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Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Dinner Honoring Governor Bill Clements in Dallas, Texas

November 10, 1989

Thank you very much, Governor, and thank all of you for that warm welcome. Thank you, Bill. Rita, it's so good to see you. Our secretary of state, George Bayoud, and Fred Meyer and Penny Butler and so many others.

Fred McClure, who you just heard sing, is an Assistant to the President at the top level of the White House. And he's in charge of our congressional relations -- a very difficult and trying job, it seems. But nevertheless, he has a lovely voice, and I'm delighted to know of this talent. He's hidden it, hidden his light under a bushel up there. We may have a new way of cajoling Senator Mitchell and some of the others to do it the way we want done. [Laughter] Fred, thank you.

And of course, seeing Bob Dedman here and the other chairmen and cochairmen just reminds me that if you want to get something done and done right, get a busy person, a successful person. Bob, I'm so pleased to see you again, and your coworkers. And it's great to be back in the Metroplex, especially in a city that forgot to finish the roof on its biggest stadium. [Laughter] And of course, in the good old days, as Jerry knows, any Dallas Cowboy fan would tell you this was so God could see His team play. [Laughter] Well, the Cowboys are coming back. They kicked the Redskins in our new hometown the other day.

But, Bill, you and I do go back a long way -- long before either of us got into politics. And we shared common goals in business and in politics. We also have a lot in common as public speakers. We've certainly been accused of making our share of verbal gaffes. But so what if we've been known to put our foot in our mouth from time to time? I just hope that your foot is as silver as mine. [Laughter]

At least you're a colorful character. I guess the whole country has heard of the story -- at least it got widespread play up in Washington -- of how the Governor, eating in a Dallas restaurant when a holdup took place -- and how he just kept right on eating his hamburger through the whole ordeal. I'm not sure that was Texas courage, hunger, the need for new glasses or a hearing aid, but nevertheless -- [laughter] -- --

I would not, nor Barbara -- we wouldn't have missed this affair for anything. Over the years, I have come to depend on Bill's steady friendship and his sound advice, and so have the people of Texas. And tonight's tribute is our way of letting you know just how much we appreciate you.

Your first term, Bill, was a glorious time for Texas and a memorable chapter in the political history of our State. They say in west Texas that a mile between fenceposts is a long distance, but a mile between towns is short. Well, Bill, the time between these two terms of yours was short enough to preserve the gains you had achieved, but it was long enough to prove just how right you were about what works for Texas. Of course, there are those cynics who still say that on the day Bill Clements returned as Governor that the Texas National Guard switched back to plaid fatigues. [Laughter]

But we all know that in the middle years of the decade humor was in short supply in our State. And when you hit the comeback trail, houses could be had for payments, and tens of thousands of blue-collar providers just couldn't provide. Bill, Texas was in trouble, and Texas needed a leader, and Texas needed you.

Now, optimism has returned to the most optimistic State in the Union. Texas employment is up. Construction permits are up. Retail sales are up. Once again, Texas is a magnet for business and for research projects like the superconducting supercollider. The space industry is starting to take off, and the eyes of Texas are once again on the stars. All this adds up to jobs, prosperity, and a decent shot at happiness for countless families. So, the comeback of Bill Clements has meant nothing less than the comeback of Texas.

And these have also been comeback years for America. True, we still do face some extraordinarily difficult national problems. But tough national problems require nothing less than national solutions. And that's why I'm pleased to work so closely with Bill Clements and the other 49 chief executives in the States.

Bill and I share a similar approach on many issues, starting with crime fighting. Thanks to him, prison sentences in Texas are again measured in years, not meted out by the available square feet. And I believe we need this same disciplined, tough approach in Washington, starting with my administration's crime control legislation to toughen Federal sentences. And I believe Congress should help us now by putting the handcuffs on the criminals and not on the courts. And I'd like to see them get moving on this anticrime legislation.

And we share a similar approach, the Governor and I, to fighting drugs. Texas has tightened its probation, its parole system, so that ex-cons must now be drug free to be free. And the Texas Narcotics Control Program, I am told, has used a $12 million Federal investment to seize more than $350 million worth of drugs, and the Texas National Guard is on the alert for smugglers. And this is exactly the kind of tough-minded strategy that America needs and that I proposed and, again, that the Congress must pass.

And Bill and I also share a similar approach on education reform. At this Charlottesville summit that I'm sure you read about, the Governors joined me in an historic compact to give our schools all across the country greater flexibility in return for greater accountability. And I am pleased to note that this was exactly what Governor Clements is already doing: rewarding good schools through the Educational Excellence Program.

And finally, as a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bill shares my view that the best way to keep America and the West free is to keep the United States of America strong. Of course, we all look now with hope in our hearts at the amazing changes in Eastern Europe -- indeed, in the Soviet Union itself. We look at it with encouragement and with hope. Yet this country must not and cannot base its foreign policy or its national security aspirations on one man inside the Soviet Union or anywhere else.

I do look forward to meeting with President Gorbachev off the coast of Malta early in December. Because this is not a summit, we will leave the detailed arms controls proposals to the true summit to be held next year. But there will be plenty for us to talk about this year: regional issues, some global ones, including the environment. And I'll also make it clear to him that we want to see his reforms succeed. We all have a stake, and our kids and our grandchildren, in seeing his reforms succeed. And I will tell Mr. Gorbachev what his government can do to improve relations with the United States of America and with our allies.

We're living in exciting times. The rapidity of change is mind-boggling. And I will do my level-best to conduct an imaginative foreign policy. But I will be prudent. I must be that. I will do my best to move freedom forward.

One last point, and I think you will enjoy this. I just talked to Chancellor Kohl over at the hotel. He called me from Germany. He came back from Poland, as you know, to Germany, and now he's returning either tonight or tomorrow to Poland. And I talked to him, and he asked me to share with the American people his conviction, which he stated publicly in Berlin today, that this remarkable change that is taking place in Eastern Europe, most recently in the German Democratic Republic, could never have taken place without the steadfast, loyal support of the United States of America. And he asked me to tell the American people this, and he is absolutely right about it.

We've touched on several issues here -- many issues important to Texas and the Nation. But I must note that Texas is now at the threshold of a new era. In just a little more than 1 year, Texans will choose a new Governor. And when I consider the talented Republicans who are running to succeed Bill, I can't help but say that, with continued Republican leadership, Texas cannot lose. And I am proud to be on this platform with several of these very distinguished Texans who are in this race -- willing to roll up their sleeves, get into the public arena, and go to work to help our State.

As you would expect, a Texas Democratic friend of mine had his own ideas about the election. He offered me his prediction that the next Governor of this State would be that smart, silver-haired, feisty, outspoken Lone Star lady with a sharp sense of humor. And I said, no way, not possible -- Barbara is very happy in the White House. [Laughter]

But the election is a year away. Tonight, we're gathered here to honor this Governor who's still at work -- still building a safer legacy of safer streets and better schools, of good government, decency and honor, greater opportunity.

Governor, Texas is a mythic place, a land of heroes. And their very names are the stuff of legend: Davy Crockett and Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. And I predict that when some future historian writes the history of modern Texas, there will be room for another hero, another great Texas leader, and his name will be Bill Clements. Thank you, Bill, for your service to our great State. And may I ask you to join me in a toast. To Bill and Rita, to you, and to Texas. And God bless our wonderful State, and God bless the United States of America. To the Clements! Thank you all. It's a great pleasure to be with you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:56 p.m. in the Crystal Room at the Grand Kempinski Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Mrs. Rita Clements; Fred Meyer, Texas Republican Party chairman; Penny Butler, Texas Republican national committeewoman; Bob Dedman, chief executive officer of Club Corp. of America; and Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

George Bush, Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Dinner Honoring Governor Bill Clements in Dallas, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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