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Interview With Thera Martin Connelly of WDAS Radio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

November 01, 1994

Ms. Connelly. Hello, Mr. President.

The President. Hello.

Midterm Elections

Ms. Connelly. It is our delight and honor to have this opportunity to interview you, sir. And we were particularly pleased to see you in Philadelphia yesterday campaigning for the Democrats. As we look at this election year, general election day, November the 8th, certainly there's a lot of shopping for votes across the Nation and here in Pennsylvania. What would you say to our listening audience to encourage them to participate on election day?

The President. I'd say first of all, you have a lot at stake in this election. The issue is whether we're going to continue to go forward to build the economy and to make the Government work for ordinary citizens or whether we're going to go back to the approach that the Republicans gave us in the 1980's where they cut taxes for the wealthy, increased defense spending, and promised to balance the budget, giving us the possibility of either big cuts in Social Security and Medicare or a big increase in the deficit and the loss of jobs.

I saw an article in one of the newspapers about a gentleman from Philadelphia who said he didn't know if he would vote because he voted for me in 1992; he had a part-time job; he wanted a full-time job, and he hadn't found a full-time job yet. I sympathize with that gentleman. But what I want to say to him and to all your listeners is that in the 4 years before I took office, Pennsylvania lost 8,300 jobs, no job gain, a loss. In the 21 months since I've been here, Pennsylvania's gained 86,000 jobs and we're working on building more. And we're working on bringing new investments to the inner cities, which have been too long ignored.

I know there are a lot of people who still feel uncertain about their own economic situation, who are worried about crime and violence and the breakdown of their communities. But we are facing these issues. We are dealing with the problems with the crime bill, with the family leave law, with immunizing kids and expanding Head Start and providing college loans at more affordable rates and building the job base of the country. And we don't need to turn back.

So I would urge the people who are listening to me to get out there and vote, because we need to keep going in this direction. After all, the other approach was tried for 12 years without very good results. We've just had 21 months, and the country's in better shape than it was when I took office. We need to keep going. That's my message.

Ms. Connelly. Suddenly we have seen defections, if you will, where Republicans have come over and endorsed Democrats for upcoming general elections. In New York, it was the mayor of New York, Giuliani, coming out in support of Cuomo. And here in Pennsylvania, former U.S. Senator John Heinz's wife, Teresa Heinz, says that she could not see a Santorum in the U.S. Senate. Do you see more Americans perhaps who are Republicans, on the books, jumping over to the Democratic side on election day?

The President. Well, I hope so. You know, I think a lot of Republican leaders out in the country who are not part of the congressional leadership, they always wanted to work in a bipartisan fashion. And they wanted to debate Democrats in a civilized way that would build up our country, not tear it down. And I think Teresa Heinz—well, I read her speech. She'd been very upset by some of the things that Mr. Santorum has said that have been irresponsible, divisive, negative, and inaccurate. And it took a lot of courage for her to say what she did. Mayor Giuliani in New York, just by the same token, was trying to be supportive of his people, and being a citizen first and a Republican second, when he endorsed Governor Cuomo.

The same thing happened with the mayor of Los Angeles endorsing the Democratic Senator; Mrs. Reagan, our former First Lady, attacking Oliver North in Virginia. There are a lot of good Republicans who are upset by this extremism and negativism and sort of power grab mentality that has taken over the congressional Republican Party. They do not like it, and they want to stand against it.

And the people of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are going to have a chance to stand against it by reelecting Senator Wofford and voting in these other elections on Tuesday. And I certainly hope they'll do so.

Ms. Connelly. We're talking with President Clinton, and we've only got another minute or two with him. I understand that your schedule is very busy, sir. In closing, I wanted to get some thoughts from you, if you would, some food for thought that you could send out to our listening audience, why they should go Democrat as opposed to Republican, because there's been a lot of legislation blocked by Republicans.

The President. You should vote for the Democrats instead of the Republicans because of what we have done, because of what they stopped us from doing, and because of what they propose to do.

What have we done? We've made the Government work for ordinary citizens. We passed the family leave law so people can take some time off when their babies are sick without losing their jobs. We're going to immunize all children in the country under 2 by 1996. We expanded Head Start. We expanded college loans. You should vote for the Democrats because we've got the economy coming back. There's a lower deficit, a smaller Federal Government, and more job growth. You should vote for the Democrats because the world is more peaceful and prosperous, and that's good for Americans. We've got more trade. We've got a more peaceful world from Haiti to Northern Ireland to the Middle East. You should vote for the Democrats because we've taken the time to develop some special incentives to get investment into our inner cities to create jobs there, empowerment zones and community development banks and other things.

You should vote for the Democrats because of what we tried to do with political reform, campaign finance reform, and lobby reform. What we tried to do to clean up toxic waste dumps was stopped by Republican delaying tactics. And if you reward them, they'll just do it again.

You should vote for the Democrats because this Republican contract is a way to take us back to the trickle-down Reaganomics of the eighties: give the rich a tax cut, spend more on defense, promise to balance the budget. You're either going to have them cutting Social Security and Medicare or exploding the deficit and sending jobs overseas. There's no other alternative.

And we offer a path to the future. They want to take us back. So I hope the people in Philadelphia will vote for the future on Tuesday.

Ms. Connelly. Mr. President, I can never thank you enough for this opportunity and this honor to chat with you for a few moments. And I'm sure our listeners here at WDAS AM and FM appreciate it as well.

God bless you, sir.

The President. Thank you. Goodbye.

NOTE: The interview was recorded at 4:52 p.m. for broadcast and release at 6 p.m. The President spoke by telephone from the Westin Hotel in Detroit, MI.

William J. Clinton, Interview With Thera Martin Connelly of WDAS Radio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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