Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

October 31, 1994

The President. Thank you, Senator Wofford. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Let me say, first of all, before we get into the speech, I want to thank the East Allegheny High School Band and the Pine-Richland High School Band. Let's give them a hand for playing for us tonight. [Applause]

I am proud to be here with Harris Wofford, with Congressman Coyne, with Governor Singel, with your State treasurer Cathy Baker-Knoll, with Tom Flaherty and Pete Forrester, Linda Rhodes, and the congressional nominees. I hope you will elect them. You have a chance to replace these two Members of Congress that are leaving with Mike Doyle and Bill Leavens, and I hope you will vote for them.

Audience members. Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

The President. Yes, you will.

Audience members. Yes, we will! Yes, we will!

The President. I also want to say a word about a few other people who are here tonight: the chairman of the Democratic Party, David Wilhelm, who has worked so hard for all of us. And I want to say a special thanks to some of our friends from the labor movement, without whom so many of our candidates—[inaudible]. I thank especially Jerry McEntee, the president of AFSCME, who is here; George Becker, the president of the Steel Workers, who is here; and Bill George—[inaudible]—AFL-CIO.

You know, this election has a lot of interesting choices. I heard, for example, recently that Senator Wofford's opponent criticized people who go to the Senate to fight for locks and dams.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Anybody who criticizes that has never had to create a job or move a product to market. I think western Pennsylvania is lucky to have somebody who fights for improvements in the Mon River locks in Turtle Creek, Elizabeth, and Charleroi myself, and you ought to keep Harris Wofford if for no other reason.

I read the endorsement of Senator Wofford in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And he said, contrary to the paid ads of his opponent, I want to quote: "Senator Wofford is not an advocate of mindless big Government. He understands Government can't possibly solve all the problems in a nation, that personal responsibility and accountability must be engendered and demanded. He remains committed to a mission built on service and opportunity, hope and humanity, vision and realism. Harris Wofford is a direct descendant of the enlightened public officials who gave us Social Security and Medicare, those lifesaving programs. His opponent is not." couldn't say it better myself.

My fellow Americans, 21 months ago I went to Washington with the help of an overwhelming vote from the people of Pennsylvania, with a commitment to make Government work for ordinary Americans, to get the economy moving again, to prepare our people to compete and win in the global economy, to make the world more secure and more prosperous for Americans to live and work in. I called it putting people first. Well, you know, we still have problems. There are still people who want jobs who don't have them, people who are looking for a raise that hasn't come, people who are worried about losing their health care. There are still problems with crime in our streets and social problems in our communities. But I'll tell you something, folks, look at what we found: 4 years of the slowest job growth since the Depression, 12 years of trickle-down economics that blew up the deficit and drove our jobs overseas——

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. ——20 years of stagnant wages, 30 years of social problems. And after 21 months we are clearly moving in the right direction. We are in better shape than we were before.

I read in one of the papers today, a voter saying, "Oh, I'm sort of disillusioned. I don't know if they've done anything for ordinary Americans." Well, here is what we've done for ordinary Americans. We passed the family and medical leave law. Over 2 million working Pennsylvanians with family members can now take some time off when there's a child born or a sick parent without losing their job. We passed college loans for the middle class for lower interest, longer repayment terms, so that everybody can go to college. Over 1.7 million Pennsylvanians can take advantage of that. We passed the national service program, thanks to Harris Wofford's spirited leadership. Our economic program had tax cuts for over 500,000 working families in Pennsylvania with children in the home living on modest wages, because we, the Democrats, don't believe if you work full time and you've got a kid in the house you should be in poverty. We want to reward work and parenting. We voted to expand Head Start and to immunize every child in this country under the age of 2 by 1996. And on all those issues, Wofford was yes; his opponent was no. We're making Government work for ordinary citizens, thanks to people like Harris Wofford.

We made a serious assault on crime for the first time in a generation with tougher punishment, more prison space for serious offenders, more police for our streets, and prevention programs for our kids to keep them out of trouble in the first place. Every last Republican who voted against that crime bill knows that every law enforcement organization in the United States supported it. And a bunch of them voted for it the first time; then it became election year, and they flipped and voted no. They didn't care about lowering crime. They wanted a political issue. Harris Wofford voted to lower the crime rate in Pennsylvania, and you ought to reward him for it.

And we voted to put our economic house in order: $255 billion in spending cuts, 272,000 fewer people working for the Federal Government, gave all of the money to you to fight crime in your local communities. We voted to change the rules by which we buy things; no more $500 hammers and $50 ashtrays for us now. And when we did this, what did our opponents say? They said, "If you do this, we will bankrupt the economy. The economy will go down. The deficit will go up." Well, they were wrong. Look at the results: in 21 months, 4.6 million new jobs. In Pennsylvania in the previous 4 years, you lost 8,300 jobs; in this 21 months, 86,800 jobs in the State of Pennsylvania.

Do you know that if Harris Wofford were a Republican running for reelection—now don't boo, listen, because you need to go out between now and then and talk to people who are not for him yet, who are not for Mark Singel yet, who haven't made up their mind how they're going to vote in these congressional races. And I want you to think about this. If Harris Wofford were a Republican running for reelection, and he got up and said this: "I should be reelected, my fellow Republicans, because I did what you've been begging for for years. I reduced the deficit 3 years in a row for the first time since Truman. I am giving you the smallest Federal Government since John Kennedy. I have given the toughest crime bill to the American people in a generation, and I have voted for policies that are growing this economy for a change"—if he were a Republican, they'd be building a statue to him. And they ought to build one anyway. [Applause] You know it. You know it.

What is their beef? Their beef is, they want in. And so what did they do? They said no to everything—no, no, no—no to middle class college loans, no to family leave, no to everything. They refused to compromise on health care. They killed lobby reform. They killed campaign finance reform. They even killed the Superfund bill to clean up toxic waste dumps.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. It was an amazing thing, folks. We had the chemical companies, the labor unions, and the Sierra Club all for the bill. It was almost spooky. They don't agree on when the Sun's coming up in the morning. But they agreed that we had to get together and clean up the toxic waste dumps in America. No one in America was against it except a few more than 40 Republican Senators. And they preferred to leave the poison in the ground so they would have a political issue, so Harris Wofford——

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. ——so Harris Wofford could not come home to Pennsylvania and say he helped to clean it up. Now, that is the truth. And now they have this Contract With America.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Hey, this is a sweet deal. I wish I could do this a week before the election. But I'd turn red; I'd get embarrassed. I couldn't do it. [Laughter] But it's a sweet deal. It's a trillion dollars' worth of promises: "I'm going to give everybody a tax cut and especially the wealthiest Americans; they'll get lots more. And we're going to spend more on defense; we're going to spend more on Star Wars. We're going to give everybody everything, and we're going to balance the budget." Does that sound familiar? "Well, how are you going to pay for it?" we asked. And they say, "We'll tell you after the election." [Laughter]

So we had the House Budget Committee look at how it would be paid for. Do you know what their promises would cost if they kept them all? They'd have to cut Social Security $2,000 for every American. They'd have to cut Medicare $1,800 for every American. And if they abandon it, they would explode the deficit and ship our jobs overseas just like they did the last time they had power. They had it their way for 12 years.

I say to you, you think they're not serious about Social Security? Their leader once proposed making it voluntary. The Senate candidate in Virginia, Ollie North, you know him?

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. He says Social Security ought to be voluntary. That means we ought to kill it. That means we ought to kill it. And of course, Senator Wofford's opponent says that he would settle for raising the retirement age to 70, but it would be higher if he could make it higher.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Folks, here's my question. I know that this country has problems. I know this State has problems. I know not everybody is free of worry. But let me ask you something— they had it 12 years. They have told us if we give it to them again, they will do it to us again just like they did for the last 12 years.

In 21 months, we have turned this thing around. We're going in the right direction. Let's don't turn back now. Let's don't turn back now.

Let me tell you, I want you to think about this, in closing, every one of you, I want you to think about what you're going to do for the next 8 days. And I want you to think about it in terms of what I have just been doing. You know, I just came home from this trip to the Middle East, and I have seen—[applause]—and I want you to think about this. A big part of what I said in '92 was that I would give primary attention to our problems at home because we couldn't be strong abroad unless we were strong at home, but that we could not withdraw from the world, we had to be involved in the world. We had to expand trade, and we had to make the world more secure and more free. So we've expanded trade. And I'm going to Detroit tomorrow. You know what the biggest problem in Michigan is today? Overtime. The autoworkers are working too much overtime. That is a high-class problem. We need more problems like that.

For the first time since the dawn of nuclear weapons, no Russian missiles are pointed at your children. And we, we here in the United States, have been asked to help brave people all over the world as they struggle for freedom and democracy. Whether it is in South Africa or South Korea, whether it is in the Persian Gulf, in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, or in the Middle East, whether it is in Haiti or in Northern Ireland, we are helping.

And what I want you to know is, why do you think these people want us to help? Because they know this is a very great country. And they respect our values, our Constitution, our devotion to democracy, our appreciation of diversity, and our willingness to change energetically to meet the challenges of every age. That is what they like about the United States. To be sure, they admire our military strength, but it is the character of our young men and women in uniform that they admire even more than our power.

What I want to say to you folks is that we have to believe in ourselves the way they believe in us, not because we're perfect but because we can always do better and because we are now doing better because we are taking on the problems we ignored too long. We're taking on the tough fights, and we're moving in the right direction.

And what I want each and every one of you to do is to go out of here and say what I said to you. Find a friend or a neighbor who is undecided, who is a soft no on Wofford or a soft no on Singel or who hasn't made up their mind how they're going to vote in these Congress races. Find somebody and personally promise yourself you are going to seek them out and you are going to say, "Look at the record. Look at the alternative. Look at the future. Don't go back, go forward. Reelect Harris Wofford. Elect Mark Singel. Elect these two Congressmen."

Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Just remember, I love western Pennsylvania. You've been wonderful to me. But you need to send Harris Wofford back to the Senate, elect Mark Singel, and do it. You have 8 days. Talk to everybody you can. Bring it home.

Thank you. God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6 p.m. in the South Hall at the David Lawrence Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Tom Forrester and Peter Flaherty, Allegheny County commissioners; Linda Rhodes, State Democratic Party chair; and William M. George, president, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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