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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks to McDonnell Aircraft Employees in St. Louis, Missouri

1992-09-11

Thank you so very much for that warm welcome to McDonnell Douglas. Governor Ashcroft, thank you for your service to the State, for that warm introduction. Let me say it's hard to define a successful bombing mission when you get shot down, but I am confident -- [laughter] -- I am confident that if I had one of these Eagles out there it would have been an entirely different story.

But I'm proud to salute the men and women of McDonnell Douglas, leaders in technology and innovation. I'm delighted to be here with Cass Williams, a union leader of renown, a man I go back with more years than either he or I would like to admit, but a good man and delighted to be here. No stronger advocate for the workers here.

Kit Bond, of course, I'll say more about in just a minute, but doing a superb job. And yes, I'm counting on him in the Senate.

I have decided to notify Congress to sell up to 72 of your F - 15's to the country of Saudi Arabia. I am delighted to make that announcement.

I know that the strength of this corporation extends far beyond the material that you forge into planes. McDonnell Douglas is a pillar of this great community, and you've always given back, and you've been a good neighbor.

I'm also aware that the past few years have been difficult for this company, for a lot of Americans, as Americans have had to adjust to the reality of a new and more peaceful world. I know that many of you have been anxious about what the future will bring and especially about the status of the Eagle, about the F - 15.

I have been sensitive to the impact of this contract on your production line, your jobs. In these times of economic transition, I want to do everything I can to keep Americans at work. But as Commander in Chief, I have a responsibility for the national security of our great country. I had to consider the implications for stability in the Middle East, a tremendously important area for all of us; preserving Israel's qualitative edge; the peacemaking process; the legitimate defense needs of Saudi Arabia; and our ability to work closely with that country, as we did in Operation Desert Storm and as we are now doing in Operation Southern Watch.

I have worked on this issue personally, touching every base, and I am now satisfied that we have adequately addressed each of these concerns and that we can and, indeed, must, for our own interests, go forward with this sale.

Not only has Cass Williams made clear to us the importance of this sale to every working man and woman here, but Kit Bond has never failed. He's never faltered. He's been down to the White House. He's been working his colleagues in the United States Senate. I salute him for what he's doing. We're going to need him now because we're going to take this up, and we are going to get this approved by the United States Congress. We must. Well, put it this way: I'm going to keep them from disapproving of what I have done properly for the security of this country.

As you know, in addition to the F - 15, McDonnell Douglas produces one of the most versatile combat aircraft, the FA - 18 strike fighter. We're not only purchasing additional F - 18's; we're embarking on a program with the company to develop an improved version of this plane, the F - 18 EF. I want to make it clear, I support full funding for the F - 18 EF. It is in our interest to do that.

The military technology that you produce is the finest in the world, and it's a tribute to American skill and innovation. It's the same skill and innovation that we must now use to win this global economic competition. For those who have any doubts I would say only, look at the talent that is assembled here today. The American worker can still accomplish great things, more than any other worker anywhere in the world.

So I simply came out to congratulate you on this; to tell you of this determination, this decision I have made, which I am certain is in the interest of world peace, salute you for your work; and thank you for this warm welcome. May God bless each and every one of you. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:05 p.m. at the McDonnell Aircraft Company. In his remarks, he referred to Cass Williams, president and directing business representative of the International Association of Machinists, District 836.

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