Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Flint, Michigan
Thank you. I'm glad to be back in Flint, glad to be back in Michigan, glad to be here for Bob Carr.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary and I are delighted to be here today with all of you. I want to begin by thanking the nominees who are here behind me, the wonderful members of the labor movement, the educators who are here, and others who are doing their best to see that Michigan makes a good decision for the future tomorrow. I also want to say a special word of thanks out of my own history to the Davison High School Band over here for playing for us. Thank you very much. You know, the chancellor at this distinguished institution, Dr. Charlie Nelms—we've got another band up there? What? Northern High School up here. Give them a hand. [Applause]
Folks, the chancellor of this fine institution, Dr. Charlie Nelms, grew up in my home State. And he just got back from his college reunion. I won't tell you which one. [Laughter] He was one of 11 children. And I say this not to embarrass him but to tell you that right before we came out here he said, "I want you to know something, Mr. President. If it hadn't been for people believing in me, giving me a chance, and providing programs like these college loans that get so many students into this institution, I wouldn't be here today. I want to stick with the people who believe in education, who believe in ordinary citizens, who believe in the future of this country."
I want to thank Mayor Woodrow Stanley for being my friend and my supporter and your great leader. They used to call me the Comeback Kid. You ought to call Flint the comeback city under Woodrow Stanley. And the thing I like about Woodrow Stanley—I want to say more about this in a minute, because it goes to your choice in this election—is that he is a builder, not a blamer. I want to thank your Senators, Senator Carl Levin and Senator Don Riegle—we wish you well in your retirement, and we thank you for representing Flint, Michigan, and the United States. I want to welcome the Democratic nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Howard Wolpe and Debbie Stabenow, and ask you to help them tomorrow and support them.
I just have to say this: The unemployment figures came out last week, and we had a 4year low in unemployment. And the Governor here always says, "Well, the Michigan economy is getting better." That's true, but did you ever notice that it didn't get very much better when the Republicans had the White House and the economic policy? And even though I think an enormous amount of credit goes to the automobile industry for their incredible efforts at partnership, labor and management, bringing us back to number one in automobiles in the entire world, the rest of the States are doing pretty well, too. We're going up or down together; that is my message.
I want you to help these people and especially I want you to help Bob Carr because if nothing else you know, if you look at this fine institution of higher education, if you look at this city, if you look at this State, if you think of our country, we are going up or down together. And you only have one choice who is clearly 100 percent on your side. Bob Carr is 100 percent on your side.
I also want to echo what Hillary said about Congressman Dale Kildee. I want to say a special word of thanks to him for his leadership in the most productive congressional session for education in 30 years. We expanded Head Start. We changed the Federal law on aid to our public schools so that we will emphasize grassroots reform and get rid of this ridiculous assumption that just because kids are poor, from disadvantaged backgrounds, they can't learn—from now on, the same expectations, the same opportunity, the same achievement for children without regard to their background. And you heard him talking about the School-to-Work Opportunity Act I signed. That's a bill for young people who don't go on to college but don't want to be in dead-end jobs, who want good training and are willing to engage in a lifetime of learning. And I did sign that bill on a desk built by the students at the manufacturing technology project right here in Flint, Michigan, who will benefit from that sort of effort.
I also want to thank Congressman Jim Barcia and our candidate, Bob Mitchell, for being here. Send them back to Washington so we'll have partners for progress.
You know, folks, this has really turned out to be an amazing election in ways that are both wonderful and troubling. The American people know that there are still things that need fixing in Washington, and they know there are things that need fixing back here at home. They know that, in spite of the fact that we've got an enormous amount of job growth—over 5 million jobs in the last 21 months—in spite of the fact that we've got more high-wage jobs coming back into America this year than in the previous 5 years combined, in spite of the fact that the biggest problem in the auto industry is not no time, it's now overtime—a high-class problem—they know that there are still a lot of people who are worried about losing their jobs; a lot of people who are afraid they'll never get a raise; a lot of people who are worried about losing their health insurance, as one million people in working families did last year; a lot of people who still want work in some of our cities and isolated rural areas who don't have jobs. This country has problems. They know that we've still got too much crime and violence and too much disintegration of our families and our communities that make people feel personally insecure or at least violate their sense of values. That's all true.
Now the question is, what are we going to do about it? And what these guys say is, our opponents, they say, "Be mad about it, be frustrated about it, be cynical about it, and put us in because we are going to play on your fears, your frustrations, and your cynicism." That's their argument; their argument is, "Look, nothing good has happened, and if you find something good that happened, it did not happen because the President was there. It did not happen because he had partners in the Congress. It happened in spite of that. It was irrelevant to that." That's their argument; you listen to them.
Well, you know what, folks? Where I come from, people say if you find a turtle on the fencepost, it did not get there by accident. And so I say to you, don't let a frustrated electorate wind up voting for what you're against and against what you're for. That's what they want.
Look what they say they're for. They say they are for a new plan that will give a huge tax cut to the wealthy, that will bring back big increases in defense and revive Star Wars and will balance the budget. Does that sound familiar to you? They say, "Ignore what happened in the last 21 months; it doesn't matter. Ignore the jobs, the growth, the help for ordinary working Americans, the fact that the world is growing more prosperous and more peaceful. Ignore all that; take our new set of promises."
Now, I want you to think about this. There are really only two possibilities with these Republican promises: they're either serious, or they're kidding. Now listen to me. If they're serious, they have made you a trillion dollars' worth of promises: "We're going to cut taxes on the wealthy, bring back defense and Star Wars, and balance the budget." What does it cost? "A trillion dollars." When you ask them, "How will you pay for it?" they say, "We'll tell you after the election."
Do you know why? Because the only way to pay for it is to cut everything else in the budget 20 percent across the board: $2,000 a person in Social Security, cut Medicare 20 percent, cut the student loans 20 percent, cut the AIDS prevention 20 percent, cut the Head Start 20 percent. That is their program. Then they say, "Well, we didn't say we would cut Social Security." They didn't say they wouldn't. But if you take out Social Security, then our opponents in the Senate and the House have committed to a set of promises that mean 30 percent cuts across the board in all those things.
Of course, there's always the chance that they didn't mean it, they're kidding. If they're kidding, what does it mean? "We will give you the goodies without the price." And what does that mean? We're going to explode the deficit. We're going to ship our jobs overseas. We're going to put our economy back in the same mess that this same crowd, with these same policies, put it in in the trickle-down economics years of the 1980's.
Tell them no. We want Bob Carr. We want Dale Kildee. We want Jim Barcia. We want Bob Mitchell. Those are the people we want. Tell them no. Tell them no.
You know, folks, one of the most amazing things to me is this effort that they are making to take a frustrated electorate and say, "It does not matter what we say. It does not matter what we do. Anything the Government does is either irrelevant or makes it worse." Can you imagine, can you imagine entering into any other human endeavor with that attitude? Can you imagine going to school with that attitude? Can you imagine building a business with that attitude? Can you imagine going to work with that attitude? Can you imagine building a house with that attitude? Can you imagine building a family with that attitude? No! Well, why would we want to build a Congress with that attitude?
You know, folks, I don't know about you, but when I showed up in Washington I wanted to rebuild the American dream; I wanted to bring this country together; I wanted to make America strong. I don't mean I wanted to talk strong; I wanted to be strong. And to be strong you need stronger families, better schools, safer streets, more jobs, a safer and more prosperous world.
Well, I don't know about you, but I believe it made a difference when we gave 1 1/2 million Michigan families the protection of the Family and Medical Leave Act so they could take a little time off from work and keep their jobs. And I believe it made a difference when almost 400,000 Michigan families that work full-time with kids in the house and are hovering above the poverty line got an income tax cut under our administration, so you could succeed at work and at home, being a parent and a worker. I think it made a difference. I think it made a difference when we made almost 600,000 people in Michigan eligible for lower cost and better repayment college loans, so more people could go to college and no one need ever turn away. I think that makes a difference. And I think it made a difference when we lowered the deficit and increased our investment in our future and got this economy going again. And that's why the unemployment rate in America is at a 4 year low and it's dropped 2 percent in Michigan in the last 21 months. I think that matters, and I think you think it matters.
So I think it matters that for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there are no Russian missiles pointing at these children here. I think it matters that North Korea has agreed not to become a nuclear power. I think it matters that the United States is expanding trade and opportunity for high-wage jobs. I think it matters that we are making peace and helping peace come about and standing up for freedom from the Persian Gulf to Northern Ireland, to Haiti, to the Middle East. I think that matters. I think that matters. And so I ask you, my fellow Americans, why would we want to go back?
This election is, more than anything else, an election about the state of mind of our voters. If people are thinking about the issues and what's in their issues and who's on their side and what's best for our future, they will have to vote for Bob Carr over his opponent. Their great hope is that everybody wakes up tomorrow mad, the Democrats stay home, the extremists go vote—the people who want a bunch of easy promises, the people who want a lot of tough talk that will lead not to strength but to weakness for most of us—that that will prevail. My great belief is that tomorrow, whatever the weather, you're going to wake up with the Sun shining in your mind, seeing clearly, thinking about tomorrow, thinking about tomorrow.
Folks, you just think about this. You think about what really counts when you go to work, when you build a business, when you get an education, when you rear a family. It is a positive, building, unifying, compassionate idea of what you are as a person and what you can become. That is what we represent. We've still got a lot of problems in this country, folks, but this country is in better shape than it was 21 months ago. We are stronger than we were 21 months ago. We are moving forward.
Don't turn back; go forward. Elect Bob Carr and Dale Kildee and Jim Barcia and Bob Mitchell and Howard Wolpe and Debbie Stabenow. Help these people. Lift Michigan; go forward. Come on, we can do it. Thank you, and God bless you all.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:57 p.m. at the University of Michigan.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Flint, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218303