2000-9/12 President of the United States remarks at reception for Eddie Bernice Johnson
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                        September 12, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                             Private Residence
                             Washington, D.C.

8:35 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Well, that's not really why we're here.
(Laughter.)  But if you want to change the Constitution in any way that's
good, you're going to have to change the Congress first.  (Laughter.)  And
if you change the Congress, and you have the right outcome in the
presidential election, you won't need to change the Constitution.

     Let me say, first of all, to Bob and Shiela, how glad I am to be back
in their home.  They have been so phenomenally generous to so many people
who have devoted their lives to public service, who, therefore, have to
have the help of people like them to continue to serve.  But I'm grateful
to them because a lot of people wouldn't do that and I thank them.

     I will say to you publicly what I said to them privately a few moments
ago.  They've enjoyed a great deal of success in life, and God's been good
to them, and they've worked hard to help God along -- (laughter) -- and
they've done right well.  It's a long way from Mississippi.  (Laughter.)

     But I think their greatest glory is in their two children.  And I
expect Brett, one day, to win the U.S. Open in tennis -- (laughter) -- and
I think his sister will one day win the gold medal in the Olympics for her
equestrian skills.  (Applause.)  But whether they do or not, they're really
good people, and that's the ultimate tribute to Bob and Sheila, because
they take all this good fortune they've had and instead of just thinking
about themselves, they think about their children, and they think about our
children, which is why they're helping Eddie Bernice and why they've helped
so many other people, and I want to thank you for that.  (Applause.)

     Now, I got Eddie Bernice in a sentimental mood tonight, because we
were in the living room visiting with a few people.  I put my arm around
her and I said, let me ask you something, do you think there is anybody
here who has known you as long as I have?  (Laughter.)  She said, you know,
come to think of it, I don't believe there is.

     And 28 years ago, when we were working together, it was a pretty
interesting experience.  Senator McGovern got 33 votes
-- a percent of the vote in Texas.  I never will forget, one day I was on a
plane from Dallas to Little Rock with a young businessman from Jackson,
Mississippi, and he said, what are you doing?  And I told him what I was
doing.  He said, you're doing what?  (Laughter.)  I said, yes, I'm working
for McGovern in Texas.  And he looked at me, he didn't crack a smile, and
he said, you know, you're the only white man I ever met for McGovern.
(Laughter.)  It's a true story.  It's a true story.

     Two years later, when Sam Ervin was having his hearings, the phone
rang in my house in Little Rock one day, and it was this guy on the phone.
He had kept my card and he said, I just called to tell you, you were right
and I was wrong.  (Laughter.)

     Well, Eddie Bernice was right on so many things.  Look, I can be very
brief.  This woman has been a friend of mine for 28 years.  And she still
pretty much looks exactly like she did 28 years ago.  And since I don't
even look like what I did eight years ago, I resent that.  (Laughter.)

     But she's the sort of person that I think we need in positions of
leadership in the country and in our party.  She is a passionate proponent
of equal rights for everybody, she cares about health care, she cares about
giving everybody a chance, but she also understands how to run the store.
She's fiscally responsible, she's committed to the global economy, she
wants America to run toward it, not run away from it.  She's taken a lot of
tough votes to stick with me when I tried to modernize this economy; when
even members of our own party thought I was wrong, she always stood with me
-- sometimes when it wasn't easy.  And she understands that if you want to
really help working people, you also have to help business, too.  And
there's a lot of you here tonight because of that.

     So I think the country would work better if everybody believed that
you could be pro-business and pro-labor, pro-growth and pro-environment,
pro-civil rights and pro-individual opportunity.  I think the country would
work better.  (Applause.)

     So I would have come here regardless, because she's been my friend for
28 years, but I'm telling you, she is a great member of Congress.  And she
believes the things that I think are important for Americans to believe,
and to live by, and to work by together if we're going to make the most of
the phenomenal opportunities that are before us.

     You know, I just had an interview with Wired Magazine.  You all ever
read Wired Magazine?  (Laughter.)  And these two young women came in and
interviewed me, and they're miles ahead of me on a lot of this operational
technology; but they think I've been a fairly good friend of the high tech
sector, and we were talking about it.  And they said, you know, it might
even be more interesting to be President in the next eight years than it
was in the last.  (Laughter.)

     And I just would say this.  One of the reasons that I'm so interested
in this election for -- I've got a lot of personal stake in this election.
As you know, I voted in New York for my wife for the first time in my life
today; it was a big kick, one of the greatest thrills I ever had.  I loved
it.  (Applause.)  And, obviously, I feel a deep personal commitment to Al
Gore because he's been the best Vice President the country has ever had.
And I have -- Joe Lieberman and I have been friends for 30 years.  I met
Joe Lieberman two years before I met Eddie Bernice, when he was 28 years
old, running for the state senate.

     So it's funny how life goes in circles, you know?  None of us ever
could have known that we would be where we are today doing what we're doing
today.  In spite of what she says, I don't believe that even my mother
thought I could be President in 1973.  (Laughter.)  Most people I knew just
wanted me to get a haircut.  (Laughter.)

     But, you know, when Harry Truman went home to Independence, Missouri,
he said he was reclaiming the most important title any American can have,
that of citizen.  And I believe that.  I've worked as hard as I could to
try to turn this country around, and we're in better shape than we were
eight years ago.  (Applause.)

     I think if you listen to the political rhetoric today and compare it
to the rhetoric of eight years ago, or even two years ago, the people have
sent the politicians a clear message:   they're tired of hate-mongering and
division; they want to hear people talk about the issues.  And they have
figured out again that elections are job interviews.  All these things are
jobs.  It really matters if you get up and go to work every day.  It
matters if you're doing the right things.  It matters if you've got good
people around you.  It matters if you're not embarrassed to say I don't
know, but I'd sure like to learn.

     And I take a lot of pride in that.  But what I want you to understand
is that as a citizen, just like I said when I spoke in Los Angeles, I've
waited for 35 years for my country to have the chance again to build the
future of its dreams for our children.  All of the best things are still
out there.  In spite of every good thing that's happened to us in the last
eight years, the best is still out there.  But we have to make good
decisions, and we have to hire good people -- for President and Vice
President, for Senator and Representative.  And then we've got to make up
our mind we're going to go forward together.

     The basic reason I'm a Democrat is because when I was a little boy, my
grandfather told me a story about how he cried one Easter in the Depression
because he couldn't afford $2 to buy my mother an Easter dress.  And when I
was a kid, everybody had to have a new outfit at Easter.  And my mother
made me get one whether I wanted one or not -- and if you remember the
fashions of the '50s, it was fairly painful for me sometimes to wear some
of the things that were mandated just because my granddaddy had a tough
time in the Depression.  (Laughter.)

     But anyway, my grandfather believed everybody deserved a chance
without regard to their race.  And he believed that we all do better when
we help each other.  I still believe that.  And I'm proud to be a member of
the oldest political party of any democracy in the world, and I'm proud for
whatever contribution I was able to make to those two goals.  But the best
is still out there.

     And so I'm crazy about our candidates for President and for Vice
President, I love my wife more than life, and I've been nuts about Eddie
Bernice Johnson for 28 years.  But the real reason we ought to be helping
them is, it's the right thing for America.

     Thank you, and God bless you.  (Applause.)

                          END                    8:48 P.M. EDT

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