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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks at the Unveiling Ceremony for the Portrait of House Republican Leader Robert Michel


Thank you all very much. This is a wonderful occasion, and we need more like it. And may I salute the Chaplain of the House, Jim Ford, thank him for the invocation. I thought he was giving a speech out there, but it was a fine invocation; delighted to see him.

Of course, being with Bob Dole and Tom Foley and Dan Rostenkowski in this friendly, wonderful setting is very, very special. And we're here to honor our beloved Republican leader. I am glad to be here. Whenever you hear about somebody being done in oil in this town, you can't be sure that that means painting or boiling. [Laughter] But today it means honoring.

And I will confess it took me a while to convince Bob that it's an honor to be framed in Washington and hung in the Capitol. [Laughter] But before the portrait is hung, Bob wanted to make sure it would do what the Speaker talked about, play in Peoria. Well, it will, in Peoria and the Nation. And the reason is very simple, and I think you all have heard it here today from his friends, all of whom I have great respect for. To know you, Bob Michel, is to respect you.

And for 36 years Bob Michel has, indeed, embodied what is best in American politics and best about the traditions of the House of Representatives. And I speak of honesty and fairplay and character and integrity, all the qualities that Dan and Bob Dole and Tom Foley mentioned. A willingness to govern, to work things out, to fight his opponents tooth and nail during the day and yet remain a good friend, someone they can talk to during the evenings.

And Bob Michel has stood up for fiscal sanity. I think he's done a lot to help our economy. He's helped keep our military strong. And it's true that he can be a fierce partisan. After all, that goes with the American psyche; that's the way we are. And Bob has been a true American. He won two Bronze Stars for his service in World War II; then in serving his district, our party, and most of all, the future well-being of our country.

I haven't seen this portrait over here, Corinne, but I'm sure it's going to depict what we admire in your husband: a man of conscience, a man whose word is good, a man who means what he says, says what he means, a man that one fellow Illinoisan would have loved very much. Remember Lincoln's words, ``The noblest work of God is an honest man.'' And you've been all of that, Bob, and more. And ask anyone who is your colleague, which means anyone who is your friend.

And now it is my pleasure to introduce Corinne, Bob's lovely wife, for the unveiling of this official portrait. And I can tell you I'm sure glad to be a part of this program, this wonderful program of warmth here today.

Note: The President spoke at 5 p.m. in Statuary Hall at the Capitol.

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