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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Johnny Isakson in Atlanta, Georgia


Be seated, at least some of you. [Laughter] Johnny, thank you very much. And to you and Dianne, Barbara and I send our warmest best wishes for a big victory in November.

And I want to thank Chairman Poitevint, who is doing such a good job for our party; former chairman and my great friend and longtime supporter, without whom I expect I wouldn't be standing here, Fred Coopert. And with him in those early days was Paul Coverdell, now doing an outstanding job for the Peace Corps, right here. And then, I know something from having been in politics a long time about the movers and shakers and the volunteers that make things happen. I want to pay my respects to Saye Sutton, over here -- she is terrific; to finance chairman Joe Rogers, who's doing a great job.

Also with me is another one. I don't know that they were introduced. But I'll tell you something: If you look at the recent facts coming out on our national battle against drugs, we are making progress. And if there is one man that deserves the credit for our national drug strategy -- that it's working -- it's Bill Bennett, who is with me today. Where is the man? There he is.

And also sitting up here with me is the Deputy Secretary, the number two man in the Department of the Treasury, John Robson, well and favorably known to everybody. But he also is doing a superb job in Washington.

I'm glad to see our former Senator Mack Mattingly here -- Barbara and my dear friend. Ann and John Parker, whom I go back with a long, long time. I think it was the Peanut Festival somewhere down the southern part of the State. [Laughter] But that's how I got started. John, thank you. Like my line of work now. [Laughter] And I want to single out John Lender, who is with us, I think, who is the candidate for the Fourth Congressional District -- a winnable race. And we want to see him elected.

And I'm going to take all night doing this. But another friend, the guy that I served with in the Pacific -- and he's been a strong supporter of me and of Johnny Isakson and others -- Jack Guy was a torpedo bomber pilot. I'll give you a little war story. VT - 51, back in 1944, and he's a winner of the Navy Cross and a close friend of mine and a longtime citizen of Atlanta, Jack Guy, right back here.

And last, but certainly not least, the guy that's been at my side in the campaign when the going was tough -- and you heard him tonight -- my dear friend, one of country's music's greatest stars, Lee Greenwood. Lee, thank you so much for being here.

And I've got to pay tribute to Atlanta for a lot of reasons, but it's great to be here in the proud home of the 1996 Olympics. You know, the other day -- and I love the volunteer spirit on all of that -- several of you were up there in the Rose Garden. And to you I apologize, because when you have that kind of enthusiastic group there, I just wish that Barbara and I could have made you feel a little more at home. But I had a chance there to congratulate another friend, your mayor, Maynard Jackson; Billy Payne, who Johnny talked about, who's done an outstanding job. I guess he really deserves the credit for their work. And especially had a chance to say what I think of the volunteer work -- the volunteers, the Thousand Points of Light that went into this concept of bringing the Olympics to Atlanta. And so, I think it's going to be a fantastic group of Olympic games, and I am very, very pleased that it's going to be here. And I look forward to coming here.

Now, you're no stranger to spectacles, however. There's the Super Bowl coming in 1994. And of course, you remember the summer of 1988 -- the Democratic Convention. [Laughter] Atlanta has been a feat to some remarkable rhetorical gymnastics. [Laughter] And they kept asking -- one lady's voice -- ``Where's George? Where's George?'' Well, here I am, supporting Johnny Isakson to be the next Governor of the State of Georgia. And the ``silver foot in my mouth'' has melted, and everything's okay. Now -- [laughter] -- --

I remember the call, ``Where's George?'' Today I was brought down to Earth, though, because I went in there campaigning for a guy and felt so good in St. Petersburg. A couple of signs saying, ``Where's Millie?'' That's our dog. I mean, they really know -- [laughter] -- if they really knew the truth, Millie -- Barbara, you know, wrote this book, she and Millie together. It was number one on the best-seller list in the New York Times -- number two this week, number one the week before. You say, ``Where's Millie?'' She's eating her Alpo and looking at the wine list back there at the White House. [Laughter]

But I've come to the capital of the new South, this great international city, with a message for the status quo: Georgia has potential unrealized, dreams yet unfulfilled. This State stands at the threshold of a new era, a bright new era with great possibilities. Everyone here is here because you understand that Georgia won't get there with the old ideas. It is time for new leadership. So, I came here today to lend my wholehearted support to the man who can bring Georgia out of the past with a brilliant future, Johnny Isakson. If they can do it in Czechoslovakia and if they can do it in Hungary and if they can do it in Romania, Johnny Isakson can bring two-party politics to the top of the ticket here in the State of Georgia.

He's been called Mr. Cobb County. The Jaycees call him outstanding. His fellow legislators call him effective and fair. And come the 6th of November, I'm going to call him Governor of the State of Georgia.

The new Georgia it is. Johnny has called for a ``new partnership for Georgia's future.'' He wants to make the government -- you heard it here -- open to all citizens. He said it's time to ``unshackle the limits of one party rule.'' And that means he needs the support of thinking Democrats and of Republicans and of independents to bring that new day to this State.

There may be some in the other party who think that they've got it locked up because of the way it used to be -- a lock on the Georgia electorate. And we say to them, you may be in for a great big surprise in November. There may be some who take Georgia's vote for granted, who think people will settle for the policies of the past. We know those policies haven't worked and that the people of this State are ready for leadership that they can trust. Trust is the key word -- leadership that uses its head, feels with its heart, and extends an offered hand to all Georgians, regardless of whatever walk of life they come from. And so, as I look at this race, having known Johnny Isakson and watched him and being his friend, I'd say that Georgia is now ready for Johnny Isakson to be Governor.

You know, he's devoted himself to the Governor's race as the ``candidate for the children'' because he understands that the future begins and ends with these kids -- their education, their safety, their future. So, he's really committed himself to real school reform, beginning with the classroom -- and you heard it -- not the bureaucracy, beginning with the classroom. And because no kid can be safe as long as drug dealers wander the streets peddling poison, Johnny has already written tougher State laws for these merchants of death. As Governor, he wants to enlist every public institution, business, school, and campus, joining us in this national war against drugs that we're going to win.

And there's another thing. For all the people of Georgia, he understands the importance of partnerships for economic growth. He's built them himself in business, and he knows how to bring new business to Georgia.

And he also knows how to keep government spending under control, unlike his liberal opponent. For over a decade, he's fought for changes that would have prevented the fiscal problems of Georgia. And he's still asking, with good reason, how a State government could run out of money a year after the largest tax increase in State history.

He may never get an answer, but he knows how to make sure it never happens again. That's by getting at the root of the problem, by reforming the process -- reforming the budget process. And I might say that that's what I'm working for at the Federal level. And believe me, when you don't control either House of the United States Congress, it ain't easy. [Laughter] And right now, the Federal budget process is like a huge Rube Goldberg machine: out of control -- noise-producing, smoke, light, heat -- I mean heat and no light at all. It is an outrage what's happening up there -- and sucking up more and more tax dollars on one end and churning them into spending programs without end. And frankly, if we had more Republicans in Congress, we wouldn't be in this mess.

But I have got to work with the Democrats in Congress because I was sent there to govern, not to give speeches about it. And I want to tell you something: I've tried. For 8 long months, we've wrestled to get this deficit down. I do not want to be a legacy of my Presidency mortgaging the future again of these young kids here today. And so for 8 long months, we've tried. And I put it all on the table, and I've compromised. And I took plenty of heat for that politically. And I pushed hard for a bipartisan budget agreement because you can't get it done if you don't have the votes. We're outnumbered. We've got to get the Democrats to come with us not because -- and incidentally, this plan, I'm for it not because it was the best plan ever, because it was the best plan possible that would reduce the budget by 0 billion over 5 years and we need it. And now I'm going to continue to press hard for a budget that fulfills the spirit of that plan -- there are things wrong with that -- and proves to the American people once and for all that we can deal with this deficit.

We've had a few days now for the smoke to clear, and now I think it's time for the country to move forward. We've got many thousands of men and women halfway around the world. We've got enormous problems facing this country in terms of a slow economy. You've got a Chairman of the Fed that says if you get a good deficit deal -- the one that we had -- that the interest rates will come down. So, now is the time to pull together and keep the pressure on the Congress until we get a budget deficit deal.

And you can't just get any deal. It's got to be one that ensures that four crucial tests are met -- consistent with the budget summit agreement, full and fair opportunity for all voices to be heard. And it's got to include progrowth incentives, to create new jobs and keep the economy moving. The spending cuts that we agree on -- and we must have them -- must be fully enforceable spending cuts. And then, with those significant budget-process reforms hammered out in the bipartisan agreement. And finally, as I say, the deal must have real spending cuts -- with real savings -- because the American people are fed up with the Rube Goldberg budget machine in Washington, DC.

They gave me a little grief out there once in a while over the weekend there for shutting down the Government. Well, my feeling was it's no time for business as usual. And, yes, I vetoed that piece of -- that, uh -- [laughter] -- that stuff that came down there. And everyone was saying: This is going to be a disaster. The Congress will be up and -- both the Democratic leaders said: You can't do this. They're going to be all upset. I know what they want to do. They want to go home and march in the head of the Columbus Day parade. And so, we kept them there, and now we got a budget resolution. And the clock is running, and it's going to keep on running. And I'll veto it again if we don't get a satisfactory deal.

And the budget has got to be passed by both Houses no later than October 19th. And I'm confident that Congress can complete its vital work. I'm not just down on all the Democrats. Frankly, I think their leadership tried very hard to be cooperative in this. But there's got to be a sound budget passed that puts the Nation on the path to long-term economic growth.

And that's our problem in Washington. But here in Georgia, you're also approaching a deadline, a referendum, if you will, on the kind of leadership you want in the coming decade. And so, this race for governorship should rightly be understood as a choice between what has been, what was, and what should be. And we know how bright Georgia's future can be. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Georgia's journey toward the future begins with a single vote. Every vote is going to count this fall.

So, let me ask all of you, irrespective of party, and all that aren't here tonight, irrespective of party: Get out and vote. Do all you can to get the people to the polls. It is a part of our heritage, and we ought to exercise our right to vote. Please urge your neighbors to vote. They're filling out absentee ballots halfway across the world now over in Saudi Arabia. And if they can do it and take the time in those adverse conditions, why, surely, all of us here tonight and those others across this great country of ours can do the same thing.

I might tell you that, as I climbed off Air Force One out there, there was a group of young soldiers -- airmen, perhaps -- from a Guard unit out here at the air base where we landed. And they had just come back from Saudi Arabia. And their kids were there, and they'd been touring planes, or taking people over, whatever it was they were doing -- a transport unit of some kind. They're fine-looking young men. And I thought to myself what every member of the Joint Chiefs has told me about these kids -- said these are the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines -- men and women -- that the United States has ever had in uniform.

And I know that there are parents here probably tonight who have kids over there. And I want to tell you how strongly I feel about trying to do what is right to hold that fantastic international coalition together to lead and then to fulfill our mission. And our mission is to see that naked aggression will never pay off and international law will be respected and adhered to.

And so, when I saw those kids, I said to myself, I am going to do everything in my power in working with leaders around the world to protect them, to give them strength, to help them, and to see that we have a satisfactory conclusion. Never again is the United States going to cut and run from our responsibilities. And that message ought to be loud and clear for Saddam Hussein as well as to the people of America.

You've got a good man running for Georgia's Governor. You've got an outstanding man. You've got a family man and a wonderful guy. And so, my appeal to you now is help move this great State into the next century by bringing this outstanding man here as your next Governor. He's good. He's real. He's compassionate. He's strong. He's your friend, and he's mine. He's Johnny Isakson, the next Governor of Georgia.

Thank you all very, very much.

Note: President Bush spoke at 7:12 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Waverly Stouffer Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Johnny Isakson's wife, Dianne; Paul D. Coverdell, Director of the Peace Corps; Saye Sutton, chairman of the Governor's Host Committee; Joseph Rogers, finance chairman of the Johnny Isakson gubernatorial campaign; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Billy Payne, chairman of the Atlanta Organizing Committee for the Olympics; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He also referred to ``Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush.'' Following his remarks, President Bush returned to Washington, DC. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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