THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES RANGEL NATIONAL LEADERSHIP PAC RECEPTION Supper Club New York, New York
8:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for the standing ovation. (Laughter.) Thank you for being here to --
THE AUDIENCE: New York loves you!
THE PRESIDENT: You guys calm down -- this is a rowdy crowd here. (Applause.) Look, I'm not as young as I used to be, I don't know if I can quiet this crowd, I'm tired. Go easy on me tonight, it's almost the end of the week. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Charles Rangel for giving me a chance to be here tonight with Alma and Alicia. (Applause.) I want to thank the other members of Congress who are here. I've got them somewhere. (Laughter.) Congressmen Crowley, Nadler and Lowey of New York are all here. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)
I want to thank the New York Democratic Chair, Judith Hope is here. (Applause.) I want to thank Jane Rosenthal for being our host and for gathering up all of you tonight. (Applause.)
I have a lot of friends here. I want to say a special word of appreciation to one person who is, or just was, in the audience -- Chevy Chase, who was with me when I was nominated for President, when I won the California primary in June of '92, and I was running third in the polls and no one wanted to come to my victory party and Chevy Chase showed up. So thanks for being here again tonight. (Applause.)
I want to thank Ron Silver for being here and for being my friend and for representing the entertainers of this country so well. And I want to say a special word of thanks to Kevin Spacey. You know, getting to be friends with Kevin has been one of the best perks of being President. (Laughter.) Franklin Roosevelt used to say that the President had to be America's best actor. Well, I'm the second-best actor in America, Kevin Spacey is the best actor in America and I'm glad to be here with him. (Applause.)
Now, look, why are we here? Why are we here? I mean, Charlie Rangel couldn't get beat. If he expired before the election -- which he's not about to do -- he's been waiting a long time to be Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and after November 7th, he will be. (Applause.)
I just want to say one thing to you seriously. For whatever success we have had these last eight years -- whether it was in turning the country around or in giving poor people more opportunity in the empowerment zones or providing more affordable housing for people who desperately need it or reaching out to Africa the first time the American government ever had a serious outreach to our friends in Africa or fighting against cuts in education and fighting to improve it -- none of it would have been possible for me to do if it hadn't been for Charles Rangel, and I'm very, very grateful to him. (Applause.)
Don't you think Al Gore did a good job in the debate? (Applause.) I do, too. And Hillary was no slouch in her debate. (Applause.) You know, this is an interesting time for me. My party has a new leader, my house has a new candidate -- (laughter) -- it's the first time in 26 years I haven't been on the ballot, and most days I'm just fine about it. (Laughter.) I'm having a good time getting out here campaigning for everybody else.
For those of you from New York who have been helping my wife, I want to thank you. She will be a magnificent senator; she will do you proud and you'll be glad. (Applause.)
I just want to say one thing quite seriously, though, because I know that the Democratic ticket is well ahead in New York. But a lot of you have friends all across this country. And a lot of you have friends that you see at work, that you see when you go out, that you see with your kids, who will never come to an event like this; but they will vote. Because they want to feel that they're good citizens, so they'll show up and vote. But they never come to anything like this.
And I was wondering, what were these folks thinking when they were watching the debate? What did they get out of it and what did they not get out of it? I wondered what they were thinking in '92, right before they gave me and Al Gore a chance to change the country. You know, they were told that, after all, I was just the governor of a small, southern state. Remember when President Bush used to say that? (Laughter.) And I was so naive, I thought it was a compliment. (Laughter.) And I still do.
They said, this guy is only 46 years old, he doesn't look that old -- you took care of that. (Laughter.) The Republicans say, he's terrible, why should I take a chance on this guy. But I mean, come on, it wasn't that big a chance -- the country was in the ditch, we had to turn it around.
But now things are good, and we have to decide what to do with good times. And anybody in this audience who's over 30 years old can remember at least once in your life when you made a doozy of a mistake -- not because times were so bad, but because they were so good you thought you did not have to concentrate. Isn't that right? Everybody over 30 has made a mistake like that. (Applause.)
So what I want to ask you to do -- I thank you for your money; Charlie thanks you for your money; Jane thanks you for making her look good; Kevin and I thank you because we hate to play to an empty house. (Laughter.) We're all real happy. But what are you going to do between now and election? You need to take this seriously. If somebody asks you tomorrow morning, if somebody called you on the phone from a state that's really tight -- if somebody called you from Michigan, Ohio, tomorrow and you said, what're you doing? And you said, I went to this deal last night with the President and Kevin Spacey and Charlie Rangel and we had a pretty good time. And they said, why? What would your answer be?
I'm telling you, we're still around here as a country after over 225 years because -- or 224 years, even I can still add -- (laughter) -- because most of the time the American people get it right if they have enough information and enough time. So having a clear idea in the minds of every voter, an accurate idea of what the choices are in this election is very important. We have profound differences.
I went today over to Princeton University, where they're having this big conference on the last progressive era, when Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson re-made America for the Industrial Age; when New York City was full of factories and full of the first great wave of immigrants. And they basically preserved America by changing it.
That's what we're trying to do -- to preserve the fundamental values and ideas of America by changing it for this new time in which we're living. And there are huge differences here between the two candidates for President and Vice President, but also between the parties in the House and Senate. And I'm telling you, I know every Senate seat, every House seat really matters.
If somebody asks you, you've got to be able to tell them: we've got a different economic policy, we've got a different education policy, we've got a different health care policy, we've got a different environmental policy, we've got a different crime policy, we've got a different foreign policy, and we have got a very different policy on how we're going to build one America that brings us together across all the lines that divide us.
Compared to their leadership, we're for a hate crimes bill and they're not. We're for employment nondiscrimination legislation, they're not. We're for stronger equal pay laws for women and they're not. There are big differences about how we're going to pull this country together. We support a woman's right to choose, and they don't. (Applause.) And the next President gets a bunch of appointments to the Supreme Court.
You know, people ask me all the time -- I see all these articles, every day the paper is full of articles about who's right on the economic plan, the taxes, the spending and all that. I think that I have -- at least, let me say this, I hope I've earned the right to make a comment or two about the economy. (Applause.)
So people ask me all the time, what great new, brilliant idea did you and Bob Rubin bring to Washington on economic policy? You know what I always tell them? Arithmetic. (Laughter.) We brought arithmetic back to Washington. And we got rid of that deficit; we got the biggest surplus in history; we're paying the debt down; we've got low interest rates and the economy -- you have taken care of the rest. (Applause.)
Now, you've got to decide. If you like the way it's going, you've got to decide. They want a bigger tax cut than we do. And a lot of you in this room would get more money under their deal. A lot of you in this room would do better under our deal. Why would people who are really wealthy still come here and support us when they could get a whole lot of money out of their tax cut? Because they understand arithmetic.
If you spend a trillion and a half dollars on a tax cut, and you spend another trillion dollars to shore up Social Security after you partially privatize it, and then you keep all your spending commitments, we're back in deficits, we're back in higher interest rates, we're back in a slower economy, we're back in fewer jobs.
Look, just last week we learned that poverty last year dropped to a 20-year low. (Applause.) We learned that for the first time in 12 years we had fewer people without health insurance. We learned that child poverty had its biggest drop in 34 years. Why? Because -- partly because of arithmetic. Now, this is serious business.
You cannot go out here and promise to spend all this money and then keep your commitment when you get there, knowing it's going to produce a deficit, and expect anything other than what you're going to get, which is higher interest rates. The Council of Economic Advisors told me that the Democratic plan would keep interest rates about a percent lower than the Republican plan, a year, for a decade.
Do you know what that's worth in tax cuts? That's worth $390 billion in lower home mortgages, $30 billion in lower car payments, $15 billion in lower college loan payments. Lord only knows how much money in lower credit card payments. Plus, it's cheaper to start a business and hire new help. This is not rocket science. He's right, Charlie Rangel is, on economic policy, and they're wrong, and you need to be able to explain that to people and tell them that's why you showed up here tonight.
On health care policy, they're not for the patients' bill of rights and we are. We're for a Medicare drug program that all the seniors can get -- (applause) -- and they aren't. And we're right and they're wrong and you need to be able to explain that to people. (Applause.) And I could just go on and on; but you get the picture.
I'm telling you, you cannot assume that the outcome of this election -- in Hillary's race, for who controls the House, for who wins the White House -- is not in doubt. The people are in control, and until they show up and vote, it's in doubt. (Applause.) And you need to be able to say, you need to be able to tell people why you came here tonight -- beyond the fact that you like Charlie or you wanted to see Kevin or you wanted to see if I'm still standing on two legs with four months to go. I'm telling you, you've got to be able to say that.
Now, when Al Gore stands up before audiences and he says, you ain't seen nothing yet -- that sounds like a campaign slogan, I know, but I'm not running and I believe that. I've spent as much time as I could, I worked as hard as I could to turn this country around, to pull us together and to get us moving forward. But it's almost like setting a banquet table, but the feast hasn't been served.
We're going to have young women having babies within five to 10 years with a life expectancy of 90 years, thanks to the human genome project. We are going to see economic explosions in places that we never thought we could bring economic opportunity to -- in the inner cities and the rural areas and Native American reservations -- if we make the right decision.
We're going to be able not just to bring the crime rate down to a 27-year low, we could make America the safest big country in the world, if we make the right decisions. We put 100,000 police on the street and did more to take guns out of the hands of criminals and children. They're not only against the common sense gun safety measures that we've been for, we're now putting another 50,000 police on the street -- they want to abolish the program.
You've got to admire that about the Republicans, evidence never fazes them. (Laughter.) I mean, they know what they're for and they don't want you to bother them with the facts or the results or anything else. You've got to kind of admire it. But you'll also have to live with the consequences.
So if you want to keep the crime rate coming down, if you believe you can clean up the environment and grow the economy, if you want to keep this prosperity going and spread it to other people -- and, maybe most important of all, you look at all the troubles around the world today, where people still can't get along because of their religious, their racial, their ethnic differences -- the most important thing is we're all in this together and we better get along together. And we've worked hard to say that. (Applause.)
We've worked hard to say whether you're -- whatever your race is, whatever your religion is, whether you're straight or gay, whether you're old or young, if you show up, play by the rules and you try to do your part as an America, you're part of our America and we're going forward together. That's a big deal. That's a big deal. (Applause.)
So I know we all want to have a good time, we're in this festive atmosphere, and I thank our hosts for letting me come -- I believe I've been here three or four times since I've been President. But I just want you to be serious enough. This deal is not over yet. Charlie is not the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee yet. He ought to be, and I think he will be, but it depends on what you do.
So you've got to promise yourself every day between now and the end of the election, you find somebody that will never show up at one of these deals and you say, let me tell you why I'm for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman; let me tell you why I'm for Hillary and Charlie Rangel; let me tell you why you ought to support the Democrats. And tell them what the difference is on the economy, on the environment, on health care, on education, run it right down so they understand.
Don't let this be one of the times when we made a mistake because times were so good we didn't think we had to think. We do have to think. You may not get another chance like this in your lifetime, and if I had anything to do with it, I am grateful you gave me the chance to serve.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 8:25 P.M. EDT