George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in New York, New York

July 24, 1990

Thank you all. Thank you so much, Senator. And let me say how very pleased I am to be here. A salute first to Senator D'Amato, who's doing such a superb job in Washington. He and I have to leave before the broccoli to get back to -- [laughter] -- get back down there, so I hope you'll excuse us. But let me salute my old friend, the borough president. Mr. President, we're proud of you -- Guy Molinari.

And of course, our senate leader, Ralph Marino -- I just met with him, and we talked about the importance of keeping control of this senate, given the significance of redistricting coming up. It is absolutely essential, and thus I want to thank everybody that has helped in this dinner. It is key that Ralph continue to run the senate on the Republican side. We've got to keep control of it.

And I expect, because of his responsibilities as head of this whole campaign for the senate, Guy Velella, over here, knows that he's got some big shoes to fill, too -- big responsibilities. Rapp, it's good to see you again -- Rapp Rappleyea, the leader over here on our -- I wish we had some more troops for him, and maybe we will out of this selection on the assembly. I want to salute our able party chairman, Pat Barrett, a man who's given up an awful lot to lead our troops; and my old friend Dick Rosenbaum, the national committeeman; Comptroller Ned Regan; and Bernard Smith, running here. Is it okay to mention my brother John? Okay. All right. And I'm going to be in real trouble, but Rita -- Rita DiMartino, I see her all over the place. She's like Batman -- she's everywhere. And Joe Mondello and many other leaders. I'm very pleased to be here. I want to single out two, however, who deserve our support. They have mine, and they are going to surprise a lot of people: Pierre Rinfret for Governor, and Geff Yancey. We need them. They're a good team. They've got great families.

You know, for 2 years, when I was Ambassador to the U.N., Barbara and I lived up here, in this -- rough living here in this very hotel, room 42 - A. And whenever I complained about anything, the Silver Fox would roll her eyes and say, "Just where do you think we live? The Waldorf Astoria?" Well, here we are back again, and I'm pleased to be here. And I understand that New York has been selected as the site of a very important event in 1992 -- a convention that will attract thousands of participants from all over the country, people who hope to put their past setbacks behind them and plan a winning strategy for the future. That's right, the first reunion of all the ex-managers of the New York Yankees will be held right here in New York City. [Laughter]

Then there's the other future New York convention: the Democrats'. Let me say that my hand is still extended to them when it comes to working for the good of the Nation. I look forward to the Senate hearings of David Souter. I am sure that they will find him to be tough, but fair. He's a first-rate appellate judge, an outstanding jurist, and a great legal mind. And I am delighted that he is the nominee for the Supreme Court.

Many Democrats in Washington have supported me in meeting this fantastic era of change abroad that Al D'Amato so generously referred to, are working with me now to pass the first revision of the Clean Air Act in more than 13 years -- tougher standards to cut down on acid rain and other air pollutants. And they worked with me so I could sign into law a bill ending discrimination against disabled Americans. So, tough negotiations can get results. I see Amory Houghton out here, and he and other Congressmen on the Republican side know this. They're in the minority, but they're working hard. Tough negotiations can get results. But differences between the parties are still broad, and they're still deep, and much remains to be done -- too much. With more Republicans in Washington and in Albany, think of how much more we can achieve.

In New York, we face a tremendous opportunity to fight the Democrat gerrymander, an opportunity to end discrimination against voters by race and by party. That is our mission this November. That is our mission, and it is one that transcends mere politics because we're deeply concerned about the future of this great State.

To coin a phrase, we love New York, all of New York, from the oak-lined avenues of Long Island to Yankee Stadium to Broadway. From the city streets of Buffalo to the New York of farm towns and the Adirondacks, New York is a city of lights, a State of grandeur, a place where dreams come true. It certainly is for me. After all, New York is where Barbara Bush was born, and she's doing pretty darn well.

But we are concerned for the future because New York has become something else: It's become a showcase of liberal policies. And after 16 years of dominance by liberal Democrats, it's time to judge the results.

For 92 months, America has enjoyed peacetime economic expansion and the creation of more than 22 million jobs. But not all the benefits of those years were enjoyed by the people of New York State. Throughout the 1980's, while most of America was growing and looking forward to the future, life in New York, especially in the city, was becoming more expensive, more difficult, and more dangerous, regrettably, than ever before.

Liberal Democrats blame every problem on Republican policies, especially Republican economic policies. But in the late seventies, a large airline centered in New York didn't go out of business; it just decided to move south to Texas, taking more than a thousand jobs with it. And in 1987, a large energy corporation based in New York didn't go out of business; it just decided to move south to Virginia, taking 3,600 jobs with it. In fact, since 1983 almost a third of the Fortune 500 corporations based here have chosen to leave.

Now New Yorkers want a change. New Yorkers want the companies and the good jobs they represent to stay right here in New York. And New Yorkers want an end to open-air drug marts and these muggings. And New Yorkers want a government that empowers people, not bureaucracies.

Twenty-nine out of the last 35 years of Democratic dominance in Congress have also taken their toll. Only a President carries a national mandate. But like Republicans before me, I know that to deal with a Democrat Congress is to often face government by gridlock, with spending skyrocketing out of control, good legislation thrown aside for pork, and a budget deficit looming over our children's children.

It is time we asked the American people to end the gridlock -- to choose the liberal mindset of the Democratic Party or to choose our path, the Republican path of opportunity and growth; to empower government to run their lives or to empower people to run their lives for themselves. Time to ask America to choose.

Here in New York, you must choose a Governor. And let it be a Republican Governor: Pierre Rinfret. Here's a family man -- I hope you've all met his family -- a decorated war hero, a successful entrepreneur who pulled himself out of Hell's Kitchen and wants to lead others out of poverty. And some say maybe he's not a politician. Well, he may not be a politician, but maybe New York doesn't need another politician. Maybe New York needs a change right now. So, Pierre, we are all for you -- you and your ticket. Best of luck!

You know, New York faces another choice: to keep your outstanding senate leader, Ralph Marino, and his colleagues as your prime line of defense against a liberal Governor and his assembly. Republicans, you see, like what works. And that's why your Republican senate has been, and will remain, your watchdog against big spenders and, more, a sane proponent of what works.

So, be thankful that your Republicans in the senate forced a spending cap, forced baseline budgeting. It is the Republicans in the New York Senate who managed to trim $1 1/2 billion in Democratic spending proposals. They know you can't trust a party that would double the fare of the Staten Island Ferry. [Laughter] And kidding aside, think of what these Republicans would achieve if they could work with a Republican Governor and a Republican assembly.

Jobs and spending are important, but safe streets are of equal concern, especially in a city that lives in fear. And that's why New York agrees with us: Those violent criminals deserve nothing less than punishment, swift and sure. So, Republicans are united in wanting to change lenient, blame-the-victim laws; liberal Democrats don't want to change these laws. Republicans want to allow the women of this State to be able to defend themselves with Mace, and liberal Democrats don't. And Republicans -- and this is a big one nationally -- Republicans want murderers and drug kingpins to pay the ultimate penalty, and liberal Democrats don't.

In Washington, we argue that those who sell drugs are selling death, and we propose that drug kingpins reap what they sow. But our crime bill faces another obstacle. Fifteen months ago, I stood before the U.S. Capitol and announced America's determination to take back the streets. The Senate has now cleared a crime bill -- Al D'Amato fighting for it -- a major new package, 423 days after I proposed it. It's not a perfect bill. It does nothing to ensure that evidence gathered by good, decent policemen acting in good faith isn't barred by technicalities that let bad people go free. But this bill will go a long way toward toughening sentences for violent crime and reducing repetitive appeals. Now, this legislation is over in the House side now, before the House. And let us tell the Members of the House: 423 days is long enough. Don't keep our men and women in blue waiting. Pass a tough bill, and pass it soon.

Let me give you another example of how a liberal Congress, long in power, jealously clings to the failed policies of the past. In April of last year, our administration asked Congress to pass the Education Excellence Act, reform proposals to reward achievement and allow educational choice. And yet Congress killed many of these sensible and cost-effective proposals, and then they doubled our request with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of unnecessary, unrelated and costly changes.

If liberal Democrats should have learned anything, it is that you cannot reform an education system by throwing billions of dollars at it. So, when is it going to penetrate liberal thinking that we shouldn't throw money at an ineffective education system that is already the most expensive in the entire industrialized world? When are they going to start demanding results and stop measuring the value of a program by the size of its price tag? And when are they going to stop blocking genuine, much-needed reform?

Where the liberal mindset dominates, the net result has been the same: bad schools, dangerous streets, big deficits. Of course, times can change, and I hope they do. As you know, I met this morning, and will meet every morning this week, with the congressional leadership -- the Speaker and the Democratic leader and the minority leader on the House side and the two Senate leaders, one Republican, one Democrat on the Senate -- met to work for an agreement to lower our Federal deficit. We all know that the Democrats have a long track record on spending. But if the Berlin Wall could come down in the same year that America goes nuts over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who knows what could happen next?

And again, times can change. The leaders of Congress can work with me to break the impasse on reducing the budget deficit, and I think they are trying. I've saluted Dick Gephardt, and I'll do it here again tonight. I believe he's trying hard. He's the one that has to lead this enormously diverse group into trying to get a deal. The spotlight is on both sides to place progress over partisanship and the national interest over special interest. I welcome sincere efforts from both sides of the aisle, and I'm eager to get an agreement with congressional leaders to achieve meaningful budget reform. And this is my hope, but as long as the liberal mindset dominates, we will be forced to measure our successes in catastrophes averted and calamities mitigated.

The genius of the American system is that it allows for checks and balances; but this doesn't mean that the voters must choose political stalemate, year after year, decade after decade. So, let me be blunt: Divided government just isn't good enough for America or for New York. We must have more Republicans up there in Albany and in Washington. And I think it's time to ask the American people to let us show what we can do without the albatross of liberal legislatures. It's time to ask America to choose.

As we go into the 1990 election season, remember an adage from a great Republican Governor of New York and a great President. Theodore Roosevelt said, "In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard." The choice is clear: Republican reform or the Democratic status quo. And when we present the people with this stark choice, rest assured, we will hit the line hard in November.

Thank you for all you have done to help this party. We are pledged to be in there supporting Pierre Rinfret and the rest of the ticket. May God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:50 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Clarence D. Rappleyea, State assembly minority leader; Pat Barrett, State Republican Party committee chairman; Dick Rosenbaum, Republican national committeeman; Ned Regan, State comptroller; Bernard Smith, Republican candidate for State attorney general; John Bush, former official of the State Republican Party; Rita DiMartino, State Republican Party committee vice chairwoman; Joe Mondello, Nassau County Republican Party chairman; Geff Yancey, Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor; Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Richard A. Gephardt, House majority leader; Robert H. Michel, House Republican leader; Robert Dole, Senate Republican leader; and George J. Mitchell, Senate majority leader. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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

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