George Bush photo

Remarks at the Annual Republican Congressional Fundraising Dinner

June 14, 1989

What a spectacular evening. Thank you, Don, and thank all of you. Thank you so very, very much. Barbara and I are delighted to be here. Thank you. Senator Nickles, thank you for that introduction and the great job that you're doing as head of the Senate campaign committee. That is important work, and Don is doing a superb job.

Way down there, Marilyn Quayle -- Marilyn, it's a delight to be with you on this evening. And I want to welcome back your husband, Dan, from Central America. And thank you, Mr. Vice President, once again for taking our message of hope and democracy to our important friends and neighbors. Dan Quayle is doing an outstanding job for the United States of America, and I am proud he is at my side in the White House.

And the warrior of all times, David Murdock -- thank you for your dedication, not just for this evening, but especially for this evening -- making this event possible. What a job you've done -- and your cochairmen and their cochairmen -- and there's never been a political event like this in the history of the country, and I'm grateful to you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, sir. And as to our able chairman of the House campaign committee, Guy Vander Jagt, great to see you, and thank you for your work. I want to thank Mary Hart and Willard Scott. Willard, may your future be free of cumulus clouds. [Laughter] And may I thank the members of my Cabinet. I am so lucky, as President of this country, to have the support of an outstanding Cabinet -- men and women of excellence -- total dedication to our country. And believe me, I count my blessings every day for that.

It was at the last President's Dinner that Ronald Reagan, then the 40th President of the United States, stood before us and formally challenged all of us to hold on to the Presidency, no matter how tough the odds. And since then, President Reagan has returned to his beloved California, and you and I have fought shoulder-to-shoulder, battling our way to a 40-State win on election day. And I'm grateful to every one of you for that support.

But none of us here, not one of us, fought the battle we fought -- we didn't put ourselves and our families through the turmoil of a campaign simply to win an election. And we fought because we believed in certain ideas and certain ideals. We fought because we believe that together we can build a better America. The American people defined our mission, and in the 5 months since the Inaugural -- without fanfare or partisan furor -- we have worked together to quietly follow our assigned mission, to achieve what was considered to be outlandishly impossible.

The American people want action on the budget deficit, and we reached an agreement with the Congress to reduce the deficit by a whopping $65 billion. And we aim to achieve this without raising the taxes on the working men and women of this country.

The American people want action on a festering problem -- the hemorrhaging of the savings and loan system. And our reform plan will restore stability, eliminate unsafe and extravagant practices, and punish those who abuse the trust of the depositors. The American people will have to pay billions of dollars to clean up this mess. And we must make sure that it never happens again. And the Senate, under the able leadership of Bob Dole and Jake Garn and others, approved our plan 91 to 8. And now I call on the House of Representatives to follow suit.

The American people want action on ethics. And clearly, it is time for an evenhanded ethics approach across all branches of government. This is the goal of our ethics proposal that I sent to the Congress in April. We must all -- all -- be equal before the law.

And as President, I will strive for a constructive working relationship with the new Speaker, Speaker Foley; the leader in the Senate, Senator Mitchell; and the rest of the Democratic leadership. But while we are in competition with each other, we will keep that competition on the issues and fighting for what we believe in. For we Republicans are bound together in a common purpose: to wage a vigorous debate on the important issues that unite us. We are confident that in taking our message of peace and prosperity to the American people in an open, honest, and direct manner we will become the majority party in America.

The American people -- Republican, Democrat, young and old -- want action on the environment. And yesterday, surrounded by the natural jewels of the Grand Tetons, enjoying that crisp, pristine mountain air, I called on Congress to join me in a quest for cleaner air -- an end to acid rain, ozone depletion, and other harmful emissions. You shouldn't have to become a mountain man just to breathe good, clean air.

And, oh, how the American people want action on crime. This administration will not rest until we've lifted the shadow of fear from the homes and the shops and the streets and the neighborhoods of America. And that's why I called last month for tough new laws, more law enforcers and prosecutors to back them up. This administration is going to lead the charge to take back the streets -- take them back from the criminals who threaten our neighborhoods and our families -- not just in the cities but all across this country. We are going to win the battle against the criminal.

And the American people want action on foreign policy, a sensible, yet bold plan to deal with the changes sweeping through the Communist world. And our bipartisan agreement with Congress on Central America allows the United States to speak with one clear message, one voice. Let freedom ring in Managua. Let freedom ring throughout the Communist world, from Beijing to Budapest to Warsaw. In Brussels, at our historic NATO meeting, I said that we face an historic opportunity to move beyond containment of the Soviet Union. I said that the world has waited long enough, that Europe can be whole and free, that we can move beyond armed camps divided by suspicion and fear. And we asked the Soviets -- challenged them -- to join us in a peace of trust over a peace of tension. And we offered our vision for a future of peace and freedom, the spirit of Brussels.

But this, the first 5 months of this administration, is just a start. We must work together to protect what is already the longest peacetime expansion in our history, to keep America competitive, at work, on the job. We must fight drug abuse on every front to redeem thousands of children -- it's the children that hurt the most -- to return promise to their lives.

And we must revitalize our schools so that a solid education is once again the birthright of every American kid. And to make this kind of progress will require more than a government program or another grant initiative. Republicans believe that it will take the active involvement of parents and students and teachers and business and local government and churches, yes, and our schools. And this is what we mean by a Thousand Points of Light. As powerful and resourceful as government is, government alone cannot come close to overcoming these problems.

And next week, I'll announce a major initiative to challenge our young people to serve their communities. From now on, the definition of the good life in America must include service to others. But as you know, achieving our highest goals depends to a large extent -- you heard it here tonight -- on winning elections in Congress. We must take our case to the American people, precinct by precinct, block by block. And I believe it is no coincidence that our party slipped to minority status in the House as we became a minority in the State legislatures.

Today Democrats now have a redistricting advantage in States that compose about 90 percent of the seats in Congress. And that is why we Republicans must make solid gains at the State level. Critical gubernatorial and legislative races in the eight largest States alone will determine whether Republicans will be treated fairly in the drafting of 209 congressional districts. From Springfield to Sacramento, from Austin to Albany, we must win the fight for fair competition. A majority or even a large minority of Republicans in State legislatures can join with Republican Governors to sustain the veto of outrageous gerrymandering schemes, strengthening our numbers in the U.S. House. Bob Michel, our able leader in the House, is outgunned, outmanned. So, let's help him by picking up more seats in the House of Representatives.

Strong State parties can help us win back the U.S. Senate, one of our most critical goals. And I salute our leader, Bob Dole. What a job he is doing as Republican leader in the Senate, but he needs more troops. He needs some help over there. So, let's win back the Senate. Let us again make it a Republican Senate, and that will be good for the United States of America.

In the next election, we have a good shot at making big gains. And of course, the party that controls the White House is often expected to do poorly in midterm elections, but there are no ironclad rules in politics. After all, if there were, I would never have become the only living member of the Martin Van Buren Society.

With your support and leadership, the leadership of so many great Republicans -- I don't want to embarrass him, but in his work tonight and the support he's given me and so many other elected officials in this room, men like Carl Lindner of Ohio, who has done a superb job here -- we can again defy the precedents; we can again make history. In order to win, we must work together as a team, not as an association of acronyms -- the RNC or the NRCC or the RGA or the NRSC. These are top-notch, well-managed organizations staffed by the best people in politics today, but our Republican Party must be greater than the sum of its parts. We must be inspired by a common purpose. We must bring opportunity to new constituencies and campaign in their neighborhoods, in the inner cities, the barrios once considered to be the exclusive domain of the opposition. And I salute our Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for taking this message right into the inner city -- Jack Kemp.

And our party chairman, Lee Atwater, who's doing a great job. And he's been a strong voice and a correct voice, arguing that we Republicans need to reach to minorities and the disadvantaged. And these groups can benefit the most from our philosophy, which simply maximizes opportunity and rewards initiative. And that is a message I believe in, and it's a message that we as a party must be prepared to act upon.

To win, we must also recruit the very best men and women to represent our party as candidates and as officeholders.

And so, these are my strategies for victory, but strategies are useless without a great purpose. And we have such a purpose: to build a better America for today and for the new century ahead. And we've shed a lot of blood, sweat, tears to rebuild the Republican Party since the early seventies. The best way to keep our party growing is to win more elections in 1990, from the courthouse to the statehouse to Capitol Hill. And with your help, let's prove to the Democrats that the successes of the 1980's are not a fluke, that they in fact spell the beginning of the end of Democratic dominance in the United States Congress.

Thank you all, each and every one of you, for your unbelievable contribution to these goals -- thank you. Barbara and I send you our best wishes. Good night, and God bless each and every one of you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 p.m. in Hall A at the Washington Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to weatherman Willard Scott, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and television host Mary Hart, who sang the national anthem. He also referred to the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Congressional Caucus (NRCC), the Republican Governors Association (RGA), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

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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