George Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Wilson in Los Angeles, California

September 18, 1990

Thank you very much, Pete and Gayle. Pete, thank you for that welcome. And all of you, and to Assemblyman Ross and Diane Johnson; Senator Marian Bergeson and Garth; Councilwoman Joan Milke-Flores; Matt and Paula Fong down here; and our State chairman, Frank Visco; of course, Dan and Bobby Lundgren; and Chuck Heston, my friend here; Tom and Mary Hayes; and Johnny Grant -- what a wonderful turnout -- thank all of you. Robby Britt, that was an inspiring rendition of the national anthem. Thank you very, very much.

Let me convey the apologies of a very close member of my family who couldn't make it tonight. As it turns out, Millie is back East, promoting her new book. [Laughter] Her celebrity status has gone to her head. [Laughter] I gave her a bowl of Alpo, and she asked to see the wine list. [Laughter]

I'm sorry that our national fitness czar, Arnold Schwarzenegger, could not be with us tonight. You know, he wanted to entertain the troops in Saudi Arabia, but we had to put him down, say no. It turned out they didn't think it was very entertaining to watch a guy bench-press an M - 1 tank. [Laughter]

But we do have another czar with us tonight, and that is our drug czar, Bill Bennett, who flew in with me today on Air Force One. Bill's bringing his tough and fearless leadership to our national war against the scourge of drugs. A few days ago, there at the White House, he and I gave a 1-year update on our national drug strategy; and we both feel that in many ways we are, indeed, making significant progress. And that's due to the tireless fight that Bill and so many communities and so many police forces -- including the one right here, the LAPD -- are making, waging against drugs. And we're grateful to you, Bill, and we're grateful to the citizens out here from whatever walk of life that are participating in this war against drugs. We owe him a vote of thanks and, again, all of the volunteers that are pitching in.

Let me say it is great to be back with so many good friends, back here in this Golden State. You know, the people who came to California wouldn't stop looking for gold and glory until the trail stopped at the edge of the Pacific. That's why this State is a place where the dreamers are the doers and why California is leading America into the future. And I can't think of anyone better qualified to lead California into that future than your next Governor, Pete Wilson.

I will say I am very sorry that Barbara's not with us tonight, but she thinks the world of Gayle, just as I do. And both of us are strongly in your corner as you go down to the stretch.

I'll have a lot to say tonight about Pete and the Republican future in California, but first, let me just speak of two matters that are critical to the future of America and the world. A week ago tonight, I went before the Congress and the American people to discuss two urgent yet interrelated matters: the aggression in the Middle East -- and, Rabbi, thank you for your overly generous comments, sir -- and the Federal budget deficit.

Even before the Persian Gulf crisis, we were already more economically vulnerable than we should ever be, especially with a projected Federal deficit of $232 billion. So, I told the Congress -- and I know that Pete Wilson agrees -- that we must address our budget deficit not in 1991 or '92 but right now.

We need a budget agreement that meets four basic tests. It must include measures to increase economic growth and cut our national dependence on foreign oil. It must be fair -- everyone should be called upon to make a sacrifice, but no one should bear the burden alone. A budget agreement should address the growth of the Government's hidden liabilities, and it must reform the budget process. And one thing more: We can cut this budget without hurting the economy; without another phony-baloney plan; with an agreement that is credible, real, and enforceable -- one that will save America half a trillion dollars in 5 years.

I also told the Congress that if America remains strong at home, America can continue and will continue to lead abroad. But there's another component of American leadership that has no price tag, none at all, and I'm talking about the men and women who are serving this country in the Persian Gulf. America is a mighty nation, but we are a great nation only because of those who are ready to leave the comfort of their homes in Oceanside or San Bernardino to serve on the front line halfway around the world in defense of freedom. America is great because its courage is great.

And we all wish their job was done, but we know that it's not. Certain objectives must be met: Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait without condition. Kuwait's legitimate government must be restored. The security and stability of the Persian Gulf must be assured. And American citizens abroad must be protected. These objectives are not ours alone. They've been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council six times in 7 weeks.

And let me note the good news from our allies. West Germany has pledged to support the mission with almost $2 billion and provide transport ships and planes. Japan has now pledged a package worth $4 billion. France has added another 4,000 troops. And Great Britain has sent 120 tanks, 6,000 troops -- the famous Desert Rats that some of us remember from World War II. It is truly, then, Iraq against the world.

We've also put tight sanctions into effect while working with the United Nations Security Council to allow food to reach innocent children, mothers, the sick, and the elderly. And we've been working with many nations to get relief to the most pitiful victims of this conflict -- I'm talking about those thousands and hundreds of thousands of refugees, those that can afford it the least, humbled in the desert off the Iraq border.

I spoke of our four objectives. But we have another, final objective; and that is to create a new partnership of nations, a new world order -- freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, more secure in the quest for peace. The international community has already taken a giant step toward that day. Together with our friends and allies, ships of the United States Navy are patrolling the Mideast waters -- already intercepted more than 700 ships to enforce these sanctions against Iraq. And the world is simply telling Saddam Hussein, we will not give in to intimidation.

On matters like these, we are called upon to put country before self and patriotism before party. And so, it's good that politics now are stopping at the water's edge, but that still leaves a lot of America in between. And from Long Beach to Long Island, we should and we will vigorously campaign right up to the November election. And for those of us at home, we can serve our country by being the best candidates, the best citizens and, yes, the best Republicans and Democrats we can be.

I am sure every Democrat agrees: We will not allow our political life to be held hostage to a crisis. When Californians go to the polls, absentee ballots will be coming in from Americans in uniform, including those stationed in the Persian Gulf region. And if our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines can find time to vote under such difficult circumstances, surely those of us at home will do our civic duty as well.

Just a few moments ago I spoke of international intimidation. Well, it does Americans no good to stop aggression abroad if bullies take over the streets at home. As a former U.S. marine, as a Senate leader in foreign policy and defense, Pete Wilson understands the need to repel, stand up against aggression abroad. But he also understands the need to repel aggression at home.

Let me tell you a story that means a lot to him, about an immigrant from Ireland named Michael Callahan, who came to these shores to find peace and prosperity. Michael Callahan moved to Chicago, started a family, worked hard, and rose to the rank of detective sergeant on the city police force. And then one evening, while on duty, Sergeant Callahan tried to arrest two cocaine dealers. They drew their guns first. And although Callahan managed to shoot one of the dealers, the other one shot him. Sergeant Callahan died in Chicago at the age of 30, fighting the first wave of cocaine to sweep America. But that was not in 1990 or 1980. Michael Callahan died fighting cocaine in 1908. And his grandson Pete Wilson is with us tonight. So, when your Senator says we need to protect the public and the police from cop killers and kingpins, and when he says that those who deal in death should reap what they sow, you can be sure Pete Wilson means business.

And I share his sense of mission. On a rain-soaked morning in May of 1989, surrounded by hundreds of law-enforcement officers at the foot of the Capitol, I called on Congress to pass a tough crime bill to build on what our Attorney General here tonight, William French Smith, worked on, to build on what my predecessor Ronald Reagan worked on and tried to accomplish. We put forward a new program, and now 16 months have now gone by. And despite the leadership of Pete Wilson and others in the Senate, the House Democratic leadership has gone off into deep left field. And even worse, several measures receiving serious consideration in the House last week would actually weaken law enforcement, would actually make our cities and our streets less safe than they are now. And such a bill will stop at my desk. It will not become law. I'll guarantee you that.

Pete Wilson and I want a crime bill that will stop the abuse of habeas corpus, a bill that guarantees that criminals who use serious weapons will face serious weapons charges and serious time, a bill that guarantees that evidence gathered by good cops acting in good faith isn't barred by technicalities that let bad people go free. I cannot sign a bill that overturns Supreme Court decisions limiting frivolous habeas corpus petitions, expands the coverage of the exclusionary rule, and weakens capital punishment. And I will not sign a bill that handcuffs the police officers all across the United States of America.

But if some in the House have been an obstacle to tougher laws, Pete Wilson has been an advantage in the Senate. He played a key role in passing the death penalty provisions of the 1988 antidrug act, one that allows capital punishment for the murder of a law enforcement officer working on a drug-related case. And Pete says, "I will not have California under siege to rapists and thugs and drug dealers." He wants to govern a California where women need no longer fear the night because drug dealers and criminals will instead fear the law. And he would start by extending capital punishment in California to major drug traffickers, the same as my proposals before the United States Congress.

And so thus, I have to ask: Is it any wonder that the endorsement of a dozen law enforcement organizations has gone to the grandson of Michael Callahan? Pete, we need you to continue the work in this anticrime field.

Tomorrow in San Francisco, I'll speak of Pete Wilson's fiscal philosophy and especially of his longstanding environmental leadership. He is and always has been a conservative, but Pete Wilson also is and always has been an activist who wants to use government creatively to improve our quality of life. And this balanced approach is the key to his success as a legislator in Washington and Sacramento and as mayor of San Diego.

It was as mayor that Pete first showed a flair for executive leadership, and now he seeks the largest executive job in America, second only to my own. And he faces a California skeptical of all rhetoric, impressed only by action. But he's faced the voters before, retaining a Senate seat that six predecessors lost. He broke the jinx and made history because he delivers on his promises.

And now Pete says, "If the voters think I'll be more useful as a Governor than as a Member of the U.S. Senate, then that's what I'll be." Well, all of us here know that filling the Governorship after George Deukmejian is not going to be easy, but all of us here know that if there's anyone that can do it, it is Pete Wilson. And I am very proud to be here for him. He should be the Governor. And that is what he must be: Governor Pete Wilson of California.

Thank you for your support. Keep it up. And God bless the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 7:46 p.m. in the San Francisco Ballroom of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Senator Wilson's wife, Gayle; Matt Fong, candidate for State comptroller; Dan Lungren, candidate for State attorney general; Charlton Heston, actor and political supporter; Tom Hayes, candidate for State treasurer; Johnny Grant, master of ceremonies for the dinner; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin, who gave the invocation; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Gubernatorial Candidate Pete Wilson in Los Angeles, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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