Public Papers

Remarks to Liberty Mutual Insurance Employees in Dover


Let me first thank, of course, Governor Gregg, who's heading up our campaign in this State. And let me also single out Senator Bob Smith -- I don't know whether you all have been introduced -- Senator Bob Smith over here, Congressman Bill Zeliff, both extraordinarily good friends, tremendous supporters for the values that you and I share; and then also a former Senator, Gordon Humphrey, who is also in my corner and working hard. And I'm so proud to have these leaders and others, Warren Rudman and others who couldn't be here today, at my side.

Somebody said, ``Well, why do you want to go to Liberty?'' And I was thinking back, coming over, the last time I was here in an earlier campaign effort, somebody in a parking lot ran over Governor Hugh Gregg's foot. [Laughter] And I wanted to come back and try to do better this time -- [laughter] -- and thank everybody here for this welcome, Mr. Laszewski, Mr. Countryman, and just say it is a pleasure to be back in this State.

Let me deny a vicious rumor that's circulating here. I have not come back to New Hampshire to personally renew my subscription to the Union Leader. [Laughter] I did come back to talk about jobs. But I wanted to start with something. I was just over at a cafeteria at Davidson, and this guy -- I don't know what his politics were, really is indifferent -- and he asked me what for some might be an easy question. And he said, ``If you had to name one thing, what would your message be today; why are you here?'' We were sitting with our sleeves rolled up at the table.

My thought process went this way: I think I know this State. I know I know the problems of this State. We live near this State. I went to school across the border, to Massachusetts, and have a feel for this New England where I grew up. I think I understand it. I understand the heartbeat; I understand the hardship. And I said to this guy, we've got all of these issues: health care, which I'll mention; we've got world peace; we have economic stimulation to get the economy. One message: I want the people of this State to know that I care. I care very much about the people that are hurting in this State, and I am determined to turn this State around. And that is the message.

And I have not simply just discovered New Hampshire. You ask some of these characters running around there with these scatterbrained ideas and these quick fixes to something as tough as this economy, ``When were you last in New Hampshire?'' And you'll find they've never been here at all. They wouldn't know how to get here.

I know the heartbeat of this State. I know the values, the family values of this State. Barbara and I try to live those values in our lives as President and First Lady of this country. And I can identify with those who are hurting in this State. Please give me credit for that, and do not listen to these guys that want to take political opportunity, come up with a quick fix to something as complicated as this economy, and then be gone and never to return. I've been here, been here a lot. And I will return, as President, and when I get through being President, as neighbor. So, you've got my pledge on that one.

I know times are tough. This State has gone through hell, gone through an extraordinarily difficult time, coming off of a pinnacle, you might say, of low unemployment. Now you're at about the national level. And yes, people are hurting. And I am determined to turn it around.

I told some of them over there, there's a big difference, you know, people say to me, difference between domestic and foreign policy. ``How could you lead the world'' -- and they gave me some credit for that in Desert Storm, that the American people still feel very, very strongly about -- ``how can you do that and then have such difficulties with this economy?'' Well, let me tell you something. When I moved those forces I didn't have to ask Senator Kennedy or some liberal Democrat how, whether we were going to do it. We did it. I didn't have to ask some smart-aleck columnist who was saying, ``Bush hasn't explained this to the American people.'' We did it.

The young men and women, the best fighting force we've ever had, stood up and lifted the spirits of this country. And now I want to take that same leadership, bring this country together after the State of the Union, and solve the domestic economic problems, and do it in a sound, sensible New Hampshire way. And that is why I'm here.

It's a weird year here. You've got crazy people running all over, thinking that the way to put this country back to work is to stop exports. In other words, they call it this, they call it protection. I'm going to protect an American job. Do not listen to the siren's call of protection if it comes out of the far right or the far left. What that means is shrinking jobs, getting into trade wars and retaliation.

What we're trying to do is to expand exports by making that playing field level and getting access to foreign markets. So, when someone says to me, some politician out of some State that never heard of New Hampshire before, comes up here and says, ``The President ought not to worry about world peace or the global economy,'' I'm going to say, ``Let me run my business the way I think is best.'' I am going to continue to work to open markets, to take this question of equal opportunity -- that's all the American worker needs -- equal opportunity in the global marketplace.

Those workers I saw at Davidson and you in this business are the most efficient there is, and you can compete with anybody. And don't try to do it by shrinking world markets and going into some siren call of protection that threw this country into a depression back in the thirties. I'm talking 25 percent unemployment back in those days. Let's not set the clock back. Let's continue to exercise world leadership. We are the United States of America. And I am not about to give up on world leadership.

And to those cynics out there, these political newcomers hitting this State for the first time, let me say this: I won't apologize one minute for the fact that your kids and my grandkids might just have an opportunity, because of the way we've conducted the foreign affairs of this country, to grow up in a world with a little less worry about nuclear war. There has been dramatic change. And I'll take the hit. I'll take my share of the blame for the economy, and I'll dish out plenty to Congress on that, I might add. [Laughter] But just give us a little credit for the fact that we now have a tremendous change in the world, old totalitarian systems now democracies, people in the south of our border now working for free markets. And that means more jobs for the people of New Hampshire.

And so, it isn't all gloom and doom. And what I want to do is this. We've had growth agendas. They've been stymied by a Democratic Congress. And you ask these guys that come, where were you when the President proposed a capital gains cut to stimulate jobs? Where were you when he proposed IRA's to help the first-time homebuyer? He's got a growth agenda.

They didn't do it. So now I'm going to take my message on the State of the Union to the American people, look them right in the eye and say, ``All right, let's do this. Let's lay aside these election-year politics for about 2 weeks or 3, and let's pass this package.'' And it's going to have in it not quick fixes. It's going to resist some of the short-term quick political briefs. But it's going to have the stimulation of jobs and investment and savings to get this country moving again. And that's what we need.

We don't need a quick political promise out in a parking lot somewhere only to be forgotten when the southern tier of primaries roll around. We need sound economics, and this time I'm going to succeed because I believe I can get the American people for me, in spite of the fact that we've got some congressional leaders down there that are opposed every step of the way.

I might say, Bill Zeliff is up for election, all the Congressmen are; Bob Smith, not. But if we had more Senators like Bob Smith and Warren Rudman and Congressmen like Bill Zeliff, we would not be facing the spending out of control and the problem that we're having in stimulating the growth of this economy. So, my prayer for Christmas was give me a Republican Congress while you're at it, and then watch what we can do. [Laughter]

Let me just give you some standards if you do watch that State of the Union, what we need. A real growth package must stimulate investment that's needed to create jobs. We've got to encourage risk-taking. We've got to encourage business people to take risks.

The second one: It's got to stop the slide in real estate values. For most Americans, their home is a large part of what they own, a large part of their assets. And if those real estate values go down, people have lack of confidence in the economy. We've got to find things, and I'll make some proposals in the State of the Union, that's put underpinning under that and says to a person: The investment you made in your home is sacrosanct, and we want to keep that value so you and your kids will have that value for the rest of your lives.

Thirdly, it's got to give people the confidence that the costs of health care -- and here's a specialty where your company has been absolutely superb, leading in the health care field -- that the costs of health care, the costs of education, the costs of raising a family are affordable.

And then the last point: It's got to make America more competitive. And that leads you, of course, to a sensible and sound education program, and we've got a very good one in a program we call America 2000. And then I also think it's about time that the Congress get its house in order, that they live by the same laws that you and me and other Americans are asked to live by. And I'm going to be challenging them to do a little reorganization in Congress itself.

So I want to restore the faith of this country in the future. As I say, we lifted up the spirits of this country with your help. And some of you all probably served in the Storm. And don't let the revisionists, don't let these smart alecks that opposed it from day one come back a year later and try to take it away from you, the American people. It was a clear, solid victory. It reversed the Vietnam syndrome; it gave us pride. And now I want to take that same sense of leadership and, again, solve the problems that have been plaguing this Nation and the economy. I believe I can do it.

We've got a lot of other programs out there: antidrugs, proeducation, anticrime legislation that's hung up. We need a good, new financial -- we didn't get a chance to talk about this -- but financial reform legislation that's going to modernize our banking system and make it far more competitive, which means more loans, more affordability for people that are borrowing. There's a wide, tremendous agenda. But the underlying theme here in this State is get this country back to work again.

And some guy over here at the first stop at Pease -- and I'm interested in this economic development for Pease Air Force Base. You can take a hit that comes from the results of -- actually, having to peel back at Pease is the fact that we're succeeding in terms of world peace and less defense spending and all of that. But there's hardship with it. So, I want to see the success of the economic development program at Pease, and I want to be a part of it. I understand the people around there. I know a lot of people around there. And we should help that area, and this gets close to it, help them in economic redevelopment.

The guy over there at Pease -- a woman, actually -- she said something about a country-western song about the train, a light at the end of the tunnel. I only hope it's not a train coming the other way. [Laughter] Well, I said to her, ``Well, I'm a country music fan. I love it, always have.'' Doesn't fit the mold of some of the columnists, I might add, but nevertheless -- [laughter] -- of what they think I ought to fit in, but I love it. You should have been with me at the CMA awards at Nashville. But nevertheless, I said to them, you know, there's another one that the Nitty Ditty, Nitty City Great -- [laughter] -- that they did, and it says, ``If you want to see a rainbow, you've got to stand a little rain.'' We've had a little rain. New Hampshire has had too much rain. A lot of families are hurting.

The answer -- Barbara cares, and I care -- the answer is we've got proposals that will help. They're not quick fixes; they're not things that are going to garner a political vote only to fall on your face a couple of weeks later. Stay tuned to the State of the Union, and if you agree with me, spread the word.

Lastly, I need your help. I am here to ask for your vote. I will take, as I say, my share of the blame for things that have gotten off track in this country. But I understand. And I want to get them back on track. I'd like a little credit for the things that have gone right. I think of New Hampshire as a State that understands what we Bushes mean when we talk about family and faith and family values. I think people understand when Barbara hugs an AIDS baby or reads to a child. I think they understand what we're saying, and that is: Family is important.

Everything I do in legislation I ask our people, ``Is this going to strengthen or is this going to diminish family?'' Our child care bill, I fought back the mandated benefits from the liberals, and I fought it back because it would weaken the family's chance to take care of the child care situation in the way they think back. I want our school program to emphasize community and family. I worry about these families that are broken up, ache for them, worry about them and want to do what we can, Barbara and I, as leaders in this country, to help strengthen family.

And so I do understand New Hampshire because I have this wonderfully warm feeling that New Hampshire feels exactly the way we do on these questions of family values and faith. Somebody said to me, ``We prayed for you over there.'' That was not just because I threw up on the Prime Minister of Japan, either. [Laughter] Where was he when I needed him? [Laughter] I said, let me tell you something. And I say this -- I don't know whether any ministers from the Episcopal Church are here; I hope so. But I said to him this: ``You're on to something here. You cannot be President of the United States if you don't have faith.'' Remember Lincoln, going to his knees in times of trial in the Civil War and all that stuff. You can't be.

And we are blessed. So don't feel sorry for -- don't cry for me, Argentina. We've got problems out there, and I am blessed by good health, strong health. Geez, you get the flu, and they make it into a Federal case. [Laughter] Anyway, that goes with the territory. I'm not asking for sympathy, I just wanted you to know that I never felt more up for the charge.

I wish I could tuck each one of you for 10 minutes into that car as you ride along and see the reception that Judd Gregg talked about that we're getting as I return to this State that I do understand. And it's been great. I'll go back to Washington all fired up for tomorrow and tackle the President or the Prime Minister of this or the Governor of that coming in. But I'll have this heartbeat, vigorous and strong, because of what I've sensed here today.

So now, listen, here's the final word: Vote for me. And listen, go listen politely. These guys, these executives, they've got to do their thing here and have fairplay for all. But don't vote for them. Vote for me, okay?

Thanks a lot.

Note: The President spoke at 2:11 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Liberty Mutual Insurance Building. In his remarks, he referred to Robert L. Laszewski, executive vice president of group markets, and Gary L. Countryman, chairman of the board, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group.