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Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Senatorial Candidate Claudine Schneider in Warwick, Rhode Island

November 20, 1989

Thank you, Claudine. What a welcome! Thank you. I'm very, very pleased to be back here. Thank you, Claudine and Ed -- Governor Ed DiPrete, the outstanding Governor of this great State -- who I want to see reelected very, very badly. So, do your part on that one. And Ron -- you guys sit down now. And you can't sit down, so eat your heart out, out there. [Laughter] Ron Machtley -- what a job he's doing, proving already that he's the leader you thought he'd be when you sent him down there. And of course, let us also give a very special thanks to the Woonsockett High School Band. Great music -- I could hear you out there. Talk about a big band, I mean that's it, and a good one. Thank you all very, very much.

And I just have to say that I'm pleased to visit the Rocky Point Palladium. [Laughter] Hey, listen, this is the first time I've been to an amusement park in years. [Laughter] In fact, I wanted to check out the Corkscrew, but the Secret Service guys wouldn't let me do it. [Laughter]

No, it is -- and I really mean this -- we've had a good day, campaigning out there in Illinois and now here with Ed and Claudine. But it's great to be back in the home of so many great Republican Rhode Island leaders. Senator Chafee was going to be here, but the Senate is finishing up its work. And of course, Governor Ed DiPrete -- I told you what I thought about him. And then Ron -- he and Congressman Claudine Schneider are going to fly back with me on Air Force One because they're finishing up the session down there. And you all think you're glad to get them out of town -- what about me, I'll tell you. [Laughter]

No, but since the first days of the Republic, this Rhode Island brand of leadership has been marked by a tenacious, fierce individualism. And this little State has always been a big friend of dissent and a mecca for mavericks and a home for the self-reliant. Rhode Island is and will always be personified by the statue atop your capitol, the very image of the independent man. But it is on behalf of an independent woman that I have come to Providence tonight. And I am here to stand proudly by a great leader for Rhode Island and for the United States of America. And I am here for my friend, Claudine.

What is it about her? What is it about her? It is very interesting that people in Washington and Rhode Island never refer to her as Congresswoman Schneider. She is, to all of us -- Barbara, me, all the people down there -- just Claudine, a down-to-earth lady who still makes her own clothes. And she does a pretty good job of that. [Laughter]

But approachable as she is, make no mistake about it, Claudine is a champ. And after all, she was the winner of the Nike Capital Challenge 5K for 5 years in a row. She can run! She can run in a race, and she can run for the Senate -- and win both. Listen, that energy -- when I get around her, I get nervous just being there. I mean, I want to go out and do something. [Laughter] But this is the pace that she set for those of us that understand the House of Representatives -- always ahead of the pack, always out front; and this is the pace that she's setting for the future.

Sometimes pacesetters run alone, and sometimes Claudine disagrees with her party. But she stands up, and you know where she's coming from. And I respect that, but with her, I can always bank on one thing: I always know exactly where she stands -- right by her principles, because she is entirely honest, a woman of total integrity.

You know very well that she's a pacesetter when it comes to the worldwide struggle to preserve and to protect the environment. She was a sponsor of legislation to reduce this hazardous waste at its source, to give companies the incentives to recycle, because she knows that it is easier to prevent toxic waste than it is to clean it up. And she was also instrumental in the passage of that very important law for Rhode Island, indeed, for the country: the ocean dumping law -- critical, if we're to clean up the shorelines of America. She's worked hard to halt the continuing tragedy of tropical deforestation, and she's been among the foremost guardians of those rare and wonderful species endangered by man and his chainsaws.

Claudine, looking over those committee assignments of yours, I also noticed you're a leading member of the Fisheries Subcommittee. And so, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that with my record as a fisherman, no species are endangered by me. [Laughter] I want off of your hit list.

I do share her concern about the future of endangered species, and that's why my administration announced a ban in July of the importation of African elephant ivory into the United States. And I also share your concern for the quality of the water that we drink, the air we breathe, and the future of our land. And it is out of this concern that I asked the EPA and the Justice Department to crack down on those who pollute our waters and our beaches. And we are determined to fight toxic air emissions. And we can be grateful that the EPA has been instructed to be more aggressive in enforcing the cleanup of hazardous waste.

But we're learning that no nation can save the environment by itself. Pollution respects no boundaries, no borders. Pollution is a world problem, and only a world solution will stop it. A world solution can begin with the United States and the Soviet Union. And so, when I meet President Gorbachev in Malta a week from this coming Saturday, I will seek his active cooperation in cleaning up the world's environment.

And speaking of cleaning up, while we're at it, we've got to clean up our streets by fighting the scourge of drugs and its accomplice, violent crime. Our children deserve a chance to avoid drugs, through a vigorous antidrug campaign in the schools. Users and addicts deserve a chance to go clean through treatment. But society also deserves a chance, by sending the drug dealers where they belong -- to do time, hard time. And I know that Claudine agrees with that. Last May I asked the Congress to increase funding for our drug education and prevention efforts by nearly $1.1 billion, a 16-percent increase. But I'm also asking for increases in my crime and in my drug packages for more police, more prisons, more prosecutors. Again, society deserves a chance. And I challenge Congress to take action as soon as it reconvenes to pass my crime legislation.

There are so many children in America who deserve a chance, and they're not getting it because they are not learning to read, learning to write, learning for work. And that is why I was pleased to join Governor DiPrete and his colleagues in that summit in Charlottesville, to join in a compact to improve our schools through the principles of choice in education, more flexibility for States and for teachers -- and God bless our teachers -- and increased accountability.

There are others in America who also deserve a chance. And so, I was proud to ask for the reauthorization of the Commission on Civil Rights, and will be equally proud to sign that bill into law shortly. I was also proud to endorse the hate crimes bill to identify and fight bigotry. But we must go one step further: We must end discrimination against the disabled, and I want to see legislation passed to that effect.

And of course, Claudine, this magnificent woman, has been at the forefront of securing the civil rights of all of us. Martin Luther King said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In this spirit, Claudine Schneider is such a fervent advocate of the rights of minorities and women, and she believes that injustice to any American is an injustice to all Americans.

It is widely known, I'm sure, here and in Washington that there's a whole other dimension. As I look at the demographic change in the United States, the change that is taking place, and then you look at our interaction with our trading partners around the world, it is very, very clear that the United States must retain, if not rebuild, its competitive edge. And did you know that your Congresswoman, Claudine Schneider, is the chairman of the Competitiveness Caucus in Washington, DC? She is the one who is out front on the Job Training Partnership Act; on the emphasis on research and development; on more science and math so our kids can compete in the year 2000 with whoever it is, whatever power it is around the world. She is the one who is insisting that the playing field for trade be level. In addition to all these other interests, she is out front trying to make the United States of America more competitive. And effective as she's been in Congress, she'll be even more so in the United States Senate.

No, we've all seen how the winds of change are reshaping the world. And because of this change, at no time in the long history of the postwar years has dialog been more important between the superpowers. And so, as I mentioned, I will go to Malta a week from Saturday, meeting to continue our dialog, meeting with President Gorbachev. But as I work with him, it is very important that American and Soviet leaders at all levels are involved in frank and meaningful dialog. We can all be grateful for Claudine because she has performed an invaluable service by originating a live network show that allows Members of Congress to have a candid exchange on issues from arms control to the environment with their counterparts in the Supreme Soviet. I salute you for that, and I encourage more of that kind of interchange between the Soviet citizens and U.S. citizens.

I can tell you, I'm looking forward to this meeting with President Gorbachev at Malta. I see these kids in this Woonsockett band there, and I'll say to you guys: You live in exciting times. You live in times where you have a shot, a clear shot, at living in a much more peaceful world. And so, this mission -- this trip to Malta, if you will -- is not about signing agreements. It's not about crossing the "t's" or dotting the "i's." It is to try to understand as best I can as your President these fantastic changes that are taking place, the dynamic changes that are taking place in Eastern Europe and inside the Soviet Union.

I'm going to keep my eyes wide open. I sometimes get needled a little bit about being cautious and prudent, but somehow I think that that's what a President of the United States ought to do when you go to meet the Soviet leader. And so, I won't miss an opportunity. I won't miss an opportunity as I look to the future. I'm going to look over my shoulder a little bit at the history to be sure that we do the right thing for this generation that's coming up here.

You know, Claudine, in conclusion let me just say this: You've been a leader in the environment, in the war on crime and drugs, in competitiveness, in advancing civil rights, promoting a dialog with the Soviets. Is it any wonder that your future is bright with promise?

You have made a great Congresswoman, and I will just repeat it here: You will make a great United States Senator. America needs your energy, that indefatigable energy. As I told you when I got off the plane, I felt tired just being around her. I mean: Let's go, let's go! We need that energy in the Senate. We need your spirit, we need your commitment, and we need your leadership -- the leadership of a pacesetter, not a follower.

So, thank you for inviting me to Rhode Island. God bless you, and God bless all of you, and God bless the United States. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:06 p.m. at the Rocky Point Palladium. In his remarks, he referred to Representative Ronald K. Machtley. Following the reception, the President returned to Washington, DC.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Senatorial Candidate Claudine Schneider in Warwick, Rhode Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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