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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters in Concord


Thanks for that welcome back. And Dick, thank you so very much, and may I salute you, sir; the Governor, of course. And we've got our officials here, Senator Rudman, Congressman Zeliff, and former Governor John Sununu. And I'm just delighted to be here.

Before I say anything else, I see some new faces in law enforcement here and firefighting. And I see some older faces in law enforcement and, sorry, firefighting here. [Laughter] But I just want to say that Barbara and I are grateful to those of you with whom we've interacted over the last 12 years in one way or another, mainly over on the eastern part of the State, over on the seacoast. So many of you have had these odd hours, and I'm sure we've inconvenienced your families, but we are very grateful to each and every one of you. And of course, we're grateful for your service to your State, and we're grateful for your line of service. I hope that our administration will stay with this position of backing the firefighters and backing those out in law enforcement all the way.

I want to just mention a couple of things today in terms of the changes in the world. I won't give you the full load on foreign policy or the changes that have happened. But you know, we're having some tough times here. And I think it's good that we sometimes keep things in full perspective.

We've seen an awful lot of change in the world in the last few years. We've seen communism crumble in Eastern Europe. Many of you are young enough to have remembered when you climbed under the desks as schoolchildren for the antinuclear drills that we had in those days. And thank God that the world has changed enough so that your kids and my grandkids don't have quite as much to worry about on that front.

I, of course, was proud of the way New Hampshire responded, starting with the legislature's endorsement but really beginning with the service of the men and women from this State that served in Desert Storm. It was a superb operation. And there was a pride across this State, I'm sure, that still exists, pride in the way this country and this State came together in support of those young men and women. And they served us well, and they set a great example.

And you know, these are cynical days now because we're in this crazy political season. And it's a dance that we go through every 4 years. But I can tell you from a good deal of experience dealing with other countries that we are the envy of the world. And we are clearly the leader of the world. And as long as I'm President, I'm going to do my level-best to see that we remain the leader of the free world.

I do not want to make this a partisan political appearance. It's hard not to these days, but I don't want to do it. But I did make a pitch to the legislature today for support for an economic program that avoids the quick fixes, that would stimulate the economy, particularly the homebuying business and homebuilding business in this country. We've put forward some incentives, laserlike incentives that, in my view and in the view of most economists that have looked at it, would really stimulate that area of the economy that has normally led this country out of recession. I'm talking about the real estate business generally, and I'm talking about homebuying and homebuilding. And so, take a look at that. I hope that it's something that will have the broad support, transcending party, all across this country.

Actually, I've set a deadline for the United States Congress, saying, look, we can get this thing done. So I set a deadline in that State of the Union Message for March 20th. I said, ``Let's move by then. We can do it.'' And we can do it. And then we can have all of the political debate and the political arguments afterward. But let's pass these seven points. And I've been challenging the Congress today to do that, and I hope those of you that agree with me will weigh in, although our Members of Congress here are very well in tune with this and way out front in support of it. So, the deadline is March 20th, and we're going to go after them in every way possible.

We've all heard the saying, and you all have lived it, really, ``Take a bite out of crime.'' Well, Congress got a little backwards; they took a bite out of our crime bill. What we're trying to do there is to pass a strong anticrime bill that will support the law enforcement officers of this country. There's one that does transcend party, and it should transcend ideology, liberal or conservative. It is just sound common sense. I hope that you all will take a look at it because it backs the police officers. It backs those that are out there in DEA or wherever else they are in this antinarcotics fight, and it puts in tough provisions. There are some 60 tough provisions that have been avoided by the Congress that need to be passed.

I know that some of these prosecutors want the bill that's before the Congress to be vetoed or not to be passed. I want to see a strong bill. We've still got a chance now with the new Congress to get a strong bill that will back you in your work. We do not need loopholes for violent criminals, and I will fight against that. And I will fight to toughen the law and have the law that's a little kinder and gentler to the victim of crime and a little less so to the criminal. And that's our philosophy, and we're going to work on it.

So, the last thing I would say to you all is that these are tough times, I know. But I will say this, that I am very privileged and proud to be the President of the United States. All these kids come up and, ``Can I have a question?'' ``What is it?'' ``What's it like to be President?'' And they ask this all the time. It's not an easy question to answer because it's a great big country, and we have enormous responsibilities around the world. But the more I think about that and the more I look at my own personal life and try to figure things out for the future, the more grateful I am for family and the more grateful I am for friends.

You might think when you got to be President that some other things would transcend all of this, but they don't. And I think of people in this room -- and I won't embarrass anyone by singling them out -- whether they're firefighters or whether they're police officers or in the State or local police or whether they're superintendents or whether they're bosses, like some standing up here. But we Bushes count our blessings for friends. And we are very, very grateful to all of you for this warm reception, and we won't let you down. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:52 p.m. at the Department of Safety in the James H. Hayes Building. In his remarks, he referred to Richard M. Flynn, commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Safety.

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