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Public Papers - 1991 - September

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator John Seymour in Los Angeles, California


Thank you all very, very much. And thank you, Senator Seymour. Thank you, John, for those kind words. And thanks all of you for this very warm welcome back, my 10th trip to California as President. And let me thank Andy Williams, for starters, for blessing us with that beautiful anthem of ours and the way in which he did it. I salute his wife, Debbie. My respects to Reverend Robert Schuller for tonight's invocation. And Reverend, I know I speak for everyone when I wish your father the speediest of recoveries.

And let me salute the stars of the GOP galaxy with me here tonight. With me is our Secretary of Transportation Sam Skinner; Governor Pete Wilson, of course, and Gayle, making the tough decisions up there in Sacramento; the honorable George Deukmejian, a long-time friend of all of ours; Jim Dignan, our State GOP chairman; and his vice-chairman Tirso Del Junco. And I'm just pleased to be with all of them.

And it's a pleasure to be here, back here at the Century on the Avenue of Stars with so many of LA's brightest lights. Let me just start with tonight's emcee, the honorary mayor of Hollywood. He's a national figure these days, Johnny Grant. Always a pleasure to be with him. I want to thank A.C. Lyles, who worked to pull together this star-studded cast. And I, of course, would genuflect before and salute Bob Hope and Delores. It's a great pleasure to see them up this late. [Laughter] And to Gene Autry and his wife, Jackie; and to John and Connie Gavin; and to Sly Stallone and Chuck Norris and Loretta Young and Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney.

And, of course, Kevin Costner is here. He was my partner in golf. I'm surprised he showed up after my poor showing there in Washington, DC. But he and his wife, Cindy, are here. Kevin's working on the sequel to ``Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves.'' It's called ``Robin Hood: Chairman of the Election and Reapportionment Committee.'' [Laughter] He'll steal your seat right out from under you. [Laughter]

And last but not least, the reason we're here tonight: the rising star of the Senate, a man whom I respect and in whom I believe totally, and that is John Seymour. I think we all know John's story, his transition from successful businessman, active in his community, to mayor of Anaheim, and later, member of the California State senate. Then, Governor Pete Wilson came back to Calfornia, tapped John to take his seat in Washington. And tonight, we're here, unified in our desire, in our dedication to make sure that John Seymour stays in the Senate.

He mentioned, really, that he wasted no time in making a mark for himself on Capitol Hill. It was 48 hours after his arrival that he took part in that solemn debate that he referred to. And that debate was conducted in the highest traditions of the Senate. And he did cast a momentous vote to authorize the use of force to free Kuwait. And it wasn't an easy vote. You've got to think back now. Given the superb performance of the force, it looks like it might have been easy, but it wasn't at the time. And to John and to all of you who stood with me with our fighting men and women during the days of Desert Storm, my heartfelt thanks for your prayers and your support.

It was a fine moment for our country. It turned things around. And let me just say I am confident that what happened then will be the guarantor that we don't have to do all that again. I believe, no matter how bad he is, Saddam Hussein is not going to miscalculate once more. He's not going to do that. And we are going to stay firm as we can be the way I spelled out the policy yesterday. It isn't going to change one single bit. And he is going to comply with every single resolution of the United Nations.

We live at a time of just extraordinary change, at a moment in history when old gives way to the new. In August 1990, the world's attention was riveted on Iraq. And this August, the epicenter of change shifted over to Moscow and to the rest of the Soviet Union. And what began as the Old Guard's attempt to turn back the clock ended up as the last gasp of a dying ideology. And the coup failed, and communism stood exposed and empty at its core. I was very pleased when both Yeltsin and Gorbachev gave the United States credit for standing firmly with them, thus helping to guarantee the coup's failure.

And it is true that the collapse of communism stands as a triumph for freedom-loving men everywhere, a victory for the principles all of us here hold dear, principles we've pledged to defend: freedom, democracy, and the dignity of man.

The aftershocks of that ideological earthquake have made themselves felt around the world, even right here in California. Just last night the citizens of Santa Monica stormed city hall and knocked down their statue of Tom Hayden. [Laughter]

Speaking of democratic change, your Governor, Pete Wilson, tells me that this very day, this very afternoon, every Republican member of the State Assembly voted against the Democrats' gerrymander. And I applaud them and the Governor. And I fully expect them to support their Governor, their party, and their President by also voting no on the Democrats' effort to override Governor Wilson's veto. The Governor is right to insist on fairness. The people of California are entitled to fairplay on redistricting. So, enough of outrageous gerrymanders.

But even in times of tremendous change, some things still stay the same. And next time you're in Washington, visit Capitol Hill and note the differences between the political parties. The party in charge of Congress may not see that Americans want action, but I really believe our party does. Yes, we're outnumbered. Yes, we cannot take the offensive because of the numbers on both Houses of Congress. But we want action. And we're waging a battle to take back the Senate in 1992 and get Capitol Hill moving on our domestic agenda. We can start right here. Help California keep its edge by electing this fine man, sending him back to the Senate.

In his 9 short months of office, John has adapted well to the strange new world of the Senate. John won passage of five amendments, I think Pete referred to this, to the crime bill, five key tough-on-crime provisions, more amendments than any Senator not on the Judiciary Committee.

And thanks to John Seymour, California's and this country's streets may just get to be a little bit safer.

And I might also say that John has been a key supporter of America 2000, our revolutionary national education strategy. You take any number of problems we cope with today from crime and drugs to economic competitiveness, education really is part of their solution.

And right now, our schools can't pass the test. Take a look at this State's graduation rate. Just 65 percent of California's students graduate with their classes. One in every three kids falls through the cracks, and that's a crime.

America 2000 offers answers, not excuses. America 2000 demands revolutionary change. And the very idea of change strikes fear in the hearts of the education establishment in this country. Our critics in the establishment and their friends up on Capitol Hill, sing the same old refrain, ``We aren't spending enough on our schools.'' Well, it's time for them to check their math.

In the last 10 years in current dollars, total education spending went from about 0 billion to over 0 billion, and we're still 12th in the world in math and 9th in science achievement.

The American people are not stingy, but they know that a fistful of dollars will not fix the problems plaguing our schools. And real reform begins with raising expectations, setting our sights on our national education goals, and freeing our schools to meet them. And it means making today's schools better and building ``break the mold'' schools to serve the students of tomorrow. It is important that these communities decide what is best for them, start from scratch, redesign the schools, the school curriculum, the length of the term, whatever it is. But each community should start from scratch and try. Real reform recognizes that teachers and schools can't do the job alone. And we've got to call on parents and communities and private sector companies.

In California and all across this country, we want to see every city and town become what we call America 2000 communities. Earlier this month, I generated some controversy with my remarks about television and its effect on kids. But the fact is, TV shouldn't be an electronic babysitter. Even the best educational TV, and there's some tremendous programs, cannot substitute for parents who care. Kids who sit in front of the tube all day, may be great for the ratings, but they won't help our SAT scores. And they certainly won't be able to compete in the 21st century, when brains, not brawn, will determine the destiny of nations.

So, real reform means taking responsibility, challenging our communities to get involved, giving parents the power to choose which school is best for their kids. And that is what we call America 2000: common sense. But then again as Tom Paine understood, sometimes, in the right circumstances, common sense can be revolutionary.

In California, across this country, really, a Republican revolution has begun. We've known for a long time our party is the party of American ideals, that our faith in freedom reflects the special magic of America. And just as important, right here at home, the Republican Party stands as the party of ideas. From reinventing our schools to turning tenants into homeowners, from enlisting the marketplace to clean our air to promoting ways of finding new energy sources, to waging a drug war that is making dramatic headway, on one issue after another: When Americans ask for solutions, Republicans deliver.

And that's the secret behind our success in this great State. The secret that makes John Seymour effective in the Senate.

And tonight we reaffirm those powerful ideals that give this party its sense of direction and its strength of purpose. I am very sorry that Barbara Bush isn't out here with me tonight. I know she would have loved the glitter and the wonder of it all. And she just plain likes coming out to California. But she and I talk about the problems that our country face. And we often come back to the fundamental values that we all learned when we were kids: the importance of family, the importance of faith, the importance of community values. And so, it starts from square one, but I like to feel that our party now is in the forefront of all of this.

So, my plea tonight is let us wage a Republican revolution here in California and across this country, and let's start by guaranteeing that John Seymour remains in the United States Senate.

Once again, thanks to you for this warm welcome. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:02 p.m. at the Century Plaza Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Senator John Seymour; singer Andy Williams and his wife, Debbie; Reverend Robert A. Schuller, pastor, Rancho Capistrano Community Church; Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner; Governor Pete Wilson of California and his wife, Gayle; George Deukmejian, former Governor of California; Jim Dignan, chairman, and Tirso Del Junco, vice-chairman, of the California Republican Party; Tom Bradley, mayor of Los Angeles; entertainers Bob Hope and his wife, Delores, Gene Autry and his wife, Jackie, John Gavin and his wife, Connie, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Loretta Young, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, and Kevin Costner and his wife, Cindy; President Boris Yeltsin of the Republic of Russia; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. A tape was not available for verification of these exchange.

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