George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Detroit, Michigan

April 03, 1990

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all very, very much. Let me say that it's a great pleasure to be here. I'm glad to see Congressman Bill Shuette here. Others from the Congress were to be here, but they've got some voting going on. Especially pleased to see two great former Governors of this State: George Romney and Bill Milliken. And it's also wonderful to have our cochairman of the Republican National Committee, Jeanie Austin, here. You all know that Lee Atwater has been sick; and Jeanie, as the number two person at the Republican National Committee, is doing a superb job. I want to welcome her.

Was all this gang introduced ahead of time, I guess -- down there. And of course, to salute your State party leadership: my friend Spence Abraham, the chairman; Ronna Romney and Chuck Yob, the two national committee people; and then, of course, State Senator John Engler. I'm going to say a little more about him in a little bit. And I'm glad to see Detroit City Councilman Keith Butler here tonight. And my thanks, of course, to Heinz Prechter and Randy and Mike and Paul -- and I'm going to get in real trouble here -- all those who did the heavy lifting on this and put together such a tremendous event. It is so well-done.

Ladies and gentlemen and honored guests, thank you for the welcome and for the privilege of being here. And it's good to be back with you all. I particularly want to pay my respects to Max Fisher and thank him, once again, for being at my side, a constant friend, loyal. And of tremendously sound advice -- he gives me that all the time. It's good to be back in the State -- [laughter] -- and I need it, and I need it.

And it's good to be back in the State that produced this year's Miss USA. So, this fall we'll elect a Governor that will be Mr. GOP. [Laughter]

This marks my first political trip to Michigan since becoming President, although, as a baseball fan, I feel like I've been here before. Maybe it goes back to the man I saw on television holding a sign before the recent [baseball] lockout ended. And it read, "All I ask is a chance to work." And it was great to see Sparky Anderson [manager of the Detroit Tigers baseball team] again. [Laughter]

Well, you've got a great State. Michigan is also basketball country. And like fans across America, I've marveled at the wizardry of your world champion Pistons, who I was honored to have in the White House last year. And actually, when I was younger, I, too, could dribble a ball with either hand, behind my back, through my legs -- which got me thrown out of a lot of bowling alleys. [Laughter]

Sports is one reason that it's a pleasure to return to the State which was so kind to me in 1988 and helped our ticket do well. Politics is another. And let me take this chance to salute the entire Republican ticket -- its candidates and especially those of you who toil so long and hard at the grassroots level.

Yet the real reason I've come to Detroit tonight goes beyond party to the very essence of this campaign. Let me put it straighter than even an Alan Trammell line drive: Your elections this November will be among the most crucial in America. This election will decide whether Michigan chooses liberal policies, which measure progress made by dollars spent and bureaucracies built, or whether it chooses Republican policies, which help people up and bureaucracies down. This election will decide whether Michigan supports a war on thugs and these drug peddlers or whether Lansing is run by those who soft-pedal the need to be really hard on crime. Finally, this election will decide whether we keep control of the State senate and gain control of the State house of representatives, and whether we have a Governor who will ensure fair reapportionment. You know, some say reapportionment has been a political gold mine for both parties, and they may be right. The Democrats walk away with the gold and we head for the hills. And it's been that way, and this election can help change that. It's that clear-cut, that important.

I know this State, I think, probably not as well as many in this room; but I feel I know this State. And I first got to know you -- what Max was referring to in appropriately saluting Bill Milliken -- the primary of 1980. So, tonight I make a prediction: This fall, Michigan will make the right decision by supporting Republican candidates. The right decision means a vote for Republicans at the local, county, and State level and for Michigan's next United States Senator; and most of all, it means a vote for the man who says we need new priorities, not new taxes. To repeat a slogan, "Just think what the right man can do." Your next Governor, John Engler.

Okay, so I'm slightly biased. John's a personal friend, and I wanted to come here and personally support him and the great party he represents. I know you wanted to hear a few words from a prominent national figure whose charisma can fire up a crowd and generate some excitement. [Laughter] Unfortunately, Bo Schembechler's [president and chief operating officer of the Detroit Tigers] still at spring training in Lakeland, so I'm here. [Laughter]

I will tell you, just parenthetically, we had a little receiving line inside, and many came through there and asked about Barbara's health. And let me say I'm sorry she's not here, but her health is just fine. And if this proud husband of some 46 years may be permitted, I think the Silver Fox is doing a good job for our country.

I'm delighted, just as I was a year ago, when [University of] Michigan's basketball Wolverines were welcomed to the White House. I told the national champions, "You're truly number one." Well, tonight, with apologies to you [Michigan State University] Spartan fans out there, let me say there's a song we'll be soon singing about the entire Republican ticket: "Hail to the Victors."

This year Republicans will triumph really for the best of reasons: opportunity -- the opportunity that comes from fiscal sanity, less government, and freedom from crime and drugs; the opportunity which rises from increased prosperity and from the chance to think, dream, and worship as one pleases not just in Detroit and Dearborn but also Budapest and Berlin.

You know, it was 1 year ago this month that I came to Hamtramck, only 10 miles away from here, and spoke of how free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will could change history and lives in all of Eastern Europe. Since then, of course, that's come to pass, and we've seen events even Ripley wouldn't believe. Look at Hungary: 10 days ago holding that nation's first multiparty parliamentary election since 1945. Look at Nicaragua or Czechoslovakia or, yes, that citadel of conscience, Poland -- nations whose brave peoples are choosing ballots over bullets and showing how the greatest "peace dividend" is peace itself.

So far I've talked about opportunity for other nations. Republicans also can and have strengthened opportunity at home. Today thousands of Michigan men and women are in need of opportunity. Some say the way to help them is through this old adage of tax and spend. Republicans say the best way is by enacting local policies which have worked nationally. Here's America's box score: more than 20 million new jobs created since 1982, inflation at less than 5 percent, and real per capita income at record levels. Now, these statistics aren't an accident. They stem from Republican policies that work. We don't want government to spend more money; we want people to have more money to spend. So, let's elect candidates like John Engler who believe in these policies. Let's continue the longest peacetime boom in American history and bring an economic renaissance to Michigan.

You know, opportunity means different things to different people. For some, it's the chance to invest, which reminds me that it is time that Congress passed our capital gains tax cut. It is essential we get this done. For others, it's the freedom to root for the team of your choice, to vote for the candidate of your choice, or, yes, even to eat the vegetable of your choice. [Laughter]

There's something wrong with this country. I read a poll taken by a New England newspaper, a Boston newspaper, a national poll, that showed 79 percent of the people liked broccoli. [Laughter] What's wrong? Where are the 6-year-olds to stand up and join in when they've got something going for them? [Laughter] The other answer is they were using Ortega's pollster. [Laughter]

When it comes to domestic policy, opportunity really does mean many things. For instance, in child care -- we're fighting that battle right now -- it means the freedom to choose. So, we have proposed legislation to help low-income working Americans increase choice in child care through tax incentives, not Federal intervention. Last week the House Democratic leadership passed its child-care bill. The good news is that it's better than their previous efforts. The bad news is it costs $20 billion more than the child-care bill I sent up to Congress and that the liberal Democrats still think Big Brother knows what's best for our kids. We Republicans say parents know what's best. Keep the family strong. Do not have the Federal Government setting all the standards for child care all across this country. So, I'm going to stand up for my principles, even if I have to end up vetoing a bill labeled "child care." Child care isn't a slogan; it means the very future of our kids.

Next, there's the environment, where opportunity means an America that's clean and safe. And in that spirit, let me note that this very evening the Senate is going to vote on our clean air legislation, the first rewrite of the Clean Air Act in over a decade. In the finest tradition of American politics, this bill has bipartisan support -- Senator Mitchell on the Democratic side; our very able leader, Senator Dole -- working hand in hand not to win the debating points but to win cleaner air for the generation to come. I am proud of this proposal to cut smog and acid rain and toxic pollution. We've had to compromise from what I sent up originally. The Democrats have given a little bit. But it's going to work. We can and must ensure the purity of our environment. Tonight marks an historic vote, and I urge the Senate to act not merely for this generation but all the generations to come. Some think we must choose between a sound ecology and a sound economy. Republicans say we need both. America can have clean air and good jobs.

And finally, we can strengthen opportunity through two priorities where State officials, especially the Governor, play a crucial role: education, and crime and drugs.

Ten weeks ago, I announced Phase II of the 1990 National Drug Control Strategy that we unveiled last year. And we're asking Congress to spend over $10.5 billion in fiscal '91 for education, treatment, interdiction, and enforcement -- about a 70-percent increase just since I took office. Now, John Engler strongly supports this program, and he'll lead the fight to toughen crime laws at the State level, just as we are trying to do at the Federal level there in Washington, DC. You in Detroit know how bad crime can be and the toll it takes on the families and on communities. And you know how some say there's always a reason for crime and drugs. Well, we say there may be a reason, but there's never an excuse. So, let's elect candidates who will help us take back the streets.

And at the same time, we must also give our kids the opportunity to learn, which is why last fall I convened really an unprecedented event: the Nation's first education summit. From that summit arose six new national educational goals that the Governors and I together announced just recently. Among them, we must see that every student starts school ready to learn -- and that's one reason we stepped up a request for Head Start spending so much at the Federal level -- and that each school has an environment where kids can learn. And that means making every school drug-free. And our graduation rate must be no less than 90 percent. And we want U.S. students to be first in the world in math and science by the year 2000.

We Republicans know that education is America's most enduring legacy, vital to everything we can become, and that excellence will be obtained not by spending more and more money but by demanding higher standards, greater accountability, better teachers, and greater involvement by parents and communities. And I'd add, and by giving parents more choice in where their kids go to school.

Earlier, I spoke of how liberal Democrats measure progress made by dollars spent and bureaucracies built, and how Republicans view progress as helping people up and keeping bureaucracies down. Nothing shows the contrast more than education. Ours is the opportunity to make American education number one again, and we must seize it for ourselves and for our kids.

In closing, there's only one opportunity that I haven't mentioned: the opportunity to enjoy this marvelous meal. And ordinarily, I'd stay with you, but the Secret Service caught the cook washing my lettuce with Perrier. [Laughter] So, I must be going. And I do apologize for leaving. [Laughter] Let me leave you with the thought that opportunity can help us undertake new priorities and make those priorities come true, priorities like better schools and cleaner air, priorities like safer streets and better jobs.

Nationally, Americans have seen what Republicans can do. Now let's show them what we can do right here. Let's win the State senate, the house of representatives. Let's elect Republican Congressmen and a United States Senator. And let's roll up our sleeves to elect John Engler Governor. We know what he will do -- you know what he'll do, and I know what he'll do: He'll make the great State of Michigan even greater. I'm confident of it. I know him well. I ask you to go the extra mile and elect this outstanding man your next Governor.

Thank you all very much. Good luck on election day. And I hope I'll get invited back. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:08 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Heinz Prechter and Randy Agley, cochairmen of the fundraising dinner; Michael Timmis, vice chairman of the Talon Corp.; Paul Borman, a Republican Party donor; and Max Fisher, honorary chairman of the fundraising dinner. Following his remarks, he returned to Washington, DC.

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

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