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Public Papers - 1991 - December

Teleconference Remarks on New Hampshire 2000


The President. Hello.

Governor Gregg. Mr. President.

The President. Judd, can you hear me?

Governor Gregg. Absolutely. Very well.

The President. Well, you sound like you're right next door here.

Governor Gregg. Well, the wonders of communication.

The President. The wonders. But, listen, I just wanted to check in with you to congratulate you on what I understand from Lamar's people is a fantastic team that you've put together there in terms of New Hampshire 2000. This educational, national education program, but with your putting proper emphasis on it for State and local and all of that. And I just really wanted to first hear how it's going because I understand you've got your commissioners there and the local superintendent and the local assistant superintendent and a principal, plus some other friends, all of which, which I think puts the proper emphasis on this whole program.

But from your standpoint, how is it going?

Governor Gregg. Mr. President, first I'd like to have all these kids here -- we've got a big crowd of kids here -- all the Derry kids say hello to you.

Can you folks say, ``Hello, Mr. President''?

[At this point, the group greeted the President.]

The President. Go, Derry. Go, Derry. [Laughter]

Governor Gregg. I don't think we even needed a telephone line for you to hear that down -- --

The President. No, I heard it outside as well as in.

Governor Gregg. We're doing very well up here. Derry's got an extremely energized program for going to a year-round school proposal with some extraordinarily interesting ideas. And we're very excited about that initiative. We've got a lot of other initiatives going on in this State in the area of trying to increase awareness and activity in education. We recognize as a region, and especially New Hampshire recognizes, that education and well-educated kids and adults, quite honestly, are absolutely critical for our ability to be competitive in the world.

And so, we just want to thank you and certainly Secretary Alexander for taking the personal interest that you've taken in New Hampshire by making this call and having Secretary Alexander come up here to talk to us about your 2000 program.

The President. I'm delighted he's there. And I don't have to say this to make his ears burn, but he is doing a superb job across the whole country. First place, he's assembled a great team here. But I think even more important, with the help of the Governors, yourself included, I think with our education goals and now this America 2000 program, we're doing something positive. We're doing something new. It gets all across party lines. It's not Democrat or Republican, as you know. And I'm just delighted that you are taking this -- not surprised, but delighted that you are taking this leadership role up there on this important work.

And let me say this: This is a time when the country is hurting, and I know your State is in terms of the economy. And when people are hurting, why, we want to do everything we possibly can do. And this education program, though it is not of what you call short-term benefit, it is a wonderful guarantor for the future that every kid in New Hampshire is going to have the best opportunity to compete in a very difficult world.

In the meantime, we've got to do what we can here to stimulate the economy, get it going. But I look at education as a key to the entire future of this country. And that's why I feel as enthusiastic as I do about this program.

I might ask you to do me a favor and lean over -- is Lamar sitting right there?

Governor Gregg. No, unfortunately, he's not.

The President. Well, if you see him -- --

Governor Gregg. Oh, here he is, right here. I'm sorry. You snuck in on me. [Laughter] Here he is.

The President. Well, I'd like just to ask you to ask him, to give him a little homework there, and tell him that I really want to personally keep up with your progress. You and I, I'm sure, will continue to be in touch, but I just would like to hear from our education experts the innovation that New Hampshire brings to this, the local expertise that you're going to bring to bear on all of these problems and to keep us informed here in the White House of your progress. I know it will be good. But Lamar, if you're listening, please take that on as a personal request from the President.

Governor Gregg. He says he will dutifully do that, and we expect to be able to submit a straight-A report card from New Hampshire, hopefully. And I couldn't agree with you more that your emphasis on education as being one of the keys to getting our economy to turn around and, in the long run, is absolutely essential for us to be competitive as a State, certainly as a Nation.

The President. Well, you mentioned long run, but we're working to bring around shortrun decisive action that will identify with the people out there that are hurting. Your State is suffering, and I know it. I can feel it. In a sense, I'm a neighbor there. But I believe we just have to stay involved in the shortest run possible to help people who are hurting. But I also feel that this education initiative can be very, very stimulative, as you point out, and so please keep up the good work.

I understand that our man, Bill Zeliff, a great Congressman, is with you. Is that true?

Governor Gregg. Absolutely. He's sitting right with us.

The President. How's he behaving?

Governor Gregg. He says hello to you, too, Mr. President.

The President. And Jack Dowd, give him my best. And I understand, Representative Pat Skinner is there, and we know each other. So I really want to wish you well and just say thanks for what you're doing and please keep up your leadership.

And to those wonderful kids in Derry, you do absolutely everything that your teachers and principals tell you to do. And you're working in a great State there with a great Governor, and we're going to help. We are going to be a part of the answer in terms of educational reform in this country.

So, God bless you all. And may I say as I'm looking at the Christmas tree in the Oval Office with the cookies on it and presents already under the tree, I hope each and every one of you kids in Derry have a wonderful, Merry Christmas.

Governor Gregg. Thank you, Mr. President. I think they want to say good-bye to you.

Can everybody say, ``Bye, Mr. President''?

[At this point, the group said goodbye to the President.]

The President. Over and out.

Governor Gregg. Thank you very much.

The President. Good-bye.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Jack Dowd of Derry, NH, and Pat Skinner, chairperson of the education committee in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

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