George Bush photo

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

June 22, 1989

I am just delighted. Thank you all for that warm welcome. I look around this room, and I think to myself, okay, I'm President of the United States, but I know how I got here. And I see many, many people in this room to whom I will always feel indebted for that long-ago political action, and then when we all came together in the fall of 1988 for the election.

And so, I'm delighted to be here at this major political event. I want to thank Pat Barrett, my brother John, and Joe Fogg, outgoing chairman -- my friend Tony Colavita. And it's always great to be back in New York; it's the first place I've ever come to that they named a dessert for my wife -- just look at your program. I don't know what Bombe a la Barbara means -- [laughter] -- but nevertheless, we don't take that as a slight at all. We're pleased that you named it that. [Laughter] Maybe she does take it as -- no, no. [Laughter]

No, it's great to be back in New York. Where else can you find newspapers with headlines like "Picked Pot Packed In Pickled Peppers" -- that was out there -- or my personal favorite from the New York Daily News, a headline that accompanied before and after pictures of a famous actor that read, "Brando Expando." [Laughter]

You're wondering why we're all dressed up. We're off to the Wall Street Journal 100th anniversary here in a few minutes, and the Wall Street Journal maintains a more dignified air with its no-photos policy. If they were ever to run a swimsuit issue, it would be Lee Iacocca in thongs. [Laughter]

I am here today to celebrate a new fact in American politics: the emergence of a strong, united New York State Republican Party. And we've had good times and bad, but this is due in no small measure to the leadership of our outgoing chairman, Tony Colavita. I'd like to give some credit, also, to my brother John, who fought the financial side of the equation.

And to the promise of success from your new cofinance chairman, Joe Fogg, an outstanding man who did a marvelous job on this dinner, and of course, to our new able Chairman Pat Barrett. Pat -- he's a friend to many here, and Barbara and I consider him a friend. He has everything in the world going for him upstate, and now he's taken on this major job. He's shown the proven ability to reach out and attract new voters to the Republican Party. Pat, you've worked wonders as the county chairman up there in Onondaga County, and we look forward to your work and this Barrett magic all across New York State, and every single one of you ought to help him every way you possibly can.

It is no surprise to me that New Yorkers, in particular minority and ethnic voters, are shifting -- they are shifting from automatic loyalty to the other party and voting Republican more and more. And it was, after all, the Republican Party that was the original party of civil rights, equal opportunity. It was the Republican Party that first attracted immigrants and the sons and daughters of immigrants into politics. Think of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, The Little Flower of Italy.

And now we are proud to have a new generation of Republican leaders, with your great Senator, Alfonse D'Amato, heading our New York Republican delegation for a second term in the United States Senate. And I'm glad that his TV star of a mother is here. No United States Senator works harder, and I've seen them all in action. For 8 years I was President of the Senate; no United States Senator works harder for his constituents than Al D'Amato. And he will be reelected overwhelmingly, I'm sure, come 4 years.

Republicans take great pride in our New York Members of Congress, and you've got a good delegation, now 13 strong. I want to keep that number at 13 -- because Guy Molinari has decided to leave Congress to run for borough president, and I want him to win that race, and I want all of you to support him. But the Nation's loss is Staten Island's gain. And then with Susan already on the New York Council, the Molinaris will be even more of a powerhouse in the State, and I will always be grateful to Guy.

We are also justly proud of how far we've come as a party, so far that we now have a good chance -- and I mean a real good chance -- of winning the mayor's office in New York City, the most powerful local office in America. And it's a tremendous opportunity for the Republican Party to show that our commitment to executive leadership extends far beyond the executive branch in Washington, DC -- far beyond the White House, to the city streets and the sidewalks of New York, where the action really is. And accordingly, I would like to commend our three mayoral candidates, Rudolph Giuliani -- Rudy -- [laughter] -- sorry about that -- Ron Lauder, and Herb London -- for offering their considerable abilities to the voters.

And my plea, in advance of this September primary, is that we recognize that we can and will win the race if we pull together as a party. And that is my pitch to you tonight, and I hope every one of you will get behind whoever our nominee is.

And as we win the top executive job in America's top city, we will also make big legislative gains in Albany, keeping the State senate, making big strides in the assembly. The State senate has been our Republican watchdog in Albany, you might say, and it must be our first line of defense in the fight for fair representation in the 1990's. As I look around our country with a sense of fairness motivating me, it is absolutely essential that we block the gerrymandering ways of the Democratic Party in all 50 States. They've done it to us in the past, and we cannot let them do it to us again.

So, Pat, under your leadership -- a strong, united New York Republican Party with unity and with courage -- I know you'll go the distance. And the era of the Democratic dominance will be a story from the past.

So, I just wanted to come up here tonight with Barbara and wish you well; thank and salute your new leadership; thank all of you who have supported this, the most successful fundraiser that a party has had, as Pat said, in the State's history; and say to you, we are lucky to live in the greatest, freest country in the world. And part of all that freedom stems from our participation in politics, so don't think that there's something wrong with it. Roll up your sleeves and go to work, and let's win the mayor's race in the fall, and let's build this party so we pick up seats in the Congress in 1990.

Thank you all. God bless you, and keep up the good work.

Note: The President spoke at 7:16 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the New York Hilton Hotel.

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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