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Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Governor Terry Branstad in Des Moines, Iowa

June 08, 1990

Thank you all very much. Thank you, Terry. Thank you, Governor Branstad. I'm just delighted to be back with so many friends. I was looking around for Chuck Grassley, who is doing an outstanding job in the Senate. I assume he's back there, but I want to just put in a plug for our Senator.

But I see one who I want very much to be in the Senate, and I'm talking about my old friend Tom Tauke. We've got to elect him. And, Tom, keep up the great work. And of course, perhaps my oldest Iowa friend and a guy that's helped me today a lot as President -- helped me in the past very much, indeed -- and I'm talking about Jim Leach over here, a Member of Congress in the eastern part of the State.

I'm going to get in trouble, but I also want to single out Jim Lightfoot and Fred Grandy. But I think both of them are in Washington, working. And I might add that now we have this important second district coming up, and I'm for Jim Nussle. He came out to the airport last night, and I want to see him win this race. We do not want to lose seats in the United States Congress. And the strength's not just with Governor Branstad at the top of this ticket, and Tom Tauke and others, when you have candidates like Burt Day and Varel Bailey over here, whom I've known forever -- I don't want to date him -- [laughter] -- I mean, put him outdated, put it that way -- [laughter] -- Beverly Anderson and Edward Kelly. And then, another old friend that -- I guess he's a household word by now. He's just being sworn-in as the national president of the State Auditors. And I'm talking, of course, about Dick Johnson. I wish he were here, but I wish him well, too.

I don't want to forget the party organization, because when we move into an election year, the party organization means something. It's terribly important, as so many of you out here know, that the candidates are backed with a strong party structure, led by Rich Schwarm over here, our chairman; Gwen Boeke, our national committeewoman; and Marvin Pomerantz, who -- gosh, everybody knows him. Ask somebody to get some money raised -- get Marv to head it up, I'll tell you. And it's not simply that; it's his judgment and his experience and the respect level that he brings to anything he's interested in.

Of course, I'm going to get in trouble as I look around this room -- but Charlotte Mohr and my old friend George Wittgraf. I don't think she's here, but I do want to pay an emotional tribute to Mary Louise Smith, who followed me as national chairman when I left being chairman of the Republican Party. And we've remained good, close friends. I'm told that she's in Washington today.

The last time I was at this particular hotel was the night before the Iowa caucuses -- [laughter] -- and today I've come back to this great State to let Terry in on my secret formula for political success. [Laughter] But I'm confident he'll win Iowa anyway.

Now let me put a little different spin on this. I'll tell you something I know very well -- and I mean it, and the Silver Fox knows this, too -- that's Barbara -- [laughter] -- that I would not be President of the United States if it hadn't been for Iowa, albeit in 1980. It was very important. And I look around this room, and I see so many people into whose homes I and Barbara and our kids have intruded. And I remain very grateful because I know just exactly how I got here -- having an opportunity to serve as President in this most fascinating of times. So, I came to say thank you as well as support for our great Governor, Terry Branstad.

So, for me, it is great to be back in the Hawkeye State. Whenever I'm here, I take the advice of a great Iowan, the "Duke," John Wayne, who once said, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much." [Laughter] So, as I look at all these pages, I may be -- [laughter]. But you can't say enough about what another great Iowan -- and I mean that -- this Governor, Terry Branstad, has done for this State. You look at his background: a family man, attorney, farmer -- served three times in the Iowa House of Representatives and then a term as Lieutenant Governor before being elected Iowa's youngest Governor ever.

Look at his record: he's running for his third consecutive term as Governor. Over the past 7 years, Terry has turned the State economy around through sensible fiscal policies and by staying with the controlling of spending. He put education at the top of his agenda, ensuring world-class status for Iowa's school system. He's one of America's leading Governors, elected by his peers as chairman of the National Governors' Association. Iowa needs this kind of experience and leadership; and frankly, if you believe as I do that a lot of the best answers are found in the States and at the local level, so does America need Terry Branstad to continue as Governor of this State.

Terry touched on the Governors' summit that we had at Charlottesville. He and I worked closely together at that summit in Virginia last September, where he played a key role -- and I mean this -- a key role in his position as head of the Governors. You know, exactly 26 years ago today, former President Eisenhower addressed that same group, saying, "Our best protection against bigger government in Washington is better government in the States." Well, that's still true today, and Terry Branstad proves that every single day.

My last visit to this great State was just a few days after the Malta summit, at an appearance on behalf of the next Senator over here, my friend Tom Tauke. We laid a solid foundation for progress at Malta, and I shared many things with President Gorbachev: dialogs, cooperation, and Dramamine. [Laughter]

I told Iowans that night that President Gorbachev and I had just agreed to new initiatives nurturing Europe's tide toward democracy, accelerating arms control, and expanding trade. I'd like to talk to you this morning about some of the progress we've made at the Washington summit and what it means for Iowans and, indeed, for all Americans.

This historic summit has furthered the process of peace by working toward a safer world and a stable, new Europe, one in which every nation's security is strengthened and no nation is threatened. In a spirit of cooperation and hope, President Gorbachev and I reached a number of new agreements that will affect the lives of all Americans. Among them is a bilateral agreement, between the Soviet Union and us, to eliminate, for the first time, the great majority of these ghastly chemical weapons that our countries have stockpiled over the years. That is progress. At long last, we have also signed new protocols that will allow 15-year-old nuclear testing treaties to be ratified as well as a major new agreement that updates and expands our 1973 agreement on peaceful uses of atomic energy. And we made substantial progress on our negotiations governing reductions in both these strategic arms, these deadly, destabilizing weapons -- these SS - 18's and others. And also in conventional forces, I think we did make progress, though we haven't signed a CFE treaty. And we issued joint statements in both these areas.

These agreements, we hope, represent the beginning of the end of the Cold War. And I think I represent all Americans when I hope that we are having now a new relationship of enduring cooperation between the Soviet and American peoples, cooperation further strengthened with new agreements on trade and grain sales.

And while our trade deal with the Soviets, properly, in my view, depends on the passage of key emigration laws within the Soviet Union, the trade agreement we negotiated is, in my view, in the best interest of the United States because an improved trade relationship between our two countries means expanded markets for American goods and services and expanded markets for, in your case, Iowa corn and soybeans. And, in fact, the new U.S.-Soviet grain agreement signed at the summit calls for at least 40 million metric tons of grain to be purchased by the Soviets over the next 5 years. And that's nothing but good news for agricultural America. Our task is to keep moving forward and to keep Iowa productive and to keep America strong.

But despite all our progress, let's be candid, we cannot lose sight of the significant differences that remain between our two countries. Lithuania is one difference. And I urged the Soviet President to establish a good-faith dialog between the Soviet leaders and the Baltic peoples. And the United States will continue to speak out on behalf of peoples rightfully yearning for freedom and self-determination. We must never retreat from our commitment for democracy and freedom.

The question of a unified Germany is not one that will be solved by the United States alone. When I leave here, I stop off in Nebraska and then fly home to have yet another meeting with the Federal [Republic of Germany] Chancellor -- with Chancellor Helmut Kohl -- to talk about this very important question, that affects not only the stability of Europe but greatly affects the interests of the United States. But it's not going to be solved by the U.S. alone, nor is it one that will be solved quickly or easily. In the final analysis, I think we would agree that it's a question for the people of Germany to decide. But the United States remains committed to German membership in NATO as a part of a stable Europe, whole and free.

As one who has strongly supported the exodus of Soviet Jews, and it is a question of fundamental rights and fundamental integrity of a country, I am pleased to see that after last year's record-setting total emigration of 72,000 Soviet Jews, this year's emigration rate may become the highest ever. And we must keep the door to freedom open for these Soviet Jews.

And I've said often that we want perestroika to succeed, and we do. As a world leader in agriculture, farm technology, and education, you, Iowa, can play a significant role in making that happen. In fact, you already are helping perestroika succeed. Many people here may remember the first American-Soviet summit in the United States, back in 1959. After his meetings with President Eisenhower, Chairman Khrushchev toured Des Moines. And he was obsessed with the vision of productivity that he had seen on American farms and with the idea of growing corn. And yet because the Soviet system was not a free enterprise system, one with open markets and good distribution and production incentives or any of the economic freedoms we enjoy, its experiment in collective farming was a dismal failure.

As a young man, Mikhail Gorbachev witnessed the struggle of the Russian farmers. He went on to become the Party Secretary of Agriculture, some may have forgotten that. And by the time President Gorbachev and I sat down at the table last week, a delegation of collective farmers had already journeyed 5,000 miles to the fields of Iowa to learn from our system, the most efficient and bountiful in the entire world. And how amazed -- how amazed Chairman Khrushchev would have been at the interaction between the American farmers and the Soviet farmers.

Under the leadership of Governor Branstad, Iowa is forging a new sense of cooperation between its citizens and the Soviet people. In fact, 2 years ago, Terry signed an agreement making Iowa a sister State with President Gorbachev's native region, the Stavropol district.

But another way to help perestroika succeed is through education, learning about each other's countries and peoples. In Washington last week we agreed to increase undergraduate exchanges by 1,000 students, college students, on both the American and Soviet sides. This agreement will allow more of our young people to learn firsthand about each other's culture and politics. Here in Iowa, learning and education have always been a priority. Your internationally renowned writers workshop at the University of Iowa is living proof of that, and with a Soviet writer currently in the international writing program.

You've got a Governor who puts education at the top of his list. At the education summit with the Nation's Governors last September, Terry really made a difference -- it wasn't just the cameo appearance of the chairman -- he made a difference. And he's made a difference right here in this State, ensuring that your State's education system is one of the best in the entire country, with Iowa students ranked first in ACT scores in America. And Iowans can brag -- they've got the fifth highest percentage [rate] of high school graduates in the entire country. And like Terry, we've made education one of our top priorities at the national level. And so, we can do nationally, we must do nationally, what you've done locally.

Under Terry's leadership -- and after he personally journeyed to the Soviet Union twice for the negotiations -- Iowa State University became the first institution in the United States to forge a relationship with a Soviet academic institution, the Agricultural Academy of Science. So far, Iowa has received five Soviet official delegations to discuss trade and education ties. In fact, a Soviet trade representative will be coming into the State in just a few days.

I came to you today to talk about Terry Branstad and our work together for a better America and a better world. His dedication to this State and nation is what drew Terry Branstad into public service, and it's what keeps him working so hard for the future of this State and for America's future as well. You see, we need him to remain in the Governor's chair. We need his experience, his energy, and then this proven ability.

This decade is fast becoming known, for quite obvious reasons, as the decade of democracy, the decade of opportunity. But to make those goals a reality, we will need leadership. Terry Branstad has been providing that leadership to his State and nation for nearly 20 years. And they say, "The Time is Right" for Iowa. Well, "The Time is Right" for Terry Branstad to continue to lead Iowa forward into the new decade of democracy and opportunity.

Let me say once again, and I did talk to Barbara this morning, she seemed unexcited about her 65th birthday, but nevertheless, I -- [laughter] -- just a couple of observations since some in the receiving -- she's doing just great. And I thought she was superb up there at Wellesley University, representing the values of this -- [applause]. And so she joins me in saying to our friends in Iowa, thank you. Thank you for your support for this outstanding Governor.

And thank you for giving Barbara and me the opportunity to serve the greatest country on the face of the Earth. God bless you all. And God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 8:11 a.m. in the Iowa Ballroom of the Des Moines Marriott. In his remarks, he referred to Representatives Jim Lightfoot and Fred Grandy; Burtwin Day, candidate for State treasurer; Varel Bailey, candidate for State secretary of agriculture; Beverly Anderson, candidate for State secretary of state; Edward Kelly, candidate for State attorney general; Charlotte Mohr, cochairperson of Governor Branstad's reelection committee; and George Wittgraf, a former member of the Bush for President Committee.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Governor Terry Branstad in Des Moines, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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