Remarks at a Get Out the Vote Rally in New York City
The President. Thank you. Are you ready to win this election?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. Are you ready to make Charles Rangel the first African-American chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful committee in the United States Congress?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. I want to say a thank you to everyone here. I thank you, Carl McCall, for your great leadership of New York and for your friendship to me and your support of Hillary. Your future is limitless, and you have done a great job for the people of this State. Thank you.
I want to thank Representatives Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney. They and Charlie have been with me all the way. I want to thank your borough president, Virginia Fields, for being here. Assemblyman Denny Farrell, thank you. All the others behind me, Dennis Rivera, Randi Weingarten, Guillermo Linares, Adam Clayton Powell, Lee Saunders, thank you all for being here. And give a big hand to Luther Vandross for showing up and being with us.
You know, when Charlie was saying that I was your President, I leaned over to Luther and I said, "You know, Luther, in another life, if I'd have been a little better musician, I'd have been playing jazz at the Cotton Club instead of running for President." [Laughter]
More than anything else today, I wanted to come by to have this chance to thank you, to thank the people of Harlem and New York City for being so good to me and to Al Gore these last 8 years. And thank you, thank you for your support for my wife. It means more to me than you will ever know. Thanks for hanging in there.
Now look, the temptation is for us to just shout here for 4 or 5 minutes because we're all on the same side, and I'm preaching to the saved. But the truth is that everybody in this great crowd tonight has friends who have never come to hear a President speak or come to any political rally. Is that right?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. But all those people could vote if they understand what's at stake and if they understand what it means for themselves, their families, this great city, and our Nation. So I want you to just give me a couple of minutes to tell you what I hope you will tell everybody you can find between now and when the polls close. Because this race would not be close for President, it wouldn't be close for Senator, it wouldn't be close anywhere in America, I believe, if people could remember where we were 8 years ago and compare it to where we are today, and then if people understood where we're going and what the differences are.
There are three big questions in this election. Question number one, do you want to keep this prosperity going and give it to people who haven't been part of it yet?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. Well, if you do, there is a big choice: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary and Charlie Rangel. Here's what they say. They say we've got to keep paying down the debt to keep interest rates low because that means lower home mortgages, lower car loans, lower credit card loans, lower college loans, lower business loans. It means more jobs, higher income, more jobs for working people, and more in the stock market. Everybody wins that way. That's how we made this economy recover.
Then they say, let's take what's left and invest it in our kids in health care and education and the environment and a tax cut we can afford for child care, for long-term care, for college education, for retirement. That's what they say.
Now, on the other side, our Republican friends say, "Hey, this is your money, and we're going to give it to you. We're going to give it all to you right now." And here's what they say. They say, "We're going to give you a huge tax cut"—even though almost everybody in this crowd would be better off under ours—"and then, we're going to privatize Social Security and let the young people have their payroll tax back, and then we're going to spend some money."
Now look, here's the problem. You all clapped for me when I said the economy was better. But people ask me all the time, "What great new idea did you bring to Washington to turn the economy around?" You know what I answer? "Arithmetic. We brought arithmetic back to Washington." [Laughter]
Now, we made the numbers add up. You all can remember this. Everybody remember this: Vice President Gore's opponent says we're in an education recession. He's wrong about that; our schools are getting better. I'll say more about that. I can tell you, everybody can understand this.
The surplus is supposed to be $2 trillion. Forget about all the zeros. That's a lot of money. Two. Okay? They want to give three-quarters of it in a tax cut, $1.6 trillion—1.6. Then they want to give you, if you're young, your payroll tax back, 2 percent of it. But they've got to promise people that are older, like me, that we can still get our Social Security. And as the Vice President keeps pointing out, you can't spend the same dollar on two different people. So that costs another trillion dollars—1. Then they want to spend a little money, too. They want to spend a half a trillion dollars; that's .5. Now, you add it up: 1.6 plus 1 plus .5 is 3.1. Three-point-one is bigger than 2. [Laughter]
Now look, if you like this economy and you want to keep growing jobs and you want to keep your incomes going up and you want to keep the interest rates down so you can afford to make a car payment, afford to make a college loan payment, afford credit cards, afford home mortgages, you can't have 3.1 being bigger than 2. This is not rocket science.
And therefore, there is only one choice, and the choice is Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel.
Now, the second big question. This country is not just better off; it's better. Crime is at a 26-year low. The environment is cleaner— cleaner air, cleaner water, 3 times as many toxic waste dumps cleaned up on our watch as the previous 12 years. And we set aside more land forever than anybody since Teddy Roosevelt, 100 years ago.
Now, in addition to that, we've got the number of people without health insurance going down for the first time in a dozen years. And I was talking about the schools. Here are the facts. The reading scores, the math scores, the science scores are up. For the first time in the history of the country, the African-American high school graduation rate is almost equal to the white graduation rate, virtually the same.
We've got record numbers of people going on to college. We've had a 300 percent increase in the number of Latino and African-American kids taking advanced placement tests just in the last 3 years alone. And all these schools that everybody said couldn't be turned around, turns out they can be.
I was in a school in Harlem just about a month ago that 2 years ago had 80 percent of the kids doing reading and math below grade level. Two years later—in just 2 years—74 percent of the kids are doing reading and math at or above grade level. Don't tell me that our kids can't learn or we can't turn our schools around.
So here is the second question: In addition to building on the prosperity, do you want to build on the progress of the last 8 years and do even better?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. If you do, you have a choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel.
What's our program? Put more police on the street and do more to take guns away from criminals and kids in law-abiding ways; cleaner air, safer energy, do more to develop other kinds of energy so people of New York don't have to worry sick every winter about whether they'll have enough home heating oil or whether they can afford to pay for it. Insure all of our kids; pass the Patients' Bill of Rights; pass Medicare drug benefits for all of our seniors; put a hundred thousand teachers in the schools; give New York and the other cities of our country funds to build or repair and modernize schools so these kids have a decent place to go to school; and give every family a tax deduction for the cost of college tuition; have preschool and afterschool programs for all the kids who need it— now, that's our program.
Now, look at what the Republican program is. Here's what they say on every issue. They want to get rid of the commitment to 100,000 police; they want to get rid of the commitment to 100,000 teachers. They don't support what we're trying to do to give you school construction funds. They want to relax the clean air standards and reverse a lot of the environmental protections I have put in. They're against the Patients' Bill of Rights; they're against Medicare drugs for all the seniors who need them; and they're not for a type of tax deduction for the cost of college tuition.
So if you want to build on the progress of the last 8 years, you just have one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel.
Now, there's one other big choice, and to me, it's the most important of all. Charlie Rangel talked about the affinity that I've had with New York City and the people who live in Harlem. You couldn't have guessed it, I guess, when I started. I remember when my predecessor used to defer to me in a kind of a sneering tone as just the Governor of a small southern State. [Laughter] And you know, I was so naive, I thought it was a compliment. [Laughter] And I still do. I still do.
But I'll tell you what I thought. I thought to myself, this country works pretty well when everybody counts, everybody has a chance, and we all work together. And we get in a lot of trouble when we start trying to divide ourselves one against the other—old or young, black, white, or Hispanic, straight or gay, people with disabilities and people without, rich or poor. You know, when we start dividing up the country, we don't do nearly as well as when we work together.
So we've worked hard on bringing people together. When they said I had to end affirmative action, I said, "I don't think so—let's don't end it; let's just fix it and go on." When the other party wanted to be really harsh with illegal immigrants—or with legal immigrants, I said, "I don't think so." This is a country of immigrants. Heck, we're all immigrants from somewhere, except the Native Americans. We all came from somewhere.
And the most important thing I didn't tell you before about this economic recovery is, it's the first one in 30 years that included everybody. We have the lowest African-American and Latino unemployment rate ever recorded, a 20year low in poverty, the welfare rolls cut in half, child poverty down by 30 percent, average income up by $5,000 after inflation. We take everybody along for the ride. That's why we're Democrats.
So here's the third big question: Do you want to keep building one American community so we all go forward together?
Audience members. Yes!
The President. There's a choice. Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel, here's what they want. Listen to this. They're for hate crimes legislation, employment nondiscrimination legislation, equal pay for women legislation, fairness for immigrants, an increase in the minimum wage, and a United States Supreme Court that protects civil rights, human rights, and a woman's right to choose.
Now, on every one of these issues, our friends in the other party disagree with us. It is a choice. So I want you to take every opportunity between now and Tuesday to go out across this great country and say, "If you want to keep the prosperity going, if you want to build on the progress of the last 8 years, if you want to keep building one America, you just have one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel."
Now—welcome, Senator Schumer. We're glad to see you. Let's give Chuck Schumer a big hand. [Applause]
Now listen, I want to close on a very personal note. I probably know Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary better than just about any other voter in America. The President has to make decisions for all America. You need to feel that the President is pulling for you, is working for you. And even when he may do something you disagree with, you need to feel that at least he was thinking about you, too.
And John Kennedy—listen—John Kennedy once said that the Presidency was a place of decisionmaking. You're hiring somebody Tuesday to make decisions.
And here's what I want you to know about Al Gore. He's done more good for the American people as Vice President than anybody that ever held that position, including the empowerment zone in Harlem that he and Charlie Rangel have worked on. He works harder than anybody else I know. He keeps learning. He never gets too old or too proud to learn. He's curious about the world. He understands the future. So what I'm trying to tell you is, he's a good man. He'll make good decisions. He'll be a great President of the United States.
What I want you to know about Joe Lieberman is, he's been a friend of mine for 30 years. He understands the ideas behind what we've done in the last 8 years as well as anybody in the United States Congress. And he will be a superb Vice President.
And what I want you to know about Hillary is, I love her. What I want you to know about Hillary is that I've known her for 30 years. When it comes to children and families, health care and education, bringing economic opportunity to people and places left behind, she's worked on all those issues at least 20 years, and most of them for 30 years. She never once in all those years ever asked anybody to do anything for her. She just worked to be a good citizen and a good public servant.
After we came to the White House, she worked on children's health and women's health and education. She worked on all the things I tried to do to make peace in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Northern Ireland, in the Middle East. She went to Africa, to Latin America, to south Asia, to east Asia, to build bridges to people around the world who have kinfolks in this country, but the United States never paid them much attention before. And she put them on our map.
You couldn't have anybody who is better qualified to represent New York State at the dawn of the new millennium. And you will never have anybody who will work harder, care more, or get more done.
So I'll say this—I know I'm biased, but I believe what I said to you. There's no question who would be the better President. There's no question who would be the better Senator. And I want you to go out here for 4 days and just do it one more time and tell people, "Here's what this election is about: If you want to keep the prosperity going, if you want to keep the progress going, if you want to keep building one America, you just have one choice—Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and Charlie Rangel."
Thank you, and God bless you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:38 p.m. at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., State Office Building in Harlem. In his remarks, he referred to H. Carl McCall, New York State comptroller; C. Virginia Fields, president, Manhattan Borough; State Assembly member Herman D. (Denny) Farrell; Dennis Rivera, cochair, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Randi Weingarten, president, United Federation of Teachers; Guillermo Linares, New York City councilmember, Manhattan Borough; Adam Clayton Powell III, vice president, technology and programs, Freedom Forum; Lee Saunders, special assistant for the president, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO; and musician Luther Vandross. Representative Rangel was a candidate for reelection in New York's 15th Congressional District.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Get Out the Vote Rally in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228541