George Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Senatorial Candidate Bill Cabaniss in Birmingham, Alabama

April 20, 1990

The President. Thank you for that welcome back. It is not my intention to parade naked before you. [Laughter] But I will say that I was delighted to be introduced here by an old friend, a guy that helped me so much to be standing here as President -- Ray Scott. And I'm delighted he's with us today. And thank you for the unique introduction. And to another friend, Congressman Callahan -- Sonny Callahan, from Mobile. He's running for office exactly the way one should. He has no opponent at all. [Laughter] And that shows you what a great job he's doing for the State of Alabama, I might say. I see we have some people from Mobile back there.

I'm glad to see our chairman, Chairman Outlaw; and our national committeewoman Jeannie Sullivan, an old-time, long-time friend and supporter. And, of course, Jerry Denton, who did a great job for this State in Washington, respected and admired as he is. Mayor Arrington, it is most gracious of you, sir, to be here to welcome me as President to your fine city. And thank you for coming. I'm delighted to see my friend Bart Starr again -- legend, of course. And Randy Owen, of Alabama -- anybody that can take on a song like our National Anthem and stand up here with no note and do it that beautifully has got to be some special kind of talent. Thank you very, very much. And my special congratulations to Neil and Ann Berte and the Birmingham-Southern basketball team, which just won the NAIA [National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics] Championship. And, of course, Senator Cabaniss -- and I'll get to him in a minute. And let me also mention Secretary of State Perry Hand. Joan, I called Perry from Air Force One and I expect I spoke for everyone here when I wished him a very speedy recovery and sent him our warmest best wishes. And I think Reverend Claypool put it best of all. So, we're thinking of him.

A writer once said, "Each spring in Alabama is as delicate as the wisteria in the rain and as gentle as falling in love." Well, it's great to be here in this kinder, gentler time of year -- way, way away from Washington, DC. And it's also a privilege to be in Birmingham on behalf of a man who truly is a very dear friend. One of the great leaders in your State senate, soon to be a great member of the United States Senate -- and I'm talking about my long-time friend, Bill Cabaniss. And I do a lot of these kinds of things, and I think it's an important responsibility of a President, but it's a delight to be back in this State to help elect a superb U.S. Senator, someone this State and my administration really need in Washington -- a Senator who will make Alabama proud, a leader who will make the nation proud. And I am absolutely certain Bill Cabaniss is that man.

We go back a long way. We first met in the seventies; we've been friends for years. We're so close that not long ago Barbara and I invited ourselves, after we found that for dinner Bill and Katherine were having Ollie's pork barbecue. [Laughter] But you know how it goes. Twenty Secret Service men went over and swept in ahead of us. The good news is that by the time we got there they had big smiles on their faces, and the bad news is, all the barbecue was gone. [Laughter]

But this year, Bill Cabaniss has plenty to offer the Alabama voters: a man of character, family man -- great wife, two great kids. He values loyalty, and so do I -- he worked for me back in 1980. In '88, he cast our first vote at the Republican National Convention. Like me, he's a charismatic speaker. [Laughter] And he also keeps things in perspective. It's like he says -- he's got this degree of frankness -- like he says: "It's fine that you're here, Mr. President. But if you really want to wow the crowd, bring Barbara." I will only say in that regard that the Silver Fox shares the same views that I do about the Cabaniss family, and I'm sorry she's not with us today.

Not surprisingly, these qualities that I've mentioned have endeared Bill to the voters since his election to the State legislature, just as they've impressed his peers. In 1987, Bill was named the Outstanding State Legislator by colleagues in a body then six-to-one Democratic. He's respected because he's a man of experience and judgment. He knows that only new ideas can create the new leadership needed for the decade of the 1990's. These ideas are found at every level of our Republican Party -- they're the reason you don't just mean Alabama football when you refer to a Southern "Tide." Since the 1988 election, 215 former Democrat elected officials and leaders have turned Republican -- 179 from the South -- 14 from Alabama. Churchill said, "Some men change their principles for their party." These men and women changed their party for their principles. They joined us because they want to see an Alabama of growth in the nineties, an Alabama of progress, prosperity, and new ideas. The Alabama that Bill Cabaniss stands for.

One new idea is our belief that greater competitiveness and incentives mean greater growth, and one way to ensure continued growth is through a lower capital gains tax. As a businessman, Bill knows that lower taxes free more capital for investment, and that more investment means more jobs. And he knows his geography. Japan has a much lower capital gains tax, as low as 1 percent on stocks and bonds; while economies like Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong don't tax capital gains at all. And these countries don't consider reducing capital gains a tax break for the rich because they think of it as an incentive to invest and create employment, create jobs -- and they are absolutely right. And Bill Cabaniss supports my proposals on the capital gains tax cut. Once again, I would take this opportunity to call on the United States Congress to let the Senate and the House work their will and to pass that bill. It's time that we stop giving the edge to countries that we can match in ability and performance any day of the week.

Bill also understands that only an educated work force can be a competitive work force. Alabama needs him and I need him in that Senate to back our Educational Excellence Act of 1990. Bill and I know that there's nothing new about excellence. What is new is the idea of demanding higher standards and greater accountability, and more involvement by parents and communities to achieve it.

You know, Ray Scott says that the fish I catch aren't any bigger than his -- but my stories about them are. [Laughter] Let me tell a story that's true. In 1961, Bill was in Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. The sergeant called out, "Cah-BAN-ahs." Bill corrected him; he said, "Sir, my name is Cabaniss." Not surprisingly, at midnight he was still running laps and doing pushups. [Laughter] The next day, the sergeant again called, "Cah-BAN-ahs." Bill replied, "Yes, sir." The point is this -- talk about a quick study. That's what we need in the Senate. We need that as this country faces enormous challenges in the decade of the nineties, like the fight against crime and drugs, our campaign for a cleaner environment. And it's the Republicans who have the new ideas to meet these challenges.

For instance, in January, we unveiled Phase II of our National Drug Control Strategy to knock out drugs and crime. We've got to toughen our laws and expand the death penalty for drug kingpins. Capitol Hill doesn't need politicians who soft-pedal the need to be hard on crime. It needs Bill Cabaniss, who believes that the penalty should be just as tough as the crime.

And when it comes to the environment, here, too, we Republicans have plenty of new ideas to make it clean and safe. After all, it was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who was our first environmental President. Teddy knew then what we know today: that we can have a sound environment and a strong economy. That means rejecting the ideas of the extremists on both sides -- and we will. It means using market forces in the service of the environment -- and we will. Let's keep it in mind: We don't have to throw people out of work to protect our environment.

But we must protect -- and protect it we will -- through new ideas, from expanding our parks to planting over a billion trees a year to banning asbestos to no net loss of wetlands. What's more, earlier this year we proposed landmark legislation, rewriting the Clean Air Act to cut smog and acid rain and toxic pollution. I'm glad to say the Senate has now passed a clean air bill -- a bill that was gridlocked through the 1980's. It's been 13 years in coming. But no American should have to wait another day for cleaner air. So, I call on the House of Representatives to move promptly to produce a bill consistent with the principles that I have stated for an environmentally strong and economically sound new Clean Air Act. In that spirit, this week is the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. And I can't help thinking what a breath of fresh air Bill Cabaniss would be in Washington, DC. But we're together on this. Like me, he hopes the House will act soon and responsibly. As a staunch defender of the environment, there's one thing Bill wants to make absolutely clear -- and that's Alabama.

Let me close with another issue which clearly shows the gulf between new and old ideas. I'm talking about child care. Bill's child-care position rests on that historic 'Bama trait, common sense. Like me, he supports what works. And that's why he backs our child-care program which gives parents the freedom to choose. It's a nearly $10-billion program to help low-income working Americans by increasing choice in child-care through tax incentives, not Federal intervention. You see, we want to ensure that parents, not bureaucrats, decide how to care for America's kids. And I will not see the option of religious-based child care restricted or eliminated. Bill is right when he wants to protect religious child-care centers and parents' freedom to use them.

But many liberals back the child-care legislation passed last month by the House and supported by the Democratic leadership. Let's take a look at what that bill would mean to this State and every State. The House bill would cost almost $30 billion and force many States to change their own rules. It would create a Federal committee -- really, a straitjacket -- to produce national child-care standards, intended to replace local standards that reflect local needs. And it would put Federal funds into more endless paperwork -- creating 120 pages of new child-care law. Now, who would be hurt the most? Those who need help the most -- the parents and, indeed, the kids. The truth is that we don't need this bureaucracy. It would be redundant, wasteful -- and invitation for Big Brother to get involved in yet another part of our lives.

We don't want to expand the budget of the bureaucracy. We want to expand the horizons of our kids and the child-care options for the parents. So, let's reject those who measure progress simply by adding money to a proposal, who measure it by dollars spent, and instead give families the help they need to solve the child-care problem themselves. The Democratic leadership says the Federal Government knows what's best for our children. Bill Cabaniss and I say, thank you -- parents do.

You can see, I hope, how much I think of Bill, how I respect him and trust him, and how much we need him in the United States Senate. To some, new ideas mean another bureaucrat to pick your pocket, but Bill knows better, because he knows the families, the taxpayers, the working people of Alabama. His ideas will help those people and reflect the values of this State he loves so much. Bill Cabaniss unashamedly believes in patriotism, love of country, love of God. He thinks like we do. And as a U.S. Senator, he will act on your behalf. I am absolutely confident that he will stand up for a strong America, a free America, a safe America -- a great America. He'll be the kind of Senator this State needs and deserves.

I came to Alabama to ask you to help this man, a public servant I admire, a wonderful friend I rely on. Help him do for America what he's already demonstrated he can do for Alabama. Thank you for this occasion. God bless the United States. And let's make Bill Cabaniss the next Senator from the great State of Alabama. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:22 p.m. in the Main Exhibit Hall at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. In his opening remarks, he referred to Ray Scott, president of the Bass Anglers Society; Arthur Outlaw, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party; Senator Jeremiah Denton; Bart Starr, former professional football player; Randy Owen, musician and vocalist for the country music group Alabama; Joan Hand, wife of Alabama Secretary of State Perry Hand; Rev. John Claypool, rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church; Katherine Cabaniss, wife of Bill Cabaniss; and Ollie McClung, restauranteur.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Senatorial Candidate Bill Cabaniss in Birmingham, Alabama Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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