George Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Mayoral Candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani in New York, New York

October 12, 1989

Thank you very much. Bill, you did a first-class job. And thank you -- please be seated -- and thank you for those warm words and, most important, for all your hard work in working for Rudy and making this a tremendously successful evening.

And it's always good to see our outstanding political leaders. The chairman of our party, Pat Barrett, is here; Ralph Marino and Rap Rappleyea and -- with a certain pride -- a former finance chairman of the State of New York, my brother, John. And last, but not least, are two of my best friends in the State: Senator Roy Goodman and one of the great movers and out-front people in my own election over a year ago, Guy Molinari, who's here. And Al is here -- and my pal, Al D'Amato -- Al, welcome. I didn't see you come in. I'll tell you something: When we get into the tough scrapes down there in the Senate, it is a joy to have this Senator on our side, and he's doing a fine job. Welcome.

I hear that a guy went to Rudy a few weeks ago and said, "Good news. I've got you the most powerful man in America for your fundraiser." Rudy told him, "Look, we've already had Donald Trump." [Laughter] But he asked me to come and speak on his behalf in a city that I lost in last year's election. People say he has no sense of humor? [Laughter]

My staff called Rudy's office last week, asking if there was anything in particular the campaign would like me to say here. And they came back with a one-word memo. True story. A phonetic guide to pronouncing the word: Joo-lee-ah-nee. [Laughter]

So, I've come here for two reasons. The first is to endorse as strongly and as enthusiastically as I can the next mayor of the city of New York: Rudy Giuliani. Number one. And secondly, I urge every single one of you to support Rudy's candidacy as energetically and as generously as you possibly can because he deserves the backing of everyone who really wants to bring this city totally back and everyone who wants a mayor who knows how to fight crime, crack, and corruption -- and win. And that's why we need your help here.

You know, Barbara and I lived not far from here when I served as U.N. Ambassador. And we had a terrific time. And flying in today on Air Force One, seeing the magnificent skyline, I remembered many of the wonderful things the city offers: the sports and, of course, the arts and music and dance. There's a certain pace to New York life, an exciting, vibrant atmosphere that no place else can match.

And in some ways, I'm thinking of the impacts that drugs have had on this and other cities. And New York City isn't the city in this regard that it used to be. But Rudy holds out the hope that it can again become the city that it once was.

And most of us know him as America's great crimefighter. I told that to one of my grandkids. I said, I'm going up to meet America's greatest crimefighter. He thought I was going to New York to meet Batman. [Laughter]

But seriously, to try to pigeonhole this guy as just one more crimefighter would be like dismissing Chuck Yeager as just another test pilot, calling Teddy Roosevelt a former police commissioner. Rudy's the real thing. And I'm not talking about quality of prosecutor; I'm talking about the quality and heart of the person. As one New York columnist put it -- a Democrat put it: "In an era of lawlessness, he stood for law. In an era of private greed, he stood for public service."

Born in Brooklyn of Italian parents who ran a local bar and grill, while still in his twenties he fought police corruption. His cases literally became the stuff of movies. And what happened in his next big case wouldn't be believed if Hollywood tried to put it into a movie. It was Rudy versus Goliath: an unknown Brooklyn kid, barely 30 years old, against the United States Congressman accused of bribery. And the Congressman broke down under Rudy's cross-examination, stopped the trial, and confessed on the spot. And it really happened. The newspapers were in awe, and Rudy's too modest to brag about it. But every generation or so, there emerges a larger-than-life crimebuster who captures the public imagination. And Teddy Roosevelt was one, and Thom Dewey and Elliot Ness were others. And Rudy won his reputation, as they say, the old-fashioned way: He earned it. And his secret has been hard work, an innovative mind, unflagging idealism, and then this flair for leadership. And he has imagination and energy, and he's a man of ideas.

It was his brainstorm to use the existing RICO [racketeering, influence, and corrupt organizations] law and use it in a way that had never been tried: to attack the ruling board of New York's crime families. And he did it without new legislation. He did it without new resources. And he did it by seeing what no one else had seen -- and by making it work.

And he has all the right instincts. He's fought not only for criminal justice but also social justice. Some years ago, the ranks of the homeless here swelled when hundreds of mentally ill people were stripped of Social Security benefits. But Rudy did the right thing. He refused to go along. And the New York Times called it, "one of his finest hours." And he took a stand for New York and for the homeless.

And his leadership really and truly has earned respect across America. In a recent letter, former Attorney General William French Smith said without qualification that Rudy Giuliani has "done more than any individual I know to extinguish the myth that crime is an unconquerable and somehow tolerable presence in our society."

Rudy demonstrated to a skeptical nation that one man with courage and conviction can make a difference. As U.S. attorney, he commanded about 160 troops. And think what he can do from City Hall. Think of the energy, the renaissance, that this young and imaginative leader can bring to New York. In the war on drugs, no man in America has a better chance of succeeding. Let's take back the streets. Let's bring back New York.

Like many of us, Rudy knows what it's like to meet a payroll, to run a business. In 1978 he was appointed by a court to take over a bankrupt, strike-threatened coal company in Kentucky. And he saved hundreds of jobs, got the miners a raise, paid off the creditors 100 cents on the dollar. And he was the one to turn it around, and I honestly believe that he's the one to turn around New York City.

People do get tired. They're tired of a city that can't cope with New York's problems: the shortage of affordable housing and the decline of the school system and neighborhood tensions and the homeless and the crumbling highways and bridges and tunnels. And Rudy has the energy, the intelligence, and the will to solve New York's problems. He knows that when he becomes mayor he'll have the second toughest job in America. The first, of course, is managing the New York Yankees. [Laughter]

No, but this guy cares about New York. People always wonder whether New York politicians are using their jobs as stepping stones to Washington. But Rudy's the one who left Washington to help clean up New York City, the city of his birth, his hometown.

And he's a family man. Just a few weeks ago my beautiful dinner partner, Donna, gave birth to a daughter, Caroline. Son Andrew, 3 1/2, now has a little sister. And wouldn't it be nice to see those kids playing on the lawn at Gracie Mansion? We'll send him 11 grandchildren to play with them.

Now, I've known Rudy for years, and he's fiercely proud of this town. And he has a dream for New York. The dream is of a city that gives everybody a chance, in which everybody is free to make the most of himself or herself. Rudy will create a New York where that is possible. And he'll bring everyone together in this city because he's running for mayor of all New York.

Half a century ago, Mayor La Guardia inherited a city bled by a decade of mismanagement and knavery. And on his first day in office he swore in a new police commissioner with a single, blunt message: "Drive out the racketeers or get out yourselves." And at City Hall he bounded past a gauntlet of shouting reporters, giving them only a four-word comment in Italian. "What the hell does that mean?" someone asked. "It means," said a newsman who knew both Italian and La Guardia, "no more free lunch." And with those words, Mayor La Guardia launched what many consider 12 years of the best reform government in American urban history. And it helped that his three terms as mayor coincided closely with F.D.R.'s 12 years in the White House. And they forged an undeclared alliance that lifted New York up and brought back the lost respect of the Nation.

It's time to bring the Big Apple all the way back. And I want Rudy to know, and I want New York to know, that Mayor Giuliani will have a friend in the Oval Office that looks forward to working with him for the benefit of New York City.

As I thought back of the history of the city, I thought that, like La Guardia, our man is an American original, an American hero. And a world-class city deserves a world-class mayor. And time's running out. Resources are scarce. The stakes are high. And if the problems are to be solved -- and not simply put off, postponed -- Rudy is the leader New York City needs in City Hall.

You see, he's right on the issues. And he's ready to debate them one on one with his opponent. And frankly, debates are good for democracy, and I think they'd be very good for New York City, too. So, my words, as one who loves this city, lived here for a couple of fascinating years: New York, don't postpone your return to good government, your return to greatness. Don't wait another 4 years.

Okay, at this moment, Rudy's an underdog. But he reminds me of Yogi Berra's description of the Miracle Mets of '69. Sure, Yogi admitted, they were underdogs, but they were overwhelming underdogs. [Laughter]

Look, I've got a sense things are moving in this campaign. Ever since I've come today, you can feel it, and all the pros are telling me it's happening. So, take your polls and do what you want with them. [Laughter] He may be an underdog at this moment, but New York loves an underdog. And he's a fighter with overwhelming character. So, let's start now. Let's bring back New York, and let's elect a winner, the next mayor of the city, Rudy Giuliani.

Thank you, and God bless you. And God bless the city of New York.

Note: The President spoke at 7:34 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton Hotel. He was introduced by William Koeppel, chairman of the fundraising dinner. In his remarks, the President referred to State Senator Ralph Marino and State Assembly Minority Leader Clarence D. Rappleyea. Following the dinner, the President returned to Washington, DC.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Mayoral Candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani in New York, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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