Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at a Rally for Democratic Candidates in Seattle, Washington

October 23, 1994

The President. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Audience member. Give them hell!

The President. You're going to help, aren't you?

Thank you, Governor Lowry, for your friendship and your support and your leadership here. Thank you for all the things you said. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for making me feel so very welcome today.

I hope all the folks who have joined us here who will tell the rest of the world about what we did, took notice of Larry Brown from Boeing and Sergeant John Manning and Mikelle Mathers. You see, they represent the real Washington and the real America we ought to be concerned about in this country. They're the kind of people that my friend Norm Rice works for every day. They're the kind of people that the members of this congressional delegation support.

I want to say a special word of thanks to the ones who are here, to Norm Dicks, for his friendship to me and his leadership, especially on defense issues; to Jim McDermott, for his courageous and never-flagging struggle to get all Americans health care; to Mike Kreidler, who in his first term has worked so hard to combat violence and to cut the deficit while the Republicans just talked about it. I want to thank Maria Cantwell for a lot of things, but especially for working so hard, along with Senator Murray, to make sure Washington continues to be a center of innovation in software and computer technology, to work with government and industry partnerships to make sure that this is part of our 21st century economy and part of your 21st century future. Before he leaves the Congress, I want to thank Al Swift for being a good friend and a good supporter and ask you to replace him with Harriet Spanel.

And I want to say, every time I am around Ron Sims, I like him more and more and more. I was sitting there listening to his speech today, in the place where we were just before we came over here, thinking about, you know, this will be a real dose for the U.S. Senate, I mean, a real person. Instead of somebody that postures about being tough on crime and then votes against the crime bill, you've got a guy who goes out and puts his life on the line to try to fight crime and violence and give kids a better chance at life. Instead of pontificating about family and work, you've got a man who's worked all his life, raised a good family, and then spent a fair amount of his time trying to make sure everybody else could raise their family, too. So I hope you will bring him home in the next 2 weeks, and I want to say more about that. But I can tell you it will not only be good for you, it would do the rest of the United States Senate, especially the crowd on the other side, a world of good to have to deal with somebody who's actually lived about the things they spout off about all the time.

Folks, I think it would not be an overstatement to say that this is kind of an unusual election. [Laughter] And the psychology is sort of strange. And there is a huge gap between what is actually going on and what people have been told for 2 years is going on, a huge gap. Now, this is a very great country and a very good country. And given the information and the facts, the people will nearly always do the right thing.

But I want you to think about this: I went to Washington 21 months ago to restore the American dream, to get our country together, to take up problems too long ignored because my predecessors didn't want to deal with all the heat that would come down, to seize opportunities that we had too long walked away from.

My mission was pretty simple: I wanted to put Government on the side of ordinary Americans. I wanted to do it by supporting work and family with things like family leave and tax cuts for working people who work full time and have kids in the home that are just barely above poverty, and they ought never to be in poverty if you work full time and you got kids in your house. I wanted Government to be on the side of ordinary Americans by empowering people so they could assume responsibility for their own lives. That's what our bill to have school-towork apprenticeships was about, so that young people that don't go to college can at least train for good jobs. That's what the middle class college loan program was all about, to give lower interest rates and longer repayment terms so that nobody—I mean, nobody—ever walks away from a college education because they're afraid they can't afford to go or will never be able to pay their debts back.

With 30 years of accumulated social problems, I wanted a serious attack on crime and violence. That's what the Brady bill and the crime bill and all of its facets was all about. That's what our welfare reform efforts, to liberate people so they can succeed as parents and workers and won't be on the dole for a lifetime—that's what that is all about.

I wanted to get this economy going again. That's what bringing down the deficit and investing more in new technologies and expanding trade for Washington State and all the other States in the country—that's what that was all about, to get the economy going again. And I wanted to change the way the Government works. I wanted us to do more with less. There are more than 70,000 fewer people working for the National Government than there were the day I took office. There will soon be a reduction in the life of this budget of about 270,000. Our Government will be the smallest it's been since John Kennedy, and every cent of the savings will go back to you at the grassroots to help you fight crime and build a more just society.

I wanted to make a world more peaceful and prosperous. That's what all these trade expansions are all about. That's what's selling all this high-tech material and products and the airplanes and the apples—that's what it's all about, letting people prosper in a global economy. I wanted you to be safer. And that's why I'm so proud of the fact that these little children are the first generation of Americans since the dawn of nuclear power that do not have Russian missiles pointing at them. I am proud of that, glad they will not have to worry about a North Korean nuclear power threatening their future, glad the Chinese have agreed not to sell their dangerous missiles.

I wanted a world in which we could have a more peaceful and prosperous and democratic future. I'm proud of what we did in helping the election in South Africa and the peace process in Northern Ireland and standing up to Saddam Hussein and bringing Father Aristide back to Haiti. I am proud of what we've been able to do to contribute to peace in the Middle East. And I hope you will pray for me and all those in the Middle East next week as we try to take the next big steps.

Now that I told you this, let me ask you this: If Jim McDermott and Norm Dicks and Maria Cantwell and Mike Kreidler were Republicans running for reelection, and they said, "Look, I gave you the smallest Federal Government since Kennedy, 3 years of deficit reduction for the first time since Truman, an explosive amount of economic growth, and finally some high-wage jobs coming back into our economy and the toughest crime bill in history," the Republican Party in Washington would be building a statue to each of them, not running against them. What is this? Isn't that right? Isn't that right? [Applause]

What is going on here that they say these people are the apostles of big Government and they're wildly liberal and they're for taxes? Eight times as many Washington citizens got a tax cut as a tax rate increase in our economic program. Don't you forget that.

How could people believe this? What is going on? Well, I'll tell you something, we live in a time when the negative is louder than the positive. The American people will nearly always, nearly always do the right thing if they know what it is. It used to be people didn't have enough information; now they have too much. And sometimes the people—and it's not all true, and it's hard to know what's relevant and what's irrelevant and what's important and what's not important. And people are just screaming at them all the time, trying to keep them in a turmoil, upset, agitated, disoriented. That's what our adversaries try to do. They figure if they can make people mad enough and disoriented enough, they'll just lash out at whoever's in and they will forget about what's happening.

I was telling some folks this morning that a few months ago in one of my rarer times when I had a little time to reflect, I sat down with a pencil and a piece of paper, and I made out a list of everything I'd ever done in my life to make a living, from the time I went to work in a grocery store when I was 13, to clearing land, to cutting grass, to building houses, to having a wholesale comic book operation. I've done a lot of interesting things. And the thing I was trying to think of, is there any job I ever had that's like the job I've got now? [Laughter] And was it Governor? Well, Governor was a little like it, but the job that's most like the one I've got now was one I didn't ever make any money at. It was when I was in civic clubs in high school, and we used to do car washes to raise money. Kids still do that, don't they? And I liked to be the guy that wiped off the windshield. That's kind of what we need to do now.

You think about it: If you're driving a car around and the windshield's all dirty, you'll think it's about to storm if the sun's shining bright. And if there are lots of things on the window, you'll think there's all kind of problems in the road, and it's just as clear as can be. And if it's really messed up, there may be a problem out there, and you won't see it, and you'll run smack dab into it. [Laughter] That's what I've got to do. We've got to wash America's windshield off in the next 2 weeks so they can see the light coming in.

I look at Ron Sims; I think of the life he has lived and the values that virtually pour out of him when he talks. And I think, I don't believe most people in Washington State want a Senator who voted against family leave, against college loans, against tax breaks for low-income working people, against deficit reduction, voted for the crime bill and then against it when it became a political deal. I don't think they want that.

Audience members. No-o-o!

The President. These people—you know, I don't think they want a Government that just screams and shouts and says no, no, no, no, a Government of fear, not hope; a Government of blame, not responsibility.

You know, look what happened in the Senate at the end of this session. In the 1800's we had a filibuster, that is, a talkathon, about once every 6 years. And people said, well, once every 6 years something will come along, and you don't want to rush it; you just ought to talk it to death to make sure you're doing the right thing. And then in the 1900's we got more verbose, and we've had about one a year. The partisan atmosphere has gotten so intense that in the last week, on the last weekend of this session of Congress, we had four filibusters on four different issues in one day. That is what they are doing.

You take—let me just give you one example, the Superfund bill that their delaying tactics killed. There was nobody in America against the Superfund bill, hardly. We had the chemical companies and the labor unions and the Sierra Club. Shoot, those folks never agreed on anything. You couldn't get them to agree on what time the Sun was coming up tomorrow morning. [Laughter] But they agreed on the Superfund bill. They wanted to clean up those toxic dumps. Nobody in America was against it except slightly more than 40 Republican Senators. And they knew that no way we could ever get it up. And why were they against it? Because they would have rather left the poison in the ground than let Maria Cantwell and Mike Kreidler and Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott come back here and say they helped to clean it up. That is the truth.

And so I say—and now they say, "Give us power and we'll—give us power, we'll give everybody a big old tax cut, especially if you're really rich. And we'll spend lots more on defense, and we'll spend lots more to revitalize Star Wars, and we'll balance the budget." [Laughter] Does that sound familiar?

Now, that costs a trillion dollars. You say, "Well, how are you going to pay for this?" They say, "We'll tell you after the election." [Laughter] You know how it'll be paid for? You know what it would take? It would take a 30 percent across-the-board cut in every program in America. What will happen is just what happened before. It will explode the deficit. It will lead to unwise cuts—and we have cut Government; they haven't—and it will lead to shipping our jobs overseas instead of bringing them back home to Washington State.

We have to say, "We tried that once. Thank you very much. We don't want to go back to the trickle-down economics and the divisive social policies that you gave us before. We don't want to go back. We don't want to go back."

I want you to think about this. I want you to think about this in the 2 weeks and a few days that remain. We've still got a lot of challenges in this country. We've got economic challenges. We've got social challenges. We've got important political reform and environmental and health care and welfare challenges to face. But this country's in better shape than it was 21 months ago. We have a Government that's done some important things for ordinary Americans. We've taken a serious stand against crime. There are more jobs. There is a lower deficit. It is a more peaceful world. We are in better shape.

What we need to do now is to say to the American people and to say to the people in Washington, "Look, it's up to you now. You've got to keep going into the future. You don't want to turn back now. You've got to choose hope over fear. You've got to empower people, not let somebody grab power with a bunch of cheap promises from yesterday. You have got to look at the future as it is and look at the facts as they are."

We've got to have everybody here thinking about what I did as a little boy. If you'll go out and you'll wipe off the windshields, if you will turn the lights on in Washington State, you will have Ron Sims for a United States Senator, and you will have these Congressmen back, and we'll have America going forward into the future.

Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you. You can do it. You can do it.

One more thing. Don't you dare walk out of here and just think about the cheering. Spend your time for the next 2 weeks talking to people who weren't here. Go have a cup of coffee with your neighbor. And if they're mad and upset and fuming, ask them to relax, take a deep breath, look at the pretty fall coming on, and talk about your country. The people of this country will do the right thing if they know the facts. And each of you should make a personal commitment to doing that, not only for them but for these kids here. You can do it. Turn the lights on. You can do it.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:36 p.m. in the Flag Pavilion Room at the Seattle Center. In his remarks, he referred to Larry Brown, Boeing machinist; John Manning, Seattle police officer; Mikelle Mathers, AmeriCorps volunteer; Mayor Norman B. Rice of Seattle; and Harriet Spanel and Ron Sims, congressional candidates.

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

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives