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Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Senator Mitch McConnell in Lexington, Kentucky

May 13, 1989

What a great United States Senator you have, and how impressive this turnout is, which will guarantee his reelection! I couldn't be more pleased to be here, and I'm pleased to see these three distinguished Members of the Congress here. You may not remember this ancient history, but Hal Rogers was my Kentucky State chairman in my quest for the Presidency. And what a job that guy did, I'll tell you. And I want to pay my respects to your own Congressman -- your own on the turf right here, those of you from the Lexington area -- Larry Hopkins, who's with us tonight and doing a great job in Washington. And long before he got into politics, I was a Jim Bunning fan. And now I'm even more of a Jim Bunning fan, I'll tell you. And I want to pay my respects to Bob Gable, our current State party chairman. I'm delighted he's here, and the other party officials. And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't in a personal way pay my respects to Will and Sarah Farish and to my old friend, Lee Brown -- give them a job to do, and it gets done. And I am just delighted to be here with all three of them.

Spring in the Bluegrass State, racing at Churchill Downs, and voting for Mitch McConnell -- it doesn't get much better than that, wherever you are. Senator, your supporters have tonight given very generously to your campaign, and I know what it is that everyone here wants from me in return. Too late -- all six puppies are spoken for. [Laughter] But I'll let you in on a secret. The biggest secret in town is that Will Farish's springer spaniel -- or English spaniel -- is actually Millie's boyfriend. [Laughter] Up to now we've tried to keep his name out of the press, though. [Laughter] I think it's okay now, though, to reveal his name -- Tug Farish III. [Laughter] Just what my elitist image name -- puppies with Roman numerals after their names. [Laughter]

But here we are in Kentucky. You may have read that the pups are sleeping, or have been, on the Washington Post and the New York Times -- [laughter] -- the first time in history that those papers have been used to prevent leaks. [Laughter]

Will and I -- you got to -- we'll confess it: we're partial to those English spaniels -- Millie, Tug, the puppies, and all that. But when I arrived in Kentucky tonight, I saw the strangest thing: bloodhounds, everywhere, searching for your former Senator still. They have not found him yet. But they know where this one is. He's in Washington, doing the people's business, and I've never seen a guy work harder for the people that sent him up there than Mitch McConnell. He's never forgotten how he got to Washington.

And I might say -- and this is a matter of at least note to me -- and that is that Mitch McConnell was the first United States Senator to be in my corner to endorse me when I ran for the Presidency of the United States -- the very first one. And I say that because he has always stood up for his convictions, a man of principle and character, the courage of those convictions. One of the reasons I am here tonight is -- I will never forget and will always appreciate -- the fact that Mitch McConnell stood out early, took a position, and stayed with it. He's that kind of guy; he's that kind of Senator.

In a very short time in the U.S. Senate, he's gained the kind of clout that Kentucky needs in Washington. And he's achieved the stature that caused me to choose him as chairman of our delegation to El Salvador to monitor those very important elections. And I knew I could count on Mitch for this sensitive foreign policy assignment. And I'll be looking to him for his advice and counsel as we chart America's course in the years ahead.

And speaking of delegations monitoring elections, let me just make a reference to Panama, because we had two delegations down there monitoring these elections -- one headed by former Presidents Ford and Carter; one headed by Congressman Murtha of the United States House of Representatives and Senator McCain of Arizona. And both of them came back and said the following: One, the affections of the people of Panama about the United States is intact. Two, the election was clearly fraudulent. There's nobody that's looked at the election down there that has anything to say other than that it was fraudulent and free. They made the point that it would be in the interests of peace and freedom and democracy around the world if the Panamanian people could be granted their wish to have Mr. Endara be the new President of Panama.

And let me just assure you of this: I will act prudently in Central America. I will act as much as we possibly can in concert with the nations of Central and South America. We do not want to return to the days of the imperialistic gringos of the North. But let everybody be clear on one point: I will protect the lives of Americans in Panama, whether they're military or civilian. We will not let Americans' lives be put at risk by a dictator down there.

I mentioned Mitch's interest in foreign policy and his leadership there. But on domestic issues as well -- important issues like keeping the economy strong -- he's right out there. You see, there is great mutual respect between us. Mitch understands words like principle and loyalty. And as you know, those words are very, very important to all of us. Certainly, I say they're very important to me. So, take it from me, I know from experience you can count on Mitch McConnell.

Let me simply say, I know you haven't even eaten yet, and I've had two graduation speeches and a couple of miles of running over in Houston before going to Mississippi, and I'm just really delighted to be here. But let me just say a word about -- [laughter] -- let me just say one other serious word, because yesterday I gave a speech over at Texas A&M in Bryan, Texas, about our relationship with -- do I hear a couple of Aggies in the crowd down there? -- a speech about our relationship with the Soviet Union. And there are some young people here tonight, and I'd like to address myself to them and say I think you've got a wonderful chance to live in a more peaceful world, to grow up without the fear that some of your parents have had about nuclear holocaust or a world at war. And yesterday I made this proposal that we offer to the Soviets a chance to be reintegrated back into the family of nations. And that is going to be a driving goal of my Presidency. But we're not going to do it from naivete. We're not going to do it based on promises or bold proposals. We're going to do it on the facts. And I'm going to keep the United States of America strong, but I am not going to miss an opportunity to discuss global peace and to work for the relief of regional tensions with Mr. Gorbachev. We are going to do that, but we're going to do it in a timely fashion, a prudent fashion, with the interests of the free world foremost all the time.

These are exciting times, and we are the United States of America. And we have always led the alliance, and we're going to continue to lead the alliance. But I would conclude I am optimistic not only about the future of the alliance but I am optimistic about the changes that are taking place in the Soviet Union. And I'll do my level best -- working with the three Congressmen that are here, with the Senator that is here -- to enhance United States standing and to make clear to everyone in the world that we are committed to world peace, that we're going to stay strong in the pursuit of that peace.

Thank you all very much. Thank you very, very much for your support of this outstanding Senator. I'm delighted to be with you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:25 p.m. in the reception tent at Lane's End Farm. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Senator Mitch McConnell in Lexington, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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