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Public Papers - 1992

Remarks on Beginning a Whistlestop Tour in Burlington, Wisconsin


The President. Well, thank you all. Before we say all aboard, let me thank Tommy Thompson for being at my side through thick and thin. When everything looked a little more difficult than it does today, he stayed right at our side. He has been an outstanding Governor. He has led not just this State but many in the country by the example you all have set, the example he has set. And I am very proud to have the Thompsons as good, close personal friends of the Bush family. Thank you, Tommy.

May I thank Mayor Hefty and our Republican chairman, Dave Opitz; and John MacIver, an old friend, helping so much on our campaign. But there's some real business ahead for next Tuesday. We must keep Bob Kasten in the United States Senate. He is doing a superb job for our country, a real leader up there. So do not gamble with the future. Make sure you've got Bob Kasten returned to the Senate.

And you know, everyplace I go -- haven't seen them here today -- but you see these signs saying, ``Clean House!'' Clean House. People are tired of that House of Representatives being controlled by that same body for 38 years, the one institution that hasn't changed. Send Mark Neumann to the United States Congress.

And we Bushes are delighted to be here in Burlington, the Chocolate City, USA. If my opponent were here today he might even inhale, it smells so good. [Laughter] Don't take it personally, Bill, please. These guys can dish it out, but they can't take it too well. Well, anyway.

And may I salute the veterans here today from the VFW. And let me just say this: I am proud to have worn the uniform of this country. I believe in honor, duty, and country. And I salute those who served.

Today is Halloween, our opponents' favorite holiday. [Laughter] They are literally trying to scare America. The only way that the Clinton-Gore ticket can win is if they convince us that we're a nation in decline. And here's the way they do it. They say we're less than Germany but a little more than Sri Lanka, or if they can convince the hard-working families in this country that we're in a deep recession. Neither is true. We are the most respected nation in the world. And our economy, thank God, is moving forward. So the difference on Tuesday is going to be a difference between experience, a philosophy, and yes, it is very important, character matters.

You know, for months, Governor Clinton has been ill-defining our record and talking very little about his. So on this lovely Saturday, let me just tell you some facts about Arkansas. I won't dwell on it because I don't want to ruin this day. Arkansas: 50th in the quality of environmental initiatives; 50th in the percentage of adults with college degrees; 50th in per capita spending on criminal justice; 49th in spending on police protection; 48th in percentage of adults with a high school diploma; 48th in spending on corrections; 46th on teachers' salaries -- getting better -- 45th on the overall well-being of children. And he said in the debate, ``I want to do for America what I've done for Arkansas.'' No way! We're not going to let him do that.

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. Please point out I did not invent that expression. [Laughter]

Governor Clinton says he's a candidate of change. Let's take a close look, a little look, at what he's talking about. Under him, every day is going to be Halloween: fright and terror. He dreams of -- he talks about Government investing. The answer is not to have Government investing by taking more of your taxes. The answer is for us to stimulate small business by tax relief, less regulation, and less lawsuits that finish off a lot of these small businesses.

The last time we had his kind of change, remember what it was like? He loves to point out -- he goes, ``Let's go back to Herbert Hoover.'' Let's not. Let's go back to Jimmy Carter, when you had a Democrat in the White House and that spendthrift Congress, led by those liberal Democrats. And what did you have? Maybe some of the young ones don't remember. Interest rates 21.5 percent; inflation 15 percent; the ``misery index'' that they invented twice as much as it is now. And you want that kind of change? Change is all you'll have left in your pocket if you put this guy into office.

No, a lot of families are hurting, but the economy is moving. And the worst news in the world -- you could see the tears coming down the face of the Governor and the Ozone Man -- you could see it when the tears trickled down their face because it came out that our economy grew for the sixth straight quarter, and grew at 2.7 percent. We're going to move. Now let's keep it going, but don't do it by raising taxes and increasing Government spending.

Our plan does just -- here's what it does. It controls the growth of spending. It holds the line on taxes. And then I'm saying to the American people, give me these four things:

Give us a balanced budget amendment. Republicans want it. Conservative Democrats want it. Discipline the Congress and the executive branch by a balanced budget amendment.

Give us a check-off. Give you all a check-off, so if you feel strongly about the deficit you check a little box on your tax return, up to 10 percent of your tax, and that must go, under the law, to reducing the Federal deficit. If Congress can't do it, let the people have a say and try to get it done.

Then the next thing -- 43 Governors have it -- give us a line-item veto, and let's stomp out some of the waste out of the spending.

And the fourth one, let's have the Congress, like the Presidency, let's have some term limits on the United States Congress.

You know, small business creates two-thirds of the new jobs. All we hear from Governor Clinton is let's get Government to invest. Government never invested productively a dime in anything. So we want to free up that small business sector, by giving them relief and letting them lead the way to new heights, new recovery, and new opportunity for these kids here today.

I mentioned litigation. We are suing each other too much and caring for each other too little in this country. It is a crying shame when a doctor is afraid to deliver a baby because of a malpractice suit; when a Little League coach is afraid to coach because somebody might bring a nutty lawsuit against them; or when you're driving along the highway, you see somebody hurt, you want to stop but you're afraid to for fear somebody will say, ``Oh, they moved the body just wrong,'' and slap you with one of these ridiculous lawsuits. Let's put a cap on these lawsuits that are finishing off -- [applause] -- a lot of goodwill and finishing off a lot of small businesses.

Health care: We've got a good plan. Make insurance available to the poorest of the poor; pool insurance so you bring the prices down; and do something about malpractice that costs billion to billion a year. But do not let the Government ration health care or control prices, because we'll fail here like many others who have tried it failed abroad.

Education, education: Wisconsin's in the lead. We've got a good record, and we've got a good program. It says it's not good enough to do it the way the subcommittee chairmen in Washington say. Give the power not to the teachers union but to the teachers. God bless our teachers who are doing so much for our kids. And give parents -- Milwaukee has led in this, Milwaukee has led -- give parents the choice of public, private, or religious schools. Help them, and that will make all schools better.

Welfare reform: We've got bold new programs. Let me just salute your Governor for leading the Nation with Learnfare and Workfare and trying to break the cycle of welfare. That is a compassionate approach, the strong approach. I salute Tommy Thompson, and I want to see this happen for the entire country.

Crime: we've got a very positive record. Our spending to support our law enforcement officers is way up. The Arkansas record is sorry. The other day, who came to see me in the Oval Office? Eight officers. They were from the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police. And they endorsed me for President of the United States.

And the point I'm going to make right down to the election is that character counts. You cannot make the White House into the waffle house. You cannot flip-flop on all these issues. Whether it's right to work, whether it's term limits, whether it's free trade, whatever it is, Governor Clinton can be on one side and then heroically on the other side. I am telling you that Harry Truman was right; the buck does stop on that Oval Office desk. It is a question of character if you keep trying to waffle and be on all sides.

Let me give you one key example. I had to mobilize probably the most historic world coalition we've ever seen in order to stand up against aggression in the Middle East. And I had to go against all these talking-head pundits; I had to go against demonstrations; I had to go against a determined Democrat majority in the House until we won them over. And where was Governor Clinton the day I made that fateful decision? He said, ``Well, I agree with the arguments of the minority, but I guess I would have voted with the majority.'' What kind of leadership is that? That is a waffle. There is a pattern of deception here, and we cannot have that in the Oval Office. You cannot lead by misleading.

Finally, let me wrap it up by saying, first place, I'm elated that there's only 3 days more to go. Barbara and I can hardly believe it. I've given you some positive reasons, whether it's crime or education or welfare reform, to vote for me for President. But I'll give you another one. I think we've got the best First Lady we possibly could have.

But let me tell you why I believe that character -- --

Audience members. Barbara! Barbara! Barbara!

The President. Barbara's a perfect 10, the man says. Okay.

But let me tell you why, in a serious moment here before we take this exciting train trip, let me tell you why I believe that character really does count. Remember, I cited this in the debate, but Horace Greeley said this: ``Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing; only character endures.'' And I really believe that that's especially true in the Presidency. It matters not just because of the plans you make but because of the crises that you never possibly can foresee.

Yes, the world is much safer today. But as Dick Cheney, our able Secretary of Defense, reminded us the other day, who knows where the next crisis will come? The Soviet bear is dead, but there are a lot of wolves out there in the woods. So imagine, a year from today, if you picked up a newspaper out in front of your house and you read about some upheaval, some unforeseen upheaval, some terrorist getting ahold of a nuclear weapon, and how you would react to that. I believe that you've got to close your eyes, imagine in that dangerous situation an American leader without any experience, completely untested, a leader about whom literally we know very, very little. And what we do know is this troubling pattern that I mentioned, this pattern of being on one side, pattern of indecisiveness.

So I don't believe that we can take this kind of risk, not now, not in this incredibly uncertain time, and not when our children's security is at stake. When that next crisis occurs, and you can bet that somewhere it will, whether it's at home or abroad, the entire world is going to look to the American Presidency.

Bill Clinton says it's not the character of the President, it's ``the character of the Presidency.'' Wrong. They're interconnected; they're locked. So you've got to ask, what is character? A friend said, well, it's acting alone the same way you would act with a million people watching. That's a good description. But while nobody may be watching in the Oval Office, millions will feel the impact of the judgment of the President of the United States.

I've been tested. We've managed world change that I think history will record as almost Biblical proportions. These young kids here go to bed at night without the same fear of nuclear war that their mothers and dads had. That is a major accomplishment, and we as a country can take great pride in it.

But I'll never forget when we were faced with a crisis now known as Desert Storm. I didn't waver. I took a stand. I made the decision to go to war because I knew it was right, not because I felt it was popular. You've got to go back and remember all the predictions of the body bags, and how I hadn't convinced the country, and how the demonstrators were expressing the will of the people, and that I had to make a lonely decision.

I'll never forget being with Barbara up at a little chapel we have there at Camp David, when we had to make a decision, when I had just made a decision. A couple of days later, America's sons and daughters would go into war again. It is not an easy decision. You've got to do it from conviction all the way. It's an awesome responsibility to ask anybody's kid to possibly knock on death's door a little early. It's a responsibility that I've tried very hard to fulfill with honor and decency and, yes, duty; above all, I hope, integrity.

And so that's your call. And now as we go down to the wire on November 3d, and all the polling and all the pundits won't make any difference at all. It's up to the American people. When you enter that voting booth, please ask yourself three commonsense questions: Who has the right vision for America's economic future? 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 when a crisis arrives?

Ideas, action, and character: I have tried hard to be a proponent of all three. May God bless this country. Go to the polls. We need your support. We are going to win this election for the young people here today.

Thank you, and God bless each and every one of you.

Note: The President spoke at 9 a.m. at the train depot.

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