Public Papers

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Governor Bob Martinez in Miami, Florida


Thank you very much, Bob. Thank you, Governor. In case you missed it, Bar and I are pretty proud of our son Jeb -- smiling away when I think Bob honored him by asking him to be his campaign chairman. To Mary Jane Martinez and our chairman, Van Poole; our able Secretary of the Interior way down there, Manuel Lujan -- was with me all day long today -- and of course, to my old friend, the doer, Alec Courtelis -- I'll tell you, he does everything to help others -- and to our outstanding United States Senator, Connie Mack, who is doing a superb job up there in Washington; and Members of the U.S. Congress Mike Bilirakis and Bill Grant, Craig James, Clay Shaw, Bill McCollum, Porter Goss, and of course, your own -- and Bar and I feel like our own -- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, right from this district here -- and I might say, parenthetically, I am very proud of the team that her husband is putting together here in Miami to see that justice prevails -- I'm very proud of Dexter Lehtinen.

You know, when it comes to standing by Bob Martinez, Barbara and I are not going to let anything get in our way, as much as we hate having to leave Washington in January to come south to Florida. We'll do anything that's required of us. [Laughter]

As you know, I originally intended to come here in December. But as I told Bar, in order to meet with the most important man in the Soviet Union, I had to postpone a get-together with the most important man in Florida. Barbara said, ``You know Dennis Erickson?'' [Laughter] Of course, those of us who are fans of Hurricanes, we're not alone. Every time you changed the TV channel this year, there was another team from Florida out there. I might say to Dennis and to Sam, I look forward to seeing you at the White House to salute your fantastic record. But tonight we're talking about another champion: my early supporter, my friend, a great Republican, and -- as Jeb pointed out, and Alec, too -- a great chief executive. And I'm talking about Bob Martinez.

You know, in the next decade Florida will need his leadership as never before. Every year, the equivalent of the population of a new city even larger than Bob's Tampa moves to Florida. And some say this growth is a mixed blessing. Everyone loves the new businesses and the new jobs, but growth can also bring problems -- how to preserve the environment, to fight crime. Florida's growth is the proof of Florida's prosperity. So, what you need is a Governor who has always seeked the best for Florida, who will carefully weigh the needs of nature and man, who will make the most of economic opportunity while protecting your own very special way of life. And that's the kind of Governor you need, and that's the kind of Governor you've got, and that's the Governor that we must reelect.

Some leaders look only for immediate political gain. Bob Martinez -- he looks beyond the horizon to the stars. And this has been an incredible year of change -- promises to be a decade of change, beginning with the successful mission of the space shuttle Columbia. And now, thanks to Bob Martinez, American business is on the launch pad with Spaceport Florida.

And a President, too, must look to the far horizons, and the other great frontier of our time is the freedom frontier. The world in January 1990 is a very different place, very different than it was in January of 1989. Then the Berlin Wall seemed to be an impenetrable veil between East and West; now that Iron Curtain is open. And then a dictator reigned in Panama, and now the people rule in Panama. In fact, there are only two holdouts preventing a totally democratic hemisphere. So, let Daniel Ortega and Fidel take note: Like the dinosaur, the day of the dictator is over. They are swimming against the tide.

But this is an era of brisk change abroad. Let us also make it a time of great achievement at home. And Bob and I began this year by working together to help Florida farmers recover from the terrible freeze. And I was pleased at his suggestion to sign a major disaster declaration for southern Florida earlier this week authorizing Federal relief and recovery assistance. And we will work on a wide range of domestic issues, from the environment to crime fighting, sound economic policies and education.

But to be effective, we will both need the cooperation, not the opposition, of partisan legislators. Take clean air. Last summer, I proposed the first major revision of the Clean Air Act since 1977, one that uses market solutions to cut acid rain, smog, and other poisons in our air. And it was a balanced proposal. But Congress still hasn't acted, and so I call on Congress as soon as it reconvenes to preserve the balance, to keep costs under control, but to act on clean air.

And, yes, we have other environmental concerns. I know that every time I fish along the flats off Islamorada, I'm reminded of just how special Florida truly is. You have the longest coast of any State in the continental United States, some of it beautiful beaches, some of it lined with leafy mangroves; your interior landscape, a tropical jewel glistening with rivers and marshes and freshwater swamps, and the famous river of grass. Just this afternoon, as Bob referred to this, we toured the Everglades and saw sanctuaries for crocodiles and turtles. And this is the home of the royal palm and the bald cypress, the Florida panther, and so many other rare and endangered plant and animal species. And all these creatures, great and small, need very special protection.

So, Bob has been working with my administration to extend the Everglades eastward across the very land that we saw today. And this successful partnership between Florida and the Federal Government has been furthered by the able leadership of Manuel Lujan. Working with Secretary Lujan, Governor Martinez took the initiative necessary to make this major Everglades expansion a reality. He created the East Everglades Land Acquisition Task Force. And because the State of Florida was willing to set aside part of this land, I was able to sign into law a bill increasing the size of Everglades National Park by more than 100,000 acres. And because of our efforts together, we have ensured that the Everglades will remain an everlasting treasure for the children of America. In fact, I hear that even the alligators are pleased -- [laughter] -- so pleased they're wearing polo shirts with a little picture of Bob Martinez on their chests. [Laughter]

And we will go further to protect natural Florida, but we also need common sense to protect another delicate ecology, if you will -- the ecology of an expanding economy with good jobs and good government. And as I start my second year as President, one of my prime economic goals is to cut the tax on capital gains. You see, I believe I know that such a tax cut would create even greater opportunities for more Americans. Now, of course, there's those who claim otherwise. They attack me for claiming this is a tax cut for the rich, but we know that such a tax cut will help every American who holds a job or owns a home. A majority, a majority -- Connie knows this well -- the Members of the United States Congress, Senate and House, are on record as wanting to cut capital gains. And therefore, I call on the political leadership in Congress to get out of the way of that majority. Let the will of the majority work on this important job-oriented piece of legislation.

Bob and I agree on other basic economic principles, as true in Tallahassee as they are in Washington, DC: When legislators send a spendthrift legislation, we send it back. But if legislators will work with us, we can devise creative new ways to use frugal means to achieve generous ends. And for those who say that we need to spend more money to get people off welfare, I say look to Florida -- look to Florida. Thanks to your Governor's Project Independence, 31,000 men and women, all welfare recipients, were able to use State training and education to replace welfare with work. And this is the best kind of antipoverty program, one that saves the taxpayers' money -- tens of millions of dollars -- one that really does work.

Bob and I share yet another goal, and that's to beat the scourge of drugs, a menace to the very future of America. Bob is the lead Governor on the substance abuse and drug trafficking for the national task force for the National Governors' Association. He set a national precedent by appointing a State drug czar. And he has worked to make parolees undergo drug testing with counseling -- to get straight and then to stay straight.

And Bob and I also share a philosophy about prison sentences: Make them at least as tough as the criminals you convict. And Bob has already stiffened the Florida code, added the prison space to enforce it. In Washington, Congress, to its credit, acted on part of my anticrime package. More money has been provided for additional prison space, more Federal law enforcement officers. But Congress has left too much work undone. And so, help Senator Mack and our Republican Congressmen here tonight -- all of them supporters -- our Members of Congress and me, help us all to get action on the rest of my violent crime package: to toughen Federal sentences for those using a firearm in the commission of a felony, to reform the rules of evidence, to support the police, to enact the death penalty proposal that I sent them. Join me in calling on Congress to take the shackles off the policemen, the courts, and the law.

Bob and I support an oppressed minority, one that's too often been stripped of its rights, and I'm talking about the victims of crime. I hope that each of you, one way or another, will try to help out what I call a Thousand Points of Light, try to learn a little more about these organizations to help the victims of crime.

I say a killer deserves something else, and I'm talking about justice. And justice is exactly what Bob Martinez is dispensing in this State. So, let those who value life so little know one sure thing -- that when they come to Florida, they've reached the end of the line. We need to back up our law enforcement people.

But the challenges of the future also require vision and compassion, especially the challenge of preparing our children for the future. And if I might -- I am in great admiration of Barbara for what she's done over the years in working to help make our country a literate nation. We have an Educational Excellence Act, and that Educational Excellence Act has been one of my top priorities since I sent this legislation to Congress almost 9 months ago. To make our schools work, we must give parents, teachers, and children choice and flexibility -- and then hold everyone accountable for the results. And accountability should begin with the United States Congress. It's high time that Congress finished its homework and passed needed education reforms. When it comes to caring for children, perhaps Washington could learn a thing or two from Bob Martinez, who has worked so hard on behalf of children at risk, whose One Church, One Child program has placed so many foster children in loving homes.

I've spoken here at length about some of my hopes for this year because they mesh so well, you see -- they mesh so well with your Governor's outlook. But Bob's achievements stand alone, from the environment to crimefighting to preparing the children of Florida for the future. His would be a remarkable record of achievement for any Governor, but for this Governor, it's all just another day at the office.

The bottom line is this -- and this is what I came down to tell you -- I need Bob Martinez. Florida needs Bob Martinez. So, let's hit the campaign trail, the trail to victory in November.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 7:26 p.m. in the main ballroom of the Omni International Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to the Governor's wife, Mary Jane Martinez; Van Poole and Alec Courtelis, chairman and finance chairman of the State Republican Party; Dexter Lehtinen, acting U.S. Attorney; and Dennis Erickson and Sam Jankovich, football coach and director of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Miami. Following his remarks, the President and Mrs. Bush traveled to Camp David, MD, for the weekend.