Public Papers

Remarks at Missouri Southern State College in Joplin, Missouri


The President. Thank you so very much.

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

The President. Thank you all so much. What a welcome. What a great welcome to Southwest Missouri. Thank you all.

First let me salute your -- our -- great Governor, John Ashcroft. You are lucky to have this man, and what a job he's done for this State. Thank you, John, for that introduction. May I salute another great citizen of Missouri who is working in Washington. If we had more like him, we wouldn't have to clean House. I'm talking about Kit Bond. Send him back. He's doing a superb job there. And of course, another one, your own Mel Hancock with whom I worked on so many issues, delighted he's here. Then our next Governor, the Attorney General now, you know who I'm talking about, Bill Webster, GOP candidate for Governor. May I salute Mayor Johnson, and our host, Dr. Leon.

I spend my days in the Oval Office in Washington. Let me just say it's great to be in the Oval at Missouri Southern State. I think Millie would like it out here in this Oval, I'll tell you.

Four years ago when I spoke on this campus, our country, our cities, our towns were marked by thumbtacks on a war map inside the Kremlin walls. Today, I stand before you and say something that no President has ever been able to say before: The cold war is over. Freedom finished first.

I think young people understand that reducing the fear of nuclear weapons is something that is very, very important. Peace is precious but precarious. We must know its risks to reap its rewards. For America to be safe and strong, we must win the defining challenge of the 1990's. We must win the economic competition. We must be a military superpower, an export superpower, and an economic superpower. This must be our goal.

Our goal: a trillion economy by the beginning of the next century. The opposition will tell you we can't cut it. I say any way you cut it, America can get the job done. We are not pessimists. We are optimists about this greatest country in the world.

Yesterday I released my Agenda for American Renewal. This is my agenda for action. America's a place where ordinary people can do extraordinary things if only they're set free. Here are my keys to unlock the door.

The first unlocks foreign markets. It's called challenging the world. I want to complete the global trade negotiations and get congressional approval of the North American free trade agreement. Trade with Mexico and Canada already brings billion into this State each year. Our agreement would turn the entire continent into a gigantic free trade zone, a trillion market from Manitoba to Mexico City, and create over 300,000 jobs for American workers.

So do not let the other side try to scare you into thinking we're not up to the job. I believe that when trade is free and fair, American workers can beat the competition fair and square, anywhere. I'm certain of it.

When it comes to exports, I say this continent is not big enough alone for the American worker. I want a free trade agreement with Chile, Poland, and with Hungary. We will have these agreements, and we will lead the world to a new era of commerce. And we will do it by the end of my second term, the end of the next 4 years.

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

The President. You know, I'd hoped to come here and not talk about my opponent, but I've got to mention this. [Laughter] I just have to. He used to support the free trade. First he was for the Mexican free trade agreement. Then he wasn't quite so sure. And now he says, ``I'm reviewing it carefully, and when I have a definitive opinion I will say so.'' Now, are there any history students in the audience? You may recall that Walter Lippmann said leadership means guarding, quote, ``a nation's ideals.'' The Roman historian Tacitus defined leadership as, quote, ``reason and judgment.'' But you know, I studied a little history, and I don't recall ever hearing leadership defined as ``Please leave a message, and we'll get back to you later.''

It doesn't work that way in the real world. There's no ``call-waiting'' on the phone in the Oval Office. [Laughter] When you're President, when you're Commander in Chief, you have to make decisions, and you have to make decisions whether they're popular or not. And I stand with free trade agreements because they are good for American jobs and American workers.

The second key is preparing our children. Developed economies demand developing minds. Our schools must prepare our kids to compete on a world scale. We must raise standards. We must demand accountability. And we must give parents the right to choose their kids' schools. My ``GI bill'' for kids would give scholarships to your younger brothers and sisters, your children maybe, so that kids can go to the school that their parents choose. Now, both Clinton and I, Governor Clinton and I, want to change the schools. He wants to change them a little. I want to change them a lot. My opponent says he's for a variety of school choice. His variety: public, public, public. I disagree. Whether it's a public school, a private school, or a religious school, I believe parents, not Government, should choose their children's schools.

The third key must unlock the future: We must sharpen businesses' competitive edge. My opponent wants to do for American business what he's done for Arkansas businesses. But if you ask the entrepreneurs of Arkansas, they'll tell you there's been little hope in Little Rock. Private dollars build more businesses. Public dollars build more bureaucracies. Which do you think will help our economy?

I believe that we must cut the regulations that turn redtape into pink slips. And we've got to put a restraining order out on our legal system. This country is suing itself silly. But the cost to our competitiveness is no laughing matter. Just yesterday, just yesterday on the Senate floor we had a chance to change our product liability system and put an end to these crazy lawsuits that are costing America jobs. But the liberal Democrat leadership heard from their friends, the trial lawyers, and twisted a few arms. When they were finished, they wouldn't even let the issue come up to a vote in spite of the majority wanting to do something about these lawsuits.

Now, ask yourself, which candidate for President will fight against the special interests, the trial lawyers? When it comes to taking on the trial lawyers, my opponent's over in the other corner, sponging their brow. I want to step into the ring for another round and strike a blow against frivolous lawsuits.

The fourth key is promoting economic security. That means job training to ease our workers into the new economy. It means health care reform, proposals that I've introduced to cut almost 0 billion of health care costs over the next 5 years so that you and your neighbors can afford it. And I will bring insurance to the poorest of the poor. Everybody should have a shot at insurance, and that's what our plan does.

Governor Clinton's ideas could end up turning 13 percent of our gross national product over to the Government. I don't like the idea of Uncle Sam, M.D. I don't believe that's the right prescription for America.

And the fifth key, and it's one I know young people are concerned about, is leaving no one behind. My approach to welfare is not how much we hand out but how many we help up. The policies of the past put a roof over people's heads, but they forgot to build the door. We must build that door with housing vouchers, enterprise zones, and workfare reforms. You see, I believe that our policies won't work unless people do, too. Workfare, not welfare.

The final key is what I call ``rightsizing'' Government. Today the Federal Government spends almost a quarter of every dollar of the Nation's income. Apparently my opponent thinks we're getting off cheap. He's proposed already 0 billion in new taxes and at least 0 billion in brand new spending, and that's batteries and spare parts not included. He's promising a rainbow, but first you've got to hand over the pot of gold.

Recently the people of Missouri voted down a tax increase and sent a message that should echo from coast to coast: Government's not taxing too little; it is spending too much. So send that same Missouri message to Washington when you vote this November.

The agenda that I published yesterday contains specific proposals to cut the fat: caps on the growth in mandatory spending, a freeze on domestic spending, a balanced budget amendment, a line-item veto. Your Governor, your able Governor, Governor Ashcroft, has a line-item veto, and he's used it almost for a quarter of a billion dollars, to keep that in your pockets. Imagine what a President could do with the same power. I've also proposed a check-off box on tax returns to allow you, the taxpayer, to earmark 10 percent of your income tax to reduce the budget deficit. If Congress won't do it, let's give the taxpayers their own private veto pen.

I am committed in this campaign to providing serious answers to the questions Americans are asking about our future. I've diagnosed the problems and offered serious solutions, not all of which are popular. And I'm asking for a mandate to put my solutions into action and get this country moving.

For now at least, my opponent has chosen a different strategy. Rather than talk about what he wants to do for America, he spends his time belittling my ideas, playing on fears. One example: I want to talk about limiting the growth of spending to get the deficit under control, an idea my opponent says he agrees with. But instead of offering serious ideas of his own, he simply says, ``Watch out, senior citizens. Watch out, veterans. Watch out, disabled Americans.'' It won't work. This administration has strengthened Social Security. We have stood beside the Nation's veterans. We signed legislation that brought the disabled into our economic mainstream. Do not let this Governor try to scare you, America.

Governor Clinton is running a Freddie Krueger candidacy. [Laughter] He's more interested in playing on people's fears than in dealing with this country's real problems. I don't want to scare the American people. I want to deal with our real problems. I want to get America moving forward. I am confident that I will win this election because I know America doesn't scare easily. We know the future holds its challenges, but we're not cowards; we're not quitters.

Let me tell you a little story about a fellow born not far from here, in Commerce. Maybe you know him. Mickey Mantle played in the minors right here in Joplin before he went up to the Yankees. His dad was a coal miner, Mutt Mantle, and he worked all his life in the mines so that Mickey wouldn't have to. Then one day Mutt got a long-distance call from his son. The Yankees were sending Mantle back to Joplin. Mickey said, ``Dad, I can't play.'' Well, Mutt just hung up the phone, jumped in his car, drove through the night to Mickey's hotel. Without a word, he started packing his son's suitcase. Mickey said, ``What are you doing?'' His dad replied, ``You can work the mines with me. You can come back and work in the mines with me. I didn't think I raised a quitter.'' That night Mutt Mantle drove home all alone.

America is like Mickey Mantle: In face of tough challenges, we never quit. Confronted with the cold war, we didn't flinch, and we won. Confronted with the new economic competition, I say this: America will never retreat. We will always compete, and we will win.

I need your help. The next 53 days are going to be difficult. I've never seen a political year like this in my life. I promise you to continue to advance real issues, and I ask for your support because our ideas are right for America. My opponent says we're a nation in decline. I say America is always on the rise, if we but make the right choices. So for our great country, for America, it's time to step up to the plate and hit it out of the ballpark.

Thank you. God bless each and every one of you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. on the Oval. In his remarks, he referred to Bernard Johnson, Mayor of Joplin, and Julio S. Leon, president, Missouri Southern State College.