a tax cut, but one they really need to help educate our children, send them to college, pay for child care, pay for long-term care for the elderly, pay to give people incentives to invest in the poor areas that have been left behind. But let's make sure it's something we can afford, even if what is projected doesn't materialize. (Applause.) And let's save some back to invest in the education of our children and cleaning up the environment and extending health care coverage to people who need it. (Applause.)
Now, folks, this is a huge deal. Do you want the main benefits of this surplus we worked so hard for to go to just a few, and do you want to risk the fact that we'll be back in deficits before you know it? Or do you want to keep paying the national debt down and investing in the future of our children and our families? (Applause.)
You know, now that I've just got about seven months to go, all these people come up to me all the time and say, what was the secret of your economic policy? What did you bring back to Washington? What new idea did you introduce? And I give them a one-word answer -- arithmetic. (Applause.) We tried their way for 12 years; we tried it our way for 8 years. Does anybody seriously doubt which way works best? Let's don't go back to that old way. Let's go forward. (Applause.)
Now, what about building one America? We're for a minimum wage increase; they're not. Only now they feel bad about it when they're not. (Laughter.) We're for a patients' bill of rights -- (applause) -- and they're not, only now they act like they feel bad about it when they're not. (Laughter.) We're for a Medicare voluntary prescription drug program so that all of our seniors have access to prescription drugs. (Applause.) They're not, only now they have posters to tell them what words they're supposed to say so you'll think they're for it. (Laughter.)
Now, I'm not the most partisan person we ever had in the White House. I like working with Republicans. I will work with Republicans every day until I leave if they'll work with me. But I'm not going to paper over the differences, and you shouldn't either. There are real differences here -- on economic policy, on Medicare and prescription drugs, on the patients' bill of rights, on the minimum wage, on whether we're going to protect the environment or weaken our environmental protections, on whether the next Supreme Court will protect a right to choose or get rid of it. (Applause.)
So I'm here for Susan Davis because I think she's on the right side of those issues, and because she has worked hard at a public job and represented you well. And she's doing her duty today, which is what she ought to be doing. And that's what we need more of in this country. (Applause.)
And I'm here for Al Gore because I know he will have an economic policy that will keep the prosperity going. (Applause.) You ought to ask -- I just want you to ask your friends in California and throughout the country if they really want to go back to that economic policy, or wouldn't they like to build on what we've done and go forward. That's the first thing.
Second thing, I'm for him because I know he will try to extend the benefits of this prosperity to the families of people in the places that have been left behind, which is a passion of mine. If we can't take economic opportunity to the poor neighborhoods, the poor people, and the poor places that have been left behind now; if we can't close the digital divide; if we can't raise educational opportunity -- if we can't do this now, when will we ever get around to it? Now is not the time to change our commitment to spreading the benefits of this new economy. (Applause.)
And the final thing -- the third reason I'm for him is that he understands the future. And we need somebody in office who understands the future. There will be all kinds of new issues. The children in this audience will spend the next 30 years worrying about global warming if we don't take action now. And Al Gore was the first public figure in American life to understand that. When everybody else was saying it was some sort of conspiracy to undermine the American economy, he said, no, the climate is getting warmer and it's going to wreck a lot of what we do and a lot of how we live, and we can still grow our economy and improve our environment. (Applause.)
When we rewrote the telecommunications law in a way that created hundreds of thousands of jobs, all the big monopolists moved in on Congress, and Al Gore said, no, we're going to have competition here; we're going to let small entrepreneurs and little guys get in here and take advantage of this technological revolution. And we're going to have the e-rate so that every school and every library can afford to log onto the Internet, and none of our kids will be left behind. (Applause.)
All of our health records and all of our financial records are on somebody's computer somewhere, and a lot of big economic interests want to get their hands on it -- for obviously reasons. Al Gore is up there in Washington saying, no, Americans should have the right to privacy, and unless they say you can have their information, you shouldn't get their health or their financial information. (Applause.)
So I want you to take that message out of here. I want you to work for Susan Davis, not just when the President comes to town, but every day between now and November. (Applause.) I want you to work for Al Gore and the other Democrats. I want you to remind the people of California what it was like in 1992 and what it's like today. And I want you to say, look, we need somebody who will keep the prosperity going, who will spread it to more families and people who have been left behind and who understands the future.
And, remember, it's a big election, there are real differences and only the Democrats want you to know what they are.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 6:46 P.M. PDT