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Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Governor Edward DiPrete in Cranston, Rhode Island

November 20, 1989

Thank you. Hey, listen, what a welcome back! Thank you, Governor; thank you, Claudine. Please be seated. [Laughter] Eat your hearts out. [Laughter] Ed, thank you, thank you for that welcome back -- that kind invitation first, and now introduction. And thanks to Ed and Pat for inviting me to share this special nostalgic evening with you all.

Let me first acknowledge a great Congressman that is here. I know he's flying back with me on Air Force One. Ron Machtley is here. Now, where is he? Way back there -- what a job he's doing for the State -- right back there under that arch. And of course, I'm very proud to be here now with Claudine, in a few minutes, later, in an event she's having -- and she will make a great United States Senator for Rhode Island. So, I'm delighted she's here.

And of course, with the DiPretes, all I'll say is this is quite a gathering. You know, Barbara gets on me constantly for the habit I have of inviting folks to our house. [Laughter] And so, I'm glad we have once again found a kindred spirit, someone who doesn't mind having a few close friends. I can't help it if his neighbors will never speak to him again. [Laughter] But, Ed, this evening is proof that you don't know the meaning of the phrase "not in my backyard." [Laughter]

You know, when I said nostalgic, though, it's true. I remember very well -- and we were in talking about it -- being back here at this very house back in '81. And you'd just finished some renovation at that time. And I'm honored you still refer to the garage as the Bush Room, but it's no longer the garage. [Laughter] But, look, I'm here for two outstanding leaders: Ed DiPrete, Claudine Schneider.

Claudine first: independent, principled Congresswoman with a proud record of leadership on the environment, on education, in combating crime. She is a great Congresswoman, and I know she's going to make a great Senator.

And our host, Ed DiPrete -- well, it's a pleasure to be here with a man who is simply one of the finest Governors in all the 50 States. He has long been not only -- and I mean this, not just in the diplomatic sense, political sense -- but a close friend and a trusted adviser. And he's close to my able Chief of Staff, John Sununu.

You know, remember De Tocqueville, the great 19th century French observer of American democracy. De Tocqueville once asked an American politician to define the role of Governor, and he got this answer: "The Governor counts for absolutely nothing and is only paid $1,200." [Laughter] Well, times have changed. [Laughter] And in our Federal system, the 50 chief executives right there on that State level count for everything -- for a great deal -- as I am reminded by my Chief of Staff every day. [Laughter] But nevertheless, it's true, and Rhode Island is blessed with one of the best.

I remember when I first started this quest for the Presidency a couple of years ago, Ed DiPrete came up to our house in Maine with several other Governors. And it was there that I learned more about how you try to solve the people problems than I ever had at a seminar before. And I'm always going to be grateful to Ed for that.

He's been a trailblazer not just for the State but for Governors across America. I'll take just one example, education, where the States play such a critical role. Two months ago -- you remember it, I'm sure -- we all went down to Charlottesville, Virginia, at the education summit. Some of the most innovative ideas on improving our schools came from your Governor, Ed DiPrete. I knew it, and the other Governors knew it as well.

One example: a public-private partnership. Ed calls it the children's crusade for higher education. Starting in 1991, each and every third-grader in this State is going to have the option to join this children's crusade. Teachers, parents, volunteer tutors, and mentors are going to work with the kids from third grade on to keep them in school, off drugs, out of trouble with the law, and help them to get ready to enter college and then go on to the work force. And the children's crusade won't end with graduation day. For every child who is accepted by a college or a job training program but can't afford it, the children's crusade fund will help pay the cost for them. That is innovative thinking; it is creative. And it's Ed DiPrete's idea, helped by many in this room.

With Ed's advice and his help, I've laid out my plan for improving our nation's schools: rewarding good teachers, giving parents a choice of schools, reducing Federal control. If there was one theme that came out from these Governors at Charlottesville, it was flexibility: Don't handcuff us with regulations that might seem sensible in Washington, but have no relevance to our own States. And so, we're talking about reducing Federal control, but increasing accountability where it matters most: in the schools and local communities. On every one of these issues, Ed and I stand side by side. And I do value his counsel, and I truly respect his leadership.

And that strong leadership has helped Rhode Island's economy as well as the schools. Ed took over as Governor, and since then, Rhode Island has gone from being a job-poor State to one of the top-ranked in the country in terms of employment. And that's just one measure of the sound economic course that this Governor has mapped for this State. Job training, outreach to expand foreign trade, how to foster high-tech industry of the future -- Ed understands how to keep Rhode Island on top in a competitive business climate that we're going to be facing in the 1990's.

When it comes to a strong economy, to growing prosperity for all Rhode Islanders, you need Ed. You need him here. And I need progrowth Governors like him to help keep the economic expansion going forward.

Let me mention right now one of the best ways that I know to keep the economic expansion going forward, keeping it in high gear. It's a big debate raging, and I'm talking about the capital gains differential. I'm talking about cutting the capital gains rate. We've all heard the arguments about who benefits from a cut in the capital gains rate. There was one issue that was clearly debated a year ago, or more, in the Presidential race -- it was this question.

Well, the real answer is, in my view, that all Americans benefit from a capital gains cut, a capital gains differential. It is good for growth. It's going to increase entrepreneurship, starting new businesses and investment opportunities. And that means more jobs right here in Rhode Island and all across the United States. A majority in both the Senate and the House are on record now in favor of cutting the capital gains rates. And so, let me tell you this: It's been frustrated by parliamentary procedures in the Senate, but let me tell you right now, when Congress starts its new session next year, we're going to make it absolutely clear that the fight for a capital gains cut is far from over. It is not a tax break for the rich; it is a break for the poor who don't have jobs and who will have jobs if we get it put into effect.

There are other areas of Ed's interest. I think of that oil spill right up here off your beautiful, pristine coast -- back in June there was one -- that disaster that really didn't happen thanks to a very fast response -- and I hope we helped on it -- response by your Governor. Ed got the State resources mobilized into action quickly, got on the phone with our office down there to tap Federal resources in the cleanup effort. Only hours later, the Secretary of the Interior and the head of EPA on the scene and working together, you managed to contain that spill and prevent catastrophe in beautiful Narragansett Bay. And that's a tribute to what I call a take-charge kind of leadership of Ed DiPrete, leadership on the State level that we have come to count on.

Let me just end by making one comment that doesn't exactly relate to my enthusiasm for Ed's reelection. And that has to do with this meeting that will take place a week from this coming Saturday off of Malta.

Barbara and I have 11 grandchildren. And we're outnumbered only by the DiPrete family; they must have 100 grandchildren -- [laughter] -- kids and grandchildren, I don't know. I never saw such a picture as they've got in there. But it made me think about this just as we were walking out here, when I saw that magnificent family picture.

This is going to be an historic meeting. I don't want to see over-promise coming from it. I think it's an important meeting because who could possibly have predicted the dynamic change that is taking place in Eastern Europe? We are living in exciting times. We are living in times where the potential for peace and reduced tensions has never been better.

And so, as your President, I want to go there. This will not be an agenda meeting; this will not be a meeting when we have a 12-point program and he has a 6. I do not want the great United States and the Soviet Union to be like two ships passing in the dark. So, I'm going to go over there buoyed by the principles of democracy and freedom that separate our country out, that make us the greatest. And I will be talking and finding ways where perhaps we can be cooperative, to understand the problems that Mr. Gorbachev may have, but to -- let me put it this way -- to be prudent and to be cautious and to keep my eyes open. And I think that's what I was elected to do.

But I just want you to know I do feel -- when I saw the picture of that wonderful family -- that we have a chance now, in the next couple of years, to really enhance the peace that many in this room fought for as veterans of one war or another. And it's going to be historic.

Listen, thank you all very much for Ed. Now, you've been hit up for a high-ticket item here tonight, I understand that. [Laughter] But now what we want -- I will not be crass enough to ask you for more money -- but get out there and get this good, able, decent man reelected as Governor of Rhode Island. Thank you all, and God bless all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:15 p.m. in the Governor's residence. In his remarks, he referred to the Governor's wife, Patricia DiPrete. Following his remarks, the President traveled to Warwick, RI.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Governor Edward DiPrete in Cranston, Rhode Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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