Public Papers

Remarks at the Republican National Committee Gala Luncheon in Houston


The President. Lod Cook, thank you, sir. Thank you all for that warm welcome. Thank you so very much. Thank you, Lod. Please be seated. Let me just single out at the beginning of these remarks Lod Cook, who does so much, not just for the party and for candidates but who's certainly done so much for Barbara and for me. Everything he touches works out, and I couldn't be more pleased to be at his side through this luncheon. This gives me an opportunity to thank him and all of you who made this luncheon quite clearly a tremendous success. I think this bodes well for what lies ahead.

I want to single out a couple of people. I thought that Boy Scout color guard was great, and so was the Boys Choir and the Houston Chorus; take great pride in them. Reverend Claude Payne is, as Lod said, Barbara and my home parish minister at St. Martin's Church here, and we're just delighted to be with him.

I want to single out, of course, a man that did a great job firing up the troops last night, getting our message of hope and opportunity across the country, our distinguished keynoter, Phil Gramm. He did a superb job last night. We've got a lot, but let me just also add Rich Bond, who came in in this national committee, grabbed ahold of it, taking our message out there. He is a feisty devil, and he's doing a first-class job, too. And so, really, this then, with this dramatic entrance, is the first of our whistlestop tour. I think the train sure beats the hell out of the bus, frankly.

I want to just salute the Vice President and Marilyn. Dan Quayle has served with great distinction. He's taken on a lot of substantive tasks and done them well. He's done his job with dignity and honor, and he's taken the best shots the other side can fire. If you ask me, he's given better than he's got. His head is up; he's ready to charge. And I am proud and honored to have him at my side in the convention and the days that lie ahead.

Now, I know the excitement's building. Each hour we get closer to the moment everyone's waiting for, packed house at the Astrodome, nationwide TV audience. I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you I've got a few butterflies. But I'll tell you, you're going to love Barbara's speech. [Laughter] But after she's through, then I get my turn tomorrow. I want to spell out where I'm going to take this country with your help over the next 4 years. But first, just a little bit about why we're here in Houston.

Some of you may have read an interview by my opponent, the one he gave to the USA Today last week. It was absolutely incredible. He talked about how he's already planning the transition, figuring out who should be Deputy Assistant Under Secretary in every Washington agency, even where he will go to get away from the White House. Heck, I've expected to come forward Friday morning and find somebody measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.

This guy got a problem up here? Are they with the press corps?

I can't hear you. Please speak up. This is a crazy year, when they have credentials for the -- --

Audience members. What about AIDS? What about AIDS? What about AIDS?

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

The President. As I was saying -- that guy -- hey, listen, for those of you who haven't been around my line of work lately, this is normal. Don't get worried. [Laughter] Don't get worried.

But let me just say this. I saw a demonstration out there on the television the other day, and let me be clear where I stand: Everybody has a right to protest, but I have a right to stand with our law enforcement people who have to put these protests in the proper perspective. Thank you, to those from the sheriff's office.

Audience members. What about AIDS? What about AIDS? What about AIDS?

The President. May I address myself to the gentleman's question? Our administration last year spent .3 billion on AIDS. That is 10 times as much for a person sick with AIDS as we spend on cancer. This year, we've asked for .9 billion, the highest research and prevention program in the world. We have the best scientists working on the problem. My heart is full of compassion, and we are doing what we can to get to the bottom of that.

Now, does anybody else have something they would like to say while we're all standing?

Audience members. What about AIDS? What about AIDS? What about AIDS?

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

The President. Thank you very much.

Anybody else like to be heard up here, because I have one or two things only that I want to say. I was telling you how my opponent gave an interview to the USA Today, and he talked about planning his transition and picking out who's going to be the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary in each Washington agency, where he'll go to get away from the White House. I expected to go to the Oval Office on Thursday to find him there in the Oval Office measuring the drapes. But I have a message: Put the drapes on hold, for pretty soon for you it is going to be curtains. We are going to take this to the American people.

This week, right here in Houston, we began this conversation with the American people, talking about the issues that shape the world, about the values that are close to home. I'm talking about jobs and family and faith and about neighborhoods free from crime and about a world free from fear.

If you listen to the other side tell it, you're for them if you're for change. But this election is not just about change, because change has a flip side, and that is called trust. When you get right down to it, the election is going to be like every other. When you pull that curtain closed and cast your vote on November 3d, trust matters. The American people are going to say, I trust President George Bush because he's made the tough decisions and he's conducted himself with honor and decency in that office.

You know, I used this example the other day, that when a phone rings in the middle of the night at the White House, when a crisis comes half a world away, the American people do want to know that their leader has the experience, the background, and the guts to do the right thing. I am proud of the changes that we've made together. I am proud of our total victory in the cold war, proud that in the past 4 years more people have taken the first breath of freedom than at any time in human history. That is major change. That is significant in terms of world peace.

But the job is not finished. There are plenty of wolves. The Soviet bear may be extinct, but there are plenty of wolves out there. As long as I am President, no madman will get his finger on the nuclear trigger. As long as I am Commander in Chief, America will remain safe and strong. I owe that to the American people.

Electing our leader who will protect our Nation means trust in the traditional sense. But that's just part of the picture. Each election is a referendum on the future and what we want it to look like. I stake my claim on a very simple philosophy: To lead a great nation, you must first trust the people that you lead.

And think about this fact: Nearly one out of every two delegates in Manhattan at that convention was on a government payroll. That's just not true in Houston. We are the party of real people: the preacher, the payroll meeter, the wage earner, the entrepreneur, the veteran, and yes, the volunteer, God bless them. And look at every big issue we face. You'll see a choice, a choice between we who put our faith in everyday Americans and they who put their faith in a big, unresponsive Government.

If you haven't heard by now what that Government-first crowd has planned, let me just give you a couple of examples. First, they're calling for over 0 billion in new spending and another 0 billion in new taxes. Now, they're going to come back at me and say, ``Wait a minute, we're the new breed. We're no Walter Mondale, or we're no Michael Dukakis.'' And they may be right. I don't want to be unfair to Mr. Mondale or Dukakis -- [laughter] -- 0 billion in new taxes is more than the two of them ever dreamed of offering the United States of America.

But I think we'd all agree that we trust the people, not the Government, to create the jobs and get this economy moving. You heard Phil Gramm talk about it. You saw that film showing what we've tried to do, blocked, blocked by that Congress.

Let me just say another thing: We trust the parents, not the Government, to make the decisions that matter in life. We trust parents, not the Government, to choose their children's schools, public, private, or parochial. We fought for and we got a child care bill, where the parents choose the children's child care. And when the other side says Government knows best, I say parents know better. Parents know better than some bureaucrat in Washington, DC, or some subcommittee chairman out there that's been there for 38 years and is mandating everybody in this country how to behave.

We trust the people, not a new Government bureaucracy, to fix our health care system. We've got a good proposal that provides health insurance to the poorest of the poor and still provides the quality of medical care that would be decimated if we turn to the Government to do it all.

Well, you know that we've tried to get things through Congress. Now I'm going to take this fight to every corner of the Nation and make the case not just to reelect me, not just to reelect the Bush-Quayle ticket but to give Congress back to the people. You heard it here today: The House has remained under the same control since Khrushchev ruled the Kremlin and since Castro's coup in Cuba. And today, the status quo is under siege. The only way to break the deadlock in Washington is to clear out the deadwood on Capitol Hill. I'm going to do what Harry Truman did, take that case to the American people for a November decision.

Now, let me close with just a few words to my friends here in Houston and others from across this country. We've been talking about it, and for Barbara and me this week is bound to have a very special meaning. This is our last big convention, last time, you might say, around the track. It is great to come back home to Texas, come home to where it really began for us in a political sense.

I remember back in 1948 traveling out there when Bar and I were living in Odessa and then in Midland, traveling out across the plains to towns like Wink and Notrees and Andrews and Kermit and Crane, towns where parents worried and watched when the kid crossed the street; towns that sent their kids halfway around the world to fight for freedom, to the DMZ or to Da Nang or, yes, to Desert Storm. I remember the rhythms of that part of our country, the rhythms of west Texas: Friday night football, Saturday night picnics, the Sunday sermon. Barbara and I raised a family, built a business, and we made friends. We shared the small triumphs and the sorrows. As my good friend Dan Jenkins -- you remember Dan the Hornfrog Man, the T.C.U. writer -- he put it this way, ``We lived life its own self.'' I remember, when the work was done, how we sat around the table late at night, and we talked: report cards, schoolyard fights, small things, big dreams.

I was not born in Texas, but in Texas 48 years ago, whatever it was, 44 years ago, I came of age. The lessons that Barbara and I learned here are the lessons that we have tried to live by. The friends that we made here and throughout our lives are the friends who are in this room, some from Texas, some elsewhere, every one of whom we owe a vote of gratitude to, the friends who have stood by us when times are great and when times are tough.

Now we are about to embark on the fight of our life and the fight to keep the American dream alive but keeping faith in people. I look forward to this fight. I can feel it. I can feel it building in my blood. One thing that is the most comfort is that through good times and bad, I have had you at my side. And we want to thank you for this fantastic show of support.

May God bless this great Nation of ours. Thank you for our many blessings, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much. Thank you all. Thank you so very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2 p.m. at the George R. Brown Center. In his remarks, he referred to Lodwrick M. Cook, chairman of the luncheon, and Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.