George Bush photo

Remarks at a Republican Party Fundraising Dinner in Richmond, Virginia

June 21, 1989

Thank you all very, very much. Barbara and I are delighted to be here, but inasmuch as we're speaking before the olives and before the celery, I will be mercifully brief.

But first let me pay my respects to various stars here at this head table. I want to single out our congressional delegation -- the five Members that are here -- my able chairman, Tom Bliley, and Frank Wolf and Stan Parris and Herb Bateman, French Slaughter, and all of them are doing an outstanding job for this State. Of course, I'm delighted that Tom and I were joined -- or perhaps you might say led, inasmuch as we came from the Pentagon -- by the former Secretary, your great Senator. John Warner flew down with us on Marine One, and I'm very pleased that he is here. And I want to salute, of course, the three gladiators from the primary, all of whom I know and all of whom I respect: Paul Trible, Stan Parris, and Marshall Coleman.

And let me say, it's great to be back in Virginia. You know, on the way down here, I couldn't help -- as we looked out of the window of the helicopter -- but notice that King's Dominion [a local amusement park] was open for business. [Laughter] If I'm not mistaken -- although I could have been from the height of a thousand feet -- I could swear I saw the entire Virginia Democratic ticket riding Shockwave. [Laughter]

Now, we all know that as good Republicans we had to resolve a few differences. When I told Barbara I was hoping to visit some historic battlefield sites in Virginia, she said she didn't know if I was referring to the Civil War or to the Republican gubernatorial primary. [Laughter]

But, Marshall, you're our candidate. Certainly you have my full support, and you know Virginia better than I do, but let me give you a little free advice: Don't film your TV ads riding around in a tank. [Laughter]

But all kidding aside, with Stan, whom I see and work with in the Congress, with Paul, who served with such distinction in the Senate, and with Marshall Coleman, who's been at my side for a long, long time in my political efforts, in this competition, all three of them, one thing -- and I was an outsider at that; I don't believe in getting involved in primaries from the office I now hold -- but one thing was certain: with these three outstanding people, Virginia could not lose.

And, yes, I am pleased that Virginia held this primary, our first in 40 years. And, yes, there was a rough-and-tumble competition, and Republicans turned out in huge numbers, but we've proven once again that we are different than the other party. We are united by principles, by a great cause; and that's why, now that the dust is settled, we are all still Republicans. And I am convinced we are going to win the gubernatorial seat in Richmond come fall.

And I do feel, and people have told me -- John, coming down here, the others as well -- that we were getting into a united frame of mind for this fall. And you can feel it, and I am delighted that we are uniting behind Marshall Coleman. It is absolutely essential, because as you remember, it is every 4 years that this State and one other are in the eyes of the entire Nation. They are going to be on us, looking for little straws in the wind regarding the 1990 nationwide elections. And so, unity behind our candidates here tonight is terribly important.

And let me say, I do believe from the bottom of my heart that Marshall will make a great Governor of the Commonwealth, for he is a Virginian through and through. From his Marine days to his service as a delegate and State senator, he's always been a trailblazer. And he knows best and can meet the challenges that are facing your State. And as I said, I will always be grateful to him for his early support, and I know that he can stand up for what he believes in.

This former attorney general has a tough, hardnosed plan for putting away violent criminals for good. And he has solid proposals dealing with the scourge of drugs, proposals that only a veteran crimefighter could conceive and implement. And what happens in Virginia will be of tremendous help to what happens across this country.

And then for 1990, Virginia is also going to be a battleground between the parties in the 1990's. And the question that comes: Will Virginia be fairly represented? We need a Republican watchdog in Richmond, protecting the fairness of the reapportionment process and vetoing liberal legislation.

And let me just say a word about the ticket that Marshall heads, a strong, impressive Republican ticket. I've known her for a long time -- up close and personal, as they say. Not that personal -- up close and friendly. [Laughter] But I had great respect for Eddy's husband, and I have great respect for her, and so does Barbara. And we know deep in our hearts that Eddy Dalton is going to make a great Lieutenant Governor for this Commonwealth. She's got the experience -- as a State senator, led the charge against the drug thugs, demanding mandatory sentencing for those convicted of selling drugs to minors. And her commitment to curbing State spending is so strong that she'll begin with the office of Lieutenant Governor the minute she takes over.

And you also have nominated another excellent candidate in State Senator Joe Benedetti for attorney general of this Commonwealth. You deserve a full-time attorney general who is willing to lead the fight on drugs and crime. And this ticket, with Joe on there for attorney general, offers leadership, great leadership, for Virginia.

But to win, it seems to me the Republicans have got to develop an appeal as diverse as this State. Virginia has changed, no longer simply what some thought of as a rural State. You now have large metropolitan areas growing at both ends of this great State, and your State has changed in other ways, too. We Republicans must do more than recognize the change; we must take our message to every neighborhood and every community. And we will take our Republican message, a message of hope and opportunity, to the black and other minority voters of Virginia. Marshall Coleman and I agree: We will not concede a community, a precinct, or a single voter to the opposition.

And so, it's up to you people in this room -- doesn't matter who you were for in the primary -- to come together, because we must win. And I'm thinking nationally now. We must win in Virginia, as in New Jersey, to set the stage for 1990, the critical year, the year that my friend and your great Senator, John Warner, will be reelected to his third term; a year that these outstanding Virginia Congressmen will be reelected to the House of Representatives -- and as President, I can tell you, I wish we had more like them to deal with every single day up there; a year that will shape the future of American politics well into the next century.

But there are other reasons, some practical and some sentimental, why we want a victory in November. Every American, from Maine to Texas, looks to Virginia as the cradle of democracy. Every American heart quickens at the ideals of the builders of Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Montpelier. From the mountains of the Shenandoah to the rivers of the Tidewater, from the country lanes of Abingdon to the city lights of Alexandria, what Thomas Jefferson said is still true: "Old Dominion is the mother of us all." Let's show what we can do come fall.

Thank you for inviting me to Richmond. God bless you, God bless our ticket, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 7:32 p.m. in the first floor Exhibition Hall of the Richmond Center. Following his remarks, he returned to Washington, DC.

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

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