Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Providence, Rhode Island
Thank you very much. Thank you for this wonderful welcome, and thank you for being about twice as large a crowd as we thought we'd have and for being so good-humored about us losing the sound. I want to thank, first of all, the bands from Cranston East and Cranston West High School. Let's give them a hand. [Applause] You know, folks, when I ran for President, my slogan was "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." And there are a couple of people here with signs that say that today. But one of them is right down here with a group of people who are tomorrow, from the Maryville Elementary School. Welcome; glad to see you. I am delighted to be here today with my good friend Senator Claiborne Pell who just came back with me on our mission of peace to the Middle East. And I thank him for his leadership for Rhode Island and for America.
I am delighted to be here and to be introduced by Myrth York. And I want you to help her win this election next week. I read in the papers that she is an underdog. Well, I was an underdog—wait a minute, that's not a bad thing. I was an underdog when I started running for President. Nobody but my mother thought I could win. And then I was underdog two more times. I got up; I went down; I got up; I went down. The only election that matters is the one that the voters in Rhode Island are going to have next Tuesday.
The thing that impresses me about Myrth York is that she understands that the first job of Governor is to prepare the State for tomorrow's economy, to have Rhode Island moving strongly into the future—[applause]—commends her, and I want you to elect her on Tuesday.
I also want to say a few words about the others who are here. Linda Kushner sponsored and supported the Rhode Island family and medical leave act. I believe in that sort of policy. We need more of that in the Congress, not less. I want to say a special word of support for my friend, representative, soon to be Congressman, Patrick Kennedy. He has done in the legislature here what we need more of in Congress. He's been willing to stand up to vested interests and to stand up for the people of Rhode Island. I want you to help him be elected to the Congress on Tuesday. And you're going to do it, aren't you? Now I just want to say a simple but heartfelt thank you to Jack Reed. Jack Reed was there for us on the crime bill, on the Brady bill, on the family and medical leave bill, on helping to provide more affordable, easier to repay college loans to a whole new generation of American students. Jack Reed was there, and you ought to be there for him. I also want to thank all these other fine Democrats for being here with me, your State chair, Guy DeFault, who has such a good voice he could almost speak without the microphone. Your Lieutenant Governor, Bob Weygand, Jim Langevin, Sara Quinn, and Richard James. I want you to stand with all of them on Tuesday.
I love Rhode Island. I love to come here. Today I was told that today I was the first President since Andrew Jackson to go to Pawtucket. And I said, that was good because Andy Jackson and I cared as much about ordinary Americans as anybody who ever had our jobs. I was then told I was the first President in anybody's memory to come to Rhode Island twice in the same year. I'd love to come here every month. I love it here. I mean, look around. This is America, the Italians, the Irish, the French, the Portuguese, the African-Americans, the Haitian-Americans, the Hispanics. You name it; you got it. America's future here in Rhode Island, people working hard.
My fellow Americans, 21 months ago, with the help of the voters in Rhode Island, the American people hired me to be the President on a commitment to change the direction of the country, to get the economy going again, to empower ordinary Americans to compete in this economy, to make Government work for ordinary people again and not just organized interests, to make the world a more prosperous and a safer place for Americans to live and for these children to grow up.
We had this slogan, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow," because we had always believed that. And yet we had been through years in which people only did what was easiest today, in which we had leaders who talked tough but acted soft and did not tell us the truth and did not challenge us to do what we have to do in order to get this country into the 21st century, so that these children will have a great future and so that our best days are before us. That was my commitment 21 months ago. And I have to tell you, this country still has great challenges, but we are in better shape today than we were 21 months ago.
We have more jobs, a lower deficit, a smaller Federal Government, less regulation. We've corrected abuses like the $500 hammers and the $50 ash trays. We are giving you a Government that gives you your money's worth. We have done things for ordinary people. The tax system is fairer; 15 million working families, including thousands and thousands in this State, got their taxes reduced because they worked full-time, they have children in the home, they're just barely above the poverty line. And we do not believe, in our administration, that people who work hard and are trying to be good family people should be pushed into poverty by the tax system. We have done more on that than anybody has in 20 years.
The family and medical leave law protects families so that if there is a baby born or a sick parent, you can take some time off to deal with your family problems without losing your job. That's an important thing that we have done.
We're going to immunize all the children in this country under the age of 2 by 1996. We are expanding Head Start. We are establishing apprenticeship programs for young people who get out of high school, who don't go on to college but do want good jobs with growing wages and a better future. And we have dramatically, and I mean dramatically, changed the college loan program so that young people can borrow money to go to college at a lower cost and better repayment terms.
And the world is changing. The world is changing. There is more trade but a lower threat of nuclear problems. We continue to work with the Russians. We have made an agreement with the North Koreans not to become a nuclear state. We are expanding trade and job opportunities all around the world. We are promoting peace in a peaceful but strong manner from Haiti to Northern Ireland to the Middle East to the Persian Gulf.
This country is moving. We are moving. And the message must be to the voters of Rhode Island and America in the next week, we are moving in the right direction. In 21 months, a good start has been made. Have 30 years of social problems been corrected? Have 20 years of economic stagnation been totally reversed? Have 12 years of trickle-down economics been totally overcome? No. But in 21 months we've made an awfully good beginning. Let's keep going.
I thought to myself over and over and over again, what could have possessed our opponents to come out with this contract on America? What could have possessed the opponents of Congressman Reed and Representative Kennedy to sign it? It is a trillion dollars' worth of promises. Oh, it sounds so good. Here we are on the eve of the election, and one more time, they're like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You remember what happened to the people that followed him? [Laughter] "We'll give you a tax cut. We'll increase defense. We'll increase Star Wars. We'll balance the budget. And we'll tell you all about how we'll do it after the election."
So we're telling you how they have to do it before the election, and they're all upset about it. They wish we wouldn't tell you. But when you promise people a trillion dollars and you act like it's free, it sounds like a good time. But it's not free. To keep their promises, they would have to cut everything else that you depend upon by 20 percent across the board: Social Security $2,000 a person a year, Medicare, veterans programs, programs for farmers in the Heartland of America, everything. If they say they don't want to cut Social Security, then they have to cut everything else 30 percent across the board, devastating the Medicare program of this country. It is wrong. And if it is just a cheap election year promise, it is even more wrong, because that means they are going to explode the deficit, ship our jobs overseas again, and compromise the future of these children who are here. We have to say no to this. We're doing fine. We're going forward. We're not going to turn back.
It was bad enough when they were just saying no. When they tried to say no to the crime bill, no to deficit reduction, no to the college loans, no to family leave, no to the Brady bill, bad enough when they killed campaign finance reform, lobby reform, environmental legislation. Shoot, this crime bill, every law enforcement group in America was for it. I've got this watch on today that I got from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association when I signed the crime bill. But they were against it for political reasons, because they didn't want the Democrats to be perceived as being tough on crime. Never mind what really counted was not who got credit for the crime bill but whether the murder rate was going down, whether the rape rate and the violence rate was going down, whether we were saving more kids before they become criminals, whether elderly people felt safer in their homes and kids felt safer in their schools. That's all that matters.
If they would work with us, everybody could have credit. There's more than enough credit to go around. You ought to be in the driver's seat in this country, not a bunch of politicians in Washington trying to cause failure to make you mad, to hope you'll do the wrong thing. And that's their program. You've got to do the right thing. You've got to turn the lights on in America. You've got to say we're going in the right direction.
Let me say this. You know, I ought to quit, but I'm having a good time. I was asked the other day, and I got to thinking about it—somebody said the other day, said, "Did any job you ever had prepare you for being President?" And I said, well, I was a Governor a long time, but it really wasn't the same. For one reason, you can stay in touch with the people better. It was much more difficult for folks to get in the way of me and my constituents when I was the Governor of a small State. So I thought of all the other jobs I've had. And the one that my job is most like now is one I never made a penny doing, was when I worked with civic clubs on car washes—[laughter]—because I liked to clean the windows off. That's what we've got to do in America today. You know, if you drive your car and there's a lot of stuff on the windshield, you can think it's dark outside when the Sun's shining. You could think there are obstacles there when the way is clear. And then there could be a huge obstacle out there and you wouldn't be able to see it, and you'd run smack-dab into it. That's what they've done. They've put a lot of dirt on America's windshield. We've got to clean it off between now and Tuesday. Will you help? Will you do your part? Will you go forward?
Folks, this is an election between hope and fear, between unity and disunity but, more than anything else, between going forward and turning back. As I told the people over in Pawtucket at the Portuguese Social Club today, think about it like this: Every one of you is in the driver's seat. And on election day, just imagine that you have a remote control in your hand and what's in the movie screen or television screen is a movie about America's future. And you've got the remote control in your hand. You can push forward, you can push fast forward, or you can push reverse. Push forward, go on and push fast forward if you want to, but say no to reverse, no, we're going forward. We're doing better; we're going to do better still. We're going forward, forward, forward!
Thank you, and God bless you all.
NOTE: The President spoke at 6:56 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to James Langevin, candidate for secretary of state; Sara Quinn, candidate for attorney general; and Richard James, candidate for general treasurer. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Providence, Rhode Island Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218195