Public Papers

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator John McCain in Phoenix


Thank you all very, very much for that welcome. May I pay my tribute to Jim Click. He's been a staunch supporter of the Republican cause for a long, long time, and I'm very grateful to see him again and grateful for that introduction. Of course, I'm proud to be at the side of John McCain and his wife, Cindy. I want to salute two from our Cabinet: Secretary Lynn Martin, our Secretary of Labor over here, who's doing a superb job, job training and a wide array of other issues; and then our irrepressible Secretary of HUD, who is going with me as we head back out to Los Angeles, but a man who is doing a superb job in this concept of homeownership, giving people a part of the action, Jack Kemp, our Secretary of HUD. And may I salute Governor Fife Symington and Ann; and of course, a special warm abraso for Barry and Susan Goldwater; and our chairman, Jerry Davis; Pastor Jackson, whom I've been privileged to be with before; Everett Alvarez, who today was announced as one of our cochairmen of our veterans effort, a great American.

Brenda High, appropriately named for the way she did that ``Star-Spangled Banner.'' It was outstanding. You can't help but be stirred when you hear a rendition like that of our great national anthem. And thanks to the -- where is the band? I can't see them, but I understand you've got a great Chaparral High School band over here. Thank you for your music. And thanks to Shannon Marketic, Miss U.S.A., for the pledge. And out with us in the audience, a guy I visited with earlier on, a true Point of Light, Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns, and all he does for the young people out here. And then another old friend who I had a chance to greet earlier on, Joe Bugel of the Cardinals, a great guy and a great sportsman. And I'm proud to see him.

So it's a pleasure to be back, and I'm sorry Barbara's not here. And I will apologize; they told me that broccoli is on the menu, and I'm out of here as soon as I finish speaking. [Laughter] But seriously, we do have to head back out to Los Angeles, be sure we're following up the way we should there.

But I'm glad to have this opportunity to express my appreciation to our Senator, and I say ``ours'' because Barbara and I feel like he's just part of us, Senator John McCain, for his help in fighting against that pork barrel spending back in Washington and for his leadership and support for the line-item veto. He is a man of principle. John, your leadership has been absolutely invaluable. And when I see it I say to myself, if only we had control of the United States Senate. On budget, on taxes, on health care, on the needs of older Americans, John McCain's efforts mean so much to me and so much to our country. They, of course, mean an awful lot to the great State of Arizona and to all Americans. You are lucky, indeed, to have him in the Senate, and we must have him back come fall.

And of course, special tribute to Senator Barry Goldwater for his half-century of principled, and I use that word advisedly, principled service to our great country. What a record of achievement. What an example. What an accomplishment. Fifty years in public service, and underlying it all, character and integrity totally intact. I am proud to be his friend. I am grateful for his support. There have been some tough times in my political life, and one of them was 4 years ago. Barry came up there, suited up, got on a long flight and flew up to New Hampshire and bailed me out. I'll never, ever forget it. Not out of jail, but out of some political hot water up there. [Laughter]

How about this backdrop? I like it very much, not only as a great art work, but coming from a city where Congress spends so much money, it's always good to see something in black ink. [Laughter]

It was Barry who put it this way, ``Those who do not have courage want complicated answers.'' Well, Republicans are courageous people, and our solutions to America's problems are simple and effective, not complicated out of a maze of redtape. While the Democrats put their faith in adding new bricks to the old bureaucratic programs, and they try to do it every single day up there in the Congress, we Republicans are focusing on leaving our children and grandchildren three fundamental legacies that are integral to their own future: Strong families to sustain individuals, to nurture and encourage children, and to preserve our Nation's character and our culture; and then, number two, peace, in our schools, on our streets, and yes, all around the world; and then, third one, jobs, both for those who are seeking work and for graduates entering the work force.

I might add, at long last our national economy is beginning to move. It's recovering, and consumer confidence, you might have seen it yesterday, is starting back up, is returning.

These legacies, all of them don't always translate into sound bites, but they are definitely sound policy. Senator Barry Goldwater and Senator John McCain have both been at the forefront in helping to establish these legacies and in building a sound Republican policy, policy that sees problems as something more than excuses for new centralized, mandated programs. This is the message I will be taking to the American people in the fall, and this is the message that is going to win for us not only the White House but control of the Congress. You watch and see, now.

What we are trying to do is to offer innovation and change. American industries lead the world in growth and efficiency. America is the world's leading exporter, producing 2 billion worth last year alone, 2 billion. Over the past 5 years, our exports have supported 7 million jobs. These are impressive accomplishments, a record of economic growth and international competitiveness to make any country proud.

Instead of excuses, we're offering education. More than one of four American workers has a college degree; another 20 percent have at least a year of college. Through this program we've got, the break-the-mold school program, and parental choice and choice for public, private, or religious schools for their children, I might add, our America 2000 initiative for education: it is new; it is revolutionary, and it doesn't mandate it from Washington. It says let the communities, let the States, let the families have a say in deciding what kind of education is best for our own children.

And yes, we are opening more and more doors of opportunity for Americans. And now we must address ways that we can strengthen our national spirit and return to the bedrock principles, faith, family, that made our Nation great. I would hate to be taking a case to the American people in the fall that was predicated on everything being bad, that the only way you can win is if the country's going to hell in a handbasket. We are America, and we are moving forward. And by fall we are going to show them that the positive message of change is the message of hope for the American people.

John McCain and I have the responsibility to provide the leadership that we need, the country needs, to get back to sound principles upon which our Nation was founded, principles that helped make us the world's leading Nation and principles that gave us a standard of living that is the envy of the entire world.

The cynics say that social conditions are too bad to turn around. And the skeptics say that faith and ideals are puny and inconsequential when put up against the problems that we face as a Nation. Well, I think they're wrong. I believe, along with Calvin Coolidge, ``there is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.'' I believe that the forces of character, of compassion, and goodness will ultimately triumph over the forces that can only tear down and destroy.

Tonight, as soon as we finish here, I'm going to be going back to Los Angeles to check on the progress of Federal aid efforts out there and to expand on my ideas for an urban agenda, an agenda of hope and opportunity in all our cities. I might say I am very proud of the rapid response of our Federal Agencies to that crisis out there: the Army, the Marines, there to restore law and order; the SBA and HUD and Labor and FEMA and Agriculture and HHS and others, too. They responded fast. We did it in a coordinated way, and all of them did very, very well.

But I am less proud of the fact that the Congress has not moved on our program to bring instant hope to the cities, not just Los Angeles but the cities all across our country, on enterprise zones or on the other proposals that we've made that would instantly bring hope to the cities. I challenge the Congress right here and now: Please take action. Let's set the partisanship aside for just long enough to get something done to help people in this country.

So let the others out there take their message of pessimism. They say that America's best days are behind us. The truth is that our Nation stands at a pinnacle of achievement that is unmatched. We are the unquestioned leader of the free world, which now includes more countries than ever before. All those new democracies are looking to America, to the United States of America, for leadership.

Yes, there is much left to be done in our own country. But many of the changes that we are pushing are stuck up there on Capitol Hill. There was no one who wants to work cooperatively with Congress any more than I do. And from my very first State of the Union Address I held out my hand and said, ``The people didn't send us here to bicker; let's try to get something done.''

I don't think there's anyone, I might say, who has been a better friend up there on Capitol Hill than John McCain because he understands these principles. He advocates them, articulates them. We bent over backwards to try to get the liberals who control the Congress to support our efforts to reform, reform programs that simply are not working anymore. We've tried to change things that aren't working. Now the time has come to change the control of the United States Congress itself and watch this country move forward.

There is a mood for change. There was talk in all of them. The Nation needs an infusion of fresh, new Republican Congressmen and Senators who will be statesmen, like Barry Goldwater, like John McCain, leaders willing to try out new ideas. We unveiled this plan for the cities, and some cynics out there on the Democratic side are saying, ``These aren't new. You proposed them before.'' They are new because they have not been tried. We need people who will put the best interest of the Nation first and foremost.

There are other problems that Government alone cannot reverse. At the top of the list is action to restore the American family. Simply put, our children cannot dream the American dream when they are living a nightmare. Look at a few brief and sad facts. In comparison with other industrialized countries, the Census Bureau found that the United States has the highest divorce rate, the highest number of children involved in divorce, the highest teenage pregnancy rates, the highest abortion rates, the highest percentage of children living in a single-parent household, the highest percentage of violent deaths among our precious young. These are not the kinds of records that we want to have as a great country.

Our Federal Government, of course, we have responsibilities. As President, I've got responsibilities in all of this. We must do more. We must do what we can. The American people must do those things that Government cannot do. Government can and must provide school choice, but parents must read to their kids and instill a love for learning. Government can and must fight crime, but fathers and mothers must teach discipline and instill values in their children. Government can and must foster American competitiveness, but parents must teach the kids the dignity of work.

To paraphrase that great philosopher of the silver hair, Barbara Bush -- [laughter] -- what you teach at your house is more important than what happens at the White House. And she is absolutely right about that.

So we're a country that has a lot of problems, big problems. But I am absolutely convinced we can solve them. We have laid the groundwork, and we've developed sound plans. We can transform America into the Nation we all want her to be.

It hasn't been much fun in the political arena lately. We've been hammered out there a little bit. Somebody said that builds character. I said, I'm a little long on character and looking forward to a change.

But let me tell you this. I am quietly confident about the election this fall. In sum, I am absolutely convinced as this economy moves back, as we sort out where everybody stands on these highly complex issues, when the country assesses the fact that we are at peace and that our children go to bed at night with less fear of nuclear war -- and that is a major accomplishment of which I am very proud to have been a part -- and it's when we get in focus the agenda, see who wants to pass this agenda of hope and opportunity and who wants to stifle it, when we take forward the values that you and I believe in to the American people again this fall on family and faith, I am absolutely convinced we're going to win this election. We are going to win it. We're going to transform our problems into challenging opportunities to realize the American dream.

Thank you for your fantastic support for our great Senator. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America, the freest and greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:23 p.m. at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. In his remarks, he referred to Jim Click, Bush-Quayle Arizona finance chairman; Gerald Davis, chairman, Arizona Republican Party; and Richard Jackson, pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church.