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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senatorial Candidate Bob Kasten in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Thank you, Bob Kasten and Eva, great to be with you. I am so pleased to see an early supporter and great friend of mine who has certainly done a wonderful job in this State, and that is your outstanding Governor Tommy Thompson and his wife, Sue Ann. What a wonderful couple you have running this State.

And your Lieutenant Governor is with us, Scott McCallum; your State treasurer Kate Zeuske. And, of course, I want to introduce somebody special with whom I've been traveling a great deal, a former Governor who is now leading our country towards what we call America 2000, a renaissance, a true renaissance, in education. And I mean Governor Lamar Alexander, who's standing right here. Lamar, please stand up.

And as he and I contemplate the national problems, I can guarantee you that we can learn an awful lot not only from Bob Kasten in the Senate in his commitment to education but from the programs that Tommy Thompson has already put into effect to encourage excellence in education in this State.

I'd be remiss if I didn't single out my old friend, John MacIver, who worked me to death back years ago and then stayed at my side when I was down and dusted me off. And he and a handful of others have been my most stalwart political supporters in this country. And he's actively involved in Bob Kasten's race, as I knew he would be -- and thank God he is. To Mike Grebe, who is the Kasten chairman, as well as our national committeeman: always stepping up to the plate, always in a role of leadership, I salute him. And I am delighted to see others -- Helen Bie, our national committeewoman is here. David Opitz, the chairman, our State chairman. And party's going to be important now as we move into 1992. And Wayne Oldenberg, who is doing such an outstanding job as Bob Kasten's finance chairman.

All of these people are making it happen. Bob tells me this is one of the largest fundraising events that he's ever had. And I think it's a tribute to him, of course, but also to the leadership that's gone into this event.

I'm sorry to have kept you all waiting a little bit. I'm sorry if this has caused any unfounded excitement. One man heard that Bush was coming to town; he started a rumor that a major brewery was on its way back here, leaving St. Louis. [Laughter]

But Bob supports me when I need it, and that's one of the reasons I accepted with alacrity his invitation. You've heard some about his accomplishments tonight -- moved quickly into the ranks of senior Senate leadership, part of our leadership team in the United States Senate. He stood solidly by my side at times that weren't so easy leading up to Operation Desert Storm. He was there. He never wavered. He saw what we had to do to kick aggression back. And he was steadfast in his support, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.

We had a little receiving line earlier, and I met two or three people that had been in Desert Storm -- one, a member of the police department here; another who was at the dinner tonight. And I couldn't help but remember that Bob went to Egypt to visit Wisconsin's own 128th and 440th -- reached out and told them that they had his support.

You know, he's carved out a niche as a top spokesman for economic growth, for environmental stewardship, for educational excellence that I mentioned, and for American international leadership, and, of course, for cheese. [Laughter]

A few months back, we held a meeting to discuss Soviet affairs in the Middle East. And we talked then about many of the issues that occupy the headlines these days: how to promote economic reform in the Soviet Union. And I must tell you I'm looking forward, if we can iron out these difficulties that remain on START -- the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks -- to meet with Mr. Gorbachev to talk further about reform in the Soviet Union. And this week we'll be receiving the newly-elected, first elected head of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, in Washington, DC. And I'm looking forward to that.

But as Bob and I wrestled with these weighty problems of international affairs -- where we should go next in the Middle East peace talks, how to verify the arms control agreements with the Soviets -- it was a productive meeting, and I learned a lot. But every few minutes or so, Bob, who knew more about the subjects at hand than many of those that were around that table, would weave in a mention of dairy price supports for Wisconsin farmers. What I'm saying is, he knows who sent him there to Washington, and he's never forgotten it. And that's why I think he's going to be reelected, and reelected big. He gives a new meaning to the term ``sacred cow,'' I might add. [Laughter]

We've reached an interesting point in this administration. And I think as you look back in this nation's history, our performance in the Gulf -- and I say ours: I'm talking about the young men and women who were over there, their performance in Desert Storm. I'm talking about the superb job done by the military commanders there and in the Pentagon and by the leadership given by our Secretary, Dick Cheney. Our performance demonstrated that America will do the right thing when duty calls. And they will help a country halfway around the world that's been overrun by a brutal dictator. And they will work with other nations to build an unbeatable consensus in an unconquerable military force. And they will risk their finest sons and daughters, all in defense of liberty.

We haven't lost it. We found something special out of Desert Storm. Go with us, go with Barbara and me around this country. It's not politics. You go to places we couldn't get one vote if we tried. And the American people are out there with their flags and their enthusiasm and the rediscovery of who we are: a country that will stand up against aggression and win -- and win promptly and win confidently.

And there was another lesson; there was another lesson out of this. We learned that the Presidency as an institution is charged to respond to such situations. The President has a unique responsibility to build the kind of national and international support that is necessary to build democracy and to defend liberty in cases that we saw halfway around the world.

But we've also learned that the kind of consensus is more difficult to build when it comes to doing business at home. Do you remember right after Desert Storm ended, people were saying now if the President would take this newfound credibility that we all earned in the Gulf -- that everybody did -- and use it for domestic problems, that would be great. That would be wonderful.

Well, the American people want to take on economic problems, educational problems, environmental problems. And they want to fight crime. They want to improve race relations and fight against discrimination in the workplace and reshape, as Bob mentioned, the national defense and join the exciting economic cooperation and competition beyond our borders.

But if we really want to mount an all-out assault on these problems, we need more good people in the United States Senate, more dedicated people, more imaginative people, and we must return those that are doing the job for this country. And I'm talking about Bob Kasten, for one.

Some of the Democrats' ideas to how we do this domestic Desert Storm is to do it their way. I wasn't elected to do it their way. I was elected to do it our way, the sensible way.

Working with this Senator, we proposed a comprehensive economic growth package. It holds the line on Federal spending. And a lot came out of that budget agreement, controversial though it was. It holds the line on taxes. It cuts the capital gains rate. It facilitates savings, and everybody involved in business knows that our country has terribly low savings rates. It makes it easier for poor and middle class Americans to become successful entrepreneurs, to take a risk to start something. Small business is the backbone of this country -- employment and everything else, productivity and employment. And so, we need more of it.

And I believe if we could get more Republicans, we'd do much better on the economic front. As it is now, I'm playing defense in the House; I'm playing defense in the Senate. Thank God we had 21 vetoes, and every single one of them was sustained. We've got to keep bad things from happening and then get more people so we can make good things happen in the Senate.

We're embarked, as I said, with credit to Lamar Alexander, on a nonpartisan or a bipartisan educational revolution that would put power in the hands of people. It would let parents, not the bureaucrats, make the crucial choice of which schools their children should attend. And you in Wisconsin, and especially right here in Milwaukee, understand what I'm talking about because you led the way in terms of choice for this country.

I'm still very worried about our neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods that can afford it the least are most afflicted by crime. And we've tried for more than 2 years to persuade Congress to pass a comprehensive anticrime package -- one that protects police, protects citizens, helps the victims, and puts the dangerous criminals behind bars. And we've asked the Congress to adopt a modest transportation package to make it easier for commuters to travel from home to work and back without having to sit for hours in traffic.

We've created a strong civil rights package to strengthen our laws against those who discriminate. And specifically, our package seeks to eliminate discrimination in the workplace, and it encourages all Americans to view civil rights as a shared commitment and goal rather than an invitation to litigation. And we need more good people in the Senate and the House to get these three initiatives moving and moving fast.

And we have done something that I think all Americans, regardless of party, wanted. They wanted to get this defense spending under control. And yes, we've proposed restructuring our Armed Forces in a way that pares down our military, pares it down certainly in terms of spending as a percentage of our GNP and just real reductions, as well, in spending.

And we do this without reducing the readiness. But I need people to support that concept and not just come into the Congress with some meat ax without regard to whatever might come up in the future. Perhaps there would be another Desert Storm, and I want our forces to be able to respond, respond rapidly, go in, get the job done, and come out. And that's only going to be done if we have a program for defense that has reductions but also keeps in mind the priorities that we must have established as we go through the last part of the nineties.

I cite this because I think it's reasonable. I think we've got a good domestic program. I get sick and tired from hearing the Democrats out there crying that there's no domestic agenda. The problem is, they want their domestic agenda, the same old tired answers of the past -- try to bring them into the future. And it's not going to work.

How many of these important bills do you think Congress has passed? You guessed it: zero, none. We are going to keep fighting for our domestic Desert Storm, for our domestic agenda. But we can't do it if we're fighting against these tired old characters out of the past who want to go back and say, let the Federal Government solve all our problems. It's not going to work. It's failed in the past. We need new people in the Senate. And we need new people in the House. They're going to look at it just exactly that way.

And let me say this: You can't blame Bob for the failures up there. He has fought for economic growth. He drafted the reforms that ought to save us billion just in regulatory paperwork alone next year. And he's going to continue -- that would continue to produce savings for years to come. He pushed for that capital gains reduction in spite of the demagogs saying this is a tax break for the rich. He pushed for it because he knew it would create more jobs. And he's pushed for progrowth tax changes. And he stood with us in promoting a new progressivity in education. And he's helping us very much, as I said, in our 2000 -- the America 2000 strategy.

He supported our crime legislation. Compare his record with others, not just from Wisconsin, but others on the national scene like he is. He supported this. He supported better transportation for this State and for all of America. And he stood at our side on civil rights, trying to offer the extended hand of brotherhood and hope rather than divisive politics based on clashing claims, lawsuits, and quotas. Quotas is not the American way. We don't need that. We need fair play.

So, I ask you to look at the facts. Cut through the rhetoric, look at the facts, and see what our bill does and see what the other bill does.

I'm a little sick and tired of people saying we don't have a decent civil rights program. We do. We've got a good record. And I'll be darned if I'm going to knuckle into a handful of people inside the beltway who say jump and then the Democrat Senators say how high. It's too late.

I don't have to remind you that after the Gulf war we asked Congress to pass just two bills out of all these I've mentioned in a 100 days, crime and transportation, and it didn't pass either. And I mentioned out there at the White House, if 100 isn't enough, let's give them another 100. But let's get something done for America, and do it right.

So, economic growth, education, crime, transportation, civil rights, defense -- Bob Kasten is fighting for all these things. And I need more like him.

So, the message is simply this -- you know it: With your support and the support of others like you around the country, this administration won't have to rely on the veto as its weapon for improving legislation. It'll be able to look to a Congress ready, willing, and eager to serve the people. And Bob, let me just say you have my strong support. Let's do what it takes to win in 1992.

Thank you all very much. Godspeed to all of you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:30 p.m. in the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Mr. Kasten's wife, Eva; Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and his wife, Sue Ann; Scott McCallum and Kate Zeuske, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor and treasurer; Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander, former Governor of Tennessee; John MacIver, attorney with Michael, Best, and Friderich in Milwaukee, WI; Mike Grebe and Helen Bie, Republican National Committee delegates; David Opitz, State Republican Party chairman; Wayne Oldenberg, Kasten campaign finance chairman; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; Boris Yeltsin, President of the Republic of Russia; Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

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