Public Papers - 1990 - October
Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Senator Jesse Helms in Raleigh, North Carolina
Thank you for that welcome. And let me say at the outset, I'm very, very pleased to be back. It's always good to see Governor Jim Martin, Dottie. He hasn't lightened up any, but nevertheless -- [laughter] -- I'm glad to see him. Of course, Jim Gardner, my old classmate in the House, and his wife, Marie, and to Bill Graham, our State banking commissioner, who did a fabulous job as the Bush-Quayle chairman for the State, and of course, to our present State chairman, Jack Hawke, who's doing a superb job for the State party -- thanks to each and every one of you.
If recent events have shown anything at all, it is that we need more Republicans in the Congress. There are two here today who you must support, should support, will win: Ted Blanton and John Carrington, both running for the House -- and we need them. We also have some State legislative candidates: State Rep Art Pope and Skip Stam -- both are needed back in the Statehouse. Don't forget that level of government. And we should send Bill Boyd to the State senate to join them. Also, a big thank you to those who made this special event possible: Jim Johnson, the chairman of RJR, and to Jim and Dave and so many others that have been so instrumental in the success of this important event.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention two who flew down with Jesse and me today on Air Force One. First, someone who this crowd is particularly proud of, and I'm talking about our Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole. She has done an outstanding job for us. And then another who has roots in this State and has done a superior job, a superb job, of heading up our battle against narcotics -- designed our national drug strategy that is beginning to work -- and I'm, of course, talking about Bill Bennett, the drug czar, down here.
And again, it's great to be back in Raleigh. I bring you greetings from Barbara. Dot -- where's Dot? She sends you her special love. They're very good friends. To brag just a little bit, I'd like to point out what a great job my Barbara is doing to combat illiteracy in the United States.
When we first arrived in Washington, the words of Harry Truman and advice stuck in my head. He said, ``If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.'' [Laughter] Well, times have gotten a little hectic up there. Who would have thought that our own dog, Millie, would write a book that was the number one on the bestseller list last week of the New York Times? [Laughter] Give her Alpo and she wants to see the wine list. [Laughter]
But it is a pleasure to be here after this momentous week: the unification of Germany, the bipartisan budget agreement, and of course -- particularly here in the Tarheel State -- the 30th anniversary of ``The Andy Griffith Show.'' [Laughter]
But I am very proud and privileged to again be at the side of my friend, this champion of conviction, Senator Jesse Helms.
As a public servant who's given 18 years to the U.S. Senate, Jesse has become one of its most effective leaders as a watchdog of taxpayer money and a defender of family values. And he's earned a reputation -- well-earned reputation -- of independence and candor. And occasionally, of course, there are going to be differences. And yesterday we had a national press conference there, and they tried to point out, well, Jesse wasn't with us on one issue or another. That's not the point. The point, I told them, is that if we had more Senators like him we wouldn't be trying to solve some of these problems. They should have been solved months ago -- years ago.
But we've got a budget problem, and we are standing together. And the fact that the Democrats control the Congress is all the more reason for Republicans to stand firm to make this the best budget deal possible.
Pressures caused by the deficit have been boiling for years. This year, they've reached the boiling point. For 8 long months, we've wrestled with this problem. For 8 long months, I've tried to negotiate in good faith and laid it on the table, even revenues. Took the heat, pushed hard for the bipartisan agreement not because it was the best plan ever but because it was the best plan possible. And I will continue now to press hard for a budget that fulfills the spirit of that bipartisan plan and proves to the American people once and for all that we can deal with this deficit that is mortgaging the future of those young children over there. We've got to turn it around now and get the deficit under control.
So, my objective now -- and that's what Jesse and I and other leaders were talking about yesterday -- is to put together a better package, one that meets our target of 0 billion of deficit reduction over the next 5 years. As the Congress works on this new agreement, let me be clear that any package I sign must meet the following criteria: It must be consistent with the themes of the bipartisan budget summit agreement. It must be produced on a bipartisan basis. And it must have full and fair opportunities for all voices to be heard. It must deliver real spending cuts with real savings.
The American people, I think, are sick and tired of this smoke-and-mirrors approach to the fiscal policy of the United States. So, I think it is time for the Congress to rise to the occasion, to make the hard choices and real reductions.
The budget must include progrowth incentives to create jobs and to keep the economy moving forward. And the spending cuts we agree on must be fully enforceable. And the budget I sign must include significant budget process reforms, just as those that were hammered out in that bipartisan agreement. Someday I would like to have -- and I expect I can confidently speak for Jim Martin -- what he'd like to have in the State, I'd like to have at the Federal level -- if the Congress can't do these cuts, the cuts that Jesse's been recommending for years, give the President the line-item veto. Give him a shot at it.
And I'm also still in favor of the balanced budget amendment. I think it would discipline the Congress, and I think it would discipline the Federal Government as well. I think the American people have every right to expect more from their elected representatives. So, let's not let them down. If this is the best the system can do, then it's time to build a better budget system.
And Jesse knows exactly what I'm talking about because he is one of the toughest fighters in Washington for lower government spending. He's out there on the point day in and day out. And ironically, he practices what he preaches. He's never taken a so-called junket. He doesn't send out mass mailings at taxpayers' expense. And he's returned million to the United States Treasury in unused office funds.
This is an interesting statistic: He ranks number one in the Senate for cutting wasteful spending and opposing massive spending bills, according to the National Taxpayers Union. In fact, that group said: ``If every Member of Congress cast spending votes as carefully as Senator Jesse Helms, we would have a balanced Federal budget, lower taxes, and a healthier economy.'' And I agree with that, and the people of North Carolina agree with that, too.
And he has always been a clear and a strong voice for this State. Ask the more than 43,000 North Carolinians who got their Social Security checks after Jesse cleared away the redtape for them, or the serviceman Jesse helped get home from the Philippines and into Walter Reed Hospital up there for malaria treatment, or the dying little boy whose dream of attending a Redskins football game and meeting players came true, thanks to this Senator. And that's the kind of compassion and commitment that North Carolina needs, and that's what Jesse Helms stands for. He's never forgotten who sent him to the United States Senate, and he never will.
And he is known as a tough fighter, a man of tenacity. Senator Sam Ervin once said, ``I admire Senator Helms very much because he's one of the few men in public life who's got the courage to stand up for what he honestly believes. Courage,'' he went on, ``is the rarest trait among public men. Many of them are intelligent, but there are very few of them that are courageous.'' What a wonderful tribute to your Senator.
True grit. Speaking of true grit, it was John Wayne who once said, ``Jesse, we need a hundred like you.'' And I'll tell you, the liberals must be thanking their lucky stars they've only got one Jesse Helms. But if we did have a hundred, here's where it would have made a difference -- one place -- and that's on the crime bill I'm fighting for.
Jesse's father was a police chief. And he's supported 45 different bills to crack down on crimes and drugs. And Jesse, like me, believes that cop killers do deserve the ultimate penalty. And so, in May of '89, after consultation with Senator Helms and other leaders in the Senate, I sent our Violent Crime Control Act to Capitol Hill, with a real, workable death penalty for criminals who kill Federal law enforcement officers, right at the heart of the legislation. Last week, the House finally passed its version of our crime bill, after nearly 16 months of delay. Now it goes to the House-Senate conference committee for deliberations. Well, if we had a Republican majority, that crime bill would have been passed 16 months ago. That's a disgrace, and that's why we need more Republicans in Congress -- both Senate and House.
I think the voters are beginning to understand that our crime legislation seeks to eliminate these liberal loopholes that allow the worst criminals to escape punishment. And the message voters send to criminals in North Carolina will be determined by the Senator the voters send to Washington in November. And that Senator will, of course, be Senator Jesse Helms.
I've said it before here in the State and in Washington: The Jesse Helms I know is a man of conviction, a man who embodies the values of North Carolina's quiet and decent people -- God-fearing good citizens who believe, for instance, as I do, in returning voluntary prayer to our nation's classrooms; people with the kind of mainstream values that gave them the nickname Tarheels -- famous for sticking to their principles.
A reporter once asked Jesse what he would most like to be remembered for. Perhaps, thought the reporter, it would be Jesse's plan for choice in education or his tireless work on behalf of so many charities or even his magnificent family -- five kids and six grandchildren. But the Senator replied this: ``Not once have I bent a principle.''
And that's the Jesse Helms who, for the last 18 years, has stood for one very important principle, a strong defense, even when it meant standing up against the odds. In the 1970's, Jesse was a lone voice crying out against the cuts in defense that nearly brought America to her knees. And he was one of President Reagan's strongest supporters in rebuilding our vital defense needs. Today freedom is on the march from Moscow to Managua, and it really is because America is strong again. And a strong America is helping build a more democratic world, offering the hope of freedom that could never have been offered if people saw this country as weak.
And now, as we face this new challenge in the Persian Gulf, we realize the importance of the decisions that were taken in the past years, by leaders like Jesse Helms, to keep our forces ready, mobile, in first-class condition. As they say, you've got to go with what you've got. And thank God the 82d Airborne, proudly stationed here in North Carolina, the All American Division, was at the ready when Saddam Hussein launched his unprovoked attack on Kuwait. Our service men and women at Fort Bragg, Camp LeJeune, and Cherry Point understand the need for a strong defense, and so does Jesse.
And the people of this State, perhaps disproportionately so, understand it. I've gotten long letters from many North Carolinians telling me of the wonderful community support in the State for our troops overseas. Thousands of families with loved ones far away in the desert sun have learned the hard way that -- as one woman from Lexington, North Carolina, wrote me -- ``They also serve who only stand and wait.'' I thank each and every one of you for your service and support to those brave men and women.
Our GI's have left spouses and children behind and headed for the Persian Gulf, and on election day they will be sending in their absentee ballots from their posts. In a year that has seen so much encouraging movement toward democracy, the least we can do is exercise our own right to vote. We owe it to the millions of freedom fighters around the world working for democracy, and to troops defending democracy as well, to take the time to cast our ballots. So, let's make our country proud and get out the vote on November 6th.
North Carolina has this wonderful, proud heritage from the heart of the Smokey Mountains to the farms of the Piedmont to the barrier islands of the Outer Banks. In fact, on Kitty Hawk stands a granite memorial to the Fathers of Flight, the Wright brothers. The inscription commemorates their conquest of the air, their victory over gravity, ``achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.'' This November, those same qualities -- dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith -- will bring Jesse Helms to victory.
I think I would conclude by saying that this is perhaps the most challenging time to be President of the United States, certainly in anytime in the Nuclear Age, anytime since World War II. The challenges are enormous. And it's exciting to be there. And I am grateful, I might say, as I look around this room -- and met some people earlier -- for those who were so instrumental in my having a chance to serve in this way. And Barbara feels exactly the same way about it. But I want to put it in this perspective as we honor Jesse Helms: It is very important to a President that he has people in the United States Senate who will tell it as it is -- in whom he has trust, in whom he has confidence. And I came here today to say I have trust and I have confidence in your Senator. Send him back to Washington!
Thank you, and God bless this State.
Note: President Bush spoke at 9:30 a.m. at the Raleigh Civic Center. In his remarks, he referred to Governor Martin's wife, Dottie; James Johnson, chief executive officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; James Peden, Jr., member of the State board of transportation; David Flaherty, State secretary of human resources; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He also referred to ``Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush.'' Following his remarks, President Bush traveled to St. Petersburg, FL.