George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Orlando, Florida

April 20, 1990

I know you're getting starved. I have to leave before the broccoli to go down to the Everglades. But I'm delighted to be here, and thank you, Governor. Let me pay my respects to Secretaries Brady, Mosbacher, Derwinski, and Skinner, four members of the President's Cabinet; and to Ambassador Fred Zeder, who's with us; and of course, the Governor that I mentioned. And it's always good to see Senator Connie Mack -- doing an outstanding job in Washington for you and for us. And of course, we're privileged to have also the distinguished leader in the Senate, Senator Al Simpson from Wyoming, back here -- the big, tall, skinny guy.

What a great turnout by the whole Florida delegation -- the Members of Congress. They're doing an outstanding job. We could use even more. But we have a class Republican congressional delegation, and I'm proud of them every single day. And I'm delighted to salute your State chairman, Van Poole, an old friend; and, of course, pay tribute to another horseshoe-playing friend of mine, Lee Greenwood, who did us honors here in the music a minute ago; and the indefatigable Armand Hammer, properly here saluting his friend Alec; and Leo Nadeau, my tail gunner from way back when. And of course, I hope you'll understand if I salute the dinner chairman, Jeb Bush. You'll forgive a granddad one editorial comment: Didn't George P. give a good speech? It's nice to know that there's at least one charismatic silver-tongued devil in the family. [Laughter]

Speaking of happy events, I forgot to mention with the congressional delegation, I want to congratulate Bill Grant and his wife on the birth of their brand-new daughter, Madison. Great happiness.

And of course, my friend Alec, it's good to see you. Here's a man who breeds race horses for the same reason he works so hard for the party: only one place will do for Alec -- first place.

And finally, let me just say a word -- Jeanie Austin, the cochairman of our party nationally -- Floridian -- she's not here today. She's out with all the State chairmen -- doing an outstanding job, she is, and I also might mention, along with our great Republican National Committee chairman, Lee Atwater. Lee's fighting spirit is certainly an inspiration to all of us. Everyone who knows him knows that this is one campaign he is determined to win.

Bob pointed it out, but I found it very hard to stay away from Florida. And it's not just the beaches: it's the company, the determined optimism of Florida Republicans. You certainly have every reason to be in high spirits. After all, it's here in the land of the sun and gateway to the stars that voters are rejecting the politics of the past. It's here that you are pioneering the future of America -- a Republican future.

I believe, as Bob Martinez does, as Connie Mack does, as our Congressmen do, that we can build this future, a future with a cleaner environment, great strides in education, more opportunity, and streets safe from crime. And in Florida, you need a Governor with the same vision, who will carefully balance the needs of nature and man, who will make the most of economic opportunity while protecting your special way of life. That's the kind of Governor you want, that's the kind of Governor you've got, and that's the Governor you're going to reelect this fall -- Governor Bob Martinez.

It is because of Republican leadership that Florida ranks number one in the creation of new businesses and jobs, especially in high-tech manufacturing. But we call this the Sunshine State because of your quality of life. From the panhandle all the way down to the Keys, Florida is a tropical jewel glistening with rivers and marshes and freshwater swamps and beautiful beaches and mangrove forests. And I intend to work with you to help you keep it just that way.

Two weeks ago, the famous south Florida conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas celebrated her 100th birthday. And in her century, she's seen the vast swamp prairie of the Everglades wither to half its size. She's watched and worried as crocodiles and turtles and the Florida panther almost disappeared. She's seen rookeries of wading birds, once counted in the millions, dwindle to mere thousands. She was the first, really, to sound the alarm. She made us realize that the Everglades is the heart of Florida. We must not let it die.

Floridians want action on the Everglades, and you're getting it from Republicans because the State of Florida was willing to set aside part of the land and because of the leadership of these, your Republican congressional delegation in Washington. Because of that, I was able to sign into law a bill increasing the size of the park by more than 100,000 acres. Of course, more needs to be done, but we are determined that the Everglades will be everlasting.

To protect our natural habitats will also require local leadership. As you know, I'm honoring Americans from all walks of life who are part of that constellation of volunteers that I call a Thousand Points of Light. So, it was my pleasure this afternoon and again tonight to recognize our 122d daily Point of Light, Dr. Daniel Keith Odell, who lives right here in Orlando. You know, Dr. Odell, right here in this neighborhood, a marine biologist with Sea World, has been applying his knowledge to better the environment by learning how pollutants can harm certain marine mammals. And he's known locally for his efforts in the campaign to save the manatees. In both efforts, Dr. Odell is working to make Florida a better place to live. He is a Point of Light, like so many others here tonight.

Still, it isn't enough to preserve nature if our cities are filthy, the air we breathe foul, and our urban beaches desecrated. So, Floridians also want action on a cleaner environment, and they're getting it from Florida Republicans.

You're also getting action at the national level. In fact, as we head into Earth Day, I am pleased to announce that Tampa Bay will be included in EPA's National Estuary Program. Under this program we will bring together Federal, State, and local agencies; citizens groups; and others to develop a plan to preserve and protect the aquatic riches of Tampa Bay. Now, this program will also allow us to coordinate and focus activities of many Federal agencies and fund environmental demonstration projects in Tampa. By working together, we can preserve and protect Tampa Bay.

We will also preserve and protect other estuaries that today are also adding to the National Estuary Program: the Indian River Lagoon, also in Florida; Casco Bay, in Maine; Massachusetts Bays; the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Complex, in Louisiana.

At the national level, too, we've been active on clean air. And as you know, I also proposed the first major revision of the Clean Air Act since 1977, one that uses market solutions to cut acid rain and smog and other poisons in our air. And this will mean cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, cleaner factories. And if Congress passes our compromise proposal, it will mean cleaner air for America.

Floridians also want to be safe from crime, and that's another reason why they turn to Republican leadership. In Tallahassee, Republicans have toughened prison sentences and added the prison space to enforce it. And in Washington, we worked closely with your great Senator Connie Mack, your House Republican delegation to pass part of our administration's anticrime package. We share a simple philosophy: Prison sentences should be at least as tough as the criminals we convict.

Congress has provided money for new prison space and more Federal law enforcement officers, but the Democratic leadership in Congress has left too much work undone on our violent crime package. And so, I call on Congress to recognize a truth: If the kingpins who deal drugs are dealing death, then let's judge them for what they are -- murderers.

And Floridians want one thing more: to give your children the education they deserve. Your business and education leaders are already working together to make Florida a world leader in math and science and computer education by 1999. What you want to do for Florida, I want to try to do for all of America. American students must be number one in math and science. Every American, every American adult, must be a literate citizen and worker. And every school in America must have a disciplined environment and, most of all, be drug-free. You see, education is critical to everything we are and can become, and that's why I've declared a new era of education reform in America, focusing not just on how much money we put into the schools but on how well educated are the kids who are coming out of the schools. Republicans focus on quality, not just on quantity. And that's why I brought all the Governors, as Bob said, together in an education summit in Charlottesville. And that's why I've promoted promising ideas like greater parental choice of schools and alternative certification of teachers.

So, when it comes to social progress, from jobs to a cleaner environment to fighting crime or educating yet another generation, the party of Lincoln is leading America while America leads the world.

Sadly, sadly, the other party has no firm principles and no new ideas to offer the world at this critical time. And that's why Democratic voters and leaders are crossing over in record numbers. Forty-six elected Democrats in Florida alone have crossed over just since I was elected, and now I know that some political observers are busy trying to figure out the political calculus behind Bill Grant's move to our party. Well I suggest they miss the point. Bill simply shares the wisdom of Winston Churchill, who said that while some may change their principles for the sake of their party, a statesman will change parties before changing principles. And it is because of his commitment to principle that Bill Grant is a Republican leader today, and that's why he will be reelected along with these others in the fall.

Nowhere have our principles been more effective than in the international arena. Bob was talking about that. Look at the results: In the Revolution of '89 we saw freedom dawn in Eastern Europe. And now we're close -- so very close -- to extending the compass of freedom across the Americas. Look at the map. There was once a dictatorship, a brutal one, in Panama. But the people spoke in a democratic election, and then came Operation Just Cause, and now the people rule in Panama. And they're going to continue to rule. I might say, Connie, I wish we had more Senators like you, because we then would have passed long ago that money that we need to support the democracy in Panama and the democracy in Nicaragua. The Senate ought to move.

We all remember there was once a militant regime in Managua, but then came that election. Now the people are about to begin to rule in Nicaragua, just next week when Violeta Chamorro takes office. And of course, there is one last hardline holdout in the West -- only one: Cuba. But I believe that, like its neighbors in every direction, Cuba, too, will join the ranks of free nations, making this the first totally democratic hemisphere in history. It may not happen tomorrow. It may not happen next week or next month. But it will happen. The people of Cuba will be free. I will guarantee you that.

These are historic times. These are historic achievements. And it is Republican leadership that has brought us to this moment. But to continue to work for jobs and opportunity and a better environment, a safer America and a free world, I need a Congress that will work with me, not against me. I will need partners in leadership like Bill and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Craig James and Andy Ireland and Cliff Stearns, just as Governor Martinez needs a Republican legislature in Tallahassee. As you know, we are just four seats away from a majority in the Florida Senate.

The political future of Florida and of all of America rests on winning these seats and reelecting Bob Martinez. The reason is simple, and it affects the voting rights of every Republican, every Independent, every Democratic voter. I am talking, of course, about the reapportionment of congressional districts after the 1990 census. We must not allow the Democrats to enact another gerrymander, a form of political manipulation that can also hurt every minority voter in Florida.

If the Democrats get their way, they'll again draw crazy, twisted lines that cut across communities, towns, and even streets without the slightest regard for the will of the people. So, remember this: In Florida, the difference between the party of big promises and the party of big achievements can be counted by four seats. We can bridge that difference. By working together, we can make sure that Florida will once again go Republican.

Thank you all for all that you have done. Thank you for all you're pledged to do -- all the way down to the wire, to that victory night in November, a Republican victory. Alec, congratulations. Now, get to work Monday. Thank you all very much, and God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 8:17 p.m. in the Hall E auditorium at the Orange County Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady; Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher; Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward P. Derwinski; Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner; Fred M. Zeder, President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Lee Greenwood, musician and lead singer of the country music group Alabama; Armand Hammer, philanthropist and businessman; Alec P. Courtelis, finance chairman of the Florida Republican Party; Leo Nadeau, crewmember in the aircraft President Bush flew in World War II; Representatives Bill Grant, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Craig James, Andy Ireland, and Cliff Stearns.

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

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