President of the United States Remarks at Congressional Black Caucus Dinner (9/16/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

                                                                  For
Immediate Release               September 16, 2000


                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
            AT THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS FOUNDATION DINNER

                       Washington Convention Center
                             Washington, D.C.


11:33 P.M.EDT


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Chairman Clyburn; dinner Chair
Eddie Bernice Johnson, my friend of 28 years -- and didn't she give a great
introduction to the Vice President.  (Applause.)  You better go on the
road, girl.  (Laughter.)  Our foundation chair, Eva Clayton and all the
members and former members of the CBC, especially to my friend, Bill Clay.
We wish you well and godspeed on your retirement, and I thank you for eight
years of our good partnership.  (Applause.)

     To Mrs. Coretta Scott King and all the distinguished citizens in the
audience, but especially to the two whom I had the great honor to award the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, Marian Wright Edelman and Reverend Jesse
Jackson, thank you for being here with us tonight.  (Applause.)

     I thank Lou Stokes and Phylicia Rashad and want to join in
congratulating the award winners, my friend, Arthur Eve, whose son did such
a good job working for the Clinton-Gore administration.  Kenneth Hill,
Rodney Carroll, who has been great on our Welfare To Work program.  Tom
Joyner, who lets me jaw on his radio program from time to time.  Even I
never got an eight-page spread in Ebony; I don't know about that.
(Laughter.)

     To Tavis Smiley and to the family of our friend, LeBaron Taylor, Bill
Kennard, and Ambassador Sisulu, thank you for what you said about our
friend, Nelson Mandela.  I thank General Reno and Secretary Slater and
Secretary Herman and Deputy Attorney General Holder and our SBA Director,
Aida Alvarez, and all the people from our White House team who are here,
and from the entire administration.

     I thought the Vice President gave a great speech, and I'm looking
forward to getting rid of that trouble adjective at the beginning of his
title in just a couple of months now.  (Applause.)
     Now, there was nothing subliminal about that.  We Democrats don't have
subliminal advertising.  (Applause.)  I also want to thank Senator
Lieberman, who has been a friend since Hillary and I met him 30 years ago
when he wa running for the state senate in New Haven.  And I can tell you
that if he is the vice president of this country, you will be very, very
proud of him.  He has done a great job, and he has been a great friend of
mine.  (Applause.)

     I want to bring you a warm welcome from Hillary.  She wishes she could
be here tonight, but she's otherwise occupied.  They sent the one in our
family who is not running for office this year to speak to you tonight.

     I've been honored to be at every one of these dinners since I became
President.  (Applause.)  Tonight, I came mostly to listen and to clap, and
to say thanks.  Thank you for your friendship, your leadership and your
support.  Thank you for giving me the chance, John Lewis, to walk with you
in Selma this year.  Thank you, for those of you who went back to Africa
with me when we went to Nigeria and Tanzania.  (Applause.)  Thank you for
working with me to reach out to the people of Africa and the Caribbean, to
try to build their countries through trade.

     Thank you, for those of you who helped me to relieve the debt of the
poor countries and to increase our fight against AIDS and TB and malaria
around the world.

     The Vice President said that there are so many people who could say
that the CBC covered their back.  Covered their back?  (Laughter.)  When
they took a torch to me and lit the fire, you brought the buckets and
poured the water on it.  And I thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

     But mostly, I want to thank you for taking our nation to higher
ground, for standing with Al Gore and me in our simple, but profound
mission to make sure that everyone counts and everyone has a chance, to
make sure that we act as if we all to better when we help each other.

     I can't thank you enough for your role in all the good things that
have happened in the last eight years.  It's all been recited.  I guess
what I would like for you to know is that there are a lot of days when I
just felt like the troubadour, but other people had to play in the
orchestra and even write the songs.  And nothing -- nothing good that I
have achieved would have been possible without the Congressional Black
Caucus, our other friends in Congress, and especially Vice President Al
Gore.  And I thank you all for that.  (Applause.)

     I just want to say two serious things about the future tonight.  The
first is, that when Al Gore says you ain't seen nothin' yet, I agree with
him.  We've spent a lot of time in the last eight years trying to turn this
country around and get it together and get it moving in the right
direction.  And now, for the first time in our lifetime, we have both
prosperity and the absence of serious internal crisis and external threat.

     We actually can build the future of our dreams for our kids.  We could
get rid of child poverty.  We could give every child in America the chance
at a world-class education for the first time.  We could open the doors of
college to all.  We could take Social Security and Medicare out there
beyond the life of the baby boomers and add that prescription drug benefit.

     We could do a lot of things with these unbelievable discoveries in
science and technology.  But we have to make a decision.  And so the second
point I want to make is, sometimes it's harder to make a good decision in
good times than bad times.  I know the people took a chance on me in 1992
but, give me a break, the country was in a ditch; it wasn't that much of a
chance.  (Laughter and applause.)

     I mean, you know, they -- I don't know how many voters went into the
polling place and thought, you know, I don't know if I want to vote for
that guy.  He's a governor -- President Bush said he was the governor of a
small southern state and I don't even know where that place is on the map
and he looks too young and everybody says he's terrible.  But we had to
change.

     Now things are going well and people are comfortable and confident and
we have options.  So it's up to you to make sure that people ask the right
question and answer it in this election season.  That we say we cannot
afford to pass up the chance of a lifetime, maybe the chance of a half a
century, to build the future of our dreams for our children.

     And there is a lot at stake.  You've heard it all tonight, just about,
how we're fighting for strong schools and modern classrooms and a higher
minimum wage and all the other things.  I would like to mention one other
thing that hasn't been talked about.  We ought to be fighting for an end to
delay and discrimination against highly qualified minority candidates for
the federal courts.  (Applause.)

     This Administration has named 62 African-American judges, three times
the number of the previous two administrations combined, with the highest
ratings from the ABA in 40 years.  Yet, we know, in spite of that, that
women and minority candidates are still much more likely to be delayed or
denied.

     So even though this is a non-profit organization, I can ask you to
remember Judge Ronnie White, the first African American on the Missouri
Supreme Court, denied on the party line vote.  The Fourth Circuit with the
largest African American population in the country never had an African
American judge.  Last year, I told you I nominated James Wynn, a
distinguished judge from North Carolina.  After 400 days, with his senior
senator still standing in the courthouse door, the Senate hasn't found one
day to give Judge Wynn even a hearing.

     This year, I nominated Roger Gregory of Virginia, the first man in his
family to finish high school, a teacher at Virginia State University, where
his mother once worked as a maid, a highly respected litigator with the
support of his Republican and his Democratic senator from Virginia.  But,
so far, we're still waiting for him to get a hearing.  And then there's
Kathleen McCree Lewis in Michigan and others all across this country.

     So once again, I ask the Senate to do the right thing and quit closing
the door on people who are qualified to serve.  (Applause.)

     Now, they say I can't ask you to vote for anybody but I will say this.
If you want no more delay and denial of justice, it would help if you had
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and senators like the First Lady.  (Applause.)

     If you want a tax code that helps working families with child care,
long-term care and access to college education, it would help if you had Al
Gore and Joe Lieberman and Charlie Rangel as the Chairman of the House Ways
and Means Committee.  (Applause.)

     If you want strong civil rights and equal rights laws and you want
them enforced, it would really help if you had Al Gore and Joe Lieberman
and you made John Conyers the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
(Applause.)

     If you want the intelligence policy of this country to reflect genuine
intelligence -- (laughter) -- it would help if you had Al Gore and Joe
Lieberman and Julian Dixon as the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
(Applause.)

     But I will say again, sometimes it is harder to make good decisions in
good times than bad times.  Sometimes it's easier to think of some little
thing you've got to quibble about.  Remember the African proverb:  "Smooth
seas do not make skillful sailors."  My friends, we've got to be skillful
sailors.

     I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Toni Morrison once said I
was the first black President this country ever had.  (Applause.)  And I
would rather have that than a Nobel Prize.  (Applause.)  And I'll tell you
why.  Because somewhere, in the deep and lost threads of my own memory are
the roots of understanding of what you have known.  Somewhere, there was a
deep longing to share the fate of the people who had been left out and left
behind, sometimes brutalized and too often ignored or forgotten.

     I don't exactly know who all I have to thank for that.  But I'm quite
sure I don't deserve any credit for it.  Because whatever I did, I would
have felt I had no other choice.

     I want you to remember that I had a partner that felt the same way,
that I believe he will be one of the great presidents this country ever had
and that, for the rest of my days, no matter what, no matter what, I will
always be there for you.

     Thank you and God bless you.  (Applause.)


                            END                                     11:46
P.M. EDT


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