Robert Dole photo

Remarks at the RNC State Chairmen's Meeting in Washington, DC

June 01, 1996

Thank you. Thank you very much. Let me say before I start any formal remarks here, it's good to be in a place where you know everyone.

[laughter]

And having been active, as I have over the years, in the party I think now I'm almost there — but one guy out there, I can't quite — somebody I used to know in Florida — Tommy Thomas. I don't think him, but it might be.

[laughter]

On to San Diego, remember when we were out there earlier? Yes — '71, '72. I stopped by the other day, I was telling Haley we're going to have to have our balloon drop, the balloons are going to have to be about that size.

[laughter]

I had a great honor earlier this morning that I think most people would agree — meeting with Mother Theresa for about 30 minutes — private meeting, no press. She has a great sense of humor.

And she was telling me that somebody asked her one day for her business card. She said, well, I don't have a business card. But she now has a business card. In fact, I have one right here. It's her business card, and she was kind enough to autograph one for me and one for Elizabeth.

But the business card says, — The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. And the fruit of service is peace. Not a bad business card. And we had a — I'd be happy to give this to someone, but I think I'll keep it myself. It's going to bring me luck.

Mary Alice, I appreciate that great introduction. David Marjory , good to have you here. Doing a great job in Kansas. And Kansans are going to have a pretty good seat, I think, at the convention.

[laughter]

[applause]

At least one is.

[laughter]

[applause]

It really is great to be with all of you today, my friends and people I've worked with for some cases 20, 30 years. And we've talked about the party and our success, and we've been together in good times and bad. And we know the difference. But we never gave up — none of us ever gave up on the party.

And we're blessed now with an outstanding chairman in Haley Barbour, and I want to make that very clear to everybody.

[applause]

Anyone who can get $5 million worth of advertising without ever running a spot ...

[laughter]

... is the kind of guy we need right now. Well, I'm just back on a campaign swing that took us up to New Jersey, then out to Colorado. Chuck, good to see you.

Then on to California, and we're going to be fighting for California every day. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

[applause]

And then Illinois, where I was pleased to receive Chicago Bulls jersey, number 23.

[applause]

DOLE: And then yesterday in Ohio, we had a great time.

[applause]

Now you add that up, it's a lot of traveling but it's a 121 electoral votes. That's how I looked at it.

[laughter]

[applause]

And with your help we're going to win them all, plus enough additional states to win back the White House on November 5. That's what the goal's going to be.

[applause]

Win back the White House.

[applause]

And I believe I'm a pretty good judge.

And in traveling across America I feel the tide turning every day. It's turning out there, believe me, it's turning, every day, every day.

[applause]

Because every day more and more Americans are focused on what's at stake in the last election of the 20th century. And I've said this campaign is about telling the truth. Well, in the past few weeks I've begun to tell the truth about Bill Clinton's record and the White House as you might guess doesn't like it one bit.

And recently I spoke the truth about liberal appointees that Bill Clinton has made since coming to office. Judges like Harold Baer of New York, maybe Bill knows him, Bill Powers , who threw out evidence police seized in a drug case because there was nothing suspicious about suspected drug dealers running away from law enforcement officials.

So, he threw it out.

Or prosecutors like the one he appointed in Southern California who apparently have refused to prosecute hundreds of suspects caught smuggling illegal drugs across the border form Mexico. Now let me just say a word about that. If you bring across less than 124 pounds you're not prosecuted if you are a non-citizen. Now if you were a citizen, I guess with an ounce you'd be prosecuted. And it figures about $1,000 a pound, that's $120,000 in raw value, about $200,000 street value, that aren't being prosecuted for bringing this poison into America. They send you back home so you can bring the poison in again. And ask the people of California, ask Dan Lungren who was with me when we talked about this.

So, the Clinton administration cannot defend this record. So, they try to change the subject. They claim that I'm trying to politicize the courts as if the judicial philosophy a President brings to the office is not an important factor in the minds of voters. It is.

[applause]

And they should say ...

[applause]

They say I shouldn't make the importance of judicial appointments an issue in this campaign. Well, I have heard their objections and I have one simple response. The motion is denied.

[laughter]

[applause]

And then I spoke the truth about Bill Clinton's broken promise to end welfare as we know it.

DOLE: I said we must address the national epidemic of illegitimate births, and discourage drug use among welfare recipients, and encourage people on welfare to work.

And I said that the governors should be given the freedom to be innovative, instead of being forced to come to Washington, hat-in-hand, to ask Bill Clinton's permission to design programs to help their individual states. The governors ought to have that right. They shouldn't have to come hat-in-hand to Washington, D.C.

[applause]

And the White House responded falsely by claiming that they had granted every single welfare waiver since Bill Clinton came into office. Not so.

I told the truth about Bill Clinton's record on crime — that it's heavy on promises, but very, very light on accomplishments.

Like their promise to put 100,000 or more police on the streets.

I said the number was actually much, much smaller. A senior White House adviser claimed, yes, it was smaller. It was 43,000.

A few days later Attorney General Reno backtracked and admitted the real number was 17,000.

That's the pattern.

When pressed, they admit they've only done abut 40 percent of what they promised. When pressed even harder, you find out it's barely 17 percent.

Now, my friends, and ladies and gentlemen, the American people deserve nothing less than 100 percent honesty from their president. They deserve nothing less than 100 percent honesty.

[applause]

As many of you know, on May 15, I announced my intention to resign from the United States Senate, because I determined that I think people are a little bit cynical about some of us in politics, regardless of party.

They think, well, they never give up anything. They want to get more and more. They want to take no chances.

And I thought about that a lot. And I could have turned over the leadership to somebody else and gone out and campaigned and said, well, this is my little security blanket in case I lose.

And I could have come back and reclaimed the leadership. But I wanted the American people to understand — Republicans and Democrats and independents, alike — that I'm going to put my career on the line because America's future is on the line. That's how important it is. I'll put my career on the line.

[applause]

Making choices is not always easy, but I think I made the right choice. I can feel it. I can feel the energy all across America. I can feel the energy here today. I made the right choice. We're going to energize this party. I'm fully committed.

And I can now ask you — you know, I've given all I had. Now you give all you have, and we're going to win in November.

DOLE: I said we must address the national epidemic of illegitimate births, and discourage drug use among welfare recipients, and encourage people on welfare to work.

And I said that the governors should be given the freedom to be innovative, instead of being forced to come to Washington, hat-in-hand, to ask Bill Clinton's permission to design programs to help their individual states. The governors ought to have that right. They shouldn't have to come hat-in-hand to Washington, D.C.

[applause]

And the White House responded falsely by claiming that they had granted every single welfare waiver since Bill Clinton came into office. Not so.

I told the truth about Bill Clinton's record on crime — that it's heavy on promises, but very, very light on accomplishments. Like their promise to put 100,000 or more police on the streets.

I said the number was actually much, much smaller. A senior White House adviser claimed, yes, it was smaller. It was 43,000.

A few days later Attorney General Reno back-tracked and admitted the real number was 17,000.

That's the pattern.

When pressed, they admit they've only done abut 40 percent of what they promised. When pressed even harder, you find out it's barely 17 percent.

Now, my friends, and ladies and gentlemen, the American people deserve nothing less than 100 percent honesty from their president. They deserve nothing less than 100 percent honesty.

[applause]

As many of you know, on May 15, I announced my intention to resign from the United States Senate, because I determined that I think people are a little bit cynical about some of us in politics, regardless of party.

They think, well, they never give up anything. They want to get more and more. They want to take no chances.

And I thought about that a lot. And I could have turned over the leadership to somebody else and gone out and campaigned and said, well, this is my little security blanket in case I lose.

And I could have come back and reclaimed the leadership. But I wanted the American people to understand — Republicans and Democrats and independents, alike — that I'm going to put my career on the line because America's future is on the line. That's how important it is. I'll put my career on the line.

[applause]

Making choices is not always easy, but I think I made the right choice. I can feel it. I can feel the energy all across America. I can feel the energy here today. I made the right choice. We're going to energize this party. I'm fully committed.

And I can now ask you — you know, I've given all I had. Now you give all you have, and we're going to win in November.

MORE

[applause]

DOLE: Besides, it occurred to me that telling the truth about Bill Clinton's record is a full-time job, too.

[applause]

And I'm not — wouldn't be surprised if he walked in now to speak to this group.

[laughter]

We don't give out advanced copies of our speech because he'll give them before I do.

[applause]

He finds out I'm giving you a speech on welfare reform, then claims he's been for it all along. He hears my proposals on juvenile crime and then rushes forward a couple of days later and calls for curfews on teenagers.

And let's run down a list of just some of the Republican ideas that Bill Clinton has plagiarized in the last — particularly the last few months. Upholding traditional values by opposing same-sex marriages. For it.

A tax credit for parents who want to adopt. Been there.

A balanced budget. Done that.

[laughter]

That's the 1996 Clinton model. And rather than contend for an agenda of his own, he just adopts Republican rhetoric.

And if Bill Clinton keeps it up, he won't have to give any more of his long-winded speeches. All he has to do is find out my position on the issue and say, me, too. Me, too. Me, too.

[applause]

But the truth is, that a party running on borrowed ideas is running on borrowed time, make no mistake about it.

[applause]

And Republicans have earned the right to stand tall. Once our ideas were ridiculed by the liberals. Now the Democrats' only strategy is to reflect every Republican theme while opposing every Republican reform. And we will win this election on the issues because we are fighting on the right side of history.

We believe that prosperity is the result of individual enterprise, not government planning.

[applause]

We believe that welfare without responsibility undermines human dignity. We believe that societies suffer without families because children suffer without mothers and fathers. We believe that American soldiers should only serve under the Stars and Stripes, not the pale blue flag of the United Nations.

[applause]

And we believe that only American strength and leadership can guarantee peace and freedom. And those are the broad outlines of the campaign between Bill Clinton and myself.

DOLE: And I will stand for historic change, rooted in unchanging principles. Bill Clinton will stand for — well, whatever it is he stands for at the moment.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the issues, as I said, favor us. Mr. Clinton's advisers looked at the issues, and they've analyzed Bill Clinton's record. And they've determined that the real Bill Clinton, the Bill Clinton who raised taxes, who tried to nationalize health care, and appointed a surgeon general who wanted to legalize marijuana, cannot get re-elected.

So, Bill Clinton has been re-invented, again. Bill Clinton has been re-invented again. And there's been a lot of speculation, you might say, in the press about the character issue.

And I'm not in this race — I'll say it now, and I'll say it throughout this campaign, I've said it in the past. I'm not in this race to discuss Bill Clinton's character. I'm running for president because I believe we have a better vision for America.

But every time Bill Clinton says one thing, and does another, every time he talks like a conservative, but governs like a liberal, he puts his character and credibility on the table.

When he promises to cut taxes, then imposes the largest tax cut in history; when he talks tough on crime, and then appoints weak judges and prosecutors; when he pledges welfare reform, but blocks welfare reform not once, but twice; Bill Clinton invites the American people to ask whether or not he can be trusted, and the harsh light of public scrutiny will not be kind.

When you add it up, Americans have a simple choice to make. Bill Clinton is the rear guard, make no mistake about it..

He is the rear guard of the welfare state and the champion of the great society status quo. His party stands for a big government philosophy that is discredited by both history and common sense, and our party is much, much different.

[applause]

And I am proud that our party stands for less government and lower axes, and more freedom and a strong, proud America at home and abroad. That's what our party is all about.

[applause]

And believe me, the American people will not be fooled. Over the last 3 1/2 years, we've all had a first glimpse of what the difference between Bill Clinton and the Republican party means to our nation. In 1992, as you know, they took control of the entire government.

In just 24 months, they gave us — and let me repeat — the biggest tax increase in history. They defunded and demoralized the military; a foreign policy that could be forced to reverse course, even by a mob on a dock in a tiny country like Haiti; and judges that put the rights of criminals over those of victims; and an attempt to nationalize the greatest health care system in the world.

Remember. That's what happened. We tend to forget. But we're going to remind the American people time and time, and time again what happened in 1993, and what happened in 1994. And the American people saw all that, and they didn't like it.

And in 1994, our party took back both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

MORE

DOLE: A long, long time we waited.

[applause]

And then, what happened? Welfare reform passed. A balanced budget passed. Tax cuts for American families passed.

And then what happened? Welfare reform vetoed. The balanced budget vetoed. A tax cut for American families vetoed. Just think where Bill Clinton would have taken America if we had not had a Republican Congress in 1994.

[applause]

Just think about it.

[applause]

And just imagine — it's not going to happen — but just imagine what he'll do if he were to somehow to win a second term. Then his liberalism would be unrestrained by the need to face the voters again in another American election. And with no need for another election conversion, what new taxes would Bill Clinton finally find unavoidable? What liberal judges would he appoint for life? What new government spending programs would be forced on the taxpayers in all your states? And what new government run health care plan would he insist the American people accept?

Bill Clinton recently told the Washington Post that a second Clinton term would look pretty much like the first. And that's what we're afraid of.

[laughter]

[applause]

We don't want to take any chances on that.

[applause]

So, over the past four years the administration has followed a consistent strategy. You all know it. Talk conservative, govern liberal and hope nobody notices. But the American people have noticed. And what they've seen is the old liberal philosophy perfectly summed up by Ronald Reagan.

It's what he said years ago. And this is what the liberals believe. If it's income, tax it. If it's revenue, spend it. If it's a budget, break it. If it's a promise, make it. Well, my pledge to the American people is simply this: To say what I will do and then to do what I say. That's my pledge to you and the American people.

[applause]

To keep my word and to tell the truth.

[applause]

And I would say to my many friends in this audience, this is not my first effort in a campaign for the presidency, and I've thought about it a lot, and I've thought about all the good people who've thought about it a lot and who ran against me in the primaries, not just this time, but in 1988. And they were good and they were strong and they had good ideas.

And I've learned a lot serving under — starting with Eisenhower — all the presidents who have come and gone and they all had their strengths and they've all had their weaknesses and they're all good in some respects.

And I've thought about why do I want to be president? What do I have to offer the American people? And I've thought about it, and I've thought about it and I've said to myself, and I've said to some of you many, many times, I want to be president because I want to return integrity to our government, a mission that's more important this week than even a week ago.

DOLE: And I want to be president because I want to restore the vigor of the American economy, to reach more of the growth and opportunity that open up better lives for Americans, better jobs for Americans and their families and their children.

And I want to be president because I want to restore an instinct for decency — an instinct for decency to our natural life and our culture.

And I want to be president because I want to restore America's strength of purpose in the world. And restore the strong defense that is needed to support it. And I want to be president, I guess finally, because as great as America has been, America has even better days ahead and brighter days ahead.

And I guess you can sort of sum it up. You know, right now we're seeing the Olympic torch being carried across America in relays this year. And that's sort of what the presidency is. It's a relay into the future, with the torch of office being passed from one commander- in-chief to another.

Now, the question the American people must answer — I think there are about 157 days left — is how the flame has been kept these last four years. Has it burned as brightly as it should? Has the torch carrier taken it along the right path?

Does the flame light the way to a better life for ourselves and our children, our parents? Or should the torch be passed to a new president who knows a better way? A president that will hold it higher, a president who will carry it on a steady course and leave it burning even brighter as it's passed to other hands in the years ahead?

I believe the torch should be passed in 1996, and I'm prepared to receive it in 1996.

[applause]

And I want you — and I want you ...

[applause]

Thank you very much.

I would just conclude with this statement. You can't do it alone. I can't. You can't. But we can do it together.

If we all join together, and I want you to join me together — we run this race together — to a brighter and a better and a more hopeful America because that's really what it's all about.

Some may be new in politics here today. Some may be your first meeting. Others of us have been around for a while. And we know what makes it work — ideas, an agenda, a vision, caring about people. We care about people.

And we're going to make it happen. Because in my view, the American people want the change that I talked about. They want us to move ahead. They want to go into the next century with our heads high as Americans. They want to regain our prestige around the world.

They want more hope for their families and for their children. And that's what this race will be about. It will be about the issues. It will be about you and your families and your children and everybody in your community and your state, about bringing people together.

As I've said, this is one America. One America — that's what it's all about. Thank you very much, and God bless America. Thank you.

Robert Dole, Remarks at the RNC State Chairmen's Meeting in Washington, DC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/285567

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