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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Palm Beach, Florida)
For Immediate Release July 31, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT DSCC RECEPTION
Palm Beach, Florida
6:55 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. I am so happy to be here. All of you know I
love Florida. A good portion of my wife's family has lived down here for
the last 15 years and more. I got my start in Florida twice, once in
December of 1991 -- everyone knows about that -- when the Florida straw
poll came out with a majority for me against six opponents and got me
started, and I'm very grateful for that. But once, maybe only one person
in this room remembers, and that was in early 1981 when I had the
distinction of being the youngest former governor in the history of
America. When I was defeated in the Reagan landslide of 1980, Bob Graham
still invited me to come speak to the Florida Democratic Convention to
explain how it was that I got my brains beat out in the hope that others
could avoid a similar fate. (Laughter.) I have never forgotten it, never
stopped feeling indebted. And Bob asked me back three more times after
that, and I think that had a lot to do with what happened in 1991, so I'm
very grateful to him.
I'm grateful that both Bob and Adele and Bill and Grace Nelson have
been friends of Hillary's and friends of mine for a very long time now.
And Bill and Grace and their children have spent the night in the White
House. And Bill was making fun of me because his daughter used to call
Chelsea, and from time to time I, like every father of a teenage daughter,
I was the answering service. The presidency doesn't alleviate some
responsibilities in life.
We've had a great relationship, all of us, all six of us have now for
such a long time, and I'm so honored that Bill is running for the Senate,
I want to just -- I'll be brief tonight because I know I'm preaching
to the saved here. But Florida is very important. We have to win the
Senate race and you have to carry it for the Vice President, and you can.
And I believe in 1996, early on election night, when I saw that we had
carried Florida, I knew the election was over. And in 2000, early on
election night, if the polls show we have carried Florida, the election is
And I want you to understand that. I have -- Al Gore and I have spent
a lot of time in Florida over the last seven-and-a-half years. We worked
with many of the people here in South Florida to save the Everglades, to
bring the Southern Command here from Panama, to bring the Summit of the
Americas here, to work to expand trade. We just passed the Caribbean Basin
Trade bill which will be very good for southern Florida. And I can't thank
Bob Graham enough for the help and support and wise counsel he's given me
over these entire two terms.
But here's what I want you to think about. What about everybody who's
not here tonight? Do you believe that everyone you know who is a friend of
yours knows what this election is about? Do you believe that everyone you
know has a clear idea about what the differences are between Bill and his
opponent, between the Vice President and Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney? Do
you believe that? You know it's not true, don't you? They don't. Why is
that and what are we going to do about it?
There are three things you need to know about this election. One is,
it is a very big election. It is every bit as important, maybe over the
long run of our life more important than the election in 1992. I'll come
back to why. Two, there are profound differences between the two
candidates for president, between the candidates for Senate and the House,
differences that will have real consequences for how we live together in
the years ahead. And, three, only the Democrats want you to know what the
differences are. (Laughter.) Now, what does that tell you about who you
ought to vote for?
What do I mean by that? First, it's a big election because we have an
unprecedented moment of prosperity and it's not just economics. Crime is
down, welfare is down, teen pregnancy is down, people are working together
and dealing with each other as never before. We are a more just society
than we were. Child poverty is down, minority unemployment the lowest ever
recorded, female unemployment the lowest in 40 years, poverty among
single-parent households the lowest in 46 years. This is a more just
society. And we are more full of confidence.
Moreover, we have no crippling domestic crisis or foreign threat. So
it's a big election because we have a chance, because of our prosperity, to
build the future of our dreams for our children. But that's not automatic.
That requires that instead of taking a relaxed view and sort of wandering
through the election and wandering through the next couple of years, we
have to say, hey, we might not ever have a chance like this again; we've
got to seize the big opportunities and take on the big challenges that are
And there are some big ones out there. You know them in Florida and
I'll just give you two of the biggest that you experience here to a greater
degree than almost any other state. Number one, we've got the largest and
most diverse group of students in our schools in history and they're not
all getting a world-class education yet. Number two, we're living longer
than ever before. If you live to be 65, your life expectancy is almost 83
now. And when all the baby boomers retire, there will only be about two
people working for every one person drawing Social Security. We have to
lengthen the life of Social Security, we have to lengthen the life of
Medicare and we have to add a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare
And I might say, nobody has worked harder or more effectively to that
end than Bob Graham. And everybody in Florida ought to know it and ought
to be grateful for it. (Applause.)
Now, there are the challenges of the future: Climate change. We
worked so hard to save the Everglades. If we don't turn this global
warming around, in 30 years a lot of it will be under water.
We've now sequenced the human genome. That's great. There are going
to be unbelievable medical discoveries made. And pretty soon young women
will bring their children home from the hospital with a little gene map,
and before you know it, there are kids in this room whose children will
have a life expectancy of 90 years or more when they're born. But do you
think someone should be able to use your gene map to deny you a job, a
promotion, a raise or health insurance? I don't think so. We need someone
in the White House and people in the Congress who understand science and
The Internet revolution. People made fun of Al Gore over who invented
the Internet, but he sponsored the legislation, almost 20 years ago, that
took the Internet from being the private province of physicists and people
involved in defense work to sweeping the world. And if it hadn't been for
him, we wouldn't have gotten the e-rate and the telecommunications bill
four years ago, which guarantees that every school, no matter how poor, can
afford to have computers for their kids and be part of the Internet.
Now, there are big challenges out there. The outcome of this election
will depend upon whether the American people believe what I just said, that
it's a big election with big challenges and not a time to lay down and
relax. You can just book it. When this is over, you read the election
analyses the week after the election in November and you remember what I
told you tonight. The outcome of the election will depend upon what the
American people believe the election is about, number one, and, number two,
whether they understand the differences.
On our side, we've got people like the Vice President and people like
Bill Nelson, who did more with that insurance commissioner's job than
anybody ever has, stopping fraud against seniors -- (applause) -- enrolling
children in the Children's Health Insurance Program, people who want to
build on the progress of the last eight years to make the changes of the
On their side, they've got their nominees for president and vice
president and others, who basically tell us that these are the best of
times, that we're all going to have harmony and compassion and get along
together, and the surplus that we've accumulated -- that we're supposed to
accumulate over the next 10 years -- is your money and they're going to
give it back to you. And otherwise, they're kind of blurring the
Bill's talking about how moderate his opponent sounds now. They're
not bragging about shutting the government down twice anymore, or trying to
shut the Department of Education down, or having the biggest Medicare and
education and environmental cuts in history. You never hear them talking
about it anymore. Gone is the harsh rhetoric and the mean words of 1992
through 1999. Even the mean words of the 2000 primary against Senator
McCain, that's all gone now. What are you to make of that? It's a very
The first thing I want you to know is I don't think this should be a
mean election. I think we should say on the front end, we think our
opponents are good, patriotic people, that they love their children and
they love their country. But they have honest differences. And this
pretty package that they have presented is one they hope nobody will open
until Christmas, and certainly not before the November election. But there
are real differences and we want you to know what they are. And I'll just
mention two or three tonight, but I want you to remember this because
you've got to talk to people.
All these news stories that I've read say people don't know if there
is any difference between the Democrats and Republicans, between our
nominees for president on economic policy. There was a huge article in the
press last week surveying lots and lots of suburban women who care a lot
about gun safety and they asked -- the Vice President was ahead like six
points in this poll among women who cared about this issue -- then the
person doing the poll, who doesn't work for either campaign, simply read
their positions and the numbers went from 45 to 39, to 57 to 29. So you
can understand why they wouldn't want you to know what the real
differences, are but you have to do that.
Let me just mention one or two. One, on the economy. Here's our
position. Our position is the American people should get a tax cut, but it
ought to be one we can afford, because we still have to invest in education
and health care and science and technology in providing for the future --
number one; number two, because we still have to lengthen the life of
Medicare and Social Security to get past the baby boomers' retirement, and
we've got to provide that drug benefit; and, number three, we've still got
to keep paying down this debt and get this country out of debt to keep
interest rates low so the economy will keep going.
Now, we have tax cuts that we admit, they're only about 25 percent, 30
percent of what theirs are. But they do more good for 80 percent of the
people -- for sending a kid to college, for long-term care, for child care,
for retirement savings, for alleviating the marriage penalty. Eighty
percent of the people or more are better off under ours. Moreover, because
we continue to pay down the debt and they can't, interest rates will be at
least a percent lower. Do you know what that's worth in tax cuts over a
decade --$250 billion in lower home mortgages, $30 billion in lower car
payments, $15 billion in lower college loan payments.
Now, that took me a while to say, didn't it? Theirs is so much
easier. Hey, this surplus is your money and we're going to give it back to
you. And that's what they do. If you take the tax cuts they've passed in
the last year plus the ones that are in their platform that their nominee
ran on, it takes up the whole surplus, the whole projected surplus and then
some. Not a penny even for their own spending promises.
Now, quite apart from the obvious problems, like how we spend 25
percent as much and give 80 percent of the people more, there is this -- it
is a projected surplus, projected. Did you ever get one of those letters
in the mail from Publisher's Clearinghouse? Ed McMahon sends you a letter
saying, "You may have won $10 million." Well, if you went out the next day
and spent the $10 million, you should vote for them. But if not, you ought
to stick with us to keep this prosperity going. (Laughter and applause.)
Now, this is a big issue. No way to paper this over. This is a huge,
Secondly, on health care, we're for a patients' bill of rights, we're
for investing -- I mean, a real one that means something. We're for
investing whatever it takes -- and it's not that much money -- to lengthen
the life of Medicare and to add this Medicare prescription drug benefit.
We're for -- (applause) -- we're for a not particularly costly tax break to
let people between the ages of 55 and 65 buy into Medicare if they lose
their health insurance. (Applause.) And we're for letting the parents of
these -- the low-income parents of these kids that are in our Children's
Health Insurance Program buy into the program if they don't have insurance.
Now, what's their program? They answer no to all these -- no, no, no,
no. And their Medicare drug program basically says that they'll help you
if you're up to 150 percent of the poverty line, but not if you're over,
and you've got to buy private insurance. What's the problem with that?
The insurance companies, after all the fights we've had together --
against each other over health care, I've got to brag on the health
insurance companies. I want to brag on them. They have been up front and
honest. They say, this is a bad idea. You cannot offer a stand-alone drug
policy that anyone will buy. Nevada passed a plan just like the ones the
Republicans are backing and not a single, solitary insurance company has
offered drug coverage under it because they don't want to be labeled
Now, why do they do it? Because the drug companies don't want us to
buy all these drugs for seniors. Now, that seems counter-intuitive.
Normally, if you're in business, you want to sell as much as you can. But
they fear that because we'll be buying a lot, we'll have a lot of
bargaining power and it will drive the price down, and people will only
have to pay 25 percent more than they pay in every other country for
American drugs. I just don't think it's a good reason. But it's a huge
In education, we're for higher standards, requirements to turn around
failing schools or shut them down, more teachers in the schools, more money
for teacher training, more money for building or modernizing schools.
Florida needs that bad, right? That's what we're for. (Applause.)
They're for block grants and vouchers. That's what their program is.
In crime, we're for more police and closing the gun show loophole in
the Brady Bill, right? (Applause.) They have never supported the police
program, even though it's given us the lowest crime rate in 25 years --
never. And in the previous administration the President vetoed the Brady
Bill. Now, this group of people are against closing the gun show loophole.
Their answer is, more people carrying concealed weapons, even in their
houses of worship. Now that's not demagoguery, those are facts. That's
So the point I'm trying to make is you get to make a choice. And
speaking of choice, that may be the biggest consequence of all. The next
president will appoint two to four members of the Supreme Court, which is
why it's important who's in the Senate because they have to confirm them.
Al Gore is pro-choice and mainstream on basically preserving individual
liberties and civil rights. And our judges are the most diverse group in
history, but they have the highest ratings of the American Bar Association
in 40 years. So they are confident, mainstream and diverse.
Both their candidates on the national ticket are against the Rowe v.
Wade decision, and their nominee says his favorite judges are Justices
Thomas and Scalia, the two most conservative on the Court. Those are his
Now, you have to -- these are honorable people. I'll say again, they
will do what they believe. How can you -- you don't expect people to get
elected president and not do what they believe. You have to assume that
you can trust them to follow their conscience and their lifelong positions.
Now, there won't be any talk about it probably this week, but this is
a huge deal. The composition of the Supreme Court will change. And that
Court will shape America well beyond the term of the next president, and
this is a consequence. So what you have to tell your friends and neighbors
is, look, these are just four I've given you, but if you look at -- or five
-- education, health care, the economy, crime and choice. Those are five.
We could talk about the environment, I could give you lots of other issues,
but you get the point.
Elections are choices that have consequences and people must live with
the consequences. So it is very important that they understand the choice.
The American people always get it right if they have enough time and enough
information. That's what you've got to believe. Otherwise, if they didn't
nearly always get it right, we wouldn't be around here after 220 years.
So I say to you, this is a profoundly important election. There are
big differences. You have to make sure people understand what their
choices are. You don't have to say a bad word about our opponents. You
can say that you, too, are sick of 20 years of negative politics, of trying
to convince people that your opponent is just one step above a car thief.
I know a little something about it; I don't like it very much.
But that cannot be permitted to obscure the differences. And I'll
just say this in closing. I've lived long enough now to know that nothing
stays the same forever. In my lifetime, we never had a chance like this.
We can literally build the future of our dreams for our children. We can
also be a more positive force around the world for peace and freedom and
security and prosperity. But we can only do it if we make the right
I want to say just one word about the Vice President. One of the
things that bothers me is that the polls seem to say he gets no credit for
our economic policy. Before I took office, we spent two months debating
economic policy. You may remember I had a big national economic summit.
When we had to decide whether we were going to make the brutally tough
decisions to get that deficit down, Al Gore was the first one to say we've
got to do it, let's just take the lumps and go on. When he cast the
deciding vote on the economic plan of 1993, without which we could not have
done any of the things we've enjoyed since, he acted on his conviction.
He was instrumental in the Telecommunications Act, which had a lot to
do with creating hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs. He supported all
my trade initiatives. He has been there, an integral member of our
economic team. He understands the future. That's important. You want a
president who understands the future.
And, finally, let me say the most important thing of all to me is he
wants to take us all along for the ride. He is for a minimum wage; they
are not. He is for employment nondiscrimination legislation; they are not.
He is for hate crimes legislation, and their leadership isn't because it
also extends protection to gays. And I think that we need to be building
an America where everybody that works hard plays by the rules and doesn't
get in anybody else's way in a defensive way ought to be part of our
America. That's what we think.
Now, people are free to think something else. But no one should be
confused about the consequences. Now, I'm telling you, in my lifetime
we've never had a chance like this. And I feel so good -- in spite of all
the good things that have happened in America in the last seven years, I
feel like we've been turning an ocean liner around in the ocean and now
it's headed in the right way and it's about to become a speedboat. All the
best stuff is still out there, if we make the right choice. Bill Nelson is
the right choice, and so is Al Gore.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)
END 7:16 P.M. EDT
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