George Bush photo

Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Picnic in Westchester, New York

May 21, 1992

Thank you all very much. It is a pleasure to be here, and I'm delighted. Lou, thank you, sir, for that introduction. Please be seated out there. And be seated up here. [Laughter] Sorry about that. No, but I'm delighted to be here. I'm sorry that Barbara Bush is not here. She was here just a couple of weeks ago at another event.

But it's a thrill to be back in my hometown, near it, one of my many hometowns. I just had a chance to drive up across the line into Greenwich to see my almost-91-year-old mother. So in a way, it is a homecoming. And it really is when you look out here and see so many friends, so many people that worked way back in the political wars and have given me this extraordinary opportunity to be President of the United States in these wonderfully exciting, challenging, yes, but wonderfully exciting times for our country.

And I am pleased -- I want to thank Lou, I want to thank Ginny, his wife; both of them so nervous they can hardly speak about the future grandchild that's appearing any minute now. I want to thank the Young Artists' Philharmonic for bringing us a little class into this hangar. Real good. Thank you all very, very much. And salute several old friends: John Rowland, who we miss in the Congress, and I expect you miss him as Governor of this State, but nevertheless -- and Bobby Holt and my old friend Brian Gaffney and Betsy and Spike Heminway and Dick Foley and Bob Macauley and Leon Hirsh, Jack Neafsey, and fellow Republicans, including our very special Secretary of HUD, Jack Kemp, who is doing a superb job, trying to get this Congress to move.

And a special thanks to my old friends. They were with us in the convention and 4 years ago. I am a fan of theirs. They came down from Bangor, Maine, to be here, heading right on down to Atlantic City. But let's hear it once more for the Oak Ridge Boys. They say an awful lot about this great country of ours.

Now, not for a long one. Billy Graham tells this marvelous story about the speaker that went on and on and on. Somebody sitting over about where Jack was picked up the gavel, heaved it at him, missed the speaker, and hit a lady in the front row. And she said, "Hit me again. I can still hear him." [Laughter] I want to keep this one brief because it is a lovely and an informal evening. But let me just make a few comments.

In the first place, I do think we've got a lot to be grateful for in this country. I think we have many, many blessings. And I see these kids here, and I am very proud that our administration has had some hand in seeing that these kids don't go to sleep every night worried about nuclear war. We have changed the world, and we've changed it for the better.

I just came from a very emotional meeting -- Freedom Day, it is, out in Cleveland, Ohio -- came from a very emotional meeting with what used to be called the captive nations people: Ukrainians and Hungarians and so many others, Poles, Eastern Europeans of all kinds, and then those now republics, represented by the republics of the Soviet Union, former Soviet Union. And again we ought to keep that in sight as we count our blessings. The United States, because we stayed strong -- and I salute my predecessor Ronald Reagan for this one -- because we stayed strong and determined, those nations are no longer captive nations. They are free nations. And democracy is on the move all across the world.

So just as we have brought these changes, with a lot of help I will concede, but we brought these changes to the world, we've got to change things at home. And that is exactly what we have been trying to do for the last 3 years. Some successes, not enough. We've got to change the world. And let me just tell you, as Jack and I went out to Los Angeles and looked at it, what we feel needs to be done in the way of change. And it's not just to take care of that city that went through the horrible times. It's not just that, because the ideas I'll mention to you real quick are ideas that would resonate for other cities, other communities across this country. And all of them are built on the principles: personal responsibility, opportunity, ownership, independence, dignity, empowerment, the family. And it all adds up to the American dream.

And here's what we're talking about: We have a great program that we're trying to get the Congress to help us with now called "Weed and Seed." It backs our wonderful law enforcement people. It weeds out the criminals and goes after the drug dealers. And then it seeds the neighborhoods with hope and opportunity. We need to get that through the United States Congress, and I believe we can.

The next one is enterprise zones, something that we've been championing for 3 years, Jack on the cutting edge, and effectively so, I might add. And what that says is, better than some make-work program, let's change the tax structure so you can draw like a magnet into the inner cities some businesses who are going to take a chance, who are going to take a gamble. And it's going to make it worth their while through the tax changes so they will then offer jobs with dignity in the private sector to those that have been bypassed as far as the American dream goes. We need enterprise zones now, and I'd like to have your support with the Congress.

Another one is, we must reform the welfare system. And people say, "Oh well, wait a minute, is that some kind of code word." It is not. What we're doing is offering waivers to these States so they can try. Wisconsin came in, they've got a program called Learnfare to take welfare dependency people and give them an opportunity to learn; similarly, Workfare programs. We have got to innovate in this country. And then there's a much more compassionate side of welfare reform. A kid saved the other day a little over $1,000. And the welfare people came to get the family and said, "Your daughter here has saved a little over $1,000. You can't do that on welfare; that violates the rules." We're trying to change that so families can save a little money and work their way out or get themselves an education. So we've got to reform the welfare system. And the time has come. And the people that will benefit the most are those who have been on welfare hopelessly without any chance at the American dream. Help us change it.

We've got a wonderful job training program, Job Training 2000. We're going to coordinate the services to the people that need it the most. And again, we're going to push through, our able Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin and others, to get this Job Training 2000 enacted.

A fifth one is homeownership. You see, we believe that if a person owns the home, it is far better. They take a pride in it. A dignity comes back. It strengthens the family, and it is a far better approach than these failed housing projects that strip families of their dignity. And so we're pushing hard for homeownership. And again, we're going to try to get the Congress to help us in every way possible. Give that opportunity to American families.

And the last one -- and it is vitally important and it doesn't have quite the short-term implications -- we must reform our education system. And we are talking about a new program. David Kearns, that's so well-known in this part to many people, was very instrumental in it and so is Lamar Alexander, our Secretary. We're literally talking about revolutionizing American education, brandnew schools in each State, not new necessarily in bricks and mortar but new concepts. Trying that and saying, "The old system hasn't worked; let's change it." For example, let's give parents a choice of where they want to send their schools, religious or private, whatever it is. Give them a choice and watch our educational system improve.

So these are some of the initiatives we're pushing. And then overlying that, we have some other fundamental ones. Every time I see young people I'm saying to myself, we've got to do something to keep from mortgaging their future. And we've proposed capping the growth of these mandatory programs. We are now fighting for a balanced budget amendment. And we need your help to get that one through the Congress. It will discipline our branch of Government, and it'll discipline the United States Congress. And the balanced budget amendment will be phased in, and it'll save the future generations if we can get it passed.

Two other points you'll be hearing more about as we engage in the fall -- and I will be encouraging people to send more Republican Congressmen down there to Washington, both in the Senate and the House. One of them is the line-item veto. You give me that line-item veto that these 43 Governors have, and watch us get that spending under control. And the last one, we've got to reform our legal system. We've got to sue each other less and help each other more. And we have proposals to do just exactly that. That's the tip of the iceberg.

There's a domestic agenda for you. And we're going to take the case to the American people. And Lou is right: The American economy has begun to move. A recent poll that I saw and analyzed here just a few days ago, 70 percent of the American people think the economy is getting worse. They are wrong. It is beginning to turn. And when it does, the fortunes of the Republican Party and those people that share the values I've spelled out here are going to rise, and they're going to rise precipitously. We are going to win the election in the fall. We are going to get more people in the United States Congress that believe and think as you and I do. And thank you for your help in making that possible.

Thank you all, and may God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:07 p.m. in Hangar 26 at the Westchester County Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Louis Bantle, Bush-Quayle Connecticut finance chairman; Bobby Holt, Bush-Quayle national finance chairman; Brian Gaffney, Bush-Quayle Connecticut cochairman; Betsy Heminway, Bush-Quayle Connecticut cochairman, and her husband, Spike; Dick Foley, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party; and Bob Macauley, Leon Hirsh, and Jack Neafsey, event cochairmen.

George Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Picnic in Westchester, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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