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Public Papers - 1991 - December

Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Senator Frank H. Murkowski


Frank, thank you, and good luck. Thank you for that very nice welcome. To you all assembled, my thanks to you. And, Nancy, Barbara and I send our very best wishes, not just for the holiday season but for what's over the horizon for you and that wonderful family. And let me just say good morning, early morning, or breakfast time, to our supporters joining us through the magic of television, all Frank's friends up there in Anchorage with Senator Ted Stevens, our great leader up there who is doing a wonderful job side by side with Frank in Fairbanks; Mr. Richard Wien, who I understand is connected to this, and so I salute you, sir, and all assembled. And thank you for your work on this.

And good afternoon, of course, to our friends here in Washington. I'm told that Ed Derwinski was to be here. I saw Senator Strom Thurmond; Kit Bond is to be here, Senator from Missouri; Larry Craig, another great Senator; and, of course, standing at my left, and chairman of this event, the indefatigable and wonderful Lod Cook, to whom we are all very, very grateful.

I had a chance to greet some of you all, and I know that many of you have traveled from all corners of America -- New York and California well represented and, of course, Alaska -- just to be here. And to anyone here that I've missed, warm greetings to you. Let me salute the marvelous music we had earlier on, and I just wish you all the greatest for Christmas.

May I say to all of you that your support means an awful lot. It means a great deal to Frank. He's touched, and I'm sure you've been touched, too. [Laughter] But it is very important that this man be reelected. And I'm here today saluting what I think is one of our essential key members of the team up there on Capitol Hill. He is a public servant -- and Lod put it well -- dedicated to the people of his State. He never forgot how he got sent here to Washington, DC, and he is a leader that is constantly looking forward, helping us try to find ways to build a better America. So, the people of Alaska are fortunate, and the people of this country are fortunate to have Senator Frank Murkowski in the United States Senate, and please keep him there.

We need him. We need him in the Senate. And we need more people in Congress like Frank, men and women who believe in growth and opportunity for all Americans, elected leaders who are committed to excellence at home and then are fighting for this competitiveness abroad. And I need more Republicans in Congress, and we need to keep the good ones there that we've already got.

He just came back, as he mentioned in his opening remarks, from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, where he did reach agreement to end this driftnet fishing. Took a leadership role there, took on what was considered an extraordinarily tough problem, and of enormous help in getting it resolved.

As vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and as ranking member of the East Asian and Pacific Foreign Relations Subcommittee, he understands, he understands far better than most, that we are a Pacific Nation. Alaska is a Pacific State. We have all these other events unfolding all around the world, in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East, in South America, all of them positive, I might add. But we must never forget that we are a Pacific power. Our largest trading partners, in total, are in the Pacific area, the Pacific Rim.

Last week -- and it was emotional -- I went out to Pearl Harbor to commemorate that ``Day of Infamy'' in 1941. And sadly, Pearl Harbor was a tragedy brought about by the folly of isolationism. Today's neoisolationism and then its economic accomplice, protectionism, are just as dangerous today as they were some 50 years ago.

The fact is, this country has enjoyed its most lasting growth and economic opportunity and security, I might add, when we rejected isolationism, both political and economic, in favor of engagement and leadership. We are, then, a Pacific Nation. Next month in Asia, and I'm looking forward to this, I'll discuss with some of our Pacific friends and allies their responsibility to share with us the challenges and burden of leadership in the post-cold war world.

In today's world, American lives and American jobs, our prosperity, our security, depend on our ability to compete and to lead. That's why I am looking forward to this trip, and we are determined to go there, do what Frank has been doing as your Alaskan Senator: To help open up new markets for American products and create new opportunities for American workers. The answer isn't to turn inward, it's to extend our opportunities outward.

We feel the benefits of foreign trade here at home, particularly in Alaska with its exports of timber and fish and coal. It is important to acknowledge that last year alone, the total gross exports accounted for virtually all of the economic growth in the country. So with a sluggish economy, we will continue to do all we can to reach out and expand our overseas markets.

Speaking of our economy, certainly we all know that some people are having a rough go of it, a tough time. I see that message in letters, and I hear it in conversations in the communities I visit. While Congress is home for the holidays, they'll be hearing that same message. And I hope they listen closely. Because when I give the State of the Union Address before Congress in January, I will ask them to put politics aside and come together and take some very important steps for growth and opportunity. We've sent up three different economic growth packages in the last 3 years, but I intend now to propose a new economic growth package to get this economy moving. I believe Congress will act. I know leaders like Frank Murkowski will be at my side on this, but I believe Congress will act. I think the American people want us to get the job done. They don't care who gets credit. They're tired of the bickering. Let's get on with it.

Among the most important elements of what we've tried to get acted upon these last 3 years is our plan to boost American competitiveness through initiatives like our America 2000 initiative for excellence in education, it's a wonderful program to revolutionize our schools; our job-creating transportation strategy to efficiently move goods and services between markets, and I'm looking forward to signing that bill; our civil justice reform plan to keep employers in the factories and out of the courtrooms; and our national energy strategy to cut our dependence on foreign oil.

Let me say a word about this, about our energy strategy, and say this: that Frank is committed -- and let me just assure you I remain committed -- to environmentally responsible access to ANWR. It is absolutely essential.

You know, the critics said years ago when the debate was on on the pipeline up there, the Alaska pipeline, that caribou would be extinct because of this. Well, there's so many caribou they're rubbing up against the pipeline, they're breeding like mad. They're having a great time. And it is a sound environment up there. So don't listen to the arguments from the same people that gave us the same arguments before and were proved wrong. Listen to the President who says we, our national security, our own national interest depends upon our having an energy program that makes us less dependent on foreign oil. And I'm never going to change my view on that. If caribou could vote, Murkowski would be in by a landslide. [Laughter]

Let me just close this way: I am determined to get this economy moving again. We've got to make the American dream come alive for all Americans. And we've got to keep this good American, this fine servant of Alaska and our country, in the United States Senate. And with your help, I am absolutely confident that that will be done.

Frank, keep up the good work. Take a little time off for Christmas and possibly New Year. And to all in Alaska who are plugged in, my greetings to you, and may you have a wonderful holiday season. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:32 p.m. at the Willard Hotel. His remarks were broadcast via satellite to fundraising breakfasts in Anchorage and Fairbanks, AK. In his remarks, he referred to Richard Wien, chairman of the Fairbanks breakfast.

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