George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Dallas, Texas

May 18, 1990

The President. Thank you very, very much. Barbara and I are delighted to be here. And, Phil, thank you for that most generous introduction. You have the heart of old Texas in you. And for a college professor, your brevity was an appreciated departure from tradition, and your comments were far too generous. But Bar and I are just delighted to be back here.

Wasn't Yolanda Garcia marvelous, standing up here without -- [applause]. And, Boone, this is a great party you're throwing for a great party. And so many familiar Texas faces here tonight, people that have shaped this party and served this State. First, of course, our great Governor, my friend Bill Clements. He and Rita have done an outstanding job for the State. And to our chairman from Dallas, Fred Meyer. I'm told he did a lot of the work on this dinner -- Fred. And of course, to the all-time star of Texas, Tom Landry. Where's Tom? Right there. And to Bobby Holt, the finance chairman, my pal from west Texas. And to Fort Stockton's son, Claytie Williams. I'll get to him in a bit -- [laughter]. And to, I guess, the guy that I would always look to as my mentor in Texas politics, my dear friend John Tower, who's with us tonight. I salute him. And of course, our great statewide Republican ticket and the Victory '90 fellow over there, our son George. Glad to be with him. Go Rangers!

And again, so many wonderful friends from over so many years. Barbara and I realized on the way down here that we're talking 42 years ago next month that we moved to Texas. Of course, that was in a '47 Studebaker, and today it was in Air Force One. More leg room now. [Laughter] But all the same, it's just a wonderful feeling of coming home. And Texas remains larger than life in our hearts. It is a place of family and duty and loyalty and honor. But then, what more could you expect from a State whose name means "friend"?

I'd love to come back home to my friends again next October. Things have to change a little bit. I want to throw out the first ball at the opening game of the Rangers and the Astros in the World Series. We can all dream, you know. [Laughter] I asked George, knowing they needed a little help on the Rangers, if I could try out for the club. He said, "Don't give up your daytime job." [Laughter] Then he added, "Why don't you go out for the oldtimers' game?"

But also, as we flew in, there's some sadness involved in this homecoming, too, because from the plane and then from our room, Barbara and I saw some of the areas devastated by the flooding. We were astounded that we could only see the tops of some trees where the Trinity's overflowed. Two weeks ago, I signed an emergency FEMA proclamation at the request of our Governor, bringing Federal disaster aid to the beleaguered counties. And how many, Bill, now are there in the official list?

The Governor. I think it's 37.

The President. Way up there, some 37 or more counties -- more counties, more counties being added.

And so, in this terrible disaster, the losses have been heavy. But the one thing that comes through to me from talking to my friends is that this State will never lose -- one thing it will never lose -- and that is its soul. And I heard some wonderful Texans from Liberty talking on the television today. And, yes, Texas is big, but not as big as the generous hearts and indomitable spirit of its people. So you know, when I hear the candidates of the other party, sometimes I wonder if they know the people of this State at all -- know how they think, know how to listen to their voices. I realized you can explain it to them, but you can't understand it for them.

More than 40 years ago, as a salesman peddling drilling bits out in west Texas, I crisscrossed all across west Texas in my car, from Muleshoe to Wink to Notrees, from the panhandle down, Claytie, to Fort Stockton. I learned a lot about the people then. Shared barbecues and saw their pain when they were laid off and the paychecks weren't there. Listening to the pulse of the people -- that's how you hear the heartbeat of Texas, and that's how Texas gets into your blood. Sticks to you like a tumbleweed in a barbed wire fence. And you know, once it's there, it never leaves. For those of you who might be worried that I'm spending too much time in Washington or in Maine and in the Northeast in general, let me tell you that we do get homesick, and that chicken-fried lobster is no substitute for the real thing. [Laughter]

Coming home and seeing what the Texas GOP is doing makes me very, very proud. This is the party of inclusion. And I congratulate Claytie Williams for the kind of race he tells me he's planning to run -- inclusion. And as Phil pointed out -- and no one stands for this more -- of idealism. No one stands for that more than Phil. And of ideas -- the same. You believe that progress is not measured in money spent and bureaucracies built but in people helped. And I'm proud, very proud of this slate, this statewide slate of Republican candidates, the strongest team in the history of the State; proud that for the first time there are candidates for 15 State offices and the United States Senate.

First, of course, there's Senator Phil Gramm. Phil says he's running for reelection like he was running for sheriff in each of Texas' 254 counties. And I believe him. But when he asked to hold the budget talks there at high noon in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, I thought he'd gone too far. But let me say this: Thank God that this able Senator is such a key player on the high-level budget negotiations that we're undertaking in Washington now. Thank God for his common sense.

And Clayton Williams, Claytie, the next Governor of Texas -- I respect what he's achieved in business, and we respect his record of success in creating jobs in his 32 years in business. We respect his commitment to fighting this insidious poison of drugs. And we respect that he has broadened the base of our party. Clayton Williams will bring his own energetic style to the Governor's office. You ought to ride in the limousine with this guy. You get ulcers just watching him jumping up and down in there. [Laughter] And he will stamp his brand of leadership on the Texas of the 1990's. Claytie, I am for you 100 percent. You must and you will win this race and follow Bill Clements into office. It's absolutely essential.

And the rest of this great State and local slate, men and women who make up a coalition that reflects Texas, all of Texas, as it really is and as it will be, a coalition of diverse people -- Kay Bailey Hutchison; Lou Sturns; Rick Perry; Tony Garza; old friend Bob Mosbacher -- Rob; Wes Gilbreath; Warren Harding; Buster Brown -- you are today's Texans, with the large and generous spirit of yesterday's Texans.

You know, on Inauguration Day, I talked in the State of the Union Message about a new breeze blowing. Let me tell you, standing back here in Texas, I can feel it. It is the warm gulf breeze of a State where people are independent minded and open, as bold as its frontiers. It's the wind of a land where risktaking comes from the strength of your beliefs and where your spirit is as big as the Texas sky. Each of you in the Texas GOP has helped to open the window of the musty darkness of outdated big government. You're blowing away the stuffiness of irrelevant liberalism because your new breeze carries the new ideas Texas needs for the nineties, ideas that encourage investment in business and in the business of our children, education.

In Washington we share your belief that education is the only path to a brighter American future. It is critical to everything we are and everything we can become. And I must say, I salute Barbara Bush for her lead in trying to make this country a literate America. We've declared a new era of education reform in America. We began in September with the first education summit in American history, bringing together at Charlottesville the Nation's Governors -- and I will pay tribute here -- including our own Bill Clements, who took a leadership role, brought them together to tackle this crisis.

Last winter we announced our goals -- they were unanimous; they got across party lines -- goals to make American education number one. Among them: American students must be the first in math and science. All children must start school ready to learn, with help from programs like Head Start. They must demonstrate competency in crucial subject areas, while we increase the percentage of graduating high school students to 90 percent. Finally, every school in America must have a disciplined environment and, most of all, be drug-free.

The curse of drugs threatens our communities, our schools, our workplaces and, most importantly -- and God bless them -- our children. There is no greater threat today to the health of the American family and the future of our land. The strength we bring to win the war on drugs has got to be of hurricane force. It must roar with the determination from the smallest town squares to those concrete canyons of our cities.

Our national drug control strategy is clear. The rules of the game have changed. America will no longer tolerate drug use. For too long we condoned that which we should have condemned. And those who violate the law will pay a heavy price. We will take back the streets of our country.

We must and we will stop the horror, the pollution of drugs drifting across our borders. We've designated the Houston area and the southwest border high-intensity drug trafficking areas. This means that you'll receive special Federal enforcement assistance to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

The additional drug legislation that our administration sent to the Hill this week contains a number of proposals that will help stop drugs and drug smugglers from breaching our borders. We've called for more border patrol agents, extending general arrest authority to them so they can enforce our drug laws as they protect our frontier. We're also proposing legislation that will permit authorities to exclude criminal aliens convicted of drug felonies.

And to win this war on drugs, we must continue the fight being waged so well by our own Governor right here in Texas, Bill Clements. We need this Republican team, headed by Clayton Williams, in Austin to continue this cooperative battle. And needless to say, I need Phil Gramm in Washington, where he is a leader in the quest for drug-free communities.

But I need Phil in Washington for something else, and I alluded to it earlier: our struggle with the budget. In this last decade, not once but twice, his vision has changed the fiscal firmament of this land. On Tuesday, we convened an extraordinary, ongoing bipartisan budget summit. Phil is designated -- without the ranking member on the specific committee -- as a key member, one of, I think, only two in the whole process designated by the leadership. He's working closely with me at the table, providing the kind of sound fiscal advice that he's known for.

And so, education, the fight against drugs, the budget deficit -- I think we're making progress, and with our Texan Republican leadership in place in Austin and Washington, we're going to make a lot more progress.

We're going to win here -- you know what's at stake on redistricting across this country -- we're going to win here and across the country in 1990. We have to win in 1990. If we don't, once again the opposition will gerrymander fair representation right out the window and into thin air. The Democratic leaders know that today Republicans will win in a fair fight because times are changing. Party identity, as Phil pointed out to you, is changing.

When I was running, with a spectacular lack of success, for the Senate back in 1964, my first speech was about building a two-party system in Texas. Barbara listened, and three other people listened, and that was it. [Laughter] And that's the gospel truth. But back then during elections, they might as well have put up a sign: Public Office Available, No Republicans Need Apply. Well, today Texas voters have put up a new sign. It tells everyone: Public Office Available, No Outdated, Big Spending, Bureaucracy-Building, Liberal Democrats Need Apply. And that's the message.

So, the next 6 months are crucial to this State -- I really feel that deep inside me -- crucial to Texas and to our country itself. The future's at stake, and we've got to join together. We're going to take the Republican message to every farm and ranch, to every town and city, to every Texan willing to listen in this magnificent State of ours. And if we do, on election day the people of Texas will lift their faces and feel that Republican breeze of change, of new ideas that's sweeping our land. And then together we can face whatever challenges the future may bring because in togetherness there is strength. And in Texas togetherness is the finest kind of strength of all.

Thank you all very much for your fantastic support for our ticket. God bless the great State of Texas, and God bless America. Thank you. It's a great pleasure to be home.

Note: The President spoke at 7:41 p.m. in the Chantilly Ballroom of the Loews Anatole Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Senator Phil Gramm, who introduced the President; T. Boone Pickens, chairman of the dinner; Rita Clements, wife of Gov. William P. Clements, Jr.; Fred Meyer, Texas Republican Party chairman; Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys football team; Bobby Holt, finance chairman of the dinner; former Senator John Tower; George W. Bush, general partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team; Kay Bailey Hutchison, nominee for State treasurer; Louis Sturns, nominee for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Rick Perry, nominee for State agriculture commissioner; Tony Garza, nominee for county judge; Rob Mosbacher, nominee for Lieutenant Governor; Wes Gilbreath, nominee for State land commissioner; Warren Harding, nominee for State comptroller; and Buster Brown, nominee for State attorney general.

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

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