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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a Fundraising Barbecue for Representative Bill Grant in Tallahassee, Florida


Bill Grant, thank you, Congressman, thank you for that warm introduction. If I was about to be hung, I believe I'd listen to the man. [Laughter] Bobby, Coach Bowden, thank you, sir, for being with us. To Janet, Janet Grant, who greeted us at the airport here, my respects and glad to see you -- what a campaigner she is. Jeanie Austin is with us, who is a former Florida chairman, now doing a great job as cochairman of the Republican National Committee. And our State chairman, Van Poole, is with us. Finance chairman, Alec Courtelis, an old friend of the Bushes. And then, of course, the man who's going to take Florida forward into the nineties, who's earned the right to a second term, a great friend, an early supporter of mine, a leader among the Nation's Governors, and I mean your own, Bob Martinez. We must see him elected. And, Mary Jane, the same goes for you.

And I want to salute Congressman Bill McCollum. Congressman Bill Young was to be here; I'm not sure he's made it yet. And, of course, an old friend of mine and a man that's served Florida with great distinction, former Congressman Bob Sykes, over here. Bob, it's great to see you here.

Well, it's a pleasure to be with you -- Jim, Tom, so many others, too -- but it's a pleasure to be with all of you here to share the summer's last cookout together -- [laughter] -- and, of course, to be standing at the side of north Florida's pride, Congressman Bill Grant.

Bill told me everyone in Tallahassee's been looking forward to this week, getting ready for the main event. Coming in today, I could see the excitement on people's faces. I'll bet there's not a person within 50 miles of here who doesn't know the Seminoles play this Saturday. Good luck! If you're for Bill Grant, okay, we're for you.

Well, look, I'm here really today to show my support for one of Florida State University's favorite sons. Eighteen months ago, Bill made a decision of principle. He joined the ranks of the Republican Party, and he became a valuable member of my team up there on Capitol Hill. I remember the talk we had when I called and invited Bill and Janet down to the White House to make the announcement. Bill knew that because of some traditions in this part of the State, for a lot of reasons, that he'd be opening himself up to an all-out challenge in the upcoming election. But he made this switch with the complete confidence that he had the support of the people of this district because here in north Florida, when someone stands by his convictions and is motivated by principle, you stand by him. And that's why I believe he's going to win.

And there's never been a question, never been a question of party label. Bill Grant stands on the side of every hard-working family in northern Florida. He's been a key player in the United States Congress, backing a tough, no-nonsense strategy in the war on drugs. He knows that drugs and the violence that drugs breed aren't confined to the cities; they're not simply confined to urban America. Smalltown America faces the same threat. And every community must take steps to defend itself against the deadly scourge of drugs.

Bill Grant stands with me in his unshakable commitment to our environment. He can take great pride in being named Forest Conservationist of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation -- no small honor. Through Bill's efforts, Florida has added 25,000 prime acres of black bear country to the Osceola National Forest.

And he's been a leader in the crusade to restore fiscal restraint in Congress. Today, I want to just mention a few words about the key challenge in this crusade. I'm talking about the budget talks up there. You know how I feel about raising taxes: I'd rather eat broccoli for breakfast. [Laughter]

But back in June when the budget talks were at an impasse, I decided that more important than anything is the future of these kids, kids that are here today. We cannot continue to mortgage the future of the young people by keeping these deficits. And so, I put it out on the table -- all of it -- and said, let's talk in order to fix this budget mess once and for all. I did it as an act of good faith, and I hope I've kept the faith; I've tried hard. And I took a little heat, through 5 long months of these budget talks.

But now time's running out. October 1st begins the new fiscal year; there's still no agreement. Congress is back now. When I leave here I'll go tomorrow to bipartisan budget talks that resume tomorrow. I want a budget agreement. I think it is in the interest of every family here that we get a budget agreement. The country needs it. And I'll approach these talks, I pledge to you, in good faith -- work with the leadership to get a sound deficit-cutting agreement. In my view, it's no longer time -- Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, the time for action is now, and we've got to succeed. And, thank God, we have people like Bill Grant in the Congress that understand this. I believe one of the reasons I'm here is that Bill has been one of the tough people holding the line on spending -- cost-cutters, you might say -- a real bulldog in the battle against government waste. I pledge to you and to every American taxpayer that I will not accept a budget agreement that isn't fiscally sound and fundamentally fair.

These are challenging times here at home and, of course, as Bill mentioned, abroad. And so, let me just speak for a moment about the situation in the Persian Gulf. So many people -- we had a small reception here and -- coming up and saying, ``Well, I've got a son in Saudi Arabia,'' or ``My kid is ready to go,'' or something of this nature. No President, no President is quick to order American troops abroad. But there are times when this nation, when any nation that values its own independence, must confront aggression. What's at stake is a matter of vital interest. Beyond the very real threat of our economic independence -- and that is at stake -- there is a larger issue, there's a more fundamental issue. There's an issue of principle that the people of northern Florida will understand, an issue with lasting implications for peace and security.

Just as we suffer here at home when law-breakers walk our streets and plague our communities, the world suffers when outlaws assault the international order. Every use of force unchecked is an invitation to further aggression. Every act of aggression unpunished strikes a blow against the rule of law and strengthens the forces of chaos and lawlessness that, ultimately, if unchecked, threaten us all. Nothing strikes with greater force at the very heart of the international order than the act of naked aggression perpetrated by [President] Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

I'm confident our response is the correct one. I believe that these economic sanctions, enforced by almost the entire world, are beginning to bite. The squeeze is on, and Saddam Hussein is up against a united front -- forces from 25 nations stand side by side in the Gulf region -- and a strong mandate -- 5 resolutions overwhelmingly supported by the United Nations Security Council. Strong international support for what your sons and daughters are doing halfway around the world. It is vital that that support remain. So, tomorrow I depart for Helsinki, Finland, where I've asked President Gorbachev to meet me to talk about a wide array of issues including, of course, the situation in the Gulf and the world's response -- its overwhelming response -- to Iraq aggression. Never before have we seen the kind of cooperation between nations, proof that the world community will not stand aside and watch one nation swallow up another. The world is united against this aggression. And I am glad the Soviet Union is on our side on this one.

Let me be very clear: We seek a peaceful solution to this crisis. And let me be clear on another point: There can be no compromise when it comes to the sovereignty for Kuwait and the removal of all Iraqi forces. And that removal must be complete, it must be immediate, and it must be unconditional.

And this crisis has taught us that there is no substitute for American resolve, American strength in the service of the rule of law. And there is no substitute for the support of the American people. Under our system, you're the ones with the power. You've got it in your hands. And I need your support, and I hope I have it as we continue to stand up against aggression in the Middle East. I am very grateful. And I thank Congressman Bill Grant and the people here. I am confident that with your support and the continued, concerted action of the world community, justice will prevail over the forces of aggression.

And one more thing. You know, I think we Americans should make something very clear. Our argument is not with the people of Iraq. Rather, it is with Iraq's dictator, who uses innocent travelers as shields; who now, in direct contravention of international law, holds hostage civilians from many countries, using them as shields -- a vital violation of international law, no matter how you look at it. But he must know that our policy and the policies of the many countries that stand with us will not be altered by this brazen blackmail. I will not change the policy of the United States Government in standing up against aggression in order to submit to this international blackmail.

So, let me close with a few words of appreciation for the young people in our armed services from the cities and towns of northern Florida -- Bill and the Governor telling me in the short time we've had to visit of the patriotism and the support of the people here, many of them on duty right now, half a world away: servicemen like Ensign Les Pulley and his brother, Charles, a marine corporal who grew up in Tallahassee. Charles is a veteran of Operation Just Cause in Panama, and Les now shipped out for the Middle East. Or Sergeant Roy Land of the 82d Airborne, who went to school right here at Godby High, served -- [applause] -- some of his fellow students over here -- served 2 years ago as a NATO peacekeeper out in the Sinai Desert, and serves today with our proud peacekeepers in the sand and the heat of Saudi Arabia.

As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, let me tell you: With men like these, with all the brave young men and women of our Armed Forces, rests America's spirit of pride and sense of purpose. Every single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has told me -- from the Chairman, General Colin Powell, right through the Services -- that never in their lives have they seen finer young men and women in the service of the country than they have today. And never have they seen more people properly motivated in operation than they're seeing right now in this operation halfway around the world. It is a tribute to the sons and daughters of northern Florida and to the rest of the United States.

And as I said a moment ago, these are challenging times when we draw on the very best America has to offer. We are a country, one nation under God. And I like what Bill said about the faith of the people in northern Florida, always respectful of the denomination of another. But one nation under God. And I'm here for Bill Grant because Florida and the Nation needs public servants like him that understand that point and need public servants that are motivated by principle.

It is not easy. It is not easy to leave a party, but he did it based on principle. And he's brought with him many, many people -- many who are here today -- that say, ``I'm a Democrat,'' and that's fine. But I want to ask you to vote for Bill Grant because we need public servants of principle in Washington, DC.

It's been a wonderful sendoff for me, coming here to northern Florida before heading for Helsinki and meeting the President of the Soviet Union. It will be a little cooler in Helsinki, I expect -- [laughter] -- but I hope that the spirit over there is about half as warm as this, and the United States will do just fine, thank you.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:14 p.m. at Tom Brown Park. In his remarks, he referred to Bobby Bowden, coach of the Florida State University football team, the Seminoles; Janet Grant, wife of Representative Grant; Mary Jane Martinez, wife of Governor Martinez; Jim Smith, secretary of state of Florida; and Tom Gallagher, secretary of the treasury and insurance commissioner of Florida.

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