Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Get Out the Vote Rally in San Jose, California

November 03, 2000

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

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Let me say first, to all of you, how very glad I am to be back in San Jose. I want to thank Mayor Gonzales and all the people here who have always made me feel so welcome. I've had some of my happiest days as a candidate and as a President in this part of the wonderful State of California. Of course, my daughter has lived near here for the last 3 years.

I was reminding Governor Davis that in 1992 we had 10,000 people at San Jose State, and it was the most exuberant rally in the entire campaign. It was an amazing thing. I'll never forget it.

I'm delighted to be on the stage with all these folks today: our State Democratic chair, Art Torres; your wonderful Representative in Congress, Zoe Lofgren. I am so proud of her. I love being with her. Secretary Norm Mineta, my great friend, what a credit he has been to San Jose and all of California. You should be so proud of him.

And it means especially a lot to me that Willie Mays came here with me today. He's been here with me so many times, and I'm very grateful. You know, one of the great things about—we just had the World Series, so I want to say this—one of the great things about being President is that if you have a particular interest, you can pretty much get anybody who is involved in it to come and talk to you. [Laughter]

I love music, and I love sports. And I became a friend of Hank Aaron who, as all of you know, owns the all-time home run record. So there was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's record in Atlanta. And Hank invited me to go down, and I did. There were 12 Hall of Fame baseball players there. And so I said to Hank Aaron, "Who is the greatest player you ever played with?" He said, "It's not even close. Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player who ever played."

I want to say, are there any students from San Jose State here? [Applause] I want all of you to know that when I landed in my helicopter today, I had the enormous honor to meet your young football player Neil Parry—who was injured and lost his foot—and his family. They're in good spirits. They've got their heads up. He told me he was going to play football next year, and he wanted me to come watch him, and I told him I'd have some more time, and I'd be honored to come back and see him.

I want to thank Gray Davis for being a truly astonishing Governor. He has gotten so much done in so little time. You should be very, very, very proud of him. He has also been a true friend to me and a loyal supporter of Vice President Gore, and we're going to celebrate here Tuesday night, in no small measure because Gray Davis never blinked when things looked bad, and now they look good all over America. Thank you, Gray Davis.

And I'll just tell you, I am so proud of Mike Honda. We had a talk the last—this is the second time I've been in his district to campaign for him, and we were talking about what it was like to be young and Japanese in America when we made the terrible mistake of interning Japanese-Americans during the war.

One of those internment camps was in my home State. And I'll never forget when I went back to Hawaii to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. I met a veteran who told me that he was interned in a camp in Arkansas. And he said, "I may be the only person who came out ahead, because I met my wife across the river in Mississippi. They were the only family that I knew who were Japanese-Americans where I could get what I thought was good food." [Laughter]

So our country has come a long way in the last 50 years, and Mike Honda is the embodiment of both that past and the bright future ahead of us, and I thank you for helping him.

Look up here on this stage. Is this America or what? [Applause] You have a Latino party chair; an African-American baseball legend; a Japanese-American Secretary of Commerce; the daughter of a truck driver, as she just said, in Congress—they probably make more than people in Congress do now—Zoe Lofgren; a Japanese-American candidate for Congress; and two representatives of the gray-haired white guys' caucus. [Laughter] Is this America, or what?

Look, I want to just take a few minutes— you know, we're so exuberant; we're all feeling good. And I could just give you a few applause lines, and we could scream for 5 minutes. But I want you to give me a chance to speak with you seriously, just for a couple of minutes, for the following reasons.

The Presidential race is close, even though the Vice President has a good lead in California. A lot of these Congress races are close. There are five House seats we could pick up here in California, if we won every close one presently held by a Republican; and one where we have a truly outstanding Congressman, Cal Dooley, who is in a tough race himself for reelection—one of the most outstanding people in the entire United States Congress.

And what I want to say to all of you is that every one of you has friends in this congressional district where Mike will be running, a little south of here where Lois Capps is running for reelection—one of the most wonderful people I've ever known—and in other places where we have battles here in California. Most of you have friends in other States where the outcome of the election is not yet clear. There are 12 or 15 States where this election is still within 2 to 3 points.

And what I would like to ask you to do is to leave here not only energized and determined to vote but to leave here committed to talking to as many people as you can between now and Tuesday—in this congressional district, throughout the State of California, and if you have friends or family in other States. Because if you look at how many thousand people there are here, you could easily touch 100,000 voters between now and election day. And those 100,000 voters might make the difference.

In 1960, when President Kennedy, who inspired my generation—I was barely alive then— [laughter]—when President Kennedy inspired my generation, he was elected by four-tenths of one percent of the vote—100,000 votes in the entire country. Now, all of you, with no effort, could touch 100,000 voters—with no effort. That's less than 10 a day for every person here. You could do it, easily.

And here's what I think you ought to say to them. Number one: Remember what it was like 8 years ago, when the economy was in trouble; the society was divided; there were riots in Los Angeles; the crime rate was going up; the welfare rolls were going up; the number of people without health insurance was going up; people were giving up on the schools. The society was divided, and the political system in Washington seemed absolutely tone-deaf to it.

And you gave Al Gore and me a chance to go to Washington to put the American people first, to create opportunity for every responsible citizen in a community of all Americans. And it worked.

So what I want to say to you is, what's the problem? Why are the races even close? Because things have been good for a long time. And sometimes when they're good for a long time, people forget what they were like before, and they think there are no consequences to the decision before them. Well, first one candidate sounds pretty good, then the other one sounds pretty good. This sounds like a good idea, but on the other hand, that sounds like a good idea.

Look, there are just three big questions in this race, and I want to tell you what they are and what the choice is. Everybody knows we've had the longest economic expansion in history, but what not everybody knows is, it's the first one in 30 years where we all got to go along for the ride. Now, what do I mean by that?

In the last 8 years, Hispanic unemployment has been cut by more than half, African-American unemployment in half, the lowest African-American and Hispanic unemployment in history; poverty is at a 20-year low; child poverty is down 30 percent, poverty among seniors below 10 percent for the first time in our history; average income up 15 percent—over $5,000—over the last 8 years after inflation. We're all going along for the ride.

So the first question is, do you want to keep this prosperity going?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Well, if you do, there's a choice. Now, if someone asks you to explain it, how would you say it? This is the answer: With Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Mike Honda, you will get to keep the prosperity going. Why? Because, number one, they'll keep paying the debt down, which means interest rates will stay down, and the economy will stay strong.

That's very important. Paying the debt down gives you lower interest rates. What does that mean to all of you? Lower home mortgages, lower car payments, lower college loan payments, lower credit card payments, lower business loan payments, means more businesses, more jobs, a higher stock market. The rich get richer, but so do the rest of you. This is very important.

Then, with the money that's left, we will invest in education, health care, and the environment, and give the American people a tax cut we can afford for child care, for long-term care, for college tuition tax deductions, and for retirement. That's the Democratic plan.

Now, so what's the choice? Look at the Republican plan. They have a tax cut that's 3 times as big. It costs $1.6 trillion. And keep in mind now, the surplus is estimated to be $2 trillion. I'll be surprised if it's that much, but that's the estimate today, $2 trillion. So you can forget about the zeros and just remember 2. So they've got this big tax cut, 1.6 trillion. Most of you would be better off under the Gore/Lieberman plan. And some of the rest of us—you know, if I get out and get lucky, I would be better off under their plan in the short run. But it's not right, and here's why. It's so big—$1.6 trillion. Then, they want to partially privatize Social Security. Now, that costs another trillion dollars.

Why? Because if all of you who are young take your payroll tax out and put it in the stock market, they've still got to pay all of us that are 55 or over 100 percent of the benefits they promised. You can't spend the money twice, so you have to put another trillion in. Okay, so that's 1.6 plus 1. Then, they want to spend about a half a trillion dollars, .5. But the surplus is only 2. Now, 1.6 plus 1 plus .5 is 3.1. Threepoint-one is bigger than 2. It's all you have to remember.

So what does that mean? That means that even though they spend less money than Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Mike Honda will, they'll be—on education, on health care, and on the environment—we'll still be back in deficits. It means higher interest rates. It means you will pay more for home mortgages, more for college loans, more for car payments, more for credit cards, more for business loans. It means higher interest rates, more inflation, and a slower economy. This is not complicated.

But you need to be able to explain to people. I get the feeling people think, well, this one sounds good; that one sounds good. This is a huge choice. We tried it our way for 8 years. Then we tried it the deficit way before for 12 years. Our way works better. Go tell the American people, if you want to keep the prosperity going, you've got to do this.

Now, here's the second point. It's not just about prosperity. We're not just better off; this country is better than it was 8 years ago. What do I mean by that? Listen. The crime rate has gone down every year, to a 26-year low. The welfare rolls have been cut in half, to a 32year low. Teen pregnancy is down; teen drug abuse is down. The number of people without health insurance is down for the first time in 12 years, thanks to the Children's Health Insurance Program. The environment is up—the air is cleaner; the water is cleaner. We've cleaned up 3 times as many toxic waste dumps in 8 years as they did in 12 and set aside more land permanently than any administration since Theodore Roosevelt, 100 years ago.

Now, finally—finally—the schools are getting better; education is getting better. On all the— the national test scores show reading scores are up; math scores are up; science scores are up. The dropout rate is down; the college-going rate is at an all-time high, thanks in part to the biggest expansion of college aid under our administration in 50 years. So we're moving in the right direction.

So here's the second question: Do you want to keep the progress of the last 8 years going? Now, just like on the economy, you have a choice. If you vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Mike Honda, in health care, you get a Patients' Bill of Rights; you get a Medicare drug benefit for all the seniors who need it; you get more health care coverage for children and lower income working families that can't afford it. You get a commitment to a clean environment, including a clean energy conservation future. You get more police on the street. You get 100,000 more teachers in the classroom and funds to build or modernize schools all across America where they're in trouble. And you get a tax deduction for the cost of college tuition.

Now, the other party, from top to bottom, has committed to do the following: To abolish the 100,000 police program and oppose our commonsense gun safety measures; to abolish the 100,000 teacher program before we finish that. They're against the real Patients' Bill of Rights and against the Medicare drug program that all our seniors can buy into. And they don't agree with our clean energy conservation future. They think we can drill our way out of the hole we're in.

Now, it's not like there's not a choice. But if you want to build on the prosperity and the progress of the last 8 years, you only have one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and Mike Honda.

Now, here's question number three. Now, here is the third big question. And in some ways, it's the most important of all, although it's not as high on the political radar screen. It is whether we're going to continue to build one America, where every law-abiding citizen feels a part, an equal part, and feels that the Government in Washington—especially in the White House, but also in the Congress—is on their side, and even when I don't agree with you, I have a listening ear.

I have tried to make you feel that the White House was your house these last 8 years. Without regard to your race, your religion, your gender, whether you were straight or gay, whether you were Native American or European-American, whatever, I tried to make the American people feel that they had someone in the White House who was looking out for them.

Now, what do we do? The family leave law; mending but not ending affirmative action; fighting for fairness for immigrants and for civil rights; fighting for AmeriCorps, which is active here in San Jose and all across America.

Now, there's a choice here. If you vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman and Mike Honda, in the area of one America you get people who want to pass hate crimes legislation, employment nondiscrimination legislation, equal pay for women legislation, and a Supreme Court that will defend civil rights, human rights, and a woman's right to choose.

In every area—in every area—our friends in the other party are against the strong hate crimes bill, against the employment nondiscrimination bill, against the bill to strengthen equal pay for women, and they have made it clear that the Supreme Court they want is a very different one.

So it's not like there is no choice. But you see, that's what's so frustrating, because if everyone knew what the choice was and understood the consequences, we'd win. That's why I asked you, when I started, to listen and not just cheer, and to spend every moment you can in the next 4 days talking to your friends who would never come to a rally like this, but will vote or would vote if they knew what was at stake, not only here but throughout the State and throughout the Nation. It is worth your time.

So now you know, you can call people and say, "Look, there are three big questions here. Do you want to keep the prosperity going; do you want to keep the progress going; do you want to keep building one America?"

If you look at California, you see a picture of tomorrow's America. And believe me, if you think about the scientific and technological changes and the demographic changes here, these kids that are here in this audience today are going to live in the most exciting, prosperous, interesting time in the history of the world. More than anything else, this election is for them. And I'm glad there are so many young people here today, because this is your election and your future and your century.

So will you do this for the next 4 days? Will you go out and call your friends and talk to your friends? [Applause] And just tell them, if you want to keep the prosperity going, if you want to keep the progress going, if you want to keep building one America, there is only one choice: Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and Mike Honda.

Thank you, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:43 p.m. in the Parkside Ballroom at the San Jose Civic Center. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Ron Gonzales of San Jose; Gov. Gray Davis of California; former professional baseball players Willie Mays and Hank Aaron; and Mike Honda, candidate for California's 15th Congressional District.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Get Out the Vote Rally in San Jose, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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