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Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate George Voinovich in Akron, Ohio

September 26, 1990

Alex, thank you. Thank you all. What a great welcome back to Akron -- same place, a couple years later. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you, Mayor -- soon to be Governor -- Voinovich. And Janet, Barbara sends her love. She looks forward to being with you. I don't know whether it's next week or when it is, but she'll be out here to show not only support for the ticket but to show the affection that she and I have for you and George.

To Mike and Fran DeWine, we wish you well. I can't wait for the day that you are Lieutenant Governor, but I'm going to be disappointed to have you leave the House of Representatives that you served so very well, indeed.

And of course, it's like old home week here with Alex -- your Alex, mine. [Laughter] One of the great political leaders -- and I mean this -- is a former national chairman who himself studied under Ray Bliss of Akron and still has great affection in his heart for Ray Bliss. They don't have many political leaders like Alex around this country. And he's good, and he's honest, and he's decent, and I get fired up every time I'm around him. Alex, thank you for this wonderful event here today -- Alex Arshinkoff.

And while we're at it, I want to salute our State chairman, Bob Bennett, over here. The State party has never been more vibrant or supportive of these candidates. Bob, stand up there.

And Senator Roy Ray is here, 1 of 10 Republican State legislators out of 3,000 in the country to win the prestigious Legislator of the Year Award -- Roy. There he is, right there.

And I want to put in a plug right at the beginning for the strong State ticket we've got, and one of those members is with us today -- I think the only one. If I'm wrong, somebody holler, but Jim Petro, who's running for auditor, standing right here. And it's a very important position because it has a lot to do with the redistricting. And we want a fair redistricting not just in Ohio but all the way across this country, and his election can contribute to that.

As for Paul Mifsud, over here, who's running the Voinovich campaign, he's the guy that suggested I meet Gorbachev in Malta. [Laughter] He's from Malta, you may know. And people are still throwing up over there because of the weather. [Laughter]

You know, there's a handful of people across the country to whom Barbara and I always will be indebted for the marvelous opportunity to serve in this office that I have now, and one of them is Paul. And he's worked very, very hard, always helpful to me and, of course, always at George Voinovich's side. So, you've got a good team.

I want to apologize for a very close member of my family who couldn't make it today. As it turns out, Millie is on the road, promoting her new book -- [laughter] -- our springer spaniel. I told them last night that her celebrity status has gone to her head. I gave her a bowl of Alpo, and she asked to see the wine list there at the White House last night. [Laughter]

But look, enough of this. If I seem a little relaxed, it's because you have a wonderful way here in Akron of making a person feel at home. And I really am delighted to be back here in a State that Barbara and I feel we know very well, indeed. For us, Ohio means Dayton, where Barbara's parents lived; Miami, where both Bar's mother and dad went to college. For me, Columbus, where my father was born and where he grew up. It also means many other things, having campaigned extensively in this State: smalltown boulevards of Lima, busy streets of Cincinnati -- I've probably been in Hamilton County as much as everybody in this room put together; it seems like it -- and then of course the vibrance and the factory yards of Akron and the farms nestled in the Appalachian foothills along the Ohio River.

So I mention all this because to know the diversity we call America you really just have to get a feeling for the State of Ohio. So it should come as no surprise that I've been looking forward to coming out here to say a few words about an Ohio leader who revitalized your neighboring city of Cleveland, taking it from the gloomy and dark days of ridicule and despair and bringing it into the bright light of achievement and respect. I didn't come out here to talk about Bernie Kosar, incidentally. [Laughter] I'm here today to show my support for an Ohio leader, a great mayor, soon to be a great Governor; and I'm talking about George Voinovich.

I think all Ohioans, regardless of party, agree that he's already demonstrated this uncommon ability we're talking about in his three terms as mayor of Cleveland. Little wonder, then, that George often says that Cleveland "is off the rocks and on a roll." Now he wants to do the same for all of Ohio. And make no mistake, after 8 years, Ohio needs this Voinovich leadership and this Voinovich integrity in the Governor's office.

For years now, you, as Ohioans, and some of us from outside have been reading the investigative journalists' reports detailing the cronyism, the political favoritism, the taxpayer rip-offs that have taken place in this State. And at least one candidate for Governor has had enough. Here's what George Voinovich says: "State government needs a thorough housecleaning, a gust of fresh air." And I can guarantee you he'll do that for the State.

So, this campaign is about the future of Ohio -- an Ohio whose natural beauty is preserved for future generations, an Ohio that empowers people and not the bureaucrats, an Ohio that leads this country -- and you heard him commit to this -- to education reform to keep America competitive and to give our children a better future.

Both George and I believe that when we ask more of our kids, they'll respond; so will our teachers and our schools and our parents and, yes, our elected public officials. With his "schools first" policy, George would upgrade the entire Ohio educational system while rewarding outstanding teachers and excellent schools. And he has embraced fully the goals of the Charlottesville educational summit that I convened last year because, he says, "these goals are right for the entire Nation and for Ohio."

And the first goal of all is that George and I want our schools to be free of violence and drugs, and we must work towards that end. There's also the heartfelt goals of our Congressman here, Congressman Mike DeWine, who's been a leader in shaping the antidrug laws for the Nation as a Member of the United States Congress. And I'm going to miss his advice, as I said, in Washington. Not only has he distinguished himself fighting this whole concept of illegal drugs and crime but he's earned recognition from Watchdogs of the Treasury and the National Taxpayers Union -- both -- as a fighter for fiscal responsibility. This outstanding record of service to the people of Ohio at county and State and national levels makes Mike DeWine the right choice for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, and we urge your strong support for the ticket.

Let me just take a minute to address a couple of other matters important to the people of Ohio, but also to the people of our entire country and, indeed, to the world. This is, indeed, as George pointed out, an extraordinary moment, a moment when our national will is being tested both at home and abroad.

We can meet the test at home -- I'm confident we can meet it -- but what we must do is first put our fiscal house in order. And right now, at this very minute, we are coming down to the wire in Washington, the final few days of the fiscal year. You remember, the new fiscal year starts October 1st, the way the Federal Government keeps its books. So, we're right down at the end of the old fiscal year, coming to the new one, final few days; and still we do not have an agreement in hand to bring this deficit down. It's up there in the Congress right now. We sent a proposal there months ago.

Five days from now the ax falls, an automatic, mandated sequester that will cut $100 billion from the Federal budget. A cutback of this scope is going to hit hard, and it's going to hit home, and it's going to hit many, many people.

Let me give you a couple of examples so you'll understand when you hear that word what sequester means. For air travelers, it means big cutbacks in air traffic control and substantial increases in flight delays and outright cancellations. For farmers, it will mean that ASCS [Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service] offices will close during harvest time. For meatpackers, plants may close when inspectors fail to show up. For college students, it means an end to 1.2 million Pell grants -- 1.2 million eliminated outright. Add to that a 22-percent cutback in grants to another 2 million students. In this very city, this means that the poor students, the poor kids, will not be able to attend Akron University.

And let me tell you, the sequester is strong medicine, but it's medicine patented by the Congress itself. It represents the last attempt by Congress to cure itself of its feverish spending habits, and without an agreement, it is the only way for Congress to force itself to make the very necessary tough choices. It is the law of the land. And I took an oath to the Constitution to uphold the law of the land. And we've tried to do our part to solve this difficult problem, and I made a good-faith effort to reach a sound and sensible budget agreement.

Let me go back to the beginning, back to February 1st, when I sent a complete budget up to Capitol Hill, and back to April 1st, when Democrats who controlled both Houses of the United States Congress missed the deadline to take action on that budget -- their own deadline, spelled out in their own rules for the Congress. A month later, in May, I convened a budget summit, recognizing we only had a few months to go to this October 1st that's now a few days away. We wanted to jump-start the process.

And at the end of June, when the talks bogged down, I made a concession demanded by the Democrat leaders to get Congress off dead center. And I put it all on the table, even taxes, and I took a lot of political heat coming out of the Democratic Party and the Democratic leaders. They had a great bunch of joy out of all of that. And then in July, when both sides pledged to exchange comprehensive budget plans, the Democrats delayed while we delivered.

And all through the talks, for 135 long days, time and again I've gone the extra mile, and I think the Republicans in the Congress have gone the extra mile. And each time, the other side says: It's still your move. It's still your move.

Well, that's not just our move anymore. And if and when the ax falls, the Democratic Congress knows that it will be held accountable, and I will take that message to every State in the Union. It is their fault for holding up getting a budget agreement. I've sat on my hands; I've suffered the slings and arrows that I expect from the political process. But I have a podium, too. I have a bully pulpit, too. And I'm going to see that it is not printed one side of this story, one Democrat after another knocking my socks off on Capitol Hill. The American people want a budget agreement. They know who controls the Congress, and they want them to deliver a budget agreement to get this deficit down.

Let me come again to you. It goes well beyond political rhetoric. It's one of the great economic challenges that our country has faced. It is important to get a solution. But the threat of sequester doesn't change the fact that the fundamental test of any agreement is whether it sustains conditions for continued economic growth and job creation. And that's why I've called on Congress to build a package of progrowth incentives into a budget agreement, incentives that create jobs and encourage aggressive, competitive R&D that sustain growth and steer this economy clear of recession.

And, yes, that's why I will continue to push hard for incentives for capital investment. In this global environment, many of our fiercest competitors are way ahead of us in promoting the savings and essential investment opportunity to success in the international marketplace.

And contrary to what you may have heard, the hangup is not capital gains; the hangup is with the Democrats on Capitol Hill. And we're still waiting for the Congress to come up with enough real spending cuts -- cuts that are enforceable, not just another empty promise of future savings, a promise waiting to be broken. And we're still waiting for Congress to commit to meaningful budget-process reform -- reform that builds real discipline into the budget process. The American people are not dumb. They know, as they watch the Congress, that the budget process is a mess and it must be fixed once and for all.

We're going to bear the heat here. The last thing we want is for the year's budget fiasco to become next year's instant replay. So today I say this to the United States Congress: Keep those lights burning on Capitol Hill if you have to, but before that deadline passes 5 days from now, let's reach the agreement that the American people are waiting for. No quick fix. No deal to delay these difficult budget decisions until after the election.

Yesterday, one of the powerful committees controlled by the Democrats voted on party line to delay the solution. Kick it on down the road. Don't make the tough decision today. Well, I'm going to stand in the way of that plan, if using every ounce of pressure I have, including the veto, to see that that does not happen. No quick fix. No delays.

October 1st is the zero hour, and it's real. We've got to prove to the American people once and for all that we can come together to deal with this deficit. There have been times when the cooperation has been good. And frankly, I'll be honest with you, I think the leaders -- the two or three top leaders on the Democratic side -- have tried pretty hard on this matter. But that's not enough. That is not enough. The control lies there, and the responsibility to come forth with an agreement lies there.

Congress should listen to men like Mike DeWine, Members like he; Lynn Martin, who is with us here today, who is running over in Illinois; and others, who say it's simply outrageous that important government services be jeopardized because Congress cannot do its job and pass a budget with the necessary reductions.

Reaching an agreement is critical. It really is. And we simply cannot fail to put our fiscal house in order, especially now with the challenge that we're facing over there, halfway around the world, in the Persian Gulf.

Emotions in the budget debate, as I report to you today, I can tell you, are running high -- they're running very high. You haven't heard much out of me on this. I've waited in the wings and tried to conciliate, and as I told you, I think I've given a great deal. But no matter how heated the exchange of words may be over the budget, we need to -- and I will do this -- continue to maintain a bipartisan spirit in support of America's response to Iraqi aggression. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you I am grateful, in this Vandenberg concept of partisanship ending at the water's edge, that the Democrats and the Republicans in the House and the Senate are pulling together. And I'm grateful to the Democratic leadership for the support that they have publicly given -- what this country is trying to do in the Middle East.

I am often asked when we can bring our kids home -- some still arriving. But I can understand that from parents and loved ones here in this country -- the concern they feel about our men and women that are serving over there. The answer has got to be general: It's got to be as soon as possible -- every single one of them -- but when the job is done.

Certain objectives have to be met. Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait, without condition. Aggression unchecked today will rear its ugly head tomorrow. Kuwait's legitimate government must be restored. The security and the stability of this vital area, an area that affects the lives of every American, must be assured. And American citizens abroad, those held hostage in this brutal shielding technique that Saddam Hussein is using, must be protected.

But we have another, final objective: to create a new partnership of nations; a new world order that is free from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, more secure in the quest for peace.

These are our objectives and those of the United Nations Security Council and our allies. There are many, many countries to whom I am extraordinarily grateful for this tremendous cooperation. West Germany has pledged to support the mission with almost $2 billion and provide ships and planes, while Japan has pledged a package worth more than $4 billion. France added another 4,000 troops, and Great Britain is sending 120 tanks, 6,000 troops, the famous Desert Rats those of us who are old enough to remember World War II will recall. And we're side by side in the soil there with Egyptian troops and Syrian troops and other Arab troops. It's truly Iraq, then, against the world. The world is simply standing up and telling Saddam Hussein: We will not give in to intimidation.

Americans are showing their determination right here in Ohio. Look no further than Ashland University, to the father of a marine stationed in the Gulf region, Professor Charles Brereton. Dr. Brereton published in the school newspaper a list of soldiers in his son Jim's Alpha Company weapons platoon. That one appeal led to a massive outpouring, a flood, of letters and hometown papers and care packages.

This is just one way -- tiny way, perhaps -- but it's one way that Ohio is sending a message to the Americans stationed in the Middle East. That message is a simple one: We're with you all the way. And another thing, support for our mission is strong, bipartisan in the sense of what Senator Vandenberg meant. For those of us at home, we believe that the best way we can serve our country is to debate and campaign and be the best Republicans and Democrats we can be. But we cannot allow our political life to be held hostage to a foreign crisis.

When Ohioans go out to the polls, absentee ballots will be streaming in from Americans in uniform, including those stationed in the Persian Gulf. If our soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and marines can find the time to vote under such difficult circumstances, I hope America can count on all Ohioans to get out there and vote. And when you do -- let me end it this way -- when you do, I hope you and thousands like you around this great State will make George Voinovich the next Governor of Ohio.

Thank you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you all.

Note: President Bush spoke at 12:07 p.m. at the Tangier Restaurant. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Voinovich's wife, Janet; Representative Michael DeWine and his wife, Fran; Ray C. Bliss, former State and national Republican Party chairman; Alex Arshinkoff, executive committee chairman of the Summit County Republican Party; Bernie Kosar, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns football team; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He also referred to Millie, the First Family's dog, and "Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush." Following his remarks, President Bush attended a private reception and then traveled to Chicago, IL.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate George Voinovich in Akron, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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