Remarks by the President at AFL-CIO Reception (10/6/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

                                                                  For
Immediate Release                           October 6, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                           AT AFL-CIO RECEPTION

                             Private Residence
                             Washington, D.C.


8:50 P.M.  EDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, first of all, madam, I want to thank
you for letting all these fairly scruffy characters come in your home.
(Laughter.)  Many of us are well accompanied, though.  (Laughter.)

     You know, I was thinking, we had Morty and Linda and John and I up
here talking -- this is an introduction that looks like America.  We span
these vast ethnic gaps.  We had an Irish-Catholic and Irish-Protestant at
the end.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Morty, and thank you for having us here
and thank you for being such good friends to me.

     You know, I really believe in this issue.  John and I worked very hard
together to beat that initiative in California a couple of years ago.  And
we raised money and you all spent it very well.  (Laughter.)  And
intelligently -- I mean that, intelligently.  And you won.  And I think
you'll win again.

     But I just wanted to say a couple of things about the environment in
which this debate will take place.  One is, I will never be able to thank
you enough for the support that you've given to me and the Vice President,
Hillary, our whole crowd these last eight years.  It's been a joy.

     One of my objectives when I became President was to take away the
ability of our friends in the other party to demonize us just for being
what we are, for being the progressive party.  And I was determined I would
take away the budget issue, I would take away the crime issue, I would take
away the welfare issue, I would take away the foreign policy issue.  And I
would do it in a responsible, progressive way, but that we would not be
vulnerable on these things anymore.

     And I was determined that if we could turn this economy around, the
Republicans would never be able to make a lot of hay with their sort of
knee-jerk, anti-union propaganda.  And I think it's pretty well happened.
There are no votes in America for running against people because they
organize themselves into labor groups to protect the interests of their
members and their families and working people at large.  There is just not
any votes in that anymore.  Anybody that responds to that kind of stuff
anymore, they weren't ever going to be for us anyway.
     I hope that I have helped you not only on the specific things we
fought for and the specific things we stopped from happening, but in
changing the climate in America so that America's labor leaders and rank
and file men and women in the unions can not only feel proud of the
organizations they're a part of, but feel that they're not going to be
looked at in some prejudiced and unfair way by their fellow citizens.  And
I think we're just about there.

     I also have to say I think your own leadership deserves a lot of
credit for that.  I think you deserve a lot of credit for that, John.  I
think all of you have been so smart in the way you've taken the issues that
you care about to the American people.

     I think that if you look at how the parallel issue was defeated in
California two years ago, basically what you made sure of was that
everybody knew what it really did, not what they said it did, and
understood what the consequences of its passage were.  And I think that's
the same way you've got to be to win in Oregon; but I think it is also a
metaphor for what this whole election ought to be about.

     The reason that I felt good about the presidential debate is that I
thought the Vice President not only acquitted himself well, but had an
opportunity to clearly state his position and what the differences were on
several issues.  The reason we had a good convention is that we had a
chance to clearly state not only where we were eight years ago and where we
are now, but exactly what we would try to do if the American people
ratified the progress of the last eight years by electing Al Gore and Joe
Lieberman and all of our candidates to the Senate and House that we hope
will win.

     So that's the only other thing I would say.  I think that we now know
that the American people feel secure enough that even if they're not sure
we're right on certain things, they will give us a hearing.  And we know
that we want clarity on the issues and the choices and the consequences far
greater than our opponents.  They want to kind of fuzz the issues and the
differences.  What does that tell you about where the American people would
be if they understand not only this issue, but the issues in the
presidential race and the congressional races.

     So I would just like to urge you all to be of good cheer.  You know,
for the first six months of this year, I was a little lonely, I was kind of
like the little happy camper -- (laughter)-- going around the country
telling everybody not to worry, it was all going to be all right,
everything is going to be fine; the underlying circumstances were good, our
candidates were good, it was going to be all right.  Now, it looks like
it's going to be all right.  (Laughter and applause.)

     But we've got to be clear here.  We've got to be very disciplined.
We're often arrayed against greater money, but we've all learned -- they
out-spent us $100 million two years ago, and we won anyway, because we had
clarity, people understood what the choice was, what the consequences were,
they had a fair grasp of what was at issue.

     If the people in Oregon have a fair grasp of what is at issue in this,
you'll win here just like you did in California.  And if they have a fair
grasp of what is at issue in the presidential races and the pivotal
congressional races, we'll do just fine there, too.

     The only other thing I'd like to say on a purely personal note is that
a lot of you have gone out of your way to help Hillary in New York, and it
means more to me than I will ever be able to say, and you will be very,
very proud of her when she gets elected.

     Thank you, and bless you.  (Applause.)

                       END                       8:58 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

Help

Site Map

Graphic Version

T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E