Public Papers - 1992
Remarks to the Community in Sussex, Wisconsin
The President. Thank you, Tommy. Let me return the compliment. In case Wisconsin doesn't know it -- I know it; everybody else seems to know it -- you have one of the truly great Governors in the United States, Tommy Thompson; great wife, Sue Ann.
Thank heavens for people like Jim Sensenbrenner in the United States Congress. We need more like him. Send us more like him, Tom Petri as well. May I thank Paul Fleischman, thank all of you. We've got a very important election coming up, and one of the key races is to reelect Bob Kasten for the United States Senate.
Audience members. Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!
The President. Well, I'm told that this is the home town of Quad Graphics. They do a lot of printing. One of the things they help with is Newsweek. Well, maybe you saw last week Newsweek had a cover of my opponent. And the caption said, ``President Clinton?'' with a question mark.
Well, we're about to answer that question. Hold the presses for the next cover. Tell all those Washington -- those kind of salon leaders, tell those media talking heads we are going to win this election on November 3d. And here is why. Here is why. There is a vast difference between experience, political philosophy, and yes, a vast difference in character, and on all three of those I believe I will win.
I think we have it in focus now. After 11 months of Governor Clinton bashing us and our record, telling the Nation that we're in decline, the Arkansas record is finally in perspective. Here's a couple of the characteristics that you might want to guard against.
Arkansas is the 50th in the quality of environmental initiatives. Fiftieth -- you're going to get worked up when you hear this list -- 50th in the percentage of adults with a college degree; 50th in per capita spending on criminal justice; moving up now, 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 teacher salaries; 45th in the overall well-being of children. And he said in the debate, ``I want to do for the United States what I've done for Arkansas.'' No way! No way! We're going to not let him do that.
Audience members. We want Bush! We want Bush! We want Bush!
The President. This guy says, the guy says, ``Give 'em hell.'' I'm reminded of what Truman said. He said, ``I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.''
Governor Clinton says he's the candidate of change. Yes, that's the kind of change we need: 0 billion in more taxes, 0 billion more spending. That change would take us right back where we were the last time we had a Democratic President and Congress.
Audience members. Boo-o-o!
The President. You had interest rates at 15 percent, you had the -- no, interest rates at 21 percent. You had inflation at 15. You had the ``misery index'' at 20. We've cut that in half. You had the country going the wrong way. Now we're starting to grow. Let's keep it growing.
You talk about change. All you hear from these two is change, change, change. That is all you will have in your pockets if you put Clinton and Ozone into office.
But look, we've been told that the whole world's going to Hell, and we're in a deep recession. We are growing, but we're not growing enough. It's going to be the United States because of my experience in international affairs that's going to increase the markets for Wisconsin products. We are going to lead the way internationally to new prosperity for the United States and for our workers.
Let me mention something about the farm; let me just mention the farm economy. Income on ag is up, in fact, in the last couple of years at record highs. Ethanol is up. As I drove through on this train through some of that beautiful corn country, I'm thinking, thank heavens we're using more ethanol. Thank heavens I stood up against the extreme environmentalists and said we're going to use more ethanol and try to use it year-round.
They get on me about calling Senator Gore Mr. Ozone. Well, let me tell you what I mean. We've got a good record on the environment. We're the ones that are leading on CFC's, on planting one million trees a year, on climate change, on getting a Clean Air Act. It is our administration that has done all these things. But I believe you can use ethanol, and I believe you do not screech this country to a halt in the name of some extreme environmental position. We've got a good record. But jobs matter. Families matter. Jobs and families ought to take a little priority around here, if you ask me.
Governor Clinton says he wants to have Government invest. Government can't even run a two-bit -- Congress can't even run a two-bit bank or a two-bit post office. They can't invest anything. But it's small business that creates the jobs. So, less regulation, less Government spending, less in taxes for small business, and fewer lawsuits that drive small business to the wall.
The trial lawyers are the ones that are supporting Governor Clinton, and the people are supporting me. We're going to put a cap on these outrageous lawsuits that keep doctors from delivering babies or keep Little League coaches from coaching or keep somebody along the highway from helping his fellow man because they're afraid of some crazy lawsuit. Let's sue each other less and care for each other a little more in this country.
Health care: We've got the best program. Provide insurance to the poorest of the poor through vouchers. Help that overtaxed middle class by some tax credits. Get rid of the frivolous malpractice claims. But keep the Government out of the quality of health care. Our plan will work. Our plan will work.
Welfare reform: I salute your Governor. He is leading with Learnfare and Workfare. We've got to break the cycle of dependency, and I am proud that we have supported Tommy. We're going to do the same thing for the entire country: reform it, work and learn; work and learn.
Crime: I think we all ought to recognize that with the neighborhoods and some places being threatened by crime, we owe a great vote of thanks to our law enforcement officers, the police, the sheriffs, whoever they are. We need stronger anticrime legislation that has a little more compassion for the victims of crime and a little less for the criminals themselves. I've worked hard. We just got a bill through the Congress to do something about these deadbeat fathers, speaking of welfare reform, those that leave mothers with paying all the bills. We're cracking down on those people, and we're supporting the law enforcement people that are going after them.
Balanced budget: We've got the best plan to get this crazy deficit off the back of these young people. Here's some ideas for you. Why don't we do what a lot of States have and give us a balanced budget amendment, and make the Congress and the President get it down? Why don't we give you, the taxpayer, a check-off so you can say if you want to, we'll check off 10 percent of your income, and that then will have to be spent by Congress finding the reductions, have to be spent on lowering the deficit. The third one: How about giving me what 43 Governors have, that line-item veto? You're right. Take this, mark it out.
You know, we've had a big discussion in this election about character, and character does count. It is my view that as President you cannot waffle. You cannot be on all sides of every question. If you make a mistake, you do what your kids do. You look the people in the eye as President, and you say, ``I made a mistake.'' Then you get on with leading the American people. But you cannot waffle.
Audience members. We trust Bush! We trust Bush! We trust Bush!
The President. You cannot vacillate and be on one side of an issue one day and one the next. The right-to-work States say, ``Oh, I'm for right to work,'' and then come the labor leaders and say you're against it. Term limits: one day, oh, it makes sense; then in the debate, no, it makes no sense. North American free trade agreement: You heard it in the debate. I am for it, because it will create jobs through exports. He says, ``Well, I am for it, but.'' You cannot have a lot of ``buts'' in that Oval Office. You've got to call them as you see them, like the umpire does. Call them, and take the consequences. Don't worry about your own popularity; do what is principled and right. You cannot lead America by misleading the American people. That's one of the reasons I am going to be reelected on November 3d.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. You know, I had to make a tough call a while back when aggression threatened the entire Middle East and, in my view, would have threatened the United States. If we'd have listened to the critics, I believe Saddam Hussein would be sitting in Saudi Arabia today, and oil prices would be up about a gallon for gas; certainly .
But we took some action, and I had to make a decision that was unpopular. And where was Governor Clinton? Here's what he said, I agree with the minority -- that's a paraphrase -- I agree with the minority, but I guess I would have voted with the majority. You cannot do that as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. I believe because I did serve my country in war and did put on a uniform and do believe in honor, duty, and country that that makes me a better choice for Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
But let me tell you in conclusion why I think character counts. Do you remember what I said in the debate? I paraphrased Horace Greeley. And he says, ``Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures.'' I think that is especially true of the Presidency of our great country.
I know that we've made the world safer. The Soviet bear is no longer. International communism, imperial communism, certainly on the wane, if almost nonexistent. But we've got to remember, there are still threats. There are still wolves in the woods. We've reached historic agreements with Boris Yeltsin to eliminate these SS - 18's, the most destabilizing of all weapons. I am proud that we have done that. But the world is not free of conflict, and the United States must remain strong. We must not cut the muscle of our defense.
But I ask you to close your eyes and imagine in a crisis situation an American leader totally without experience, completely untested, a leader about whom we know very, very little, if you get down to it. What we do know is a troubling pattern of being on one side and then another, an ingrained habit of trying to lead by misleading and not coming clean. I don't believe we can take this kind of risk.
When that next crisis occurs, whether it is at home or abroad -- and you can be certain one will occur -- the entire world is going to focus on the American Presidency. And they're going to look to his experience, and they're going to count on his character.
Some say, well, what exactly is character? Well, a friend of mine put it this way, saying it is acting alone the same way you would act with a million people watching. Well, as President, you're never more alone than at times of crisis. While nobody may be watching the Oval Office, millions will feel the impact here and abroad, the impact of your judgment.
I have been tested, and we've managed world change of almost Biblical proportions. Our success can be measured by the headlines never written, the countless crises that never occurred. But when that real event did occur, I did not waver. I took a stand. I made the decision to go to war because I know it was right, not because it was popular.
I remember being at Camp David with Barbara on a cold day, rainy day, when the ground war was about to begin to liberate Kuwait. I remember the agony of having to decide, especially in the face of all the protests, especially in the face of all the criticism from some of the more liberal Members of the Congress saying, Bush will have on his hands the body bags. Do you remember the counts, 20,000, 50,000, whatever it was?
And I remember the agony of having to make that call. And I remember praying -- yes, I do, and so does Barbara; we still say our prayers -- praying that these young kids, somebody else's sons and daughters, would return home safe and sound. God bless those kids that went. God bless those that went.
What I think I'm trying to tell the American people here on this beautiful day in Wisconsin is, there is an awesome responsibility, to ask our young men and women to knock early on death's door. It's a responsibility that I have tried to fulfill with honor and duty for my country. I hope I brought integrity to it. But that is up to the people now on November 3d. And then the polls, all these pundits, they don't matter anymore. It is up to the American people.
When you enter that voting booth, I ask you to 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 to merit the trust of the American people?
Audience members. We want Bush! We want Bush! We want Bush!
The President. So my view is this: Do not listen to the doomsayers. Do not listen to those that say we're a nation in decline. We've got some big problems, but you solve them by leadership. I ask for your support. I ask for your trust to lead this, the greatest country on the face of the Earth, for 4 more years. Thank you.
May God bless the United States of America. May God bless our wonderful country. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you very, very much.
Now let me just say it is my view, my impartial view, that we've got the best First Lady we could possibly have. I want you to listen to her.
Note: The President spoke at 11:03 a.m. on the observation deck of the Spirit of America train. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Paul Fleischman of Sussex. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.