Public Papers

Remarks at the Bush-Quayle Campaign Welcome in Savannah, Georgia


Thank you very much, Mayor. And may I be bold enough to say I think Savannah has a first-class new Mayor, and I'm glad to have her here at my side today. And thank you all for this warm welcome. It's great to see so many friends. Standing next to me over here is one of the great Governors across our country, Governor Carroll Campbell of South Carolina. And I am very much indebted to him for his support. Alec Poitevint is the chairman of the party here, doing a first-class job. Fred Cooper is our statewide chairman for Bush-Quayle. And of course, Newt Gingrich, doing a superb job for this State and for our country in Washington, DC.

May I thank the band over there from Bradwell. And somewhere out here is Vidalia, right over there, thank them. And may I single out all the veterans of Desert Storm here today and to every one of you who have come down to the Riverfront to show your support. I'm glad to see all this activity. You'll notice I brought along my newest mode of transportation, ``Riverboat One'' right back here. [Laughter]

Well, we're here today because we believe on big issues and we believe that we're on the right side of these big issues, on the issues that shape the world and on the values that are close to home. I'm talking about jobs. I am talking about family. I am talking about world peace, for ourselves and for all of our kids. Jobs, family, and world peace.

And I believe all the people of Savannah and all the people of this great State believe that parents, not the Government, ought to make the decisions that matter in life. Parents, not Government, should choose the children's schools. And when it comes to child care, parents, not the Government, should choose who cares for the children. And I also think on this Sunday, and my views will never change on this, I believe there is a place for voluntary prayer in our children's classrooms. And I think, on this gorgeous family day, on this beautiful Sunday here in Savannah, I think we should put it this way: America is first as long as we put the family first.

Let me just say a word about the number one issue facing our country today: It's the economy; it's jobs. And that's what's keeping people up late at night, worrying about how they're going to pay the bills and put food on the table and care for their kids and still manage to put away something for their retirement. We've got to get this Nation's economy moving. That's why in that State of the Union Message I gave, I laid out a two-part plan to spark economic recovery, to create jobs: a seven-point short-term plan to stimulate the economy as early as this spring and then a longer term plan to keep America growing tomorrow and into the next century.

And because I know Congress tends to drag its feet, I set a deadline to help them along the way. But regrettably, the liberals that control the Congress had other ideas. Instead of passing my plan, they pushed through one of their own. Here's what's in it: a tiny tax cut, 25 cents a day for every person, but in exchange for 0 billion in taxes. If you feel the way I do, tell the Congress, ``Keep the change, and keep your hands off the taxpayer's wallet.''

If the liberal Democrats decided to make their two-bit tax cut permanent, they'd have to jump up the tax rate for every American making more than ,000 a year. You've heard that right, ,000. Now, go tell that to some schoolteacher that's working her or his heart out for our kids. That is not fair, and I am not going to let it happen. They're going to tax the middle class for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks, because that's where the money is. And I'm not going to let them do that to you the taxpayers of Savannah. But listen, you saw that bill the other day, so let me make it very clear, with one of our great leaders standing next to me, if that tax-and-spend plan reaches my desk, I am going to send it right back. I will veto it fast; it will make your head spin. They want to raise the taxes, and I want get this country back to work.

And there's one critical part of our economic future that I want to talk to you about today, and that's really the kind of legacy we leave these young ones, our children. The world our kids call home will be far different than the world that we grew up in. The competition now comes from around the world, not just down the street. In that new world, there's a new economic reality. If we want to succeed economically at home, we've got to lead economically abroad.

And if this Nation needed any proof of what I just said, it's right here in Savannah. Statewide, Georgia's export business is booming, nearly billion in 1991 for manufactured exports alone. Look around the Riverfront. More and more ships pass in and out of this harbor, saluting the Waving Girl. Today and every day this bustling hub of international trade puts jobs in your communities, money in your pockets, and dinner on your tables. Nearly 13 million tons of goods, billions of dollars in international trade, flow through your wonderful port. And in the port of Savannah alone, all that trade traffic adds up to 58,000 jobs for Georgia.

The world is at Savannah's doorstep. We've got to keep the door open, and I'm confident that we will. And that's why I've fought every day of my administration to open foreign markets and to guard against the siren's call of isolation and protection. Georgians are reaching out; they are not pulling back. Give you a little detail that I think is good for the rest of the country. Right here, we're creating additional opportunities for U.S. exports, companies like Savannah Foods and Fort Howard Paper and Union Camp -- the V.P. is with us, Sid Nutting is with us here today. And their people are working hard to compete, and we're behind them all the way.

But the opponents are not about to let that fact intrude on fantasy. They are peddling protectionism; they are peddling a retreat from economic reality. Now, you cut through all the patriotic posturing, all the tough talk about fighting back by closing out foreign goods, and look closely: That is not the American flag they're waving; it is the white flag of surrender. And that is not the America that you and I know. We don't cut and run in this country; we compete. Never in this Nation's long history have we turned our back on challenge, and we are not about to start right now. So I put my faith in the American worker. I say: Level out that playing field, and the American worker will outthink, outproduce, outperform anyone, anywhere, anytime. And let me add this: America is in it to win.

Think back one year, one year ago today, to the calm after Desert Storm. Ask any one of the proud sons and daughters of Georgia who became a liberator of Kuwait, and they'll tell you: Military strength doesn't mean a thing without moral support right here at home. Georgia did its part and more. This port handled over 200,000 tons of cargo for Desert Storm. Nearly 10,000 sons and daughters of Georgia were called up through the Reserves and the National Guard, and thousands more answered the call from Fort Stewart or from Hunter Army Airfield.

And I'll never forget my visit to Fort Stewart during those difficult days, the wives and the parents that I talked to, people with their loved one in harm's way, many of them gone for months. Their quiet courage said it all: Never would this country tuck tail and let aggression stand. America would do what was right and good and just. And America would prevail.

There were those who did not support us then, and there are those who second-guess us now. But not the good people of Georgia. In those difficult days, when our kids laid it all on the line, Georgia never wavered. Georgia kept its faith in freedom. Georgia said with me: Aggression will not stand. And I say thank you to the people of this great State.

And now we're locked in a political struggle, and I'm going to try to keep it above the fray. I've got to continue to be the President of this great country; honored to be that President. And I've been trying to keep things on a positive plane. But let me just say this to you: From next Tuesday through the first Tuesday in November, we're going to take our message all across this country. And my view is, if you want to send a message to Washington, send this President back for 4 more years, and send more good Georgia Republicans to the Congress.

People know that we're in a battle for the future. It's about jobs. It's about family. It's about world peace and about the kind of legacy we're going to leave our kids. And so, let some opponents sign the retreat, run from the new realities, seek refuge in a world of protectionism or high taxes or even bigger Government. That's not the future we want for our kids. And we believe in our country. And we believe we will move forward with open markets and low taxes and less Government, all focused on creating and preserving jobs. So we need your support.

Let me just close today with a few words from the heart. Barbara and I are blessed, blessed to serve this great Nation of ours at a moment in history when so many of the old fears have been driven away, when so many new hopes stand within our reach. Old fears: When I see these young kids, I think we're fortunate that they go to bed now worrying less about a nuclear holocaust than happened 5 or 10 years ago. We are blessed that we brought peace to this world. And because we've stood strong, we've beaten back aggression.

But since the day I took the oath of office, I've made it my duty to work for what's right for America. I go back, I guess we all do, to what our families say. I go back to what my mother says: Try your hardest. Do your best. Well, let me tell you something, I'm not done yet. I say to the good people of Georgia: Together we are going to make a great new beginning. I'm going to take this message to the United States Congress for change. Change that Congress, and give the values that you believe in a real chance come November.

Thank you for this very warm welcome back. And may God bless the people of Georgia and the people of the United States of America. Let us count our blessings on this gorgeous day. Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. at the Savannah Riverfront. In his remarks, he referred to Susan Weiner, Mayor of Savannah.