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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Breakfast in Burlington, Vermont

1990-10-23

Thank you, Vermonters, for that warm welcome. This is magnificent music today from Norwich. Thank you all for being with us today and for that stirring music.

To Dick Snelling and Senator Jeffords, old friend Jack Lindley, Walt Freed, Madeline Harwood -- we go back a long time, Madeline, to those early days in the seventies -- and to Walt Page, all of whom are doing such a great job, thank you. Let me salute the statewide candidates that are here in the audience today.

And really it is wonderful to be here. Cold and drizzly day out there; but then, I think that some of you drove 2 or 3 hours to get here, getting up at 4 a.m. in the morning. And I think this shows fantastic support for our present and future Congressman Peter Smith.

It's easy to have a very special feeling for this place. It's not just, I guess, the beauty of the Green Mountains. Maybe it's the fact that Vermont, as I was reminded by Messrs. Jeffords and Smith, has voted for more Republican Presidential candidates than any other State in the history of this country. Why wouldn't a Republican President love Vermont? [Laughter]

But I think it's something more, and we talked about this coming up here today. This State is known for its independent state of mind -- making up its own mind on problems -- a place that values the individual voice, believes, of course, in self-reliance and opportunity, and understands how government ought to be accountable, above all, to people.

And that's really why I came up here today: to lend my support to candidates that represent the kind of leadership Vermont has known and valued in the past and that is an absolutely essential necessity for the future of this State.

First, there's a champion for the environment, an effective voice for reform in education -- educator himself -- who knows how to make Vermont's vote count in the U.S. House of Representatives. And of course, I'm talking about our friend Peter Smith. Like all Vermonters, he is a man of independent mind. I wish he'd stop reminding me that we do have a few differences out there. [Laughter] But hey, listen, nobody is going to do it exactly my way; I've found that out. There are 435 of these people in the United States Congress -- [laughter] -- but this one votes his conscience. He's earned an unusual degree of respect in the House.

Jim Jeffords was right on that, because he knows how to work with the leadership on both sides of the aisle. He wants to make something happen, not just give a little rhetoric out there. He wants to reach a solution. And he understands bipartisanship, because he's made it happen.

We need more of that spirit on Capitol Hill. Every once in a while, a Congressman comes along who is willing to look at the big˙7E picture,˙7E who˙7E recognizes˙7E that˙7E he˙7E is 1/435th of the House of Representatives. A problem can't be solved just exactly the way I want it solved or the way Pete Smith wants it solved or Jim Jeffords wants it solved. That's particularly true for a President when he doesn't control either House of the United States Congress. So, Peter puts the good of the country first.

And it's so easy for an opponent to sit on the sideline, carping, criticizing, offering a lot of heated political rhetoric, making speeches about things that will never happen. Peter wants this deficit down. He wants to stop mortgaging the future of the young people of Vermont, and so do I. We need him in the Congress. When he voted for that early compromise, it wasn't an easy vote. He knew he was going to get sniped at from people way on the right or way on the left or wherever, but he did what he felt he had to do. I, perhaps in a different perspective, had to do exactly the same thing, and I'll get to that in a minute.

Now, back here at the State. Vermont needs leadership that knows what it takes to bring new growth and create new jobs while protecting the environment, and leadership that won't spend beyond its means. I'm talking about experienced leadership, tested leadership. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about Dick Snelling's coming back as Governor of this State again.

We've got a sluggish economy out there nationally. That's one of the reasons I favor this deficit so much and want the interest rates down. But after a record -- what was it -- four terms as Governor, Dick knows how to create opportunity. And he also knows the balance that's needed: that environmental protection and economic growth have got to complement each other. That's why he's built this proven record of public-private partnerships for the environment.

But above all, after 30 years of experience at the State and local level, he knows how to balance a budget. He's proved it, controlling spending every term that he's been in office. He understands good government. I just asked him if he had a line-item veto. Give a tough guy like this a line-item veto and watch things happen in this State, I'll guarantee you. [Laughter] I'd like to have it, as a matter of fact, as President, because if Congress can't control the spending, I think I could do it with the line-item veto, frankly.

But really, Dick, as I said over in our neighboring State of Maine, it's time for you to return as yet another great Governor, a repeat performance. And I'm confident you will.

To help Dick push through his programs through the legislature, creating this climate for growth that I think Vermonters want -- business vitality, jobs -- and also to help him control spending, I want to see Mike Bernhardt Lieutenant Governor. We need him. I think Dick needs this good team.

So, these are all candidates -- our statewide level -- that Vermont can count on, the kind of leaders that will do what's right for this State and, of course, for our country. That means, first and foremost, bolstering the economic strength of our nation. And that's why I want to speak to you just a moment about the issue that we've been wrestling with back in Washington for more than 8 long months now. I'm talking about reaching final agreement on the Federal budget.

When it comes to the roles and responsibilities of government, the days of tax-and-spend and damn-the-deficit must come to an end. I share the frustration of the people. No American family could afford to run its household the way the Congress runs the Federal budget. Our children deserve to inherit more than an avalanche of unpaid bills. There's no doubt in my mind, Congress wouldn't be in this mess today if we had more Republicans in the Congress.

But the fact that the Democrats control both Houses means compromise. I've found as President if you want to make something happen, you have to have the votes to make it happen. You can't do it just the way you want to do it. So, it means compromise. And that means a budget that isn't the best ever, but the best possible. We're hanging tough for a good agreement, one that shows we're serious about driving this deficit down, a serious 0 billion reduction in 5 years that has the enforcement that the American people should be demanding. There's no point passing a deal and then having it overruled the next day. This agreement that I hope is about to be forthcoming here has strong enforcement provisions in it.

The reason I feel so strongly about the deficit is that I believe real deficit reduction will help bring these interest rates down and make it easier for American families to buy a new home or buy a car, make it easier for the American entrepreneurs to create more jobs -- more jobs for American workers. That is a goal of this deficit reduction. Now it's time -- past time -- that Congress proves to the American people that it can learn to live within its means and that it can pass a budget that puts the Nation on the path to long-term economic growth.

To come up with any budget at all this year, I had to work with the Democrats who control the Congress. You remember 1982. President Reagan found in 1982, in spite of his own historic aversion to taxes, that the only way to govern was to accept a compromise that included raising revenue. Peter mentioned that. You know my feeling on taxes. I like new taxes about as much as I like broccoli. [Laughter]

President Reagan had to swallow hard back then. The rhetoric was almost identical. Go back and take a look at the Congressional Record. The rhetoric was almost identical. I had to swallow hard; but the long-term health of the United States of America, of our economy, has to come before self-interest.

There are a few leaders on both sides of the aisle who understand that. At the risk of repeating it, I'll say it again: Peter Smith is one of them. He has shown that kind of political courage that we need on Capitol Hill. Laid aside what he believes is just the best way to do it, because he knows that we must get the job done. And I salute him. I think that alone should recommend him to the people of this great State for reelection.

So, my message before the election is going to be this: Only Congress has the power to tax. Only Congress has the power to spend. But Congress may have forgotten one thing -- the people have the power to choose who sits in the Congress. That's a message I am going to take all over this country. We need more people who are going to lay aside their own small desire to do what's best for the United States of America. If America wants economic growth, if we want to hold the line on taxes and cut spending, and if we want to get serious about reducing the deficit, then America needs to elect more Republicans to the United States Congress.

You know, putting our fiscal house in order is critical not just from the standpoint of the American economy but especially now, in the light of the big picture: the challenge that we face in the Persian Gulf. The Gulf is a reminder of how intricately the interests of nations are interwoven. What happens in Baghdad matters in Burlington because our concern, far beyond the price of oil, is the fate of sovereign nations and peoples. There's a moral underpinning, a strong moral underpinning, to what's happened in the United Nations as we've stood up unanimously against Saddam Hussein's aggression: a world order free from unlawful aggression, free from violence, free from plunder.

I saw some signs coming in: ``No War for Oil.'' I can understand the sentiment by some of those young people. But I would simply say that the rape and the systematic dismantling of Kuwait defies description. The holding of hostages, innocent men and women whose only mistake was to be in Kuwait or be in Iraq when the invader took over Kuwait -- holding them goes against the conscience of the entire world. The starving of embassies -- good God, this is 1990. And you see this man starving out small embassies in Kuwait. These are crimes against humanity.

There can never be compromise -- any compromise -- with this kind of aggression. The U.N. has lived up to its promise, and we're not alone there. We have 23 countries on sea and on the land with us, standing side by side with our kids in Saudi Arabia, on the seas of the Straits of Hormuz or the Gulf. We're not alone. We're a part of a magnificent coalition, perhaps the grandest coalition ever put together in times of crisis.

I'm reading a book, and it's a book of history -- great, big, thick history about World War II. And there's a parallel between what Hitler did to Poland and what Saddam Hussein has done to Kuwait. Hitler rolled his tanks and troops into Poland. Some of us are old enough, Madeline, to remember this. [Laughter] Sorry about that. [Laughter] She's a friend. I can get away with anything. No, but some of us do remember when those troops went in. And do you know what followed the troops? It was the Death's Head regiment. Do you know what the Death's Head regiments of the SS were? They were the ones that went in and lined up the kids that were passing out leaflets.

Do you know what happened in Kuwait the other day? Two young kids, mid-teens, passing out leaflets -- Iraqi soldiers came, got their parents out and watched as they killed them. They had people on dialysis machines, and they ripped them off of the machines and sent the dialysis machines to Baghdad. And they had kids in incubators, and they were thrown out of the incubators so that Kuwait could be systematically dismantled. So, it isn't oil that we're concerned about. It is aggression. And this aggression is not going to stand.

I recently got a letter from two parents right here in Burlington, saying their son had decided to have his wedding early when he heard that he would be headed for the Gulf. And he wrote them, saying: ``I know this whole situation was unexpected, but I'm ready to do anything necessary to help our country. Mom and Dad, try not to worry, because I'm going to come home, and I'll make you proud.''

Well, Second Lieutenant Matthew Campbell, like so many others, is making his nation proud. And he sent his parents those thoughts on their 39th wedding anniversary. And I was told that they might be with us today. If they are, I don't want to embarrass you, but I'd like you to stand up. There they are. [Applause]

So, my appeal today is to let us reward the commitment of all of these best trained, highly motivated kids out there, all of those in uniform with the same resolve here at home. Here in Vermont you've got a chain of drug stores setting out greeting cards for people to walk up to write special messages to the troops; a country-western station taping broadcasts, sending them over. Burlington Electric adopted an entire company in the 82d Airborne. They're gathering gifts and personal items to send to let the soldiers know that Vermonters care. It's those actions -- multiply them by a great country -- large and small, celebrated or little noticed, that make possible American strength and stability around the world.

So, let me thank you and the thousands of Americans like you who are doing something extra to support our outstanding men and women in uniform. Let me just ask one more thing in honor of them, if you will. As democratic freedoms are dawning in once darkened corners around the world -- and what an exciting time this has been to be President -- the evolution of democracy in Eastern Europe and the evolution of democracy in our own hemisphere -- but as these freedoms are dawning, let us keep the flame of democracy burning brightly here at home by reaffirming our own power of the vote. And get people to the polls this fall, because less than -- I don't know how many weeks it is now -- but a few days from now, Americans will choose their leadership for the next 2 years.

Here in Vermont, the choice is very, very clear, with leaders who can give this great State an even greater future. We've got a good statewide ticket. We have an outstanding candidate for Governor of Vermont, Dick Snelling. And of course, we have an outstanding Congressman in place who must be reelected, Peter Smith.

I'm delighted to be with you today. God bless Vermont, and God bless the United States of America.

Note: President Bush spoke at 9:14 a.m. in the Champlain Exhibition Hall at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Jack Lindley, former State manager for the Bush-Quayle campaign; Walter Freed, State Republican Party chairman; Madeline Harwood, Republican national committeewoman; Walter Page, Republican national committeeman; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Following his remarks, President Bush attended a reception at the hotel for Republican Party supporters. He then traveled to Manchester, NH.

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