Robert Dole photo

Farewell Remarks to the U.S. House Republican Conference

June 10, 1996

Thank you very much. Thank you. I've actually been on this book for several weeks. I'm sort of a slow read.

[laughter]

But it gets a little better in the middle.

[laughter]

I'm very honored to be here. I've been in this room many times, including when I was in the House for eight years, and it's always a joy to come back to the House.

DOLE: And it's great to see Bob Michel here. Bob, you're a great American, and we love you.

[applause]

And let me say that last week, I had the privilege of meeting Bill and Susan's daughter Ruby. And I've got it figured out. She'll be serving here in the year 2022 ...

[laughter]

... so we want to look forward to that.

And Senator Thurmond looks forward to serving with her.

[laughter]

[applause]

I've looked over this group, and I guess really the next time I'll see all of you together is next January when I deliver my first State of the Union message.

[applause]

So, I want to say to Pat Roberts — Pat, as of tomorrow, I'm going to be like any other constituent.

[laughter]

And it's going to be what have you done for me lately.

[laughter]

Because he's my congressman.

[laughter]

And as you know, when — I assume when Bob retired and I see Bob Walker, others who are going to be leaving here and we're going to miss everybody who retires, but they'll all be in my administration somewhere ...

[laughter]

So, keeper of the files, or whatever.

LAUGHTER)

DOLE: And it's great to see Bob Michel here. Bob, you're a great American, and we love you.

[applause]

And let me say that last week, I had the privilege of meeting Bill and Susan's daughter Ruby. And I've got it figured out. She'll be serving here in the year 2022 ...

[laughter]

... so we want to look forward to that.

And Senator Thurmond looks forward to serving with her.

[laughter]

[applause]

I've looked over this group, and I guess really the next time I'll see all of you together is next January when I deliver my first State of the Union message.

[applause]

So, I want to say to Pat Roberts — Pat, as of tomorrow, I'm going to be like any other constituent.

[laughter]

And it's going to be what have you done for me lately.

[laughter]

Because he's my congressman.

[laughter]

And as you know, when — I assume when Bob retired and I see Bob Walker, others who are going to be leaving here and we're going to miss everybody who retires, but they'll all be in my administration somewhere ...

[laughter]

[cheers]

[applause]

We wouldn't do that — that would be an innocent mistake. We wouldn't do that.

[laughter]

Then I'd have my chief of staff apologize, but I didn't know this was the Panetta administration — but in any event ...

[laughter]

When you come over to this side ...

[hoots]

[applause]

Whenever I come to the House, you sort of look back at the four years I have or four terms I spent here — actually eight years.

And I can tell you, in those days, freshmen were seen but not heard. I know that's not true of the class of 194. In fact, I haven't heard any seniors.

[laughter]

But I remember Speaker McCormick and Speaker Rayburn, they never knew me, but I remember them. In fact, I don't think — well, Speaker McCormick was a very fine man — don't misunderstand me — but you know, we'd only been there two or three terms and you don't get acquainted with everybody the first day, you know...

[laughter]

... or the first term or the first or second term or whatever.

But I remember a very important election we had that involved the leadership of the Republican Party. Charlie Halleck, who was a great speaker, a real fighter from Indiana, and then we had this young guy named Gerald Ford from Michigan, who was a friend of everyone and so was Mr. Halleck.

But many of us decided it was time for a change. And I remember that the three members from Kansas sort of made the difference. I would say to Jan, Pat — three of us from Kansas — not that we didn't like Charlie Halleck — decided to cast our lot with Gerry Ford and he won by a vote of, I think, 73 to 67.

I remember that very well.

And I remember in almost my eight years in the House, because they were all spent in the minority.

DOLE: And after I moved to the Senate, the House Republicans were in the minority for another 26 years. And I wondered and I wondered if whatever happened. And remember, we'd go out and tell the constituents every year, this is the year. One more check. Sign up one more time. Walk one more precinct. Lick one more stamp or one more envelope. This is the year we're going to take over the Congress.

And, let me say, if any one person — if there's any one person in this city or in this country who deserves the thanks because you became the majority it's Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

[applause]

So, I wanted to come by today and just. say thank you for all the help you've been over the years. Many of you've been here, not as long as I have, but for a long time. And I really believe we've made a difference. And the one difference we've made we've kept our promises.

And I think it's going to take a while for the American people to understand that.

[applause]

We clearly understand that deficits threaten our future. That's not a mystery to Republicans and Congress, or all across America. I thought it was unfortunate we lost the balanced budget amendment again in the Senate; this time by two votes. The last time by one vote. But keep in mind that President Clinton twisted arms and six Democrats who'd campaigned on a balanced budget amendment and voted for it, voted the other way.

So, one person stands between us and a better America. And that's Bill Clinton. And he's going to leave come next January and go back to Arkansas.

[applause]

I don't think our program should be very — It's not very mysterious. We're talking about common sense approach; common sense approaches to real problems that real Americans have. I was in Virginia — maybe it was your district, Frank — the other day. No, I guess it was Tom's district.

And we were talking to real Americans. And we were in a neighborhood where interest rates make a difference because they were trying to buy homes. And just because interest rates are one percent higher than would have been in President Clinton had signed the balanced budget — they've gone up over one percent since that time.

This young couple with a young daughter named Amy can't buy their dream home. And another young man right down the street can't have the home he wants. He has a home, but because of that interest rate, he can't have the home he wants.

DOLE: Now sometimes it gets a little jaded around this place, and we think, oh $65 a month. What's that?

It's a lot. It's a lot to the people out there working, trying to buy a home, trying to raise a family. And we never should lose sight of $65 a month, or $50 a month, or whatever the figure might be.

They're counting on us. They're counting on us. They're counting on the Republican party not to give up, not to give up. Their future, in my view, is tied to us. And if we succeed, they'll succeed, whether it's deficits, whether it's taxes.

And we're in this neighborhood of young families, and there are a lot of children. I didn't count up the $500 tax credits, but it sort of went through my mind.

[laughter]

They would add $500 or in some cases $1,500 that they could spend on their children, not us. They would spend it on their family because it would be a tax credit. And they would make the choice.

And in the case of Amy and her parents, with that $500 they could have used that to buy that home, instead of driving that day as I'm certain did, with their head downs saying we can't afford it. We can't afford it.

So our obligation is pretty clear. we want to speak to America, real America. Real America. You don't have to drive far to get to read America — half a mile, one mile, 10 blocks.

And all these people, all races and all economic classes, are looking for hope. They want us to tell them the truth. They want us to keep our word. They want us to deliver, not take them over the edge. They want us to provide leadership.

And I must say I've been proud of the republican party ever since I became a Republican. And I've been Chairman of the republican party, but we've never had a Chairman like Haley Barbour. He's the best we've ever had in the Republican party, and we're proud to have him.

[applause]

So I would just promise everyone in this group, whether you're a member of Congress, or staff, or just came to wrong meeting — there's always a couple of those.

[laughter]

Somebody said, well, you think you made a mistake, now, that you're going at 2:00 — I changed it from 1:00 to 2:00 because I get a lunch this way. I get a free lunch.

[laughter]

I said no. I put my career on the line because the future of America is on the line. That's how important it is. And that's the challenge we have for America.

[applause]

And I want to thank the entire leadership on the House side. We've had a great time. I've been reading Dick Armey's flat tax book.

DOLE: Been reading it.

[laughter]

It's very good. Where's Dick? He had to go a budget meeting.

[laughter]

John Boehner's done a good job in the conference, and I work with the entire leadership, and I think we've made a lot of progress.

But I want to say thank you for your support. I want to thank all those — we have a lot of good candidates running, and a lot of House members were for different candidates. And that's the way it works. It's the way it ought to work.

But we've come together. If I've been able to do anything in my lifetime in the Republican Party is bring people together. I like to bring people together. You don't give up your principles bringing people together, in most cases. You're not going to give up your principles.

But there's a lot more common ground in the Republican Party than the other kind. And we need to spend our time talking about issues we agree on, because that's about 90 percent. And I hope I made a big step forward last week in reaching out to everybody on the abortion issue. In my view, we're moving in the right direction.

[applause]

So I would just say, thank you, thank you very much. I also want to acknowledge the great work that my wife Elizabeth has been doing. She'd been out in California for six days, did a great job out there.

[applause]

I am a bit concerned, because I watched C-SPAN last night. They had about 45 minutes of Elizabeth, and I kept waiting, well, surely Bob Dole will be on later.

[laughter]

And then a lot of people, after meeting her would say, why aren't you running for president? And I kept — well, I better hurry out there. So I'm going out next week.

[laughter]

Because we're going to fight for California and we're going to win California.

[applause]

And let me pay a special thanks to Bill Emerson. Bill? About a year ago, Bill sent me a book on Abraham Lincoln. Remember the book? It's a great book. And I appreciate it.

I knew Bill's father-in-law, Ab Smith — Ab Herman. Ab Herman used to smoke cigars when I was chairman of the national committee. I could see the smoke drifting out under the door.

[laughter]

And when that was going on, I knew Ab was thinking about how we can defeat Democrats.

[laughter]

And that's where Bill got the bug. He used to work for Bob Ellsworth. But I've been a Bill Emerson fan all my life, as you have.

[applause]

And I would just close, some of you know that I'm a great admirer of Eisenhower, and sort of got me started in politics, and he was a Kansan. He worked in a cream station, as I did. Came from the small town of Abilene. Born in Texas, but he moved up to Kansas quickly.

[laughter]

And I want to share a story that I told about the night in 1945, when General Dwight Eisenhower was walking along the Rhine, thinking of crossing a crossing in which he would lead the allied armies on June 6. And on his walk, he met a soldier and asked him, why he wasn't sleepy.

The young G.I., who didn't recognize Eisenhower in the dark said, I guess I'm just a little nervous.

Well, so am I, said Eisenhower. Let's walk together and perhaps we'll draw strength from one another.

So I am confident as we — as long as we walk together and draw strength from one another, then we will be victorious in November, and we will ensure that America's best days are ahead.

Thank you very much. God bless America.

[applause]

Robert Dole, Farewell Remarks to the U.S. House Republican Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285562

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