Bill Clinton photo

Interview With John Watson of WILM Radio, Wilmington, Delaware

November 04, 1994

Mr. Watson. Good morning, Mr. President, how are you?

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

Mr. Watson. Thanks for being with us. You've been very busy these days; not much time for the saxophone, I guess, which happens to be my favorite instrument, by the way.

The President. Oh, thank you. I love it myself. I'm not playing too much. I did get a chance to play a couple of weeks ago with a group that was in the White House, but I don't play enough. My lip is getting weak; I've got to practice.

Midterm Elections

Mr. Watson. Well, your message seems to be getting pretty strong, seems to be playing pretty well with the American people. I see where your personal approval rating is up quite a bit, and Democrats in general seem to be a bit more secure for reelection.

The President. Well, I hope so, not for partisan reasons but because I think it's good for the country. You know, I came in with a commitment to try to make this country stronger, with more jobs and stronger families and safer streets and to make us stronger abroad.

And we've still got some problems in this country, but we're plainly moving in the right direction. If you just take Delaware, for example, there have been 5 times as many new jobs coming to Delaware in 20 months of our Presidency as during the previous 4 years. And we were able to pass the family and medical leave law, which protected 147,000 families in Delaware, if a worker needs to take a little time off when there's a baby born or a parent sick. We've reorganized the student loan program to provide more affordable college loans to more middle class students. It made almost 42,000 students and former students in Delaware eligible for lower costs on their loans. So we're making progress. We passed the crime bill, thanks to Joe Biden's unbelievable leadership. And I have to say, that was an example of bipartisanship. You had Congressman Castle there coming in at the end and trying to help us to get through the crime bill. It's going to make a difference. It's going to empower local communities to reduce crime and violence.

So we're moving in the right direction. We're moving forward. And I don't want to see the country go backward in this election, even though there are a lot of people who are upset.

Mr. Watson. [Inaudible]—I suppose you'll be here to campaign for Attorney General Charles Oberly, trying to unseat Republican Senator Bill Roth. But Oberly is seen as something of an independent Democrat. Is that going to be a problem?

The President. No, I like Oberly. I think— he's an exciting character to me. You know, the Democrats are not like the Republicans; we don't mind a little independence in our party.

I think it's good for people to exercise independent judgment.

I've just come from Iowa where a retiring Congressman, Republican Congressman Fred Grandy, was complaining about how the Republicans didn't want any independence and that— he pointed out how they were ordered not to work with me on health care. So I think Oberly has the kind of characteristics and character and ability and energy that would be very good at this time.

Mr. Watson. Sir, what is your game plan, just in case the Republicans are successful, as they think they'll be, and win control of the House? Could this work in your favor at all?

The President. Well, I don't know. Some people think it could work politically for me personally, but I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in moving our country forward. And the thing that bothers me is that the Republicans have committed to a program which would take us right back to the 1980's and what got us in trouble in the first place. I mean, their contract says that if they win control of the House and the Senate, they're going to—they want to promise huge tax increases, almost all of it to wealthy individuals. They want to have an increase in defense again, and they want to bring back Star Wars. They promise to balance the budget. Now, one of two things—that costs a trillion dollars. So if the Republicans get a hold of the Congress, one of two things is going to happen. They're going to do what they say, which means they'll have to cut everything in the Federal Government besides defense and Star Wars by 20 percent, including Social Security——

Mr. Watson. We're almost out of time——

The President. All right, well, listen—but that's $2,000 a person. And on Social Security that's a lot. If they don't do that, they're going to explode the deficit, start shipping our jobs overseas again, like they did in the eighties, and we'll be in big trouble.

So I hope the American people will take a look at people like Oberly. He's an aggressive, independent, progressive person, the kind of person I think that can bring new ideas, new energy, and keep this country going forward, which is what I think we need to do.

Mr. Watson. One final question, Mr. President. You're just about out of time, but you mentioned Congressman Castle is helping you.

So how do you see the Republican Castle versus Democrat Carrie DeSantis?

The President. Well, I mentioned that Castle helped on the crime bill because I think it's important for me not to be as partisan as they have been, and I want to give him credit for that.

But the reason that I'm supporting the Democrats in these races is that even Mike Castle voted against our economic plan. And our economic program for America is working. Just look at Delaware. You've had 5 times the job growth since our administration has been there as you did in the previous 4 years, that is, in 20 months, 5 times as many jobs in the previous 4 years. The economic approach we have taken, bring the deficit down, invest in education and training, expand trade, invest in new technologies, these things will grow the American economy. And the figures that came out today show that we have now had 5 times as many high-wage jobs coming into this economy in this year than in the previous 5 years.

Mr. Watson. There are many more things that we could talk about, Mr. President, but you're out of time. And I appreciate very much you calling in. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The interview began at 10:51 a.m. The President spoke by telephone from the Holiday Inn in Duluth, MN.

William J. Clinton, Interview With John Watson of WILM Radio, Wilmington, Delaware Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives