THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Seattle, Washington) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 14, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT RECEPTION FOR GOVERNOR GARY LOCKE Westin Hotel Seattle, Washington
6:30 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. I am really glad Gary decided to have the event in this Washington. (Applause.)
I want to say first of all thanks to your wonderful attorney general. Christine, you have been a great attorney general. You have been a leader for the whole nation and I could have listened to you give that cheerleading speech all night long.
I think you have a limitless future and I wish you well and I thank you for being here and for all you've done. (Applause.)
I want to thank Gary and Mona Locke for being such good friends to Hillary and me and for the example they set by their leadership. I also think they've set a good family values example by having those two beautiful children since they've been in politics. I think that's a very good thing. (Applause.)
Mayor Schell, it's great to be back in Seattle and I want to thank your state party chair, Paul Berendt, and I want to introduce one person I think has not been introduced tonight, maybe. And maybe before I got here, he was. But our national democratic chair, Ed Rendell, from Philadelphia is here. Thank you, Ed. (Applause.)
And I believe one of our candidates for Congress, Rick Larson, is here. If he is, let's give him a big hand. (Applause.) And I want to say a special word of appreciation and gratitude and I want to say a little more about her later, but I want to say a special word of appreciation to Maria Cantwell. I am grateful that she has run for the Senate and I hope you will make sure she wins. (Applause.)
Now, as perhaps most of you know, after I finish my rounds in Washington tonight, I'm going to red-eye back to the other Washington and give my crew a little rest. I had intended to spend the night here and go to Portland in the morning and on down to California but I am going to fly to the Middle East tomorrow.
Last week was an amazing week for our crowd. It was heartbreaking when we lost those sailors on the USS Cole. I talked to the Captain of the ship and others in the chain of command and thank them on behalf of the American people and say that our prayers are with the families and Wednesday we will have a memorial service for them on the East Coast. Those who were killed and those who are wounded are being brought home starting today.
And we've had these terrible turn of events in the Middle East which has been heartbreaking for me. I was at the airport earlier and a man came up to me and asked me to sign the remarks I made on September 19, 1993, when Mr. Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the peace accord, committing themselves to a process that would lead to peace. I have seen so much progress in the last seven-and-a-half years so it's been a very difficult and painful experience.
But I also want to say last week when the number two leader in North Korea came to see me after the president of South Korea had gone to North Korea and justifiably won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing so and for a lifetime of courageous standing up for democracy and freedom -- (applause) -- I was thinking that when I took the oath of office in January of 1993 and I got all my security briefings starting from the time I was elected, everybody said the most dangerous place in the whole world is North Korea. You've got to really worry about this, you know, they've got a nuclear program, it's going to be terrible, you've got to do something about it.
So first we got the nuclear program shut down and then we began to deal with them and insist that they had to deal with the South. And then our former Defense Secretary, Bill Perry, went to see them and said, look, you know, you're still making all these missiles. Our relationship has got to get better or worse. It can't just stay the same. And Kim Dae-Jung got elected President, and he said, it's time we bury the hatchet and try to find ways to live in peace. And the rest is history.
So what I thought would be the most dangerous problem for our children and grandchildren eight years ago may not be now, if, God willing, we can keep it going.
And then the people of Serbia elected a new President. (Applause.) And I knew if the United States had not stood against ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, and kept those economic sanctions on, that the moment would not have arrived for the people to do right. And so I was very grateful last week, too.
And it's a sober reminder that we have to keep plugging away at the things we believe in. And I wanted to come out here today because I've missed three or four days of work already traveling the country in this season. And I wanted to come here, if for no other reason, to just have one more chance to say thank you to the people of Washington for being so very good to me and Hillary and Al and Tipper Gore these last eight years, for giving us your electoral votes twice -- and I hope you're about to make it three in a row. (Applause.)
And I also wanted to say why it is so important that you spend every minute you can in your very busy lives talking to other people about this election between now and Election Day. Because every one of you has a lot of friends who have never been to an event like this. Isn't that right? You have a lot of friends. You work with them, you worship with them, you socialize with them. They never go to things like this.
But they'll vote, because they love their country. And it's important that they understand what the issues are.
In an amazing way, in this election I can tell you that there is such clarity of difference -- even though the other side often tries to muddy it up. And I don't blame them, because if everybody figures it out, they'll lose and we'll win. (Laughter and applause.)
But I've learned -- you know, I was a governor for a dozen years before I became President. I loved it. I don't think I would have ever gotten tired of it. And I know that no matter how good the economic policy of the country is, no matter how good our educational policy is, our health care policy, our environmental policy -- the way America works, the people of this state cannot fully benefit from it unless you have a good governor and good leadership. And if you do, you can do better, even, than the rest of us are doing.
And I've really had the opportunity over the last several years to get to know Gary and Mona. I'm crazy about them, personally. I think they're wonderful people. They embody my idea of where we're going as a country.
Indeed, all Washington state does. You are today and you are tomorrow. You are the most connected state to the global economy and one of the most wired states in America. (Laughter and applause.) And you are one of the most diverse states in America. And part of your diversity is you also have a lot of people of European heritage who still live in little, rural towns and make a living on the farm.
And so you represent today and tomorrow. You're doing so well. Part of the reason you're doing so well is you've got a great governor and you need to keep him. (Applause.)
Now, I also would say that no one in America understands any more clearly than I do how important every single Senate seat and every single House seat is. And I said something about Maria Cantwell before. I was thrilled when I met her when I became President. Here is a person who really is a new democrat, a person who understands the economy but wants it to work for everybody. A person that believes in fiscal responsibility and is actually, unlike most politicians, actually willing to do something about it, not just talk about it.
And I want to say one of the amazing things to me is that her opponent is still trying to attack her for voting for the '93 economic plan by picking out one little piece of it that he can make look unpopular now, without pointing out that we cut taxes for 10 times as many people as paid taxes and higher taxes. And that most of the people that paid higher taxes were in Maria's income bracket. (Laughter and applause.) And she voted for it anyway.
And, you know, her opponent and all those Republicans, they voted against it, every last one of them. And they said if my economic plan passed, the world would come to an end, we would have a recession, people would lose their jobs, the deficit would get bigger. Time has not been kind to their predictions. (Applause.)
I'll say this. You've got to give it to the Republicans, they are never deterred by the facts and the evidence. (Laughter and applause.) They are shameless, you know, they'll just go right on just like nothing ever happened. (Laughter.) And I say that because if she hadn't been willing to put her entire political career on the line, one vote, we wouldn't have passed that plan. And if you think Washington state is in better shape today than it was eight years ago, then you have an obligation to tell every person you know between now and November 7th to vote for Gary Locke and for this great candidate for the United States Senate, Maria Cantwell. (Applause.)
In the parlance of my home region, I know I'm preaching to the saved tonight, but I want to say a few things. (Laughter.) First of all, I want to say, congratulations to the Mariners. (Applause.) But I hope you'll understand, since I have more than a passing interest in the Senate race in New York -- (laughter) -- why this may be the only issue in eight years I don't side with you on. (Laughter.)
Look, I want you to listen a minute. I want you to think about this. I want you to think about all the people who you'll see between now and the election. And if they ask you, why should I vote for Maria Cantwell? Why should I vote for Gary Locke? Why should I vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman? Can you give them an answer?
Here is what I want you to understand. Clarity is our friend. And there are big differences with real consequences to the American people, to every single family in Washington state. We have a different philosophy. We believe that everybody who is responsible ought to have an opportunity to be a part of the American Dream. We believe we ought to all be part of the same community and that we should go forward together. We believe in government that gives people the tools and the conditions to make the most of their own lives. We believe that you can, as Gary said, and as Christine said, be pro-economic growth and pro-environment, pro-business and pro-labor. That's what we believe.
We believe that in order for people to succeed at work, you have to help them succeed in raising their kids and balancing work and family. And we think all this diversity of ours is the greatest thing in the world. That it's a more interesting country if we respect our differences and if we reaffirm our common humanity. That's what we believe. And, so far, it has worked out pretty well. (Applause.)
What does that mean in practical terms? It means if you want to keep the prosperity going, you've got a clear choice here. Now, Gary wants to be effective, as well as re-elected. And he wants Washington to keep on having a great economy. You've got a big choice here. And you heard it in these two debates. It was sort of buried in the weeds. And for reasons I'll never understand, not very well publicized.
But in the first presidential debate the Republican candidate admitted that he had a tax cut of about a trillion and a half bucks; and that it would cost another trillion to partially privatize Social Security. And then there are hundreds of billions of dollars in spending promises. So you're already back to deficits.But if you're in a high-income group, you can get a bunch of money out of it right now.
Our leader Al Gore says, look, I'd like to tell you the same thing, but it's not responsible. So I want to pay off the debt, keep interest rates coming down, save some money to invest in education, health care and the environment, and defense, and give you a tax cut we can afford.
Now, you've got a choice. You know, we've tried it our way for eight years, and we tried it their way for twelve years. And you ought to go out and tell people, if they want to go back to deficits and higher interest rates and a weaker economy, they've got a clear choice.
But it's not like -- we can't pretend there's no choice here. We can't pretend there's no difference here. There is a record. There is evidence. There is a difference.
And let me say, a lot of the things I've heard are just flat bogus on the economy. You know, they say, we trust you with your money; they want government to run your lives. You know? That's their new shtick, you know? That's basically a sort of modernized, more -- a kinder, gentler version of what they've been saying since 1980.
Now, here are the facts, okay? Fact number one: under the leadership of Al Gore, we have reduced the size of the federal government to its lowest point since 1960, when Eisenhower was President. Fact number one. (Applause.)
Fact number two: government spending as a percentage of our national income is the lowest it's been since 1966. Fact number three -- here's the biggest one -- fact number three: if Al Gore wins the Presidency, in four years government spending will be a smaller percentage of national income under a Gore presidency than under the alternative, even though we're going to spend more on education and health care.
How can that be? You need to think about it. You need to talk to people about this. How can that be? Because he's going to keep paying off the debt. And that will make interest rates lower. That will make the stock market higher -- making all of you that own Microsoft happy, and everything else -- (laughter) -- it will make the stock market higher, it will mean lower costs for business loans, and it will mean everybody will pay lower mortgage rates, lower credit card rates, lower college loan rates, lower car payment rates. In other words, everybody will get that tax cut in lower interest rates. And because the third-biggest item in the federal budget is interest on the debt -- after Social Security and defense, interest on the debt is the third-biggest item in the budget -- as we pay it down, even though the Democrats will spend more on education and health care and send it to Governor Locke so he can be more effective for you, government will actually be a smaller percentage of the economy than it will if you pass this big tax cut, privatize Social Security, and run a deficit again.
You need to explain that to people. I think people like it our way, and they want to keep changing in that way. (Applause.)
Now, but you only get it if you vote for Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Maria Cantwell, your candidates for Congress, and Gary Locke. You'll only get it -- you know, you do have a choice. You don't have to have this good future. (Laughter.) You know, you can vote with them, and go back to the way it was. But don't let your friends pretend there's not a choice, and there are no consequences.
Look at health care. Washington passed a patients' bill of rights. Good for Washington. Good for Washington. (Applause.) But he'll be the first to tell you that because of the way federal law works, if all the states passed a good patients' bill of rights there would still be a lot of Americans who weren't covered. So if you want every American, including every person in Washington State, covered with the protections of the patients' bill of rights you have, you've got to vote for Al Gore, Joe Lieberman and Maria Cantwell.
Why? Why? Because we're for it and they're not. (Laughter.) And -- now, they've got something that they say is a patients' bill of rights, but 300 health care organizations are for ours and not for theirs. Why? Because the health insurers don't want our patients' bill of rights, because they don't want to be sued, and they don't want to cover everybody, and they say it's going to run your health costs up.
Well, if you've checked lately, your insurance premiums are going up anyway. But let me just tell you what the facts are. I put the patients bill of rights in, by executive order, for everybody the federal government pays health care on, Medicare, Medicaid, military personnel, retirees, federal employees. Do you know how much it increased premiums? About a dollar a month. A dollar a month to see a specialist when your doctor recommends it. A dollar a month to be able to keep the same doctor if you change health care providers in the middle of a pregnancy or a chemotherapy treatment. A dollar a month to go to the nearest emergency room if, God forbid, you get hit by a car when you walk out of this room tonight, instead of being carried past three or four hospitals to one your plan covers. A dollar a month to be able to file suit and get redress if you're really harmed by the failure to observe these rights.
Now, even the Congressional Budget Office says it's less than $2 a month. I'd pay $1.80 a month to make sure you got those rights and I think most Americans would. It's a clear choice. But if you want it, you've got to vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Maria. You've got to. There's no other option. You've got to do it. (Applause.)
You take this Medicare drug thing. The governor and Mona, they care a lot about children having health care. The children's health insurance program was one of the major initiatives of this administration. It's part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. It led -- last year, for the first time since 1987, we had a reduction in the number of people without health insurance in America.
Now, what we'd like to do, the Democrats, is give them some more funds to cover the parents of those kids in the children's health ins program who are low in working people. And we think Medicare ought to provide a prescription drug benefit that's voluntary to every senior that needs it.
Now, they don't feel that way. Why? Because the drug companies won't let them. Now, that's a fact. And originally the drug companies wanted to be for nothing and the Republicans went to them and said, you don't understand, we can't win this issue, they're going to beat our brains out, we need to muddy this up so give us a bill we can be for.
And that's why they say, okay, we'll give it to people up to 150 or 175 percent of the poverty line, but everybody else gets to buy insurance. Now, I will say this about the health insurance companies, they have told us, they said, hey, there is no insurance policy you can write for this problem. We can't write you an insurance policy that you can afford that has decent coverage. Nevada passed the Republican plan and not a single, solitary health insurance company has offered insurance to people who need this medicine. And over half of the seniors who need affordable medicine are above 150 percent of the poverty line -- over half of them.
Now, what is the deal here? (Laughter.) Did you ever meet anybody in a business that didn't want more customers? Have you ever asked yourself why are the drug companies against this thing, they get more customers, they sell more medicine. Did you ever meet a politician that didn't want more votes? (Laughter.) You never hear this -- I just want you to know, you've got to talk to people about this.
The reason is -- and you don't have to demonize the drug companies. We're fortunate to have these drug companies in our country. They provide wonderful jobs for tens of thousands of people. They find life-saving drugs every day. But here is the issue. It costs a bunch of money to develop the drugs. They spend a lot of money to advertise them. And they want to sell them all over the world, but they can't recover the development or the advertising cost any place but America, because everybody else fixes prices.
Once they get us to pay the development and the advertising costs, then it just costs a pittance to make another pill or two, so they can sell them and make a killing in Canada or Europe or anywhere else, even with price controls, because you've already paid for all the advertising and development. And to be fair to them, they know that is Medicare is the buyer for millions of people, they'll have enough market power to get lower prices so that Americans will buy drugs made in America almost as cheap as they can buy them in Canada. And they're worried that their profits will go down and they won't be able to spend enough money to develop drugs or to advertise them. Now, that's a legitimate problem. Nobody ever talks about this. You haven't heard any of this in the debate, have you? That's what the real deal is.
Now, here's my issue. Surely to goodness the answer to their problem is not continuing to deny the elderly people of America the right to have the medicine they need to stay alive and improve the quality of their lives. (Applause.)
Now, so let's fix the people's problem. If you live to be 65 in America today, your life expectancy is 82 years and it's going to go up. And with the human genome project, there are young women in this audience who have yet to have their first children. Within the next 10 years, they'll start having babies with a life expectancy of 90 years. You mark it down; it's going to happen.
Now, if that's going to happen, we've got to think about what life's going to be like. The answer to the drug companies' problem is not to deprive our seniors of the ability to buy affordable prescription drugs. This is crazy. This is wrong. (Applause.)
So what I say is, vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Maria and our crowd and take care of the seniors. And those folks have a lot of money and influence, in case you hadn't noticed. And even though we don't let them tell us how to vote, we're not against them and we'll figure out how to solve their problem. There's got to be a solution to their problem that does not require us to punish the seniors of America by depriving them of the medicine they need. (Applause.)
I could give you the same arguments on education. We're for 100,000 teachers, smaller classes, modernizing our schools, preschool and after school for every kid who needs it, and accountability and choice through charter schools, which the Democrats brought to America. We had one charter school in the whole country when I was elected. We got 1700 now and Al Gore wants to triple the number of them. That was our initiative.
They're for accountability but they don't want to invest in the specific things that the educators and the research tells us works. And let me tell you, it's a big myth that you can't turn these public schools around. In the last eight years, the drop-out rate is down, the graduation rate is up, there has been a two-thirds increase in the number of our kids taking advance placement tests, 300 percent increase in Hispanic kids taking advance placement courses, 500 percent increase in African American kids taking advance placement courses, all time high college going rate -- (applause) -- you can turn these schools around.
I think our plan is better than theirs. And I think Gary Locke can do more with what the Democrats will do, plus which we'll invest more. So if you want the education for your children that is most likely to really work, you've got to vote for Gary Locke and for Maria and for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. There is a difference. There is a difference. (Applause.)
Now, I could give you a lot of other examples. Just listen to this. We're for a real hate crimes bill and they're not, if you heard the second debate, you know that. (Applause.) Oh, there was a little shoveling around. And I want to put it on the table. It wasn't clear from the debate what was going on. The reason the Republicans are not for our hate crimes bill and the reason that James Byrd's family in Texas was shut out of getting the hate crimes bill they wanted in Texas is that they don't want to make their right wing mad by including gays in protection against hate crimes. Now, that's what is going on. (Applause.)
We had an event in Washington with the police commissioner from Wyoming, who had to supervise the investigation in the Matthew Shepard case. And he said that it changed his whole life. He met that young man's family and his friends. And he realized how badly he needed federal hate crimes legislation so the federal government could come in and help him work that case and develop it. There is a difference.
We're for the employment and nondiscrimination law, and they're not. We're for a minimum wage increase, and they're not. We think we ought to keep a woman's right to choose, and they don't. There's a difference. (Applause.)
And the environment, there's been a commitment -- I will say that the other side has been clearer on the environment. The Republican nominee has said if he's elected, he will reverse my order setting aside 43 million roadless acres in the national forests. The Audubon Society said it was the most significant conservation move in 40 years. (Applause.)
He says they will review all the national monuments we have established. And they will relax some of the air standards, because they're too hard on business.
Look, anybody who thinks you can't -- we got cleaner air, cleaner water, safer food. We've cleaned up three times as many toxic waste dumps in eight years as they did in twelve. And the economy's doing reasonably well under this enormous environmental burden I have imposed. (Applause.)
You know? But you've got to choose. You've got to choose.
We've got a different crime policy. They said that -- you know, we believe that we should finish putting our 150,000 police on the street. And their party is committed to repealing that. It's not just a gun issue. They don't believe that we were right to put -- we've already put over 100,000, and we're on our way to 150,000 police on the street. And we've got the lowest crime rate nationally in 26 years and the lowest murder rate in 33 years.
They don't believe in the three-day waiting period, even though the Brady law -- which led to the defeat of some of the Congressmen that we lost in Washington State in 1994, because they stirred up all the hunters and sportsmen, you know? Told them we were coming after their guns? You remember all that. They're doing it again now.
Well, let's just look at the facts here. We passed the Brady bill; half a million felons, fugitives and stalkers couldn't get handguns, because we did the background checks. And there hasn't been a single hunter, law-abiding hunter or sportsman in Washington state that's missed five minutes in the woods in hunting season or five minutes at any shooting contest because we said criminals should not have guns. Not one. (Applause.)
So this is bogus. Now look, these are the things you need to talk to people about. It will shape the future of our children and grandchildren. And you cannot make an easy distinction anymore between national and state efforts.
We can't succeed if Gary Locke is not committed to enrolling children in the children's health insurance program. We can't succeed if the state of Washington is not committed to moving people from welfare to work and giving them the support they need to stay in the work place. We can't succeed if Washington state doesn't have a good education program. America can't succeed in Washington if you don't do it.
On the other hand, what he can do will be severely limited or enhanced by who gets elected president and who gets elected to the Senate and who gets elected to the House. So I want to say to you again, these elections are tight. They're tight because the other guys have figured out they can't really do what they did in '95 and '96 and '97 and '98 so they've got to blur the differences instead of clarify them and they've got a bunch of money to do it.
What you have to do is clarify the differences. You know the American people nearly always get it right. We wouldn't be around here after 224 years if the American people didn't nearly always get it right, if they have enough information, they understand what it means and they have time enough to digest it.
And I am telling you -- you just think about this tomorrow when you get up -- every one of you come in contact with people who are friends of yours who trust you, every day, who will never come to an event like this, never hear this kind of discussion. You need to tell them why you were here. You need to tell them what you believe they ought to do, what the differences are, what the consequences are.
And let me just close with this. You know, my party has a new leader. My family has a new candidate. I'm not running for anything. (Laughter.)
I am profoundly grateful for the chance I have had to serve. (Applause.) And I have done everything I know to do to turn the country around, to pull us together and move us forward. But in America, our public life is always about tomorrow.
Maybe once in every 50 years a country gets a chance like we have now, where the economy's doing well, the social indicators are improving, there's a lot of national self-confidence, there's no overwhelming threat to our security abroad or crisis within.
The world will never be free of problems. But once in 50 years you get in shape like this, where you can really imagine what you want the future to be like for your children and grandchildren, and then go out and build it.
We ought to be elated to have this election. It should have nothing to do with personal attacks. We should posit that our opponents are good people who love their families and love their country, and will do what they believe. But we have to make sure people know that what we believe and what they believe on critical things are different, and the consequences are profound.
When Al Gore says in his speeches that you ain't seen nothing yet, I know it may sound like a political slogan. But I'm not running for anything, and I believe that. I believe the best is still out there. I believe that you have no idea where the information revolution, where the biotechnology revolution, and where the globalization of not just commerce, but societies, are going to lead us.
And the children in this audience can live in the most peaceful, prosperous, exciting time the world has ever known. But we have to make the right decisions. And now, for America and for Washington State, the right decisions are Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Maria Cantwell, Gary Locke, and our candidates for the Congress.
Thank you, and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 7:05 P.M. PDT