George Bush photo

Remarks at the Annual Republican Congressional Fundraising Dinner

June 12, 1990

Thank you very, very much. Thank you all. What a wonderful evening. Please be seated, and Guy, thank you for that wonderful introduction and also for the great job you are doing as chairman of the House campaign committee. We are very, very grateful to you.

I think that's Dan Quayle way down there. But let me point out what an outstanding job Dan is doing for our country and for our party. He's carried this message of opportunity practically a quarter of a million miles around the world. And we are very grateful to him, and I am very lucky that he is my Vice President, your Vice President.

I also want to single out and salute our two great leaders with whom I work so closely every day and to whom I'm very grateful. To Bob Dole, our outstanding leader in the United States Senate, my thanks. Today was just another bit of his handiwork, coming against the odds to carry that veto vote up there, and I'm grateful to him and to his colleagues. And of course, to Bob Michel, our indefatigable leader in the House -- my sincere thanks to you, Bob, for working so closely with our administration. I want to thank Don Nickles and simply suggest that he keeps up the great work that he's doing for the Senate campaign committee. We've got a lot riding this fall, and Don is doing a great job.

Also, thanks to our wonderful host tonight, the man who is our outstanding dinner chairman, and I'm talking about Senator Howard Baker, who really has thrown himself into the breach and produced these magnificent results. Howard, thanks so much.

I want to thank all of our dinner leadership: Dwayne Andreas and Carl Lindner, especially, and Armand Hammer and my dear friend and former colleague -- the one that, I'm told, on an individual basis, made the most calls or got the most done working for Howard Baker -- and I'm talking to my former colleague Jack McDonald, who did an outstanding job on these ticket sales. It's a pleasure to see all of you, and I thank you for your hard work and dedication.

I want to acknowledge the outstanding men and women of my Cabinet, and I count my blessings every single day for the kind of administration we have. We can fight like cats and dogs in that Cabinet Room, and then we go out and stay close together, working for a common cause, a common objective. I'm very fortunate, and I know it. And I count my blessings for the Cabinet and for our Chief of Staff and for those others in the executive branch who are with us here tonight.

Let me mention a man who is not with us tonight, a good friend and one of the most dynamic chairmen this party has ever seen. I, too, am talking about Lee Atwater. You know, he is a real pro, a real professional. And I just can't wait till he's back full-time in that saddle again, leading the party to more victories in the future.

I think all of us, especially those of us who are 66, remember a few losses over the years, too. I remember when I was running, with this spectacular lack of success, for the Senate back in 1964. My first speech was about building a two-party system in Texas. Barbara listened. Literally, three other people listened, and that was it. That was the whole thing. I'm pleased to see now a few more people here tonight.

But I understand some of you circulated a petition complaining that the only reason I was invited to speak tonight was because I'm Barbara Bush's husband. Guy put it very well, and perhaps generously. But I thought Barbara did a wonderful job at Wellesley, and I was very, very proud of her.

I'll tell you a story that's the gospel truth. I called Margaret Thatcher [Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] up to debrief her on the Gorbachev summit, as I did with Kohl [Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany] and Mitterrand [Francois Mitterrand, President of France] and the other leaders of Western Europe. And Margaret, before I could get a word in -- some of you know her, and she makes her point of view early -- but she said, "Please, I watched Barbara's speech, and please tell her I thought it was magnificent." Here she was all the way across the Atlantic. She didn't want to talk about the Gorbachev summit; she wanted to talk about what Bar said up at Wellesley.

But a little-known secret is, Barbara did try to get me to go, too. She told me that I might as well face up to the fact that she was invited only because of the popularity and prominence of, as she put it, "the sweet soul who shares my bedroom at the White House." [Laughter] I said, "They invited you to Wellesley because of Millie?" [Laughter]

But you know, I just returned from the Midwest on a trip for some great Republican candidates, where I talked about this meeting that I felt was a very successful summit -- the one we held with President Gorbachev.

And over the past year -- remarkable change -- we have seen literally, as Howard alluded to, millions of people freed from the bonds of tyranny; and we felt this new breeze of freedom sweep away decades of oppression. And it was the Republican policy of peace through strength coupled with our unyielding commitment to freedom and democracy that helped breathe life into the Revolution of '89 and provided us the opportunity to make so much progress at the Washington summit 2 weeks ago, a policy so successful in the 1980's because of the vision and the leadership of many people, but none more than my predecessor, President Ronald Reagan. I remember some cynics saying -- when he stood in Berlin and said, "Mr. Gorbachev, take down this Wall" -- I remember some critics coming at him from the left. The Wall is down, and I think some of that is due to the steadfast conviction of the last President of the United States.

You know, President Gorbachev and I worked together during these 4 days to further the process of peace by working toward a safer world, a stable new Europe, one in which every nation's security is strengthened and no nation is threatened. And important differences? Of course they still remain: self-determination for Lithuania, to which we are committed, and the question of a unified Germany in NATO, which will contribute to the stability of a post-German unification Europe. But the summit was a success, and real progress was made.

I've also come here tonight to set a few things straight. Apparently there are some people whose sense of priorities is out of whack. And I'm talking about the people who believe that there is no difference between the Republican and the Democratic Parties. But there's a big difference. On our side, the Republican side, lies opportunity, empowerment, free market solutions to critical problems. Republican wants power in the hands of people, not in the hands of big government.

And what's scaring the heck out of our opponents is the simple fact that this fall they're up against the Republican record: the longest peacetime economic expansion in the history of the United States, the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years, and almost 22 million jobs created. And Republicans are the ones who want to keep this economy strong, and we fought every step of the way against those who want to bring America to a grinding halt. And we're fighting against mandated benefits that would burden every small business in America. We're fighting against mindless redtape, more tax-and-spend programs. And we are the ones who support a balanced budget amendment and, certainly, the line-item veto because with a more sane budget process, we know that we can build a better America.

Republicans are the ones who sent the Violent Crime Control Act to the Congress last year, with tougher penalties and enforcement measures. This administration is leading the charge to take back the streets, and we will win that battle. We are the party that brought you the Education Excellence Act and the education summit -- for the first time developing national goals for our schools, for the first time in American history, so that American students can be the best in the entire world.

And we care about the environment. Take a look at the record. We sent to the Congress the first major overhaul of the Clean Air Act in over a decade because we must protect our planet for our children and their children. But this administration also believes in market-oriented policies, policies that protect our planet and keep hard-working Americans on the job.

These are just a few of the greatest hits from the Republican record. But as everyone here knows, achieving more depends on winning more elections for Congress. We can beat our Democratic opponents on the issues when the fight's a fair one; but we lose, and the American people lose, when the fight's rigged because of Democratic gerrymandering. This year's election also presents an opportunity for us to regain a majority in the United States Senate. I feel it in my bones. We can get the majority in the Senate, and we can end the Democratic stranglehold on the U.S. Congress.

Our goal is to build a better America for our children and for those who will come after them in the next century. Our goals are ambitious, but we have the best candidates and the best supporters in the entire country to get us there. And many of them are you. Many of them are right here in this room.

Republicans all across America are making a difference in our party, in our country, and in the lives of others: people like David Kirschner of Hanna-Barbera, who joined with other industry leaders to use the unique power of television cartoons to teach children at an early age to avoid the temptation of drugs, or Lod Cook over here, who's led Atlantic Richfield to become one of the most aggressive companies, mobilizing its work force to engage in what I call a Thousand Points of Light -- to engage in community service, helping the other guy. And there are so many others like them here tonight who make up this Grand Old Party. We do call them Points of Light. We can and will continue to make a difference for those who are hurting, those who are in need. And that's what building a better America is all about.

Thank you all for this glorious evening. Thank each and every one of you for caring, for your commitment. God bless you all. And aren't we lucky to live in the United States of America at this fascinating time of change in the world. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:48 p.m. in Hall A at the Washington Convention Center. In his opening remarks, he referred to Representative Guy Vander Jagt and John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President.

George Bush, Remarks at the Annual Republican Congressional Fundraising Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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