7/31 Remarks By The President At The DSCC Dinner, Palm Beach Bcc:
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Palm Beach, Florida)
For Immediate Release                                   July 31, 2000

                            REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                                 AT DSCC DINNER

                               Private Residence
                              Palm Beach, Florida

9:12 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  This is the fourth time that
Bill and I have done this today, and we're about to get the hang of it.
(Laughter.)  I want to thank Eric and Colleen for having us in their
beautiful little home tonight, in this fabulous, fabulous tent.  This is
exhibit A for the proposition that if you want to live like a Republican,
you should vote Democratic.  (Applause.)

     I want to thank the Aronsons for having us earlier at the reception.
I want to thank my great friend, Alcee Hastings, for being here and for
representing Florida brilliantly in the House of Representatives.

     I want to say a special word of appreciation to Bob Graham, who has
been my friend for more than 20 years now.  He and Adele and Hillary and I
have been through a lot of interesting times together.  And I've told
anybody who cared to listen that the only job I ever could really hold down
for any period of time was being governor of my home state.  I did that for
12 years, and I didn't seem to have much upward mobility for a while.  But
I had the good fortune the serve with 150 governors, and to see probably
another 100 or more since then, since I've been President, and without any
question, Bob Graham is one of the two or three ablest people I ever served
with when he was governor of this state.  (Applause.)  And he's done a
fabulous job in Congress.  I'll say more about that in a moment.

     And I want to thank Bill Nelson and Grace for making this race for the
Senate.  It isn't easy to run for major office today.  You never know
what's going to hit you; you never know how difficult it will be; and you
can't predict the twists and turns of the campaign.  And he looks great
right now.  But when he made the decision it might not have worked out this
way.  He did it not knowing how it would come out because he believed he
should serve.

     And he and Grace have been friends of Hillary's and mine for a long,
long time.  Their children have spent the night with us in the White House.
I know them well, and I'm just so proud that people like that still want to
serve, still want to give.  Besides that, he's really been a good insurance
commissioner.  I mean, he stopped insurance fraud against the elderly.  He
helped children to get health insurance.  He's really done a good job.

     I also want to mention my good friend, your former Lt. Governor, Buddy
MacKay, who is here with us tonight, who has really been great as our
Ambassador to Latin America.  And we just got a special bill passed to
increase trade with the Caribbean region, which will be tremendously
helpful to the people here in South Florida.  And I thank him for joining
us today.

     I would also just -- I'd like to thank the people that catered this
dinner and the people that served it.  They made our dinner very nice
tonight.  (Applause.)  Most of the time, people don't say that.  So I thank

     Let me say that I never know what to say at one of these dinners
because I always feel that I'm preaching to the saved, as we say at home.
I mean, if you weren't for him, surely you wouldn't have written a check.
(Laughter.)  But I have a real interest in trying to get you to do more
than write a check, because everybody who can come here is someone who, by
definition, has a lot of contacts with a lot of people.  And I'm very
interested in how this whole election turns out.  I'm passionately
committed to the election of the Vice President and I will say more about
that in a minute.

     And there is one Senate seat than I'm even more interested in than the
Florida election, in New York.  (Laughter.)  Where the best person I've
ever known is running.
And the thing I'm thinking about tonight, and I just kind of want to talk
to you, is what is it that I could ask you to do that might make a
difference in the election?  And here's what it is.  You can understand
exactly what it's about and convince everybody you know that that's what
it's about.

     My experience over many years now in public life is that very often
the outcome of an election is determined by what people think the election
is about.  And it may seem self-evident, but it isn't.  For example, when I
ran in 1992 and James Carville came up with that great line, "It's the
economy, stupid" -- well, he's great, but you didn't have to be a genius to
figure that out.  The country was in trouble and we were going downhill
economically.  We had quadrupled our debt in 12 years.  All of the social
indicators were going in the wrong direction, Washington seemed paralyzed.

     The political climate seemed to me in Washington, when I was way out
in the country -- at the time I was serving at what then President Bush
called -- I was the governor of a small southern state -- (laughter) -- and
I was so naive I thought it was a compliment.  (Laughter.)  And, you know,
I still do.

     But, anyway, it seemed to me like Washington, whatever Washington was,
that the Republicans and Democrats were saying, you've got an idea, I've
got an idea, let's fight, maybe we'll both get on the evening news -- which
got a lot of people on the evening news, but not much ever happened.  And I
didn't think anybody else lived that way.

     So it was obvious that we had to try to turn the country around, and I
won't go through all that.  But I will say now we've had eight years of the
longest economic prosperity in our history, the lowest unemployment rate in
30 years, 22 million new jobs.  But it's not just economics, this is a more
just society.  Child poverty is down to a 20-year low; the lowest minority
unemployment rate ever recorded; lowest female unemployment rate in 40
years; lowest single-parent household poverty rate in 46 years.  Welfare
rolls cut in half; crime rate at a 25-year low; teen pregnancy down for
seven years in a row.  The indicators are going in the right direction.
This is a more just society and a stronger society.

     And what I think the election ought to be about is this -- now what?
Now, that may seem self-evident to you, but now what?  What is it that
we're going to do with all this prosperity?  Are we just going to feel good
about it?  Are we going to take our cut and run?  Or are we going to
recognize that this is something that happens once in a lifetime, and we
had better think very hard about the chance we have been given to build the
future of our dreams for our children -- to seize the big opportunities, to
meet the big challenges?

     There's not a person in this beautiful setting tonight over 30 years
of age who cannot recall at least one time in your life when you made a big
mistake, not because things were going so badly, but because things were
going so well you thought there was no failure to the penalty to
concentrate -- the failure to concentrate.  There was no penalty to that.
If you failed to concentrate, you get distracted, who cares?  Things are
going so great, nothing can go wrong.  And so you got to wandering around,
and all of a sudden you made a mistake, something bad happened.

     Now, countries are no different from people.  So I say again -- why am
I telling you this?  Because you read all the stories about this election
-- I read a huge story on the cover of USA Today a couple of weeks ago that
said the voters had no idea that there was any significant difference
between the Vice President and Governor Bush on economic policy.  A big
story in the New York Times last week on a survey, a national survey of
suburban women voters who cared about gun safety legislation.  They were
for the Vice President only 45 to 39.  Then the pollster -- who doesn't
work for any of us, not a politically affiliated person -- simply read
their positions on the issues to the people and the poll changed from 49-35
to 50 -- 45-39, excuse me, to 57 to 29.  Boom, like that, just with

     So what have we got?  We've got a team headed by the Vice President,
including Bill Nelson and Hillary and a lot of others who say, look, we've
got to keep the prosperity going; we've got to keep investing in education,
expanding trade, paying down the debt.  We've got to have a tax cut, but
one we can afford, so that we don't spend it all.  And we've got to do some
other things.  We've got to lengthen the life of Medicare and Social
Security so when the baby boomers retire they don't bankrupt their kids and
grandkids.  We ought to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare because
it's unconscionable that all these seniors and disabled people who need
these drugs can't get them and we'd never create a Medicare program today
without it.

     We ought to close the gun show loophole and do some other things to
keep guns out of the hands of kids and criminals.  We ought to do more to
build one America.  We ought to raise the minimum wage.  We ought to pass
employment nondiscrimination legislation.  We ought to pass hate crimes
legislation.  We ought to preserve the fundamental individual liberties of
the American people including the right to choose.

     Now, on their side, they've got a team that basically says, we used to
be real conservative, but now we're moderate.  Don't laugh, I'm not being
cynical here, I'm being serious.  And they talk about inclusion and
compassion and harmony, but they don't talk much about specifics.  And it's
clear that they are greatly advantaged by the blurring of the lines between
the two parties and the fact that people don't know what the differences
are.  So that's what I want to ask you to do.  I want you to let me tell
you as much as a citizen as a President what I think the differences are,
and what I think is at stake.

     First of all, on economic policy -- our policy is pay down the debt,
keep interest rates low, keep the economy going, invest in education and
health care and science and technology, and have a tax cut we can afford --
that 80 percent of the people will get more out of than theirs, even though
it's only 25 percent as expensive, but most of you in this room wouldn't
get more money out of it.  You would, however, get lower interest rates,
which the economists say our plan would give at least one percent lower
interest rates for a decade -- at least -- which is worth, among other
things, $260 billion in home mortgages, $30 billion in car payments, and
$15 billion in college loan payments.  A pretty good size tax cut -- not to
mention, lower business loan rates, which means higher investment and
greater growth and a stronger stock market.

     Now, it took me a while to say that.  Their case is a lot easier to
make.  Their case is, hey, we're going to have a $2 trillion surplus; it's
your money and we're going to give it back to you.  Doesn't that sound
good?  In the last year they passed over a trillion dollars in tax cuts.
And they've been pretty smart this year; they passed some sort of salami
fashion so each one of them has a huge constituency.  I like a lot of them.
And I like some of all of what they're trying to do.  The problem is it's
kind of like going to a cafeteria -- did you ever go to a cafeteria to eat
and you got the tray and you're walking down the aisle, and all the food
looks so good, but if you eat it all you'll get sick.  (Laughter.)  You
think about it.

     So they proposed to spend the whole surplus, the whole projected
surplus -- never mind what they promised to spend in money.  Now, what's
wrong with that?  Well, we tried it before, number one.  Number two, it's a
projected surplus.

     Now, if you propose to spend some money and the money doesn't come in,
you just don't spend it.  But once you cut the taxes, they're cut.  So they
want to spend the entire surplus that we have worked as a country for seven
years to accumulate to turn around the deficits and debt.  Now it's
projected.  I don't know if it will come in or not.

     It reminds me of -- I told people at the previous meeting.  Did you
ever get one of those letters from Publisher's Clearinghouse in the mail
signed by Ed McMahon?  Did you ever get one?  You may have won $10 million,
you may have won it.  Now, if the next day after you got that letter, you
went out and spent the $10 million, you should support them and their plan.
(Laughter.)  But if you didn't, you had better stick with us.  And that's
what you need to tell people. (Applause.)

     Nobody in their right mind -- if I ask every one of you, whatever you
do for a living, from the people who run the biggest companies here, the
people that served our dinner, you think about this:  What do you think
your income is going to be over the next 10 years?  What do you think it's
going to be?  Come to a very high level of confidence.

     Now, if I ask you to come up here right now and sign a binding
contract to spend it all tonight, would you do it?  If you would, you
should support them.  If not, you should stick with us.  This is a huge
difference.  And all the surveys show the people don't know.  You should
help them know.

     Let's take health care.  We favor the patients' bill of rights,
they're against it.  We favor a Medicare drug program that all our seniors
can buy, they favor a private insurance program that, God bless them, the
health insurance companies -- I've fought them for seven years, but I've
got to take my hat off to them -- (laughter) -- they have been so honest.
The health insurance companies have said, don't do this, it won't work.
Nobody will do this.  You can't offer policies.

     In Nevada, they passed a program like this, and not a single insurance
company's even offered the policy.  So they're not doing anything real for
people who desperately need these drugs -- the disabled people and seniors.
And we've got the money now.  It's unconscionable not to do it.  If you
live to be 65 years old now, your chance of your life expectancy is 83 in
America.  But it ought to be a good life.  It ought to be a full life.  If
you're disable in America today and you can get the right kind of medicine
it can dramatically increase your capacity to work and to enjoy life and to
be a full person to the maximum extent of your ability to do so.  But you
need medicine.  This is a huge issue, especially in Florida, but throughout
the country.  They're not for it.

     We say there are a lot of people who lose their health insurance when
they're over 55 and they're not old enough for Medicare; we ought to give
them a little tax break and let them buy in.  They say, no.  So there's a
big difference in health care policy.

     Big difference in education policy.  We say that we ought to have high
standards and people should turn around failing schools or have to shut
them down; that we ought to have more teachers and more money for teacher
training, we ought to spend more money to help places like Florida build
new schools or repair old ones.  They favor block grants and vouchers.

     We say, on crime, we want more police in the high-crime areas and we
want to close the gun show loophole on the Brady background check law and
require child safety locks on these guns and stop people importing these
large-capacity ammunition clips that allows people to convert legal weapons
into assault weapons.  And I say, the Vice President says, you ought to get
a photo ID license before you get a handgun, showing that you passed the
background check, you know how to use the gun safety.  (Applause.)  That's
what we say.

     Now, they think we're all wet.  They think we're wrong.  They think
that all of that should be opposed and what we really need is more people
carrying concealed weapons, even in their places of worship.  That's their
record and their commitment.

     We believe, as I said earlier, that we should raise the minimum wage;
they don't.  We favor the hate crimes legislation; their leadership doesn't
because it includes gays.  I think that's one big reason we need it.  I
mean, how many people do we have to see get killed in this country because
of who they are before we do that?  (Applause.)

     Same thing on employment nondiscrimination.  And as Bill said in a
delicate way -- and I'll be more blunt -- the biggest thing of all is the
fact that the next president is going to appoint between two and four
members of the U.S. Supreme Court.  And it will change the face of America,
one way or the other, long after the next president's term is finished.
And on the one side, you've got the Vice President who believes in a
woman's right to choose, but also in the traditional commitment to civil
rights and individual rights and responsibilities -- (applause) -- and the
idea that the law ought to be a place where the weak as well as the strong
can find appropriate redress.

     And on the other side, you have two candidates who are firmly
committed to the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and their presidential candidate
says the two judges he most admires are Justices Thomas and Scalia, by far
the most conservative members of the Court.

     Now, what's the point of this?  We don't have to have a negative
campaign.  We should say we think they are honorable people with wonderful
families who love their children, who love their country, who want to do
public service.  But as honorable people, we should say, we expect them to
do exactly what they say they're going to do even if they're not talking
about it in this election.  We can't pretend that these differences don't
exist and that they aren't real, and that they won't affect millions of
people's lives.

     Look at civil rights.  You know, they've gotten in a lot of -- at
least a little stir lately because Mr. Cheney, was he was in Congress,
voted against letting Nelson Mandela out of prison.  And a lot of people
are horrified to learn that.  Now, he's a friend of mine, and I think one
of the greatest human beings I ever met.  But to be fair, he did get out
and he's made a pretty good job of his life since he got out.

     I'm not nearly as worried about Nelson Mandela 10 years ago as I am
about some other minorities today.  I'll tell you about Enrique Moreno.
You don't know him.  He grew up in El Paso without a lot, and got himself
to Harvard, graduated summa cum laude, went home and became a lawyer.  The
judges out there in West Texas says he's one of the best lawyers in the
region.  I tried to put him on the Federal Court of Appeals in Texas.  The
ABA gave him a unanimous well-qualified rating.  All the local folks were
for him, the Republicans and the Democrats -- they were all for him in the
local level in El Paso.

     But the Texas Republican senators won't even give him a hearing.  They
say they don't' think he's qualified.  And the head of the Republican Party
in Texas, now the head of the Republican Party in America, didn't lift a
finger to give him a hearing.  So I'd like to get Enrique Moreno out of
this sort of political prison where he can't get a hearing.

     In the Southeast United States, more African Americans life in the 4th
Circuit than any other one.  There's never been a black judge in the 4th
Circuit.  I've tried for seven years to put an African American judge in
the 4th Circuit.  And the Republican senators there are so opposed to this
that they have allowed a 25 percent vacancy rate on that court.  Now, they
make all the decisions that don't quite get to the  Supreme Court.
Twenty-five percent vacancy rate because they don't want -- ask Alcee
Hastings if I'm telling the truth.  Look at him nodding his head.  It's

     I want every American to know this.  I've got two African American
judges now I've appointed.  So I'm more concerned about those guys than
Mandela.  Mandela made a pretty good job of his life because, thank God,
nobody listened to the vote that was cast by the Republican nominee for
vice president.  He did get out of jail, and he went on and made a great
job as President of South Africa.

     Look, what kind of country do you want, anyway?  And again, what I
want Is a great election.  I want people to be upbeat and happy and say,
gosh, here we've got these perfectly fine people that are honorable, that
are patriots, that want to serve their country, that have very different
views, here's what the differences are, let's choose.  If that's the way
this election rolls out, you can book it.  Al Gore will be the next
president, and Bill Nelson will be the next senator from the state of
Florida.  (Applause.)

     But, you cannot allow your fellow Floridians and any Americans you
know anywhere else in the country to sort of sleep-walk through the
election -- sort of say, oh, well, this is just a fine time and everything
is great and they all seem pretty nice and this fraternity had it for eight
years, maybe we ought to give it to the other fraternity for a while.
They've got a real pretty package here, the other side does, and they just
hope nobody opens the package before Christmas.  (Laughter.)

     And I say that not sarcastically.  I don't blame them, it's a
brilliant marketing strategy.  It's the way they can win.  But America is
still here after 224 years because nearly all the time the people get it
right if they have enough information and enough time.  You can give it to
them.  You can go out and say, look, an election is a choice with
consequences, and how a country deals with its prosperity is just as stern
a test of its values, its judgment and its character as how it deals with
adversity.  And we may never get a chance like this again to build a future
of our dreams for our children.

     And let me just close with this very personal note, and show my age a
little bit.  In February when we broke the limit for the longest economic
expansion in history, I asked my staff to tell me when the last longest
economic expansion in history was.  You know when it was -- 1961 to 1969.
I graduated from high school in 1964, before a lot of you were born.  In
the full flow of that longest economic expansion in history.

     President Kennedy had just been killed and we were all sad about that,
but President Johnson was very popular, the country had a lot of
confidence.  We took the health of the economy for granted -- low
unemployment, low inflation, high growth.  We thought the civil rights
problems we had would be solved in the courts and the Congress, not on the
streets.  We never dreamed the Vietnam would get as big or as bloody or as
divisive as it did.  And we were just rolling along.

     Two years later we had riots in the streets all over America.  Four
years later I graduated from college in Washington, D.C. -- nine weeks
after President Johnson couldn't run for President anymore and told us so,
because of the division of the country over Vietnam; eight weeks after
Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis; and two days after Robert
Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles.  And the election and the national
mood took a different turn.  And before you know it, the last longest
economic expansion in history was history.

     I've lived long enough to know now nothing lasts forever.  I have
waited 35 years for my country to be in a position to truly build the
future of our dreams for our kids.  This kind of thing just comes along
once in a great long while.  And believe me, when you think of the
implications in the Human Genome Project, or the information revolution,
all the things that are going out here, all the good things that have
happened in the last eight years -- they are a small prologue to what is
still out there.  All the best things are still out there, if we understand
what our responsibility is in this election, and if the voters understand
what the choice is.  Then we will not blow this, and when it's all done
we'll be very proud we didn't.

     Thank you.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

     END  9:38 P.M. EDT

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
Privacy Statement


Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E