Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Get Out the Vote Rally in New York City

November 04, 2000

The President. Thank you. Are you ready to win this election?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Thank you for coming out. Thank you for your warm welcome. I want to thank the president and Mrs. Steinberg and Provost Gale Stevens for welcoming me here to LIU, along with your student body president, who is also there. I want to thank my good friend Carl McCall for making these stops with me today and for all the support he has given to Hillary and the superb job he has done for the people of New York.

And I want to thank Judith Hope for taking over the Democratic Party when we were not in very good shape and working her heart out and for showing such leadership.

And my Brooklyn buddies over here—in early 1992, when only my mother thought I could be elected President—[laughter]—Clarence Norman and Major Owens were there for me, and I will never, ever, ever forget it. Thank you, and God bless you.

You know, this has been a great day for me to go around and campaign for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and for Hillary, to go to the Bronx, which has also been very good to me, to go down to Harlem with Charlie Rangel, who will be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee if we win this election. But I am honored to finish in Brooklyn because, as you heard Major and Clarence say, New York City has been wonderful to me and to Al Gore these last 8 years. Shoot, we've even gotten a pretty good vote out on Staten Island. Queens has been great; the Bronx has been great; Manhattan has been fabulous; but Brooklyn always came in first and gave us the biggest vote, and I thank you for that.

But I also am glad to be here at LIU and to have so many—soccer, softball, volleyball— I'm glad to be here because, fundamentally, this is a race about the future. It's a race about 21st century America, and the young people in this audience have more at stake than anyone else.

So I know you're all committed or you wouldn't be here. And it's easy for me to just sort of give you one applause line after another. But I want to ask you as a personal favor to just let me talk to you for a few minutes in a conversation. Why? Because the election is still a few days away, and because there are thousands upon thousands of people in New York and many of you have friends in other States who haven't even decided whether to vote yet, much less for whom to vote. All that talk about the base, that's a fancy way of saying if the people that are for our side actually show up and vote, we will win. If a higher percentage of the people that are for their side show up and vote, then we could lose, even if most people are really for us.

And so what I want to ask you to do when you leave here tonight is to take some time tomorrow and the next day and all the way through election day to tell people why they ought to vote, especially the young people— what the stakes are, what the choice is, and what the consequences are. I don't have any doubt in the world that if people really understand what this election is about and what the honest differences are, that we will prevail.

So here's what I'd like for you to say. First of all, remember what it was like 8 years ago. It's hard for a lot of younger voters to remember this. The economy was in the dumps; the society was divided; the political system was completely unresponsive. Al Gore and I came to the American people and we asked you to give us a chance to put the American people first, to provide opportunity for every responsible citizen in a community of all the American people— and I mean all, never mind your race, your ethnic background, whether you're an immigrant or native-born; never mind whether you're old or young, rich or poor, straight or gay, disabled or physically unchallenged. If you work hard and you obey the law, you're part of our America and part of our American family, and we want you to go forward with us.

Congressman Greg Meeks—give him a big hand there; come on up—from Queens. [Applause] You were just with Hillary? Good for you. [Laughter]

Now look, so 8 years ago we did that. We came in, you gave us a chance. And it's a different country now. It's a totally different country. We have the longest economic expansion in history, 22 million new jobs. So here's the first question, do you want to keep building on this prosperity and extend it to the people who haven't felt it yet? Do you want to keep it going?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. That's the first question you ought to ask every voter. Somebody tells you, "Oh, it doesn't make any difference whether I vote or not." Think about where we were 8 years ago, and look at where we are now economically. And if you want to build on it and extend this prosperity to the people that have been left behind, then you've got a choice: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary, Major, and Greg.

You know what our position is? How do you keep it going? First, keep paying the debt down to keep interest rates down. Why is that important to you? Because if you keep interest rates down, it means that you pay lower home mortgage payments, lower car payments, lower college loan payments, lower credit card payments, lower business loan payments. It means more jobs, higher income, a bigger stock market, a growing economy. They quadrupled the debt, and we're paying it down.

Then we say, let's take the money that's left and invest it in the education and health care of our people and our environment, in building our community, and in a tax cut we can afford— for child care, long-term care, college tuition costs, retirement.

Now, they say that we're not giving you a big enough tax cut, and they're promising you the Moon right up front. They offer a tax cut 3 times as big as ours—although most of you would actually get more money under ours— and then they say, in addition to that, "For all you young people, we're going to privatize Social Security; we're going to let you take 2 percent of your payroll tax and invest it in the stock market, and you'll make more money." And then they say to people my age and older, "But don't worry; we're going to give you all your benefits. They're going to take the money out, and we're still going to pay you your benefit." And then they say, "Here's some money we'd like to spend."

Now, look, here's the first big difference— this is a huge deal for you, especially you young people. Difference number one: People ask me all the time, "What great new idea did you bring to economic policymaking in Washington to help turn this economy around?" And I always have a one-word answer, "Arithmetic." [Laughter] Not algebra, not trigonometry, not calculus, arithmetic. Anybody in elementary school can do this math.

Now, follow this: They project—the Government does, the Republicans do—a surplus of about $2 trillion over the next decade. And that's a lot of money, but forget the zeros, just say 2. Now, they acknowledge that their tax cut plus the interest cost associated with it is three-quarters of that—1.6. And then they want to privatize Social Security. And as the Vice President keeps pointing out, you can't give the same trillion dollars twice. So if you young folks take your trillion out, it's not going to be there to pay my Social Security check, right? So that money has got to come from somewhere. That costs a trillion dollars—1. And then they want to spend a little money, too, a half a trillion dollars—that's .5. Now, there's a $2 trillion surplus. They propose to spend 1.6 plus 1 plus .5, or 3.1. Three-point-one is bigger than 2. [Laughter]

That's it. This is not rocket science. That's it. If you do that, you're back in debt; you've got higher interest rates. You pay more for college loans, home mortgages, car payments, credit card payments. Businesses pay more to borrow money. Therefore, they hire fewer people, and the stock market doesn't grow as much, and nobody makes as much money, and the economy doesn't grow like it would. This is a huge difference.

So we say—our leaders, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, Greg, and Major, they say, "Look, we'd like to give you more, but it's not fair; you can't do it all at once. You just can't take the money and run. We've got to keep this economy going." So question number one, if you want to keep the prosperity going, you just have one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, Major, and Greg.

Okay. Second question. This is not just a country that's better off; this is a better country—crime at a 26-year low; the number of people without health insurance going down for the first time in 12 years; 2.5 million more kids with health insurance; the environment getting cleaner—we've tripled the number of toxic waste sites we've cleaned up over what they did in 12 years; we have cleaner air, cleaner water, safer drinking water; and we set aside more land for internal protection than any administration since Theodore Roosevelt almost 100 ago.

The schools are getting better. On the national test scores, the math scores are up; the reading scores are up; the science scores are up. The dropout rate is down; African-American high school graduation rate was almost exactly equal to white high school graduation rate last year for the first time in history. The collegegoing rate is at an all-time high, thanks in part to the biggest increase in college aid in 50 years under this administration.

Now, second question, do you want to build on this progress and not reverse it? Don't you want to do better? Wouldn't you like it if our streets were safer, our environment was cleaner, we had more people with health insurance, and we had even more educational opportunities and more of our schools worked well? If you do, you've got a choice. Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and our Democrats in the House, do you know what they want? They want, number one, on crime, to keep putting more police on the street, keep taking steps to get guns out of the hands of criminals and kids.

Number two, they want a clean energy future, so that you don't have to worry sick in New York every winter about whether you'll have enough home heating oil or whether, if you've got it, you can afford it.

Number three, they want to continue to insure more kids, until all kids are insured, then their working parents are insured. We pass a Patients' Bill of Rights and a Medicare prescription drug program for all the seniors in this country who need that.

Number four, they want to keep working on the schools. You heard Major talking about that. If we win a majority in the House, he'll be the head of the Education Subcommittee, and I won't have to worry about education anymore. What do we want to do with schools? Universal preschool and after-school for all the kids who need it; smaller classes in the early grades, with 100,000 new teachers; school construction funds to build schools and repair schools, so kids are not going to substandard schools and they have the facilities they need to get a good education; funds to help turn around failing schools and a tax deduction for the cost of college tuition— that's our program.

Now, you've got a choice. You have a choice. What does the other side want? Here's what they promise to do. On crime, they promise to repeal our program to put 100,000 police on the street. It works—never mind that, they're still going to repeal it. They say the Federal Government shouldn't be doing it, even if our streets are safer.

In education, they promise to repeal our commitment to putting 100,000 teachers in the classroom. They don't support what we want to do on school construction or universal preschool or after-school or tax deductibility for college tuition. On the environment, they think the only answer is to drill more oil. They don't believe in what we're trying to do with alternative energy and energy conservation. And in health care, they do not support the Patients' Bill of Rights or the Medicare drug program for all of our seniors or the plans we have to expand coverage to children and their parents. You couldn't have a bigger choice.

Now, you can either build on the progress of the last 8 years or reverse a lot of it. But if you want to build on it, you've only got one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, Major, and Greg.

Here's the third question. We're going to do this at the end one more time, because I want you to do this to people. You look at this crowd. The people in this room could reach another 100,000 voters between now and election day with no sweat. Most of the people you know have never come to a rally like this. Isn't that right? Most of you have friends who have never come to a rally like this.

This is Saturday night. Most of the kids here probably have friends who wonder what you're doing at a rally like this on Saturday night. Is that right? [Laughter] Okay, so this is your job. When you leave here, you've got to be able to do this.

The third point is, maybe the most important of all, is that in the last 8 years, we have not only made economic and social progress; we have grown together as one America. The thing that's most important about this economic expansion is that it helped everybody. We have the lowest Latino and African-American unemployment ever recorded; average incomes are up over $5,000 after inflation; senior poverty is down below 10 percent for the first time ever; child poverty down 30 percent; overall poverty at a 20-year low; welfare rolls at a 32year low, cut in half.

We're going forward together. It wasn't just that rich people made more money, middle class people and lower income working people did, too. And we need to keep going forward together.

And it wasn't just about money. When the Republicans urged us to end affirmative action, we said, don't end it, mend it, and we kept it. We continue to enforce the civil rights laws and involve people in the work of the Government, all kinds of people, and to try to break down barriers of discrimination. Now, if you want to keep building one America, you've got a huge choice here. And I'll just give you a few of the issues.

Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, and our crowd, here's what they're for—just listen to this: hate crimes legislation, employment nondiscrimination legislation, legislation to guarantee equal pay for women in the work force, legislation to guarantee fair treatment for legal immigrants, no matter where they're from, and Supreme Court and Federal court appointments that will protect civil rights, human rights, and a woman's right to choose.

Now, in every one of these issues—in every single one of these issues—the leaders of the other party have a different position—every one of them. No on hate crimes, no on employment nondiscrimination, no on the equal pay law for women, no on the court appointments to protect a woman's right to choose—every one of them a different position.

So if somebody tells you that, why should they vote, there's no real difference, you have to say, "Oh, no. If you want to keep the prosperity going and build on it, if you want to keep the social progress going and build on it, if you want to keep building one America, you only have one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, Major, and Greg."

Now, let me ask you this: Don't you believe if you told everybody you knew of voting age just what I told you and what the three big issues were in the election, that the overwhelming majority of them would vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary? Don't you believe that? [Applause] So I want you to think about this.

A lot of you have friends in neighboring States that are close in the Presidential election. A lot of you have friends here in New York who are trying to decide whether they should vote. A lot of you have friends who say, "Oh, I just saw a couple of TV ads; it's all just a mess to me; I don't know what the deal is here." You've got to tell them what the deal is. This is a big thing. And young people have the biggest stake of all in this election.

Even when it comes to preserving Social Security, you've got a big stake. Why? Because when people my age retire, the baby boomers, there will only be two people working for every one person drawing Social Security. The reason we want to preserve Social Security is not just for us; it's so our retirement does not bankrupt our kids and their ability to raise our grandkids. Even that is a young person's issue.

Now I just want to say something real personal in closing. I believe I know Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary better than virtually any other voter in the country. [Laughter] As a matter of fact, I'm quite confident that I'm the person who knows the three of them put together the best of anybody who will vote. And I've had some passing experience with the White House in the last 8 years. [Laughter]

So I want to tell you a couple things that are personal about this. John Kennedy said the Presidency is a place of decisionmaking. Vice President Gore has more experience than his opponent. Vice President Gore, whether it was in hooking up our schools to the Internet or trying to develop new high-mileage vehicles or reducing the size of the Federal Government and putting more services on computer or helping to bring economic opportunities to poor areas or helping us to stand up for freedom around the world, he has done more good in the position of Vice President than anybody that ever held the job. Second, he has more knowledge. Third, he works harder than just about anybody I've ever known, and it matters how hard you work. Fourth, he's a good student; he keeps on learning, and it's a job that is constantly a learning experience. Even today I learned something new about my job—even today. And finally, he makes good decisions.

So what I want you to think about in your mind is, you know what the three big issues are. You also have a candidate who's a good man, who makes good decisions, who will be a great President. And I want you to tell that to people you know.

This whole set of ideas I just went over with you grew out of a political movement I was part of, that Joe Lieberman was a part of. He understands the basis, the intellectual basis, of the policies that we implemented that I just discussed, as well or better than anybody else in the entire United States Congress. He's a perfect partner for Al Gore.

Let me say one other thing. I think we're going to win the House. I think we've got a good chance to win the Senate. But you remember what Major Owens said, too, when you talk to people. If for some reason we didn't, there needs to be somebody there to stop the extremism of the Republican leaders in Congress, and Al Gore will do that.

Now, let me tell you something about Hillary. I've known her for 30 years, next spring. We just celebrated our silver wedding anniversary. I know you want to discount what I say, but I'm telling you this also as somebody who has known hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in public life, elected officials. Maybe tens of thousands, I don't know; I've known a bunch of people in politics. [Laughter]

There is nobody I know who knows more about children and family, health care and education and bringing economic opportunity to distressed places—knows more about all five of those subjects—than her. She's worked on some of those issues for 20 years. She's worked on some of those issues for 30 years.

And all those 30 years, she never asked anybody to do anything for her, never. She was always working on someone else's commission, starting some new organization, volunteering for some new civic endeavor to create some new effort, or lobbying for some bill or campaigning for me or some other politician. It wasn't until some of the people in the New York House delegation asked her to start looking at running for the Senate and traveling around the State. And she had never before asked anybody to do anything for her. But all this time, she's been working on these things.

And I can tell you something based on my knowledge of all the people I've known in public life. There is nobody that has a better combination of brains and heart and determination and knowledge and the ability to get things done, even with people who don't agree with her. You will be so proud of her.

So are you going to do what I asked you to do? [Applause] Are you going to go tell people what's at stake? [Applause] Are you going to ask them if they want to keep the prosperity going? [Applause] Are you going to ask them if they want to build on the progress of the last 8 years? [Applause] Are you going to ask them if they want to keep building one America? [Applause] And what's the answer? Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary, Major, and Greg.

Thank you, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:53 p.m. in the gymnasium at Long Island University in Brooklyn. In his remarks, he referred to David J. Steinberg, president, Gale Stevens Haynes, provost, and Simone Knight, student body president, Long Island University; Mr. Steinberg's wife, Joan; H. Carl McCall, New York State comptroller; Judith Hope, chair, New York State Democratic Party; and New York State Assembly member Clarence Norman, Jr., 43d District, Kings County chair. Representative Major R. Owens was a candidate for reelection in New York's 11th Congressional District, and Gregory W. Meeks was a candidate for reelection in New York's Sixth 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

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