Thank you, George, very, very much. Thank you for those kind words. And be seated out there. That would mean curling up your feet. [Laughter] And thank you all for this very warm welcome.
I'm delighted to be here with two Members -- well, three Members of Congress -- but with Bill Gradison and Bob McEwen, these two distinguished Members of the Ohio congressional delegation. I'll get to this one in a minute. And let me recognize Cincinnati's next Congressman, Ken Blackwell, who's out here. Ken -- right there. This is a State ticket meeting. Tomorrow Ken and I are going to figure out what I can do to assist him in that very important congressional race.
I also want to take a moment tonight to mention a close friend of mine, a friend of so many Republicans here in this room and across the country, and I'm talking about Lee Atwater, our national chairman. During this difficult time -- and he went into another hospital today in New York, I'm told -- our hearts go out to him and to that wonderful family of his. And I know I speak for all when I just say we wish him our very, very best in this difficult time. And right now there's nothing more important for Lee to do than to get well, and I know that's exactly what he intends to do, given that fighting spirit. Luckily, when it comes to leadership at the RNC -- and I think our very able State chairman here will attest to that -- Lee is backed up by one of this party's most able politicians, a friend of mine of longstanding, Jeanie Austin, over here, who is with us tonight. And she is doing an outstanding job for the party. The Atwater-Austin ticket at our national level is hard to beat.
And that brings me then to the six members of this strong Ohio State ticket here today: Jim Petro, candidate for State auditor; Senator Paul Pfeiffer, Ohio's next attorney general; your next State treasurer, Judy Brachman; and then Bob Taft, my old friend, the current Hamilton County commissioner, and Ohio's next secretary of state. I don't think he needs too much of a word around Hamilton County here.
And then, of course, the two men at the top of the ticket: Mike DeWine, one of the finest Congressmen on Capitol Hill, who's ready to come back home and be the next Lieutenant Governor of this great State. Mike, we wish you well. And of course, with you, locked in tandem, Ohio's man of the hour, the next Governor of the Buckeye State, George Voinovich. I'm here to support all of them, and you have an outstanding ticket.
Let me diverge just a minute to point out that George Voinovich says I was responsive when he was mayor of Cleveland. I don't know, I guess I want to see him elected -- well, put that down as 100 percent -- but I'll tell you, when you elect him the next Governor, he will be a fighter for Ohio. I can attest to it. He was mayor of Cleveland, and he was in there every single day working for the interests of Cleveland when they interacted with the Federal Government. So, you'll have a bulldog here in Columbus, Ohio, to fight for the rights of the State, and somebody that I can work with and look forward to working with.
You know, this town -- George used the baseball analogy -- has seen its share of great teams, from the days of Robinson and Rose, Perez and Concepcion, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, right up to today's team of Davis, Larkin, and Browning. Sounds like a law firm -- [laughter] -- but this Republican lineup of Voinovich, DeWine, and Taft ranks right up there with the best of the great Reds teams ever to take the field -- or, George, I noticed your plug in there for the Cleveland Indians; the same goes for them. [Laughter] And come ``game day'' this November, it's the Democrats who are going to be praying for rain. [Laughter]
It's always good to be back in Ohio. George says native son. I missed by a generation. It was my dad that was the native son, born in Columbus. But it's great to join you here this evening, after what George alluded to, what must be the most expensive hot dogs in the history of the State of Ohio. [Laughter] If marvelous Marge Schott [owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team] hears about this, you can bet you've seen the end of the dollar hot dog across the street at Riverfront Stadium. [Laughter]
You know, I know everyone here has had this day circled on the calendar for a long time. I know how the expectations build and how you feel a sense of excitement in the air. So, let me say I know how you feel right now. I was looking forward to throwing out the first pitch at the Reds' opener, but it didn't work out that way. It's all quiet across at that marvelous Riverfront Stadium. And it's not easy to tune in the Reds-Red Sox exhibition game from Plant City when you're up there on Air Force One.
But the fact is, opening day -- and a new season -- is just 1 week away. And in 1990 -- a new year and a new decade for the Republican team -- it's a whole new ball game, too. It really is. The Ohio Republican Party has never had higher hopes, never had a better shot at putting this State into the Republican column and keeping it there. More and more Ohioans are looking to the GOP to lead us into the nineties, and according to the recent polls I've seen, the GOP is now the majority party for Ohioans under the age of 25. And that bodes well not just for this next election but for this whole decade of the nineties. And every one of you here tonight is a proud member of this tough new Republican team.
This year's especially important because the impact of the 1990 elections will be felt all decade long. In the reapportionment of congressional districts that will take place after that 1990 census, Ohio, in all likelihood, stands to lose two seats. We must make sure when those districts are redrawn that the results are fair and equitable to the Republicans and, thus, to the people of Ohio. No more gerrymandering.
Right now every statewide official in Ohio is a Democrat. The election this November can guarantee three men here tonight -- George Voinovich, Bob Taft, Jim Petro -- a seat at the table come redistricting time. I'm telling you: This is important nationally. The GOP has made great gains in Ohio, and we don't want to see those gains erased -- quite literally -- by the masters of gerrymandering.
But I do believe that we have every reason to be confident. The man we're here to send to the statehouse, George Voinovich, is a triple crown winner in Ohio politics: an office holder on the city, county, and State levels -- Cuyahoga County auditor and, later, county commissioner; Ohio assistant attorney general; State representative; and Lieutenant Governor. And for the past 10 years, he has been an outstanding mayor of Cleveland, a city where Democrats outnumber us -- what is it -- eight to one. Eight to one. The plain truth is this: You won't find anyone who knows how Ohio works better than this man, and you won't find anyone who's more ready than George Voinovich to roll up his sleeves and go to work for the entire State.
I am proud to say, George, that you and I have a lot in common: same first name -- [laughter] -- same charismatic, emotional approach to life -- [laughter] -- same approach to politics, an approach that tells us that decency and democracy are one and the same. George is a man with many qualities I admire -- I might say I speak confidently for the Silver Fox on this one -- Barbara Bush -- [laughter] -- a man of integrity, a family man, father of three fine kids who'll be with him every step of the way in this campaign for the statehouse. One of them is here. Betsy is here someplace. Betsy, where are you? Whoops. Betsy is not here. All right, she was supposed to be. But there's always been a place for politics in the Voinovich household. George met his wife, Janet, at a political rally. And, George, I hope the hot dogs weren't as expensive as they are here. But you can count on him. You can count on this man, this experienced man, to keep his commitment to serve the public, to conduct himself and his administration with all the honor and integrity every elected official owes the people who put him in office.
But best of all, for all Ohioans, George Voinovich is a man -- and I referred to this earlier -- who gets things done, a proven leader in every position he's held in more than two decades in Ohio politics. And what happens here is critical for this State and for the Nation because the fact is many of the challenges we face cannot be met by Washington alone. The answers and the action will come at the State and local level. That's true whether the issue is economic growth or education or cracking down on crime and drugs. And that is the key reason that I'm looking for a partner like George Voinovich to work with here in the Ohio statehouse at Columbus.
Take the issue of crime and drugs. We're working hard -- we really are -- and I think we're beginning to make headway there back at the White House to implement our National Drug Strategy II and to push our tough, no-nonsense anticrime package through the Congress and into the law. We're doing all we can on the Federal level to make life tough on the criminals. We've increased funding for Federal prisons -- 24,000 new beds this year alone. We've called for tougher laws; stiffer penalties for crimes of violence; more Federal agents and prosecutors and judges; more certainty in sentencing; and for drug kingpins who kill the police officers, the ultimate penalty, the death penalty.
That's what we're doing in Washington. But as a nation, we can't break the deadly grip of drugs -- we can't show the criminals that prey on our citizens that we mean business -- unless each and every State takes the same strong steps against crime and drugs.
It's the same when the issue is education. The President, every American family, knows how much education means for our kids and for our future. Earlier this afternoon -- I wish all of you could have been with me -- I toured the General Electric aircraft engines plant and saw that kind of high-tech, precision manufacturing the workers of this State and this country are capable of. Felt the pride -- you could feel it as you talked to them along the line -- felt the pride that they feel. That's where they build the engines, you know, for Air Force One; and it's where they're building engines in great demand in the international aircraft industry. And I can tell you, if American industry is going to keep its competitive edge in the future, American schools have got to be first-class. And education is the key.
And the States are central to real education reform. And that is the reason, as most of you know, behind last year's education summit with the Nation's Governors; and it's the guiding force behind the goals the Governors and I have agreed on, the education goals we want every student and every school to meet.
We all know those six goals: American high school students first in the world in math and science achievement by the year 2000. Raising the graduation rate to 90 percent or better. In order to make sure those diplomas mean something, we must assess our kids' progress at the crucial 4th, 8th, and then 12th grade levels. Fourth, of course, excellence in education means every American child ready to learn the day they walk into the classroom; and that's why we've stepped up funding requests for Head Start so much. Every American adult literate. Every American school drug-free.
And I know I can count on Governor Voinovich to join me in leading a crusade for excellence in our schools, to prepare every child in Ohio, every kid across this nation, to take his place in the work force of the 21st century.
Whatever the issue, whether it's keeping our streets safe, our government sound, or preparing our kids or promoting economic growth, I need friends and allies to work with me, allies like George Voinovich, Mike DeWine, Bob Taft, and the other fine members of this Ohio Republican team.
Tonight, I really came out here to ask you to go the extra mile. I thank you for your support. And I ask each and every one of you to recognize that you really are caught up in a national crusade here, because if we can win in Ohio with this clean sweep in the fall of 1990, it sets a fantastic tone for what lies ahead in the remaining 10 years of this decade. So, I'm out here to support enthusiastically and without reservation this topnotch team, to make 1990 a winning season and the 1990's a Republican decade.
Let me just say in closing, I like being President of the United States. I don't believe anybody who's had the Presidency, any of the 40 who have preceded me, could claim to have been President at a more fascinating time in terms of international affairs. And George referred to the changes that are taking place around the world, and they are fantastic. And I urge you not to just concentrate on the marvelous change in Eastern Europe, where we're trying very much to help Poland and to help Hungary and Czechoslovakia and so many other countries. But don't forget our own hemisphere. Don't forget what's happening in terms of democracy south of this border. I talked to President Aylwin of Chile and [President] Carlos Salinas of Mexico, who have enjoyed a democracy, but with whom we're working very closely. And the change in Panama and the change in Nicaragua is, to me, every bit as exciting as what's going on in Eastern Europe.
So, I am President at a fascinating time. We are Republicans at a fascinating time. And as exciting as the international environment is, I do not want to forget, and I will not, the domestic agenda. And that's what brought me here to Ohio, because I believe in this team that you see sitting here. We have the very best anywhere across the country.
Thank you very, very much for your support. And God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. in the Presidential Ballroom of the Westin Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Jeanie Austin, cochairman of the Republican National Committee. Following his remarks, he attended a reception for major campaign donors. Earlier in the afternoon, the President attended a briefing and toured the facilities at the General Electric aircraft engine plant.