George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Luncheon in East Brunswick, New Jersey

September 22, 1989

Thank you, Governor and Mrs. Kean and Congressman and Mrs. Courter -- soon-to-be Governor Courter -- and other superb Members of the congressional delegation. I hope they were introduced. But they're all friends -- Dean Gallo and Marge Roukema and Chris Smith, Mattie Rinaldo, Jim Saxton. Delighted to be with them. We rode up together on Air Force One, and they got me all fired up about Jim and the "winnability" of this very, very important race that's going to be in the national spotlight.

I'm delighted to see Bo Sullivan, to whom I'm indebted for heading my campaign earlier, and Larry Bathgate, who continues to amaze me. He takes on the Nation and always never forgets his roots and remembers the State of New Jersey. Bo, tough and strong; Larry, persistent, dedicated -- ideal people to train me for going head on head with Sam Donaldson [ABC News]. [Laughter] And as for Kathy Donovan, our new chairman -- our State chairman, I wish her well, and all you Republican leaders that are with us today. Thank you for what you did to help our ticket carry this State and what I know you will do to guarantee that Jim Courter is our next Governor.

Let me again tell you, Jim, how pleased I am to be with you and your family. Barbara and I are just delighted to be here, albeit for a short period of time. It's good to be back in a State whose motto is "Liberty and Prosperity" and which in the last 8 years has had a Governor devoted to both liberty and prosperity. And if I could borrow a phrase: Under Tom Kean, liberty and prosperity have been perfect together.

It's a pleasure to return to this State that was very kind to me in 1988 to salute our Republican ticket across the board -- its candidate, its ideas, its visions -- and especially those of you whom I recognize out here who toil so long and hard at the grassroots level -- the county chairman, the precinct workers, and everybody else. This State is organized, and that is going to be very good for Jim come November.

I've come to East Brunswick not just to say thank you but for an even more important reason. And this reason goes beyond party to the essence of this campaign. New Jersey's elections are among the most crucial in America. This election will decide whether New Jersey builds on what you began 8 years ago or whether it risks everything by returning to the past, and whether New Jersey has the inspired leadership it needs to win the war on drugs and crime or whether it reverts to failed social policies that blame everyone but the criminal. And this election will decide whether New Jersey continues to have the kind of leadership which balances a sound economy and a sound ecology -- and it can be done, and Tom Kean shows me that I can do that for the country as well -- or whether its leadership says no to higher taxes and yes to extending the prosperity of the last 8 years. And that's what this election is about; that's what it's going to decide. And it's that important, and it's that clear-cut. And today I make a prediction: This November, New Jersey will make the right decision, and Jim Courter will be our next Governor. They do not want to go back to the past.

And that means a vote for Republicans running for the general assembly -- we have many of them here today, Republicans who will help ensure fair redistricting in the 1990's -- and a vote for Republicans running at the local and county level as well. It means a vote for candidates who will take a tough approach to the criminal elements, and perhaps most of all, it means a vote for the man who can move your State into the coming decades stronger than ever. And of course, that is your next Governor, Jim Courter.

Jim's a long-time -- [applause] -- he's a long-time friend, and I wanted to come up here and on a very personal basis support him and the great party that's behind him and tell you of the high regard that we Bushes have for the Courters. I know you wanted to hear a few words from a prominent national figure who can really fire up a crowd and generate some excitement. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger had to go back to Los Angeles, so they sent me. [Laughter]

Look, I am delighted, and believe me, too, when I say that the entire Republican ticket can help keep New Jersey proud, as the banner says. I believe that. How? By keeping a Republican Governor and a Republican general assembly -- by keeping New Jersey Republican.

Let me quote one of New Jersey's favorite adopted sons, the noted philosopher, Montclair's Yogi Berra. Once Yogi ruminated, "You observe a lot by just watching." [Laughter] Well, we've observed a lot by watching the New Jersey Republicans over the years, and we've seen you fight -- Tom Kean at the forefront -- to clean up our environment, to clean up our schools. We've seen you fight the scourge of drugs and crime. We've seen you create -- what did Tom say, three-quarters of a million new jobs in the last 8 years -- three-quarters of a million new jobs. And school test scores going up twice the national rate. And we've seen you oppose those liberal Democrats who cherish new taxes like moths drawn to some kind of a candle. [Laughter]

And these Republican positions embody the new New Jersey. Old values -- the values are there, but it's new thinking and will reinforce the progress of the last 8 years -- 8 years of enlightened leadership, Republican leadership.

And yet Republicans know that a record is something not to stand upon but to build on. And our party's leadership into the nineties will reaffirm the renaissance that makes New Jersey's success story worth retelling.

First, a word about the environment, for here, as elsewhere, Republicans have helped build the new New Jersey. Republicans have pushed legislation to ban ocean dumping, made New Jersey a leader in recycling, launched the most aggressive toxic waste cleanup program in America. And I can tell you, as we formulated a new national program to strengthen the environment, we turned to Governor Tom Kean, to the record in this State, to show us the way. And I am determined to do for this country, with the help of the Congress, what Tom Kean has done and is doing, what Jim Courter will do for the environment in the State of New Jersey. We are in this together. And New Jersey has led the way nationally, and I am very, very grateful.

Next, education -- for here, too, Republicans have moved forward, not backward. In 1983 Tom Kean unveiled a great idea called alternative certification, a concept allowing talented Americans to teach in the classroom. Today alternative certification is a flagship of the Federal plan that we introduced earlier this year. Tom Kean has, indeed, been the "education Governor," and Republicans, led by Jim Courter, can keep academic excellence a New Jersey byword. And we have to have a Governor in this State who is going to continue to build on that record of educational excellence. It is important to our nation as well as to your State.

I noticed that Jim Courter gently touched on the next subject: taxes. And here the difference between the old and new New Jerseys is especially clear. The new New Jersey knows that creating opportunity can help meet the needs of distressed locales from Camden to Paterson. And in particular, let me salute this State's magnificent support -- leadership, if you will -- for urban enterprise zones. The new New Jersey, a Republican New Jersey, knows that the decade's tax cuts help make prosperity a reality. For the more money people have to spend, the more that they themselves can do to help create jobs and growth and progress. And that is the new New Jersey.

And the old New Jersey was: If one tax didn't work, try another one. And in fact, the old New Jersey reminds me of a story about Mark Twain. In later life, Mark Twain suffered from arthritis. And whenever the papers reported that he'd had another attack, strangers would send him homemade remedies to spur his recovery. Well, Twain had a standard reply: "Dear sir, I try every remedy sent to me. I am now on number 87. Yours is 2,653. I am looking forward to its beneficial results." [Laughter]

Fellow Republicans, all those remedies didn't cause Mark Twain's recovery, and all the Democrat taxes didn't cause New Jersey's recovery. The new New Jersey knows that, and the old New Jersey doesn't know it. And I regret to report to you: Many of the Democrats in the United States don't -- Congress -- don't know that either. And I'm going to have to help teach them that, and I'm going to stay with what I told the American electorate that I'm going to do.

We've touched on the environment and education and taxes, but nowhere is that division really more clear -- the new New Jersey and the old -- than in the area of crime, drugs, and punishment. Republicans believe that when asked what kind of society Americans deserve our answer must be a nation in which people are safe and feel safe. And that's why we want to change the rules of the game dramatically -- new solutions for a new New Jersey.

For instance, we are strong advocates of America's first national comprehensive strategy to end drug use, which I announced earlier this month. Republicans want tougher enforcement -- more prisons, more courts, more prosecutors, and tougher sentences. Many like Jim Courter have spent ages, years, hours long in the Congress demanding them. And you know where drug dealers belong. Republicans say: in jail. You back more interdiction and treatment and our plan to stop use before it begins, through education and prevention, from grade school to graduate school.

Republicans like Jim Courter want to fight drugs on any and every front, and facing new problems in a new way by putting emphasis where the crisis is -- right at the community level. The communities will decide the future of New Jersey. And with a Republican Governor and a Republican general assembly, that future will also include not just a war against drugs but a crusade against all crime: supporting tougher laws, giving our law enforcement officers more resources, declaring open warfare on the con artists and the hoods.

And I would like to see not only Jim Courter elected to do what he has said he wants to do in crime but I would like to see the United States Congress move forward on my crime package that has been languishing there in the Congress for a couple of months now. It is time in Washington for action, just as it is here in New Jersey.

Tom talked about Jim's background a little. It's a good one. It's a caring one -- Peace Corps volunteer; legal aid to the poor; lawyer; author; prosecutor; Congressman; moral man; a family man; a man respected by his colleagues -- in sum, a man you can trust. And look next at his record on the environment. I talked about Tom's some. As Congressman, he's helped renew and recover our national heritage. As Governor, he's going to go after those polluters. I believe we ought to put the polluters in prison, and I know Jim agrees with that. Or education -- he's been a vocal advocate of this concept of alternative certification.

Or taxes -- I've never had him come down yet to the White House and say, please raise taxes. [Laughter] Hasn't done it. Don't expect he's going to do it here in this State. He wants to cut the taxes so that people will be able to spend more. And I'm proud that he is supporting me on this capital gains cut. Let the Democrats say it's a tax for the rich. It is a tax adjustment that is going to help create jobs in America, and that's why I am going to continue to fight for it.

And on the opposition to drugs, his record is clear. He's strongly supported bills to coordinate law enforcement efforts, involved the military in combating drugs -- magnificent record in combating crime. He served as the first assistant prosecutor in his home county of Warren, and he's seen the drug peddlers and users first-hand. And he knows the terrible toll that's caused by crime. And that's why he wants mandatory time for firearms offenses, and I support him in that. No deals -- no deals with those criminals that use a gun. And unlike his opponent, he wants to amend New Jersey's Constitution so that the death penalty on the books will be strengthened and enforced and, as he said, become a much clearer deterrent for those that go out and kill our police officers and others -- and the narcotic traffickers and all of that, those narcotic traffickers.

Let me ask you a question. You make the choice. Do you want a Democratic Governor and a Democratic general assembly who thinks that New Jersey's death penalty law is fine as it is? Or do you want a Republican Governor and a Republican general assembly who says that murderers and drug kingpins and cop killers should get exactly what they deserve? I believe that's what the people want -- that last alternative.

And so, the failed policies, in sum, of the 1970's just aren't good enough -- not for New Jersey, not for the United States of America. They're not good enough to tackle drugs or crime, or to protect the environment, or do better as a nation in education. They're not good enough for our kids because they won't keep New Jersey proud.

And Tom Kean knows that. And that's why he's becoming president of Drew University and why he's heading the advisory committee of the Points of Light Initiative Foundation: to bring community service to every corner of America. And I think Jim Courter knows that, too. He shares Tom's commitment and my commitment to this Points of Light concept. From now on in America, you shouldn't have definition of a successful life that doesn't include one American helping another, service to one's own fellow man.

Jim knows what's on New Jersey's mind and in its heart. And his goal is to use that heart to build a better life for all. And I guess the sum is: Do you think that we can achieve the goal? I believe we can, both here and across our country.

There's a change taking place in America. I'm optimistic about this doing something, making a real imprint across the country on eliminating the scourge of drugs. How can we do it? First, here -- you get down to the political level. We can do it through a unified Republican Party working together to support our entire ticket and through the old values and new thinking embodied in Jim's campaign.

The future versus the past, policies that work versus policies that don't, a better future for our children or one of lost opportunity -- and, yes, there's a lot at stake. And let me remind you election day is only 46 days away. So, let's raise our sights, roll up our sleeves, keep New Jersey proud by keeping it Republican, and together help our outstanding Jim Courter and a new Republican general assembly preserve and strengthen the new New Jersey.

Thank you for what you're doing. Redouble your efforts. And God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:18 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Bo Sullivan, chairman of the 1988 New Jersey Bush-Quayle campaign, and Lawrence E. Bathgate II, finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Following his remarks, he traveled to Maine.

George Bush, Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Luncheon in East Brunswick, New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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