George Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for the Ohio Republican Party in Columbus

February 08, 1990

Thank you all very, very much. I'm delighted to be here, and so is Barbara. Thank you, Tim, for all you do for the party and for the outstanding leadership you've brought to this dinner and everything you touch out here. I'll tell you, I'm delighted to be with you once again. I want to salute our Congressmen that are here. We've got outstanding Republican Congressmen in the House, and up at the head table here is Chalmers Wylie. I don't want to date him, but he and I were elected to Congress on the same day a thousand years ago. And John Kasich, Bob McEwen -- all doing a great job. And then, with uncharacteristic modesty, I spot Ralph Regula and Mike Oxley out here -- not even at the head table, but here -- strong, both of them, wonderful Representatives. So, I feel surrounded by friends and former colleagues.

I also want to pay my respects and just tell you from my heart what a good job Lee Atwater is doing as chairman of the Republican National Committee -- sitting over here. I know that the Ohio party is on the move, but I can tell you that that National Committee has taken a real leadership in a lot of these races, in recruitment -- finding good people -- and doing the best job that I can remember the party ever doing there. I want to pay my respects to a lot of the powerhouses of Ohio that are with us -- Stan Aronoff, the president of the Ohio State Senate, a friend of mine of long standing from Cincinnati, is with us here. I thought Corwin was going to be here, but he's not -- Corwin Nixon -- or is he? I don't think so. But Joanne Davidson, ably representing -- where is she? Way down here. Joanne, please pay my respects to Corwin. And I'm just delighted that you're here and have great respect for the job you're doing.

I, too, want to salute the organizers of this dinner -- John Wolfe and Les Wexner and John McConnell. The great Ohio team also that we have on the national committee: our chairman, Bob Bennett; Martha Moore; Mike Colley -- they're all doing an outstanding job. Incidentally -- is this your birthday? This might well be the chairman's birthday today. So we want to wish him a happy one. And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't single out my old friend -- still get a little free advice from him, but there's no one quite like him -- Jim Rhodes, over here. Where's Jim? There, he's standing there -- former Governor of this State.

And who would have thought, football and baseball and sports nut that I am, that I'd get a chance to get in there and have my picture taken with Archie Griffin, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner. You talk about a record -- the only one, right? The only two-time winner of the Heisman. And so here we are -- and I also want to single out another friend of mine who headed my campaign some time ago. I want to just announce that my dear friend, Keith -- Keith McNamara, who was with us here a minute ago, has just been appointed to a position on the Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute. It's a very important job, and I'm delighted that he's willing to undertake that. But I want to salute him and thank him for his past support. And finally, I do want to pay my respects to one who is not here tonight -- the mayor of Columbus, Buck Rinehart. Right now he's Captain Buck Rinehart, U.S. Marine Reserves. He's out at Twenty-nine Palms Base, in California. So even his Commander in Chief couldn't talk him out of that one. Twenty-nine Palms in the middle of February -- don't tell me that Buck isn't willing to undertake those hardship assignments. [Laughter] But there he is. And again, in all seriousness, I do salute him.

I'm delighted to make one of my first fundraising stops of this decade right here in Ohio. And I congratulate you on the record-breaking success of this event. I'll never forget the help that all of you and this State gave to me and Dan Quayle in 1988. Memories of the Ohio campaign are still very fresh in my mind. Pitching horseshoes out there at the Ohio State Fair was one of the highlights. Riding on a campaign stop with Anne Hayes, who's right here with us tonight. She and her son, Steve -- Judge Hayes. We had a marvelous trip, and all that does -- seeing Anne here -- is make me very nostalgic and very sentimental about Woody Hayes. What a wonderful man he was and what a great friend of mine. I'll never forget it.

And, of course -- I'll get over this reminiscing in just a minute -- but one of my final campaign stops was right here just before the election in Columbus at the rally finale, with a fellow who believes as deeply as I do in keeping America strong -- I'm talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was with us that day. And Conan the Republican, we call him. [Laughter] But I thought they were there to see a guy that might be the next President of the United States. But never -- it was the best thing that ever happened because I was getting a little egocentric then -- and all they wanted to do was see Schwarzenegger out here. But I had a marvelous time campaigning here. I spent so much time here that I met people who said that I had their vote -- for Governor. [Laughter] I rode in a firetruck, kissed the babies, even threw out the first ball at the All-Star game. Seems like the only thing I did not do was to dot the "i" on the "Script Ohio." [Laughter]

But this is a critical year, as Tim said -- and said it very well, indeed -- Ohio always, but this year a critical State. What happens here is key to the Republican majority that we want to build all across this country. And I'm delighted to see that the party is making great gains here. I brought along a news clipping tonight, a story reporting the results of a new statewide poll on party preference. Apologies to John Wolfe -- it's from the Dayton Daily News. [Laughter] But it says here that of all Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 25, 59 percent identify themselves as Republicans. And here's another statistic that makes the 59 percent even more impressive: Just 6 years ago, that figure was only 30 percent. A dramatic and amazing turnaround. That's a tribute to every one of you in this room tonight -- and every one of you who are working so hard to make the Republican Party the majority party here in Ohio.

You know, last weekend, the Democratic leadership in Washington went on a retreat -- that was their word, not mine -- and they spent a weekend trying to find themselves -- find themselves -- work through an identity crisis that they're having. I read that some of the leadership thinks the problem is that people just don't know what their party stands for. I disagree with that. I think the problem for the national Democrats is that people know exactly what they stand for, and they don't want any more of that -- more government, more taxes, and more Washington-knows-best bureaucracy. And that's their problem. And I really believe that that's why we're seeing these amazing changes in terms of party identification.

People are looking for something new in the nineties -- and that's why they're looking at a new GOP generation. More Americans are turning to the Republican Party because our party really does have more of the new thinking, more of the answers -- the answers people are looking for to help maintain the competitive edge in this global economy, to clean up our environment, to keep crime and drugs off our street, and to lead a new crusade for excellence in our schools -- to see that every American enjoys the opportunity to live and work, to prosper and advance as far as his or her own efforts will take them.

When we hear from the opposition that there's nothing wrong that can't be fixed with a little redtape and a tax hike -- we know better than that. We know all the answers are not found in Washington, DC. And we know about the vital work that gets done at the State level -- in Columbus and in every other city and town in Ohio. We know the power of the private sector -- the source of growth and jobs. And we know the power of individual citizens -- people in every community across this country who don't wait for the word from Washington before they dig in and make a difference. And we know something else: We know that there is more than enough Federal spending. Ask your neighbors. I mentioned this in the State of the Union Message -- some people still believe that $1.2 trillion is a lot of money, and that's the amount of this year's budget. We Republicans know it's up to us to see that it's spent wisely -- that we measure success not by what we spend, but what kind of results we get. The challenges we face here at home are only half the story. More and more people trust this party to cope with the challenges that we face in the world today.

We've seen a world of change this past year -- unbelievable, unpredictable change -- triumph of democracy from Prague to Panama, the Revolution of '89 now spreading in 1990, perhaps in the Soviet Union itself. I know you followed carefully the deliberations of the Central Committee. Now we've seen them take their first step toward pluralism -- multipartyism, if you will -- inside the Soviet Union.

And we see the need all the more for American leadership -- the need for an America strong enough and sure enough to defend our interests and our ideals, and to make the most of the opportunities now emerging for a more peaceful world, a freer world. You know, in the last few days, I've had an opportunity to visit with some of the men and women who have made the defense of peace and freedom their mission. I'm talking about the young troops in our armed services out at Fort Irwin, California -- the Army's National Training Center -- where our troops hone their battle tactics under the most realistic simulated battle conditions anywhere in the world. And then yesterday, I was at the Lawrence Livermore Labs there in San Francisco, which has such a rich history in helping defend our country, and where today so many of the top minds in science are engaged in pathbreaking work on the Strategic Defense Initiative. The Strategic Defense Initiative doesn't put people at risk; it puts incoming missiles at risk. And the science is mind boggling, and the fallout from that science will benefit a lot of peaceful pursuits, such as the environment and other areas that need the most advanced science in the world.

And then, finally, just this morning before I came here to Columbus, I paid a visit to the SAC Headquarters there at Omaha, Nebraska -- the Strategic Air Command. I spoke on the SAC network to men and women at SAC bases all around the world -- people who serve as our first line of defense. At every one of those stops, I thought about how much we owe to those dedicated men and women, about their sense of duty -- and about our duty to each of them. This voluntary military that we have today has never, never been better. They are the best -- and every single member of the Joint Chiefs tells me that over and over again. And I just wish you could have been with me to see the spirit of these young people.

I remember the words of one of the great field marshals of the 20th century -- yes, I'm talking again about Woody Hayes -- the saying he loved to repeat: "You can never pay back. You can only pay forward." That's true for our parents and our teachers, and it's true for the men and women in our Armed Forces. We show our thanks for all they've done for us by the good we do for generations yet to come. And that means taking the necessary steps today to make sure that this nation remains strong in the nineties and into the next century. It means making sure our Armed Forces are capable enough to meet our longstanding commitments -- to deter war -- and flexible enough to cope with whatever new contingencies we might face in the future.

That does not mean dismantling the solid foundation of military strength, alliance solidarity, and international security that has really brought us to this new moment of promise. But it will mean changes to respond to new conditions. It will mean hard choices between defense programs. But we've got to be careful; we've got to do our cutting with a scalpel and not with a meat ax. We're going to have to close some bases, consolidate some others. And I know we're in for a war up on Capitol Hill on this one -- just mention base closing and Congress mans the battle stations. Doves become instant hawks. But let me tell you something: We are going to reorder our defense budget on the basis of our strategic needs, in response to the challenges we will still face in a world of many uncertainties and dangers. There will be no politics in this. It will be done with the best military minds that we can muster to be sure that we do it in an orderly, prudent way. And let's put politics aside and get on with making these tough decisions. [Applause] And for me, I will do my level best to encourage Congress to change that old adage -- cut defense spending, but make the cuts in somebody else's district or in somebody else's State. We can't do that anymore. It's getting too critical now. I want to see prudent cuts, but I want to see it done in an orderly way so what emerges is a strong, robust, vital force. And I believe we can do it.

We're also going to push forward with arms control. And I had a chance to visit with some of you all who are helping on this dinner earlier on, and I told you that I am somewhat optimistic now about our negotiations with Mr. Gorbachev. We're going to push forward with strategic, chemical, and conventional weapons. I'm convinced we can ease tensions, especially in Europe, and remain every bit as effective in preserving the peace -- at lower levels of troops. That's why I proposed in the State of the Union Message that we would reduce our forward forces to 195,000, provided the Soviet Union would come way on down as well.

I am convinced we can do this. The initial reaction from Mr. Gorbachev has been quite positive. I think that today Secretary Baker had a very positive meeting with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, and we're hoping, in the course of his discussions over there, to make significant progress towards a START treaty. So, we've seen great change; we've seen great promise this past year -- the promise of the great Revolution of 1989: a freer world, a more peaceful world for us and for our children.

So, tonight, I really want to ask for your support as we work toward that better world -- and I promise you mine in all the many challenges that we face here at home. I know we can succeed, provided that we uphold that proud Republican heritage that has served this nation so well. I'm an optimist about our country. I believe we are living in some of the most fascinating times, certainly the most promising and fascinating times since World War II. And I want to do my level best to keep this country on a forward course, but do it in a prudent manner so that we don't undermine, inadvertently undermine, the change that's taking place around the world -- not just in Europe but the exciting changes that are taking place in this hemisphere. Who would have dreamed that in 1990 we might be on the verge of seeing a totally democratic, free and democratic Western Hemisphere, our own hemisphere?

And so, now we've got to turn to the politics at hand. And I urge you to do your level best to capture the governorship in this State, to win these statewide offices. Because it all ties in -- the more confidence the President has in the State's ability to solve these local problems, the better the relationship. And I see a great change now coming. And I might say, in conclusion, we've got a redistricting problem ahead. And I am sick and tired, when I look at some of the congressional maps and see these wiggles and these turns and these aggressive moves that make these congressional districts look like pretzels. And we want to change that. And the best way to change that and guarantee that the people are fairly represented in this State is to elect a Republican Governor and to elect Republican majorities in both the Houses of your State legislature. And I want to come back and help. I pledge you my support, Mr. Chairman and Tim and others in this room. And we need you. Thank you for this wonderful sendoff for the State party. God bless all of you. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:47 p.m. at Ohio Center. In his opening remarks, he referred to Representatives John Kasich, Bob McEwen, Ralph Regula, and Mike Oxley; Corwin Nixon and Joanne Davidson, minority leader and minority whip of the Ohio House of Representatives; John Wolfe, owner of the Columbus Dispatch; Les Wexner, president of Worthington Industries; Martha Moore and Mike Colley, vice chairman and former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party; Anne Hayes, widow of Woody Hayes, former Ohio State University football coach; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for the Ohio Republican Party in Columbus Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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