Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Democratic Dinner in Beverly Hills, California

September 12, 1996

Thank you very much. Thank you, Hillary. I'm glad you had a good day. [Laughter]

I want to thank all of you for being here, but let me say a special word of thanks to Ron and to Jan Burkle for opening their home to us. We've made a lot of jokes about it tonight, but this place is a national treasure, and it's a great honor for us to be here. And I'm grateful for their friendship. Thank you, Ron, so much for everything.

Thank you, David Geffen, for telling us the story of your mother, for living the dreams of your parents, and for being not only a great citizen but an honest and true friend—always tells me exactly what you think—[laughter]— always in the spirit of friendship and loyalty to your country. And I thank you so much.

I thank the Hollywood Women's Political Committee for your role in this evening. I want to thank everyone who worked on this event, all the stagehands and everybody else who made Tom Hanks miserable up here. [Laughter] Did you love seeing Tom Hanks? I visualized him, fistfuls of Oscars, miserable up here with nothing happening. [Laughter]

Tom, you have suffered so much tonight it's okay with me if you go and do "Primary Colors" now. [Laughter] As a matter of fact, I'd like to see somebody make some money out of that thing using their own name. [Laughter]

Thank you, Chicago. Thank you, Tom Scott. Thank you, Paula Poundstone, you were especially good tonight. I thank Aaron Neville and his brothers and his band. I thank the Eagles for helping us to live in the present and the past at the same time.

Thank you, Maya, you were magnificent as always. I don't know why anybody would want to take "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" out of the library. I think every child's heart would sing more who read it and the brave story of this remarkable woman.

And thank you, Barbra, for being my friend and for sharing your extraordinary gift. I remember once when I was a young man, I always wondered what it would be like to really be friends with someone who had been given a gift from God that was truly breathtaking, you know, to have moves like Magic Johnson, or do things that the Olympic champions do. I think it's remarkable that Barbra Streisand loves her country and is a good friend to so many of us but especially to me, for doing this 4 years ago and coming back tonight. I think it's a good luck charm, and I thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, you came here tonight; you have generously contributed. There are many people here from our campaign and from the Democratic Party; I won't mention them all. I will say that this is our chairman, Don Fowler's birthday, and this is the best birthday party he's had in a long time. [Laughter] And the rest of us will be miserable thinking of an encore next year. You've earned the right to be liberated from a speech, and I'm about to do it for you.

But I do want you to think about this: We are living through a time of unbelievable change in the way we work and we live and we relate to each other and the rest of the world. Just, every one of you, think how much what you do for a living has changed with technology, with the explosion of discoveries in the last few years.

And the thing that bothered me most in 1992, more than the stagnant economy, more than the rising crime rate, more than the threat of even the social divisions, was that people's hearts were hardening about America. This is a place that depends upon faith and hope and imagination. It is an idea. And we've been around for 220 years struggling to inch closer and closer and closer to what's in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, because there's always been enough faith and hope and vision to go on. And it seemed that people were really beginning to lose that.

What I want you to do tonight is to leave here feeling good, because I've just been on a train trip; I've just been on another one of our bus trips with Hillary and Al and Tipper, where he was doing his macarena thing. And thank you, Tom Hanks, for all the wonderful things you said about unquestionably the finest Vice President who ever served this country. Thank you.

But on this train trip in these little towns there would be thousands of people coming up, cheering and singing and waiving their flags. And whenever we stopped, in all the stops we made, there were only two crowds of under 10,000 and there were several of 20,000 and more. On Labor Day I went to De Pere, Wisconsin, a relatively small community of under 30,000, but there were more than 30,000 people at our Labor Day rally there in the suburb of Green Bay.

And today, just today I finished a swing out West at the Morris Dailey Elementary School in Fresno, and the Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga—I thought I'd never say it. [Laughter] And there were not only large numbers of people there, but they were all different kinds of people, proud to be together, believing in the future of their children, believing in their own future—young people. At this community college, there must have been about 20,000 people there, and they were on fire because they know that this is a country in better shape than it was 4 years ago. They know that we have a path to the future that we can go.

And they know we can go there together. And that's just the way they want it. And I'm convinced the majority of our people believe that.

So what you have done tonight is to make it possible for us to carry on that fight not just in the race for the Presidency but in all the others that embody the choice between building a bridge to the future and trying to build one to the past. We are just 4 years away from a new millennium, 4 more years away from proving that America has an unlimited capacity to be forever young and to keep its best days in front of it. And you have made it possible for us to pursue that with vigor and confidence and good heart.

And I just want you to think about those children who were up on the stage tonight, because whenever I finish speaking and I go down to those crowds and I look at young people who believe in their own potential and who do not like the idea that we have to be divided and we have to leave some behind and who do believe it takes a village to make the most of all of our lives, I know why we're all doing this.

That's why you're here tonight. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. And I ask you to remember that there are still 54 more days before anybody can celebrate anything— 54 more days of fighting for the future of the children who closed this wonderful performance tonight.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:05 p.m. at the Burkle residence. In his remarks, he referred to recording and film executive David Geffen; actor Tom Hanks; musical groups Chicago, the Aaron Neville Band, and the Eagles; saxophonist Tom Scott; comedienne Paula Poundstone; author Maya Angelou; singer Barbra Streisand; NBA basketball player Earvin (Magic) Johnson; and Donald L. Fowler, national chairman, Democratic National Committee. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Democratic Dinner in Beverly Hills, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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