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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks at a Rally in St. Louis


The President. Thank you very much.

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

The President. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you so much for this great return-to-Missouri reception. May I start by thanking the Democratic Governor of Maryland. It takes a lot of guts to do what he did today, and I'm delighted to have his endorsement.

Of course, the special icing on the cake is to have the support of Jack Buck and have him here today. I would remind Jack of the old saying, when the Atlanta Braves were being -- said they couldn't make the World Series -- you remember the old saying, ``It ain't over 'til Cabrera swings''? It turned out to be coming-back time, and I'm proud to have Jack at my side.

Of course, John Ashcroft, this great Governor of this great State. I'll tell you, he has done a superb job for me, and I know that it'll mean that we'll carry Missouri. May I also thank two great Senators, one of whom is comfortably there now; the other one is comfortably there, but he must be reelected. I'm talking about Kit Bond for the United States Senate, and Jack Danforth, who brings us such quality in that body. If we had more Senators like that, people wouldn't be yelling, ``Clean House!'' all the time. But we know how to clean House, and so I've got some good ideas for here. Elect Jim Talent to the United States Congress. Provide us new leadership by sending Mack Holekamp to the United States Congress, and add the names Montgomery and Ferguson, and we will clean House.

I know it's going to be hard to fill the shoes of John Ashcroft, but send Bill Webster, elect him Governor. We've got to have a Republican Governor.

May I thank all the students at Maryville and thank everybody involved in this rally. You know what I feel today? The ``Spirit of St. Louis.'' And I've felt that spirit in Ohio and in Michigan and New Jersey and in Florida and all across this country. And that spirit tells me in my soul that on November 3d, we are going to be reelected for 4 more years.

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

The President. It boils down to experience, to a difference in philosophy, and yes, it boils down to character. Character and trust matter.

I hate to ruin this beautiful rally out here, but I've got to put in perspective the record of Arkansas. It won't take me long, but you've got to listen. Here's a man who wants to be President of the United States, and here is the Arkansas record. They're good people there. Barbara and I lived next door to them. They're entitled to something better: 50th in the quality of environmental initiatives; 50th in the percentage of adults with a college degree; 50th in per capita spending on criminal justice; 49th in per capita spending on police protection; 48th in percentage of adults with a high school diploma; 48th in spending on corrections; 46th on teachers' salary; 45th in the overall well-being of children. And he said in the last debate, ``I want to do for America what I've done for Arkansas.'' No way! No way!

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. We cannot let that happen. We cannot let him do that to this country. I think people are beginning to focus on that.

For 11 months, Governor Clinton and a bunch of the other liberal Democrats were running around saying everything that was wrong with me and everything that's wrong with America. Now we see the American economy is growing, not shrinking, and we are going to win this election.

No, Governor Clinton and the Ozone Man, all they do -- [laughter] -- all they do is -- hey, listen, put Ozone in there and every worker who depends on reasonable balance between the environment and growth and business is going to be out of work. I'm a good environmental President, but we're not going to go to the extreme under Clinton and Ozone.

No, but they both talk about change, change, change. Well, here's what they want to change. They want to bring in, just for openers, 0 billion in new taxes, 0 billion in new spending, trickle-down Government, and the numbers don't add up. So when they say we're going after the rich guys, you cab drivers, you nurses, you teachers, watch your wallet; they're coming right after you. And we're not going to let them do it.

I don't want to ruin this part of the rally either, but we've got to remember what happened when we had a President of the Democratic left, like Bill Clinton, with a Democratic Congress. You remember what it was like? Inflation, 15 percent; interest rates 21.5 percent; the ``misery index'' twice what it is now, up around 20. And if you put in for that kind of change, change is all you'll have in your pocket. Let's not take a chance with the future of America.

The only way, the only way that Governor Clinton and Senator Gore can win is to convince everybody that everything in this country is wrong. They got the worst news in the world, which happened to be great news for the American working man and woman, because the other day it came out that instead of the recession that they've been talking about, instead of the recession that many of those national talking heads in the media have been talking about, we grew at 2.7 percent.

Now, wait a minute, a word of caution on the media. Please bear with me. The guys with the cameras and the long boom mikes and carrying the burden out there, they're good guys. The traveling press with us, exempt them from the anger. But if you want to know who I really feel strongly about, it's those Republican consultants and those Democratic consultants on those deadly Sunday talk shows saying I don't have a chance. We are going to show them wrong. We're going to prove them wrong. Annoy the media. ``Annoy the media. Reelect Bush.'' Every American knows what that means. Every American knows what it means. Even the press traveling with me knows what it means.

But I feel like Harry Truman when he talked about 50 reporters. He said not one of them knows enough to pound sand in a rat hole. And that's what we're going to show them on Tuesday. They can't do any more to me, so I'm on the offense.

Now look, yes, there's some good news. Yes, there's some good news, but a lot of people are still hurting. So, here's what we want to do to help them. First place, we've got to control the growth of Federal spending and hold the line on taxes. Secondly, and Governor Schaefer talked on it, we've got to open new markets. It is exports that have saved us through this tough international economic slowdown. It's exports that'll lead the way out. We are going to open up markets for the best products in the world, those that say ``Made in America.''

We do not need to do, I will say this to the auto workers in this State, what Governor Clinton and Ozone want to do. They said in their energy strategy, Governor Clinton did, that he wanted 45 miles per gallon of these fuel efficiency standards. That would break the auto companies, throw men out of work. We are not going to let them do that extreme to the United States of America.

I'll tell you what to do. Governor Clinton wants to grow Government, have Government invest. Government never invested in a creative job in its life, but small business does. So let's lift the regulation on small business. Let's give them some tax incentives. And let's get rid of these crazy lawsuits, these crazy lawsuits that are driving a lot of small business for cover.

Governor Clinton will not touch the trial lawyers, lawsuit crowd. He's supported by them. The trial lawyers' man down there said, ``He's never gone against us yet.'' Let me tell you something: When a guy can't practice medicine; a woman doctor won't go to deliver a baby because she's afraid of a lawsuit, a malpractice suit; when you don't stop along the highway, afraid some trial lawyer's going to come along and kind of get the person you're trying to help to sue you; when a coach won't coach Little League, it is time that we put a cap on these crazy liability suits, and let's get that burden off the back of small business.

Health care: We've got a good program on health care. Make insurance available to the poorest of the poor through vouchers. Help the overtaxed middle class with tax credits. Keep insurance and pool it so small businesses can get insurance for the same price as these great, big companies. But do not put the Government in charge of health care. You'll ruin the quality of health care.

A guy says, ``Give 'em hell.'' I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell. There's another one from Harry Truman.

Education: Governor Schaefer talked about it. Governor Ashcroft in this State has been right out in the lead on helping the schoolteachers, the community leaders, and the parents revolutionize education. We spend per capita, it's higher than any country except Switzerland, and we're not getting the results. So what we've got to do is work my program, America 2000, get every community involved, literally reinvent our schools. And while we're at it, let's give parents school choice for public, private, and religious schools. It'll work.

I've got a big difference with Governor Clinton on crime because, you see, I think it's time we have a little more sympathy for the victims of crime and a little less for the criminals themselves. Thus, I'm fighting for stronger anticrime legislation. In Arkansas, the prisoners spend 20 percent of their sentences, that's all, in jail; Federal prisoners, 85 percent. We've got to be tougher on them and back up our law enforcement officers. Guess who endorsed me the other day? The Fraternal Order of Police from Little Rock, Arkansas.

We talk about getting the deficit down. Our plan will do it. But let me just ask for some things for the American people to give the next President. I want to see a balanced budget amendment. Make the Congress get it done. I want to see a taxpayer check-off that says to every taxpayer, check off 10 percent of your income tax, and once that's done, the Congress must make the reductions. If you don't, you have a sequester all across the board. Give the power to the people to tell the Congress what we want. And then third, let's have some term limits for the United States Congress. The President is limited. That ought to be a good one. And the fourth point, give me a line-item veto. Let the President cut out all this extra stuff they throw into the -- [applause].

You know, we've heard a lot of discussion down the wire here about character, whether it matters or not. Governor Clinton said the other night in debate, he said it's not the character of the President but ``the character of the Presidency.'' Let me tell you something: They're interlocked. What the President does reflects all around the world. People judge our country to a large degree by that. They are interlocked. And I don't believe you can have a person in the White House who's going to try to be on all sides of every issue, flip-flopping. The pattern of deceit is wrong for America.

One day he's for right to work in one State, and then he goes to the union bosses and says he's not. One time he's considering term limits; then he's against it. One time on the war -- here's what he said on the war, he said, ``I agree with the minority, but I guess I would have voted with the majority.'' What kind of waffle house is that? Good heavens. Good heavens, you can't be on all sides. If you make a mistake, you look the American people in the eye, ``Hey, I messed that one up.'' Then you go on and lead. But you don't do it through a pattern of deception. And you don't do it through waffling.

No, I believe, I really and truly believe that character does matter. Barbara and I have tried hard to uphold the trust that has been placed in us for 4 years. Frankly yes, I wish she were here. She'd be thrilled by this fantastic -- and I think we've got a great First Lady, incidentally. And I think we've got a great First Dog, and that dog knows more about foreign policy than Governor Clinton and Gore.

So let me tell you why I think character matters. You know, Horace Greeley said this: ``Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing; only character endures.'' I really believe that is especially true in the Presidency. It matters not just because of the plans you make, but the crises you never foresee.

You know, Dick Cheney, our great Secretary, said the other day that the world is still very uncertain. And he's right. We don't know where the next crisis will come from. But we do know this: When it happens, the entire world will look to the American President, and they will look to his experience, and they will count on his keeping his word. They will count on his character. Never forget it.

You know, there's a lot of students here. Let me just end with a serious note. You might say, what is character? And a friend of mine says, well, it's acting alone the way you would act with a million people watching. As President you are never more alone than at time of a crisis. While nobody may be watching in the Oval Office, millions will feel the impact of a Presidential decision in time of crisis.

It's an easy aftermath to Desert Storm to portray the decision to go to war as an easy one. But think back to the demonstrations in front of the White House, to the problems in the United States Congress, to the honest men and women who said we don't want to do this because we may end up in another Vietnam. I'll tell you what hurt me the most was the charges that I was uncaring about body bag counts. You heard it from some of the talking heads, and you heard it from some of the protestors. But the Congress had spent much of the fall parading experts up there to the Congress saying, ``Well, they're going to have another Vietnam. We must avoid it.'' And they said that a war would kill any hope of peace in the Middle East.

The vote in the Congress, as you remember, was not overwhelming. Many said, ``Let's give sanctions more time.'' But I had to make a tough decision. And the decision was to go ahead, because I knew it was right, not because I thought it was popular. And I remember, I will never forget it with Barbara at my side in that little chapel at Camp David on a cold day just before the ground war to liberate Kuwait began, and how fervently, frankly, I prayed for our plans that they would work. When you send somebody else's kid, somebody else's son, somebody else's daughter into combat, it is a very difficult decision, and I prayed they'd come back. There is an awesome responsibility here, and it's a responsibility I have tried very, very hard to fulfill as President of the United States. You see, I believe in duty, honor, and country, and I always will.

So I believe character is important. And it's your call. On November 3d then the polls and the pundits don't matter anymore. It's that individual in the booth with his conscience or her conscience. When you enter that voting booth, please ask yourself three commonsense questions: Who has the right vision for America's future to help especially the young people? Who can lead us through this global transition? And which candidate has the character? Who would you trust with your family? Who would you trust with your country in a moment of crisis?

Ideas, action, character, I believe I have demonstrated. I certainly have tried to demonstrate all three. And so I ask you, go to the polls on November 3d, give me your vote, and let us lead America to new heights of prosperity.

Thank you, and God bless our great country. May God bless the United States. And don't let them say we're a nation in decline. We're a nation on the move. Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you for this great day.

Note: The President spoke at 1:12 p.m. at the Maryville Center Executive Park. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. William Donald Schaefer of Maryland and CBS announcer Jack Buck.

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