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Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Larry Hopkins in Louisville, Kentucky

October 02, 1991

Thank you, Larry. Thank you all very, very much for that warm welcome. Let me just say that I'm delighted to be here, joining all of you as one of "a whole lot of people who want to elect Larry Hopkins Governor."

Let me give my special thanks to an old friend of mine, Lee Brown, for his leadership and his help in putting together this obviously successful dinner. He's done it again. He's been at my side through battle after battle. And he's been a great citizen of this State. And Larry was telling me it wouldn't have been possible without his leadership. So, Lee, we are very, very grateful to you.

I also want to salute another friend, a great friend of mine, former colleague, Gene Snyder over here, a good supporter who served this State with great distinction. And, of course, I feel as Larry does about our own Secretary of Transportation, with whom I work so closely, Sam Skinner. He really is doing a superb job for our country.

And we've got a good team, as Larry said. I've worked with them all, Bob Gable, our chairman; Nelda Barton, who was on the National Committee when I was national chairman; Jim Bunning, the national committeeman, I don't think he could be here with us tonight, unfortunately. And we also have a marvelous slate of statewide office seekers, and I hope you'll vote for every single one of them.

And I was particularly pleased to see another old friend. I told him, and I'll repeat it here, that I look around and I'm so grateful to so many for giving me the opportunity to be in this job. And the Bush family knows how politics works, and Larry Forgy has been at my side for a long time. And I was just thrilled to see him back here.

Kentucky is together now; the Republican Party unified. And I believe this is the year to elect a Republican Governor.

We were doing a little research coming down here, and I notice that we're not far from Zachary Taylor's resting spot. Poor old Zachary. [Laughter] When they dug him up last summer to find out how he died -- they really did -- they discovered that his last words were, "Pass the broccoli." [Laughter] I'm not sure if you all have eaten, but you'll excuse me if I take off, okay? [Laughter] We're going over to the CMA [Country Music Awards] awards in Nashville.

But let me just say, in the last few weeks, with all the historic events in the world, people have seen the importance of leadership and ideals. When a coup tried to replace Gorbachev and overthrow the change, it applied the coup de grace to communism: No leadership, though, and no ideals.

As I said at the United Nations, we face a different kind of world than we've ever seen, one in which we can build a new era of peace and prosperity at home and abroad. But we can achieve these lofty goals only if people take up the challenge of leadership without losing sight of their ideals. It won't be easy. We saw unrest in our almost democratic hemisphere, we saw unrest in Haiti this week; factions continue fighting one another halfway across the world in Yugoslavia. We still have not been able to bring and -- help bring a lasting peace to the Middle East. This week we got fresh evidence that Saddam Hussein has engaged in an active nuclear weapons development program. If the new world order means anything, it means that we face a greater variety of challenges than ever before.

I can tell you that I was very pleased to announce these drastic cuts in nuclear weapons. I can also assure you that this was supported by the Joint Chiefs, by our Secretary of Defense, and our national security is guaranteed. And I can tell you, as we look at the challenges, in my view, the United States will always be up to the challenge.

I'm looking at that grand scene, but I'm also looking at our country. And right here -- and I'm very, very pleased to be back. You face enormous challenges as well. For leadership, I really believe the time has come for this dramatic change he's calling for, not just the party, but we need this man, this leader, Larry Hopkins, in the Governor's mansion there in Frankfort.

He's helped this commonwealth for 20 years, particularly as a top Republican up there on the ag committee. He serves with his time and his hard work, but most important, he brings to Washington this absolute, fierce sense of integrity and honor.

Don't you think it's time then that Kentucky had a Republican Governor? Let's put it in an historical perspective. Think back when Green Bay beat Kansas City to win the very first Super Bowl. Or if you prefer a local angle, the year Jim Bunning led the National League in strikeouts. Seems like ages ago. [Laughter] Well, that was 1967, and that's the last time a Republican lived in the Governor's mansion. And we've got to do something about that come November.

Here's a reason why. Look where you are now, 24 years later. Kentucky's spending has increased more rapidly than the Federal spending, and heaven knows, I'm unhappy about that. Larry's going to put an end to that. He's earned his stripes by taking a tough antispending stance up there in Washington.

And he means business. And he's going to fight, you heard him, on keeping the jobs here and creating new jobs, rather than letting them slide out, slip away to some other area. He knows that you can't help Kentucky workers if taxes and regulations chase all the jobs away.

And his bold plan to jump-start the economy doesn't try to turn Kentucky into a land of smokestacks. He wants to strengthen the farms that make this State great. This is a State matter, but I like his proposal of a regional agriculture center. He doesn't intend to smother farmers with new gimmicks and restrictions.

I always worry about the mandated programs out of Washington, DC, whether it's in agriculture or housing or whatever it is. You get a little committee together, they control the Congress, they come up with mandated programs telling everybody in every State, in every walk of life, how the programs are going to work in the States. And Larry doesn't believe in that. He knows that people are tired of too much Government and too little personal freedom, personal freedom to choose different things. And we aren't second to anyone, and all we need is a chance to prove it.

Our administration's domestic philosophy really starts with a fundamental truth, and that's that the true power and potential in this land rests in the hands of our people. That's what I mean when I'm saying I'm against so many mandates. Our domestic policy begins by trusting you.

Consider -- let me just click off a couple of items in the domestic agenda. Our housing proposals will turn public housing, their residents there, into apartment managers and homeowners. What better way to have dignity for a low income family, than having them own their own homes.

We've got a good energy program that will conserve energy while encouraging innovation. It encourages Americans to develop new technologies, you've got good resources here; what we need are better, improved technology. We need alternative fuels for motor vehicles, other breakthroughs that will increase our energy independence without reducing our economic growth. And we have such a package.

Our transportation package, Sam can wax eloquent on that, gives more power to local authorities. It lets you decide which roads your Federal dollars will build, rather than putting the decision in the hands of some subcommittee up there in Washington, DC.

Our crime package -- I've just come from the Crime Stoppers who are having their international convention here. Had a chance to see what the local police here are doing in that crime stopping department right here, locally handling it. And our crime package, the most comprehensive in history, will give our streets back to the people. It's going to put an end to the endless legal gimmicks that enable convicted criminals to escape justice. And it will make drug dealers pay, literally, for their crimes. And it will let juries hear testimony from victims so we can get fairer, fuller justice.

These are just a few of the items in our package, but they demonstrate our basic theme: that we will protect law-abiding citizens from criminals rather than protecting the criminals from the law.

The problem is too often Congress simply refuses to act. This even remains true for something as crucial as education. You know the story on the crime bill. I challenged them in March, I think it was, for 100 -- gave them 100 days to pass the comprehensive crime package; 100 days went by and now we're close to 200. And it's simply -- they haven't even sent a bill down for me to sign of a comprehensive nature.

In the last 10 years -- I mentioned education -- in the last 10 years, in current dollars, total spending on education went from about $200 billion to over $400 billion. Those are rough figures, but that's roughly what happened, went from, in 10 years, from $200 billion to $400 billion. And we are still 12th in the world in math and we are 9th in the world in science. And just last Monday, the National Education Goals Panel confirmed that we have a long, long way to go. So, let's start working with our Education 2000, our America 2000 program to improve education, not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, but right now. And Kentucky can have a lot to do with the success of this revolutionary new approach to education.

Yesterday, I talked with a group of school children in Washington -- they were eighth-graders, I believe -- about the importance of education. And I told them that they can control their future by demanding more and doing more. Everyone here can take control, too.

So, let's decide right now to make our schools the best in the world. And I am confident that when Larry Hopkins gets to be Governor, he'll work closely with former Governor Alexander, our Secretary of Education, to put into effect this innovative revolutionary America 2000 program.

Let's decide right now to provide educations that prepare young men and women for the competitive, international economy out there. The world is getting smaller. Communication is much more rapid. And it's very, very important that these kids be competitive. And let's decide to build a system that gives everyone the power to throw open his or her own door of opportunity and travel the path to success.

Last April we made this challenge, challenging Americans to reinvent, literally reinvent, the American school, to revolutionize, and I mean revolutionize, American education. And this strategy encourages us to create accountable schools for today and a new generation of schools for tomorrow; a Nation of students committed, not just to finishing regular classes, but to a lifetime of education. And I'm still working at it myself. You ought to see me try to get that computer to operate. [Laughter] But I'm going to stay on it because our theory is nobody is too old to learn. And I would recommend this to some of you other backward technological people out there. I'm having a lot of fun doing it.

But we can all learn. And our communities can be made for learning to happen. And that means less crime, and obviously that we want to have places where kids are prepared to start learning, and that means more Head Start. So, we've got a good, comprehensive educational program, and all of you can play a critical part in implementing it.

People who want Washington to solve all these problems are simply missing the point. And I am convinced that's one reason why Larry is willing to come back here, roll up his sleeves, and run for Governor of this great State.

What happens up there in Washington, is important. I am not antigovernment, but, believe me, it doesn't matter half as much when we talk about these problems as what happens in each hometown, and I might say, in each family.

I am very concerned as your President about the diminution of family, the disintegration of family. And I don't know what we can do about it, but I do salute Barbara Bush as she goes around the country not only talking about literacy -- (applause) -- not only talking about literacy, but about the importance of family being involved with these young kids: reading to them, caring about them, comforting them. And sometimes, I guess, some of us older guys take all that for granted. But we can't anymore. Family is too darn important to our country.

I need a strong advocate for this approach to education in Kentucky. And I believe Larry can work with the establishment, as much as we need to do that. But I don't think he'll work for it. I think he believes in the power of the individual communities to shape the educational opportunity for the young people.

I know that here in Kentucky you'll take that call seriously because this is the "land of tomorrow." And your tomorrow really has got to begin today with hard work to make sure that your next Governor will be a man of principles, and that man is Larry Hopkins.

And that's why I wanted to come down here tonight when Lee and Larry asked me to show up for this wonderful event. When Governor Hopkins calls next year, he will have a friend in the White House. I can guarantee you that. Larry, come here just a second. Let me just say this. I've had to call on this guy for some tough votes, to be at my side through some big fights, and we've lost quite a few of them and every once in a while we win one up there. We're not outnumbered hopelessly. But he's given of himself. He's been there when I've asked. And now I want everybody across this great State of Kentucky to support him for Governor. You couldn't get a better man.

Thank you all, and may God bless the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 5:35 p.m. at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. In his remarks he referred to Lee Brown, event chairman; former representative Gene Snyder; Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner; Robert Gable, chairman of the State Republican party; Nelda Barton, Republican national committeewoman; Representative Jim Bunning; Larry Forgy, Larry Hopkins' opponent in the Republican primary for Kentucky Governor; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney; and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander. Congressman Larry J. Hopkins is the Republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Larry Hopkins in Louisville, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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