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Interview With Cynthia Louie and Fred Wayne of KCBS Radio, San Francisco, California

November 05, 1994

Midterm Elections

Ms. Louie. Mr. President, thank you very much for your time, and welcome to KCBS.

The President. Thanks, Cynthia. It's nice to hear your voice.

Ms. Louie. There is a new poll out today from Newsweek, and I'm sorry to give you this bad news, but there is a new poll out today from Newsweek showing that your approval rating has dropped to 40 percent. And these polls seem to come out fairly frequently with results up and down. Why do you suppose you're down now, and do you pay much attention to these surveys?

The President. No, because, first of all, the polls are directly related to how much people know about the record of the administration. And all the surveys show that about—over 60 percent of the American people approve of the work of this administration if they know the facts. The frustrating thing is, and the frustrating thing in all these elections, is that people have so little way of getting the facts.

If you look at this California election, it's a classic example. I mean, look at the Senate race. Dianne Feinstein has done things in the United States Senate in only 2 years that no Senator in our lifetime has ever accomplished: the assault weapons ban, a law requiring no tolerance for gun ownership—possession for children in school, the California desert bill. And she's being opposed by Michael Huffington, who never even lived in California until 1991, who bought a race in the Congress with his fortune and then, when he ran for the Senate, lost his own congressional district in the Republican primary and still looks like he has a chance to win because he can spend money to put things on the television that aren't true.

This is a very negative, confused, difficult time. And the truth is, in a lot of these polls it depends on what information the voters have and how you ask the question. The only things that really count are these elections, but it's getting harder and harder and harder for voters to make good decisions if all they get is a constant barrage of negative information and they never get the facts.

The truth is, we've got a 4-year low in unemployment; jobs are growing 5 times as fast under our administration as they did under the Bush administration. We're doing things for working people like the family leave law, immunizing all of our children under 2, expanding Head Start, lower cost college loans. We're moving this country in the right direction. And we are leading the world in moving toward peace and freedom and democracy.

If people think about the record and understand the direction, they give us a lot of support. But you can't blame people for not voting on what they don't know.


Mr. Wayne. Mr. President, let's get on to the subject of illegal immigration. We of course know that you are on record against Proposition 187 in this State. That whole issue is causing so many ill feelings; there's anger on both sides. What can you tell us about the threat that California could lose Federal funding if that initiative passes, one, and as a second part, what commitment can you make to our listeners about what the Federal Government might be able to do to help with the problem of illegal immigration?

The President. Well, first of all, let's try to— let me try to talk some sense about this issue. The people of California do have a problem with illegal immigration, which is more severe when the economy is in trouble. But since I became President, I have been trying to help you solve it. I mean, from the day I got in office I knew I had a mess in immigration on my hands, and I started trying to fix it 21 months ago.

What have we done? We have almost doubled the border guards in San Diego, along the border down there. We have almost doubled the number of illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes we're sending back out of the country. We're giving money to California for the first time to help deal with the cost of imprisonment. I've asked Congress to appropriate literally hundreds of millions of dollars to help you deal with the cost of education and health care. We have increased funding to California to deal with immigration by one-third, even though we are reducing Federal spending overall for the first time in 25 years. So we are moving to deal with this problem. We are also looking at ways that we can be tougher on incentives for employers not to hire illegal aliens and how we can keep up with the records.

So I think the people of California should want more done. I think the Federal Government should do more. I have been in the forefront of doing that, working with Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and others.

I simply don't agree that 187 is the right way to go because, first of all, nearly everybody thinks it's unconstitutional. Secondly, it will be directed primarily against children. If you kick children out of the health clinics, you may run the risk of causing health problems for the general California population. If you say kids have got to be kicked out of school, you turn the teachers into police officers and you say, "We're going to put more kids on the street." Well, we've got too many kids on the street in America and California today already. It's liable to raise the crime rate and cause all kinds of problems.

So my view is that 187 is not the right way to do this, and it could cause California a lot of problems. You know, California is coming back economically. You've got the lowest unemployment rate in 3 years here. I have worked as hard as I know how to get investment back into California, to sell California high-tech products around the world, to sell California agricultural products around the world. We're even selling California rice in Japan for the first time. The strength of California is in its diversity. So the issue is how can we enforce the immigration laws and still build on our diversity. And I don't think 187 is the way to go.

Ms. Louie. Mr. President, we have so many more questions for you. Unfortunately, your people are telling us that you are out of time, your time is limited, and you have to go. So thank you very much for joining us today on KCBS.

The President. Thank you. I'm on my way up to the Kaiser Center in Oakland at 2:30, and I hope I see some people up there, too. Thanks.

Mr. Wayne. Mr. President, you'll see us there. Thank you very much.

The President. Great.

NOTE: The interview began at 12:45 p.m. The President spoke by telephone from the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA.

William J. Clinton, Interview With Cynthia Louie and Fred Wayne of KCBS Radio, San Francisco, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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