Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Albany
Thank you. Thank you so much, Governor Cuomo. I'm too hoarse to shout over you— [laughter]—but I'm very happy to be here.
Thank you, Governor Cuomo, Senator Moynihan, Congressman McNulty, Comptroller McCall, to the mayor here, Mayor Jennings, and the other mayors and labor leaders and students and citizens and Americans who are here. This is a great day for New York.
I'm like Mario. I don't have a speech either— [laughter]—except what's in my heart. I came here to ask you to vote for Carl McCall, to ask you to send Senator Moynihan back with a record margin, send them a message back, and most of all, to ask you to make Mario Cuomo the real "comeback kid" of New York State.
This election is shaping up to be one of those classic American elections that gets replayed every so often in our history: a race between hope and fear; a race between tomorrow and yesterday; a race between people who appeal to what is best in us and those who tell us that everything is just terrible and we ought to lash out; a race between those of us who challenge the American people to do better, who try to empower them to make the most of their own lives and those who offer them cheap and easy promises of a time which never was and never will be. That is what we are facing in these closing days.
I want to tell you something, folks. I understand why a lot of Americans are frustrated today. You know, there are a lot of people out there who haven't gotten a raise or are worried about losing their health care or think that their future is uncertain. But I'll tell you something, after 21 months this country's in better shape than it was when we took office.
With all of our difficulties, we know one direction, forward. We are moving forward in jobs, 4.6 million new jobs. New York lost a half a million jobs in the 4 years before I took office. New York has gained over 110,000 jobs in just 21 months. We're going forward, not backward.
We are going forward in doing things for working families: the family and medical leave law, tax cuts for millions of working families to keep them out of poverty if they have children and they're working 40 hours a week; immunizations for all the kids in this country under the age of 2 by 1996; more Head Start. That is forward. Let's don't go backward.
Our Republican friends, they always said big Government was the enemy and the deficit was terrible. But when they had power, they exploded the deficit and increased the Government. We have reduced the deficit. We have shrunk the Federal Government. We have given the money back to New York, to Albany, to Rochester, to the communities to fight crime and make our streets safer. That is the record. We're moving forward.
We are moving forward. The economy is coming back. The Government is working for ordinary Americans. This world is a place where there is more trade and less nuclear threat, a place where America has been a force for freedom and peace and democracy. From the Persian Gulf to the Middle East, to Haiti, to South Africa, to Northern Ireland, we are moving forward, forward, forward.
New York is moving forward. Mario Cuomo and I just came from a demonstration of educational technology where we saw children doing marvelous things in the classrooms of this State, interconnecting with their computers to sources all over the world. Do you know, the State of New York in the last 10 years has cut its school dropout rate by about 50 percent. That would be the envy of every State in the United States. We're moving forward. We're moving forward.
In education, we're moving forward. We know that people need a lifetime of learning. We're establishing apprenticeship networks all over this country for young people who don't go to college. And we're making college more affordable with lower interest loans and better repayment terms so that every young American can afford to get a college education. Forward, we're moving forward.
What do our adversaries do in this election? What do Governor Cuomo's adversaries do? They don't have other programs. They don't have a vision for the future. They just say things are bad. What do our adversaries do? Ask Senator Moynihan. Well, they kill things when they can. They killed health care reform. They killed campaign finance reform. They killed lobby reform. They even killed a bill to clean up the toxic waste dumps of America. Nobody was against it, but they killed it anyway because they didn't want Pat Moynihan to be able to come back to New York and run for reelection to the Senate by saying that he helped to take the poison out of the ground. So they left the poison in the ground so they could poison the political atmosphere. Tell them no thank you, we're going forward, forward, forward.
There are problems in this country, real things to be worried about, deeply troubling developments in our culture: the rise of crime and drugs and gangs. And we know all that. But they have been coming for 30 years. There are economic problems: stagnant wages for working people, people losing their health insurance. That has been happening for nearly 20 years. And we had 12 years of trickle-down economics. We have only had 21 months, folks, but we're in better shape. Let's keep going forward, not go backward.
What is the argument? The argument against this administration, this chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, this distinguished Governor is really you ought to be mad and go in and vote your anger. And what do they promise? They said, "Give us power in the Congress, and we'll make you a trillion dollars' worth of promises. All Bill Clinton does is nag you. All he does is tell you you've got to get a better education, you've got to be more productive, you've got to be more competitive. We'll make you a promise: Vote for us. We'll cut taxes. We'll raise spending. We'll balance the budget. Presto, no pain."
What does it cost? "A trillion dollars." How are you going to pay for it? "We'll tell you after the election." [Laughter] Unbelievable!
And so their promises mean, my fellow Americans, only one of two things for the people of New York. Either they will keep their promise, as Senator Moynihan has said, and they will destroy Social Security, Medicare, our ability to fund the crime bill, and other things to help New York. They will destroy the education bill I just signed which helps the cities and the local community schools to revolutionize education, by keeping their promise. Or they will abandon their promise, and they will explode the deficit, start sending jobs overseas again, and put the economy in the ditch. That is backward. No, thank you, we're going forward next Tuesday. Forward, that's the direction we know.
Yes, there is frustration in the electorate. But you know, the first thing you try to teach your children as a parent once they really begin to be aware of the world is not to make an important decision when you're mad. "If you're mad, count 10 before you talk." How many times were we raised with that? What the Republicans want you to do is go in and vote before you count to two. [Laughter]
Well, folks, I want to ask every one of you in this enthusiastic crowd to leave this place and promise yourself that between now and Tuesday you're going to find three or four or five of your neighbors and friends who haven't made up their mind in these races, who aren't sure how they're going to vote in the Governor's race. Tell them to take a deep breath; sit down and have a cup of coffee with them and talk about moving forward.
On election day, imagine that every American has in his or her home a movie of America on the television and the remote control in your hand, and you get to push the button. You can push forward; you can even push fast forward if you want to—[laughter]—or you can push reverse. No; forward, always forward. That's what this country has done. That's what this country needs. You just think about it.
Let me tell you, I've just come back from this wonderful trip to the Middle East. I have looked into the eyes of millions of people who are not Americans. In all those countries I visited, I saw people looking at our fine young men and women in uniform in the Persian Gulf. I saw the Jordanians and the Israelis looking at the American President—not me, they saw America. And you know what? The people outside this country are not cynical about America. They think we're the strongest military power, the strongest force for peace, the strongest force for economic progress, the strongest force for opportunity. They are not cynical. They are not cynical.
And if on election morning the people of New York wake up and they're not cynical and they see ourselves as others see us and they see the potential of this State and the potential of this country, they will send Mario Cuomo back to the Governor's mansion in Albany.
Now, you—you must be his voice. You must be the voice for these candidates who stand for what is best in us, who stand for hope over fear, who stand for tomorrow over yesterday— you, every one of you. Don't miss a chance. Don't miss a lick. Don't leave a stone unturned. Go out there now between now and Tuesday and say: Look at me, I represent America, hope, and tomorrow. Help me go forward.
God bless you all.
NOTE: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. in the Physical Education Building at the State University of New York. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Gerald D. Jennings of Albany and H. Carl McCall, New York State comptroller.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Albany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218095