Remarks at the America's Hope, Arkansas' Pride Luncheon in Little Rock, Arkansas
Thank you so much. Thank you for being of mind. And thank you for making Hillary and here. Thank you for being in such a good frame Al and Tipper and me feel so wonderful today.
You know, I've always kind of resented Al Gore for being a little smarter than I am and knowing a little more about various things. And now he's gotten funnier than I am. I really— [laughter].
I thank you, Maurice Mitchell and Skip Rutherford and Jay Dunn and Doug Hatterman and all the others who worked. I have to mention one person I know is not here and another person I have not yet seen. I know a lot of people worked hard on this, but I know that my longtime friend Merle Peterson, who's away, and Jimmy Red Jones sat in a room and called a lot of you and harassed you until you bought tickets to this. [Laughter] And I want to thank them and all the rest of the committee for the work that they did.
I would like to thank Mack McLarty and all those from Arkansas who work in the administration, as well as those who work here in the Arkansas office who've tried to give you a lifeline through the fog that Washington can become. I thank them for representing me. I want to say a special word of thanks to Mack for all the many things he's done over the last 2 1/2 years. I got a vivid picture of one of them yesterday when we were in New Jersey at a Ford plant which doubtless had made various vehicles that the McLarty dealerships had sold over the years. But I couldn't help thinking, you know, Mack has basically become the country's point person in all of our developing economic and political relationships with Latin America, which have expanded by more in the last 2 1/2 years than in any previous point in history. And this Ford plant in New Jersey was making trucks being sold in Latin America. And I never realized it before, but there was McLarty always thinking about what it's going to be like 20 years from now when he's running all those Ford dealerships again. [Laughter] You can be very proud of the leadership he has given to our country, and I thank him for his long friendship.
And Bruce Lindsey, Marsha Scott, all the other people from Arkansas, and the people who run this office, they have enabled me to try and stay in touch with you in times when it has not always been easy. And Carol Rasco is not here; she's getting ready for our economic conference in the Pacific Northwest. But I see some people here particularly involved in health care and social services I know call her. I thank them for the work they've done to make it possible for us to try to stay in touch with one another.
I also want to say a special word of thanks to Congresswoman Blanche Lambert Lincoln and Congressman Ray Thornton. And congratulations, Congressmen, to you and to our Senators and to our Governor on Red River. Nice work. Truman Arnold is very happy he can keep working for the—[applause]—Truman Arnold woke up this morning thinking he could keep working for our reelection and for our party now.
We wish you well, Congressman Thornton. I wish you weren't retiring, but whatever you decide to do, I imagine you will make a good show of it. You always have. And you've really served our State well, and you've served our Nation well, and we thank you for that.
I want to say, as Hillary did, a special word of thanks to Senator Bumpers and Senator Pryor. They have fulfilled a lot of roles that maybe on some occasions they would rather not have done in the last 2 1/2 years. And we've had some rough spots in the road. We've had some ups and downs, but they have always, always, always been there. And in very personal ways that will probably never become fully known or appreciated, I can tell you that I am profoundly grateful to both of them.
I saw Dale on television the other night speaking to the Small Business Conference, talking about the importance of balancing the budget and doing it in a humane way and the right way. And a lot of those Republicans were really listening to him in ways that only he can communicate. I think of all the times when David has taken the floor of the Senate to try to restore just a little bit of humanity and sanity to a national political debate that has gotten way too out of hand too often in the last 2 years, and I thank him for that.
And let me also say I am especially glad to see Governor and Mrs. Tucker here today and especially grateful for the reception you gave them. As an Arkansan, I felt exactly the same way. And thank you, Governor, for being here. We're proud of you. Thank you.
I might also note that the last time I checked, the unemployment rate in Arkansas is down to 4.1 percent, which is—after what we suffered all those years, that's another reason to rejoice.
You know, I was listening to the Vice President go through that whole litany, and I have to say I'm also especially indebted to the people who have spoken here before me, to Tipper for all the work she's done in mental health and for the courageous and sometimes lonely battles she always wages within the administration to remind all of us that that's a very important part of health care, and to Tipper and to Hillary for the work they've done to try to make sure we increase our emphasis on women's health concerns.
And I was very proud of Hillary yesterday in particular. She took me along, and I spoke to a remarkable event in front of the Arlington Cemetery yesterday where we broke ground, long overdue, on America's first memorial for the 1.8 million women who have worn the uniform of our country in military service. One of the things that I am quite proud of that almost nobody knows—there are a lot of achievements of this administration that fall into that category—one of the things that I'm very proud of that almost nobody knows, that I think is part of the enduring influence of my wife and my wonderful departed mother, is that in the last 2 1/2 years we have opened up to women in the services 260,000 positions previously denied them in the service of their country. And I'm very proud of it, and the military is very proud of it.
I said that last comment, and the Vice President was up here giving our record and it reminded me about a week ago, maybe 2 weeks ago now, we had an event at the Treasury Department. And we were announcing one of our continuing Al Gore genius moves to reinvent the Government and make it easier to deal with. And this one had to do with the fact that next year, in 32 States, people can file their taxes, State and Federal together, electronically, no paper, no hassle, file them both together. We'll distribute it, we'll do all the work. And we always try to have a real person like one of you at one of these announcements to explain how this will actually change people's lives.
So, it was just before the Small Business Conference started, and we got this John Deere dealer from west Texas come who happened to be a supporter of mine, probably the only person in the whole county—[laughter]—there he was. But anyway, he ran a good-sized John Deere dealership, and he got up there and he said—I got so tickled—he said—he brought all the paper that he'd been using on his taxes and he said, "I can throw all this away, and it's great." And he explained how much money he was going to save, but he said, "You know," he said, "you fellows have been doing a great job of reinventing Government. What you need to do is reinvent communication because it ain't getting out to the rednecks that I sell John Deeres to." [Laughter]
You know, some nights I watch the news and I feel like that old country song "They Changed Everything About Me But My Name." [Laughter] That's beginning to change as well. I want to have—for just a moment I want to have a serious conversation. The Vice President has outlined a great deal of what we have done— and I use the word "we" in the largest sense. One of them, our proudest achievements, has very little to do with me except that I made it possible, and I think the history books will reflect that Al Gore was the most influential and effective Vice President of the United States in the history of our Republic through the 21st century.
We were at the Small Business Conference the other day; we hauled out 16,000 Federal regulations that we were getting rid of because of the reinventing Government task force: cutting half the regulations of the Small Business Administration, 40 percent of the regulations of the Department of Education, dramatically changing the way the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is going to work, reducing the paperwork burdens of the Environmental Protection Agency by 25 percent, setting up a hotline so that if a small business person calls the EPA now, that person cannot be fined if he or she is calling for help to try to figure out how to solve a problem.
These are important changes in the way our Government relates to people. But I have to tell you that what is going on in America today is more than just whether this administration is achieving things that are or are not known about. This is a period of deep and profound change in the whole world and in this country, the way we work, the way we live, the conditions in which we raise our children, the opportunities available to us, and the challenges confronting us. They're different. And all of us are the product of our own experiences. I tell everybody that works at the White House all the time, especially young people who see things they don't understand, I keep telling everybody we all see the world through the prism of our own experience. Even our imaginations are limited by what we have known and felt and seen.
And yet, all these things are happening around us, some utterly wonderful and some utterly horrible that go beyond our ability even to imagine a resolution of. A lot of good things, the end of the cold war, the growth of the information age, the fact that a kid in the most remote mountain school in Arkansas can now hook into an Internet which will pull information out of a library in Australia, just for example—now, these are wonderful things. And we see all these things, and it's just staggering, it's so wonderful. We see a lot of our old problems appear to be getting better. The crime rate as a whole is dropping in almost every major city in America. That's the good news. And I could give you 50 other examples of good news. We had the biggest expansion of trade opportunities in our country in the last 2 years that we have had in a generation, maybe ever.
But underneath that, it seems that every opportunity has within it the possibility of something new going wrong. Crime rate goes down, but the arbitrary rate of violence among teenagers goes up, giving us chilling feelings about what the crime rate might be like in 10 or 15 years. And more and more and more young kids are just being kind of left alone out there to raise themselves, struggling to figure out what to do, stuck in home environments, community environments, and school environments that aren't likely to help them to turn around the challenges they face.
All this wonderful technology and this easily accessible information has its dark underside. You can get on the Internet now and tap into one of these fanatic extremists, and they will explain to you how you too can make a bomb just like the one that blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. The explosion of technology means that a radical religious group in Japan can figure out how to get a little bitty vial of gas and walk into a subway and break it open and kill a bunch of totally innocent people and put hundreds of others in the hospital.
So you see the point I'm trying to make: There is so much good in the world, so much new possibility; but the Scripture tells us that the darkness that is in the human soul will be with us until the end of time, and those dark forces are finding new expressions as well. And we're all sitting around here trying to figure out how to make sense of this and what to do, so that what is really going on in Washington, which is confusing to people, is not much different than what's going on inside a lot of people's heads, which is confusing to people. And it's because it is really new.
I am proud of the fact that this administration negotiated agreements, which means that there are no nuclear weapons pointed at the children of Arkansas since the dawn of the nuclear age. I'm proud of that. But the paradox is—let me just give you the paradox—the paradox is a year or so ago, Hillary and I went to Riga, Latvia, to celebrate the withdrawal of Russian troops there for the first time since before World War II, tens of thousands of people in the street weeping with joy, loving America. A poll just came out and said that Bill Clinton was the most popular politician in Latvia. I'm trying to figure out how to get on the ballot there, give them some electoral votes. [Laughter]
But then we go into—it was a wonderful survey. It wasn't me; I was America. It didn't have anything to do with me; I was the United States. But then we go behind closed doors into a meeting, and the first thing they ask me for is an FBI office. Why? Because when you rip away the iron hand of communism and you take out the Russian army—there is this huge port, the largest city in Northern Europe that most people couldn't even find on a map here, that they're now terrified will become a great transit point for drug trafficking and organized crime of all kinds. The most popular thing we've done in Russia in the last year is not dismantling the nuclear weapons, it's opening an FBI office in Moscow. Why? Because they got rid of communism, and they didn't have things like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Securities and Exchange Commission, so within no time at all, half of their financial institutions were controlled by organized crime.
I say this to make a point. We have to go back deep inside now to our basic values and our basic institutions. And the debates we are having in Washington now are over fundamental things that we used to take for granted.
When I was Governor here, in all the years until the last year when I ran for President, we only had an unemployment rate below the national average one month, one month. A lot of my legislators are out there. They remember how we struggled with that, but we had a consensus. We disagreed on the details, and we fought at election time, but there was a general consensus that if we made our State more attractive economically and that if we continued to invest in the skills of our people, that in the end that strategy would be rewarded. And it might take a decade to turn it around, but it would be rewarded.
And I'm convinced that everybody in this room, in addition to the great leadership we have in our State today, played a role in the fact that we have an unemployment rate below the national average today. It did not happen overnight. It's all of you who are entrepreneurs, all of you who built your own companies, all of you who came in here and invested in our State from beyond our State's borders, sometimes from beyond our Nation's borders. It happened—being driven in a direction.
But we basically accepted fundamental assumptions. A lot of that is out the window now. And I want you to try to understand what we're going through and why sometimes it doesn't seem to make sense when you see it over the airwaves. We are debating now really first principles in Washington. For example, there's a significant number of people in Congress who believe all of our problems are personal and cultural in nature, and if everybody would just wake up tomorrow and behave themselves, we wouldn't have any problems, and therefore, we don't need the Government to do anything, whatever the Government does will only make it worse. And if we just give you the money back, everything would be fine, because all of our problems are personal and cultural.
Now, at a certain level that is true, isn't it? I mean, no matter what we do with the government in Arkansas or Washington, if people won't behave themselves and do right and make the most of their own lives, nobody can do that for you. That's something you have to do for yourselves. At some point, no matter how much adversity people face, some people make it, and some don't. And it's their responsibility. On the other hand, if you play the odds, you know that really successful communities, States, and nations do the best they can to make sure that everybody has the best chance to make the most of their own lives.
I don't see it that way; I don't think that it's either—that it's an either/or thing, that all of our problems are personal or cultural on the one hand or political or economic on the other. I think the answer is both. But because things are changing and people are confused, the extreme sides of the debate are really being argued out all over again, just as they were literally decades ago at the beginning of this century when the excesses of the industrial revolution were being felt.
Let me give you another example leading from that. A debate—we never had that debate in Arkansas. We never saw any inconsistency between fighting teenage pregnancy on the one hand and trying to get more responsibility and investing more money in preschool education on the other. The idea was both, right?
Give you another example—a lot of people feel, flowing from the first debate, that since the Government only messes things up, the fundamental responsibility of the Government is to maintain national defense, cut taxes, and balance the budget as quickly as possible without regard to the other consequences of what's being done. They honestly believe this. This is not a—I'm being, I think, fair and accurate.
Then there are others who feel that the budget deficit is a terrible thing but not the only deficit the country has; and that if we don't educate our kids and if we don't at least take care of our fundamental obligations to the elderly people on Medicare who don't have enough money to live on as it is, that the country will come apart at the seams more; and that we have certain common responsibilities. And some people think that if we never balance the budget, it's better to keep investing that money.
But I don't see it that way. I think that we ought to balance the budget, because we never had a permanent deficit before 12 years ago— I mean, 12 years before I took office—we haven't had a balanced budget since '69. But in the seventies, all of you will remember we had all that stagflation. Oil prices were going crazy, and the reasons for the deficits were largely localized and—we never had a built-in deficit every year, year-in and year-out, in this country's history until 1981. And we've taken it down by a trillion dollars over a 7-year period since I've been in office.
We ought to balance the budget. Next year— we'll be seeing more money on interest on the debt next year than we will spend on national defense. The budget would be balanced this year, right now, because of the cuts we've already made, were it not for the interest we have to pay just in the 12 years before I showed up up there. That's how big a problem it is. It erodes our competitive position in world markets. It drives our incomes down. And it undermines our ability to borrow to invest in the future.
You know, there's a difference between borrowing money to build a business or buy a house and borrowing money to go out to eat tonight. There's a big difference. And we've got it all mixed up. You can't tell what we're doing now. So we need to do that.
But we also have to realize—I think that we do have more than one deficit. And at the end— in this information age and this global economy, for us to be cutting education is like cutting defense at the height of the cold war. I don't think it makes any sense.
But there is this ideological debate over— and the third big debate, maybe the most important one of all, is the one that—there are people who honestly believe that if you think all of our problems are personal and cultural and moral, if you believe the Government can't do anything right but mess up a one-car parade, the only thing it's supposed to do is national defense, cut taxes, and balance the budget, then a lot of the same people believe that anyone who disagrees with them are intrinsically a threat to the Republic and anything you do to beat them or put them in a bad light is all right, so that the politics of demonization, the meanness quotient of our politics, the distortion level of it has increased quite a bit in recent years.
Now, I think it's good to fight and argue, but I think we're around here after way over 200 years because, no matter how the arguments came out, we kept this thing going in the middle of the road and going forward, not too far left, not too far right, but always forward. And that's why we're still around.
But I'm just telling you these are fundamental debates that are going on so that it's no longer the kind of normal debate you see in Washington. Instead of the range of difference being like this, it's more like this now. And it's because of all these changes that are going on in the country and in the world.
Let me just give you some specific examples because I think it's a phony debate. I think we need to worry about going forward, now how far we can get out on these extremes. I think we need to return to our basic values. You know, go back and read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. We got together as a Nation because we thought it was self-evident that all people were endowed by God with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and that it was necessary to form governments to pursue these ends.
And our Constitution was created with the flexibility to enable us to change to meet the challenges of new times and with the iron-clad guarantees of the Bill of Rights that there were limits beyond which Government could not go in infringing upon the freedoms of individuals. And all of our debates, if we'll get back to those basic things and the facts, will lead us to a practical solution that will push us ahead. But I'll just give you some examples.
The family leave law: There were people who were ideologically opposed to the family leave law because they said Government shouldn't tell business anything. But the truth is that most parents are also workers today. Whether you think it's a good idea or a bad idea, whether it's a single-parent household or a two-parent household, most parents are also workers. If you believe that the family is the most important institution in our society, on the one hand, and you also believe that if we're not competitive globally, on the other, we're in deep trouble, then this country has no more important objective than enabling people to not have to make a false choice. We must enable people to be successful parents and successful workers. That's why I was for the family leave law.
But not everybody feels this way. That's big debate up there. And when you hear this rhetoric you have to understand that. There are a lot of people—there are honest people who honestly believe that it was a wrong thing to do.
It sure didn't hurt the economy. We've had 6.7 million new jobs since it passed, record numbers of new business formations in 1993 and 1994. So all those predictions that it was going to hurt the economy or be burdensome were wrong. It's an ideological debate.
Second, the environment: Most people, I believe, here think that we have to be able to grow the economy in a way that preserves the environment so our grandchildren and our grandchildren's grandchildren will still have Arkansas to live in. And a big part of what we define of Arkansas is that. And most of the time when we fought about the environment when we were—when I was Governor, we fought over how to achieve that goal and whether the Government was going too far, the regulations should be done in a certain way or another way. But we were fighting over how to achieve that goal.
That is not the debate up there anymore. The debate is far more fundamental. There are people who believe, "Well, it's a nice thing to preserve the environment, but in the end nobody will ever really let it go down the tubes. And the Government will mess it up. Get the Government out of it. And if the environment is abused in the short run, so what. Somehow the planet will regenerate itself."
Let me tell you—a committee of Congress just the other day voted to eliminate all controls on offshore oil drilling in the United States, all of them, everywhere, without regard to any evidence of how much oil is there or whether it's worth the risk or whether there's any evidence of safe drilling or what the differences in the areas are or what would happen to tourism or what would happen to retirement or what would happen to anything. Why? Because they're ideologically opposed to the Government having any kind of partnership at all with the private sector on this.
And that's just one example. But I'm telling you, folks, it is an economic as well as an environmental issue. We're on our way to Portland, Oregon, the Vice President and I are, when we leave you. And we're dealing with a terrible set of problems up there, where a lot of the timber people want to cut more timber in the forest, and because the waters have been more polluted they're losing the salmon. And that's just one example.
I believe we've got to find a way to do both. Our State has used the Nature Conservancy more than any State in the country, I think, to buy land to set aside, because, as Will Rogers said, "They ain't making no more of it." And the people who supported it were the business people in our State. This is a fundamental debate.
I'll give you a third example: Dr. Foster. Al Gore alluded to him. Dr. Foster. There are people in Washington, and they were—they had enough influence to keep his nomination from coming to a vote—who believe that he is unfit for any public office ever because he performed a few legal abortions, and therefore, he should never be considered for any public service and if the people who wanted to be President in the other party knew what was good for them, they would vote no. And since we had enough votes to confirm him, they could not even let him come to a vote.
Now, here's a guy, unlike the rest of—most of the rest of us—who's actually done something to try to reduce teen pregnancy, to try to reduce the number of abortions, and to try to tell kids on a consistent, disciplined way, who don't have other role models to tell them, that they should not have sex before they're married. Here's a guy who's actually gone out and organized a program that was recognized not by me but by my predecessor, President Bush, in an organized, disciplined fashion to tell young people, "I don't care what kind of problems you've got, I don't care what your peer pressures are. I don't care what you're going through. You have no business having sex. You cannot promote teen pregnancy, and you ought not to do it to your life. You ought to stay off drugs, stay in school, and do a good job with your life." Here's a guy who's ridden country dusty roads in Alabama and brought health care to people that they never could have gotten otherwise. Here's a man who's delivered thousands of babies, and had at least one of his former patients stand up and publicly say, "I was going to have an abortion, and he talked me out of it. He talked me out of it."
In other words, here's a guy who has actually lived what other folks say they believe in. But in this sort of new world that's taken hold up here, he wasn't politically correct and pure enough to serve as Surgeon General, even though he had actually done the things they say they wish to do. This is a profound debate. And so they were even willing to abuse the filibuster process.
Clarence Thomas could have been kept off the Supreme Court if the Democrats had said, "Well, we don't have enough votes to beat him, but we sure got enough votes to keep him from coming to a vote." But they said, "No, that would be morally wrong. The President has a right to make an appointment. The committee has a right to make the recommendation. And the Senate ought to vote." But not in this new world. In this new world that are no rules except winning and losing, because one side is all good and the other side is all bad. If we had had that attitude for the last 219 years, we wouldn't be here today. We wouldn't be here today.
So what is to become of us as a people? I ran for this job because I wanted to do two things, two big things: I wanted to restore the American dream; I wanted to get the economy going; I wanted to lift stagnant wages and get the jobs coming back into the economy and fix the education system so people could actually get out of this awful two-decade slump we've been in where even when the economic numbers get better, nobody ever gets a raise. But I also wanted to bring the country together.
Now, the second issue is even more important than the first. And it can be a very good thing that we are having these big debates over fundamental questions. But I want you to understand just how deep and fundamental these debates are.
If you look at the budget debate here, I applaud the Republicans for being for a balanced budget, and I hope all the Democrats will be, for the reasons I just explained. It is not right for our country to have a permanent deficit. I wasn't for the amendment because we ought to have the right to borrow when we need to. But we shouldn't be in a system of permanent deficits.
But my budget reflects what I just talked to you about. My budget reflects the idea that we need to keep going forward. So I believe that I'm right. I think we should balance the budget but increase our investment in education. I think we have to cut the rate at which we're increasing health expenditures but not so much that we're going to close down rural hospitals or urban hospitals and not so much that we're going to burden elderly people who don't have enough to live on as it is and can't afford to pay a whole lot more for their health care and shouldn't be asked to give up health care. I believe that we ought to cut spending on welfare but not so much that we don't invest in child care and basic training so we can actually move people from welfare to work instead of just throwing poor kids in the street. The objective of welfare reform should be to help people, again, become good workers and good parents, not just to save money.
I believe any tax cut we have should be so small it doesn't require us to cut these other things and should be focused on the people who need it to help them raise their kids and educate them. That's why I proposed a tax deduction for the cost of education after high school. I think that's important.
And I know if you cut the tax cut back and focus it on education and childrearing and take 10 years instead of 7 to balance the budget, then you don't have to cut education, and you don't have to imperil Medicare and Medicaid and you don't have to go from a welfare reform plan that should be tough on work but good to children to one that doesn't have any work and sticks it to kids. It moves us ahead. But it's not an ideologically extreme position. It says we have two things we want to do: balance the budget and bring our country together and raise incomes and move forward. And we can do them both. And that's what's going on up there now. These are big, fundamental questions.
I just want to say, in closing, that a lot of what's happened to you here, a lot of the outrageous, outrageous things that have been said about our State and a lot of the licking that you've taken is a product of the confusion and the disorientation of the times and the idea that there are no rules and people just sort of flailing around trying to win another one to get to tomorrow. That is not what made this country great. That is not what made this country great, and it's not what you taught me to do here.
And I just want you to know, the greatest thing that ever happens to me is when I get to be all of you. Hillary and I were in Ukraine for the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. And I gave a speech at the university there, and there were, I don't know, 60,000 people or something in the streets. And then everywhere we drove, they were four or five deep waving American flags. And I met all these old veterans from World War II who fought with the Americans then, telling me everything they did and showing me all their medals, you know. They weren't waving at me, they were waving at America. They were waving at America.
You know, everything the Vice President said—I'm glad I have a chance to play a major role in what we're doing in the Middle East and what we're doing in Northern Ireland and what's happening in Haiti and the deneutralization of the world—I'm glad about all that. But the only reason I had that chance is because for a little while in our country's history I get to become all of us, the United States. And I am telling you I've been there.
There is no country in the world as well positioned as we are for the next century. There is no country—[applause]—because we do have a limited Government that allows the private sector to flourish and entrepreneurs to do well, but we have enough ability to work together to solve common problems that we can do that. We have the potential for the right balance and the right flexibility.
There is no country that is any better positioned because of our terrific geographic and economic and racial, ethnic and religious diversity. But unless we learn to how to recover both the sense of personal responsibility and a sense of appreciation for people who are different from us, unless we learn how to resolve our differences without demonizing people and how to look toward the long run, we could squander the most colossal opportunity our country has ever had.
Because of the way technology works in the 21st century, Arkansas can not only have a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country, our people can actually enjoy a standard of living equal to that of any people in the world. And that can happen everywhere. But it depends upon whether we can go back to these first principles and go forward with a sense of balance and mutual respect.
At the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, "We cannot be enemies. We must be friends." That is what I say to you. And when you get angry about things you think are happening and when things happen you don't understand, just remember, this is still the greatest country in the world. It is still the greatest country in the world.
Stand up and fight for what you believe in. But fight against people who want to throw this country way off the track. And fight for the idea that we can pull together. After that Oklahoma City bombing, America was shaken to its very core. But it threw some of the meanness out of all of us. And it made all of us reexamine where we are. And our sort of heart and our common sense were reasserted. After that wonderful young Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady survived 6 hideous days in Bosnia and was rescued by a brilliant American operation, we were all exhilarated, and that put some of the energy back in all of us.
What I want you to know is to get to tomorrow, we have to have the heart and the openness to other people that we found in the tragedy of Oklahoma City and the self-confidence and energy that we had when that boy came home. And if we do that, we're going to be just fine.
That is the issue in 1996. That is what you're investing in. It's my last election. I'll never run for anything else. [Laughter] You'll never have to come to one of these again. You'll never be dunned again. [Laughter] You'll never have to stand in line again if you don't want to. But just know this time, this time, the stakes are the highest they have ever been, higher than they were in '92 because of where we have moved and where we can go. It is worth the fight. And I can't make it without you, but together I think we will.
God bless you, and thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. in the William J. Clinton Ballroom at the Excelsior Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Maurice Mitchell, legal counsel, Arkansas Democratic Party; luncheon organizers James L. "Skip" Rutherford, Jay Dunn, Doug Hatterman, Merle Peterson, and Jimmy Red Jones; Truman Arnold, acting national finance chair, Democratic National Committee; and Gov. Jim Guy Tucker of Arkansas and his wife, Betty.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at the America's Hope, Arkansas' Pride Luncheon in Little Rock, Arkansas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221387