George Bush photo

Remarks at a Rally for Governor Bob Martinez in St. Petersburg, Florida

October 10, 1990

The President. Thank you very, very much. I'll get to that in a minute. [Laughter] Listen, Governor Martinez, and to Mary Jane, thank you both for greeting us. And thank all of you for that welcome. I want to pay my respects to all of you and thank you for being here. And I guarantee to get out of here before Marco gets in here -- or whatever the name of that hurricane is -- and I'm taking off my coat because it feels like it's coming.

My respects to Sheriff Allison DeFoor, the next Lieutenant Governor of this State. We need him. And inasmuch as this area of Florida has been right out in the forefront of the fight against drugs, I want to single out a member of my top echelon in government, the man that is leading the fight nationally against drugs, our drug czar, Bill Bennett. What a job he's doing. And to Congressman Ireland and Congressman Young, thank you for your support in being with us today. I'm particularly glad -- whoops, he's not here. I was going to welcome another Floridian from this area who flew down with us on Air Force One, Mel Sembler, our Florida guy who's now our Ambassador in Australia. But forget him, he didn't make it. [Laughter] And of course, an old friend of mine, Van Poole, our State chairman -- great to see you, Van, and thanks for what you're doing to get out the vote on election day. And I also want to single out the Governor's able, terrific, fantastic campaign chairman -- that's my boy, our son Jeb, over here. And I want to put in a plug for John McKay and Don Sullivan. Next month let's elect them to the State senate and help Florida claim the first Republican legislative body in the entire South.

And lastly, but first in importance, I do want to say what a privilege it is to be back here on behalf of my friend of longstanding, your great Governor, Bob Martinez. His first term has been magnificent, and now we're going to ensure a second term that's even better -- better for the people of Florida.

You know, this visit arose from a phone call. Jeb told the Governor, he said, "We've got a surprise for St. Petersburg which will really excite people." Bob said, "You mean big league baseball's finally coming to St. Pete?" But I'm not taking any sides in that fight. I know Tampa wants a team, Miami, Orlando -- they're all in the expansion running, and they're running to win. And that's the whole purpose of my being here: I want to be standing next to a guy who is also running to win, and will win -- Bob Martinez.

Most of you know the background, but let me give it to you once again: grandson of Spanish immigrants; son of a waiter; worked his way through school; became a teacher, then a businessman, then mayor of Tampa. Bob Dole calls him "Florida's distinguished and dynamic Governor." Ronald Reagan calls him "the embodiment of the American Dream." For my part, I just plan to call him Governor for the next 4 years.

Audience. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Okay, you guys are committed. That's good. So am I. [Laughter] Let me explain why I support him. First, he's a man of ingenuity. Who else but Bob would buy a little possum at Wausau's annual Possum Festival and then name it his campaign mascot? You see, he knows the difference between possums and liberal Democrats. Possums only pretend to be asleep. [Laughter]

The Bob Martinez that I know also has conviction. He's not been a follower who gets lost in the current. He's a profile in character who alters the tide. We need a leader with that kind of courage in Tallahassee in the 1990's. He has not been afraid to make the tough decisions, and that is the kind of Governor we need.

He's strong on traditional values, keeping things in perspective. It's like Bob tells me, "It's fine that you're here, but if you really want to wow the crowd, bring Barbara." She's doing pretty well, isn't she? Best wishes, too, for the most charismatic figure in our family, the noted author Millie, our dog. [Laughter] Seriously, our dog wrote a book that was bestseller on the New York Times best-seller list a week ago.

You can see why this is the third trip then that I've made to Florida for Bob. We've probably spent more time on the road together than Hope and Crosby. But I'm back again because folks always respect him, even when they disagree with him. And so, I think the way to sum it up is that he is taking a strong stand for a better tomorrow.

Just a couple of the issues -- look first at the environment. Every time I fish along the flats off Islamorada, I'm reminded how special Florida is. We want to protect those natural resources. So, Governor Martinez created the East Everglades Land Acquisition Task Force. And because Florida set aside part of this land, I was able to sign a bill increasing the size of the Everglades National Park by more than 100,000 acres. I hear the alligators are so pleased they're wearing Polo shirts with a picture of Bob Martinez on their chests up here. [Laughter] But also, I'm very pleased and grateful for his support for our rewriting of the Clean Air Act. The problem is that for 14 months the United States Congress has refused to act. Here's a solution: On November 6, elect Bob Martinez, who then will help convince the Congress to pass a clean air bill that I can sign.

And another area that unites us -- and certainly one that Bill Bennett understands -- I'm talking about crime and drugs. Bob knows that drugs threaten every single community in the United States. So, he set a precedent by appointing a State drug czar. And he also has another conviction that goes with the law enforcement side: He believes that cop-killers ought to get what they deserve. And so do I. And that's what we're trying to do in changing the Federal law. And so, he stiffened the Florida criminal code, doubling the prison space to enforce it -- backs our administration's Crime Control Act to enact a workable death penalty -- a real penalty -- for those who kill our Federal law enforcement officers.

And last week, after 16 months of delay, the House of Representatives up there finally passed its version of the Crime Act. And now it goes to the Senate-House conference committee. And so, please help me. Join with me in sending them a message to draft a tough bill that takes the shackles off of the policemen, the courts, and the law of this land.

This past summer, Bob has taken his message to all 67 of Florida's counties. You get to know a State that way, understand its heartbeat, its priorities; get to learn what the voters want -- policies which empower people, not the bureaucrats.

And perhaps the best example of this is a comprehensive budget agreement to cut the Federal budget deficit by $500 billion over the next 5 years. And I want the Congress to send me a plan which spurs growth, opportunity, and prosperity. Growth, opportunity, and prosperity -- GOP -- that has a nice ring.

So, let me tell you what needs to be done now in the next 10 days to get a final agreement on the Federal deficit that is mortgaging the future of these kids here. And let me be candid. There's no doubt that with Republicans in control of Capitol Hill -- good ones, like the two that are sitting with me here today -- there would be a different story to tell -- something to keep in mind on November 6th. But the fact that Democrats control the Congress is all the more reason for Republicans to stand firm for the best budget deal possible.

Pressures caused by the deficit have been building for years, and this year, they reached the boiling point. For 8 long months, we've wrestled with this problem. And for 8 long months, I have tried to negotiate in good faith with the liberals in the Congress. And I believe the American people didn't send me as President to play cheap politics; they sent me up there to govern. And so, I put it all on the table, even the revenue side, even taxes. And I took plenty of political heat and then pushed hard for a bipartisan budget agreement not because it was the best plan ever but because it was the best plan possible. And now I will continue to press hard for a budget that proves to the American people that we can and that we will -- in real terms -- bring this ghastly Federal budget deficit to its knees.

And let me just say to the Members of Congress that might be listening: Here's things it's got to achieve. It must be consistent with that bipartisan budget agreement on the bipartisan basis it was produced. It must include progrowth incentives to stimulate the economy. It must deliver real savings through real spending cuts -- cuts with teeth, cuts that are enforceable. And any budget I sign must include the significant budget process reforms hammered out in that bipartisan agreement. There is no point going into an agreement and then having the same congressional dance take place year in and year out at getting nothing done.

The test comes 9 days from now. And Congress' budget must still be passed by both Houses no later than October 19th. And let me make clear to Congress just how serious I am about this deadline. Last Friday night, with no budget agreement, I vetoed that thing -- they call it the continuing resolution. And that keeps the government -- to go -- if they signed that and I had signed it, that would have just kept the operating of the government just day in and day out the same old way. Well, I vetoed that. The veto was sustained. And I kept the pressure on, and to make the point: No more business as usual. Let's get the job done, Members of Congress.

I didn't come down here to assign blame. But you know, I've seen those surveys. The American people are pretty smart. They know where the action is, and they know that Congress has the responsibility to pass a budget. And it's about time that they met that responsibility.

And I might say parenthetically, I got a little heat for closing the Washington Monument. And I would apologize if there are any of those Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts here from Florida that went up there. But I know that if I hadn't taken that action Congressmen would have all headed home, marched out in the front of the Columbus Day parade all over the country, telling people what good they were doing, instead of staying in Washington and solving the deficit problem.

A sound budget deficit agreement will defend our vital interests at home, and all of us know that we must also defend our vital interests and our civilized values around the world. So, in the Persian Gulf, we have, and we will, take a strong, unalterable stand against the outrageous aggression of Saddam Hussein.

I read a lot of the letters from parents and relatives of those who have family over there, and I can't tell them -- I wish I could -- how long it will take to reach our objectives. And I can't tell exactly what sacrifices will be demanded. But this we do know: American troops will not remain in the Persian Gulf a day longer than we are wanted or needed by our friends. But we will stay for as long as it takes to complete our mission. We're going to keep up the pressure, and we're going to keep the faith -- faith with our friends and allies and the U.N. and the American people -- faith, finally, with the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines any nation could possibly have.

You want a couple Florida examples: Daniel Rich, an Air Force tech sergeant from Daytona Beach. And today he's standing shoulder to shoulder with colleagues like Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Tippete, of Tallahassee, or the Marines First Lieutenant Helen Pratt, of Satellite Beach. And then there's Brenda Spriggs. And she wrote me from Fort Lauderdale to say how proud she is of her son Jeff, currently serving out there in Saudi Arabia. Mrs. Spriggs, let me tell you, I share your pride. And to you I pledge: America will never, ever, let our service men and women down. We will stand with them in every single way possible.

These kids show that America would not be the land of the free if it were not also the home of the brave. And Bob knows this -- Bob Martinez. He knows that while our forces are defending us abroad we must defend them here at home. And so, on November 6th, let's take a strong stand for what America is and what America stands for, what we embody in the world: Let's get out the vote. Let's win the State senate and the house of representatives. And let's roll up our sleeves and reelect this outstanding Governor.

Thank you for this occasion. God bless the United States of America. And let's keep Bob Martinez our great Governor.

Note: President Bush spoke at 1:30 p.m. in Vinoy Park. In his remarks, he referred to Governor Martinez' wife, Mary Jane; William J. Bennett, Director of National Drug Control Policy; Robert Dole, Senate Republican leader; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. He also referred to "Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush." Following his remarks, President Bush traveled to Atlanta, GA.

George Bush, Remarks at a Rally for Governor Bob Martinez in St. Petersburg, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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