Public Papers

Remarks at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Thank you very much. So pleased to be introduced by your Congressman and my chairman, Richard Baker, doing a great job up there in Washington. And I want to salute two other great Congressmen, Bob Livingston and Jim McCrery. What a job they're doing for the people of Louisiana. And we brought back to Louisiana with us another of Louisiana's sons, Jim McCrery, and secretary of state Fox McKeithen right here, whose dad used to be Governor, and also Henson Moore, my Deputy Chief of Staff, who represented Baton Rouge in the Congress. He now serves as our Deputy Chief of Staff there in the White House. And Chancellor Davis, thank you, sir, for letting us come to this beautiful campus, and thank all of you for the warm welcome.

Let me just say, when I saw the Tiger descending, it is great to be back in Tiger territory. And let me be very clear why I am here: Four more years. That's what we want. And I'm so pleased to see two that were in the White House not so long ago, Coach Brown and Shaquille, the ``Shaq Attack'' O'Neal. Shaq didn't think I'd come down for his birthday, did he? [Laughter] Right?

And I wonder if I have any Deke fraternity brothers out here. As I was driving -- now, wait just a minute -- as I was driving past the fraternity house, I heard him shouting: Four more years! And that's brotherhood for you, I thought. And then, Barbara said what they were really saying was: Four more beers! [Laughter] I think my fraternity, I think the Dekes get a bad rap. Some would compare to them to ``Animal House,'' you know. They ought to take a look at what happens up on Capitol Hill.

Let me just comment about what we're doing. We're in a battle for our future. I'm determined that America should leave young people like you the best possible legacy. We want America to lead the world in good jobs with productive work. And we want to remain a force for world peace and freedom. And we are fighting to protect our most basic institution, the American family.

And that's why, really, I would say to all of you, no matter who you are for in this process, that's why this year of decision is so important for our country. In next Tuesday's primary election and November's general election, you will hold the future of this country, your future, in your hands. And I'm asking you to get out the vote and create a resounding mandate for transforming America. Let us nominate men and women, and elect men and women, who share our fundamental values. And we've got much more to do to get America on the right track. And so, I'm asking you for 4 more years as your President to finish the job.

Somehow I think Louisianians understand this, but this country was built on faith and family and freedom. And we must renew those sources of our strength. And we must allow common sense to prevail.

For example, in our welfare system, restore the connection between welfare and work. Americans aren't cold hearted. We are a caring people, and we support help for those families in need. But we want to see government at every level work together, for example, to track down the deadbeat fathers, the ones who cannot be bothered to pay child support. But more important, we've got to break the cycle of dependency that destroys dignity and passes down poverty from one generation to the next. That's wrong. That's cruel. And we've got to keep working to change it. And so we're encouraging States to innovate with workfare and with plans that help people break welfare dependency and begin learning and work skills.

So anyway, we're going to continue to fight for the parents' rights. We're going to fight for the parents' rights to choose their children's schools, school choice. We've got a great education program to help revolutionize the schools. School choice is at the heart of America 2000, our strategy to literally revolutionize American education.

And let's get our priorities right. There's something wrong. Our kids cannot participate in voluntary prayer in the classroom, and we need to change that. I will admit that they need it, but both the House of Representatives and the Senate open their sessions with a prayer. And Congress needs it, I will admit, but I think it ought to be true for voluntary prayer in the classrooms.

Parents, not some bureaucrat in Washington, really know what is best for their children. And that's why I worked to win a child care bill that provides parents the right to choose who provides the care. We know America is first as long as we put the family first. So everything I do is going to be shaped at strengthening the American family.

As Bob and Jim and Richard know, for 3 years I've had to fight the liberal leadership of the Congress. And I will continue to stand for principle no matter how daunting the odds. We've fought, and we've put judges, for example, on the Federal bench who know their rule is to interpret the law, not to legislate from the Federal bench. And I'll use the veto when I have to, to stand for principle, to stand up for these values. Sometimes even my friends said I was flirting with defeat by casting a veto instead of cutting a deal. But we've never lost a veto fight, and I'll never hesitate to use the veto when principle is at stake. That's the only way we can change the direction of the Congress.

The liberal leadership of the Congress is once again on a collision course with my veto. You remember I asked the Congress to pass tax cuts and incentives to get this stagnant economy moving, to get real estate up and running, to reward those that go out and take the risks, the risk-takers who create good jobs. And it's time to quit punishing people who create jobs. And so I say cut the tax on capital gains and start a lot of new businesses.

But instead of passing my plan, the spenders who control the Congress had other ideas. And they pushed through one of their own. And here's what's in it for people who work for a living: a tiny temporary tax cut, 25 cents a day, a quarter a day for each man, woman, and child in America. But here's the catch. You can keep that quarter in exchange for 0 billion in new taxes. Now, they call that new revenue. I call it your money.

And if you feel the way I do, tell the Congress to keep the change and keep their hands off the taxpayers' wallets. And just so I am clear with the Congress on this, let me say right here in Louisiana, but beamed to Washington, DC: If the liberals send me their scheme, I'll send it back the minute it reaches my desk. I will veto it. I will slam dunk it faster than L.S.U. can say ``cha-ching.''

Remember, I've set a deadline, March 20th. And I've said to the Congress: Pass our plan. Get our economy moving. Do something now for the American people. And let me say this: It's tough this time of year, right before a primary election, but let's set the politics aside long enough to take these few selective steps to stimulate the economy, and then we can put the politics in place for the fall. But let's stimulate the American economy and get people back to work.

But we will fight. I like a good fight. And we will fight as we must, and we will win. And in the world today, if we want to succeed economically at home -- we must -- we have got to lead economically abroad. Each day, more and more American jobs are tied to trade. Remember this one: Every billion dollars more in manufactured exports means 20,000 new jobs, and each extra billion dollars in agricultural exports means thousands more jobs on Louisiana farms and in Louisiana agribusiness.

But my opponents are peddling protectionism, a retreat from economic reality. And you can cut through all the patriotic posturing, all the tough talk about fighting back and bashing somebody by shutting out foreign goods, but look closely. That's not the American flag they are waving; it is the white flag of surrender. And that is not the America that you and I know. And clearly, when you look around the world, it is not the way of the future for young Americans. America doesn't cut and run. We compete. And never in our long history have we turned our backs on a challenge, and we simply are not going to start that now.

I put my faith in your talent to compete: Level the playing field, and Americans will outthink, outproduce, and outperform anyone, anywhere, anytime.

As I said earlier, we're strong because we value faith, family, and freedom. We're the world's greatest power, the world's greatest power because whenever our values are threatened, we fight to defend them. We need to keep our defenses strong. In my State of the Union Message, I proposed some far-reaching but still very responsible cuts to bring our Armed Forces into line with the new realities of the world. I based my recommendations to Congress on the unanimous opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; of their able Chairman, Colin Powell; of our Defense Secretary. And we sent this program up that will keep our defense strong but still make cuts in defense; because of what's happened around the world, we can do that. But the liberals, true to form, want to put down the scalpel and pick up a meat ax. We cannot let that happen. We must keep America strong. I'll do that, and you can count on it. Who knows where the next threat comes from?

For those of you studying government, you know this: As President, I have a constitutional responsibility for the national security of this country. And as long as I am President of the United States, I guarantee you we are going to have defenses strong enough to meet our responsibilities. We were ready when Iraq's brutal dictator invaded Kuwait, and we will be ready when we face the next crisis. We must not cut into the muscle of our defense.

We must let the world know this: Whatever the challenge -- and we're facing some right now if you look around the world -- whatever the challenge, America will stay strong. America is in it to win.

Think back to just about one year ago today, the calm after Desert Storm. Ask any one of the proud sons and daughters of Louisiana, more than 250 from right here at L.S.U., ask any one of those young people from this campus who became the liberators of Kuwait, and they'll tell you: Military strength doesn't mean a thing without the moral support right here at home.

And yes, there are some revisionists out there trying to rewrite history now. And of course, there were those who didn't support us back then. There are those who second-guess us now. But not here, not across this State of Louisiana. When I drew that line in the sand, you stood with me. And never would this country tuck tail and let aggression stand. America did what was right and good and just, and we prevailed. And we are today the envy of the world, people looking to us to defend freedom and democracy wherever it may be.

And now we've got to bring that same victorious spirit, that same ``America together'' spirit to fight the problems we face today. And so let my opponents sound retreat, run from the new realities, seek refuge in a world of protectionism, high taxes, big Government. Let them drone on about what's wrong in America. We know what is right about this country.

The spirit of Desert Storm brought us together, Americans of every color and creed. And I'm asking you young people to do all you can to keep this country united, make it a land of harmony for years to come. And that means right now, every one of us, I don't care, South, North, East, or West, every one of us must stand up and say no to the politics of prejudice and hate and anti-Semitism and bigotry. They have no place in America.

Let me close with just a few words from the heart. Barbara and I are blessed, we are blessed to -- and I might say I think the First Lady is doing a first-class job, if that's all right. No, but I know she feels this way, and I do. We are blessed to serve this great Nation of ours at a moment when so many of the old fears have been driven away, when so many new hopes stand within our reach. Every day, and this is the gospel truth, we still say our prayers. But every day I thank God that young people like you will be able to follow your dreams without the nightmare of nuclear holocaust hanging over us as it did just a few years ago. And since the day I took the oath of office, I made it my duty to try, to try hard always to do what is right for this country. And I've given it my level-best, and I am not done yet.

You and I have more work ahead before we've finished our mission. It's a battle for our future. It's about jobs for your future. It's about the family. It's about world peace. Together, I believe we have made a great beginning to renew the miracle of the American enterprise and to strengthen our values of family and faith and freedom. Now we're approaching an hour of decision. Now it gets into the political trenches, next week. So don't wait until November, I'm asking you to vote in Tuesday on the Republican primary. And give me your vote in this important election next Tuesday. Help me win 4 more years to lead the fight for the values we share.

Thank you, and may God bless the United States of America, the freest, the fairest, the most decent country on the face of the Earth. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 12:55 p.m. in Pete Maravich Arena. In his remarks, he referred to William E. Davis, chancellor of the university, and head coach Dale Brown and center Shaquille O'Neal of the L.S.U. Tigers basketball team.