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Public Papers - 1992 - October

Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session in Des Moines, Iowa

1992-10-27

The President. Thank you all. Thank you very, very much. Please be seated. Let's get right about our business. But first, I certainly want to thank our great Governor, Terry Branstad, for being at my side for that warm welcome. And of course, I needn't tell Iowans how important Chuck Grassley's reelection is, I'll tell you. And for Jim Ross Lightfoot and for Jim Leach, two stalwart friends, if we had more like them in the Congress, you wouldn't hear everybody yelling everyplace I go ``Clean House!'' We need more like him, so send us more like him, and let's get this country moving. I'm delighted to see former Governor Ray here, and I also want to thank ``Major Dad,'' Gerald McRaney, who is -- you talk about telling it like it is -- he does a great job.

Terry mentioned the ag economy, and I do think that when people get down to the wire in the heartland of America they ought to look at the record. I am very proud that ethanol is up and that we made a tough call. I took on some of the extremes in the environmental movement. I've got a good record on the environment. We took on some of the extremes and said, look, ethanol is a tremendous fuel of the future. Ethanol sales are up. The waiver we gave the other day is appropriate. It is sound conservation, and it is darn good for the American economy, and we're going to keep on.

Similarly, the use of the export program, the Export Enhancement, the EEP, is important. We extended it to pork, and it was the right thing to do. I think that will help. We will continue to fight for opening up our markets. We've got the best producers of agricultural goods in the world. Exports have saved us through tough times, agricultural exports leading the way. And my opponent, Clinton, comes along, Governor Clinton, and says, ``Well, I'm for the NAFTA agreement.'' But he goes to the auto workers and has a very different tale. And my view is, the free trade agreement is good for American jobs, and it's good for American agriculture.

I believe we will keep working for a successful conclusion of the GATT round. And I was very disturbed the other day to read in the Daily Telegraph, the London paper, and again, a report in one of the papers here that some Clinton minion had gone to try to get the EC to postpone consideration of this important agreement. We cannot put politics ahead of the welfare of this Nation. He has denied it. The Governor has denied that, and I think I should give credit for that. But these reports keep persisting. And we will work to get a successful conclusion of the GATT round.

One other thing before I start taking the questions -- you know, if you listened to the Clinton-Gore ticket, the only way they can win is to convince America that we're in a deep recession. This morning, 8:30 Eastern this morning, the figures were announced for the third quarter of this growth, the gross domestic product. The third quarter was plus 2.7 percent. It grew twice as much, about twice as much as the quarter before. We have now six straight quarters of growth in the United States, and yet the Democrats keep telling us that everything is going to hell. And they're wrong. They are wrong.

So people are hurting, yes, people are hurting. But the thing to do is to put the whole economy in perspective. You hear them talk, ``Well, Japan's doing this.'' We've got a better economy. We're growing now, with these figures, 4 times as fast as Japan, far better than Germany -- had negative growth -- better than England and France and Canada. And all they can do is think, ``Well, George Bush is to blame.'' They don't understand the world. It is the United States that's going to lead the world to new prosperity. Mark it down.

Why don't we start right in. This is the latest thing in American politics, the Phil Donahue approach to life. So we'll take a few questions here, and I'll try to -- if you give me a short question, I'll try to shorten the answers up. But I get too enthusiastic.

Expanding the Job Market

Q. I'm going to be graduating from Drake University this May, and I'm obviously pretty nervous about finding a job. What are you planning on doing to increase the job market?

The President. Well, the best thing we can do is stimulate growth in the small business sector. What I have proposed is investment tax allowance, a first-time credit for homebuyers. The Democrats say that a capital gains cut is a break for the rich. It is not. It is a stimulus to small business and entrepreneurship. Those are simply three incentives. Job retraining for those in the defense industries who are going to have to find different work because of our success in the world. I believe that the best answer is to stimulate the growth of the private sector.

Governor Clinton talks about Government investing. Let me tell you something. All the European countries have moved away -- Eastern Europe -- from this idea that Government should invest. They've moved to what we ought to be doing more, getting the private sector to invest, free up savings, free up investment. That is the way we will create jobs. It won't be from more taxes and more spending.

All right. I've lost control of the questioners. [Laughter] I'll leave that to -- it's coming along good.

Entitlement Programs

Q. Mr. President, I'm concerned with the growth of entitlements in our Federal budget, and not so much in economic terms but in human terms. Can you outline your plan for reforming the system so that it builds more self-reliance and less dependence on Government?

The President. Well, let me first address it on the economic side. The deficit is clearly too big. The Government taxes too much and spends too much. That is a fundamental difference with the other side.

The President has no control over about two-thirds of the budget -- it doesn't come to me -- and that is known as the entitlement programs. What we must do to get the deficit down is to control the growth of the entitlement programs. We've got to control it by -- let it grow in terms of population, let it grow in terms of inflation, and that's it. Then set Social Security aside. Don't touch it. I am the President that was with Ronald Reagan when it was fixed, and I think we ought to leave Social Security totally alone. Don't mess with it. But on these others, put a cap on the growth.

But in terms of your question, which was only partly economic, it is important that we understand that it is private initiative, that it is savings, that it is investment, and that it's not Government that creates opportunity. It is the private sector of the economy.

Another point that I would emphasize in relation to this question is, we have tried -- Barbara's tried, I have tried, support from many Americans -- to reiterate the importance of what we call the Points of Light approach, voluntarism. Government can do some things -- this is to your question -- Government can do a lot of things. Government can show compassion. Government has a responsibility for the national security. But much of helping each other is done in what we call this Points of Light, one American reaching out to another and helping.

You look at the hurricane down in South Florida and over in Louisiana. Government helped. We moved in with troops, and we moved in with Government aid for this and that and the Small Business Administration and FHA and all of that. But when the chapter is written on that, the people that deserve the credit are those caring Americans who reached out from 49 other States to help the people in south Florida. And that, I think, is what you're talking about.

And this idea that everything should be done by Government is not the American way, and yet that's what you're hearing in this campaign out of the Clinton-Gore ticket.

Agricultural Trade

Q. Mr. President, when reelected, what do you intend to do to get tough with the European Community, to force a GATT agreement for the American farmer?

The President. I like that positive premise, ``when reelected.'' Let me tell you something. Let me tell you -- and here we clearly have a nice objective cross section of America, and they seem to agree with me. But nevertheless, no -- [laughter] -- we are working very hard to get a successful conclusion of GATT. I think most people recognize that the Maastricht vote in France held things up. We, I am confident, will get an agreement. We've narrowed the gap on agriculture and on a lot of these other categories.

Right now, to be very candid with you, the common agricultural policy in Europe is a detriment to getting it done, although we're making progress. Right now, some would tell you, well, France seems to be the biggest problem area in this. But I am convinced that we can move forward and get a GATT agreement. We have to do it.

You know, the best answer to helping those in the Third World -- I told some interviewers yesterday, I think of Iowa, right out in the middle of America, as a State that has an international perspective. You've always been interested in world peace and in these kinds of things, how the world interacts. But I really believe that in terms of this GATT agreement, the best way to help Third World countries, those countries that are suffering the most, is to open their markets, open markets around the world, whether it's -- whatever products we're talking about. And a successful conclusion of the GATT arrangement will do that.

We are caught up in a lot of tough European policies. She asked the right question -- EC. We are going to have to insist through a lot of application of the technical provisions of the trade law, that if they don't open up these markets then we are going to have to -- I would use a little softer term than retaliate -- but we are going to have to insist on our rights, and I think the world knows that, on oilseeds and these other things. And I believe we're going to get the job done.

This stool is perilous here.

Congress

Q. Good morning, Mr. President. The success of your second term will depend to a large extent on how the newly Members of the House will react to your various proposals. And I read in the Wall Street Journal, oh, 10 days ago or so, that congressional leaders have been meeting to plan strategies in how to squash any reforms that the new Members might propose, changing the status quo. Do you have a counter strategy in how to reach these new Members?

The President. Let me tell you what it is: It's to listen to the people. But here's the problem we've got. We got some things done in our first term, good things, caring things: the Americans for Disabilities Act that lifts up those that are disabled and helps them fit into the mainstream, or the Clean Air Act, or more recently even, a transportation bill that puts 0 billion into the infrastructure. So we've been able to accomplish quite a few good things. As we got near the end of the first term, this gentleman is right, the leadership, not all the Members but the leadership in the Congress made a determination: We can win if the economy is bad, and we can win if the President doesn't look good by mistake and try to fix something, do something. So we've been up against what is a gridlocked Congress.

Now, what's going to change? Because they can't even run a two-bit post office or a failed little tiny bank this big, you're going to have a lot of new Members of Congress. Like me, they're listening to the voters. And I will be reelected and not have any politics on the horizon, no more, no more campaigns, no more debates, thank God. [Laughter] No more whatever else it is. And we'll say, let's get the people's business done; Democrats, Republicans, sit down with me now, and let's do what I have told the people I want to do. Health care, make insurance available to all. Whatever it is, education, revolutionize it. Don't go back and patch up, put band-aids on something where our kids are getting short-changed; revolutionize it. Budget deficit, give me the balanced budget amendment, the line-item veto, a check-off for tax returns. And they will have to be listening. When I'm elected, it will be because people are listening to these ideas. And I'll say, ``Okay, sit down,'' like Lyndon said, ``Come reason together.'' With a two-by-four in one hand and a very open approach in another. And I believe we can move this country forward in the first 120 days.

The politics will subside for a while. The best time for a new President is the first days of the second term, because politics is gone, the voters' words are ringing in the ears of all politically elected people, and the country is beginning to move.

You know, I mentioned these growth figures. But interest rates are down. Who wants to go back to the way they were when you had a Democratic President in the White House, at 21.5 percent interest rates and 15 percent inflation and grain embargoes. This Congress, if the status quo prevails, will roll over Clinton like a stone steamroller, and we can't have that.

So we're talking about the new ideas that will stimulate the growth in the economy, do more in the private sector. And I really am optimistic about moving the country forward with the new Members of Congress. Clean House! It's been done by the voters already.

Taxes

Q. Mr. President, I was curious, I've been listening to Clinton's economic proposals, trying to make it add up in my own mind. But this idea that you can raise 0 billion in taxes just taxing the top 2 percent, how does he do this math? Have you and your people had a chance to look into that?

The President. We don't have anybody dumb enough to figure it out. Here's what they're saying. He is saying he wants to raise 0 billion in new taxes, and then this gentleman is right, because there are a lot of other proposals where you'd have to get the money to pay for it. And he says, ``I will tax the top 2 percent.'' The top 2 percent means you go down to ,000 to start with. Then, to pay for the 0 billion in spending -- and that doesn't consider how much his health care plan and these other things would cost -- you get down where you're hitting everybody at ,000.

Then, to do all the spending for all the programs, you nurses, you cab drivers, you guys that are assisting in the field, watch your wallet, because he is not going after just the rich guys. He's doing it the way the Democrats have always done when they control both ends, going right after your pocketbook. So the math does not add up. And it is tax and spend, tax and spend. They kept saying it is not tax and spend, and it is.

When he talks about -- he uses the word ``investment.'' And I'll repeat this: He uses the word, the Government ``investing.'' The Government does not create wealth. It's the private sector that does. So free that up and keep the Government constrained.

Now, who is next? Herb.

The Environment

Q. Mr. President, when you're elected, the environment will continue to have high priority in this Nation. Do you have special plans you'd like to tell us about, your plans for the environment?

The President. Well, one thing I'd like to say at the very beginning: One, it's good to see you, but secondly -- one of the great Iowans, respected well beyond the borders of Iowa for his knowledge of agriculture and his promoting of great values -- but let me simply say this: On the environment, we have a good, sound record. We've done well in forestry. We've done well in assisting in cleaning up the beaches and in the ocean. We've done extraordinarily well in wilderness, setting aside more acres. We've done far better than any previous administration in enforcement of EPA.

But what I've been unwilling to do is go to the extreme. And what we have to do in this country is to say we've got to find -- and we're striving to do that every day -- the balance between growth and sound environmental practice.

So I think the record is a good one. We will continue to be good stewards of the land. But I am not going to go to the extreme that says to a farmer, if it rains and you've got a little puddle there, a tiny one, that means you can't use your land. We've gone too far under regulation and too far under interpretation on some of these statutes.

So I think of agricultural -- we've got a good conservation set-aside program -- I think of farmers as conserving. They've got their families coming along. They don't want to ruin, rape, pillage, and plunder on their own land. It's ridiculous to start with that assumption.

I'll tell you something. Governor Gore -- Governor Gore -- [laughter] -- if you read the book on Mr. Gore's proposals, I'll tell you, it would screech this country to a halt. We cannot go to the extreme. He's out there talking about the protection of this feathery little owl. Yes, I love little owls. I think they're wonderful. But we've got to also protect the 30,000 families that are trying to work for a living. The extreme groups will not vote for me; sound environmentalists will vote for me.

Education

Q. President Bush, as a student myself, I was wondering if you could describe certain points of your education plan for the next 4 years that would help the U.S. rank higher in the world in education.

The President. Good question. And education -- health care and education. Education. We have a program called America -- I don't want to get too programmatic -- called America 2000. We have 1,700 communities across this country who are literally sitting down -- they're bypassing the teachers union, and they're working with the teachers. They're saying let's reinvent the schools.

In some urban area, the school will have one conformation. In another, in a rural area, it might have an entirely different one. We spend more per capita on education than every country, I believe, except Switzerland, and the results aren't good enough. So when I became President, we worked with the Governors, including Governor Branstad, and set six national education goals. Then this program, America 2000, is designed to meet the goals.

One of the key points is, I believe, that we ought to have parental choice for schools, public, private, or religious. It worked for the GI bill. The money goes to the families, and the public system of education was strengthened under the GI bill. So that's one of the provisions.

Then we've got a lot of programs for adult retraining in the schools which should come under the heading of education. We have more than doubled the money for Head Start, which I still feel is a very important program, to keep up with one of our education goals: every kid starts school ready to learn.

So the program is really good, and the nice thing about it is, you only have to depend on the old thinkers on the Democratic side in Congress for this much. The rest of it is being done by the communities, community leaders, teachers, and parents, and that's where the action has to be. We've gotten away from all of that.

We'll go here, and then we'll come over there.

Foreign Policy

Q. Good morning, Mr. President. Most people have been hearing a lot about the domestic issues, which are very important. But we're not getting anything from the other side on the international side of events. If most people have been watching their TV and reading the newspapers, they see that there's instability again in the Soviet Union. We're not getting anything from the other side of the media on what to do about the instability in the world. Without stability in the world, there will be no good trade, and there will be no growth.

I'd like to know what your plan is, because there is no plan on the other side for stability in this world that we need for growth.

The President. Okay. You're right. I never see it on the programs. Democrats don't want to talk about foreign policy. It's almost like there's no threat anywhere in the world. I noticed your shot at the media. Please be careful. I'm an expert on that. [Laughter] But the best-selling bumper sticker is ``Annoy the Media. Reelect Bush.'' But I want to -- here it is. By coincidence, there it is.

But I feel I'm going to make -- I'll divert for one minute, and then I'll come back to your question. The problem is, there is so much understanding of this that some people are taking it out on those who they should not take it out on. Like the photographers with us today, these guys that struggle around, carrying these boom mikes and the cameras. So put them down as good guys, and leave the traveling press alone. But I hope you share my view about all these talking heads that come on the national television and tell us how bad everything is and that we don't have a chance to win. They don't understand it.

Why do you not talk about foreign policy? Because they know that is a strength, and they know that we are the leader of the world, and we are not, as Governor Clinton says, a nation in decline. He puts us south of -- Clinton and Gore, they've got about as much foreign policy experience as Millie, put together.

Let me tell you something. The world is still dangerous. We have reduced defense spending, and we've been able to reduce it because with bipartisan support we stayed strong. We didn't listen to the freeze movement. We stayed strong. I salute Ronald Reagan: peace through strength. It worked. It worked. But there are still wolves. The Soviet bear may be gone, but there are wolves out there. I have reduced defense spending by many billions of dollars. Now, I see the Democrats coming in, and to pay for all their, quote, ``investment,'' unquote, they want to cut the guts out of the defense. We cannot do that. Who knows where the next crisis will come?

So, I'll say this: I believe that it is exports that have sustained us in the roughest of economic times. I believe it is exports that will lead the world to new heights of prosperity, and I believe that foreign policy is tremendously important in implementing a strong export program. So it's not just defense. It is also international economics. And we've got a good record.

My argument with Governor Clinton on the war is this: Nobody likes to make a tough decision where you commit someone else's son or daughter to war. No one likes to do it. I do believe that having been in combat at least has made me sensitive to all of the ramifications of a decision like that. I made a tough decision. It was the right decision. Your sons and your daughters responded. We stood up against aggression. And as a result, and it wouldn't ever have happened without that, you see ancient enemies talking to each other in the Middle East. You see Russia going down democracy's path. You look south of our border, and you see some trouble spots, but you also see a persistent wave of democracy and freedom there. You see elections in Africa. And you see the Eastern Europeans and the Baltics free. We've had dramatic progress. And the best thing is, the kids here in this wonderful band go to bed at night without the same fear of nuclear war that their predecessors had.

So I believe foreign policy is important. I believe national security policy is important. And I believe that it is an interconnected world; the economies are interconnected. And it is the United States, with the programs I've outlined, that is going to lead us and the world into new levels of prosperity. We're ready. Inflation is down. Interest is down. Business is more lean now. Our productivity in this country is up. And all of this will work towards enhancing not only world peace but world economic progress.

Small Business

Q. Mr. President, thank you for making America proud during Desert Storm.

I'm here today as a small voice representing small business. I have a small business in the Des Moines area here. In an effort to provide to my employees a solid work environment and good benefits, I spend each year about 0,000 in taxes, ,000 a year for insurance, and substantially a lot of money complying with various Government regulations. Now, I'm here as a proponent for the Bush-Quayle administration. I'm particularly a big fan of Mrs. Bush.

The President. So am I.

Q. My message to you comes today in the form of an appeal rather than a question. Given that the success of the American economy depends on the success of America and small business, we'd really like to have the administration's help in controlling the skyrocketing costs of doing business.

The President. Okay.

Q. When next Tuesday rolls around, you'll be needing our help, and I, for one, intend to support you. After next Tuesday, we'll be needing your help.

The President. All right. You should have been getting it by now. We put a freeze on regulations. He's absolutely right, there's too much redtape. And I'm not saying there's not more to do. There's plenty more to do. I want to see a freeze and a cap on some of these outrageous lawsuits that are running the cost of business, the small business, in particular, right out of the roof. Governor Clinton refuses to stand up against these trail lawyers who literally are driving the cost of health care and business right out through the roof.

You don't need more mandates. I am for family leave, but I don't think that Government needs to mandate it. Give tax credits to the smallest business of the small, and help them do it. So I think we've got to guard against too many mandates telling a small-business person, man or woman, how they're going to run their lives.

I think that gets back to this gentleman's question, because really freeing up the private sector is the way to offer opportunity to these kids that are asking about where they get a job, but it also is the way we ought to go. We are not going to reverse the trend and go like the failed European policies, where government invests. Government doesn't know how to invest.

Now, she was going to get the next question. Are you nervous?

Q. Yes.

The President. You don't look nervous. Go ahead.

The Arkansas Record

Q. Well, in all these debates I watch, Clinton says that he has rankings in Arkansas that are one, four, four and one. What are those rankings that he has?

The President. Hey, good question. That's what we call a -- in the World Series every once in a while you'll see the seams on it when it comes over the plate, the slow ball. You know what I mean.

But, look, Governor Clinton said in the debate, ``I want to do for this country what I've done for Arkansas.'' That is a terrible threat.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. We cannot let that happen to this country.

And look, I lived near Arkansas, and they are wonderful people. But regrettably, they are at the very bottom on environment. They're on the bottom on job creation. He talks about they led the Nation on job creation. That was the year he was out of the State 85 percent of the time. The rest of the time they are 30 percent below the national averages. The teachers are either 49th or 50th in terms of teacher pay. Twenty percent of the -- I've got all these statistics coming at you -- 20 percent of the criminals -- I mean, the criminals serve 20 percent of their time. Under Federal law it's 85 percent. Less spent on corrections than in all but one State. And it is statistic after statistic. Yes, Arkansas starts as a poor State. But in some categories you ought to see, after 10 years as being Governor, some progress that one can point to, instead of that thing that we led in new jobs or wages this last year. As I say, he was out of the State 85 percent of the time.

So the record is not good. I'm saying we've got problems in this country. I believe we've got the answers to solve them. But I think it's fair, since your senior Senator and Governor Clinton and Tsongas and several of these other guys were going around saying what was bad about my record, I think it is fair, as the American people get ready to vote, to take a look at the record in Arkansas. It's a sorry record. And we cannot let him do that to the United States of America.

Health Care

Q. Good morning, Mr. President. Governor Clinton has proposed a 7-percent tax on businesses to pay for his national health care system. I was wondering if you could explain just what that tax in itself -- with the other ones that the other gentleman was talking about -- would do to businesses in this country?

The President. Well, he says now that he didn't want to -- he's had three health plans. Every time one gets knocked down, he comes up with another one. And this gets to the fundamental question of waffling. To coin a phrase: We cannot let the White House be turned into the waffle house. We simply can't do that.

But the one you're talking about, the one he's talking about is an insurance system called ``pay or play,'' and that if these small-business people do not want to go along with the plan, they've got to pay. If they pay, the estimates are it will cost 7-percent payroll tax on every business. Now, businesses at this juncture or at any juncture don't need a 7-percent payroll tax.

Our plan is better. What it does is provide insurance to the poorest of the poor through vouchers. To those next overtaxed and overworked lower, middle-income people, they get a tax credit. We pool the insurance, thus meaning a small-business person can buy at lower rates and get lower rates provided for his or her business people. We make the health care transportable, so if you move from job to job, and I think the averages are quite high in the numbers of people that change employment, those health benefits go with you. We go after malpractice suits that are driving the cost of doctors right through the roof. We use much more efficient billing. And we get it done without slapping a tax on the small-business people or any business. I believe that's the way we need to go for health care.

Presidential Appointees

Q. Greetings, Mr. President. First, some positive news. I went to college back in the late seventies, when I attended and started as a freshman. And when I came out as a senior, when my younger brother over here attended as a freshman, tuition doubled. That was the years of the high inflation. When your administration and Reagan's administration was in there, I've had a chance to live the American dream. Things have been very, very positive. I have a great job, great family, super company to work for, and things are good out there. The people that are hurting, I think, is going through a purging process. So positive news, I think, from here.

I've got a question for you on administration, if I could. There's been very little talk about administration besides just the President and the Vice President. And I'm really concerned about if a new person came in, who would they bring in. There's been talk of Mario Cuomo on the Supreme Court. Who knows, maybe our own Tom Harkin would be in the Department of Defense or something like that. I think you have some of the most sharpest people out there with Dick Cheney and Jim Baker, Margaret Tutwiler, and I can't name them all here right now. But can you please address that, because I know there's thousands of jobs there.

The President. I do think it's important. I can understand their not wanting to name who they're going to have. But the gentleman raises a very, very important question: Who are the people that are going to come in? What is their philosophy? And from what I've seen, it looks to me -- and maybe this is unfair -- like a return to the Jimmy Carter days, and I don't think we need that, when that ``misery index'' was through the roof, you guys had a grain embargo on you, and these interest rates were at 21 percent.

But let me put it this way: In our administration I have been very, very well served by the people you mentioned and many, many more. But to revitalize a new administration, it is traditional and proper that there be a lot of new people in the Cabinet. And there will be in our administration. I think that's good because I think you can bring in fresh new blood, and I think people start in to implement the program.

So I have said there's going to be a lot of change. Then they say, ``Well, when you say this, are you trying to blame somebody for the economy?'' I've never believed that you can shift blame to somebody. You're the captain of the ship as President of the United States. If things are going well, maybe you'd get credit. But if things are going badly, the buck does stop on that Oval Office. One of the problems I've got -- this is off your question a little bit, but it's to -- we should and will bring in people. We're right-sizing Government. I have challenged the Congress to reduce their staffs by a third. We can do the White House staff by a third. We'll have to respond to far fewer of these ridiculous queries from a very partisan Congress, and we'll be able to do that. We're going to put a cap on the Federal pay until we get this economy really moving. The only trouble is, the President's pay gets cut a little bit. But never mind. [Laughter] That's the way it works, and that's the way it should work. And so I really believe new approach is required.

On the Clinton-Gore ticket, I'm afraid we would see a lot of the same old names that had failed foreign policy and this kind of Government control, more Government intervention, more Government in the domestic side. And I must insist that when the whole world is moving away from Government investing, this is no time for the United States to bring in a bunch of people that think they can figure it out better than the farmers out in Iowa.

Moderator. Mr. President, I think we have time for just one more question.

The President. Time flies when you're having fun here. [Laughter]

Russia

Q. Mr. President, I am from Moscow, from Russia. And I have a question for you. Are you planning a visit in Moscow again to continue working with Mr. Yeltsin?

I repeat -- you don't understand?

The President. No, I'm hearing. I'm here.

Q. Are you planning a visit in Moscow?

The President. Oh, excuse me, I thought you were just in the middle of it. Planning a visit -- well, first place, I support President Yeltsin. I support the move towards democracy. They're having some problems in Russia right now, as we know. But they are problems in a sense of democracy, Yeltsin fighting with the Congress. Have you heard that one before? [Laughter]

So I have no specific plans. But let me tell you something that might sound a little self-serving to you: I was very pleased when Boris Yeltsin has said publicly that ``George Bush was the first world leader to recognize what we were doing.'' Do you remember -- I'll never forget the sight of Yeltsin standing on top of that tank. And I didn't waffle. Governor Clinton said, ``Well, let's wait and see who's going to come out or how it's going to work out,'' when he was Governor, asked to comment on the democratic change in Moscow. Yeltsin is publicly on record saying, ``President Bush supported us. He never wavered. And that support and that consistency was one of the things that guaranteed that our move to democracy would succeed.'' That is world leadership, if you'll excuse it. And that is important. It gets back to this gentleman's questions. Those things are important.

Closing Statement

Well, look, the Governor tells me we're out of here. So let me just end this way. You know, in the first place, I wish Barbara Bush were here because I really believe she has been an outstanding First Lady, and she would love to see this marvelous crowd.

Secondly, I wouldn't be standing here as President of the United States if it weren't for Iowa -- and I'm thinking back to the seventies, early, the eighties -- I would not be here. And we have tried -- I say ``we'' because in a sense it is whoever's living in the White House -- we have tried to uphold the trust that has been placed in us by the American people. When I make a mistake, I've -- ``Look, I made a mistake.'' Isn't that what families do? Isn't that what your kids do or maybe some of you all do? And go on then and try to lead the country.

When Governor Clinton said it's not the character of the President but ``the character of the Presidency,'' I violently disagree with that because the two are interlocked. Not just in this country but people from all around the world look to the White House and the occupant to the White House for their character and the character that shapes the character of the Presidency. I have tried very hard to uphold the trust. I have not tried to be on all sides of all issues.

And so in the final days, as we wind down to this election, I am confident, not overconfident, but I am very confident of reelection. Because I think what will happen is people will go into the booth; they'll look at all the issues; they'll listen; they'll have in the back of their minds the debates; they'll know the problems we have; and they'll also begin to see some of the good things that are happening in our country. But in the final analysis, they're going to say: Who has the honor, the integrity, that sense of service that merits my trust? Who does have the character? And on that basis, I ask for your support and I ask for your vote.

May God bless our great country. Thank you very, very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9 a.m. at the Des Moines Convention Center.

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