Public Papers

Remarks to the National Fraternal Order of Police in Cincinnati, Ohio


Hey, listen, Dewey, let me just tell you at the outset how grateful I am not just for that kind introduction but for this fantastic endorsement. I'll say more about it in a minute. I appreciate this warm welcome, and I do mean warm. [Laughter] I'm delighted to be back in the Cincinnati area, and I am very pleased to salute not only Dewey Stokes but Ralph Orms, the FOP secretary; Ken Gorman, the chairman of the board of trustees; Gil Gallegos and George Austin and all the members of the executive board. I especially want to recognize the officers from Dayton who came here today in remembrance of your fallen comrade, Officer Bill Whalen.

I'm delighted and honored to accept this most prestigious endorsement here today as the preferred Presidential candidate of the National Fraternal Order of Police, and I thank you for your support. As most people across this country know, you're one of the strongest voices of the law enforcement community in the entire country, and I'm grateful you're speaking on my behalf. This country is going to see a real comeback on election day when we come storming back to victory. I really believe it's going to happen.

I will continue to say what I am for, and I will continue, because a lot of the people around are not helping us do this, to define Governor Clinton for what he is and for what his record is. I am confident when people go into the voting booth they are going to say, this President has the character and the trust to lead this country for another 4 years. We are going to turn it around because of people like you who want to do what's right for America, aren't afraid to take a position, to stand up. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that this Bill Clinton -- I really honestly believe this -- is wrong for America at this time.

Now, look at his record. Look at the record. He is a typical tax-and-spend, big Government, tax-and-spend, coddle-the-criminal man. We don't need that. Don't take my word for it. Ask the folks who know the record best. Ask your brothers and sisters in Little Rock, Fraternal Order of Police in Arkansas, Governor Clinton's hometown. They're endorsing not their Governor, but you guessed it, they are endorsing George Bush for President of the United States of America. They're doing this not out of personal spite, but they're doing this because of the record. Arkansas ranks near rockbottom for every important per capita crime dollar it spends: for prisons, 46th; for judicial and legal systems, 50th; and when it comes to spending for police officers, Arkansas ranks 49th.

No wonder crime went up faster in Arkansas during the 1980's than in any other State. If you don't give your police the tools they need, you can't expect them to do the job.

Dewey Stokes very generously spelled out some of our record, and I would like to compare my record to Governor Clinton's. Since 1989, I've proposed a 59 percent increase in Federal spending to fight crime. As for charges that my administration short-shrifted State and local law enforcement, a charge that this Governor recklessly keeps putting forward, the fact is that spending under the Eddie Byrne Memorial Grant Program for State and local law enforcement is more than 3 times what it was when I became President of the United States.

Here's something that the victims of crime might be interested in; there's more to it. Last year, under Governor Clinton, the average Arkansas criminal served less than one-fifth of his sentence. Then he's back out on the streets. Apparently, down in Arkansas you do the crime but not the time.

Most Federal inmates under my jurisdiction serve at least 85 percent of their full sentences. I have had very little support from the national media in putting these facts into perspective, but we've got time. With this endorsement and your help, we are going to get the facts into the record. The record, I might say, gets a little unnerving when you consider the damage that a soft-on-crime President could do to law enforcement nationwide.

After all, maybe the single most vital legacy a President can leave behind is his record of judicial appointments. Everybody in this room -- maybe you know it better than others across the country, but everybody here knows the judicial appointments are terribly important to strong law enforcement. I ask that you compare the Carter record to the Reagan-Bush era, and you can see how the Democratic appointments are still hurting us.

The record clearly shows that Carter left us with judges far more sympathetic to the suspect's rights than judges appointed by Ronald Reagan. According to one independent study that NBC News reported just the other night, Carter appointees are almost 5 times more likely to champion the suspect's rights over the rights of a victim.

Well, my record on this is clear. In 1988, I told the American people that, like my predecessor, I would appoint judges who interpret and apply the law and do not try to rewrite the law from the Federal Bench. I pledged my appointments would give more consideration to victims' rights than to criminals' rights, and that is exactly what I have done. The results are clear. The Supreme Court has handed down a series of sensible decisions allowing victims to be heard and justice to be served.

Now, would Governor Clinton's appointments be similar? Well, all the names of possible Supreme Court appointees coming from his camp are rabidly opposed to the death penalty. The name Clinton himself has mentioned as recently as Saturday night, with my wife sitting there, was Governor Cuomo of New York. So much for capital punishment and so much for the thugs who kill cops. We do not need that kind of appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It is plain wrong and deeply unfair to ask law enforcement officers, who are out there on the streets putting their lives on the line for us, to do their job and then see their good work undone by judges who turn those criminals right back out on the sidewalk. I am on the side of the victim. And let there be no mistake about that. I say it is high time that we turn around this judicial trend to be soft on criminals and hard on the people in blue.

The bottom line on November 3d is this: When it comes to crime, if you liked Carter I, you will love Carter II. [Laughter] America simply cannot afford that. We need a President to help you take criminals off the streets and keep them off the streets. I believe I am that person, and that's what I stand for as President of the United States.

I support the brave men and women who wear the blue because you know better than anyone that we are all vulnerable: men, women, and children; white, brown, and black; young and old; rich and poor. To a bullet, to a blade we all look just the same.

You alone stand in the breach. We don't thank you enough. To tell you the truth, I don't believe we can thank you enough. The best we can do is to give you our support, and we can fight for justice when one of your comrades falls in the line of duty.

That's why my crime bill calls for a Federal death penalty for cop killers. It will go into law if Congress gets around to voting on it, and I believe they will. There's going to be a lot of new Members of Congress this time, the one institution that hasn't changed for 38 years. We need to clean House. While it won't bring back the six brave police officers who were killed across the Nation just in the past few weeks, at least it will take the animals off the street who commit the ultimate horror by gunning down the heroes in blue.

I want to tell you why you folks are so often on my mind. I mentioned Eddie Byrne. I know Dewey; he probably knows Eddie Byrne's father. For 4 years I've kept this badge in my desk there in the Oval Office. You've probably seen that desk on the television, where all the visitors come in. I keep this badge, 14072, in my desk in the Oval Office. A retired New York officer, Lieutenant Matt Byrne, gave it to me. This is the badge that his son, Eddie, wore the day he was gunned down by a crackhead. Matt, the dad, asked me to keep that badge as a reminder of all you brave officers who put your lives on the line every single day. I've kept it, and I always will. As President, you have my lasting thanks, but much more than that, you have my support. You can count on that.

With your strong support, I know that America can indeed do what so many here today are working on every single waking minute, and that is turn back the threat of drugs and crime, the fear of our young and old, and make our communities safe and strong and secure once again.

You know, I talk and Barbara talks and the Quayles talk about family values. There are a lot of people trying to distort what that means. To me, it means a lot of things. It means support for the children. It means families staying together. It means deadbeat dads supporting the mother. It means a lot of things, including choice in schools and choice in child care. Many things come together. But one thing it means is support for law enforcement, because families must be entitled to safe places to raise their children.

You, more than any other Americans, are out there guaranteeing that part of this battle. We are not going to stop talking about family values because the liberals don't like it. We're going to keep on talking about it.

Now that same crowd is on me in another item. I said that I didn't think it was right to be demonstrating against your country in a foreign land when soldiers are being held captive and soldiers are dying in Vietnam. I feel strongly about that. You let the liberal elite do their number today, trying to call me Joe McCarthy. I'm standing with American principle. It is wrong to demonstrate against your country when your country is at war, and I'm not going to back away from it one single bit.

Thank you all for this fantastic support. And may God bless the greatest, freest country on the face of the Earth, the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 4:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Eastgate. In his remarks, he referred to Dewey Stokes, president, National Fraternal Order of Police.