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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks at a Fundraiser for Congressional Candidate Tom Anderson in Gulfport, Mississippi

1989-10-12

The President. Distinguished guests, thank you. What a marvelous welcome, and thank you, Tom Anderson. It's so good to see you and Katherine again. And thank you all for this fantastic turnout, for coming out this morning, and for this very warm welcome. It's so warm, I think I'll take my coat off and go to work here.

This is the second time that I've been to Mississippi since I've been President. And I know we're here today to talk a little politics. But you know, politics begins with people, and people -- good people -- is what southern Mississippi is all about. And that's why I want to take this opportunity at the outset of my remarks to speak to the people of Gulfport.

It may have been 20 years since Hurricane Camille ripped into this town, but you have not forgotten what horrible damage a hurricane can do. And I was down in Charleston, South Carolina, a couple of weeks ago. And I saw a community determined to get back on its feet, and they're doing it with the help from people from all over our great country and with the help from some of you, I was told, right here in Gulfport. And today I want to thank you for lending a helping hand -- the Seabees from the Construction Battalion Center right here in Gulfport who were on the way to Charleston 26 hours after that call came in, the engineers and electricians who helped Puerto Rico cope with Hugo's aftereffects. And I want to thank the members of the community here in Gulfport for their assistance, too -- the extra hours that I know many of you put in so that desperately needed supplies and equipment reached the people in need just as soon as humanly possible. Believe me, the people of Puerto Rico and Charleston know they've got good neighbors right here in Gulfport, Mississippi. And your country is grateful to you for responding to that disaster.

No, it's almost like a homecoming. It is great to be back in the gulf coast country. And there was some talk as we were planning this rally that we could hold it at the local stadium, but there was one catch: We'd have to cancel a few games. And that's fine if you think politics is just another sport, but the trouble is that down here -- just as across the way in my State -- down here football is a religion. And with the separation of church and state, that makes it unconstitutional to cancel a game. [Laughter] And so, here we are at Jones Park -- beautiful setting. And let me say to Central Junior High and the JV's from Biloxi High: Milner Stadium is all yours. Good luck! The kickoff is at 5 p.m.

Now, it is great to see so many familiar faces -- leaders of this community, leaders of this State. First of all, Mississippi's two top-notch Senators -- you are so lucky to have Thad Cochran and Trent Lott in the United States Senate. And I am so lucky as President of the United States to have Thad and Trent in the United States Senate. You've got a class-act team up there, and I want to add to it now. And let me just say a warm greeting, a warm hello, to the man that I want to see join them in Washington, your own native son, Tom Anderson. We need him in Washington, DC.

Let me just click off a few other notables here with us today: Evelyn McPhail, the chairman of the Mississippi State Republican Party, doing a fantastic job -- she over here -- and then Haley Barbour and Ann Wilson, our two national committee people, Republican committeeman and committeewoman. And then, of course, Lee Atwater, who came down with me, knows this part of the world well, and he's doing a fantastic job as our national chairman. And Joe Price, who's been chief deputy in the sheriff's department for the past 5 years and who's going to be the next sheriff of Harrison County come November. Mayor Combs -- Mr. Mayor, I've heard about a fishing trip that you've got planned here for Saturday, the very special Fishing Rodeo. And I can't think of a better way to spend a day than helping a disabled kid or adult learn to fish. And I hope you catch plenty of fish. I know you'll have plenty of fun. And this comes from a frustrated fisherman, but right from the heart. [Laughter]

And before I go any further, I want to take a moment to remember another Mississippian, Larkin Smith, who was well on his way to a fine career on Capitol Hill when tragedy struck. And our hearts -- and I'm talking about Barbara's and mine and our country's heart -- go out to Congressman Smith's family, to his wife, Sheila, who courageously and wonderfully is with us here today. And I want to say to all of you here today that part of the legacy of Larkin Smith is making sure that his successor carries on the work that you sent him up there to do and that he was doing so well.

I've come down today because I feel and I know that Tom Anderson is the right man. He won't be your average freshman in Congress because he's already ahead of his class. Just look at everything he taught Trent in 16 years. [Laughter]

Audience member. What about Katherine?

The President. I'm about to get to Katherine. [Laughter] No, Tom knows the back roads of the Fifth District, from Jones County right down to Jones Park, just as well as he knows those corridors of Capitol Hill. And that's a winning combination in the U.S. Congress. And you know you can count on him to provide the kind of leadership that does right by southern Mississippi. And you can't beat the experience that he can bring to the job right from day one. He can be the strong, independent voice that this great section of Mississippi needs in the United States Congress, needs on Capitol Hill.

You heard him touch on it just a minute ago. He knows what the Fifth District needs: continued economic expansion. We've got to keep this expansion going, not only here but nationally -- growth and jobs, real work, not make work. And let me tell you, we can't tax our way to richer growth; we cannot tax our way to higher growth. And I will not do that as President of the United States.

You know, Tom's been a part of the team up on Capitol Hill that's worked hard to create conditions for what is now the longest peacetime expansion in America's entire history, one that's creating opportunities and raising living standards for all Mississippians.

And we're working back in Washington to make progress, to take action across a broad national agenda. And today let me just mention a few of the issues that demand our attention -- and most of them concern this fantastic turnout of young people that are here today -- demand action without delay, issues where having people like Tom in the Congress can help make things happen.

Tom touched on it -- it's on the minds of every American: illegal drug use. He's a veteran of this war on drugs. Five years ago, at the tender age of 37, he was nominated as a U.S. Ambassador to those eastern Caribbean nations, point man in that drug interdiction effort; and he knows what it is to stop those drug runners from reaching our shores. We are together, Mr. Anderson and I, on the need to stop these drugs from coming into this country.

And, Tom, knowing of your interest, being on the front line in this war on drugs, this is the perfect opportunity for me to announce personally that I have accepted the invitation of those three Andean nations to attend a very important international drug summit. I've instructed my administration to prepare for a summit that will bring us to a new level of international cooperation in this war that we must win. And as long as I am President, I will give as much support as he needs to President Barco of Colombia, who is waging an all-out fight against the narco trafficker.

But there's another part of waging this war: Part of getting tough on drugs is getting tough on crime itself. And I've sent a strong crime package to the Capitol Hill, and I want to see action on that crime package now. And with Tom in the House, I know he would be pushing hard to get that crime bill to the floor. And I've called for it to my desk in the Oval Office soon. And I want to thank, again, Thad and Trent for their all-out support for this process that will strengthen the laws in this country against those who are trafficking in narcotics.

Then there's the environment. You can't help but sense it and feel it when you're here in Gulfport -- new consensus-building for action on this issue. Environmentalism is a commonsense issue that concerns all of us. And living here on this beautiful gulf coast teaches a lesson every day on what it means to preserve our natural heritage. And I've urged the Congress to act on a number of environmental initiatives, including the first amendments in more than a decade to the Clean Air Act. And I want to see action on the environment, and I know that Tom Anderson would support a strong advocacy, an advocacy for change in the Congress. We owe it to the young people of southern Mississippi to protect our environment and leave this Earth a little bit better as we go on.

And finally -- first let me say, God bless the teachers. And Katherine, you can take a bow, too. We need people that understand this profession. But finally, there is education. And no single issue today says more about our commitment to the future. Just last month, I met with 49 of our 50 Governors to renew our resolve and explore new ways that we can make our schools better. Our aim has got to be quality education: teachers and students working to the best of their abilities. And I know I can count on Tom to speak out on Capitol Hill for a higher standard of excellence in our schools -- more accountability, support for our teachers, a national goals program. But we need people like Tom that understand this in Washington.

So, there are some of them: the war on drugs and crime and the environment and education. And every one of these issues is a matter of urgent concern, and every one of them is one more good reason to send this good man to the Congress to help me get the job done. But the best reason to send Tom to Congress may just be this one: Whatever the issue, you know where he's coming from philosophically. You know where his heart is: right here in Gulfport -- a willingness to represent the will of the people and not to forget who sent him to Washington, DC.

Not far -- maybe we can see it from here; we'd have to take this thing down, I think -- the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church, where Tom and Katherine were married, a few blocks from the Hancock Bank, where this guy worked during high school and college. And of course he went to school here at Gulfport High. It takes courage, it takes a little guts, to run in a place where there are still living high school teachers who can tell tales about you. [Laughter] Mercer Miller, who was principal back when Tom was at Gulfport, likes to tell how Tom hid behind the hedges when it was his time for lessons with Mrs. Baxley, the speech teacher. [Laughter] Well, you heard him -- she must have done something right. Well, Tom, there's nothing shy anymore about your public speaking. And Mrs. Baxley, if you're out there somewhere: Tom has learned his lesson. And now I hope he can still count on your vote because that's what it's all about.

You know, I know what makes this State click: Mississippi values, traditional values, Tommy Anderson's values. And you need a man in Washington who makes sure the voice of southern Mississippi is heard in the Halls of Congress. You need Tom Anderson.

And, Tom, as you pointed out -- and I expect it's hard for you and your beautiful, wonderful Katherine to believe -- only 5 more days until the Fifth District goes to the polls. It's been great to see you here, and I am proud to be here; but it'll be even better, with your help, to see this man on Capitol Hill.

With your help it will happen. And once again, let me thank all of you for this warm welcome back to a State I love. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America, and God bless the State of Mississippi. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:33 a.m. at Jones Park. Following his remarks, he traveled to New York, NY.

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