View Header

THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
                       (Los Angeles, California)
________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                 September 24, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                                   AT
             BRUNCH RECEPTION FOR CONGRESSWOMAN LOIS CAPPS

                           Private Residence
                           Pacific Palisades
                        Los Angeles, California

11:36 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

A PARTICIPANT: Four more years. Four more years. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: In your dreams. (Laughter.)

The amazing thing is that Susan and Ted should be surprised that I would want to come to their back yard. I would be happy to come next Sunday, too. (Laughter.) Is this a gorgeous place or what? I mean, amazing. (Applause.)

I want to thank you both for having us here and supporting one of the finest people I've ever known in public life. And I know when you have a family and your Sundays are precious, and I thank you for giving us this time and making it possible for all of us to come.

I want to thank all of you for being here. I thank Representatives Becerra and Sherman for coming to support Lois and I thank Senator O'Connell and Kathleen Connell for being here. And mostly I just want to thank all of you for being here.

I want to say just a few words about Representative Capps. I got a little choked up when she started talking about my relationship with her family. I loved her husband very much. He was a special man and we had a great rally in '96 in Santa Barbara and have worked -- (applause) -- there were 15,000 or 20,000 people there with the sun out and the ocean glistening, you know. And I thought we all were just going to levitate off the side of the world. (Laughter.) If I had done that, it would have been the subject of another investigation. (Laughter and applause.)

How did he do that? What was behind that? What mysterious foreign entity financed that levitation? (Laughter.)

And Laura, who is standing back there, did work in the White House for many years, and she worked right behind my office, so I saw her several times a day, and she was one of the true, good souls in the White House. She kept everybody in a good frame of mind, and you couldn't act small around her. Not only because she's physically big, but because she's big inside, just like her mother.

So, I'm honored to be here. But I also want to emphasize what Lois said. Now, I have worked harder in this election, I think, than any other one I've ever been in, although it's the first time in 26 years I haven't been on the ballot. (Laughter.) This is something like the 140th campaign event I've done this year. And I've done these things for individual House members and senators, and for a Senate and House committee, and for the National Democratic Committee, which basically benefits directly Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. And of course, I've made a little extra effort in New York -- (laughter) -- where I have more than a passing interest in the outcome of the race. (Laughter and applause.)

The new joke around the White House is that, now that my party has a new leader and my family has a new candidate, my title should be changed to Cheerleader-In-Chief, and I'm quite happy with that. But I want you to know, first of all, I hope you remember what Susan said about this election.

I've worked as hard as I could; and Lord knows, the people of California have been good to me -- from the June '92 primary to the general election in '92, to the overwhelming mandate I got here in '96. And we've worked very hard to turn this country around and to beat back the reaction to what we were trying to do that was manifest in the Gingrich revolution and the Republicans taking over the Congress and many of the extremist things that have been done over the last five or six years.

And we've had a great deal of success in actually getting affirmative things done; because, as you're about to see, when the Congress gets ready to go home, if the Democrats stick with me even though we're in the minority, we get a lot of what we want, otherwise nobody gets to go home. (Laughter.)

So we work all year long just to sort of keep our heads above water waiting for the last three weeks, and then we all sit there like calm Buddhas -- (laughter) -- waiting for the results to come in. So watch it and see if we can pull it off one more time.

But now, the American people really do have to decide. I mean, they really have to decide whether you think they're right or we are. There will be an effort at bipartisan cooperation no matter what happens in this election. Because if we win the majority, it won't be so big that we won't have to work with them. We might even win the Senate back; but if we do, it will just be by a seat or so.

I do believe that the Vice President and Joe Lieberman will be elected, and they should be, because they have a better plan and they've got a better record and they've -- (applause.)

But you have to understand, I know better than anybody alive now the enormous consequences of every single seat in the House and every single seat in the Senate. And I cannot even begin to tell you, especially for the House, what a difference it makes to be in the majority. Because I can give you example after example, over the last five years, when we had enough Republican votes, voting with our side, to do things. And because of the way the rules work in the House of Representatives, we couldn't even get a vote on a measure, just because we weren't in the majority.

I could give you example after example where, because we weren't in the majority on these committees, amendments were put into bills weakening the environment, or undermining the public health or the long-term public interests of America; where we couldn't get them out because, by the time they actually got to the floor they were in some big defense bill or some big other bill that Lois and everybody else had to vote for because you can never explain to people at home why are you voting against education or against health care or against defense. And because we weren't in the majority on these committees, all that underbrush was in there.

And this is really important, and the American people now have to decide. Because we actually have a chance, because of our economic prosperity and because crime is down, welfare is down, teen pregnancy is at a recorded low, every social indicator, virtually, is going in the right direction. We have a chance to build the future of our dreams for our kids. We can have a health care system that really serves everybody, in the ways that Lois said -- with a patients' bill of rights, and the Medicare drug issue for the seniors. But, also, we can do a lot more for people that don't have health insurance, to make it affordable for them to buy it -- there are still over 40 million Americans that don't have it.

We can actually provide a world-class education for all of our kids. I've been working in education for all of our kids. It's not like -- I've been working in education for 20 years and a lot of the teachers here will tell you that there have been 20 years of hard work of trying to figure out how do you deal with a more and more diverse student body from more and more different and often very difficult home backgrounds and get a world-class education out there.

And we had a lot of ideas for a long time, but we now have lots of research that shows us how to do it. I was in a school in Harlem in New York City the other day that two years ago -- listen to this -- two years ago -- 80 percent of the children in this school were doing reading and math below grade level. Two years ago -- a failing school by any standard.

Today, two years later, with a new principal, a school uniform policy, the smallest class size policy, a strong -- you know, very high standards and accountability, two years they went from an 80 percent failure rate to 74 percent of the kids doing reading and math at or above grade level, in two years. (Applause.)

Now, that can be done everywhere. But you've got school after school after school where the kids are piled up in house trailers out behind the buildings, you've got school after school after school in our cities where the average school building in many of our cities is 65 years old. New York City is still heating schools with coal-fired furnaces from the late 19th century, where they can't hook the schools up -- the classrooms up to the Internet because the buildings won't take the wiring.

So we can do this. But we have to make a decision that we're going to make education a priority. We have to make a decision that we're going to make our health care a priority.

We have clearly proved that you can grow the economy and improve the environment. And yet, there are explicit commitments in this campaign from the other side to roll back the environmental advances of our administration. They say we're hurting the economy so they want to relax the air rules, relax the water rules, repeal my order setting aside 43 million roadless acres in the National Forests. Review all the national monuments I set aside. They probably oppose what I'm going to do to protect the lands of the Big Sur today when I leave here.

And you have to decide; because if we win 12 seats in the House of Representatives, they can't to it. Simple as that. There are vast consequences here; education, health care, the environment, crime policy. Crime's gone down seven years in a row. It will be eight years this year. Longest drop we've ever had. Lowest crime rate in 27 years, gun violence down 35 percent. Now, they have said that, notwithstanding the evidence, our approach is wrong. (Laughter.)

Don't bother me with the facts; we don't like what you're doing. So, you have to decide, if you want more sensible things -- to keep guns out of the hands of kids and criminals, and you want more community police on the street. Most people think this is just about the minor little combat I've had over the last several years with the NRA. That's not true. They've also promised to repeal our bill that first put 100,000 police on the street, and have now put another 50,000 people. They say that's not the business of the federal government.

All I know is, these cities couldn't afford the cops, and since we put them on the street, they prevented crime from happening, and kept more people out of trouble in the first place, and this is a safer country, and you have to be safe to be truly free. So there's a huge difference here. You have to decide. We can get this country out of debt in 12 years, unless we give away too much in a tax cut, we spend another trillion dollars to partially privatize Social Security. Don't forget that in this debate.

Whatever the tax cut number is, when you hear them debate, whatever the Republicans say their tax number is, it's a little bigger than they say. But you have to add a trillion dollars on top of that. Why? Because if we partially privatize Social Security and half the young people in this audience, let's say, under 50 -- that's young to me -- (laughter) -- if you're really young, you will learn, the older you get, young is somebody who is a day younger than you are. (Laughter.)

And half the people take their 2 percent payroll and put it in some sort of mutual fund. Most of you do better. Not all of you would, and then someday, we'd have to come around and pick up the pieces of the people that didn't. But they promise to give everybody the benefits they've got already under the present system if you're 55 or over. So if you take a lot of money out of the system, but you still have the same payment commitments -- right -- you've got to put the money right back in from somewhere else.

It's a trillion dollars over a decade. Plus, their tax cut -- if you do that, forget it, the country is not getting out of debt, interest rates will be about a percent higher every year for a decade. Under the Democratic plan, championed by Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, if you have interest rates one point lower over a decade, do you know what that's worth to you? Compare this to the tax cut promises they make. If you keep interest rates one point lower, $390 billion in lower home mortgage payments; $30 billion in lower car payments; $15 billion in lower college loan payments. Or, if my math is right, that's about a $435-billion tax cut in lower interest rates by continuing to pay down the national debt.

It's interesting. I never thought I'd live to see the day that the Progressive Party in our nation's capital was the more fiscally prudent one, because that's progressive politics -- to give people -- everybody benefits from lower interest rates. And I haven't even said how much money you'd save in business loans and how much it would do for the markets and all of that. So you have to understand there are huge consequences.

I've done everything I could do to leave this country in good shape. But when Al Gore stands up and says, "You ain't seen nothin' yet," that is not just a campaign slogan. I'm not on the ballot and I believe that. I believe that. (Applause.)

And look, why do I believe that? Because we've turned the thing around. It takes a long time to turn a country around. It's like a big ocean liner and you have to work at it steadily all the time. Why did the Titanic hit the iceberg? Because they couldn't turn around in a split second; they did see it coming.

So we took our time. We got this thing turned around. It's going in the right direction. But all of the great stuff is still out there.

I was just playing with Lois' grandson. You know, there are young people in this audience who will have babies over the next decade that sometime in the next 10 years, they will come home with babies that will have a life expectancy of 90 years. Because of the Human Genome Project. We will be able to predict for infants with their gene maps whether they are likely to develop certain kinds of cancers or other kinds of maladies and we will then shortly know what kinds of things can be done to minimize -- you can't eliminate risk or make people live forever; we will be able to dramatically minimize -- the health hazards that are predictable in our genes from birth. And when that happens, it will have the biggest boost in life expectancy we've ever seen.

That's the good news. But what are the rest of you going to do with all of us old codgers running around here in 30 years? (Laughter.) We're going to have to totally rethink what old age is. We're going to have to -- you know, we made a big step on it this year when the Congress voted to repeal the earnings limit on Social Security. We have to rethink this.

And we're going to have to totally rethink the nature of our obligations to our children. And we're going to have to get all this information out there and take advantage of it and still protect your privacy rights. Because I don't think anybody ought to get your health records if you don't say yes. (Applause.) I think that's important.

So I think it would be a good thing to have somebody who was a highly intelligent nurse who knows about education, who understands these issues in the Congress. Quite apart from California and her particular district and everything else. And I think you have to really think about this. I mean, I know I'm preaching to the saved today. You wonder why am I going on, because you already are for her, right? (Laughter.)

Here's why: Because this is a very tough, competitive district. We already went through one fight together in order to hold on to her seat. And most of the people who vote on election day have never been to one of these events. They've never given any money to a Republican, they've never given any money to a Democrat. They've never been to a campaign rally. Maybe they see a few TV ads. Nobody ever comes up to them personally and says, you know, I know Lois Capps, and I'd like to ask you to vote for her, and her's why, one, two, three. Believe it or not, that does not happen to most people.

And so, I thank you for your money -- (laughter) -- but if you live in her district, I hope you'll take some time between now and the election to tell people, this is a huge election. In some ways, this is a more important election than '92 was. It certainly is one that requires more thinking. In '92, California was in trouble, the country was in trouble. You took a chance on me, but as I was always say, hey, it wasn't that much of a chance, because we were in a ditch, right. We had to do something different. (Laughter.)

Now -- now people have to actually make a decision. What are we going to do with all this good fortune? And are we going to be disciplined, and thoughtful, and think about how our children are going to be living 20 years from now, and do these big good things, or are we just sort of -- kind of wander through and pretend like it doesn't matter.

I'm telling you, I'm not running for anything. I will not be in office. All I want to do is to give the best gift I can to my country. We cannot squander this. In my lifetime, we have never had a chance like this, to build the future of our dreams for our children, and what you need is people who are voting on election day, who understand that they have to go in there, and that every vote counts.

If they call this presidential election on the east coast, an hour and a half before the California polls close, whether you talk to somebody to tell them it was important to go vote for Lois might turn the tide in these Congress races and whether people think it matters for them to go vote. So I just implore you, if you cared enough to come here and contribute today, care enough to take every opportunity you can between now and election day to tell people about her, about the issues between the two parties, about the presidential race, talk to people about it. Make them think it's important.

I think it's finally beginning to sink in on people that they've got some big decisions to make. I saw yesterday that more people have followed the presidential election than the Olympics. That is good for the health of America. But you need to participate in that.

And I'm telling you, I've been in this business for a long time. I basically like most of the people I've known in public life, including most of the Republicans I've known -- most of them I like better than they like me. (Laughter.)

But I've never known a better human being than this woman, ever. And I want you to help her. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 11:55 A.M. PDT