Remarks on Concluding a Whistlestop Tour in Michigan City, Indiana
The President. Thank you. Thank you. Wow! Thank you.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, citizens of Indiana and Michigan and Illinois. Thank you all for being here.
You know, folks, last night I called your Governor, Evan Bayh, to tell him two things. The first thing I said is, "I loved your speech. Thank you for speaking for America and for what we did." But the second thing I said was, "You know, Evan, I was just in East Lansing, Michigan, and we had over 20,000 people there." And I knew if I said that we'd have 30,000 people in Michigan City today. And sure enough, we did.
Mayor Brillson, thank you for your welcome to the city, and thank you for your leadership. The mayor told me on the way in here that she'd only been mayor 8 months, but she is not only the mayor, she is the mother of six wonderful children who are down here. And I figure anybody who can raise six kids can do any job in America, including President. And I'm glad she's here.
You know, I was interested to hear the mayor say it's been 97 years since a President has been to Michigan City. All I can say is the rest of them didn't know what they were missing. I'm glad to be here. Thank you.
I thank your Congressman, Tim Roemer, for his leadership in the House of Representatives to prove that the Democratic Party can lead America into the future, that we can be responsible with your money, we can be strong for your economy, we can be tough on crime, but we can still have a heart for those who need the heart of America that are too often left behind and forgotten. Thank you, Tim Roemer.
I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Frank O'Bannon and his wife, Judy, for being here with me. And I want to tell you something, folks, each year the job of the Governor gets a little more important. If you watched our convention, you know there's a lot of discussion about the welfare reform bill that I signed. Let me tell you this. I want you to understand just how important this decision is for Governor in Indiana.
In the welfare reform bill, we said, look, we've reduced the welfare rolls by a million and a half by working with the States to move people from welfare to work. We think we can go all the way. We can take 800,000 kids and mothers off welfare tomorrow if we just got people to pay the child support they owe. And so we changed the law to do that. So we said, here is the new deal. We're going to have national protection for the medical care for poor people and their children. We're going to have national protection for the nutritional needs of poor people and their children. We're going to have a national program that guarantees child care so when people go to work, even if they're in lower wage jobs—from welfare to work—they won't have to worry about their kids. They'll be able to pay for child care. But we said, we're going to take the money that used to be in the check itself, the Federal and the State money, and give that money to the States, and then the States will have to design a program that will move people from welfare to work within 2 years.
Now, when you make this decision for Governor, there will be no question more important than who do you trust to really care about giving the people who have been trapped on welfare the same kind of life we want for all American families. We want people to succeed as parents and succeed as workers. Frank O'Bannon will do that, and I want you to give him the chance to do it.
Let me say, too, with some particular pride, that I have two people who work for me in the White House who come from near here. My military aide June Ryan, a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard, whose parents live near South Bend, near here—that's not very far. I think they played football there, somebody told me. And one of my speechwriters, Carolyn Curiel's parents, Angela and Alex, live in Hammond. So I feel like I'm near home, at least, for them. Is anybody here from Hammond, Indiana? Yes, that's good.
Finally, let me say a special word of thanks to those who have participated to make me feel so welcome. There were 2,000 folks, I'll bet you, who met my train just across the river, so I'm going to count them in the mayor's crowd, or the Governor—they can fight over who got them here, but I was glad to see them. And on the way, the Michigan City ROTC High School Color Guard made me feel very welcome. I thank them.
I want to thank the Michigan City High School Band, who's playing over here. What a wonderful job they did. Thank you. I want to thank a teacher who is behind me, named Stacy Reisdorf. She and her eighth-grade class wrote me when I was coming. And I want to thank— look at all the students back there who made posters and who showed up, all the students from Michigan City. Thank you very much. I want to thank the National Guard for providing water. And if you need water, take it. I don't want anybody passing out here. I want you to be just hot enough to be excited but not any more.
And let me finally say, I know that there was an accident here earlier, and I want you to keep those folks in your prayers. As far as we know, they're okay, but we haven't gotten a final report. And let me also say to all of you, I don't think you can imagine what it means to me to see you out here, to see— when you read and you hear people say, "Well, nobody believes in the political system anymore. People are cynical," and this, that and the other thing—I don't see any cynicism here. I see America and America's future, and I like what I see.
And while we're talking about the future——
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. Thank you. Thank you.
Let me say one thing about the future, before I go on. I appreciated what Governor Bayh said about the relationship that he and Susan have had with Hillary and me. It's way beyond politics and beyond the fact that we're in the same party, beyond the fact that we served as Governors together for years. They are our friends, and they're two of the finest people I have ever met. You have been very fortunate to be served by them. I don't know what the future holds for them, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if someday Evan Bayh were to come back here to Michigan City as the President of the United States. And I'd like to see you out here for him.
Folks, we've had a lot of fun at our convention, but I've had just as much fun with America. A few days ago, Hillary and Chelsea and I went to Huntington, West Virginia, and then Hillary went on home to Chicago, and Chelsea and I started this train trip through West Virginia and Kentucky and Ohio and then into Michigan and, finally, here into Indiana.
And I took that train trip for two reasons. First of all, with an enormous sense of humility, I'm on my way to Chicago to accept the nomination of my party for the Presidency for the second time. It is——
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. You know, unless I run for the school board or something some day, it will be the last race I ever make. And I wanted to take this trip through the heartland to look into the faces, the eyes, the hearts of the people that I ran for President to help, the people I have worked for and fought for for 4 years. And I have loved every mile of the track, all the people I have seen.
But I also wanted the American people to see, including all the people in all the little towns that came out to see the train come, all the school children standing by the road, all the people who put their pennies on the rails so the train would give them flat pennies— [laughter]—all the flags, even some of the loyal opposition that came, I wanted them all to see that we were not only on the right track to Chicago, we are on the right track to the 21st century. And that's the track we're going to stay on.
You know, I told you 4 years ago if you would hire me as President I would do my best to prepare this country for the next century. It's only 4 years away now. And I want us to go into that century with the American dream alive for every single person who is willing to work for it. I want us to go into that century with this country still the world's strongest force for peace and freedom and prosperity.
I want to go into that century—you look around this crowd today—where we can say other people in the world may be in the grips, the throes of division, other nations may be divided by race, by ethnicity, by tribe, by religion, but in America, if you believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, and you show up for work every day as a good citizen, you're our kind of American. We're all in this together. We're going forward together.
Well, now, you tell me—so I wanted to go out and see the people after 4 years. Four years ago, we had high unemployment, stagnant wages, a host of unmet social challenges. We had enormous growing cynicism, and we were afraid the middle class dreams that have always driven America were dying.
Four years later, we have 10 million new jobs, 4 1/2 million new homeowners, 10 million homeowners with lower mortgage rates, a record number of new small businesses, record exports, record businesses owned by women and minorities. America is on the move. For the first time in a decade, wages are on the rise again, for the first time in 10 years in the United States.
The crime rate has come down for 4 years in a row as we have given police officers and citizens at the local level the tools they need to make the most of their capacity for safe streets. We're putting 100,000 more police on the streets. We did pass the Brady bill, and 100,000 felons, fugitives, and stalkers lost their handguns, but no hunters in Indiana or Arkansas did. We did the right thing.
We're investing more in safe and drug-free schools to try to put more of those D.A.R.E. officers in the schools and provide more education, more prevention, more treatment, as well as tougher punishment to keep our kids away from the problems that come with rising drug abuse. We have taken stands for the American family; 12 million American working families have been able to take a little time off from work for a baby's birth or a sick parent without losing their job. That's good for America.
We have moved aggressively to prove that you can clean up our environment and promote the public health and advance the economy by doing it. Fifty million Americans are breathing cleaner air. We cleaned up more toxic waste dumps in 3 years than were cleaned up in 12 years. We are moving to protect the American environment and grow the American economy. And we can do both.
And we have done this in a way that brings the American people together. We have faced a lot of tough challenges around the world, and I've had to do some things that were, frankly, unpopular with a majority of you. But because we went in to Bosnia with our allies, no soldier has fallen in combat so far there, but the slaughter has ended and the people at least are being given a chance to get over the madness of their ethnic hatreds and go on with civilized life and be a part of a free Europe and a free world. And because we have worked with the Russians to be free, to promote their democracy, to promote their economy, to get their troops out of other countries, to be a constructive partner, for the first time since nuclear weapons were developed, in the last 4 years, there is not a single nuclear weapon pointed at an American child anywhere in this country, and I am proud of that.
And let me say again how much I appreciated what Tim Roemer said and what Evan Bayh said about that budget battle I had with the Congress. Folks, I always wanted to balance the budget. I was a Governor for 12 years before I was President. I had 12 balanced budgets. I couldn't believe we quadrupled the debt of this country in just 12 years. I want you to know that tonight not only have we cut the deficit by 60 percent, your budget would have a surplus tonight if it weren't for the interest we pay on the debt run up in the 12 years before I became President. Let's don't go back and repeat that mistake again. Let's keep on going. Let's keep on going until we finish the job.
You know, every time an election rolls around they say the public doesn't really care about the deficit, it's an abstract concept. Let me tell you something, it's not abstract. It's not only whether we're going to saddle all these kids with a debt they can't pay, if you bring the deficit down the way we have, that brings interest rates down. What does that mean when interest rates come down? It means your house payment, you car payment, your credit card payment goes down, Even more important, maybe, it means business people can go borrow money, invest it in businesses, and create new jobs. That's why we have over 10 million new jobs, because we've got a healthy climate to invest and to grow and to move this country forward.
Now, folks, that's the record; that's the past. But we've got more to do. We've got to keep going until every single citizen in this country who is willing to work for it has a chance to participate in the American dream. We've got to keep going until all our streets are so safe that if you come home at night and turn on the evening news and the lead story is a crime story, you are shocked instead of numb to it. That's when we'll know we have the crime problem whipped.
We've got to keep going until every single one of our children can read well by the third grade, until every single one of our teenagers know that drugs are dangerous. They're not only illegal, they will kill you. We have got to turn that around. We've got to keep going until we solve the problems of America and take everybody into the 21st century—everybody.
We've got to keep going until every American believes that we cannot afford to look down on one another. That's why I took such a strong stand against these church burnings and why I lash out every time a synagogue or an Islamic center is defaced and why I was appalled when those African-American Special Forces personnel in North Carolina came home to find swastikas painted on their doors. I bet you we've got some former Special Forces people in this crowd today. I'll tell you what they are, they're special forces. That means tonight at midnight, if I wake them up and I tell them to go halfway around the world to put their lives on the line and defend you, they will do it and say, "Yes sir," and be glad to go. They do not deserve to have swastikas put on their doors. We've got to keep going until that is not a problem anymore. We've got to keep going.
There are 25 million Americans who were helped last week when we signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill to say you can't lose your health insurance if you got sick or if you change jobs. But we've got to keep going until unemployed families, when they lose their jobs, get a little help so they can actually afford to keep their health insurance.
We've got to keep going until small-business people in this country can not only afford to invest in their business—because we've given every single one of them a tax cut if they invest more in their business in the last 4 years— we've got to keep going until small-business people can actually afford those health insurance policies that the rest of us enjoy, for their employees and themselves.
We raised the minimum wage for 10 million Americans last week, but we've got to keep going. We've got to keep going until every American has access to a good education that will lift all our income. That's why I say we ought to have a family-friendly targeted tax cut that we can afford that focuses on giving the American people the ability to take out IRA that they can save for with a family income up to $100,000 and then withdraw from to pay for a college education, to pay for a first home, to pay for medical insurance. That's the kind of tax cut we need.
We ought to give families a tax deduction for the cost of college tuition, a tax credit for a community college education for 2 years so everybody in America can have 2 years of education after high school. We can afford that. We can balance the budget. It will make us a stronger country.
I want you to support that. I want you to support 4 more years, not just of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, I want you to support 4 more years of more opportunity, more responsibility, and more community. I want you to support the idea that when the year 2000 comes around we will go roaring into the 21st century as the greatest nation in the world, with our best days before us.
Will you help me for the next 70 days? Will you stand with us for 4 more years? Will you talk to your friends and neighbors and ask them to go forward with us? [Applause]
Thank you. God bless you. On to Chicago. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 6:05 p.m. at the Old Lighthouse in Washington Park. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Sheila Bergerson Brillson of Michigan City.
William J. Clinton, Remarks on Concluding a Whistlestop Tour in Michigan City, Indiana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/222845