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Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Governor Guy Hunt in Huntsville, Alabama

June 20, 1990

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for that warm welcome back to Huntsville. Thank you very much, all of you. These guys that did that extra applauding over here, you young guys, you can have my broccoli when they serve the lunch. [Laughter]

I want to thank Governor Hunt and his family, who I had a chance to meet with earlier, especially Helen. I'm glad to see her looking so fit, working so hard on the campaign trail. I want to pay my respects to Mayor Folmar and Anita, other friends of longstanding -- he of Montgomery fame. And it's great to see so many others. John Grenier was there to greet me when I got off the plane, and we go back a long, long time. And of course, another old, close, personal friend that Barbara asked me to convey her love to, and I'm talking about Bill Cabaniss, who's running such a great race for the United States Senate. We've got to have him elected.

And I'm pleased to see our chairman, Arthur Outlaw. And I'm told Jean Sullivan is here, though I didn't see her. And there is someone here today, in addition, that I really need in Washington, DC -- someone who can help the fight to win the battle against drugs, someone that is committed to expanding and protecting our space program, and someone who stands for a strong national defense. And I'm talking about your next Congressman from this district, Albert McDonald. We've got to see him elected. We need that Fifth District seat.

It's great to be back, back in what the song calls sweet home Alabama. In fact, I've recently been down this way -- several months now -- first, recently to Birmingham and, prior to that, doing a little bass fishing in Pintlala. Considering my record as a fisherman, the bass have nothing to worry about, nothing at all. [Laughter] But I loved every minute of it, and I want to be invited back. And we had a reception over here -- and I will spare her the embarrassment -- but a beautiful Alabamian said to me -- how she got this past the Secret Service, I don't know -- what she meant was: You're a lousy fisherman, and I think I can help. And she reached into her pocket and pulled out a rubber, kind of a pink-looking frog, or something of that nature -- a worm, exactly. And I thanked her very, very much, because when we get out of Washington, we talk about the things that really matter. [Laughter]

This time I've come to Alabama, though, with a more serious purpose in mind. This State is so special and so unique, so who can say what best captures the spirit of Alabama? Is it the voices of the choir in Montgomery's Dexter Baptist Church or the ornate balconies and French windows of Mobile? Or is it the hustle of that dynamic Birmingham business or the quiet intensity of this fantastic space center? This much we can say: Alabama is diverse, and Alabama needs a Governor who understands what it means to serve all of the people. And that's exactly the kind of Governor you've got. And come November, that's the man that Alabama must and will reelect. And of course, I'm talking to Guy Hunt, your friend and mine.

I'm told that a New York Daily News reporter was recently touring the State with Guy, and he literally was astonished by what he saw. The reporter spoke with admiration of how your Governor strives to bring in new businesses and tourists and how he inspires this whole State to come together, to pull together. This New Yorker saw for himself what Alabamians have seen for almost 4 years now: Leadership works.

And Guy Hunt is a leader who switches from one area of expertise to another with all the grace of Bo Jackson out there going from baseball to football. Look at how he helped create the most new jobs in Alabama history. Just look at the way in which he established a first-of-its-kind program to transfer NASA technology to apparel manufacturers, small businesses, and universities all across this State.

But Guy believes, and I believe, that government has certain serious obligations. One, of course, is our national security. But there's another one, and I'm talking about the protection of the people. And so, when it comes to this fight against crime, the country preacher from Holly Pond in Cullman County is as tough as Elliot Ness. And I think the people in Alabama understand that, and we certainly understand it and appreciate it in Washington. You see, we share a simple philosophy: We will not condone or coddle the drug criminals. And he agrees with me that if dealing drugs is dealing death, then let's give those major narcotics dealers what they deserve: the ultimate penalty.

America needs the tougher laws, stiffer penalties, and criminal justice system -- the reforms proposed in our Violent Crime Control Act. And that's why I am hopeful that the Senate leaders will work with me to pass the major parts of our Violent Crime Act, new laws that are fair but also fast and final. Fair: assure that those who are guilty are held accountable for their actions. Fast: we need reforms to stop the repetitive appeals that are choking our courts. And finally: constitutionally sound provisions for the death penalty, particularly for those who are major dealers in narcotics or those who take the lives of a police officer.

And let me just say a quick word on another constitutional issue. And it's a debate going on right now; and I'm trying to do it in a nonpartisan way because this issue, in my view, should be above partisanship. But I do believe that our flag is a unique symbol. And until the recent Supreme Court decision, I'm told that 48 States had spoken, 48 States had laws protecting the flag against desecration. And that meant that the people of the States were speaking. And I strongly believe we should use the amendatory procedures wisely provided by the framers to pass a carefully drawn, narrow amendment to make the burning of the American flag a crime. And I'm going to fight for it with everything I have.

Another area of concern that I share with the Governor is the fate of our environment. He and Bill Cabaniss and I were talking about the natural wonders of this State on the way down here -- the fate of our environment. From the estuaries of Mobile Bay to the lakes and misty mountains of the north, Alabama truly is beautiful, and it's beautiful in part because this Governor is working to preserve your very special quality of life. We're also working in Washington with the Congress to bring about a cleaner environment for all America. In fact, that is why I have proposed the first major revisions in the Clean Air Act in more than a decade. We can have clean air and clean water while respecting another kind of delicate ecology: that of jobs and opportunity.

A cleaner environment, safer streets, more jobs -- all these are absolutely critical to our future. But if there is a paramount issue -- and we have to click them all off there and try to -- if we had to put them in a list, you can't overlook education because the state of the classroom today really is the state of our Union tomorrow.

We believe in asking more of our teachers, our children, and ourselves. And that's why I was very grateful to have Governor Hunt at my side at the recent education summit in Charlottesville, Virginia -- the first time such a summit had ever been convened. And at the summit, we agreed to develop America's first national education goals, not to inflict our views onto the State education system but to set broad national goals. And we agreed to ensure our kids -- that they master important subject areas, math and science being part of it; to boost graduation rates; to make this nation a nation of literate adults; to kick drugs out of our schools; and to see that all children start school ready to learn through vigorous programs like Head Start. And then we agreed to one thing more: to ensure that our students by the year 2000 are first in math and science achievement. America should not accept second place to any nation when it comes to education and the quality of the education for our kids.

When it comes to making a difference in the world, America has always been first. And we've already seen the difference America is helping to make in what I call this magnificent Revolution of 1989, a struggle of the democracy-building that continues to this day.

Let me share a story about an American visitor on a recent trip to Romania -- a troubled land that it is -- who asked the people she met what was most important now, what they needed most. And listen to one surprising answer: In a country where the streets are dark at night and the homes lack heat, one Romanian woman pulled from her purse a worn copy of an American magazine -- a 3-year-old issue, with a special bicentennial copy of the United States Constitution. And she said, "What we need now is more of these."

And this is the moral example that our great country owes the world. Some may say the goals we set for ourselves and the example we offer the world are too ambitious. And I say only great ambitions can galvanize a nation; only great examples can change the world. When the first rockets lifted off the pad at Cape Canaveral -- rockets built at Redstone -- the eyes of America were already on the Moon. We need once again to work together as a people so that our future will be as bright as that Redstone rocket. And with the leadership of Guy Hunt, I know that your possibilities will be as limitless as the stars over Alabama.

Guy Hunt is the right Governor to lead Alabama in the nineties. I believe he would agree with me that this is a fascinating time to be Governor of your great, progressive, forward-moving State. And I might say parenthetically, as I look back over my shoulder at the recent history of this country, I can't think of a more fascinating time to be President of the United States of America than today.

I am very grateful for the support that you're showing for Guy Hunt. I'm very grateful for the fact that many people in this room made it possible for me -- and, I might say, for the Silver Fox, Barbara, to be at my side as we undertake the duties of the Presidency.

Thank you for your support in the past, and now -- not that you haven't paid for this hamburger -- but go out and work extra hard for Guy Hunt. Alabama needs him, and I need him. Thank you all. And God bless you, and God bless our wonderful country.

Note: The President spoke at 12:22 p.m. in the North Hall of the Von Braun Civic Center. In his remarks, he referred to Helen Hunt, wife of the Governor; Emory M. Folmar, mayor of Montgomery, and his wife, Anita; John Grenier, chairman of Friends for Guy Hunt; Arthur Outlaw, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party; and Jean Sullivan, Republican national committeewoman.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Governor Guy Hunt in Huntsville, Alabama Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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