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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
r Immediate Release July 28, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE DCCC RECEPTION
6:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. First, I want to thank Bob and
Elaine, and Tess and Shane, who were with me a few moments ago, asking me
questions -- where did Shane go? (Laughter.) He probably thinks he's
heard this speech before. (Laughter.)
And I want to thank them, as Dick did, for the example they've set for
all of us in their generosity and their giving. This year they're taking
off is only the latest example of a lifetime commitment to thinking about
other people and drawing meaning from their lives by helping other people
to have more meaning in theirs.
I want to thank all the members of the House who are here: my good
friend, Joe Moakley. I always tell everybody, Joe is Hillary's favorite
congressman. She thinks that Joe Moakley will be waiting for her in heaven
when she dies -- (laughter) -- thinks he'll be the gatekeeper there.
I want to thank Patrick Kennedy for a magnificent job as the head of
our Congressional Campaign Committee. We just went to Barrington, Rhode
Island today, before we came here, for an event for Patrick. There were
several hundred people there, including his father and Senator Reed. I
think he's all right. They haven't been able to find anybody to run
against him yet -- (laughter) -- so I believe he'll survive.
I want to thank Congressman Markey for his leadership in the Congress
and his friendship to me over these seven and a half, eight years. And
Congressman Capuano, I thank him for running when Joe Kennedy left the
House and for his service. And most of all, I want to thank Dick Gephardt,
who never got dispirited after we lost the House in '94; understood quite
clearly that we lost it because we did the right things and the American
people couldn't have known by 1994 whether we were right or not. They had
been told for 12 years that there was such a thing as a free lunch, while
we quadrupled the debt, got ourselves in a deep hole, had high interest
rates and a weak economy.
And we had to change. We took a cold shower and we paid for it in
'94. We also paid for it because we passed the Brady bill and the assault
weapons ban. And we lost a dozen rural Democrats because the NRA convinced
them we were going to end hunting and sport shooting and everything legal
that ever happened. And by '96, they knew that they hadn't been told the
truth. And we began our long climb back.
And in '98, thanks to Dick's strong leadership and the fact that we
had a clear and unambiguous message, we picked up five more seats in the
House of Representatives -- and you should know, it was only the second
time in the 20th century that the President's party had picked up seats in
the House in mid-term; but the first time since 1822 that it had happened
in the sixth year of a President's term. And that is a great tribute to
Dick Gephardt, to his leadership, to the trust and confidence that the men
and women in our caucus in the House of Representatives has in him.
I said to myself, when he said he wanted to be like Tip O'Neill when
he grew up, I wonder how many places outside Boston he's given that speech?
I can tell you this, I believe he will be the Speaker after these
elections. And no one has ever worked harder, been more well-prepared, had
better values or deserved it more. And it has been an enormous honor for
me to work with him and I only hope when I leave town he'll be holding the
gavel, and I think he will. And I thank you for being here -- (applause.)
I told the people in Rhode Island today, and I will say again to you,
I wish I could spend the rest of my presidency only in places where I got
over 60 percent of the vote. (Laughter.) Then I would get to spend more
time in Massachusetts.
Dick already mentioned Alan Solomont and the Schusters and so many
others of you who have helped me over the years. I am very grateful to all
of you, grateful for what you have been to Hillary and to me and to Al and
But I just want to take a couple of minutes to talk about the future.
I think the single, most important issue in this election is what do we
intend to make of this moment of prosperity. What are the Sager's making
of their moment of prosperity? They're going around the world and helping
other people. What are we going to do as a nation to do that?
I think, then, what we have to do is to make sure, first, that we
answer it to our own satisfaction; and, secondly, that we make sure that
the American people believe that's what the election is about; and,
thirdly, they've got to know what the differences are between the two
candidates for President and the House candidates and the Senate
I cannot even begin to convey the depth of my conviction about the
importance of this election. It is every bit as important, maybe more
important, than the 1992 election. Everybody knew then we had to change.
The country was in the ditch. We were in trouble economically, we were
divided socially, we had no clear mission of our responsibilities around
the world that was kind of comprehensive. And the politics of Washington,
D.C. was like watching, I don't know, "Wayne's World" or something --
(laughter) -- to most of us who lived out here in the world, the real
So we've been busy turning it around, and I'm very grateful for the
shape the country's in now: that almost all social indicators are going in
the right direction, that we've got the strongest economy in history, that
we've been a force for peace and freedom throughout the world. I am
grateful. But all the best stuff is still out there, if we make the most
of this moment of prosperity.
And in order to do it, it is necessary for the American people to
choose. That's what an election is; it's basically democracy is handed
back over to the bosses for a day, and you choose. And in order to choose
wisely, you have to know what the differences are. And I've got this
little mantra I tell everybody all the time. It says: only three things
you really need to know about this election. One is, it's profoundly
important. Two is, there are big differences. Three is, only the
Democrats want you to know what the differences are. What does that tell
you about who you ought to vote for?
And it's really true. After giving us 20 years or more of the
harshest, kind of mean personal attacks -- right up through this Republican
presidential primary, I might add, where they attempted -- the people who
won attempted to perform reverse plastic surgery on Senator McCain, they
did that. Now, all of a sudden, they want to be sweetness and light. They
say they want a positive campaign.
But what they define as a negative campaign is if we tell people how
they voted. That's their definition of a negative campaign. (Laughter.)
Hillary has already had two ads run against her in New York saying, you
know, oh, she's being so mean; she's telling people I voted, how dare her
Now, we're all laughing. But you know I'm telling the truth, don't
you. They're trying to blur the differences; we have to clarify them.
Why? Because that's what elections are about. They are choices. And we
may never have another chance like this to build the future of our dreams
for our kids.
And there are choices. I'll just tell you what some of them are. I'm
convinced -- first of all, there is this huge economic choice. They have
already passed a trillion dollars' worth of tax cuts and they're going to
Philadelphia to advocate another, what, $1.4 trillion or something. All of
the projected surplus, and then some. Now, they're doing it in salami
tactics so you don't know this. And they've got a good argument: we've
got this surplus, we're going to give it back to you, it's your money and
we're prosperous and we'll give it back to you.
Our argument's more complicated. Our argument is, well, we can't give
it all back to you because, number one, we don't have it yet. The surplus
hasn't materialized. So we want to give about 25 percent of what they do,
but 80 percent of the people will get more money out of ours than theirs.
Most of you in this room tonight wouldn't, but most of the American people
would. And we've got to save some, because we've got to invest in
education, in health care, in research and technology and the environment.
And we have responsibilities around the world that we have to fulfill, and
not just defense responsibilities -- responsibilities to help alleviate the
burdens of the poorest people around the world and deal with a lot of the
problems around the world.
And so we have to save some of this money, because we need to invest
in our future because we don't have it yet. But our tax cuts are good;
they're just smaller and better targeted -- toward education and child care
and lower-income working people with a lot of kids; toward long-term care
and saving for retirement. You see, it takes me longer to make our side.
But here's what I'd like to tell you about it. Did you ever get one
of those letters from Publishers Sweepstakes in the mail, Ed McMahon
letters? "You may have won $10 million?" Well, if you ever got one of
those letters and you went out the very next day and spent that $10
million, you should support the Republicans. (Laughter.) But if you
didn't, you had better help Dick Gephardt and the Democrats and stick with
us and we'll keep this economy going. (Applause.) Thank you.
Now, we're all laughing. This is a profoundly serious issue. It's
not like we hadn't had any experience. We tried it their way for 12 years;
we tried it our way for eight years. We had the lowest minority
unemployment rate in history, the lowest female unemployment rate in 40
years; the lowest rate of poverty among single parent households in 45
years; the highest homeownership in history; 22 million jobs. Look, this
is not rocket science. We tried it their way.
And in a very nice way, a little slice here, a little slice there,
they're saying, let's try it again. Remember when we told you the
government was bad, it was your money and we're going to give it all back
to you? Let's try it again. The country has been in good shape so long
that a lot of voters have forgotten what it was like when we started here.
This is very important.
The second thing you need to know is that we just have a totally
different philosophy about how society ought to work. We believe that we
are inter-dependent, that we have mutual responsibilities to one another.
That's why we're for the Brady bill and the previous Republican President
vetoed it. That's why we were for the Family and Medical Leave bill, and
the previous Republican President vetoed it.
That's why we want to -- right now -- that's why we wanted to ban
assault weapons and the congressional majority now, they were all against
that. It's why we're for a patients' bill of rights and they're against
it. Why we're for Medicare prescription drugs for all the people in the
country, the seniors that need it -- and they're not for that kind of
program. It's why we believe we can grow the economy and improve the
environment. And, basically, they don't believe that. They don't approve
of a lot of the environmental things that I've done.
And their nominee promised that one of the things he'd do if he got
elected President is to reverse my order creating 43 million roadless acres
in the national forests. So these are important issues.
Now, if you want to reverse our environmental policy and if you want
to go in that direction, then you should do it. But you shouldn't let a
single soul you know anywhere in American -- I know I'm in Massachusetts
now, but you have got a lot of friends around the country -- you shouldn't
let anybody that you know cast an unknowing vote. If the American people
-- my objective in every race I ever ran -- and I guess I've run all the
ones I'm going to now -- (laughter) -- but my objective in every race I
ever ran was to make sure everyone who voted against me knew exactly what
he or she was doing. Because I figured if everyone who voted against me
knew exactly what he or she was doing I could have no complaint. That's
democracy. If I lost, then the people had made a wise and considerate
choice and I just lost. And if I won I knew I had a mandate to act. Their
objective in this election is to obscure the differences so that people do
not understand the implications of the choice.
You never hear them talking about what they said in the primary, do
you? You never hear any of that again. You never hear them explaining
that, yes, we're going to give you this big tax cut, but it's going to take
away all the projected surplus.
But you must understand that there are choice here. And consequences
to those choices. The next President is going to have between two and four
appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Both candidates on the
Republican ticket believe Roe v. Wade should be repealed. If you think it
should be repealed, you should vote for them. If you don't, you should
think about it.
But you shouldn't listen to all this sort of syrupy talk about how
somehow they will -- listen, I'm not saying bad things about them,
personally. I think their convictions are there. I think this is an
honest disagreement. I don't believe in the kind of politics they spawned
for 20 years trying to convince people your opponents are just one step
above car thieves. I don't believe that. I think these are honest
differences. But do not be abused. When people get this job I just had
for eight years, they pretty much do what they say they're going to do in
the campaign, and they try to do what they think is right.
Now, just because they're not talking about it doesn't mean they've
changed. So you have to consider these things.
The Republican Senate defeated the comprehensive test ban treaty. I
was the first world leader to sign it, and they beat it. The first treaty
that's been beat since the treaty taking America into the League of Nations
at the end of World War I -- unbelievable. Everybody in the world thought
we had slipped a gasket. And a lot of the pundits said, well, they just
wanted -- didn't want to give Bill Clinton the victory. It's not my
victory to protect our children from the dangers of nuclear war, number
And, number two, I'm telling you, a lot of those people don't believe
in arms control. I'm not saying anything bad about them; they're good
people. They honestly don't believe in it. But they won't be out there
telling you about it. I bet you won't hear a speech at the Republican
National Convention about how terrible the comprehensive test ban treaty
is. But they beat it.
So what you have to decide is what you want America to be like. I
know you're all here supporting these -- but, frankly, your support is not
good enough. You've got to go out and talk to everybody you can reach
between now and November, and not just in Massachusetts, but in states we
might win or we might not win, and congressional districts we might win or
we might not win, and tell them this.
And the last thing I want to say is this, the most important thing of
all. The longer I live, the more convinced I am that the most important
thing in any great society is the sense of community, of interdependence
that people have, the sense of mutual responsibility they have. I don't
think it's possible to enjoy real freedom without responsibilities to the
people in your community; and without a sense of responsibility to the
larger world community, increasingly.
We're for the hate crimes legislation. Their leadership isn't. We're
for the employment nondiscrimination legislation. Most of them are opposed
to it. We want stronger civil rights enforcement. Most of them don't.
The federal appellate court district with the most African Americans
in the entire country is the 4th Circuit, comprising North and South
Carolina. There has never been an African American on that court, ever. I
have tried for seven and a half years to appoint one. Jesse Helms said no,
and all the Republicans said, it's fine with me. It's never happened. We
We don't have to have a bad campaign. I think we should posit it that
Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney and all of their candidates are fine, good,
decent people who just differ with us. But we should not let them get away
with having this sort of smoke screen to try to play on this era of good
feelings to convince people that there are no consequences to this
election; they are big, they are deep, and they are profound.
And I can tell you, we lost our majority because we did what was right
for America. There are Republican congressmen now who will go out and
campaign for reelection in their districts bragging on all the highway
money they got, or the things they voted for, for the schools or this, that
and the other thing. They could have done none of that if Democrats alone
hadn't passed the economic plan of 1993, which turned this whole thing
These people deserve to be in the majority. It will happen if people
understand it's a big election, there are real differences, and they
understand what the differences are. We owe that to the kids. We owe that
to the future. We may never have another time in our lifetime when America
is in this good a shape. We cannot squander it. And if we build on it,
the best is still out there.
Thank you, and God bless you.
END 6:40 P.M. EDT
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