Bill Clinton photo

Remarks in Chillicothe, Ohio

August 25, 1996

The President. Thank you very, very much. Thank you.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. It's great to be back in Chillicothe. The last time I was here it was 3 degrees, and we still went running in the park. And I'm amazed I can move. But I survived it, and I'm glad to be back. It's a wonderful place. [Applause] Thank you.

Thank you, Senator John Glenn, for your heroic career, your magnificent service to Ohio and to the United States. Thank you for your leadership in defense and foreign policy and in helping Al Gore and me to give this country the smallest Federal Government in 30 years and the most efficient since John Kennedy was President of the United States.

And thank you, Ted Strickland. I want to thank you for a couple of things. I want to thank you for coming to me personally and riding with me on Air Force One and pleading with me to help you keep open the gaseous plant in Portsmouth. I want to thank you for helping work with me on the enterprise community designation for Portsmouth. I want to thank you for having the courage—and I think it probably cost you your seat in '94—to vote for that economic plan when our friends in the opposition said it was tax-and-spend. And of course, it wasn't. We cut taxes for 15 million of the hardest working Americans. We made 90 percent of the small business in this country eligible for a tax cut. But we did cut the deficit. And our friends in the opposition said, "Give us the Congress. Bill Clinton's plan will bankrupt the country, increase the deficit, cost us jobs." Well, the verdict is in, friends. Four years later, we have 10 million more jobs, the deficit has gone down 4 years in a row under the same administration for the first time since before the Civil War. Ted Strickland was right, and his opponent was wrong.

I want to thank you for voting for the family and medical leave law. Twelve million working Americans have been able to take some time off in the last 3 1/2 years when there was a baby born or a parent sick without losing their jobs. And we just got a bipartisan study that said 90 percent of the businesses said it was no problem.

We have grown jobs faster in this economy in the last 4 years than, as Senator Glenn said, any Republican administration since the 1920's. And we still passed the family and medical leave law so people could succeed at home and at work. Thank you, Ted Strickland. You were right, and they were wrong.

And let me say one other thing. After Ted left the Congress, they had a chance to implement their Contract With America. Don't you forget that either, folks. I'll have more to say about that in a minute. This man was a good Congressman. He did you proud. He's a good human being. He's a good person. And he ought to be given a chance to represent this place again.

Let me also say—I brought some people with me: your State treasurer and our national Treasurer, Mary Ellen Withrow, thank you for coming; my good friend and a former official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose farm I visited in Ohio in 1992, Gene Branstool; our nominee for the Senate last year, Joel Hyatt. And we have several members of the Ohio Legislature and officials of the party, State Representatives Mike Shoemaker and Bill Ogg. I know we have County Auditor Steve Neal; State Senator Jan Michael Long. Somebody told me that in this crowd the lady who gave me a handcrafted quilt last time was here, Leona Long. Are you here? Thank you very much if you're here. There you are. God bless you. Thank you. And I told you I'd save those quilts, and I've still got yours. [Laughter] And a young woman who introduced me at the last town meeting, Melissa Hagen, I think she's here, too, somewhere. Thank you, Melissa, if you're here. There you are back there. Thank you. I'd like to thank all the bands that were here.

I'd like to say that my daughter, Chelsea, and I are delighted to be here. Hillary started this train trip with us, but you know, she's from Chicago so she had to fly home to make sure everything was all right when we got there. The Vice President said to tell you hello, and he's in Chicago as well.And I know that this is not the most direct route to Chicago, but I've been in Huntington, West Virginia, and Ashland, Kentucky, today, and now I'm in Chillicothe, and I've been in all kind of places along the way saying hello to people because I wanted to go to the convention to accept the nomination of my party for another term as President by seeing the people that I ran for President to represent. And I wanted you to see me on this train because I wanted you to remember we're not only on the right track to Chicago, we're on the right track to the 21st century, and we need to stay on the right track.

In 1992 when I came here the country had high unemployment, slow job growth, stagnant wages, rising crime. We weren't facing up to our challenges; we were drifting apart. But I said then and I'll say again tonight, I think our best days are ahead. I think this new world we are moving into offers people more chances to live their dreams than any period in human history.

The children in this audience tonight, within a decade, will be doing jobs that have not been invented yet. All we have to do is to meet our challenges and protect our values. All we have to do is to say, opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and we're going forward together. We're not going to be divided anymore. We're going forward together as an American community.

And you know what? It is working. Look what we did just last week. We raised the minimum wage for 10 million Americans. In the same bill, in the very same bill we made 90 percent of the small businesses in this country eligible for another tax cut if they invest more in their business. We made it easier for people in small businesses to take out pensions and to keep those pensions when they changed jobs. That's terribly important. We made it easier for parents to adopt and gave them a $5,000 tax credit if they would adopt a child that needs a home, and removed the barriers to cross-racial adoption because we want a pro-family country that takes care of every child and finds a home for every child.

I signed a bill to end welfare as we know it but not to take from poor children their medical care, their nutrition, their help if they're disabled, but to say we are going to change this system from one that fosters dependence to one that fosters independence. We want people who are poor to have the same chance everybody else does to succeed at home and at work. And that is my goal, and I want to say more about that. It's terribly important.

And maybe most important of all—you know, another thing Ted Strickland did was try to help us get some work done on health care reform.

And they spent a lot of money, the people who didn't want any changes, telling everybody how terrible our plans were and what a big Government plan it was, and never mind that all the experts said it was actually a modest, moderate, progressive plan to provide coverage and keep the private sector in our health system.

But we didn't succeed in '94, and a lot of the Democrats paid the price. But because of the work we did, last week I signed a bill that does about 30 percent of what we tried to do, and a big first step, the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill. It says you cannot lose your health insurance just because somebody in your family has been sick or if you change jobs. You cannot do it anymore. You have a right to health insurance. Twenty-five million Americans—think of it—25 million Americans will have a chance now to get or keep their health insurance. That's a lot of children sleeping better at night. That's a lot of parents feeling more secure.

And so, Ted Strickland, I'm sorry you weren't there to vote for it, but your vote counted because you were there first, and we appreciate you, sir, for sticking up for it. It was the right thing to do.

And so I say to you, my friends, we're on the right track. Unemployment is down. There is more opportunity. We've got not only 10 million new jobs, 4 1/2 million new homeowners, 10 million homeowners that have refinanced their homes at lower interest rates. The unemployment rate in Ohio is down to 4.9 percent.

Now, what do we got to do now? We have to keep this economic recovery going until everyone can participate. That means balance the budget, but don't gut Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment to do it. We can do it without doing that. We can invest in our future and still do it.

What else does it mean? It means that we have to increase the educational level of the people of this country. You heard Cindy talking about her education. I want to make by the year 2000, 2 years of college after high school as universal as a high school education is today. I want it to be there for everybody. And so I have proposed to give working families in America a $10,000 tax deduction for the cost of college tuition for any kind of tuition after high school and a $1,500 refundable tax credit for the cost of the first 2 years of community college in every State in the country. That is what we ought to do.

I want us to have more responsibility in this country. You know, there are 1.3 million fewer people on the welfare rolls than there were when I became President. Child support collections are 40 percent higher, and the crime rate has gone down for 4 years in a row. In 1994, our friends in the opposition said, "Oh, look what the President did. They're going to take your gun away from you." Guess what? Everybody in Ohio is still hunting with the same gun they had when they said that. It wasn't true then. And if you believed them when they misled you, you need to pay them back this time and tell them you don't appreciate being misled. You've still got your gun, but the country is safer. I'll tell you who doesn't have guns: 60,000 felons, fugitives, and stalkers don't have guns because of the Brady bill.

But we've got more to do if we want real responsibility. We've got to finish the work of putting 100,000 police officers on our street. We've got hundreds here in Ohio. They're bringing the crime rate down. We also have to recognize in this welfare reform bill I signed, folks, that's the beginning, not the end. It's all very well to say to people after a certain time, "We're going to cut you off welfare and make you go to work"; there has to be work to find. And I am going to the convention to tell the American people what I propose to do to help find jobs to move people from welfare to work and help jobs for other people who are not yet there.

We must not let this welfare reform be some cruel budget-cutting hoax that throws poor children in the street. They're our children, too. What we want is for their parents to go to work, to be able to go to work, to live like the rest of America, to come and be part of our big family and go forward together. That's what we all want.

Finally, let me just say this: I want us to go forward together, together with people around the world who agree with us, together with people here at home who may be of a different religion or a different color but who share our convictions and our values. That means we've got to do more to work together to build strong families; that's what the family leave law was about. We've got to do more to work together to build a clean environment. Fifty million Americans are breathing cleaner air now than they were 4 years ago. We've got safer meat standards, safer standards against dangerous pesticides, all supported by the agricultural community. We've cleaned up more toxic dumps in 3 years than they did in 12. We're moving in the right direction.

And finally, I want Americans who need it to have a tax cut, but I want it to be a tax cut we can afford, that will do some good for individuals, for families, and for our country. I proposed a targeted tax cut. I already told you about the education cuts, a $500-credit for children under 13, an expanded IRA for people with incomes phasing up to $100,000 that you can put into and then save and withdraw from for education, to buy that first home, for health care costs. Those are the kind of tax cuts that will help ordinary American families. We can afford those.

Now, as you heard from our friends in San Diego, my respectable opponents, they offer you one that's 5 times as big. So why shouldn't you go for them? Well, let me ask you this. Would you wake up tomorrow morning—well, you wouldn't tomorrow morning, I guess, but—yes, you would, it's Monday—would you wake up tomorrow morning, go to the bank, and borrow money to give yourself a tax cut? Well, then why would you hire somebody to do it? [Laughter] Think about that. You think about it.

Our friends in the Republican Party last year said—not me, they said—they said, and they were right, that if we're on a balanced budget plan, interest rates will be 2 percent lower than if we're not. You just figure it out. If your home mortgage, your car payment, your credit card payments go up 2 percent, all your tax cut will go out the window paying higher interest rates. And we'll have slower job growth. And we won't be putting more people to work. And the economy won't be growing.

But if we have a targeted, disciplined tax cut that creates more people like this fine lady who introduced me, if we have more people like her who feel like they can write the President six times until he shows up—[laughter]—who are proud to be working to improve their education while they're raising children, then there'll be a lot more Cindy Bakers in this country.

I can give you a tax cut that we can afford that will balance the budget, keep the economy growing, educate our children, educate their parents, allow us to save for health care and homebuying, and we can balance the budget. That's the tax cut we need going forward on that track into the future, not backward. We tried it the other way, and it did not work.

So I want you to help me give that message. We're better off than we were 4 years ago. We've got health care reform, minimum wage reform, 10 million more jobs, a stronger economy, a crime bill that's working to bring down the crime rate. We're in the middle of welfare reform, and we're doing the right things. We're bringing the American people together, not dividing them.

But we're only halfway home. We've got a lot to do. We have gotten the country going in the right track. In the next 4 years, we need to make sure that every single American who's responsible enough to work for it has a chance to benefit and be rewarded and build a strong career, a strong life, a strong family, a strong community, and a strong nation. That is my commitment to you. That's what the next 4 years are about. That's why I need your help.

Will you help? Will you help? Will you help me? [Applause] Every day, every way, stay with me on to Chicago, on to November. We have to have Ohio. I'm glad to be back. Bring me home again.

God bless you, and thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:35 p.m. on the rear platform of the 21st Century Express at U.S. Route 23. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Joseph P. Sulzer of Chillicothe, and Cindy Baker, who introduced the President.

William J. Clinton, Remarks in Chillicothe, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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