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Interview With Bruce Newbury of WPRO Radio, Providence, Rhode Island

November 01, 1994

Mr. Newbury. Mr. President, how are you?

The President. I'm fine, Bruce. How are you?

Mr. Newbury. Nice to speak to you this afternoon.

The President. Nice to speak to you.

Midterm Elections

Mr. Newbury. And we're looking forward to having your visit with us tomorrow in Rhode Island. Now, you'll be here for a Democratic rally among some other things, and I think it's safe to say that 7 days before the election, any appearance by the President is a political event. But what kind of a message does it send for the President of the United States to appear on behalf of campaigning politicians this late in the game in their home district? I mean could this be construed as pulling out all of the stops?

The President. I hope it is, because that's what I'm trying to do. You know, the people of Rhode Island have been very good to me, and you've got some races up there that I'm very interested in and have been asked to come and support Representative Kennedy and our candidate for Governor and the others on the Democratic ticket, so I'm looking forward to being there.

And after all, our administration has had a good record in Rhode Island. In the last 21 months, we've seen over 10,000 new jobs come into the State, and in the previous 4 years, you lost almost 10,000 jobs. We've been able to give tax cuts to 38,000 working families and almost 4,800 small businesses, and we've passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. We've got middle class student loans available at lower costs than before. We're moving this country forward. We're getting things going again in the right direction in America, and I want to be able to take that message to Rhode Island, and I'd like to have some support from people in Rhode Island in the Congress for continuing to do that.

Mr. Newbury. The Republican contract is going to be a topic of discussion when you arrive here tomorrow.

The President. It should be.

Mr. Newbury. Is it, as the New York Times did today, is there going to be a point-by-point Democratic response to the Republican contract?

The President. Well, the New York Times gave a point-by-point response to it today?

Mr. Newbury. It's in a graph form, a chart form here in the——

The President. That's great. I haven't seen it, but let me say what we've attempted to do is to show what it would take to pay for the Republican contract. I mean, in typical Republican fashion, just like they did in the eighties, they made all these wild promises and never said how they'd pay for it.

Now, they've promised big tax cuts, big increases in defense spending and Star Wars and a balanced budget. And the House Budget Committee did an analysis and said that if they did that, that the only way you could keep that promise is to cut Social Security about 2,000 bucks a year and to cut Medicare about 1,800 bucks a year, because that's what's in the rest of the budget. And if they say they're not going to do it, then what they're saying is they're not going to keep their promise. Instead, they're going to give a tax cut to the wealthy, explode the deficit, start shipping our jobs overseas, and put us right back in the same hole we were in when they had office the last time.

So they cannot have it both ways. They can't go out here and give the American people a trillion dollars' worth of promises and say, "I'll tell you how I'm going to pay for this after the election." That's what they're trying to do. It's a scam. It's a bunch of easy promises. Our approach is to challenge the American people, to say, "Okay, we're going to give you the educational opportunities you need, we're going to make this Government work for ordinary people to support families again; as with family leave and immunizations for little kids, and we're going to get the economy going again. And now you've got to make the most of your lives." We're not going to give you a bunch of promises that can't be kept, that will only put this country back in the hole again.

I think when the American people understand both what we have done and what they're offering, that we're going to be in much better shape.

Health Care Reform

Mr. Newbury. Of course, the State of Rhode Island has been very much involved in the health care reform proposals with Senator Chafee and of course, Ira Magaziner. Now, when health care comes back on the table in the spring, what input can we expect from these gentlemen?

The President. Well, I hope they'll both be very much involved. I will say this: If we had more Republicans who were willing to support Senator Chafee, we'd have a health care bill today, because he was willing to deal with us in good faith, and he really wanted to get a resolution of this. But as you probably know, they all abandoned him and his plan, his original plan, because, unfortunately, the congressional leadership of the Republicans has been so bitterly partisan that they would rather defeat a bill than have the Democrats involved in helping get health care, even if the Republicans got half the credit.

They tried to do the same thing to the crime bill. The leadership tried to beat the crime bill. But again, Senator Chafee and a few others said they would not be involved in that kind of bitter partisanship, and they did what was right for America.

So I'm very hopeful that we can get a different and more bipartisan approach to crime. It depends in part on how these elections come out. You know, we've got Mayor Giuliani, the Republican mayor of New York, endorsed Governor Cuomo; the Republican mayor of Los Angeles endorsed Senator Feinstein; Nancy Reagan, our former First Lady, has attacked Oliver North in Virginia; and Mrs. Heinz, the wife of the former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, has attacked the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania. A lot of these mainstream Republicans are horrified by the destructive, extremist wing that has taken over the Republican Party, either interested in ideological politics or just power-grabbing; they don't like it. So there's a lot of good Republicans in this country that want to see us work together to solve problems, and I'm going to do my best to work with them after this election is over.

White House Security

Mr. Newbury. I want to get to the security issue with the White House. Of course, you're on the road, and it's probably a wise course with what's going on back home there. But let me ask you this. [Laughter] Until——

The President. That's great.

Mr. Newbury. I got a laugh out of the President; it's not a bad day. Until the Secret Service comes back to you with their findings, have you given thought to moving your family out of the White House? In all seriousness.

The President. Oh, no, no. You know, the thing with the airplane was a fluke. First of all, none of us were there. If we had been there, I think under the security procedures it would have been handled differently. But there was a guy that just came in under the radar and was obviously trying to do something to draw attention to himself, not trying to hurt us.

In terms of the shooting incident, we have shootings in the streets of America every day. And what I hope the American people got out of that shooting incident was that the people in the Congress who voted for the crime bill and the assault weapons were right; you don't need people to be able to walk around on the streets of America and pull out a gun where you can fire off 20 or 30 bullets in one magazine before you know it.

But the Secret Service does a good job protecting the President. We will be prudent; we will be safe. But I'm not going to go into a hole and hide in a Democratic country where people are free to move around. You just have to keep doing that and take all the precautions you can. But I feel good about the job they do, and so I'm going to keep being out here among the people and take whatever precautions seem appropriate.

Chelsea Clinton

Mr. Newbury. Very good. I want to just ask you another quick question about Rhode Island. Is Chelsea coming back to Rhode Island next summer to take sailing lessons again?

The President. I don't know. She sure does want to. She loved that. She had the most wonderful time up there. She loved the school, she loved the people she met. She loved sailing. When I got back from the Middle East, I showed her a model of a boat that I brought from the Middle East that one of the leaders gave me, and she understood all about how it was constructed and how it all worked. So I will say the people who taught her last summer in Rhode Island did a good job.

Mr. Newbury. Well, all right. Well, she's more than welcome to come back, and we're looking forward to your visit tomorrow. Well, not everybody, the people that have to drive 95 aren't too choked up about it.

The President. Yes, I apologize in advance. I'm trying not to inconvenience them too much.

Mr. Newbury. I hear you, and it's been a pleasure to talk with you this afternoon. Thank you very much for giving us your time.

The President. Are you driving your Chevrolet Impala?

Mr. Newbury. As a matter of fact, I left it home today because it's raining, and it's got the original wipers on it. And those are valuable in themselves so I don't want to use them. But I know you're a car buff.

The President. I love old cars; '64 was a good year for the Impala.

Mr. Newbury. It sure was. This is a beauty. It's been in a garage for about 15 years. It's got the 230 in it, the six, but it's got some of the bells and whistles, and it's just a beautiful car. I'm tickled to death with it. I was going to drive it today, but I said, wait a minute, he's just going to be on the phone; he's not going to see it. But I'll send you a picture.

The President. Thanks, man.

Mr. Newbury. All right, sir. Hey, nice to talk to you. You take good care.

The President. All right. Bye-bye.

Mr. Newbury. And have a safe trip.

The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The interview began at 3:19 p.m. The President spoke by telephone from the Westin Hotel in Detroit, MI.

William J. Clinton, Interview With Bruce Newbury of WPRO Radio, Providence, Rhode Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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