RESEND (Bentsen) 2000-10/19 President of the United States remarks at NY Senate 2000 reception in Norwalk, Connecticut
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release                          October 19, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                     TO NEW YORK SENATE 2000 RECEPTION

                             Private Residence
                         East Norwalk, Connecticut


8:37 P.M. EDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you Rick, and thank you, Bruce.  I'm so
glad this worked out tonight -- this poor man would have had a heart attack
-- (laughter) -- if I were still in Egypt; it would be the end of our
relationship.  (Laughter.)  And thank you for opening this magnificent home
to us.  I only wish I could see it in the daytime, with all the lights
shining in all the windows.

     I thank you all for coming tonight.  Several of you commented on the
rather unusual schedule I've had the last five days.  And I'm still
standing.  (Laughter.)  I suppose I should be more careful about what I'm
saying, because I probably won't remember it.  (Laughter.)

     Let me say, first of all, I'm really grateful for your support for
Hillary, and I'm delighted that I could come tonight.  She's in New York
with Al Gore tonight, and you got me.  I suppose I'm now the consolation
prize.  (Laughter.)  I'm actually having the best time of my life.  This is
the first time in 26 years, in an election year, I have not been on the
ballot for something, somewhere.  Most days, I'm okay about it.
(Laughter.)  I'm having a wonderful time going out across America, helping
candidates for the Senate and the House, and helping Al and Connecticut's
own Joe Lieberman; and especially Hillary.

     And in a way, I feel freer to say maybe what is on my mind than I
might if I were, myself, a candidate.  But I just want to make a few
remarks.

     First of all, this is an election that we ought to be enjoying.  I
think we ought to be enjoying it as a people maybe a little more than we
are now, because the country is in such good shape economically and
socially, without any immediate crisis at home, that we're actually in a
position to have an old-fashioned citizens election, where we debate where
we are, where we ought to go and what we should be doing to build the
future of our dreams for our children.  And the American people should feel
good about that.

     This election has been remarkably free of kind of intensely personal
recriminations.  There's been a little bit of it, and any of it is a little
too much for me.  But really you have two very clear choices for President
and Vice President, for the Senate race in New York and basically
throughout the country.  And so what I thought I'd do tonight is just make
a few remarks about that.

     I've done everything I know to do over the last, as you pointed out,
seven years and nine months -- I've got something like 93 days to go.
(Laughter.)  Everything I knew to do to turn the country around, pull the
country together and move us forward.  And I feel very strongly that these
elections should be viewed as hiring decisions and you're primarily hiring
people to make decisions.

     Every time somebody comes to see me, it's a young person, says, I want
to run for this, that or the other office, and they ask me should they do
it.  I say, well, you've got to be able to answer three questions.  One,
are you prepared to lose?  Can you stand it?  I've done it twice, it's way
overrated -- (laughter) -- but it's important.  Two, are you prepared to do
what it takes to win?  And, three, do you have a reason for running that's
bigger than the fact that you'd like the job?  Because people are hiring
you to make decisions.

     And one of the things, I get frustrated when I watch these
presidential debates -- they're really not debates, they're actually joint
press conferences in which maybe you get a chance to clarify your
difference, but usually you don't.  And what the voters need to know is,
what do these people have in common, where do they differ and what are the
consequences to me, my family and our country?  That's really what you
ought to be thinking about.

     So I would just start by saying that the question in every election is
not -- in this year, and in this century, certainly for the next 20 years I
think will be not whether we're going to change, but how are we going to
change.  There is no status quo candidate in this election, not for
President and not for any other position, because the nation and the world
are changing at breathtaking speeds.  A lot of you have been a part of that
change, which is why you can afford to be here tonight.  (Laughter.)  But
it's very important to focus on that.  The issue is not whether we're going
to change, it is how we're going to change.

     I think it's quite important that we keep this economic expansion
going, that we minimize any problems that come along in the future and that
we break our backs to try to expand economic opportunity to the people and
places that have been left behind.  You might know, but the poorest parts
of America are still the Native American reservations.  It may be hard to
imagine in Connecticut, where the biggest casino in the world belongs to an
Indian tribe.  But in 1994, I brought all the Indian chiefs in the country
-- I invited them all, and most of them came -- to the White House for the
first time since the 1820s.  And we had people who flew down on their own
airplanes; and we had other people where they had to pass the hat on the
reservation to get up enough money to afford the plane ticket.

     So I think it's quite important that we think about how we can keep
expanding the circle of business owners and consumers to keep this going.
But several of you mentioned -- at least three of you mentioned, going
through the line, that you were friends with Bob Rubin.  So I'll just start
with that.
     People ask me all the time, I go around the country, they say, what
did you really do to change the economic policy?  What new idea did you and
Bob Rubin and Lloyd Bentsen, that whole crowd, bring to Washington?  And I
always have a one-word answer:  arithmetic.  We brought arithmetic to
Washington, D.C.  (Laughter.)  Now, that may seem laughable to you, but
that's a big issue in this election.

     And I don't really think the debate has been formed as I think it
should be in people's minds.  The question is not -- it's partly who should
get a tax cut.  But the real issue, from my point of view, since I want to
keep the economy going, is how big of a one can you afford?  So it is true
that the Republican Party tax cut is about three times the size of the
Democratic tax cut.  And because the Democratic Party tax cut is only
one-third as big as the Republicans, it has to be tilted a little more
toward people at incomes $100,000 a year and down.

     But why is that important?  Why is arithmetic important?  Because if
you spend a trillion and a half-plus on a tax cut, and a trillion dollars
on partially privatizing Social Security, and several hundred billion
dollars keeping your spending cuts, you're back in deficits.  And once you
get back to deficits -- we tried that -- you get higher interest rates and
lower economic growth.  The real reason that successful people who want a
successful economy should support our approach is that if you keep paying
down the debt, you'll keep interest rates lower.

     And I had the Council of Economic Advisors do an analysis for me that
said that the difference in the two economic plans could be a percent a
year for a decade.  That is $390 billion in lower home mortgages; $30
billion in lower car payments; $15 billion in lower college loan payments;
way lower business loans, which means more investment, more jobs and a
better stock market.  It's arithmetic.

     There is something else, I think, that's not become clear in these
debates that I'd like to emphasize, because -- this is something Hillary
feels very strongly about.  Most people don't know it, but the third
biggest item in the federal budget is interest on the debt.  There is
Social Security, defense, interest on the debt.  If you pay the debt down,
you evaporate the third biggest item in the budget, 12 cents on the dollar.
When I became President, it was almost 14 cents on the dollar, headed to
over 15.  But we're paying the debt down now.

     So if you pay it down and 12 cents of every dollar you pay in taxes
goes away, then you have more for education, you have more for health care
and eventually you have more for tax cuts and government is a smaller share
of the economic pie under our approach than it is under theirs.  This is
very important.  But people have to make up their minds whether they agree
with this with or not.  All I can tell you is, you got eight years of a
test here, and you had 12 years of a test the other way, and I think our
way works better.  So I think we should keep changing that way.  That's a
clear decision people need to have.  (Applause.)

     The same thing is true on health care, on education, on the
environmental policy.  Let me just say that this is important to me.  They
say there are never any votes in the national election on it, but I think
that it's very important that America have a good environmental policy, and
I believe it will become more important in the years ahead as the global
economy grows ever more intertwined and our resources are shared.

     We have proved that you can have cleaner air, cleaner water, safer
food, 90 percent of our kids immunized for the first time in history, set
aside more land than any administration since that of Theodore Roosevelt,
and grow the economy.  Big decision in this election.  Because they say our
clean air rules are too tight for a good economy.  They say they want to
repeal my order setting aside 40 million acres of roadless lands in the
national forests -- which the Audobon Society says is the most significant
conservation move in 40 years.  (Applause.)  I don't want you to clap for
that.  I want you to understand there is a decision here, and the decision
you make will have consequences and you have to decide how important it is.

     We just had another test last week that proves that the 1990s were the
warmest decade in a thousand years.  A test on a polar ice cap proved that
the 1990s were the warmest decade in a thousand years.  Now, we have on the
shelf technology today available that pays out in two years or less, which
would enable us to grow the economy even more rapidly and reduce our
contribution to global warming.  Al Gore understands this, Hillary is
committed to it, you've got to make a decision.  If you think it's
important, you can't pretend that this election doesn't have anything to do
with that.  It's a big, big issue.

     If you drilled in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, something that
we don't support, it would only be a few months' worth of oil for the
American people.  If, instead, you figure out how to get fuel injection
engines, you get more mix fuel engines -- or we're very close to cracking
the chemical barrier to biofuels, let me say what that is in plain
language.

     If you take farmers' crops and you make ethanol, it takes seven
gallons of gasoline to make eight gallons of ethanol.  That's why it
doesn't work out very well now.  But we have chemists in the labs, funded
by your tax dollars today that are very close to figuring out how to crack
the chemical resistance -- just like when we turned crude oil into
gasoline.  Once you break the resistance, you'll be able to make with one
gallon of gasoline, eight gallons of biofuel.  And it won't just have to be
corn, it could be grass.  It could be anything.  Then we'll all be getting
500 miles to the gallon, in effect, and everything will be changed.

     Now, there's a big difference here between the way we approach this.
You have to decide.  But you cannot assume that there are no consequences.

     Same thing in education.  I think it's very good to listen to these
debates and know that both sides favor accountability.  But you should know
-- I mean, Hillary has been working seriously on education for over 20
years now.  And the thing I want to tell you, the good news is we now know
something we didn't know when Hillary and I started this over 20 years ago.
You can turn failing schools around.  I was in a school in Harlem the other
day where, listen to this -- two years ago -- two years ago, 80 percent of
the children were doing math and english below grade level; by any
standard, a failing school.  Two years later, 74 percent of the children
are doing math and english at or above grade level.  We know how to do
this.

     So our strategy is:  identify the failing schools, have high standards
and if they don't turn around, shut them down or put them under new
management.  It's not complicated.  But we believe that if you're going to
expect high standards, you ought to help fund more teachers in the schools,
you ought to help fund modern school buildings, you ought to have
after-school programs and summer school programs and pre-school programs
for the kids who need it.  Big difference.

     It's one thing to say you're going to hold somebody accountable and
another one to give them the tools to meet the accountability standard.

     And the last thing I'd like to say -- I'll say a little bit about
foreign policy, because you asked me to and because it's why I haven't had
any sleep in five days.  (Laughter.)  But before I get into that, I want to
say that there is one other thing I've tried to do.  I have tried as hard
as I could to get the American people to reconcile with each other across
all this incredible diversity we have.  This is the most racially and
religiously diverse society we have ever had, and it is growing more so
every day.

     And I have tried to get people to say, hey, this is a good thing for
us in a global economy.  We should be glad that we're more diverse.  We
should relish and be proud of our differences.  But we can only do that if
we understand our common humanity is more important.  That's the problem in
the Middle East today.  It's why we still haven't finished the Irish peace
process.  It's why they have tribal wars in Africa.  You just think about
it -- everywhere people think their differences are more important than
their common humanity, eventually trouble ensues and grievances get piled
high.  And as we've seen in the Middle East, it's easy to have seven years
of hard work chucked out the door in no time.

     So that's why I've worked for a hate crimes bill and the employment
and nondiscrimination act and why I want stronger enforcement of the equal
pay for women laws and why we've tried to have the most diverse
administration in history.  And that again is a very important issue in
this election.  You've just got to decide how important you think that is.
I think it is real important.

     If somebody would only give me one wish for America on my way out the
door, I would not wish -- if I only had one -- for continuing prosperity.
I would wish for us to find some way to be one America, across all the
lines that divide us.  Because, hey, you're smart and so is everybody else
who lives in this country -- you'll figure out how to deal with all the
rest.  But if you can't bring diverse people together in unity, then the
rest of it eventually will fall to peoples' blindness.

     So that's what I wanted to say.  I'm glad for the good things that
have happened in this country.  I'm grateful that we've been able to be a
force for peace and freedom throughout the world.  I think I was right
about the trade issue, and I appreciated you mentioning that and I wish I
had persuaded more people in my party I was right, but time is on our side
there.

     But what you have to understand is, America's public life is always
about tomorrow.  That's why we're still around here after over 225 years.
We are always about tomorrow.  We're always a country that is becoming,
always in the process of being something bigger and better and different;
because we're rooted in some values that stand the test of time.  That's
what this election is about.

     Now, the seat that my wife is running for was held by Robert Kennedy
and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- people that were important to New York and
important to America; people that had good minds and caring hearts.  I must
say, of all the crazy things people have said in this election, the only
one that has really kind of steamed me is when somebody says, well, she
wouldn't be doing this if she weren't First Lady.  I can tell you that for
30 years all she ever did was work for other people, other causes, other
candidates, other things she believed in.  And the truth is, if she hadn't
come home and married me 25 years ago, she would have done this 15 years
ago, herself.  That's the real truth.  (Applause.)

     I have had the great honor of knowing hundreds of people in public
life.  One thing I'd like to say about that is that most of them --
Republicans and Democrats alike, conservatives and liberals alike -- were
much more honest, much more hardworking and much more likely to do what
they believed is right than you would believe if all you did was read the
press accounts.  Most people do what they think is right.  That's why I
urge the Democrats in this election to just posit that from Governor Bush
on down, the Republicans are good people who love their families and love
their country, and we just have different views here -- so people can get
all of the cobwebs out of their heads and think about how this election was
going to affect them.

     Al Gore would be a good President because he makes good decisions.  I
saw that again in these two days when we were huddling over the Middle East
crisis.  He makes good decisions.  You hire people to make decisions.

     In the Senate, you need somebody who can work with other people and
bring order out of chaos and set priorities, because you don't have the,
sort of, power of the federal government working for you.  You have to have
somebody who can really think and who really cares about the right things
and then can get things done.

     I have personally never known anybody, ever, in all my years in public
life -- and I've known several presidents, I've known scores of Cabinet
members, I've known a couple of hundred people who have served in the U.S.
Senate -- I have never known anybody who had the same combination of mind
and heart and knowledge and ability to get things done than Hillary does.

     I would be giving this speech today for her if we hadn't spent the
last over 25 years together.  I would do that -- because I'm telling you,
if the people of New York vote for her, the ones who didn't vote for her
will wonder why they didn't within a year.

     So I am grateful to you.  I think she's going to win.  We can't let
her be out-spent too badly in the last two and a half weeks -- (laughter)
-- thanks to you, she won't be.  And I think on election night you'll be
very proud that you were here tonight.

     Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

                              END                8:57 P.M. EDT


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