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Exchange With Reporters During a Visit With the Harris Family in Asheville, North Carolina

September 05, 1992

Q. Now that you've got him here, what do you hope to tell the President?

Mr. Roy Harris. Well, we're going to talk about this neighborhood here. I want to make sure that he understands our neighborhood and the neighborhood that he's in right now and how it affects us in policies and decisions that are made. We have a mixed neighborhood here. Therefore, he'll get a chance to see a typical neighborhood.

Q. Are you a registered Republican or Democrat, sir?

The President. These guys, I'll tell you what they want to do -- --

Mr. Harris. Registered Democrat. [Laughter]

The President. A very hospitable one at that, and we are very grateful -- [laughter] -- for their hospitality, I'll tell you. It transcends any of these other things. They invited us, and here we are. They really made us feel at home. We've only been here 5 minutes.

Mrs. Bush. But you ought to tell them a little bit about what the Harrises do for their community.

The President. You tell them.

Mrs. Bush. Well, you do Little League and -- --

The President. Coaches. She teaches.

Mrs. Bush. Well, she started the Girl Scout troop. They're active in their church. Their children get good marks because their parents care. I mean, just by chance they turned out to be an extraordinary family, and they sort of know what family values are.

The President. Great citizens of their community.

Q. Are you going to try to twist his arm, Mr. President?

Mrs. Bush. You're darn right. [Laughter]

The President. I'll leave that to Barbara. [Laughter] No, we're not here on that. We're just here because they invited us here, and we're proud to be here and very pleased.

Mr. Harris. It was an invitation for him to come and talk with my two daughters. That was the invitation.

The President. Yes, we had a chance to talk a little on those issues, their education, some of those things. But we'll have a chance to visit.

Q. Well, Mr. Harris, do you think there in the White House that the President really doesn't get a feel for what many neighborhoods are like?

Mr. Harris. The typical example is I went down the street a few minutes ago, and the neighborhood is really happy that this is happening in their neighborhood. They're saying it's not here often that we get a President into our neighborhood, and so everybody is pleased. The church has opened their doors for us; friends across the street, we had to do certain things for them. This is a community. Believe it or not, it's going to be a community effort here, from the food to people loaning us a bread basket, to a number of things that are happening. The community has really participated in this process, and I think they feel very good about it.

The President. That's just wonderful. Well, you're a great spokesman for your community, too.

Thank you all very much.

Q. What do your daughters want to tell the President?

Mrs. Bush. Maybe they want to tell us privately. [Laughter]

Mrs. Diantha Harris. Lisa, what did you say you were going to tell Mrs. Bush?

Lisa Harris. Can we play -- [inaudible].

Mrs. Bush. Sure. [Laughter] I'd like that.

Q. Mr. President, what would you like to convey to the Harrises?

The President. Well, we'll have a wide array of things to talk about, the gratitude that we feel in our hearts for their invitation, that's the first thing. When you're welcomed by a family, why, that's what you do, that's what you feel. And I want to know more about their community. Certainly be glad to share with them the views I have on education, family, community itself; try to help others. I mean we were greeted out there by what we call some of the Points of Light, people that are designated; it's so hard, but we have this thousand Points of Light, people helping each other. Well, you do that in your daily lives here. So we can talk about that, plus everything else.

Barbara and I were down in Florida. And a lot of people from South Carolina who had been helped in Hurricane Hugo were there.

Mrs. Bush. North Carolina.

The President. Then we went over to Jeanerette, Louisiana, and there was a whole group from around here, as a matter of fact, in North Carolina. They had just pitched in because people had been over helping on the North Carolina coast.

Mrs. Bush. They had "Remember Hugo" signs.

The President. Remember Hugo. And they were reaching out, helping people halfway across the country. It's just wonderful.

Mr. Harris. There's, I think, 37 churches in the Mud Creek Association that want to do the same thing.

The President. Right from here? Is that right?

Mr. Harris. Want to raise money to help the people in Florida this weekend. It's going to happen in the Mud Creek Association churches tomorrow. So we're all part of it, and I wouldn't be surprised if they end up wanting to bus or truck down there.

The President. Heading down there? A lot of volunteers are pouring in. It's really good, and they're really helping. They're helping reconstruct. I talked to the guy yesterday, Andy Card, and a lot of that debris that was just there has been moved away, cleared out. Military doing a good job, but also the volunteers.

Note: The exchange began at 1:35 p.m. at the Harris residence.

George Bush, Exchange With Reporters During a Visit With the Harris Family in Asheville, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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