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Public Papers - 1992 - October

Remarks to the Community in Grand Rapids, Michigan


The President. Thank you very much. May I start by paying my respects and giving my profound thanks to Gerald R. Ford, a great President, a wonderful friend, and a terrific guy.

You guys are fired up. Of course, I am very proud that John Engler is running our campaign. I believe I've learned a lesson for John. A couple of years ago, the pollsters, the media, if you'll excuse the expression -- --

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. No, no, wait a minute. No, they said he had no chance, that he was 10 points back a night before the election. And here he is, Governor of Michigan. And he's a great Governor.

May I also thank Bruce Willis who is with us. I'll tell you, and you know, everywhere I go, everywhere I go I see signs yelling, ``Clean House!'' Why don't you help by sending Pete Hoekstra to the United States Congress. There's one right there.

I'm delighted to be here with your party leaders Chuck Yob, Dick and Betsy DeVos, Dave Doyle. We have a great team going. And let me just say this: Michigan is absolutely essential. We must and we will win the State of Michigan.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. May I also just ask for a minute. I'd like to just say a word about a man who is not well today, the great Congressman Paul Henry. As many of you know, he's in the hospital recovering from surgery. Barbara and I just wish him a speedy recovery, joining all who love him in that regard. And our prayers are with the entire Henry family.

Now on to the election. The choice before the American people is a vast difference on experience, philosophy, and yes, character. Character matters. I heard Bruce Willis clicking off some of this, but let me just remind you, for 11 months Governor Clinton and the rest of the liberal Democrats have been running around saying what's wrong with my record. Let me just tell you briefly about his record. It is terrible. So you won't like it, but here it is.

They are 50th in environmental quality; 50th in percentage of adults with a college degree; 50th in per capita spending on criminal justice; 49th on police protection; 48th in percentage of adults with a high school diploma; 48th in spending for corrections; 46th on teachers' salaries; and 45th in the overall well-being of children. And in the debate the other night he says, ``I want to do for America what I've done for Arkansas.'' No way! No way!

The President. He brags on the fact that last year, one year, they led the Nation in jobs created. That was the year he was out of the State for 85 percent of the time. And for 10 years, for 10 years they were 30 percent of the national average. We need somebody that's going to stimulate investment in small business, not tax and spend some more.

Governor Clinton -- all they do is talk about change, change, change, change. Now, here's his idea of change: 0 billion in new taxes, 0 billion in new spending, trickle-down Government, numbers that don't add up, and a middle class -- let me tell you this, if these guys come in, watch your wallet. They're going after the taxpayer. And that deficit will explode. It will blow up right in your face.

The last time we had a liberal Democrat in the White House and a Democrat controlling the Congress, do you remember how things were? We got change, all right. We got interest rates at 21 percent. We got inflation at 15 percent. And we got a ``misery index'' of 20. We do not need that kind of change.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Change is all you'll have in your pocket if you put that guy into the White House.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Now, here's the bad news for Clinton and the Ozone Man. Here it is. You know who I mean by the Ozone Man. I'll tell you why I call -- he and Governor Clinton, Ozone and Clinton -- [laughter] -- they want to put CAFE standards -- that's the fuel efficiency standards -- at 40 to 45 miles per gallon on the auto industry. That will throw a lot of Grand Rapids and other people out of work. And we're not going to let it happen.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. But the bad news for them is this. The bad news for them is there was very good news for this country 2 days ago. And they hate it. They hate it. The only way they can win is to convince America we're in a recession. We had growth of 2.7. We have grown for six quarters. And now let's keep it going.

There's a lot of people hurting. There's a lot of people hurting and worried about jobs. But the last thing we need is to go back to the failed policies of the past. Let's have the United States of America lead the worldwide recovery that will bring jobs to more Americans.

And here's how we're going to do it. We're going to open up new markets. America's the best workers in the world. We can outproduce anyone else. Let's open up new markets through exports and create more jobs here in the United States.

Governor Clinton says that he wants to have Government invest. Government never created any wealth at all. Let's get this, do this: less regulation for small business, less taxation for small business, and less lawsuits for small business.

The trial lawyers are Governor Clinton's biggest supporters. What we need to do on these crazy lawsuits is to put some caps. It's wrong when a doctor is afraid to deliver a baby because of a malpractice suit. It is wrong. It is wrong when a Little League coach is afraid to coach for fear of some crazy lawsuit. And it is wrong if you see an accident along the highway, you're scared to pick up somebody and help them because you're afraid you'll be sued. We must sue each other less and care for each other more.

In health care, we've got the best health care plan for this country. And here's how we're going to get it through. There's going to be a brandnew Congress, at least 100, maybe 150 new Members. And we'll reach out, and we'll say let's do what the people want, make insurance available to every single American and keep the quality of health care up.

Audience members. Clean the House! Clean the House! Clean the House!

The President. We're going to do that. Clean the House! Thirty-eight years, one party. Thirty-eight years they've controlled the House of Representatives. I think it's about time to clean House, I'll tell you. That leadership up there, they can't run a two-bit post office, and they screwed up a little tiny bank. We need to clean House.

You remember that Harry Truman -- it's not giving `em hell, it's just telling them the truth, and they think it's hell. That's what Truman said, and he's right.

Education: We've got the best program to help these kids, America 2000. It's got a lot of great features. It supports the teachers, not that NEA teachers union. Let's help the teachers. Help the teachers. And one thing it says is let's help parents choose the school of their choice, private, public, or religious. It worked for the GI bill after World War II, and it can work to make our public schools better. Let the parents choose.

I've got a big difference with Governor Clinton on crime. You see, I think we don't need a lot of liberal judges on the Supreme Court. He has threatened -- he has made a terrible threat. He says he wants to put Mario Cuomo -- --

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. -- -- on the Supreme Court. No, we can't let that happen. You talk about a disaster, that would be it. In crime -- let me tell you why. We must back up these law enforcement officers who are out there on that street for you and me every single day. The Arkansas prisoners serve only 20 percent of their sentences; Federal, 85 percent. Let's have a little more sympathy for the victims of crime, a little less for the criminals.

And everybody here ought to be worried about the deficit. Let me give you a couple of ways to get that down. One, we almost got it in the last Congress, until that liberal leadership twisted the arms of eight of the cosponsors and made them change their mind.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. People cosponsoring it. Give us a balanced budget amendment and let's get the job done. Give us a check-off. Give us a check-off so every taxpayer can check off 10 percent of their taxes. And that will have to be applied to lowering the deficit. And third, give me what 43 Governors have: a line-item veto, and cut right through it.

Audience members. Line-item veto! Line-item veto! Line-item veto!

The President. These guys! And fourth, why don't we give the Congress back to the people and have term limits for the Members of Congress. We've got them for the President; let's do that.

But my biggest argument for Governor Clinton -- we've got a big difference on the issues, the deficit, on education, and crime and all of these, but the biggest argument is: I do not believe you can be President of the United States and try to be all things to all people. We cannot have the White House turn into the waffle house. He talks one time about, ``Oh, term limits, yes,'' and then he's against them. Talks about a fair trade agreement, says he's for it; then, well, he's not sure. And then in the debate you heard him, he says, ``Well, I'm for the NAFTA agreement, but.'' You can't have a lot of ``buts'' in the White House. You've got to call it the way you see it.

And what's catching up with him now, what is catching up with him just as we go down to the wire is this pattern of deception. Look, if you make a mistake in the real world, you say, ``I made a mistake,'' and you go on about leading the country or about your business. In the White House you should do the same thing. But you cannot be on all sides of all questions. Let me remind you. Let me remind you about the war. During the war, when we had to mobilize -- and President Ford was very generous -- we had to mobilize world opinion and then make a very difficult decision to send someone else's son or daughter into combat. And what did Bill Clinton say? He said, ``Well, I agree with the minority, but I guess I would have voted with the majority.'' You cannot waffle. You cannot waffle if you want to lead.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. And that is character. That is character. And if you keep doing it, you lose trust. Character and trust are important. The thing that bothers me is there is a pattern of deception, being on all sides of these questions. He said on April 17th, ``I'm going to reveal my draft records,'' and we haven't seen them yet. Listen, a lot of people disapproved of the war. But you can't try to have it both ways. You can't say, ``I got an induction,'' and then, ``I didn't.'' You can't say that you wrote the man, that you once -- you can't say that you're going to have one position and then another. You've got to stand up and take a position and lead. And that's what being President is about. You cannot lead by misleading.

Audience members. Bush! Bush! Bush!

The President. I'll tell you what's happening out there. Governor Clinton had his transition team moving forward, the same old liberal crowd that was run out of business in 1980. They're all measuring the drapes and getting the carpet ready. And the media said the President has no chance at all.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Everyone, hey listen, we've got to get some ground rules on the media. Where's our crowd? Our gang is the good gang. We're giving exemption, we're giving amnesty to the photographers, to those carrying the cameras, and even to those traveling with us. But my ire goes to those talking heads on those Sunday television shows.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. You're right. There it is. This is the fastest selling bumper sticker in America. There is an enormous demand for this bumper sticker. And all these talk show guys that wrote us off, we're going to show them. Harry Truman said something -- and I'm paraphrasing -- he said, there's 50 of them out there, and none of them know how to pound sand in a rat hole.

So as this thing gets moving now, as this thing gets moving now -- and all the people who were measuring the drapes and all the people that were studying the plans of who they were going to put in office, they're coming up short, because the American people know what the Arkansas record was. They know what waffling and character mean. And I am going to win election on November 3d.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Let me tell you. Let me tell you something. Let me end this way. First place, you've got one good reason to keep me there, and that is that Barbara Bush is a great First Lady, and I wish she were here. But I'll tell you the main one. You're right. You're right, Millie does know more about foreign policy than Clinton and the Ozone Man. Hey, these guys wouldn't know foreign policy it if hit them in the face. We have changed the world. The kids here today in that band go to bed at night without the same fear of nuclear war that their predecessors did. Ancient enemies are talking to each other in the Middle East. Russia is going democratic. South of our border is democracy. And Ozone and Clinton keep talking about change, change, change. We've already done that. We've already made the world safer.

I'll tell you this. We're getting right down to the wire, right down to the wire. And here is my appeal: Barbara and I both, and our family, have tried to uphold the public trust. And character, Bill Clinton -- Bruce Willis mentioned this -- Clinton said that it is not the character of the President but ``the character of the Presidency.'' Wrong. They're locked in. They are interlocked.

This country is starting to move. And so I ask -- they say, why do you want this job? You've got a good life with all the family; you're lucky in life. Yes. But I finish what I start, and I want to lift up every single kid here and make them understand we are not a nation in decline. We are the greatest on the face of the Earth, and your future is bright. Your future is bright.

And so on Tuesday, go to the polls. Take your friends to the polls. I ask for your support. I ask for your trust to lead this great country for 4 more years.

And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:05 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. In his remarks, he referred to actor Bruce Willis; Republican national committeeman Chuck Yob; Republican national committeewoman Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick; David Doyle, State chairman, Michigan Republican State Committee; and Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York.

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