Bill Clinton photo

Remarks in Jackson, Tennessee

August 19, 1996

Thank you very much. Thank you for the "Happy Birthday." I have had a very happy birthday in west Tennessee, and I thank all of you for that. I thank you for coming out here. This is a vast crowd; we never had any idea there would be this kind of crowd here. They said, "Well, Mr. President, we've got to go. We need to be at the airport because we're going to have to shake hands with a few people who will be there before we leave"—a few thousand people, or maybe not even a few thousand people, several thousand people. I thank you all for coming, very much.

Hillary and Chelsea and I have had a wonderful time with Al and Tipper and Karenna and Sarah and Albert. We did go out and work on the church rebuilding today to give us something to do to remind ourselves that, as the Scripture says, "To those to whom much is given, much is expected." And all of us have a responsibility now as Americans to say we don't want our country to be like other countries where people fight with each other because of their differences over race or religion or ethnic group or tribal groups. There's too much of that in the world. America is going in the other direction. We're going to draw strength from our differences and our shared values, and one of those is the freedom of religion, and we respect that, and we're going to keep fighting for it all the way.

Let me also tell you that I am very grateful to the State of Tennessee for being so good to me and to our administration. I thank Governor McWherter and Congressman Tanner and Mr. Purcell, all the others that are here, Lois DeBerry, the other leaders of the legislature and local government, people that have been involved in our campaigns. But I cannot thank you enough for the gift of friendship and service that Al and Tipper Gore have been to the United States while I've been President. You have no idea, even in Tennessee, how much difference they've made for America and for the future.

There are many things I could say, but just one thing I'd like to emphasize: Every year the Gores have come back to Nashville to have a family conference, to try to stand up for the things that I've cared about a long time and that Hillary has worked for for more than 25 years. And out of those family conferences have come some very impressive things. We now have a family and medical leave law that 12 million American families have been able to take advantage of, to take a little time off from work without losing their job when there's a baby born or a sick parent, and that's a good thing. And we want to build on it.

We now have a law which says that we're going to put a V-chip in new televisions so that parents can help to control the programming their children see and now an agreement to 3 more hours of quality educational television for our children on the networks of America. And I thank them for that.

The other thing I'd like to say is back in the election in 1992, Al Gore used to give a little speech. I don't know if you remember it, but he said, "The problem in this country is that everything that ought to be up is down, and everything that ought to be down is up." Do you remember when he said that? America was laughing with him and rocking with him. But I'll tell you something, he's got to change his speech this time, because everything that ought to be down is down, and the things that ought to be up are up.

And I just want to tell you that for all of you who have given us a chance to serve, you should feel that you were a part of putting in place a strategy that has cut the deficit by 60 percent, that has given us record exports, that has continued to invest in education, in technology, and the future, that has brought this deficit down, and that will balance the budget without destroying our commitments to our senior citizens, to our children, to families with disabilities through Medicare and Medicaid and without requiring cuts in education and protecting the environment. We are going to go into a future with a strong economy, where there are more good jobs and where we're growing together in the 21st century because of the policies that you have supported.

And I just want to ask you in the weeks and months ahead to go out and be a good citizen, talk to your friends and neighbors and ask them, what do you want America to look like when we reach the 21st century—it's just 4 years away—what do you want America to look like when your children are your age? It's not that far away. We've got to build an America where every single solitary person, every boy and girl, without regard to their race, their income, their station in life, has a chance to live out their dreams. We've got to build an America strong enough to protect ourselves and to lead the world for peace and freedom. And as we saw at those churches today—one white, one black, both burned and brought together—we have got to build an America where we're coming together, not being driven apart the way so many other countries are. That's the way to go into the future, and that's what we're going to do.

Thank you, God bless you, and thank you for a happy birthday. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:12 p.m. at McKellar-Sipes Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Bill Purcell, majority leader, and Lois DeBerry, speaker pro tempore, Tennessee House of Representatives.

William J. Clinton, Remarks in Jackson, Tennessee Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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