George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Los Angeles, California

February 06, 1990

Thank you, Frank, and Governor Deukmejian. Duke, always a pleasure to see you. To the California State delegation, many of whom are here, thank you for coming. And it's great to see our party chairman, Lee Atwater, with us tonight. He's doing an outstanding job. He plays that rhythm and blues -- I'd rather hear Vicky Carr sing, but nevertheless. [Laughter] And thank you for the beautiful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Johnny, the honorary mayor of Hollywood. And all of you who are supporting this marvelous effort for our party, headed by Frank Visco -- and, Frank, thank you for the introduction. I see that we have a lot of celebrities here tonight. Bob Hope, thank you, sir, for your remarks. When I first saw this star-studded audience, I thought I'd wandered into a Lakers' game. [Laughter] I don't think there have been so many celebrities in one place since they used to be there at Dodgers Stadium -- at Tommy Lasorda's office before they allowed the visitors -- kicked the visitors out of there.

And, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger is here. He was up visiting Barbara and me the other day at Camp David. I call him "Conan the Republican." And he has taken on big job for us as Chairman of this Fitness Council, and it's very, very important -- he's taking it seriously. We saw his beautiful new daughter up there at Camp David -- I bent over to kiss her and she tried to bench-press me. [Laughter] Where is he? Oh, right. Sorry about that. [Laughter] That's when I realized that any kid who has her own set of free weights doesn't need a teddy bear. [Laughter]

Now, there's one more person I'd like to mention tonight, even though he's not here -- a friend of everybody in this room -- tonight he's celebrating his 79th birthday, and I would like to simply say, happy birthday, President Reagan, wherever you are, and best wishes from all of us. This is my first trip out here on behalf of the California State party. I want to thank all of you for the victory that you gave us here on election night. I'll never forget the close win here. You have my gratitude -- Duke, certainly, Governor, you do -- and my appreciation for your hard work and commitment for a job well-done.

But tonight, I want to talk to you about another job: the job of preparing our great country for the future. Last Wednesday, I made my first State of the Union Address to the Nation. I covered a lot of ground because our country faces diverse challenges that will test every American as we enter this new decade. Around the world, there is, as we've heard here tonight, rapid and welcome change, as people from Panama to Prague strive for democracy. Self-determination is contagious. They even want it in Malibu, I understand. [Laughter] But millions of people are leaping over their volleyball nets to free them. [Laughter]

No, but seriously -- [laughter] -- millions of people are looking to America for the hope and encouragement they need as they seek the same freedom we have here -- freedom of expression, security, and opportunity we enjoy. And America will be there to help. But if America is to continue its traditional leadership role, we've got to be competitive enough to take on the job, and strong and smart enough to do it right. Today -- -- [at this point, the President was interrupted by a demonstrator.] She's pretty tough. [Laughter] You know, economic times are reasonably good and we're enjoying the greatest economic expansion in peacetime history. But to maintain the growth that has provided better lives for millions of Americans, we've got to make sure that America becomes even stronger. We've got to invest in our future.

And first, a sound education for our kids must be the first and foremost, and it is. And we have proposed the largest education budget in history. But real improvement in our schools is not simply a matter of spending more. It's a matter of asking more of our students, our teachers, our parents, our schools. And while the Federal Government is going to help meet its national challenge, the States -- the "laboratories" of democracy, as Justice Brandeis put it -- will do a much better job than we ever can. And that's why we've announced new education goals for our country, developed working with Governor Deukmejian and the other 49 Governors. By the year 2000, every child must start school ready to learn, and we've got to increase our high school graduation rate to no less than 90 percent. And we're going to make sure that our schools' diplomas mean something. In critical subjects -- at the 4th, 8th and 12th grades -- we must assess our students' performance. By the year 2000, U.S. students must be first in the world in math and science skills. And every American adult must be a literate worker and citizen. Every school in America must offer the kind of disciplined environment needed for our kids to learn. And this other goal -- every school in America must be drug-free.

Here in California, we've designated Los Angeles as a "high intensity drug trafficking area" to help this great city rid itself of the scourge of drugs. And we've got to get PCP and crack off the streets and out of the schools. And it's time we got more Federal resources into the hands of those on the front lines. If we are to compete internationally, America must be drug-free, well-educated, and ready to do the job right.

And there's another investment we must make for the future of this country to keep competitive, and I'm talking about R&D, research and development. California can be proud of its great research institutions. Schools like these will dream the dreams and create the ideas that form the cornerstone of our economic power in the years to come. And that's why our 1991 budget includes a record-high $71 billion proposal for research and development. And with the best young minds of the next generation on our side, America will win the research and development race.

Education, a drug-free workplace, and research and development are part of the mix for economic competitiveness. But there's one more important ingredient -- and many here know this -- savings and investment. And together, they create jobs and promote opportunity for all Americans. And so we've proposed the Savings and Economic Growth Act, which includes our family savings account proposal and provisions to allow first-time home buyers to make an early withdrawal from those IRA's without penalty. And it does one more thing -- it proposes a cut in the rate in the capital gains tax. Last year, a majority in both Houses of Congress showed their support for this capital gains tax cut. And this year, with your help, we'll pass that tax cut to give our competitors a run for the money and keep the American economy going strong.

But to remain competitive, government must also reflect the new world emerging around us -- like the National Training Center base I've just visited in Barstow -- that Barbara and I were at today, and later going to the Strategic Air Command base near Omaha. As the nature of the threats to the American security change -- and they are changing -- so, too, must our response change. Our forces will remain robust, well-trained, highly professional, but geared to the new challenges of the nineties. And I believe that we can do that. I'm in a big battle in Congress, and I'd like to have your support to keep reasonable levels of defense. I'm not going to miss an opportunity to cut, but I want to do it prudently, and I want to get something from the other side when we do it.

Finally, one more thought here -- kind of competitiveness I'd like to talk to you about. Let me tell you a story about a summer night, 1981, when a group of California Democrats sat in a restaurant in Sacramento with a pencil and a paper, redesigning California's political landscape. They drew what one of them called at the time their "contribution to modern art" -- it was their words. Well, we've got a name for it, and we call it gerrymandering. Lines were drawn across communities, towns, even streets, into twisted, contorted, crazy shapes -- without the slightest regard for either the will of the people or the rules of elementary fairness. Since those lines went into effect, there have been 135 general elections for California's congressional seats, and only once has a seat changed party control.

In 1984, in fact, Republican congressional candidates together received more total votes than the Democratic candidates and yet won nine fewer seats. The 1990 census may, and probably will, give California up to seven new congressional seats -- meaning that nearly one out of every eight Congressmen in Washington will represent California. And all existing California congressional district lines will have to be redrawn -- this time not with pencils in a restaurant but by state-of-the-art advanced computers. The time has come for redistricting reform. And we've got to end the charade of that Phil Burton Democratic gerrymandering that has deprived this State of fair representation.

Look, unlike the Democrats, we don't need gerrymandering, because Republicans can win on the issues. You heard Duke say it. In fact, we can put the Democrats out of business -- on the issues. Look at what this Governor's Republican administration has accomplished since 1983: the unemployment rate was 11, cut to 5.2 percent; 2.7 million new jobs created in this great State. The list keeps growing: 14 new and expanded prisons open in 1991, education funding more than doubled, drug education now included in every school from grades four to eight. California now has some of the toughest environmental laws in the Nation, with thousands of acres of sensitive lands acquired and preserved. And thanks to commonsense policies and strong leadership, California is better off than it ever has been. Let's keep it that way. Let's keep it Republican, and let's elect Pete Wilson next November to be Governor of this great State.

Unfortunately, Pete couldn't join us tonight. He's in Washington -- a crucial vote in the Senate on education. I appreciate his work, for he's a proven winner -- and the voters know it. And he's a strong environmentalist, a leader of the war on drugs, key member of our team in the United States Senate. And believe me, we'll miss Senator Wilson, but come to think of it, I really like the sound of Governor Pete Wilson. You know Pete will be leading a solid team of candidates for State office to victory, and with him they'll be the ones to keep the taxes low, the environment clean, and the economy strong. People say I'm a cautious guy, and I can understand that -- well, I really can't understand it. I'm going to go out on a limb tonight and make a prediction: 1990 will be a great year for the Golden State because Pete Wilson will be your next Governor. So my plea, in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian: Let's keep California great and keep it Republican.

Barbara and I are delighted to be with you. Thank you for what you're doing for this party, thank you for what you're doing for the campaign for Governor and the other statewide races. Thank you all, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:26 p.m. in the L.A. Ballroom at the Century Plaza Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Frank Visco, chairman of the California Republican Party, and Tommy Lasorda, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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

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