Public Papers

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Gubernatorial Candidate John Rowland in Stamford, Connecticut


Thank you all very, very much. John, thank you. Thank you very, very much, all of you, for that warm welcome back to the place in which I grew up. I've got a lot of home States, but -- [laughter] -- as I just said in Vermont, this place is near and dear to my heart. No, I'm really -- [laughter] -- no, but it was fun. We had a little reception earlier, and I saw many friends that have been in the political scene here for a long time and have been very friendly to and supportive of my dad. So, we Bushes do consider this a very special place, both Barbara and me. I'm delighted to be here.

If I'm not mistaken, that magnificent music was from the Greenwich High School Band. I don't want to insult them if they weren't, but you do much better than Roseanne Barr, I'll tell you. [Laughter] I apologize for keeping you waiting, and I know that it's a bore, but we have been on the road a lot. One thing I've been picking up on the Connecticut part of this swing is this magnificent enthusiasm for our next Governor, John Rowland. You can feel it. You can feel it in the air. You can feel the campaign moving. I give him a lot of the credit, but those who have seen Deb swing into action -- his great wife -- know that she's a big part of this, a magnificent campaigner, out there all the time.

And of course, it's wonderful to be with my indefatigable friends Midge Baldrige and Betsy Heminway up here, who do so much for all of us in the Republican Party. Father Devine, my respects, sir, and thank you for being with us. To our State chairman, Dick Foley, who is tough as nails and strong. And that's who we need as a chairman, and he's doing a great job.

And of course, to our committee people, John Miller and Jo McKenzie, the Republican national committee man and woman, my respects. And then, of course, the only person that could go head-on-head with ``60 Minutes'' and emerge victorious -- [laughter] -- the mayor of Bridgeport, Mary Moran. I don't know how she did it. Barbara Bush was up here, and she saw Mary, and she chased her down the hall to shake the hand of somebody that had prevailed in that very difficult arena. [Laughter]

And, of course, I just want to single out Tom Scott, who is running for Congress in the Third District. I'll tell you, we need him. He's an outstanding guy. And another man I was with -- fellow Yalie -- I guess we can say that in Connecticut without being stoned. [Laughter] But nevertheless, I'm talking about Gary Franks, the man who's going to take John Rowland's place, is with us here someplace.

And I want to single out Bob Jaekle. You know, he is recognized on the merits as the number one legislator in the State, and he will now be our Lieutenant Governor, and I want to salute him right here. Good to be with you.

Now, back to the man of the hour. People who know John Rowland -- they know he's got politics in his blood. John's granddad, Sherwood Rowland, comptroller for the city of Waterbury back in the thirties, is still remembered in western Connecticut for fighting and battling and rooting out corruption. John followed in those footsteps early on, just out of college, winning a seat in the Connecticut State Legislature, where he worked his way up to minority whip; and then, at the tender age of 27, going on to become the youngest Member of the U.S. Congress.

And John tells me that he would have made it to Congress earlier, but his mother said he couldn't leave the table until he finished his broccoli. So, that took him 3 or 4 years. [Laughter] But he's still got that youthful vigor, and he's ready now to put that energy and that expertise that he's displayed right there on Capitol Hill back to work right here in this State that he loves so much.

You know where he stands. I know where he stands. We're in some tough times now, and I'm delighted that these changes towards democracy have taken place in Eastern Europe. And I'm very pleased that we're working the problems of the Middle East with the Soviet Union on our side in terms of opposition. Having said all that, it is essential that the United States remain strong. John is strong on our national security and defense; he's been a mainstay on the Armed Services Committee, making sure that our nation is strong enough to uphold our interest in our ideals. That commitment will now come back to work for the State on the State issues.

One of the issues that plagues this State and all the States is the question of crime. He's tough on crime. He's been a strong supporter of our comprehensive crime bill, a bill that's been stalled and sabotaged by the liberal Democrats in the Congress for the past 16 months. He and I agree that it's time to break that logjam, and we can't put criminals behind bars if we handcuff our law enforcement officers. He has been strong for that, and that commitment to back up the law enforcement officers and be a little tougher on the criminals and a little more compassionate about the victims of crime is the kind of philosophy that I believe we need in Hartford running this State.

I know the concern in this State and all States about the narcotics battle. I am very pleased that our national drug strategy, under our drug czar, Bill Bennett, is doing pretty well. We've got marvelous support in the private sector and all across this country. The statistical evidence is, we're beginning to win this battle. But John is now ready to bring his commitment to a statewide battle against illegal drugs. No more free ride for the so-called casual drug users. No more freedom for the drug dealers. And for the drug kingpins who sell poison for profit, he and I agree that the ultimate penalty -- the death penalty -- is essential if we are going to back up these people and get this under control.

I've seen him battle in Washington for lean and limited government. He's a champion, therefore, for every Connecticut taxpayer. And this is one candidate who doesn't think that the answer to every problem is a new mandated program from Washington, DC. With John in the statehouse, we won't need a State income tax to deliver the kind of government the citizens of this State want and deserve.

He is the kind of Governor I know I can work with to do what's right for this State and for our country. And that means -- first and foremost -- bolstering the economic strength of our nation. And I want to talk just a minute tonight about the issue that's been going back and forth that we've been wrestling with in Washington for more than 8 long months now: reaching some agreement on the Federal budget.

When it comes to the roles and responsibilities of government, John and I both know that the days of tax-and-spend and damn-the-deficit must end. I share your frustration about this. No American family could afford to run its household the way Congress -- the Democrats that control Congress, I might say -- run the Federal budget. Our children deserve to inherit more than an avalanche of unpaid bills, and I am trying to do something by getting a 0 billion, 5-year deficit reduction program that is enforceable. The Democrats are out there saying: ``Tax the rich. We're going to soak the rich. And what that means -- be careful. Every working man and woman in Connecticut, we're after what's in your pocket.'' And we know it. We've seen it. They're done this over and over again, and we are not going to permit them to get further into the pockets of the taxpayers in this country under the guise of soaking the rich.

As the old Democratic legacy, it's failed in the past and it's going to fail in the future. The reason I am interested in getting this deficit down for the short run is, I am absolutely convinced -- and some of you have heard Chairman Greenspan on this -- that as soon as we get a real deficit reduction package, interest rates will come down. And that makes it easier for the American family to buy that new home or car. It makes it easier for American entrepreneurs -- those that create the jobs -- to build new businesses. It makes it easier for more jobs to be created. And I still believe that far better than a welfare program is a job with dignity in the private sector. And that's why I want to get this deficit down.

So, I believe that it is past time that Congress proves to the American people that it can learn to live within its means and that it can pass a budget that puts this nation on the path to long-term economic growth. And to come up with any budget at all this year, I had to work with the Democrats who control the Congress. You remember the dilemma President Reagan found in 1982: in spite to his aversion to taxes, the only way to govern, to make something happen -- it's different when you're President than if you're one Member in the Congress -- the only way to govern was to accept a compromise that included raising the revenues.

You know my feeling on taxes. I like taxes just about as much as I like broccoli. [Laughter] And President Reagan had to swallow hard, and so did I. But the long-term health of our economy has to come before self-interest. Only the Congress has the power to tax, and only the Congress has the power to spend. Congress may have forgotten one thing. The people have the power to choose who sits in the Congress. That's a message that I will take all over this country. I believe the people are fed up with this philosophy of tax and spend, and I think they're going to see a change on that Democratic side of the aisle. The bottom line is that if we want economic growth and if we want to hold the line on taxes and spending and if we want to get serious about reducing the deficit, then America needs to elect more Republicans to Congress. And I mentioned two here tonight that I'm dying to see elected down there, because I know exactly how they'd behave on these issues of protecting the taxpayers' money.

Putting our fiscal house in order is critical, not just from the standpoint of the American economy but I think especially now in light of the challenges in the big picture, the challenges that we face in the Persian Gulf.

You know, we all know the grave economic consequences of Iraq's outlaw act of aggression. But as serious as these consequences may be, what is at stake is not a matter of economics or oil. What is at stake is whether aggression pays or whether aggression is punished, whether we live in a world governed by the rule of law or in a world which is the law of the jungle.

Make no mistake: America will not waver. The world will not allow Saddam Hussein's act of aggression to stand. There can be no compromise on the territorial integrity of a neighboring nation.

When this ordeal is over, and when Kuwait is once again a sovereign and free member of the family of nations, Saddam Hussein must pay for the pain and the hardship that he has caused. The world will hold him accountable, just as it held Adolph Hitler accountable in the wake of the destruction of World War II.

So, our staying power, and ultimately our success, is a matter of the strength of the forces that we send to Saudi Arabia. But it's also a measure of our support back here at home. That support is strong and deep -- across the country, right here in Connecticut, where Darien's VFW Post 6933 became one of the first in the Nation to adopt an Army unit now stationed in Saudi Arabia. It's spearheaded by veterans of Vietnam and Korea, like Robert Hornlein and James Sparrow, who remember what it's like to serve overseas and how much it means to get a package from home. Whether it's extra pens and paper, or high-demand items like sunglasses and flyswatters, every package is a reminder to every member of our armed services that America cares.

And with the young men and women of our Armed Forces in our minds, I want to add one more thing. Right now, in the sands of Saudi Arabia half a world away, those brave young men and women are teaching all of us a lesson about what it means to love liberty, the precious freedom that gives America its meaning. I expect everybody here has a contact one way or another -- maybe a son, maybe a daughter, maybe a nephew, maybe a friend -- who is in some way or other touched by this mobilization and deployment. But let me tell you what the Joint Chiefs of Staff tell me -- every single one of them. Never, in their view, never in this history of this country have we had more motivated, more better trained, or more fine troops, men and women, than we have today -- never in our history. Every one of them a volunteer. Every one serving and knowing why he or she is serving. They're motivated, and they are well-trained, and they believe.

So as November 6th draws near, I want to just urge every citizen in Connecticut to do what a lot of those kids are doing, filling out the absentee ballots and getting in -- but they're voting. I want to urge every citizen of Connecticut: Get out and vote; do not take democracy for granted.

We've got a lot at stake in these elections. We have an outstanding candidate for Governor, outstanding candidate for Lieutenant Governor sitting up here. The State is at the crossroads. But here, we have a high-energy, well-trained -- great experience -- candidate for Governor in John Rowland. And my thanks again for this warm welcome. As John knows, in the 1990's a lot of ideas that shape government and a lot of action -- if you believe in federalism as we do -- won't originate in Washington. They're going to be generated right here at the grassroots and at the State and local level.

That's why it is critical to have the strongest possible link between the White House and the statehouse, and that's why I was so very proud to accept John's invitation to come here in the homestretch to support him. And so, please -- I know you've been hit pretty hard for this one. [Laughter] But I would simply urge that now let's get into that mode of getting out the vote. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your friends. Go out and ask them to support the next Governor of the State of Connecticut: John Rowland. Thank you all, and good night, and God bless each and every one of you.

Note: President Bush spoke at 6:40 p.m. in the International Ballroom of the Tara Stamford Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Midge Baldrige, widow of former Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige; Betsy Heminway, a friend of the Bushes; Father Joseph A. Devine, who gave the invocation; comedienne Roseanne Barr, who sang the national anthem at a San Diego Padres baseball game; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve System; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Following the event, President Bush returned to Washington, DC.