Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Duluth, Minnesota
Thank you very much. Thank you, Ann. Thank you for that wonderful introduction. Thank you for that good speech. If she hadn't made a case for her candidacy before, she certainly did in those remarks. I want to thank all of you at UMD for making me so welcome, the students here. I want to thank the band for providing our music; thank you. I want to thank the children in the Kids Voting Project who are going to take their parents to the election. When my daughter was very young, I began taking her with me to vote. Now kids are taking their parents to vote. We're going to get up to 100 percent voting if that keeps going. I thank you.
I am honored to be here today. I'm glad to be here with Senator Wellstone. I was listening to him speak, you know, and I was thinking to myself, it's too bad Paul has no energy, no enthusiasm; you never know where he stands. If he could just loosen up a little bit, how much more—[laughter]—I'll tell you what, he's a great inspiration to all of us. He keeps everybody in a good humor and always thinking about positive things, and that's pretty tough in Washington. When all the arrows start flying and people try to be negative, Paul Wellstone will always get up in the morning and try to make something good happen for the people of Minnesota and this country.
I am delighted to be here with all these Democrats behind me and especially with our Democratic gubernatorial nominee, John Marty. Thank you for coming, John, thank you. I appreciate many things about the welcome I've been given by Mayor Doty, but especially I appreciate his taking me to run today. We went out and ran 3 miles around the overlook today, so I saw all of Duluth. And I appreciate that; it's a beautiful city.
I want to take a point of personal privilege to say that I'm glad to welcome here Ann Wynia's primary opponent, my longtime friend Tom Foley, to thank him for supporting Ann in this race and for helping us to win this race.
And I want to thank Congressman Jim Oberstar for so many things. He is a wonderful leader. You know—yeah, you can clap for that. [Applause] He was one of the very few Members of the United States Congress who always supported our policy of restoring democracy and President Aristide to Haiti because he understood what was at stake. And it did my heart a lot of good to hear you cheering for him a few moments ago, to think what a great country America is, that here we are in the Iron Range in northern Minnesota where people care about what happens to people as far away as Haiti. And I thank you for that.
Finally, let me thank you, Chancellor Ianni, and everyone here at this fine school—there you are. We appreciate your making this fine facility available for a little old-fashioned enthusiasm right before this election.
You know, all of you know that I came here to ask you to vote in record numbers and with great enthusiasm for Ann Wynia for the United States Senate. I want to talk to you about why, why I feel that and why I think it's so important. You all know that she's had a distinguished career in the legislature, that unlike a lot of people in politics today, she is more of a doer than a talker. We've got a lot of talkers in Washington; we need a few more doers up there. In Washington you can almost tell people between those who point their fingers and try to blame others and those who open their arms and try to assume responsibility. We've got enough blamers in Washington. We need some more people who will take responsibility for the future of this country to get it going again and face our challenges again.
You don't have to take my word for it or hers. You can look at the work she's done to provide health care for 35,000 children in Minnesota who did not have it or her work in welfare reform or for education, many other areas. But I want to talk to you today about what's going on in our country and what we have to do about it. Ann said that this is a choice between going forward and going back, and she's clearly right about that.
You know, 21 months ago I moved to Washington, with the help of the votes of the State of Minnesota, to become the President. And I set about the work of trying to change this country, trying to rebuild America, trying to bring the American people together across all the lines that had divided us, trying to make us strong.
What does it take to make a country strong at home and strong abroad? It takes strong families, good jobs, a good education system, safe streets. It takes a sense of security abroad and growing trade, democracy, freedom, and peace so that Americans can work in a world that is coming together, not coming apart. My friends, you know, we've got a lot of problems in this country, but the truth is we're in better shape than we were 21 months ago when our administration took office.
There is this vast attack today on the idea of Government, and all the surveys show that our adversaries are making gains basically because they're trying to make people cynical and negative, to convince them that Government is the cause of all of our problems, that it is inherently bad, and that it doesn't matter how outrageous they are, what ridiculous things they say, you ought to vote for them anyway because they'll bring the Government down. Now, that's the essential core of their message. They win if the American people give up hope and believe the Government is bad. Well, I'm here to tell you that the Government is neither good nor bad. It is a tool that reflects you. You control it. You're the bosses. It is yours. The question is, what should it do? How much should it cost? How should it be done? Those are the questions.
Now, if strong families make America strong, I happen to think that the Government did the right thing when we came in and reversed the position of the previous administration to adopt the family leave law which protects 845,000 Minnesota families. I think we did the right thing to lower the income taxes of 155,000 Minnesota families who are working full-time, have children in their homes, but are hovering just about the poverty line. No one should be driven into welfare by the tax system. It should lift people out of welfare to reward work and family. I believe when our administration asked the Congress to approve a plan to immunize all the children in this country under the age of 2 by 1996, that strengthens families. When we expanded Head Start, it strengthens families. That's what we ought to do, and it's a good thing to do.
I believe that we have—and all the education groups agree with us, by the way—we've done more in the last 2 years to help Americans improve education than any Federal administration has done in the last 30 years. Why? Not because people are educated by the Federal Government, not because we are dictating more but because we have changed the nature of the relationship of the National Government to the education process. And I want to mention three things, in addition to Head Start.
Number one, with two major education bills, we have said to our public schools, there should be national standards of excellence that our children should achieve. We believe that all children can achieve them, and we are tired of having Federal rules and regulations that segregate poor kids in separate classes and separate tracks and tell them that by the time they're 6 or 7 or 8 years old, "We already know you're not going to make it because you come from poor backgrounds." We reject that. We reject that; it's wrong. So what we have offered is higher standards but less Federal rules and regulations, fewer requirements, and more emphasis on grassroots reform, the kind of thing that has been pioneered in the State of Minnesota, where so many of the interesting reforms in public education have started in the last 10 years. We are trying to take that all across America.
The second thing we've done is to say that education must be a lifetime process. We need apprenticeship programs for young people who don't come to college but want to be in good jobs.
And we have to make it possible for every single American citizen who is willing to do so to go to college, stay in college, and pay off their college loans at an affordable rate. Already 419,000 people in the State of Minnesota are eligible for lower cost college loans or better repayment terms, and we're going to keep going until all the students in America are eligible for the changes we have made in the college loan program. No one should ever stay out of college because of the cost of a college education. No one should, no one.
We have given you the chance to make our streets safer by passing that crime bill. Why? Because 100,000 police may not mean much, but 10 or 20 more in Duluth could mean a lot. Because we have adopted a balanced approach, tougher punishment, more prisons where they're needed, more police to prevent crime, and prevention programs to give our young people something to say yes to as well as something to say no to in this country. That is what we are doing.
And most important of all, we know that the best social program is a good job. And look at what has happened. In the State of Minnesota and in the United States—we just got the latest unemployment figures today—we now know that the unemployment rate in this country is 5.8 percent, the lowest it's been in 4 years. It's much lower in Minnesota. We now know that over 5 million new jobs have come into this country in the last 21 months and that in 1994 we have had more high-wage jobs come into our economy than in the previous 5 years put together. We are moving in the right direction. We don't need to turn back on this.
Just in this area, look at what has happened with the Erie Mining Company coming out of the LTV bankruptcy. Look at what's happened— yeah, you can clap for that; that's good. [Applause] I heard Jim Oberstar mention the National Steel Company. You know the steel industry is booming in America today, partly because the auto industry is booming in America today. For the first time since 1979, American automobile companies will sell more autos around the world than our Japanese competitors. We are back, and we're doing well.
I was in Michigan the other day meeting with the autoworkers. You know what the number one complaint there is now? They're working too much overtime, and they want more people to be hired. Now, folks, that is what I would call a high-class problem. [Laughter] And we need more like that.
Now, this is the record: strong at home, making efforts for stronger families, better education, safer streets, good jobs. This is the record.
Ann Wynia's opponent joined the Republican chorus in unanimously voting against our economic program to reduce the deficit. They said, all of them, that if my program passed, the economy would go down and the deficit would explode. Her opponent said, and I quote, "The Clinton budget would have ominous implications for the American economy, American jobs, and the American people." I'll tell you what, he was wrong about that. And he would have ominous implications for the American economy if his ideas were adopted by the United States Congress.
You know, you look at what's happened here. It's the economic equivalent of something you know a lot about, a hat trick. We've got unemployment going down, jobs being created, the deficit going down to its lowest level in a very long time, $100 billion lower than predicted, 3 years of deficit reduction in a row for the first time since President Truman was in office.
Our Republican opponents say they are against Government and vote for them. Don't pay any attention to what they say, because they hate Government anyway; it doesn't matter what you do. [Laughter] That's what they say. But when they were in office, the Federal Government got bigger. Since we have been in office, working together, we have reduced the size of the Federal Government. We are taking it down to its smallest size since President Kennedy was in office, and we're giving all the money back to you and your local community to make the streets safer. That's what we're doing, and that's our proposal.
So you have a clear choice here: someone who supports policies that have made us strong, and someone who said no, no—no to deficit reduction; no to the tax cuts for the working people on modest incomes; no to the other programs, the immunizations for children; no to middle class college loan expansion—no, no, no. He even said no to the national service legislation which is giving children and young people all across America the chance to earn some money to go to college by working for a year or two in their communities at the grassroots level to solve the problems of America. How could anybody be against that?
Instead, they offer this contract. Now, you heard Jim Oberstar talking about the contract. I've been watching the faces of the people at our rallies when our congressional candidates talk about the Republican contract, and they go blank. They can hardly believe it. And that's really what the Republicans are hoping. They're hoping that you'll hear the sweet parts and when we tell you the bad parts you won't believe it.
Here's what they promise. They say, "We're going to give big tax cuts. We'll give you a tax cut. Most of it will go to the top 2 percent— 70 percent of it—but we'll give the rest of you a buck and a half or so—[laughter]—everybody gets a tax cut. And then we're going to increase defense, and we're going to bring back Star Wars. And then we're going to balance the budget." [Laughter] And how much does that cost? A trillion dollars. That's still real money in Duluth, isn't it? A trillion dollars. [Laughter] That's right. We could have a good time tonight on a trillion bucks. We could go all weekend long on a trillion bucks. A trillion dollars. So you say, "How are you going to pay for this?" They say, "We'll tell you after the election."
Well, let me tell you something, folks. Here are the options. If they mean what they say, that they're going to have these tax cuts, raise defense as much as they say, bring back Star Wars, and balance the budget, there are only the following options: Number one, they can cut everything else in Government 20 percent across the board, including Social Security, which is 2,000 bucks a Social Security recipient a year. Number two, they can say what they're going to say, "Oh, how dare him; we didn't say we'd cut Social Security." They didn't say they wouldn't, either. [Laughter]
So, let's say they don't do that; then what do they have to do? They have to cut everything else 30 percent across the board, a 30 percent cut in Medicare for the elderly, veterans benefits, and student loans. And then there's the other possibility, which is that they're kidding; they don't mean it. [Laughter] Now, what does that mean? That's also pretty scary. What that means is, we're going to explode the deficit, ship our jobs overseas again, just like we did in the years of trickle-down economics, and put this economy right back in the ditch.
Now, you have the choice. When we talk about going forward, look at what is happening. We are moving forward on jobs. We are moving forward by reducing the deficit. We are moving forward in reducing the size of the Government. We are moving forward in Head Start, forward in providing immunization to our kids, forward in so many areas. We are working for stronger families, safer streets, better education, good jobs. We are moving forward. And we need to keep moving forward.
Let me close—I want you to think about this. We're also moving forward overseas. No Russian missiles are pointed at the children of Minnesota and the United States for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age. North Korea has agreed to be a nonnuclear state. Trade is expanding at a record rate. We are standing up for peace and freedom and democracy from Northern Ireland to South Africa, in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East and in Haiti. We are moving in the right direction. We are getting stronger. And it's a better world for our kids to grow up in.
What is the real enemy in this election? Cynicism, negativism, lashing out. And I want to just finish with this. As a parent, one of the first things you learn to teach your children is what your parents taught you: Never make a decision when you're mad. How many times did my mother tell me when I was a child, "Bill, count to 10 before you say anything"? And how many times did I get to 2, say something, and wind up regretting it? [Laughter] That's what our adversaries want you to do. They want you to count to one, go vote mad, cynical, Government's bad, nothing can happen, forget about the facts, forget about the record, forget about the direction of the country.
You, you can change what is likely to happen if they win in cynicism to what is certain to happen if we win with optimism. You, you, you can say, "We're in the mainstream in Minnesota, and they want to create a mean stream for America and we reject it. We reject it." You can say that.
You look at this. This institution where we are is a monument to hope. It is a monument to hope. Everybody who comes here comes here because they believe that they will have a better life, not only a better life economically but a better life personally in terms of the values, the understanding, the depth, the quality of life that will come if you live up to the fullest of your God-given potential. When you strip away all the details and all the rhetoric, that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to create an America in which every young person can look forward to living up to the fullest of their potential, in which the best days of this country are before us.
We need Ann Wynia in the Senate to do that. Will you send her there Tuesday? Will you help us? Will you do it? [Applause]
Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. in the Romano Gymnasium at the University of Minnesota. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Gary Doty of Duluth and Lawrence A. Ianni, chancellor, University of Minnesota, Duluth.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Duluth, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/288299