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Public Papers - 1992 - November

Remarks at a Rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


The President. Thank you very much. What a great Louisiana welcome. Unbelievable. Thank you very much. Thank you so very much for this welcome back. And may I at the outset of these remarks say thank you, Louisiana, and thank you, Cheryl Ladd, an old friend, for introducing me here today.

And I want to salute Congressman Richard Baker, Congressman Holloway, Congressman Livingston, all three great guys; former Congressman and your former Governor Dave Treen, who's at my side through thick and thin; another great Louisianian, Henson Moore, who is so important to us in the White House and been working his heart out here; and Fox McKeithen and Chuck McMains and Carl Crane and so many others that are helping us in every single way, but especially all of you here tonight to put us over the top in the State of Louisiana.

I'll tell you, something is happening across this country. Something is happening across this country. And we are going to annoy the media and reelect George Bush. They don't like it; they don't understand it. Something is happening in our great country. Come Monday, we feel things moving. But come Wednesday, there's going to be no joy in Little Rock, believe me. We're going to win this election. And the pollsters, the pollsters are going to be unemployed, and the rest of the country is going to move forward to jobs and opportunity. [Applause] No, you guys are too much.

But here's what it's about. Here's what it is about. There is the choice, is a big difference on experience, on philosophy, and yes, on character. Character matters for President of the United States of America. And yes, the issue is, tomorrow when you go into that booth, the question of trust. Who do you trust with your kids? Who do you trust with your country? Who do you trust to lead the free world?

Governor Clinton says he's the candidate of change. But let's look at what he offers: 0 billion of new taxes to start with -- --

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. -- -- 0 billion in new spending. That is trickle-down Government. And we do not need to go back to the failed days when you had a Democrat in the White House and Democrats running, the liberals running the Congress. Governor Clinton's numbers don't add up. He says, ``Oh, I'm going to sock it to the rich.'' All you guys driving a cab, being a nurse, teaching school, watch out: He's coming after you. And we're not going to let him do that to the United States of America.

And I would remind the entire country from this fired-up rally right here in Baton Rouge -- the one I'm told is the biggest they've ever had here -- what it was like when we had another guy sounding just like this in the White House, like Governor Clinton. We had interest rates at 21 percent. We had inflation at 15. We had a ``misery index'' of 20. And we are not going to go back to those days.

This guy -- change -- he and Ozone Man, all they do is say, change, change, change. That is all you'll have in your pocket if you put these two guys in office, believe me. We're the ones with the positive program. We want to renew, revolutionize education, K through 12, give the parents a choice of schools, religious, private, and public. Put your faith in the parents and in the teachers and in the community, not in some bureaucracy in Washington, DC.

We've got the best plan for reforming health care: making insurance available to the poorest of the poor through vouchers; tax credits to that next overworked and overtaxed part; get that insurance pooled so you bring the prices down; and then go after these malpractice lawsuits that are driving the cost of health care right up through the roof.

We've got to teach those trial lawyers and Governor Clinton that people want reform of the legal system. It's a shame when people don't dare coach Little League for fear of a crazy lawsuit, don't dare help their fellow man along the highway for afraid of a crazy lawsuit, doctors don't dare deliver babies for fear of a crazy lawsuit. It is time to stand up to the trial lawyers and put some liability limits on this insurance.

And there's another big difference. The other day in southern Louisiana, I signed a brandnew national energy strategy that changes this alternative minimum tax and says, look, we are going to get the oilfields back to work by giving them a tax break.

And we've got a very good record in the environment. But it is Ozone Man -- and this is why I call him that -- who has said in Santa Barbara, California, ``No more offshore drilling anywhere.'' That is wrong. That is wrong for this country.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. But typical, one day he makes that statement in California, ``No more anywhere''; then he comes here and hedges and said he didn't say it. Then they played the tape to him right in Louisiana where he said, ``No more drilling anywhere.'' And now he said, ``Well, yes, I said it, but.'' You cannot have a lot of ``buts'' in the Oval Office. And Governor Clinton keeps going, one side of the issue one day, one side the next.

No, you can't have it all ways. You can't be all things to all people in this job. You call them as you see them. If you make a mistake, you look the American people in the eye, like any family person would, and say, I was wrong. And then you go forward and lead the country. You don't try to waffle. You don't try to be on all sides of every question.

And believe me, Governor Clinton wants to expand the American Government. And I want to expand the American dream for every kid here today.

Now let's talk about character and trust. I happen to believe that they're both important. I happen to believe they are both important, because people look to the United States and to the President for just that kind of leadership. And Governor Clinton said in the debate, he said it's not a question of the character of the President, it is ``the character of the Presidency.'' Wrong. They're interlocked. You can't separate them out for the time that the man is President.

I mentioned Horace Greeley's words in the last debate we had. But here's the full quote. He said, ``Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing; only character endures.'' And that's true, whether it's in a family, whether it's in a business deal, or whether it's as President of the United States of America.

And so, my pitch at the end is that we simply cannot take a risk on Governor Clinton. Neither his experience nor his character, given this position on one side or the other, is what's right for this country at this time.

We are the greatest nation. You know, Governor Clinton and Ozone go around telling everybody that we are a nation in decline, that we're less than Germany, that we are more than Sri Lanka. Wrong. We are the most respected nation on the face of the Earth. And we have made dramatic strides towards world peace. They don't ever like to talk about foreign affairs. But let me tell you something on the eve of going to the polls. I am very proud to have been the President that has greatly reduced, if not eliminated, the threat of nuclear war from the face of the Earth.

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

The President. You know, let me tell you something -- --

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

The President. I honestly believe we're going to get 4 more years tomorrow.

You know, I have another big difference with Governor Clinton. It relates to war and peace. I am very proud that I wore the uniform of this country and fought for my country in combat. And the media elite don't like it, but I still think it is wrong, when your country is fighting, to go to organize demonstrations in a foreign land against the United States of America.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. And thank God we didn't waffle when Saddam Hussein took over Kuwait. Thank God we stood up and said this aggression will not stand. And thanks to the sons and daughters of Louisiana and others across this country, it did not stand.

And yesterday, a couple of days ago, there's this marvelous dispatch out of Baghdad a couple of days ago, Saddam Hussein's government announcing that they plan a party in downtown Baghdad of 500,000 people if I lose. Well, let me tell Saddam something here tonight: He can put his party on hold. And he'd better live up to all those resolutions of the United Nations and take the pressure off his people. Now, Saddam won't be happy, but I'll be happy that he's not happy. Look at it that way.

Now, let me ask you this. Imagine a year from today picking up a newspaper in your house and seeing that somewhere in the world or somewhere right at home there is a significant domestic crisis, an unforeseen crisis. Imagine that in this dangerous situation an American leader, totally without experience, completely untested, a leader about really whom we know very little still, and what we do know is his troubling pattern of being on one side and then another and bringing this ingrained habit of trying to lead people by misleading them. And when that next crisis comes, and you know darn well it will, the entire world is going to be looking to the American President. Make no mistake about that. And they will look to his experience, and they will count on his character.

And I have been tested by fire. We have managed world change. It gets of almost Biblical proportions. And our success can be measured by the headlines that were never written, the countless crises that have never taken place, because we stayed firm and strong and never waffled.

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

Audience members. George Bush! George Bush! George Bush!

The President. The decision that we made on Desert Storm was made not because it was popular. Think back to the demonstrations, to the reluctance of Congress, to the testimony before the Congress, counting millions of body bags that might return. It was not an easy call, and clearly it was not a popular call. But as President you have to make a call when you believe it was right, and that was the right thing to do.

And I will never forget that cold day up there in Camp David at our little chapel when Barbara and I literally prayed for the safety of the young men and women that were about to go to war. And let's never forget, we are one Nation under God, and in the Oval Office or in your families, we should never forget that. And we prayed those kids would come back. And back they came, with their heads high. And they lifted our country up and brought it together and erased the agony of Vietnam and made everybody proud, proud again to be Americans.

And so yes, I do believe in honor, duty, and country. And I ask for you to remember that another crisis may occur, and we better have a Commander in Chief that shares those Louisiana values.

Let me conclude now. We're getting near the end of the trail. This is the second-to-last campaign appearance that I'll ever make on my own behalf after half my adult life in public life -- half in the private life right here, much of it in Louisiana; half of it in business, the other half in public life. And this is the end of the road in terms of the campaigning.

And so let me ask you in all seriousness to think seriously about this and ask that you not take lightly your responsibility that you'll have tomorrow. You see, democracy was conceived from liberty, nurtured by freedom, and protected by the blood of those who came before us. And when you walk alone into that booth tomorrow, you'll not spend more than a couple of minutes. But your single voice will echo down the corridor of time. And with your vote, you will help shape the entire future of this, the most blessed, special nation that man has ever known and that God has ever created. And what we do together, what we do together tomorrow will cast its shadow forward into eternity.

And so your vote is an act of power, a statement of principle, and a messenger of possibility. And so like all the candidates, I ask only that you think deeply about our Nation, about those that need help, about our needs, because tomorrow the polls don't matter. The pundits don't count. On election day, it is the American people who speak their mind. And only conscience should be your guide.

And don't let anyone tell you we're a nation in decline. We've come out of some very hard times. We're beginning to move. And I ask for your support for 4 more years to help every young person in this room enjoy the American dream.

May God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:55 p.m. at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. In his remarks, he referred to actress Cheryl Ladd; Henson Moore, Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs; Fox McKeithen, Louisiana secretary of state; and Chuck McMains and Carl Crane, Louisiana State representatives.

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