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Remarks at a Brunch for Senator Dianne Feinstein in Los Angeles

June 24, 2000

Thank you very much. When I get home and they ask me how Dianne's campaign is doing, I will say it is really hot. [Laughter] I want to thank all of you for being here. I want to especially thank our friend Ron Burkle for opening his home and being so generous on this and on so many other occasions. And I thank the other officials who are here. And I'm glad to see Roz Wyman here. It reminds me of my ties to my roots. And her loyalty to our party and our candidates is something I hope I can emulate for the rest of my life.

Let me say to all of you, it's hot, and you've been here a long time, and I'm preaching to the saved, so I'll be brief. Once I came to a fundraiser for Dianne 6 years ago in San Francisco, and she didn't show up—[laughter]—because she had to stay and vote. So I was her surrogate. And I told the folks out here, I said we were talking about this, and Hillary suggested that I make it a habit for her. So now, last week I went to a couple of events for Hillary, and she didn't show up on purpose. [Laughter] So we can be in two different places. So I'm now the surrogate-in-chief of the country, and I'm having a good time. If Dianne hadn't provided me that opportunity, it never would have occurred to me. [Laughter]

Let me say—I want to say one thing seriously about Senator Feinstein. In my experience I know of no Member of the United States Congress of either party, in the majority or the minority, who got so much done in his or her first term of service. Now, you think about, the assault weapons ban would not have happened without her; the resolution of the northern California water problem; the Mojave Desert National Park and the other expansions of the parks we've done in California; the Headwater Forest, the preservation of the priceless redwoods— none of this stuff would have happened without her. It's unheard of for somebody in his or her first term of service to have this kind of constructive impact. Nobody does that. And so she has become not only California but the Nation's resource. And you've got to send her back for that reason alone. And I mean that.

Now, the second thing I want to say, again very briefly, is I think we'll have a very good election this year. I think we'll pick up a lot of seats in the Senate and the House, and I think we'll win the White House if the people believe the election is about what I think it's about. If they understand there are real differences between the two candidates and the two parties, and if they understand what those differences are, then we'll do just fine.

I tell everybody the three things you need to know about this election: It's real important; there are real differences; and only the Democrats want you to know what the real differences are. But it's really worth remembering that.

And I won't go into it all. Basically, if you heard my State of the Union Address, you know what I think. But I want to tell you this. We've had some children here at this event today; we've still got this young lady here and this young lady over there, and Steve and Chantal Cloobeck brought their little boy here. You ought to be thinking about these kids between now and November. And you ought to be thinking about what their life will be like when all the baby boomers retire; what their life will be like in the most diverse society we ever had if we have the ability to provide excellence in education to all of our kids, and if we don't; what their lives will be like if we have a society that values both work and family and the importance of childrearing and giving all of our kids a decent upbringing, and if we don't; what their lives will be like if we can deal with climate change and other environmental problems and still grow the economy, or if we don't; and what their lives will be like if we continue this economic expansion and extend it to the people in the places that were left behind, or if we don't; what their lives will be like if we continue to follow Senator Feinstein's lead and make America a safer and safer country, or if we decide to give crime policy back to the interest groups; what their lives will be like depending on the attitudes of the next two to four Justices of the Supreme Court that the next President will appoint.

This is a big election. And I can only tell you that not only from my life's experience, which regrettably is getting increasingly longer— although I prefer it to the alternative—[laughter]—and from my reading of American history, a time like this comes along at the most once every 50 years or so, sometimes maybe once every 100 years. We have economic prosperity, social progress, national self-confidence, no overwhelming domestic or foreign threats to the fabric of the Nation's life. And those of us who are older, particularly those of us who have lived most of our lives, have a heavy responsibility not to squander this, to make sure that people understand what a profoundly important gift this election is.

And I tell people all the time, I don't want this to be a negative campaign. I don't want to see people trying to attack the character of their opponent. We've had too much of that. And there's a verse in the New Testament that says that they who judge without mercy will themselves be judged without mercy. And we don't have to have that kind of campaign. What we ought to have is an old-fashioned debate. We ought to have civics 101. Because you should assume that we have good people who in good faith will attempt to do exactly what they say, and then we can identify the differences, clarify them, and say, "We want to build the future of our dreams for our children. Which choice is better?"

Now, believe me, if that's what the election's about, if people understand it's big, that there are real choices, and they understand what the choices are, then on January the 20th, Al Gore will be inaugurated President. Dianne Feinstein will be overwhelmingly reelected, and she'll have a lot more Democrats helping her. Dick Gephardt will be the Speaker of the House, and I'll be a member of the Senate spouses club. [Laughter]

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:20 p.m. at a private residence. In his remarks, he referred to brunch host Ron Burkle; Roz Wyman, chair, Feinstein 2000; and Steve Cloobeck, president and chief executive officer, Diamond International Resorts, and his wife, Chantal.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Brunch for Senator Dianne Feinstein in Los Angeles Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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