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Remarks at the Closing Session of the Southern Regional Economic Conference in Atlanta

March 29, 1995

Let me close by once again thanking Emory University and its leadership for letting us be here. And thank all of you for giving us a day of your lives, which I will say again, I hope you think it has been well spent. I have been deeply moved by the stories I have heard. I have actually quite a lot more specific and clear sense than I did when the day started about the similarities and the differences of the southern economy as compared with the rest of the country and the differences within the States, which are still not insignificant.

I have a clearer idea of what all of you think, based on your personal experience, is the appropriate role of the Federal Government. And again I will say, it strikes me as not on the extreme that there is a Government solution for most problems or the extreme that it would be better if the Government went away and wasn't around anymore, but at somewhere not in the middle but way beyond that, much more sophisticated.

And I leave this meeting feeling more hopeful, as I always do when I get a chance to talk to the American people, but certainly to be here in a kind of a homecoming setting for me; there's a lot of you I've worked with for more than 10 years.

But I would say this, in view of what both Bill Winter and what Billy Payne said. You know, all of us have a scale inside us, I think, that's sort of a psychological scale about the way we look at the world, and some days there seems to be a little more weight on the positive, hopeful side of the scale, and some days somebody takes some of the weight off and it kind of gets off on the other edge. And we all battle it within ourselves, within our families, within our communities, within our work organizations. And one thing I said this morning I want you to remember: We cannot go on where we have a disconnect between our public conversation, which is so often oriented towards what divides us and how to get us to resent one another, and our public behavior, that is, the things we do together, which is what works—is what Billy said—is when we play by the rules, we work hard, we try to bring out the best in everybody, and we recognize we don't have a person to waste.

The South learned that lesson, I think, better than any other part of the country because of the horrible price we paid for our past. And I think that's why the economy is growing more rapidly than any other part of the country, why Atlanta is the perfect place to host the Olympics, and why we have a chance to see this region lead our country into a very bright 21st century. But we've got a lot of work to do, and I feel today that all of us, and I know the President, at least, has more energy for the tasks ahead and a better idea about how to approach them, thanks to you.

I thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 5 p.m. in the Cannon Chapel Building at Emory University. In his remarks, he referred to William F. Winter, Chair, Advisory Commission on Inter-governmental Relations, and William Porter (Billy) Payne, chief executive officer, Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Closing Session of the Southern Regional Economic Conference in Atlanta Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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