THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SHAHEEN RECEPTION Theater One Visions Theater Washington, D.C.
9:15 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. First thing I would like to say is that back when we were taking pictures, a number of you commented on my dress. I'm here to take your drink order before the movie begins. (Laughter.)
Actually, this is a terrific theater. And I would like to thank the owners who are here, our hosts are here tonight, and I think we should give them a big hand. This is a beautiful place. (Applause.) A project, I might add, financed by the Small Business Administration loan. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend, Parris Glendening for being here. We've had a wonderful partnership with Maryland. You know, they're kind of right next door to D.C. here. We do a lot of things with Governor Glendening. He's done a fabulous job. He's a very generous person. He's spent a lot of his time this year trying to raise money to create other democratic governorships and help the ones that we have get reelected, and I'm grateful.
I really wanted to come here tonight. First, I have known Jeanne Shaheen a long time; a long time before I was President, a long time before she was Governor. I went to New Hampshire the first time when Hugh Gallen was governor; that was when I didn't have any gray hair. (Laughter.)
And I went once to campaign for a man named Paul McEachern who is a very good man who didn't win. But I was glad to be there. Jeanne and I had a long talk then. I used to read about her all the time in the articles about what an important political operative she was, and if you wanted to run for president and you went to New Hampshire, you had to have her for you. And it's not easy -- I can say this -- I worked in politics from the time I was a teenager, it's not easy to make the transition from being somebody that helps someone else, to being a candidate in your own right, particularly in a very difficult environment.
So, I'm here because I really believe that I know her much better than most presidents know most governors. And everything she said about her record, everything she said about the difference between herself and her opponent, that's all true.
It's also true that she's had a lot of difficult challenges, one of which I'll say more about in a moment, that I think she's tried to meet in a forthright way, keeping her commitments to the voters, trying to do what's best for the people of New Hampshire, and not running away from decisions that are bound to make everybody a little bit unhappy just because they break so many eggs. And I admire her.
And I think that people who are strong leaders who do what needs to be done should be rewarded at election time and kept in office. So that's one reason I'm here. The second reason I'm here is there is nobody in America, no living public figure, who owes more to the State of New Hampshire or loves it more than I do. (Applause.)
Hillary and I were laughing the other night about how quickly these eight years have gone by, how busy they were, how jam-packed they were, how full of pressure they were, how embarrassing it is that I can't remember some things that I'm supposed to be able to remember; or, I remember some things we did and I can't remember the year in which we did it. I used to pride myself on having a flawless memory. But I remember everything about New Hampshire in 1992. (Laughter.)
And a lot of you here helped me. And the people of New Hampshire, even the ones that didn't vote for me -- even the Republicans helped me -- because I spent a lot of time just going around talking to people and listening to them, and hearing the rhythm of their dreams and hopes and frustrations and seeing the personal manifestation of the difficulties our countries faced back then.
And I think it would be good for them if Governor Shaheen was reelected. And I'm doing what I think is right by people who have done right by me, twice. I never thought a Democrat could win New Hampshire once, much less twice, for President. (Laughter.) And I hope we'll make it three in a row this time. (Applause.)
But here is the third thing I would like to say, and I hope it causes no difficulty for the Governor, I don't think it will. But the most difficult problem she's had to face that can't make anybody happy is how to finance the schools. But what I would like the people of New Hampshire to know is, that today, there are 36 states, 36 of our 50 states are in court today -- not just one or two or three, 36 -- trying to work out the agonizing conflicts between everyone's desire to have taxes as low as possible, everybody else's desire to maintain maximum local control, and figuring out how to equalize school funding so that all kids have a chance to get a good education at an adequate level of funding.
And what I would like you to know is there are no perfect answers. There is no perfect answer. But I have fought -- one of the big reasons I have fought so hard -- and we nearly doubled federal funding for education and training while we were getting rid of the deficit and going from a $290-billion deficit to a $211-billion surplus -- we have nearly doubled funding for education and training since I've been here.
And I know that some people in New Hampshire, because they believe in local control and want it all local taxes, even in those state taxes, they turned down these Goals 2000 money. Do you know what Goals 2000 required states to do? Here is the strings we attached: We said, if you take this money, you have to set standards to reach the national education goals and figure out how you're going to reach them. That's it.
The truth is that Under Secretary Riley, himself a former governor, we have actually cut the rules and regulations imposed on local school districts in states for the Department of Education by two-thirds over what they were in the previous Republican administration -- a little-known fact. I would appreciate it if my friends from New Hampshire would not keep that a secret in the coming election.
But what we did do is say, hey, we want to give you more money and we want you to figure out how to spend it, but you have to spend it in a way that is designed to get results. Now, that's the only string we imposed, which is why the Governor was right and her adversary was wrong on whether they should take Goals 2000 money.
New Hampshire needs all the federal money we can get to New Hampshire. Because there are a lot of people in New Hampshire that don't have a lot of money. There are a lot of school districts in New Hampshire that don't have a lot of property wealth. And whatever the right decision is for New Hampshire and how to resolve all these difficult questions, the national government should make education a national priority, should recognize that even though we have more schoolchildren in school than ever before, in most states, a smaller percentage of the property owners have kids in the schools.
So you have these blinding cross-currents of politics. And in New Hampshire, anything that has the word "tax" in it is more explosive than in most places, as all of you know. But what you need to understand is that she needs our support, because she's supported improvements in education, and because there is no perfect answer to how the schools can fairly and adequately be financed.
And one of the things that we ought to do, and one of the reasons Al Gore ought to be elected president, one of the reasons the people of New Hampshire ought to vote for him and Joe Lieberman and make it three in a row for our side -- (applause) -- maybe has never happened, is that we are committed to doing this.
You know, the 100,000 teacher program allows states that are growing rapidly and don't have a lot of money to have smaller classes in the early grades. We know it gets results. The school financing program allows states who have to do new building or major repairs to do it and keep their property taxes lower than they otherwise would be.
So it is true that under our administration, we have set more rigorous standards and we've been more results-oriented for spending federal money. That's true, I plead guilty. But it's also true that we've tried to say less to the states about how they had to do it.
We have cleared out a lot of the underbrush of micromanagement that was there before we showed up. And by doubling the amount of education and training funds, we have tried to at least make the solutions that have to be found by the Governor and the New Hampshire Legislature and the people of New Hampshire and people like that all over the country.
There are 36 states in court, but over 40 could be easily. So I would hope that our friends from New Hampshire would go back and tell the voters that, that we're out here trying to help you. Whatever solution you resolve, the burden on the people of New Hampshire will be lower if our policies prevail; and on every single decision that she mentioned, she was on the right side -- from the Martin Luther King holiday, to participating in Goals 2000, to taking our School To Work funds, and all these other education initiatives.
There isn't anything more important than figuring out how to do this, because if you look at the growth of the New Hampshire economy, they've almost got negative unemployment up there now. But what that means is that the education premium is even bigger than it was before.
I'm here because I admire her, because I support her, because I love New Hampshire. And I'll never repay my debt to the people there. And because I understand them, even when they're being ornery. (Laughter.) And I know that they're stern taskmasters at election time. But she has worked hard, she's worked effectively with us, and if for no other reason than New Hampshire ranks first in the participation of children in the Child Health Insurance Program, she's earned reelection.
That's the last thing I want to tell you. We appropriated funds at the Balanced Budget Act in 1997, the biggest expansion of child health care since Medicaid was passed in 1965. We appropriated funds for 5 million children from low-income working families to get health insurance -- children that desperately needed it, but their parents earned just a little too much money to get them into the Medicaid program -- 5 million.
Today, three years later, we have only enrolled a little over 2 million. Why? And Parris has done well, too. But the reason is that not every state has done that well. So there are children all over America tonight who are sick, who need to see doctors, who need to have check-ups, who need to have everything that's covered in these programs who don't get it. But they get it in New Hampshire because she's been a good Governor.
So I want you to go home, those of you from New Hampshire, and redouble your effort. I did say to Jeanne, for those of you who gave money tonight, in New Hampshire, $75,000 is still real money. That's a lot of television ads on the Manchester TV station. And if you can do anything to help her, I hope you will.
I think that this election, because of what she represents and because of her opponent and the clear ideological divide, represents one of the seminal contests in our country this year. But the most important thing is that the people that live in New Hampshire need, deserve, and ought to have her leadership for another term.
I'm glad we're here tonight. And if you can do anything between now and November to help her, I hope you will do that, too. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 9:35 P.M. EDT