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Public Papers - 1992 - August

Remarks to the Republican National Committee in Houston

1992-08-21

I think the Republican National Committee, under Rich Bond and Jeanie Austin's leadership, put on the best convention that we've ever had. It was first-class. Bill Harris was to be here. But Craig Fuller and so many others were intimately involved in all of this. It was a complex organizing job. It was done in a wonderfully imaginative way. I think that the convention gives us now a great lift as we take the battle to the opposition, but more importantly, take this positive message to the American people. I first wanted to come over here and say thanks. No longer will we tell Rich to cool his jets. We'll simply suggest that he keep doing what he's doing.

Let me just mention another item of business which I hope you all agree with me on, and that is I've recommended, as you know, Sam Skinner to be general chairman, the same role that Paul Laxalt had. We thought long and hard about that, but Sam has earned my confidence through superior performance, not just in the trenches politically where he and I have been shoulder to shoulder for a long, long time, out in Illinois particularly, but more recently as Secretary of Transportation. One of the major accomplishments of this administration, and you're going to hear more and more about this as the campaign goes on, is an innovative, creative, job-creating national transportation bill. No one deserves more credit for that major national accomplishment than Sam Skinner.

So when Jim Baker came back, I wanted to keep Sam suited up, out front, working for the cause. He and Rich will do a superb job there at the committee. He is good, and I know he's most enjoyable to work with, so I strongly recommend that.

Barbara and I just came from another event. When I saw what our local law enforcement people went through at this convention to keep the peace and to give everybody their rights, and I mean those that were inside the hall as well as those out, we decided that we wanted to go over and thank the police officers. So we went over there just now, had a representation of the full 3,000 police officers that serve this city that Barbara and I love so much.

As I was walking down the rope line, one of the press reporters inquired, ``Well, what about the tax plan?'' I said, ``Well, it's fairly simple.'' You see, I do believe, as I said last night, that the Government is taxing too much and spending too much. So I mentioned something like that. I said, ``Well, it's a very easy plan. What you do is you tax people less, and the Government spends less.'' ``Well, how is it going to work?'' And I said, ``Well, it's going to work because it benefits the taxpayers.'' There was a follow-on question, as always happens, and the police officers standing there, certainly not the highest tax brackets of all, were saying, ``Hey, we're taxpayers. We're taxpayers. It will help us.''

I think that we've got a good message now to take to the American people. It's been there one way or another. I thought when Dan Quayle put it in perspective in what I felt was an outstanding speech by him last night, incidentally. I was sitting behind the podium, and I watched the reactions of various people in the audience that they focused in on. Not just that part of his speech but the whole thing resonated very well, indeed.

We came down here to Houston with more dire predictions, more gloom-and-doom negativism than I've ever seen in my long, long time in the political arena or, indeed, in the private arena. I think, first thanks to the work of the organizers of the convention, then thanks to the speeches and the presentations at the forums of so many of our party leaders and so many just plain grassroots Republicans, a lot of that is turning around.

Now I've got a big job on my shoulders; Barbara does; Dan and Marilyn do. But I just want to say one thing: I really am ready for this challenge. We've got so much at stake. As I tried to say last night, it isn't just a question of my winning an election. That really is coincidental to who can do the best job for the country. We're going to take this out there to the American people not just on the financial issues but on the questions of values. And then in the final analysis, as I touched on last night, it's going to be a question of trust.

I, for 6 months, have been letting Bill Clinton define me, erroneously, I might add, to the American people. Perhaps I miscalculated, because I said, look, it's more important to try to get something done. It's more important to keep working with Congress to get some incentives that will put people back to work or to pass a strong anticrime bill or to get our energy bill that we talked about last night out or to try to make some steps on passing our health care reform bill. I really felt that it was more important to get that done.

The Congress stalled and did nothing. So, as I told you last night, I'm going to link the Gore-Clinton, G - C, to the gridlocked Congress. G - C, put them right together. Put them right in there, and don't let them come apart.

The reason it will work is because it's true. It's true. The American people, if they don't understand it yet, will understand it when I get through, because it's factual. It is accurate. That one institution, the House of Representatives, that hasn't changed for 38 years, is now going to have not just a one-way street, which they've been pounding me on, every one of those leaders up there; I'm going to take it to them. And I'll go into a congressional district, and I'll do exactly what Harry Truman did. I'll go into a congressional district, and I'll say, ``You have the worst Congressman that you know. You think he's a nice guy, but he's terrible because here's what he's doing on a crime bill or energy or education, health reform, or whatever it is.'' We're going to single them out because they, each one of those liberal Democrats in Congress, have been singling me out and singling the Vice President out for the last 3/2\ years and smiling when I go up there to the Congress.

They say Clinton has a good reaction squad. We're going to give him plenty to react to, every single minute. Let them try to sever that umbilical cord. Let them sever the umbilical cord between the people that are blocking legal reform: Congress, Bill Clinton, and Gore. Let them try to sever it. They're not going to be able to do it because they can't.

The American people don't yet have that in focus. When we're through with the next 70-some days or whatever it is, I guarantee you they will. Then in the final analysis, as I say, I think that people are going to go into that voting booth, and I hope that they're going to say that this President has upheld the public trust. I hope they're going to say, ``Look, we may not agree on this issue or that. He might have done a better job on this phase of our agenda or that, but he has demonstrated that he has our trust. He has treated the White House and the Presidency with a certain respect and dignity. He has had a clean administration, free of scandal, and he stands with us on these fundamental values.'' And that's what I want the people to say.

And if we are -- well, put it this way, when we are successful, we'll be accompanied by a lot of new people to town, these new Congressmen. It's going to happen anyway. We'll get out, and we'll try again. We'll say: You've been out to the American people, and you've been elected. And you wouldn't have been elected if you didn't listen to them this year, because this is a strange political year. And I wouldn't be standing here now with 4 more years to go if I hadn't listened to the American people and touched a chord representing what they believe.

So let's try again to get something done for every family in America. I know it will work. It will work especially if all of you, whatever organizations you represent, whether it's the RNC or Huda Jones' marvelous group in the Federation or the Young Republicans or the College Republicans, the State parties which are so vital. We have the State leadership here, of course, members of the RNC. If we bring all of this together, under Rich Bond and Jeanie Austin's able leadership, I know we can get the job done.

Thank you all very, very much for what you're doing.

Note: The President spoke at 8:05 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Rich Bond, chairman, and Jeanie Austin, cochairman, Republican National Committee; William D. Harris, convention manager; Craig Fuller, Bush-Quayle convention chairman; Paul Laxalt, former general chairman, Republican National Committee; and Huda Jones, president, National Federation of Republican Women.

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