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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Luncheon in North Kingstown, Rhode Island


Thank you all very much. Thank you for that warm welcome back. Ed, thank you especially. This may have escaped some, but it has not escaped Barbara and me: Ed DiPrete was perhaps my earliest supporter, or certainly one of them, when I started the quest for the Presidency.

I'm delighted to be here. Slightly -- only slightly -- disappointed. I kind of expected to be driven up here in Winnebago One. [Laughter] And though Nick Janikies tells me that the club's chef makes terrific broccoli -- [laughter] -- I understand that the Winnebago is the best place around to get a homemade bologna sandwich. [Laughter] But really, it is a pleasure to be here and to see so many of our other good Rhode Island friends.

You know, I was asked, I think, an appropriate question -- not all questions are appropriate, but this one was -- by the press coming up. And they said, ``Well, don't you feel a little funny going to a political event at this time?'' And I knew exactly why the question was asked, and I certainly respect it. But life goes on, and we have an election coming up in the fall. And I think it's important that I conduct my duties of the Presidency in the best way I possibly can. But you can't exclude the fact that there's a lot of things happening. And a lot of it gets right back to the kind of elected officials that we're going to have in the future. And so, I didn't think about changing this event.

And I'm delighted to be here and see so many friends. Of course, Senator Chafee and I go back longer than either of us would like to admit, I'm sure. Claudine Schneider -- more later. Ron Machtley, who's doing such an outstanding job as a member of the Armed Services Committee and a great Member of the United States Congress, and Norma and Elinor and Ned Grace, who's done such a great job chairing this event. And I might also mention another. If she can save the bay, she ought to be able to save Congress -- I'm talking about Trudy Cox, sitting over here, and wish her well. But you know, with a strong leadership team like this, elected officials and party leaders, Rhode Island's party, I believe, is headed for victory in November; and it's very important.

I want to give a special thanks to Traf -- mayor, my old friend Mayor Traficante -- for letting us play through, so to speak. He's got his own golf tournament working, and two things worried my Secret Service agents about that tournament. First, that it's a ``shotgun'' start. [Laughter] And second, that Jerry Ford might be teeing off on the 18th while we're here. [Laughter] But we're safe. And, Traf, good to see you.

What a great sight it was as we came in. I must say I was very moved by the response from your fellow Rhode Islanders. And to see the bay, the clean beauty of that bay, as we came in -- a sight that we must not and cannot take for granted. And I remember, as you do, last year's oilspill and how Ed, the man on my right, immediately leaped into action and tapped into Federal resources and, indeed, many say, prevented a catastrophe. And that kind of sums up Ed DiPrete: committed to the environment, a take-charge leader.

I've seen his leadership first-hand. I saw it at our education summit with the Governors last year -- the first such summit ever held -- the one in Charlottesville. He had a tremendous impact with his innovative public-private partnership, the Children's Crusade for Higher Education. And he has a great record in other areas of urgent priorities, where he stands shoulder to shoulder with me, and I'm thinking of our battle that we must win in the war on drugs. One of the most aggressive fighters in the anti- narcotics field is Ed DiPrete. His national leadership for the rights of the people with disabilities is well-known. And I might say parenthetically, I was delighted to have worked for and then the other day signed the ADA bill [Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990] -- long overdue, but a wonderful bill to help those with disabilities in this country.

And all of us familiar with the area know that New England has had a tough time in a lot of ways economically. But I'm proud of the way that he's revitalized economic growth in this State where the American Industrial Revolution began and, in the process, has restored Rhode Island's bond rating, which is a good indication of how others, how the markets, feel about this State. And so, after all, if you want to talk business in Rhode Island, talk to a businessman, talk to the Governor. And I want him there, reelected, strong, at my side as we face the problems coming up for the rest of the nineties.

And now I turn to another Rhode Islander because, very candidly, we need Claudine Schneider in the United States Senate. She's a special friend of mine and of Barbara's and, I'd say, of Rhode Island's. She's one of your best exports. In Washington we're amazed by her vitality, her passionate enthusiasm, and that astounding, almost frustrating energy level of hers that leaves others in the dust. I think I work hard. And I try to. Sometimes play hard. But try to keep up with Claudine, it's impossible. Try to overtake her in a 3K or a 10K or a marathon, it can't be done.

But it's not just in a road race that she's leading the pack. She's a principled, independent leader in the finest tradition of John Chafee, the finest tradition of Rhode Island -- tenacious, fierce individualism. She's setting the pace in areas like education and like fighting crime and especially in the worldwide struggle to preserve and protect the environment.

Claudine has been a great Member of the United States Congress. She'll be a great Senator. Rhode Island needs her voice and leadership, and I really do need her in the Senate. The difference between the Senate today and the Senate when it was controlled by the Republicans for a Republican President is night and day. And so, we need her for her own merit, but we also need her to get us back in control of the United States Senate. So, get the message out. Go on and have some more debates, Claudine. You did just great in the debate, and I hope you have more.

Today I want to just mention a couple of challenges. We've been talking about them here, challenges that our able Members face -- Members of Congress. But today two of them -- really two of the most critical issues that our nation has faced in decades -- I'm talking about our own fiscal affairs, our own budget deficit; and then, of course, the subject that's on everybody's minds, the question of the Middle East.

I have stated here the frustrations of dealing with a Congress that's controlled by the other party and controls the purse strings. And I'll work with the Congress. I have tried to work cooperatively and with compromise with the United States Congress, and I will continue to do that. But we were working towards a budget summit, an economic summit, a summit that would solve once and for all the budget deficit. And that broke up when Congress decided it was time to go on and have the recess. But the Congress comes back soon. And what I want to say to you is: I have not lost my interest in seeing us get a budget agreement that is going to reform the budget process, get the deficit down, and get it under control once and for all. We owe that to the younger generations here today.

This is a national problem, and it isn't going to go away. And sure, it's been affected by events that are happening halfway around the world. But we must not let those events reduce the urgency that we all feel about getting the Federal deficit under control.

I don't intend to dwell on it here, but let me just point out that the House has passed appropriations bills this year exceeding my request by billion in spending. And the Senate Budget Committee voted a new legislation weakening the budget process. In my view, this is going in the wrong direction. I think we've got to turn around now, get an agreement, and get some reform and get some incentive built into the system.

I know some people think I'm a broken record. But if there ever was a time that you need to stimulate economic growth it's now, and one of the best ways to do that is to reduce the tax on capital gains. It will bring in revenue, and it will create jobs.

You know, I've been blessed by a steadfast group in the House and in the Senate, and I'm very grateful to them. But I must say that if the spending bills continue like this, I have to say, as I've said before in Washington a few weeks ago, that I will veto every single spending bill that busts the budget. We're in that tough a shape now, and I'm going to do it. So, they can mark it down and put it in the bank.

So, I think cooperation is still possible. As I said down there in Washington a couple of weeks ago, I've been pleased with the way some of the Democratic leadership has approached this process. I think Senator Chafee would agree with me, and I think Claudine would agree with me and Ron would agree with me: that there's been some good faith effort in terms of negotiation. But it is essential now when the Congress comes back that this cooperation be renewed and that it continue because it is our country that's at stake.

Every day now, we're witnessing an extraordinary unity of individuals and of parties and of nations, showing what can happen when people put personal goals aside in pursuit of something bigger. So, even while we're here in this extraordinarily tranquil setting, our thoughts are, indeed, over in the Middle East, where other Americans are seeing not this serene beauty of Narragansett Bay but an arid landscape where the hot desert winds carry, regrettably, the threat of conflict. No sane person likes the specter of confrontations, and yet as we try to chart the course of our existence, we must be guided by the imperatives of a strong moral compass.

It was not with passionate haste but really with a heavy heart that I had to commit our troops to Saudi Arabia. I took this action not out of some national hunger for conflict but out of the moral responsibility, shared by so many committed nations around the world, to protect our world from fundamental evil. We cannot remain silent, for peace is more than just the absence of war. And its preservation really exacts on great countries like ours a certain obligation.

It is this obligation that the finest troops -- if you talk to the Joint Chiefs, they'll tell you, every one of them, whatever their service, that we have the finest young men and women that the service has ever had, an all-volunteer Army, all-volunteer force, if you will, and the finest young kids ever, suited up and serving. So, it is this obligation that brave men and women are shouldering today in Saudi Arabia -- the finest -- finest men and women.

But they don't act alone. And this is another key point; Ed and Claudine both referred to it. Nations of every language, of every religion, size, and form of government have joined in renouncing the aggression against Kuwait. It is also important to note that 12 Arab countries condemned Iraq -- 12 condemned Iraq at the Arab summit and at the United Nations Security Council. And I want to commend Ambassador Pickering and the fine work that our delegation is doing at the United Nations, because it is important that we bring along and lead our friends around the world in this regard. The United Nations Security Council approved chapter VII sanctions on Iraq because of its aggression. It was the first time that's happened in, I think, something like 23 years. We've seen an extraordinary expression of world unity, and I am hopeful that together the United States and the many other peace-loving nations committed to this noble effort will prevail.

I wanted to talk about this because of your State's own history: commitment to individual rights. Your State may be small -- Kuwait is small -- but your ideals loom large. And you've always responded to the call of moral responsibility. In the early days of this country, Rhode Island answered threats upon individuals by fiercely defending each person's right to believe what he wanted and worship as he or she wished. Just a few minutes ago, in here, I met with leaders of the Touro Synagogue -- an impressive, moving story -- the oldest synagogue in continental America, a symbol of your State's lifelong affirmation of the inalienable rights of all people. And Rhode Island also responded to the moral obligation to defend these rights when the world was called upon to confront staggering aggression during World War II. Your State answered by sending 58,000 of its finest sons and daughters into battle.

The world is now called upon to confront another aggressor, another threat made by a person who has no values when it comes to respecting international law, a man of evil standing against human life itself. I am convinced that the same moral underpinnings that have underpinned this State for years and underpin our great country is the compass that's going to guide us. And I believe that our presence in the Middle East sends a great signal of commitment around the world.

I must tell you that I'm troubled by Americans that now seem to be held against their will and other foreigners held against their will.

I'm grateful for our friends. This morning, I had a long talk with President Ozal of Turkey on the telephone. If you'll look at the map and then see the courageous stand taken by President Ozal and the Turks, you will understand what it means to work cooperatively with other countries, and you'll understand why I am grateful for the full cooperation of this strategically placed ally.

Another talk I had this morning -- and one of the reasons I was a little late on this trip -- was with Margaret Thatcher. You talk about somebody that stands tall when the going gets tough, and you talk about somebody that knows what it is to have a moral compass. Thank God for allies and friends like Margaret Thatcher when the going gets tough. And right now, it could get fairly tough over there.

I might say parenthetically, I feel blessed as your President by the quality and the character of the leadership in our own government. I can do my job knowing that options come my way; knowing that our team stays together; and knowing I'm relying, perhaps, on the finest Cabinet and the finest people in the Pentagon that any President could have to work with. And I am very grateful to each and every one of them as we approach some very tough decisions that lie ahead.

The bottom line is life goes on. And so, we're here today talking some politics. We're here today talking some fiscal sanity. We're here today to say a prayer for the United States and all the people around the world that are supporting us in our bid to provide a moral compass for the rest of the world.

I am grateful. I am privileged. Even though this time may be a little difficult, I am privileged to be your President in one of the most fascinating times in history. I'll do my best I possibly can. And thank you for your warm hospitality.

Note: The President spoke at 1:45 p.m. on the grounds of the Quidnessett Country Club. In his remarks, he referred to Nicholas Janikies, president of the country club; Norma Willis, State Republican Party chairwoman; Elinor Clapp, Republican national committeewoman; Ned Grace, the luncheon chairman; Trudy Cox, candidate for the House of Representatives and former executive director of Save the Bay; Michael Traficante, mayor of Cranston, RI; former President Gerald Ford; and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. Following his remarks, the President traveled to his home in Kennebunkport, ME.

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