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Remarks at a Fundraiser for Texas Senatorial Candidate Richard Fisher

July 19, 1994

Thank you very much, Richard, and you and Nancy and your wonderful children. It's a great honor for me to be here tonight even to take a little ribbing by Bob Strauss about how I look in my running shorts. [Laughter] Henry looks better in his running shorts. I saw Henry in his running shorts yesterday morning in Miami, and I thought he looked better, too. But I wouldn't have said it in public if Bob hadn't. [Laughter] I hope Henry's enjoyed his brief tenure as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. [Laughter] Akin Gump is going to hire him for about a half million a year starting tomorrow, Bob Strauss' penance. [Laughter]

I want to thank Secretary Cisneros for the brilliant job he has done, literally. I mean it's unbelievable what's happened to HUD since he took over, how he's turned it around and made it an instrument of progress: everything from standing up for civil rights of people, the standing up for the civil right of people who live in public housing to be free of crime, what they're doing in Chicago and throughout the country is unbelievable; and now working not only to try to help homeless people get off the street but help them get into the mainstream of life which is, after all, the ultimate answer to the problem of homelessness.

I want to thank Senator Graham, my longtime friend, a former seatmate in the Governors' Association, for his sterling leadership of the Senate Campaign Committee.

And what can I say about Secretary Bentsen—that he hasn't already said? [Laughter] I'll tell you one thing, I like to make fun of him because he talks in such a frank way to his President when I need to be frankly spoken to, which is about every other day, you know. [Laughter] But in the annals of this century when the history is written, I think that he will be literally remembered as one of the greatest Secretaries of the Treasury we ever had and as someone who dealt with a very rapidly changing world with all kinds of new challenges and had a major responsibility in helping this country adjust its economy to the global economy. He has been absolutely spectacular. I had high aspirations for Lloyd Bentsen's tenure, but he exceeded them in every way, and I am very grateful to him for that.

Let me tell you about Richard Fisher and one reason I'm here tonight, besides the fact that I want him to be elected real bad—[laughter]—is that we met a few years ago when he and I were involved in the Democratic Leadership Council which might be subtitled, Don't Lose Control of the Senate This Year, DLC. But we both got in it because we were worried that the Democratic Party was becoming less relevant to the future of America and becoming alienated from the mainstream of America, but we knew what the Republicans were selling was not going to do much for America over the long run.

And one of the real challenges that I think we've had, particularly in Texas, is to get the voters of the State of Texas to listen not only to the rhetoric but to compare the rhetoric politicians use to the reality of their actions. And I think that Richard Fisher is better positioned to do that than any public figure since Lloyd Bentsen in the State of Texas, and I think he's going to do it.

I appreciate what he said about our administration tonight and the fact that he has embraced the Democratic Party but also been willing to challenge it to change, to take unconventional positions to move toward the future, to grow the economy and keep the American dream alive.

And I'll tell you, there are some very specific reasons that I think he ought to be elected. First of all, I'd like to be in a position to do more for Texas. We passed NAFTA here, and it was deader than a doornail until we got the environmental agreements, the labor agreements, and it came back from the dead. And we did it because of farsighted business people and others up here working. And then San Antonio and other cities in Texas, Dallas, and El Paso, have benefited from things we've done as a result of NAFTA. But most importantly, our trade is growing faster with Mexico than any other country in the world. We've sold 5 times as many cars in Mexico already this year as we did last year, and that's just the beginning. It was the right thing to do. But we need a bipartisan group of people who will work for the best interest of the country.

The second thing I want to say is we just saved the space station. We saved the space station, which was very important to Texas, which passed by one vote in the House last year. We changed 52 Democrats and 11 Republicans in one year. And we did it by tying the space station to America's future, to our cooperation in space with the Russians, and to what we need to do together to build a future. But it is difficult to do—to work when people come up to me all the time and say, "Why are you trying to help Texas? Listen to the way those Senators talk about you. Look how they vote." And, "What difference will it make in the next election? We need the money to spend on education or training or something else." And I tell everybody I'm not trying to help Texas, I'm trying to help America.

I tried to save the super collider last year. And these House Members will tell you that on the day, at the moment the House of Representatives was voting on the super collider and the opponents were saying it was a boondoggle for Texas, the Senators from Texas were on the steps of the Capitol with other citizens of the State screaming at the Congress to cut more spending. And so they did. Isn't that right? At the very moment—their timing was exquisite. And yet I gave them a chance to vote for the biggest deficit reduction package in history, and they both voted no. And they said, "Why, this will bring the economy of America to an end. It'll be terrible for Texas."

But by the narrowest of margins, Congress voted for $255 billion in spending cuts; tax cuts for 15 million working American families; a tax increase for only 1.5 percent of us, including a lot of us in this room—[laughter]—that went to pay down the deficit; a tax break for 90 percent of the small businesses in this country; lower interest rates on college loans for 20 million American students; and a bill that will give us 3 years of deficit reduction for the first time since Harry Truman was President; a bill that reduces the size of the Federal bureaucracy, that the Republicans always scream about, by 250,000, and by 1999, we'll have the smallest Federal Government that we've had since John Kennedy was President—the first time it's gone below 2 million—100 percent from votes of Democrats.

And what was the result: 3.8 million new jobs; a 1.7 percent in the unemployment rate; the largest number of new business incorporations last year of any year since the end of World War II; and the first quarter of this year, the first quarter in 16 years there was no bank failure. I plead guilty for fighting for that. It was good for Texas, and I'd like to have some help from people who believed in it.

Now, I'm telling you I have pleaded for bipartisan cooperation in a lot of ways, but they want to go out and use that old tax and spend rhetoric. You just check your hip pocket, folks. It is time. America has got to lead the world into the 21st century. We have difficult challenges ahead. We've got a crime bill to pass here. We've got welfare reform to pass here. We have to come to grips with health care.

I just got back from a trip to Europe in which I had three large meetings with American service families, enthusiastic Americans serving our country overseas, willing to put their lives on the line for you. And do you know in all three meetings, those people only asked me about one issue, health care. They're afraid they're going to be sent home after serving our country abroad to a country in which they won't have health insurance for their children. They know we spend more on health care than anybody else in the world. We're the only country in the world that can't figure out what to do about it.

Now, Hawaii figured out what to do about it. They adopted the solution Secretary Bentsen's always advocating: let employers and employees split the burden, buy private insurance, cover everybody. In Hawaii insurance costs small business 30 percent less than it does in the rest of the country; everybody's covered; and people are healthier. We've got to do something about this, folks.

I went to the Governors' conference today and the Republican leader of the Senate was there, and he said he was willing to work all through August, which I took as a significant olive branch, and all through September and all through October. And I am too, all day and all night long. But if we don't do something about this, what's going to happen to the Federal Government is we'll cut defense too much, we won't be able to invest what we ought in our children's future and our education and training and building the economy tomorrow. And being in the Senate and House is going to be a matter of writing checks for health care because that's the only thing that's going up. Everything else is going down—and not to buy new health care but just more for the same. We can't do it.

There may be other ideas than mine, but I'll tell you one thing: I hired on to solve problems. And I showed up for Richard Fisher tonight not because he will agree with me on every issue, he will disagree from time to time. He will vote for the people of Texas, not for me. But he will hire on to solve problems. He does not want to come up here and warm the seat or have empty rhetoric or just spout empty rhetoric. Public service should be about ideas and ideals and vision and what's good for ordinary people. That's how this country lasted 218 years.

And I believe he's got a chance to win that is better than average. And more importantly, I think he has that chance because he is right for the people of Texas, and that will be good for the United States of America. And I thank you for helping him.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:45 p.m. in the Chinese Room at the Mayflower Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Robert Strauss, former chairman, Democratic National Committee.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Fundraiser for Texas Senatorial Candidate Richard Fisher Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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