Public Papers

Remarks to the Community in Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Thank you very very much for that warm welcome. Let me just say at the beginning of these remarks how grateful I am for the congressional delegation that I work with in Washington. If we had more men like the Congressman that just introduced me, Craig Thomas, if we had more like him in the House, I guarantee you this country would be moving forward faster with opportunity for all. I salute Malcolm Wallop, who I don't think is with us today, but also my dear friend Al Simpson, who stands tall, all right; we saw that. But he's out there for principle in the United States Senate. And he's a close personal friend, he and Ann, to Barbara and me. That disproves the theory that goes like this: Well, if you want a dog in Washington -- I mean, want a friend in Washington, get a dog. [Laughter] My view is we've got the Simpsons and several others like them.

May I thank the Bar-J Wranglers down there, who did a great job, and the Jackson Hole Community Band and others who make this very, very special. I told the Mayor, Bill Westbrook, because I was sitting next to him here at barbecue, that for me this is a very special change of pace. I don't want to argue with my friend Al Simpson, but we're not quite into the one-on-one competitive mode yet. I'm going to hold back a little bit until after the Republican Convention. And then we're going after it. We're going to win this election because I'm going to take the case to the American people for sure.

I want to salute Senator Cliff Hanson, who is with us; his wife, Martha. Another Nebraska Senator is here, Senator Curtis, another good friend. And I'd be remiss if I didn't single out Estelle Stacy Carrier, with whom I worked when I was chairman of the Republican National Committee, sitting over here. Someone told me that another man I was proud to have served with, Jim Watt, is here, a member of this community, and I salute him and wish him the best of everything.

Let me tell you this: With all the hue and cry of politics, I cannot think of a better way to spend a Friday noon, Friday afternoon -- the big sky and the hot sun, this fantastic view, this marvelous helping of baked beans and coleslaw, not a single piece of broccoli anywhere on that whole table. [Laughter]

In the line over there somebody asked me if I wanted to comment on this week's big event, the one that captured the imagination of millions of TV viewers. And to be brutally honest, I thought the All-Star Game would be a lot closer than it was. [Laughter]

Let me just make a few comments because, seriously, it was an important week in American politics. And I salute the opposition. They ran a good show there, and I don't think there's any reason to be bitter or small about all of that.

But I want to say a word about yesterday's happening and about Ross Perot and that surprising announcement yesterday. I admit that as the incumbent President of the United States that it's tempting to quietly applaud the fact that this strange year, this strange political year, has suddenly become, quote, normal. But I can't do that. The grassroots fervor of the Perot supporters transcends what we call politics as usual.

You see, a vote was taken this spring and summer in America. No ballots were cast, but a vote was taken. No polls opened, but a referendum took place nonetheless. Nobody won this election, but politics lost. Politics lost because it's become increasingly irrelevant to many Americans. Its language is not understood around our kitchen tables. Politics for too many people has become synonymous with slogans, posturing, and it's come to mean the opposite of progress.

Today I have a message for anyone who supported Ross Perot and any American who identifies with that frustration that brought them together: I hear you. You've come through loud and clear. And Ross used to like to say two words more than any others, ``you,'' meaning the people, ``you'' and ``win.'' And today I can say to his supporters, while politics as usual may have lost, you have won. I hear the voices in so many accents say attention must be paid to our jobs, our schools, our families. Attention must be paid to our future. I hear that call, and more than that, I share that frustration.

In my first term in office I have learned that it is far easier to convince the leaders of diverse nations to mobilize to confront a tyrant than to convince the Congress to approve a relatively small tax incentive so that Americans, young Americans, can buy that first home. And we are going to keep fighting for those young Americans.

I say this not to bash the United States Congress but to tell you that the view from the White House looks the same as the view from your front porch. And the system needs repair. My message to the disillusioned and the disaffected is simple: Don't walk away from the system. Don't assume that without a protest vote there is no vote at all. The solution to our challenges today is the same that America has turned to so many times before, that mixture of values, experience, and ideas that we call leadership.

What kind of leadership do we need? I believe that our first priority is to provide more economic opportunity for more people. You see, too many people have worked for a company for 20 years only to worry that the next mail is going to bring in a pink slip. Too many parents have saved to send their kids to college only to find that once graduated, a kid can't get a good job.

The first order of business is to get the Federal deficit down by cutting Federal spending. And I need more help in that end. And yes, I believe that we should create incentives for the people in the businesses who create jobs and give them access to the new markets that are opening all around the world.

I also believe that we have to restore the traditional American values that have held our society together for 200 years. You know what they are. We're talking about respect. We're talking about knowing the difference between right and wrong. We're talking about helping our neighbors, putting the family, the American family, first, and putting our faith in something larger than ourselves. I happen to know a silver-haired philosopher who is not with us today named Barbara Bush. She says this, that what happens in your house is more important than what happens in the White House. It is far more important than what happens in the White House. That is true.

I believe Government can be a force to strengthen our families. And Government can reward work, not welfare dependency. Welfare can encourage families not to fall apart but to stick together. Government can give families in Wyoming and in every other State the option of deciding where our children should go to school, a church school, a private school, or a public school, wherever their parents choose. That is the American way.

I also believe that we must restore respect for the law. It is not enough to have peace in the world if people don't feel safe in their own backyards. What do you say to an elderly woman who watches the Berlin Wall fall on television but is afraid to walk to her grocery store? What do you say to a 10-year-old kid who hears of the Russians reducing nuclear weapons and then has to walk through a metal detector at school every morning? You say, ``Enough is enough.'' Let's put an end to the lawlessness, and let's put an end to the drug use that results in so much of this illegal behavior.

So this is the kind of action I propose today, right now, to shake up the system and let America realize the opportunity before us. I am not pessimistic about the United States of America. We are the best and the finest, and we have lots to be proud of. Help me move this country forward.

I know it's not going to be easy. For 3 years now I've proposed dramatic changes in each of these areas that I mentioned today and run into roadblocks that Senator Simpson talked about. But as I said, politics as usual can be no more. You want action, and you want change. To anyone who wants to block that change, I say what you say, ``Get out of our way and let America move forward once again.''

For all our challenges, America's potential really has never been greater. If we can get our economy moving faster and restore our families and take back our streets, our potential is as tall as the mountains that surround us. And can we do it? You bet. I believe we can. I'm confident we can. If we can topple the Berlin Wall and if we can build a sturdy economy and if we can lift the Iron Curtain and if we can bring down the curtain on new-age values, if we can help people walk the streets free in Eastern Europe, we can take back the streets of America. And we must get that job done. If we can revive a world's faith in freedom, we can repair the American system. And this is our mission. It's to renew America, to complete the dream.

I have a feeling that I'm lecturing to the choir when it comes to family, comes to values, comes to faith. I'm lecturing to the choir with this group assembled. And I thank those with the civic clubs that have drawn this magnificent crowd together. But I am going to take this message of hope and opportunity all across the country. Four years from now, when I come back for a little more trout fishing, I look forward to standing before you to say, ``Mission accomplished.'' We are America. We can get the job done. I need your help.

May I just simply say thank you for this fantastic Wyoming hospitality. And may God bless the United States of America, the greatest, freest, fairest country on the face of the Earth.

Thank you all, and good luck. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for a great welcome. What a wonderful way to come out of the mountains and see the real people that make this country great. Thank you so much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. at Jackson Hole Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Senator Malcolm Wallop; Estelle Stacy Carrier, former secretary of the Republican National Committee; and James Watt, former Secretary of the Interior.