THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Livonia, Michigan) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 21, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT MICHIGAN VICTORY 2000 RECEPTION Laurel Manor Livonia, Michigan
9:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. If Jennifer had just given me credit for the sun coming up in the morning, I would have been sure I was at a Republican rally. (Laughter.) I mean, look up here. I'm basically here as an affirmative action prop so the men wouldn't be too outnumbered. (Applause.)
I want to thank Jennifer Grandholm for her introduction, for her service, for holding the flag of the Democratic Party high in Michigan. (Applause.) And for her, there will be life after the Attorney General's office, I'll guarantee you that. (Applause.)
I want to thank Diane Byrum for running for Congress. You get a two-fer if she's elected. You'll have a great member of Congress, a great successor to Debbie Stabenow, and you'll help make John Conyers chairman of the Judiciary Committee. (Applause.) I want to thank Matt Frumin for running for Congress and for proving that Democrats can tie and wear bow ties. I've never been able to do that. (Applause.) See, look at Orsen Porter down there laughing -- he wears a bow tie every day, and I still can't do it and I'm 54. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Marty Robinson for running for the Supreme Court. She's out here somewhere. We thank her. (Applause.) I want to thank Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick for being a great representative and a great personal friend to me in these years that she has served. (Applause.)
And I don't know what to say about John Dingell. But when I was at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner the other night -- I mean about John Conyers -- I want to say something about John Dingell, but I'm going to save that. I want to tell you something about John Conyers. I was at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner the other night. And all these people got up and talked about how the Caucus always had their back, how good they were -- always. Even the ambassador from South Africa talked about -- when they gave an award to Nelson Mandela -- and she was passionate about how the Black Caucus was always there, always had their back. The Vice President got up and said the Caucus always had his back.
I got up and said, covered my back? When they came after me with a torch and lit the fire, John and the Black Caucus brought the buckets and poured water on it and I appreciate it. (Laughter and applause.)
I want to say something very serious about Debbie Stabenow. I was here at an event for her not so long ago -- or two events. It is, next to a certain race in New York, the Senate seat that I may feel the strongest about. (Laughter and applause.) Nobody in America now appreciates the importance of every single Senate seat as much as I do. They confirm judges. They can hold up bills. They can hold up judges -- including two from Michigan that should have been confirmed a long time ago. (Applause.) In the Senate, except for the budget, 41 senators, not a majority -- 41 -- can stop anything from happening. And I can't imagine a clearer choice, whether it's on a real patients' bill of rights or a real drug benefit for seniors through Medicare, or a real commitment to human rights and building one America, or a real commitment to an economic policy that continues to benefit average people.
What she said is true -- they've got more dollars. They should have, they earned them. (Laughter.) They earned them. You want to see them vote, follow the money. And there's nothing wrong with that. I believe in raising money. I think people ought to contribute. But forces that block positive change have to be opposed or they will prevail. (Applause.) And very rarely nowadays -- it's hard to find somebody to take on an incumbent Republican senator.
Now we have a man who was brave enough to do it in Minnesota, but he's independently wealthy. We have a wonderful woman who voted for my economic plan in 1993, lost her seat in the House, and is now ahead in running against the incumbent senator from Washington state. But she's independently wealthy. Debbie Stabenow is just independent. (Laughter and applause.)
But it's really true -- even if they do have more dollars, I can tell you for sure, I know her well, she does have more sense. (Laughter and applause.) I've watched this thing very closely. I know if one person goes off the air and the other dumps several million on the air, you can move the numbers, but they're not getting above 50 percent. She can win, and she will win if you will fight for her. And do not be discouraged. Do not give up; fight. This is worth fighting for. It's worth fighting for. (Applause.)
Now, I've got a little something substantive I want to say, but first I've got to say something about my young friend, Mr. McNamara. All the talk about Ireland and the trains and all that, this guy was there for me when only my mama thought I could be elected President. (Laughter and applause.) And this is his 74th birthday. (Applause.) So we're going to sing "Happy Birthday." Ready? One, two, three.
("Happy Birthday" is sung.) (Applause.)
MR. MCNAMARA: He is a much better President than he is a singer. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: You may be the only 74-year-old man in America with more than enough hot air to blow out those candles. (Laughter.) Go blow those candles out. And make a wish. (Applause.)
Now, I just want to say a couple of other things. First, on behalf of Al Gore and Tipper and Hillary and me -- (applause) -- I want to thank the people of Michigan, and the Democrats of Michigan. You heard in the introduction that no Democrat had carried this state since 1968. Michigan gave me a margin of eight points in 1992, and 13 points in 1996. (Applause.) And even before, on St. Patrick's Day, in 1992, the voters in the Democratic primary in Michigan and Illinois ensured that I would be the nominee of my party. I will never forget that, ever. (Applause.)
Michigan is a special place with special leaders. One of them who's not here tonight is John Dingell. I wanted to say that. I thank Debbie for being here, for carrying all of our water all these years and doing all this work. (Applause.) And I'm deeply indebted to a lot of people from Michigan -- Senator Riegle is here. And we worked two years together, and he was terrific. Jim Blanchard was great to me -- (applause.) But John Dingell is sort of a vanishing breed. He's just an old-style person who believes politics is an honorable profession, and who believes that there's no point in being in office unless you're going to get something done or stand against something you don't believe in. (Applause.)
And so what I want to say to you is you need to treat this election like you're going to get something done. And Michigan is really America -- yes, it's different than America, people make more cars here than anyplace else. But it's also an agricultural state; it's a small business state; it's a high-tech state. It's a place with worlds of -- very remote rural communities and big thriving cities. It is America.
And what I want to say to you is, for 47 days it will be the center of the conflict between the Democrats and the Republicans for the Senate and the House, and between Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney. And I was told on the way up here that the Republican nominee is coming here in a day or two and is going to stand in an automobile factory and blast Al Gore over the internal combustion engine. The only thing I want you to remember is when you voted for me, when they had the White House the last time, not very many people could afford to buy an internal combustion engine -- or fill it up. (Applause.)
We've had a real partnership with the people of Michigan. And I've worked when I could on a bipartisan basis. We've had a partnership that's helped to lower the welfare rolls, to lower the unemployment rates and lift the state up. We've also had a very important partnership with the UAW and the automobile industry to build the next generation vehicles. (Applause.)
Now, you all are following what's going on with the oil prices -- and I don't want to say much tonight, otherwise it will be a big story tomorrow and I'm going to have more to say about it later -- but the point I want to make is, one of the reasons we're doing better than we were the last time this happened is that the American people have become much more energy-efficient, our cars get better mileage, our homes are more energy-efficient, our factories are more energy-efficient.
And we know -- we know that the work being done now with high-tech companies, with the major auto companies and the UAW -- work that our administration has supported financially and otherwise to build a next generation vehicle that can get 70 or 80 miles a gallon, or use fuel cells or use electricity and gasoline, or use alternative fuels that don't pollute the atmosphere that we can make here from an unlimited supply of other things.
Let me just say, you know this whole business about ethanol and farm-based fuel products, right now the reason we don't have more of it is it takes about seven gallons of gasoline to produce about eight gallons of ethanol. But we are funding research, which is very close to making a breakthrough that is the equivalent of what happened when crude oil was broken down so that it could be refined into gasoline. And when that happens -- when that happens, you'll be able to make eight gallons of ethanol for about one gallon of gasoline, and the whole world will change. That is what Al Gore has been doing the last eight years. (Applause.)
And whatever they tell you in the next 47 days, I'm not running for anything, but I've got a record in Michigan -- if I were trying to cost you jobs, I've done a poor job of it. (Applause.) Now, if we develop new engines, new fuel cells, and new fuels, it will save the automobile industry in Michigan, not destroy it. It will be more prosperous than ever before. (Applause.)
And every single year I have had to fight the other party in Congress for funds for the Partnership for the Next Generation Vehicle, for funds to promote energy conservation, for funds to develop alternative sources of fuel to keep our automobile industry strong and our people able to afford to drive and our country more secure -- every single year.
So what we need is not to stick our heads in the ground and deny that there's a challenge; what we need is what we've had -- a genuine partnership that will save America's auto industry, create more jobs and lower our alliance on expensive and unreliable fuel. We can do that together if we do it. (Applause.)
Now, let me just say something else. In the last few weeks, since the convention, where I thought the Vice President and Senator Lieberman made great speeches and laid our program out for the American people -- (applause) -- our side has been doing pretty well. And their side has had a few problems. (Laughter.) But one of the things I've learned in life is that all those martial arts people -- you ever watch those martial arts, the judo and karate contests or the taekwondo contests? You know what they do before every match? They bow to their opponents. Why do they do that? Because they know that the surest sign of defeat is to disrespect your opponent, to underestimate your opponent, to have contempt for your opponent.
So I have said all along, why don't we just call a moratorium on personal abuse and attacks. Why don't we posit the fact that our adversaries are patriots and good people, they love their families. And why don't we thank them for abandoning, or at least appearing to abandon, the 20 years of negative politics that they have brought to this country's political life, and talk in a more inclusive way -- (applause) -- and thank them for that and say, okay, let's have an election on the differences.
And I can just tell you, I have worked hard to turn this economy around, but the best is out there. Believe me. As good as everything is, the best stuff is still out there. If you make the right decisions, we could bring jobs and economic opportunity to people and places that haven't felt it yet.
I was in Flint today to highlight the possibilities of the Internet to educate, empower and employ people from Michigan with disabilities. And it's stunning. (Applause.) I was able to talk in Flint -- because we had one of the machines there, this new laser technology that operates with the eyes -- about a friend of mine from North Carolina who has Lou Gehrig's disease, who can no longer move any part of his body. He can't speak and he can't move. And when we were friends and working together in the '80s, he was a strapping, healthy, charismatic, handsome, active, vital guy. But he's an even greater person now because of the courage with which he's proceeded. But because of new technology, he is about to publish a book he wrote on the computer with his eyes. (Applause.) Now, because of new technology he still can work at home and earn a living and doing business at the bank he used to run. (Applause.) Unbelievable.
So I'm telling you, the best of it is still out there. If you make the right decisions, in the next decade you can get rid of child poverty; you can give all working families access to affordable health insurance; we can take Social Security and Medicare out beyond the life of the baby boomers. We can get this country out of debt for the first time since 1835. (Applause.) We can generate more jobs in transportation, including automobiles, by developing cars that get 80 or 90 or more miles to the gallon. And we can clean up the environment and generate hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions more jobs. We can do all this stuff if you make the right decisions.
We've opened the doors of two years of college to all Americans. We can open the doors of four years of college to all Americans, if you make the right decisions. (Applause.)
Every time I see Debbie out here making this campaign, and I realize she could have just stayed in Congress and enjoyed her seat, rolled along, she knew what she was up against -- what I see are all the little children that will grow up with a better education, have access to college; all the older people that will have real medicine when they need it; a genuine patients' bill of rights so that the doctors, not the HMOs will be making your health care decisions; and an America with a stronger economy.
And when I see Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, I am telling you, they have a different economic policy. You cannot -- you cannot -- I don't care what they tell you these projected surpluses are, believe me, they're just projected. And because I was conservative with your money every year, every year, first the deficits were less than they were supposed to be, and then the surpluses were bigger. But, why? Because I didn't play like it was and I didn't play games with your money. (Applause.)
Now, they say we've got a $1.8 trillion, or $2.2 trillion, projected surplus. That sounds like a lot of money. What they don't tell you is that doesn't assume that government spending will grow with inflation and population, which it's done for 50 years -- whack $300 billion off. What they don't tell you is that those of you who are upper middle class people, if we don't continue to raise the earnings limit on the alternative minimum tax, you'll start paying taxes you've got no business paying just because you get a pay raise. So we fix that -- whack another $150 billion off.
What they don't tell you is that we don't have in there continuing the research and development tax credit, which we've got to do if you want to develop these new cars that get high mileage. (Applause.) Whack another $40 billion off. You get the idea. And then the money may not come in. And what about the emergencies that could come up along the way? We've had to give the farmers $6 billion, $8 billion, $10 billion every year for the last three years because farm prices have been so bad.
Now, so when they tell you, hey, what do we care, our tax cut is a trillion and a half dollars and we'll privatize Social Security for young people and guarantee everybody over 55 that they'll get their benefits, and when you transfer that it costs a trillion dollars more, because if you take money out of Social Security, but you leave everybody drawing out the same money, somebody has got to replace it, right -- they don't ever talk about that -- that's another trillion. Whack $2.3 trillion, $2.5 trillion, $2.8 trillion -- you're already back in deficits.
They don't ever say that. I'm telling you, that means higher interest rates. That means higher interest rates. Do you know what -- I got a study last week that said the difference in our candidate's economic plan and theirs, going back into deficit, into the Social Security trust fund, is 1 percent a year on interest rates. Do you know what that's worth to you? Listen to this: $390 billion in home mortgages, $30 billion in car payments and $15 billion in college loan payments over a decade.
In other words, if you do what Vice President Gore wants to do, in interest savings alone, you'll get the equivalent of a $425 billion tax cut that will go straight to the working families of the United States of America. (Applause.)
So we've got a different -- we have a different economic policy, a different energy policy, a different education policy. We want high standards, smaller classes, modern schools. We want schools to get more aid, but we want to turn around these schools or put them under new management, because we know we can turn schools around.
I was in a school in Harlem the other day, in New York. Two years ago, 80 percent of the kids -- 80 percent -- doing reading and math below grade level. Two years later, 74 percent doing reading and math at or above grade level -- in two years. We can turn these things around. (Applause.) And they didn't do it by taking limited public funds with the largest number of school children in history and siphoning it off into a voucher program. They did it with high standards and accountability. (Applause.)
If you want more choice for parents, pass a statewide school choice plan, have more public charter schools. But we don't have enough money in education now. We've got more kids than ever before. We've got all these facilities that are inadequate. We've got all these schools we still have to hook up to the Internet. We need more pre-school and after-school programs. And I'm telling you, the Gore plan is what we've been trying to build on. Just make the money accountable. Say, okay, we'll give you the money, but you've got to identify the failing schools and turn them around or put them under new management. You don't have to put up with schools that don't work. (Applause.) That's what the teachers want. That's what the good principals want. And that's the right thing to do. (Applause.)
We have a different human rights policy. We're for employment nondiscrimination; we're for a hate crimes bill. We're for one America. We have a different health care policy; we're for a real patients' bill of rights and a real Medicare drug program. (Applause.)
Now, if you want these things, and you want to achieve these big goals, you've got to make the right decision. What Debbie told you was right. Look, this is the first time in 26 years I haven't been on the ballot, and most days I'm okay about it. (Laughter.) I tell everybody, my party has a new leader, my family has a new candidate, my new official title is "cheerleader in chief." (Applause.)
But I have loved this job, and I have been honored to serve. (Applause.) But you have got to know something -- you've got to believe me on this. We spent a lot of time, John and Carolyn, and Debbie, and Don Riegle and everybody else that served with me in the Congress -- we spent a lot of time just trying to turn the ship of state around, and get it going back in the right direction, and get America coming together instead of being driven apart. And in my lifetime, there's never been this much prosperity, and promise, and progress. (Applause.)
Anybody that's lived to be 30 years of age or more will tell you, there's been at least one time in your life when you've made a mistake, not because times were tough, but because they were so good, you quit concentrating. (Laughter.) Sometimes it's harder to make a good decision when times are good than when they're bad. You get lulled along. You think there's no real consequence. You just sort of feel one day -- one way one day, and one way another day.
And you believe stuff like this tax stuff they're saying, based on the projected surplus. I told somebody the other day, this projected surplus tickles me. This is like those letters you get in the mail from Publisher's Clearinghouse. Did you ever get one? Ed McMahon wrote you a personal letter, and told you, you may have won $10 million. You may have. Did you go spend the money the next day? If you did, you should seriously consider voting for the Republicans. (Applause.)
But if you didn't -- if you didn't, you'd better stick with us. I'm dead serious. The best stuff is still out there. When Al Gore says, "You ain't seen nothing yet," that's not just a campaign statement. That's just not something that sounds good. That is the truth. But we have to make the right decision. You need this crowd behind you. You need them all. (Applause.)
Now, if you take this Senate race, down deep inside people in Michigan know that. Otherwise with all this money that has been spent against Debbie, the other fellow would be above 50 percent, and he's not there yet, not by a good stretch. (Applause.)
So I'm telling you, she can win, and she has to win. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have to win. But there are 47 days, and there will be a lot of twists and turns in this race before it's over. Respect our opponents. Say they're good people. Say we have honest differences. Tell people, even though times are good, the best is still out there. Clarify the differences. Give people the focus. Don't get tired. We'll have a great victory in November.
Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 9:50 P.M. EDT