Public Papers - 1992
Remarks on Arrival in Shreveport, Louisiana
The President. Thank you so very much for this great welcome back to Louisiana. First-class, first-class all the way. Thank you very much. May I thank Sheriff Larry Deens for that wonderful introduction and thank him and the other law enforcement officers who are here to back me up. We back up the law enforcement officers of this country, and we ought to continue to back up the law enforcement officers of this country that are giving their lives for us every single day.
I'm also proud to be here with Jim McCrery. We need him in the United States Congress. Please reelect him, and send him back. He's doing a first-class job, not just for Louisiana but for the values and the programs we hold so dear. May I thank Mayor Hazel Beard of Shreveport, delighted to be with her, and former Governor Treen, one of the great Governors of this State, an old friend of Barbara's and mine, glad to see Dave; Mayor Dement, Mayor George Dement.
It's great to be here in Shreveport. Let me say to those law-and-order, sound, sensible, conservative Democrats who are with us at this rally and standing with me here, I am grateful to each and every one of you for your loyal support. I will not let you down.
You know, for the last few weeks I've been traveling the length and breadth of America, stumping for the economic ideas that I believe in. We call it the Agenda for American Renewal. We must renew America, and with these economic ideas and your support, we can do just exactly that.
Here are some of the fundamentals. We want to open up new markets for American products and in the process create new jobs for American workers, and that means the North American free trade agreement with Mexico. Louisiana sells a lot there now. With this trade agreement we're going to sell a lot more, and that means more jobs for the people of Louisiana.
One big difference I have with our neighboring Governor: I believe that Government is too big and spends too much of your money. And he thinks, and he has already advocated big tax increases and big spending increases. Frankly, I want to see us cut those taxes and provide incentives, especially for those of you in the oil industry. We've got to get that domestic oil industry moving again.
This morning there was some good news. It may not have gotten onto the evening news around here yet, but let's keep our fingers crossed: Housing starts made the largest increase in the last 18 months, strong improvement in housing. Inflation is down. Interest rates are low. Our economy is poised for a takeoff if we make the right choices in November.
The answer, the way to do that is to get the President and get the Members of Congress that will give small businesses relief from taxation, from regulation, and yes, from litigation. We are suing each other too much and caring for each other too little. You know, we spend up to 0 billion, 0 billion a year on lawyers and lawsuits. People are afraid to coach Little League, doctors afraid to deliver babies because they're going to get sued by some crazy lawsuit. We've got to put an end to it, and we've got to stand up against the lobbies that are keeping that from happening.
When you see the young people that are here or any of the crowds across this country, I want to give our kids what they deserve, the best, the very best education in the entire world. I want every parent to have the freedom to choose the school of their choice, whether it's public, private, or religious schools.
So these are just a part of what we call the agenda -- --
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. I'm for that.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. These are just a part of what we call the Agenda for American Renewal. While I've been outlining these positive ideas, my opponent has chosen to focus his energies on the past. Month after month, 11 straight months, Governor Clinton has persisted in his attacks on me, unrelenting attacks, many of them very personal in nature. He's distorted the record. And this week he launched the first one in the Presidential year, the first negative campaign commercials, the first ones.
So far I've kind of resisted the urge to focus heavily on his record. But I've got to tell you: I'm tired about the exaggerations; I am tired about the lies, and I am ready to fight back and tell the truth about his record in Arkansas.
So this morning up in Springfield, Missouri, I laid out the Clinton record. I'm stopping by some States that are neighbors of Arkansas, including my State of Texas and your State of Louisiana, so that we can move beyond the rhetoric and see what he's really done for the good people of Arkansas or, put it this way, what he's done to the good people of Arkansas. And they are good people. Look, my argument isn't with them at all. They're good, hard-working, decent people. They deserve better treatment than they've received from Governor Clinton.
The other side says they're eager to debate. I've debated every time we've had elections, and we'll probably have debates. We're not going to do it on his terms alone, but we'll have debates. But until then, until then I've got an idea for debate: candidate Clinton, standing here, debating Governor Clinton and his record, standing over here. And here's what we'll get.
Here in Louisiana I'd like to talk a moment about the struggle of importance to every parent, every teacher, every student, and that's the hard-fought battle to take back our streets from the druggies and the crackheads and the thugs that are criminals in this country.
Sheriff Larry Deens is right. The good sheriff knows what he's talking about. Candidate Clinton likes to talk tough on crime. You'll hear him criticize me about support for local law enforcement. Well, those criticisms are off the mark. We have increased Federal spending, that's your tax money, on Federal law enforcement activities by 43 percent over the last 4 years, and we've done it for one reason: The brave men and women in law enforcement, police officers, sheriffs, whatever they may be, don't need our rhetoric. They need equipment, and they need manpower, and they need the support of every law abiding citizen.
Well, candidate Clinton doesn't acknowledge this record. But you will hear candidate Clinton make some pretty impressive claims about crime control in Arkansas. When it comes to crime, I just wish that candidate Clinton out around the country, the Doberman pinscher, would meet Governor Clinton, the chihuahua. [Laughter]
Let me tell you what I mean. Here are the facts, and I challenge that reaction squad of his to tell me what's wrong. Pure and simple facts: During the 1980, the Nation's overall crime rate actually went down, but not in Arkansas. In fact, Governor Clinton's State had the biggest increase in the overall crime rate in the entire Nation, nearly 28 percent. Now, explain that to the good people of Arkansas.
What about violent crime? Arkansas violent crime rate went up more than 58 percent, one of the worst records in the entire Nation and a heck of a lot worse than where we're standing right here in Louisiana. You've done a much better job here.
I don't believe Governor Clinton is committed to the issue. Once again, here are the facts; these are facts. Arkansas ranks near the bottom in every important per capita law enforcement expenditure: for prisons, 46th; for judicial and legal systems, 50th; and when it comes to per capita spending for police officers, Arkansas ranks 49th. That is not good enough for the United States of America.
Here's another one, and these good law enforcement officers know what I'm talking about. In Arkansas when the prison doors slam shut on a convicted criminal, he knows it won't be long before the door opens up again. As incredible as it may seem, most inmates in Arkansas serve less than one-fifth, one-fifth of their sentences behind bars. That does not happen in Louisiana. That does not happen in Louisiana. It does not happen in Texas, and it doesn't happen in Mississippi. When it comes to keeping criminals behind bars, Governor Clinton has the worst record in the entire Nation. Do not let him do that to the United States of America.
You know, if you play Monopoly in Little Rock, the card would read like this, ``Do not pass go. Go directly to jail.'' And then you'd turn it over and it says, ``Don't worry. You'll be back in a minute. You'll be back out in a minute.''
Look, contrast that with what we've been doing on the Federal record. I'm very proud to talk about my record in law enforcement. Most Federal inmates serve at least 85 percent of their full sentences. Sure it costs money, but it takes a real commitment.
But my philosophy is simple. If someone takes liberty with the law, we ought to put them behind bars, and we ought to make them stay there and stare at the ceiling for a good, long time, because, you see, I think we ought to have less sympathy for the criminal and a lot more sympathy for the victims of crime. When you look at his record on law enforcement, it's not surprising that last week the Fraternal Order of Police in Little Rock endorsed me for the President of the United States of America. That's how the police in his own backyard feel about it. So when you hear candidate Clinton's rhetoric about being tough on crime, just remember Governor Clinton's record. Two entirely different things. Slippery when wet.
You know, in the White House I've found something out. You can't be on all sides of each question. You can't say on the one hand I'm for this and on the other hand for that. When it comes to making a call on something as tough as Desert Storm, you've got to say, ``Here's what we're going to do.'' You have to lead. You have to be unafraid. You cannot do what this Governor does, take one side of the issue one day and another side the other. You can't be all things to all people.
Audience members. Bush means business! Bush means business! Bush means business!
The President. You know, I kind of enjoy this after 11 months of hearing them bash my brains out up there. It's wonderful to be able to stand up and say the truth about this record. He talks a good game, but his actions betray his words. And he travels the Nation making all kinds of promises. You've got a special group, call him. He'll be for whatever you're for. [Laughter] And while he travels the Nation, Arkansas' workers' income slumps; their children's test scores slide in comparison to other States; their rivers grow more polluted. The fish light up at night over there. [Laughter] Their crime rises faster than every other State, and that is a fact. That is not political rhetoric. That is a fact. He is promising America the Moon, while the sky is falling down in his own wonderful State, and it is a great State. And the people have been had by this treatment.
Whether it's candidate Clinton or Governor Clinton, the message is the same: He is not the leader for America. I say we can do better, and I say America deserves better. And yes, we've got problems, and yes, we have big challenges. But our agenda confronts these challenges. We've had a global recession. We've got one kind of complex world economy. And I believe with my record in war and peace and beating down the communist aggression and winning in Desert Storm and bringing democracy around the world, that I am the person to renew America with these ideas.
I have one last -- no, I'm not going to talk about the draft today. Let the American people make up their mind on that. All I'll say about the draft is I am proud that I put on the uniform and fought for my country.
Let me say this: You know, Barbara and I got home at 11:30 this morning to the White House from -- we were up in New York and now took off early this morning. People say, ``Well, don't you get a little tired?'' Yes, you get tired, but you get refurbished. You sense the strength of America when you come to States like this and see turnouts like this.
Clinton says this, he says, ``We're in decline. We are somewhere between'', I think the quote was ``somewhere between Germany and Sri Lanka.'' I don't know if he's ever been out of Little Rock until this campaign, but let me tell you something. We are not somewhere between Germany and Sri Lanka. We are the most respected nation on the face of the Earth, and we want to use what we've done to make life better for people here at home.
Thank you all for this great, great turn-out. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 2:55 p.m. at Shreveport Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to George Dement, Mayor of Bossier City, LA.