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Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senatorial Candidate Larry Craig in Boise, Idaho

July 19, 1990

What a great crowd. My heavens, this is wonderful! Thank you all. Please, be seated. Thank you all very much. Larry, thank you. I hope you enjoy your dinner tonight. Rest assured, the Idaho potato is one vegetable I approve of. [Laughter] But I'm not going to put myself at risk that the other vegetable might be served, so I have to leave before dinner. [Laughter] I hope you'll forgive me. But thank you all, really. You have a wonderful way of making me feel at home.

I want to salute Steve Symms, a great Senator, fierce advocate for Idaho and, indeed, for the fundamental principles of the United States. I want to salute the Lieutenant Governor, an old friend of mine, Butch Otter. I see my fellow aviator down there, Pete Cenarusa. He presented me with a model of the plane I flew a thousand years ago. The only good news is he got his wings 3 months before I did, so he's older and perhaps more experienced. I want to salute the attorney general, Jim Jones; State Treasurer Edwards; and also Roger Fairchild, our distinguished nominee for Governor of this State -- and I want him to win. I want him to win the governorship. Our outstanding successor -- and this has to be also -- successor to Larry Craig, Skip Smyser -- we want to see him hold this seat that's so important to us. And we have another superb candidate running in the other seat, Sean McDevitt. And it's important you give him your support -- a distinguished veteran of the United States military. And a special salute to a 15-year-old from Boise whom I just met, Olen Hsu, who won this year's Idaho State essay contest. There he is, way down, tethered down on the end down there.

And we just had a receiving line in there, and so I say this from the bottom of my heart: I wish that the pride of Wellesley was with me here tonight -- Barbara Bush. She was with me at the library with the four Presidents there, but now she's campaigning next door in Washington State. But, you know, I say this not just with husbandly pride, but, I think, with some objectivity: I thought Barbara did a great job up at Wellesley talking about values and family. And so, that leads me to pay tribute to Suzanne Craig, who is such an important part of all of this -- important part in lifting a great career to new heights, doing so much for family. Let us all give a round of applause to Suzanne, and to the kids as well -- Mike, Shae, and Jay.

And it is a delight to be back among friends in Idaho. I know you feel I'm like the bad penny turning up every couple of years for the last 8 or 10, but you have this wonderful way of making somebody feel at home. It's especially delightful to be with you during this centennial year. Of course, we know that the history of this great State reaches beyond a century. If we had to choose the one day that Idaho history began, it would undoubtedly have to be March 4, 1863, when the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, created a new territory of the United States with a stroke of his pen. And as I look around this room, at Senator Symms and Congressman -- Senator-to-be -- Larry Craig and at our outstanding candidate for Governor, Roger Fairchild, I can't help but reflect how fitting that this great State of Idaho and our Republican Party were born together. Now a new century is beginning for Idaho. So, let us make it a century of promise and prosperity. Let us do that by sending Larry Craig to the United States Senate.

You know, Larry is a white-water rafter. And he's just the kind of guy who would enjoy a hair-raising adventure, with chills and spills, ups and downs, where you're knocked around and never sure if you're going to make it through in one piece; and that's just what it's like to run for the United States Senate. But nevertheless, he's going to make it, and come November, I'm sure he will have forded the river with this marvelous skill that he has demonstrated in the Congress. I believe that this is his destiny: to join the ranks of great Idaho statesmen, to follow in the footsteps of Borah and Symms and my dear friend and former classmate in the Congress, Jim McClure.

Of course, I don't want to break any myths here, but Larry hasn't been a statesman all his life. In fact -- we did a little homework for this meeting -- Larry, I understand that when you were a boy, a farm boy in Midvale, you house-trained a pig. [Laughter] Imagine that, your Senator-to-be house-training a pig. [Laughter] That ought to help him in Congress. [Laughter] And at a community car wash, you washed the hood of a farmer's brand new car -- unfortunately, using SOS pads. [Laughter]

Well, given his decade of achievement in Congress and service to the people of the First District, I reckon that even that farmer has forgotten about his car and cast his vote for Larry Craig -- a strong, consistent, steady voice for Idaho and for the bedrock principles and beliefs that Idahoans hold dear: the freedom to own land, to reap the rewards of hard work, to provide for one's family; and then an undying faith in God and country. Larry embodies these values. That's why I have looked to him for advice as Congressman Craig. And I want to rely on Larry Craig's advice and consent in the years ahead, when he is Senator Craig.

As you know, I presided over the Senate as Vice President when that body was controlled by Democrats, and earlier, by Republicans. And I can tell you this: When it comes to an administration and a Congress working together, compromise is often necessary if you're going to make this great country go forward, but there is no substitute for having a United States Senate that shares our outlook, that will work with us to build a better America. And that means, in my view, with considerable experience in Washington, a Republican Senate. And I need Larry Craig to hold that McClure seat to give us a chance to have a Republican Senate.

Electing Larry to the Senate would be a major step toward a Republican future, giving me a partner in leadership. After all, he and I share the same outlook. When it comes to our national defense, he says that it is strength, not weakness, that brought about the Revolution of '89. Larry and I believe that the marvelous changes -- and are they ever exciting -- taking place in Eastern Europe are a result of 40 years of American and allied vigilance. This is no time for America to turn its back on world leadership nor to fundamentally weaken the defense of this country.

As you know, in the last few weeks, I've attended three summits: one with Mr. Gorbachev, one NATO summit over in London, and then the G - 7 economic summit recently concluded in Houston. And the outcome of each summit has convinced me that we are on the right path -- keeping America strong, but keeping America strong for peace.

The first summit, with Mikhail Gorbachev, made new progress toward an important goal: engaging the Soviet Union as a constructive partner in the international community. The second summit, with my NATO colleagues in London, confirmed the vitality of the alliance of the Western democracies and reached out to the East to establish a lasting peace in Europe. And our third summit, in Houston, recently concluded with the great industrial democracies, lead to a consensus that we need to open up world trade to give farmers, like those right here in Idaho, like those right here in this room, a better chance to compete. We also discussed how we can help the nations of the East move toward freer economies and freer societies. But our message in Houston was clear: We must take the trade barriers down -- not just us, but all countries. Let's have a free and fair playing field for American products, and let's not us start throwing up new trade barriers of our own. The best answer for America is a level playing field because I am convinced not only our farmers but our businessmen can compete with anybody, anywhere in the world, if the rules are fair.

And no one can convince me or Larry Craig that this extraordinary new world would have come about if America had followed the liberal path of military weakness and unilateral concessions. Of course, there are still some liberal Democrats who would take America back to the days of big-spending, malaise, self-doubt, and drift. Well, there's a river here in Idaho that sums up the course these liberals would have America take -- the River of No Return. [Laughter]

Well, America isn't taking that course. And Idaho voters want elected officials who will protect us from all threats -- threats from afar and from just down the street. And it's for this last reason that Idaho is going to support the candidate who sides with our policemen against the crooks, families against fear, and kids against drugs -- and Larry Craig stands for all three of those.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the mayor and those leaders in the antidrug coalition, volunteers who met with me before this meeting to explain to me what Boise is doing -- trying to fight drugs, trying to help in education, trying to do what they're doing in law enforcement. It is an impressive program that I think has significance for the entire country.

Larry has been a strong champion, leading the fight for laws every bit as tough as the criminals we convict; but our war against drugs and crime will not, cannot, be won from Washington alone. In this war, we will also need to count on local heroes. And right here in the Treasure Valley, a Boise policeman is doing his part by creating and leading, along with Senator Symms and Louise McClure, a volunteer organization that teaches substance-abuse education: Parents and Youth Against Drug Abuse. Prevention is our most critical tool against drug abuse. And that's one reason why I've come to Boise to thank all of the many people who have been on the front lines fighting against drugs. Once again, I was mightily impressed by what I heard this afternoon, and I want to thank you for not only what you are doing for your community but for what you're doing for the entire United States.

There are so many issues: Larry Craig and I will also work together for and not against the right for a kid to pray voluntarily in the school. We will work to pass our Educational Excellence Act and encourage reform of America's entire educational system. And we will work against needless Federal regulation of your schools. But Larry and I will work against unnecessary Federal regulations that stifle opportunity and kill the aspirations of working men and women.

We agree that the congressional budget process is, at best, clumsy and illogical and, at worst, cynical and chaotic -- in short, a metaphor for what's wrong with Washington today. As you know, that's why I am currently negotiating with the congressional leadership to bring this budget back towards balance. The deficit is estimated to be over $160 billion. Congress, as the American people know, appropriates every dollar and tells the President how to spend every single penny.

And I have said I will negotiate without preconditions, and I will. And you've seen the firestorm about revenues on the table. Well, I've done my part, and now it's their turn. A truly comprehensive package, not a temporary Band-Aid -- there must be reform of the budget process and there must be real spending control. And the American people are entitled to it. And that's why this man's leadership is so valuable. He and I know that this problem stems from too much spending, not too few taxes.

And Larry Craig believes Congress must be forced to act responsibly. That's why he's been fighting, as the founder and chairman of Congressional Leaders United for a Balanced Budget, for the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It would discipline my branch of the Government, the executive branch, and it would discipline the congressional branch. Larry was the leader in signing up hundreds of Republicans and conservative Democrats in support of the amendment and in forcing congressional liberals to show their true colors in a direct, up-and-down floor vote just this past Tuesday. And we lost by just a handful of votes -- a tremendous majority voted for the amendment, but we missed getting the required two-thirds by just seven votes -- seven votes.

And finally, let me say just a few words about the philosophy that Larry and I share concerning something that's near and dear to the heart of everybody in Idaho. I know it is. I've been here. Every time I come here, I sense it. And of course, I'm talking about the great outdoors; I'm talking about the environment.

We know that from Bear Lake to Pend Oreille, from the shadow of the Sawtooth clear up to Sandpoint, the Idaho way of life is special. I saw it -- I've just had a little fringe tastes of it -- but I saw it for myself when Jim McClure and I floated and fished the middle fork of the Snake River. And Idaho truly is the Gem State, as bright and clear as one of your deep mountain lakes. And your land is unique, and yes, it does deserve to be protected.

But Larry and I also believe in protecting yet another kind of delicate ecology. And I'm talking about jobs. I'm talking about homes. I'm talking about families. And we believe multiple-use land policies should govern most of our public lands. And we can have a sound economy and a healthy environment. They are not mutually exclusive. And I'm going to continue to fight to protect and enhance both.

I think everybody here would agree that the environmental policy of this country cannot be set by those who have no regard for our precious inheritance. That is a given. And I think of myself as an environmentalist. I care about the great outdoors. I love the recreational places in this country. And I guess one of the best things that happens to me is when I can see the wonders of nature through the eyes of my grandchildren. But the environmental policy of this country cannot and will not be set by the extremes on the fringe of the environmental movement. They're not going to do that to the working men and women in this country. No, Idaho needs a strong, reasoned voice on natural resource policy. That's why, once again, Idaho needs Larry Craig in the United States Senate.

So here we are, and this is the Republican approach: a philosophy of environmental commitment, keeping America strong, laws tougher than the criminals who threaten us, and less government interference in the way you run your schools and in your State. And all this adds up to a very special kind of freedom, the Idaho way of life.

I want to thank each and every one of you for all you have done and all you are pledged to do to advance Republican leadership. And with Larry Craig on his way to the United States Senate, I know that Idaho is on its way to a great second century.

Thank you from the bottom of a grateful heart for this warm Idaho welcome. God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 6:42 p.m. in the Eyries Ballroom at the Boise Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Pete Cenarusa, candidate for secretary of state; Skip Smyser and Sean McDevitt, candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives; and Dirk A. Kempthorne, mayor of Boise. Mrs. Bush spoke at the Wellesley College commencement ceremony. Prior to his remarks, the President attended an antidrug briefing by community leaders at city hall.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senatorial Candidate Larry Craig in Boise, Idaho Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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