Public Papers

Remarks at Bush-Quayle Campaign Headquarters


The President. Good to see all of you.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Thank you so much. I've just had a wonderful tour of the headquarters. And now for the best part, to thank the volunteers who have done so much already. And we haven't really begun to fight yet. And this is good. I am grateful to each and every one of you. I had a chance to thank many on the professional staff here, but I just would never be able to adequately thank you who do so much in the way of volunteering. So I wanted to start with that.

Bob referred to the fact -- Bob Teeter, who is doing a superb job -- referred to the fact that if things go about the way we expect tonight, we'll have that magic number of 1105, and that is a very good one. I know it seemed like forever, but it's been a long, long election year. What I've decided to do is to concentrate on leading this country, to concentrate on bringing about the same kind of change domestically that we brought about in foreign affairs.

You know, when I look back to when I started and became President back in January of 1989, one of the great concerns that the young people of this country had was about nuclear war. I think because of the leadership that our administration has been able to bring to this area of foreign affairs, because we stood up against aggression when a lot of our critics in the Congress would not have us do so, we set an example. We proved that the United States is the only true leader of the entire world, and in the process, we bought significant change.

We're trying to implement and fulfill that promise of change in what used to be the Soviet Union. In the Middle East, ancient enemies are talking for the first time in history. And that is something very, very significant and very important. We look south of our own border and we see dramatic moves for democracy and freedom. We look all around the world, and you see things moving much, much better. These are big things when you're talking about war and peace and saying to a whole generation of Americans you don't have near as much to worry about because of the fear of nuclear weapons. That's big, and that's important, and we did it. Now what we want to do is to take that leadership that you all have been a part of, take that leadership and bring it to bear on the key domestic problems in this country.

This is an important election. We're talking about who is going to lead this country for 4 more years and who is going to be President. This isn't some kind of a charge and countercharge event. We're talking about significant change. And some of the cynics say, ``Well, you've been President. What about it?'' And I'm saying, ``Well, let me tell you about it.''

We have the best, most innovative education program that's ever been designed to raise the education standards in this country. And I'll be saying to the American people: Give us that kind of change. We've got it; it's out there; it's spelled out. And now help us, help us in the election. Help us with the Congress to bring to these kids what they need, quality education that's going to make the United States competitive into the next generation. So we're going to fight for that one.

I believe that we sue each other too much and aren't kind enough to each other. And so we are fighting for liability reform. So you let the status quo people say that we've been standing still. We have programs up there 3 years in a row to do something about limiting the liability that says to a Little League coach, ``You know, you had better not coach because somebody is going to sue you,'' or to an obstetrician, ``You had better not deliver this baby because you've got to be worried about some outrageous lawsuit.'' We are the party of change. I am the leader that's trying to change it. And with your help and the help of the American people, we're going to get that change brought to the American political scene. So that's another one.

The same thing is true in health care. We are trying to change the health care system. Not by socializing medicine, like these nationalized plans would have you do, that some of the Democrats support. Not by these ``pay or play'' plans that would break every small business in the country but by our plan that makes insurance coverage available to every American, rich or poor alike. Some pay, obviously, but those at the lower end of the spectrum don't. We are going to revolutionize and change our health care system, but we need the support now of the American people. We've got to keep the high quality of American care, but make access available to all. That's what we're trying to do on our health care program.

We're talking also about Government reform. I've got an old-fashioned idea. I think Congress ought to live by the same laws that they make us live by. And so we need to reform the Congress itself or our whole method of Government. I happen to think that term limitations are good. They've got them on the President. Why shouldn't they be on the Congress of the United States? I happen to think that a President ought to have the same thing that 43 Governors have, a line-item veto. Let's take that one to the American people and see how it would work. I'm glad to hear the Democrats now getting on board for a balanced budget amendment, something I've been talking for, a change I've been trying to bring about for the last 3 years. So we've got these wonderful changes that we are working for. And now, all we need to do is change the Congress so we can get these changes through to benefit the American people.

The last of these five points relates to free and fair trade. We are not going to pull back into some isolationistic sphere or some protectionist sphere because of some outrageous promises by Democratic Congressmen that, if you only pull back, we can protect American jobs. I want to increase American jobs. And that's why I'm fighting hard for a successful conclusion of the GATT round, and that's why I want that North American free trade agreement with Mexico. It will create new jobs and expand our markets abroad. And we ought to be looking with optimism to the future instead of pulling back in some pessimistic scared mode. We're the United States of America. We are the undisputed leader of the free world, and we ought not to retreat. We ought to go forward. And give me 4 more years and give me a few changes in that Congress, and you watch us move this country forward.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Let me tell you this. This enthusiasm makes me want to change our game plan, but I don't think I will. The game plan is simply -- might get killed by Teeter and Malek and Mosbacher, all of whom are doing a great job -- but our game plan is this: Run this country; spell out these priorities; get these programs up to the Hill and try again to reach out and get these things passed to benefit the American people.

But the other part of it is, I have not been attacking any opponent. I hope you know that. I haven't done it. We've had able surrogates trying to put these people into proper perspective, but I have not been engaged in that. [Laughter] I have not been engaged in that because I believe it is important to be President of the United States. But let me tell you something. This enthusiasm here today gets my adrenaline flowing. I can't wait to get the proper signal at the proper time to get into that arena, not in a negative sense but to point out the positive things I've talked about today, to take on these opponents head on, whoever they prove to be, after the Republican Convention, because I am convinced that our values, our emphasis on family values is something that's stronger, not weaker, today than it was before. I think we need to perform for the American people, and I have suggestions as to how we can strengthen the American family. That's one example.

There are many other questions of values that I think our constituency is just as strong as it's ever been. I believe that when the campaign rolls around and we get the gloves off and we get into the arena with these people, we can conduct ourselves with a certain sense of honor, a certain sense of decency, a certain compassion, and a certain caring. But I'll be damned if I'm going to roll over for a lot of these outrageous charges that are coming out of the opposition day-in and day-out. We don't have to take that. So, since the air conditioning man didn't make it today, I will now finish my speech.

Audience member. He's a Democrat.

The President. He's a Democrat. That's all right; maybe he is. [Laughter]

But listen, really, let me end where I began. I've been in politics a long time. I figured it out the other day because this one actually has some political significance: Half of my adult life has been in public life and half of it in the private sector. I think that's a pretty good mix, so you don't lose track of what the fundamental problems are in this country or how to go about solving them. But I have always felt that there is no way, even for a President, to adequately express his appreciation for what you do.

In a few days, Barbara Bush -- who I happen to think is doing a superb job as First Lady of the United States -- she'll be coming over here to say thanks. I don't know whether George minded his manners the way he should have; he was in here. Somebody told me he went on for about 15 minutes, but nevertheless, I hope he said thank you. All of our kids who are in this ugliness of this campaign, they are very, very grateful. And there is no way to say thanks. So you keep up the work. I will keep up the work. We are going to win, and I think we're going to win big, come November.

Thank you very, very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:44 p.m. In his remarks, he referred to Bush-Quayle '92 officers Robert Teeter, campaign chairman, Fred Malek, campaign manager, and Robert Mosbacher, general chairman, and to his son George W. Bush.