Public Papers

Remarks to Construction Workers in Newark


The President. Thank you all.

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

The President. Thank you guys. What a great welcome. This Richie -- I'm glad to have been running against Clinton instead of this guy, I'll tell you. Richie Tissiere, thanks a lot. And may I salute also, as Rich did, appropriately in my view, our great Governor Tom Kean. We miss him, and hope -- [applause]

I'm glad to be here with my new favorite number, 472. Thank you all very much. You know, as Tom said, Richie's a passionate advocate of the rights of working men and women and creating jobs. His reputation extends far beyond the borders of New Jersey. It's an honor to accept his invitation to join you here today. I've just invited him to come and be my guest at the Oval Office, and we're going to talk over some of the problems you guys face.

Now I know the work you do every day is rewarding, but it can also be back breaking in many cases here, even dangerous. I know that last Friday along the turnpike you were reminded of just how dangerous your work can sometimes be. And so before I go into a few remarks on the political situation, let me just say that Barbara and I were talking about this and that our hearts go out to the friends and families of the three who were involved in Friday's tragic accident. True working heroes, and our prayers are with all of you who call them friends.

Look, this afternoon I came to speak candidly at what's at stake in our election next month. And boy, did you give me a good, warm welcome walking into this place. I'll tell you, it's good for the soul. And it's been a good day.

I just came here after being endorsed by most of the law enforcement people in the State. I'm proud to have their endorsement because, I think we would all agree, we'd better stand with the law enforcement community against the criminal element and strengthen our neighborhoods. And they supported me, and I'm glad to have their support.

Right this minute, Governor Kean tells me that my opponent is over at his university. He got out of there fast. And so I figured that I'd take my case to the working people in New Jersey. I want to say as long as Governor Clinton is this nearby, I hope he accepts my challenge for four head-on-head debates. Let's get it on. Let's get it on, stand up there with him.

I've got plenty of questions to ask of him, and they relate to a lot of things that this crowd here cares about. So, I hope that they agree and sit down and get this format settled. I agreed to do two of the debates his way and ask only that they be done, two, the way that's been done under the last four Presidents and last four challengers. It seems to me that's fair enough. But he's been talking awful brave, sending these chickens around. Let's see him show up for the debates now.

For generations you know, and Rich touched on this, our Nation sacrificed, shed the tears of war so that freedom could triumph around the globe. As a young man, yes, I was proud to wear a military uniform and serve my country. That experience shaped my character. And I hope it has made me a better Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of this country. For those that served in the country, let me put it this way: I do not loathe the military. When Governor Clinton wrote and said loathe the military, I said that's a shame. These people served their country with distinction and honor. We ought to salute them, not loathe them. Rich was telling me that many in this room served and sacrificed for an idea, a simple idea. It's called freedom. And today because of your efforts, backed by the taxpayers I might say, I can stand before you and say something no other President ever said: The cold war is over, and freedom finished first. We can all be proud of that as Americans.

Listen to the media and these talking heads and you listen to the opponents, you'd think that world peace doesn't mean anything. But does it matter at home? Of course, it does. Rich, you've got two grandkids, Richard and Rachel. Today because of America's sacrifice, these two kids and all our kids and grandkids won't have their days ruined by the thoughts of nuclear war. And does that matter? You bet it does. Look at these kids here.

I am very proud we got rid of those enormously destabilizing missiles when I sat down there in the marvelous White House with Boris Yeltsin. You think it wouldn't matter at all if you listened to the debate on the other side. It is very important to the future of these kids.

But look, this election isn't about the victories of the past. It's about what we're going to do in the future and our hopes for the future. It's about how we can win a new economic competition. Rich touched on it. We're in a global situation now. Not one of those European economies would hesitate a minute to trade for the United States in spite of the fact that we've got enormous economic difficulties. So I've put forward an Agenda for the American Renewal. It's a comprehensive series of steps that we've got to take to realize the global opportunity before us. My opponent likes to run down our country, say we're less than Germany, a little more than Sri Lanka. And I say we are still the greatest country on the face of the Earth.

Everybody in the world knows that, even if he doesn't, if you're looking for the most productive workers in the world, you turn to the United States of America. And so the question is this, even in these tough times how do we build on our strength? How do we keep America number one? How do we sell more abroad? My opponent has a great tendency to try to be all things to all people. Then they go before a business group and say one thing, labor group and then say another. And I am simply not going to do that.

Let me say straight out that the first part of my agenda is to promote free and fair trade, to open markets to American goods so that we can create more jobs right here in New Jersey. This is a trading State. One out of six jobs already depend on sales abroad. New Jersians know that. The American worker never retreats; we compete. And we win. So I'm going to keep on working to open these markets for our products.

Governor Clinton talks about a program of transportation investment. I'd like to point out we have one. It's a darned good one. I am proud that we have a 6-year 0 billion commitment to rebuild these roads and highways. And as we start the jackhammers and get the steamrollers moving, we will create over half a million new jobs, many right here in New Jersey. You deserve the work, and this bill will get the job done. We need new roads and bridges and highways, and we're going to keep on fighting for them.

And when it comes to the economy, my opponent and I have very different views. Beneath all his rhetoric about change, lies a very old policy: bigger Government in Washington, bigger bureaucracies, and more taxes on the working men and women of this country. I am going to stand up and fight him every inch of the way to get the taxes down, not raise them.

You know, for 11 months this guy's been out telling falsehoods about my record, 11 months. I've just started defining the real record and talking about what he's done to the people of Arkansas. And when he became Governor 12 years ago, yes, Arkansas was one of the poorest States. But today they are stuck on the bottom. And Bill Clinton's policies are the reasons why. And we cannot let him do that to America.

He raised and extended the sales tax. He included a tax on baby formula. He included a tax on vegetables and other groceries. He raised the gas tax. And he taxed mobile homes and cable TV. You'd better iron it down, you'd better nail it down, or he'll tax it, whatever it is. We cannot have that for the United States. Coming out of the box, he's already proposed 0 billion new taxes, the biggest tax increase in American history. ``And don't worry,'' he says, ``I'll get it all from the rich.'' He says, ``That's the top 2 percent.''

But the problem is to get the money he needs from that new plan, the 0 billion that he's promised in new taxes, he'd have to get his money from every individual with a taxable income over ,000 just to start. Then he's made literally more promises. And to pay for them, if he's going to do it the same way he says he's going to do taxing people, he has to tax families over about ,000. And that is not the ``Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,'' that's you, your families, and everybody that's working for a living in this country. We cannot let it happen.

Hey listen, don't take my word for it. You don't have to take my word for it. Here's the Pine Bluff Commercial that's in his own State. Here's what he says: ``If Congress followed the example that Bill Clinton set as Governor of Arkansas, it would pass a program that hit the middle class the hardest.'' And I don't think the Pine Bluff paper is bluffing. Let's say you work on the turnpike earning about ,000 a year in taxable income. You already send ,300 to the tax man. And he would have you fork over another 0 a year to send into the taxes so that Washington can figure it out. We do not need that for the United States of America.

And so we've got some big differences, and that's one of the reasons I look forward to the debate. You don't need a crystal ball to think what he'd do to the national economy. We've got problems enough already, and they're big ones. And as I say, they're global. But if you want to know what it would be like under him, just look at New Jersey under Jim Florio for openers.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Bring back Tom Kean. That's the way I feel about it. No, really. You had a big-spending Governor and a legislator to go along with him, Jim Florio. And look what happened: almost billion in new taxes driving away half a million jobs, I'm told, in manufacturing and services. And here's the worst part: A State that had led the Nation, led the Nation under your friend Tom, became a laggard under Jim Florio. And I don't want to see that happen to the United States of America under Governor Clinton.

Florio did the same. This is an interesting point. Florio pushed through the massive increase in the sales tax, taxes that fell predominately on you and your families, the working people, and the elderly. Those are exactly the same people that Governor Clinton is aimed at in Arkansas. And I know he was recently in New Jersey, embracing Governor Florio. I would suggest that while Bill Clinton has his arm around Florio, he's really after the wallet in your pocket. So let's have him keep his hand off your hard-earned money. They deserve each other.

I believe we can invest, build our roads, and invest in America. But we can, and indeed we must, do it without raising taxes on the working family of this country. All we've got to do is set priorities. Here's Bill Clinton on the spending: He looked through the entire Federal budget. He found one program to cut, the billion subsidy for honeybee growers. Believe me, no one's going to get stung by that courageous cut.

There is much more that can be taken out of it. I have spelled out 4,000 Government programs specifically that I'd eliminate, along with 246 programs. I've put forth a Government plan to control the growth of Government spending without touching Social Security and cutting almost 0 billion over the next 5 years. We've got to get the Government shaped to serve the people, not having the people serve the Government.

So, that's the only way we can cut taxes and still make our investment and create jobs for the working men and women. That's the major difference we've got in the campaign. And then buying my opponent's policies would be like going back to a used car lot, picking up the lemon you dropped off about 12 years ago, only this time there would be higher interest, higher taxes, and higher inflation thrown in. We simply cannot let this happen to the families and the working men and women of this country.

You know, Rich referred to this, we have changed the world in the past 4 years. And we've got to use that same talent to change America. Look, I'm the first to admit everybody's human. When I make a mistake, I admit it. And I've made mistakes. But I believed then that I, putting that aside, that I've been a good President. We've tried; Barbara and I have tried very hard -- --

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

The President. We have tried very hard to uphold -- --

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

The President. Come on, you guys. I've tried very hard to be a good leader. Barbara and I have tried very hard to uphold the principles that make this country strong. People talk about family values, and a lot of the press don't like it and the liberals don't like it. But I know what's important. It is important we find ways to strengthen and honor the American family, not rip it asunder by welfare programs that don't work.

We've got to strengthen the American family and that's what we're trying to do. When she reads to children or we go out and do things with families, we're trying to say let's strengthen the institution that has held this country together for years and years and years: respect for families, respect for law enforcement, discipline in schools, choice so that parents can choose the schools they want, private, religious, or public. All of those things strengthen the American family.

I am very grateful to you for this wonderful turnout and this enthusiastic response. And let me say this: Let somebody else tear American down. I am proud to have worn the uniform of the United States. I had to make some very tough decisions as President, particularly when you have to send somebody else's son or daughter off to a war. That is a tough decision to make. But we did it, and in the process we redeemed America as the strongest, fairest, most decent nation on the face of the Earth. And now I want to use that same leadership to lift up the families in this country and to give every working man and woman a better shot at the American dream.

I need your help. And thank you. And may God bless the United States of America.

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

Note: The President spoke at 6:34 p.m. at the Heavy and General Construction Laborers Local 472 union headquarters. In his remarks, he referred to Richie Tissiere, president and business manager of Local 472.