Bill Clinton photo

Remarks to the Saxophone Club in Seattle

September 18, 1996

The President. Thank you. Thank you very much. Believe it or not, we can almost see most of you way in the back and up there. Thank you.

I want to begin by just thanking all of you for being here tonight.

Audience member. Where's Hillary? [Laughter]

The President. Well, Hillary is on her way here. She's been in Denver. We're going to leave for the bus trip here tomorrow, so sometime in the next hour and a half she'll be here.

I want to thank Tom Skerritt for introducing me and for being a good friend and supporter. I know you're all proud of him. I want to thank all the musicians who played tonight, and this is a Saxophone Club event; we've got five saxophones back here. Let's give them all a hand. [Applause] Thank you.

I want to tell you how proud I am to be here with these fine folks who are up on the stage with me. Gary Locke is going to be a great Governor of Washington State. And you can be proud of him. I want to thank my good friend Congressman Norm Dicks for being here and ask for your support for him. And I want to briefly introduce all these other gentlemen behind me because they're going to give you a chance to undo that revolution that Mr. Gingrich brought us 2 years ago. So I'd like to ask them to give you a wave as I call their names: Kevin Quigley; Rick Locke; Brian Baird; Jeff Coopersmith; and this gentleman got more votes than the incumbent Congressman last night and will again in November, Adam Smith. [Applause] Thank you.

Now, were any of you in the Pike Street Market today? I hope you didn't get pneumonia. I couldn't believe that you waited in the rain. You should know I just got the latest figures.

I understand that 35,000 people were put through the mags at the rally tonight. So I thank you for that. I am very grateful for your presence here tonight and for your support.

Audience member. Play the sax!

The President. No, I can't do that. After the election I'll play, after the election. No, I'm not going to do it. You might as well stop now; I'm not going to do it. [Laughter]

You know, that's the way they were when they passed that budget and shut the Government down. I told them I wasn't going to put up with that either. I didn't do it. [Laughter] After the election I'll play, after the election. I've got to get my skill level back up. After the election I'll do that.

Let me tell you something, this election in 7 weeks—or to be precise, 6 weeks and 6 days— is going to have a huge impact on what your country looks like in 50 years. You know that, and you're determined to make it come out right or you wouldn't be here tonight and you certainly wouldn't be in such a good humor, in such high spirits, with such high energy.

But I want to ask you tonight to take the energy, the enthusiasm, the spirit that you're manifesting here and take it out all across this community, all across this State, to your friends in other States for 6 weeks and 6 days. If you'll give us 6 weeks and 6 days, we'll give you 4 great years. And we need your help.

You know, if you look around, if you just look around Seattle today and the State of Washington, you see a lot of living examples of what I am trying so hard to do for America's future. You know, I want to build a bridge to the future that has a growing economy in which everybody can participate, not just a few but everybody. That's why it's important to stop those who tried to cut back on education and instead make a college education available to everybody, bring the Internet to every classroom, make sure we have world-class opportunities.

I want us to go forward as one community building for the future. That's why it's important to balance the budget without walking away from our commitments to education or to the environment or to research. As I said today at the Pike Street Market, the University of Washington is the number one recipient of Federal research investment of any public university in the United States of America. You've got a big stake in our continuing to invest in the future and building a better future.

Just in the last 4 years, I've seen the life expectancy of people with HIV and AIDS more than double in 4 years because of medical research and accelerating movement of drugs to the marketplace. Just a few days before Christopher Reeve spoke so movingly at the Democratic National Convention about research—just a few days—for the first time in history we had an example of lower-limb movement being restored to laboratory animals that had their spines severed by nerve transplants. This is historic in its implications. To turn away from research at the time when things like this are happening is folly.

So, yes, balance the budget, but keep investing in our people and our future so we can go forward together and grow together. You understand that here. You know that here. You know it's a part of our future, and you have to stand for it.

This has also been a great week for America's natural heritage and environment. Last night we reached an agreement to preserve the oldgrowth forests in Washington and Oregon. This week we reached an agreement to preserve and restore salmon on the Columbia River, very important. Today I went to the Grand Canyon, which was first preserved by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 by a declaration of Presidential monument, to declare a monument in southern Utah, 1.7 million acres, the Grand Cascade-Escalante monument. It's a beautiful, priceless treasure for our people and a great thing for our country.

But we have more to do. There is a huge difference here. One party wants to build a bridge to the future; one says we should reach back and build a bridge to the past. One approach says the Government is always the problem; we'd be better off if we were on our own. My approach says—I agree with my wife's book; it takes a village to raise a child, to grow the country, to build a future.

And there is no community in America more outward-looking, more reaching out to the world, more relishing of its diversity than Seattle. And the way you live every day trying to reconcile your differences and appreciate your differences and relish them and build strength out of this community, that's what America has to do.

When Hillary and our daughter and I went to the Olympics to open them and I got to talk to the American team, it occurred to me that if the American team were to take off its uniforms and just walk around in the Olympic Village, you wouldn't have a clue where they were from. I mean we had Hispanic-Americans and we had Nordic-Americans and we had Indian- and Pakistani-Americans and we had Native Americans and we had all kinds of Asian-Americans from all over.

Audience member. Gay Americans!

The President. Yes. We had everybody and all on the Olympic team. So it occurred to me that—and I sat in the Olympic dining hall there, and I ate with these various team members and people came up to me from Ireland and from the Middle East and from various places where I've been working to try to make peace and thanked me for the efforts of the United States. And I thought to myself—I thought to myself, here we got 197 different national groups represented at the Olympics. Our largest county, Los Angeles County, has people from over 150 of those places in one county. In Seattle, you have nearly that many. And yet we're still somehow making it work.

But that's still our biggest challenge. You think about the time I spend as your President trying to get other people around the world to get along instead of look down on each other.

That's the last thing I will say. This is a better country in terms of our achievements, our direction, and our opportunity, our sense of civic responsibility; we're stronger, we're in better shape than we were 4 years ago. By any measure, we're in better shape than we were 4 years ago.

But if you really want to build a bridge to the 21st century, if you want to feel on a daily basis about your country the energy, the elation, the joy you are manifesting here tonight, you know as well as I do that we have to make opportunity available to everyone. We have to give everyone a chance and expect everyone to play the role of responsible citizen. And we have got to find a way to convince everybody who hasn't got it yet that we are stronger, not weaker, because of our diversity. It is our meal ticket to the future. It is our meal ticket to the future. There is not a country in the world as wellpositioned for the 21st century as the United States.

Audience member. You know it!

The President. Nobody. Because of the way we're connected to the rest of the world, because of what we're doing with technology, because of our commitment to educate all of our children, because of the entrepreneurial spirit we have. But the great test is, are we going to be one community? Are we going to make a strength out of what is bedeviling so much of the rest of the world?

It breaks my heart to think that there are people in the Middle East that want to keep the war going. It breaks my heart to see that the peace in Ireland was broken by people who would rather fight about something that happened 300 or 600 years ago instead of letting all the Catholic and Protestant kids go forward into the future together. It's amazing to me that in Bosnia, where they lived together in peace for decades, within a matter of months they started a 4-year war where they were killing each other's kids.

That's why I overreact, by some standards, when we do things like have church burnings here or synagogues are defaced or Islamic centers are destroyed. This is a country which rests on a simple premise. We have never lived up to it perfectly, but we're getting better at it all along, which is why we're still around here after 220 years. And that simple premise is, everybody is equal in the eyes of God. If you want to be an American, what you have to do is believe in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution and show up and behave yourself and do right, and you're part of our country, and you'll be on that bridge to the 21st century. That is what you have to do. That is what you have to do. Will you help me build that bridge?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you give me 6 weeks and 6 days?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Will you help these people to be elected so that we can construct the country we want?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. We need you. Don't get careless. Don't be taking this election for granted. Keep this spirit tonight for 6 weeks and 6 days, and you will really have something to celebrate on November 5th.

Thank you, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:32 p.m. at the Paramount Theater. In his remarks, he referred to actors Tom Skerritt and Christopher Reeve; and Kevin Quigley, Rick Locke, Jeff Coopersmith, and Adam Smith, candidates for Washington's Second, Fourth, First, and Ninth Congressional Districts, respectively.

William J. Clinton, Remarks to the Saxophone Club in Seattle Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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