Bill Clinton photo

Remarks in Union Township, New Jersey

November 03, 1996

The President. Wow! Thank you for coming out, standing in the cold, making me feel warm. Are you ready for a victory on Tuesday?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Are you ready to work until Tuesday for the victory?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Let me thank the Union High School Band for their music. Let me thank you for your music. Let me thank Christina Skleros—was she fabulous or what? [Applause] She did it for the Yankees, she's doing it for Torricelli.

Mayor Petti, thank you for welcoming us here. Governor Florio, Mayor Del Vecchio, Larry Lerner, thank you for running for Congress— thank you both. Congressman Payne, to all the other dignitaries who are here, let me thank you so much, all of you, for being here. I want to say a special word of thanks to my great friend Whoopi Goldberg for being there for us through this whole campaign. She has always been funny, and she has always been wise. But she is becoming wiser and funnier and more effective for her country, and I'm grateful.

Let me thank Senator Frank Lautenberg for his work, his support, and for standing for you. And let me say a special word of thanks to Bill Bradley. We've known each other a very long time now. I remember so well when he first ran for the Senate from New Jersey. I remember so many things about his distinguished career. He made a difference for New Jersey and a difference for America. He was what we want every public official to be. We wish you well, and we thank you, Bill Bradley. Godspeed; thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was trying to think what, if anything, I might say to all of you who are here, to the large number of undecided voters who remain, to the young people—I know we have people from Rutgers and Kean College here, and I thank you both for being here— what I might say about Bob Torricelli that would have any impact. After all, this decision is New Jersey's decision, and I am just another citizen when it comes to voting and not even a registered voter here.

But I know three things I would like you to know. You know, I think our politics, as I have said many times, has become too personally negative. I think that there is this overwhelming temptation that I see too much in politics to convince the voters that the other people are not only wrong, which is a legitimate thing, but bad folks. I am 2 days from the end of the last campaign I will ever run. I have been more blessed than any American in my lifetime. I have received honors from the American people that no person could rightly claim to deserve. I have done my best to make this a better country. But I have to tell you, in those 20plus years I have learned that most of the people who run for office in both parties are good, honest, hard-working people who love our country, who love their families, and who want to do what is right.

I must say I have—I can't say I've enjoyed but I have been awestruck by the protean battle that Congressman Torricelli and Congressman Zimmer have waged. They remind me of some battles I saw earlier in my youth when I wasn't sure either team would walk off the field.

But there are three things I want you to know that I know about Bob Torricelli. Number one, he is a ferocious fighter for what he believes in, and he believes in New Jersey. And you need somebody who will do that.

Number two, I have spent a lot of time with him in quiet, private moments when there were no cameras, no reporters, no press, no contributors, nobody from New Jersey, no one to impress, nothing to say. He has an extraordinary mind. He has an extraordinary understanding of our country. He thinks about the future. You need someone in the Senate that has the capacity to be a truly great positive force for the United States in the 21st century. Bob Torricelli could become a truly great United States Senator and a great positive force for our country and for New Jersey in the 21st century. I hope you'll give him a chance to do that.

But third and, for the moment, most important, it has fallen to Bob Torricelli and those of like mind and to Al Gore and to me to make the case for America's future that always has to be made at a time of great change. We're going through a huge change in the way we work and live and relate to one another and the rest of the world. I'm sure that you've seen changes here in Union Township in the way families live. I can just give you one little example: When I became President there were 3 million Americans making a living by working at home. Today, because of computer technology, there are 12 million. By the year 2000, there will be 20 million.

Let me give you another example. When I became President there was no known medical treatment for stroke. Medical research has developed one. Two of the genes that cause breast cancer have been discovered. We may be able to eventually cure all cases and to prevent many because of that. For the first time ever, laboratory animals with their spines completely severed have had movement in their lower legs because of nerve transplants from other parts of their bodies to the spine. We're about to build a supercomputer with IBM and the United States Government that will do more calculations in a second than you can do on your hand-held calculator in 30,000 years.

When Hillary and Chelsea and I went to the Olympics to welcome all the teams from around the world, there were people from 197 different racial and ethnic groups there and national groups. The United States is the only great country in the world that has people in it from virtually all of those places.

This is a different world. It is new. It is exciting. It is full of new changes. And every time we go through a period like that, the great question is will we meet these challenges, will we seize these opportunities in a way that helps us to live more closely to those ideals we believe in and to grow as a country together as we go forward together.

Bob Torricelli will help us to do that. The approach we have taken will help us to do that. The great difference here in this election is between those who believe that we're better off on our own and those of us who believe we're better off when all of us work to give each other the tools we need to make the most of our own lives and to build a better future together.

I do believe, as the First Lady said, it takes a village to raise a child and build a country and build a future. I do believe that we're always going to be better off when we build a bridge together to the future that's big enough and wide enough for us all to walk across. But make no mistake about it, in this last Presidential election of the 20th century and the first election of the 21st century, the decision is more important than ordinarily it is, not because of any of us but because of the sheer dimensions of the change through which we are living. We must make the right decision.

This is not an election of party, it is an election of nation and people. The Republican Party at times past has fulfilled this historic role for us. That's what Abraham Lincoln did when he gave his life to save the Union and to end the abominable practice of slavery. That's what Theodore Roosevelt did when he said it's wrong for children to work 70 hours in factories every week; it's wrong for them not to be in school; it's wrong to destroy our natural heritage; it's wrong for monopolies to destroy the free enterprise system. He did that. But today it is our party, it is our administration, and it is Congressman Torricelli who represent the view that we must meet these challenges together and go forward together. And that is the central issue in this election. If you doubt it, I will give you just a few examples.

The environmental example is an easy one for me. We have to prove we can grow the economy and preserve, indeed, enhance the environment. It is wrong, what they tried to do in their budget, to let polluters off the hook. They should pay and we should help to close all these toxic waste dumps that are compromising our children's future. We should do this together, and they should assume their responsibility.

Look at law enforcement. Their budget would have abolished our commitment to put 100,000 police on the street, but we have had 4 years of declining crime and the lowest crime rate in 10 years in the United States. If we can have 4 more, it might actually be safe for everybody to walk on the streets and play in all the parks and be in all the neighborhoods, and we could feel good about America's security again. We need to keep going in the direction we're going. We don't need to take a U-turn. You should stand with law enforcement and support our direction because it's right for America and it will make us a better place.

We need a growing economy to succeed and to do what is best for all of us. Four years ago you took me on faith in New Jersey when I said we could lower the deficit, still invest in an education, expand trade, and grow the economy. You took it on faith when I said, "This liberal-conservative debate doesn't make any sense. I'll shrink the size of Government, but I want us to be stronger, to grow together."

Now you know the evidence. We've got the smallest Federal Government since President Kennedy. We reduced more unnecessary programs and regulations than my two Republican predecessors. We privatized more Government operations than my two Republican predecessors, but we have a program that continues to invest in education, technology, and in our future. And we have 10.7 million new jobs to show for it, a 15-year high in homeownership, a 27-year low in the rates of unemployment and inflation combined.

This country is moving in the right direction. Help us keep it going. We don't need to take a U-turn. We need to balance the budget and have targeted tax cuts for what people really need and for the people who really need it, for education, childrearing, buying that first home, paying for health care. We don't need a big tax cut that they won't tell you how they can pay for, because it will blow a hole in the deficit, raise interest rates, and require bigger cuts in education, the environment, Medicare, and Medicaid than the ones I vetoed. So let's balance the budget, keep the economy growing, and secure the future of New Jersey's children. That's what's at stake in this election, and I want you to help us do it.

And finally, the biggest question of all, in a world that is changing like this, people will have to keep on learning for a lifetime. We have a program to give every child in America world-class educational opportunities, to open the doors of college to all, to hook up every classroom in America to the information superhighway so that every child in New Jersey without regard to income or race or region or national background can have access for the first time in the history of America to the same information in the same time in the same way. It will revolutionize education. Our plan is right, and their opposition to it is wrong. We need your help to build that bridge to the 21st century. We need your help.

We need your help to make sure that we allow families to deduct from their tax bill the cost of a typical community college tuition so everybody can have at least 2 years of education after high school, of any age. We need your help to give people a deduction for the cost of college tuition, of any kind of college tuition, so all people can go to college. We need your help to do that. And we'll get it paid back.

We need your help to make sure every 8year-old child in this country can read, too. I have challenged 100,000 young people to take work-study money that we just appropriated to give them, to use that money to help teach our 8-year-olds to read.

We can do these things, folks, but we can't do them if we take the philosophy embodied in the budget they signed—they passed that I vetoed. And then when I vetoed it, they shut the Government down, not once but twice, to try to force it on me. And they said, "They will never—the President will never allow the Government to be shut down." And I said I'd rather you be inconvenienced for 30 days than hurt for 30 years. I will never let that happen to America. You have to decide. You have to decide.

So on this brisk New Jersey evening—[Laughter]—when you see the flags blowing in the breeze, those are the winds of change of the 21st century. The best days of this country are still ahead of us. The young people in this audience will have more opportunities to live out their dreams than any generation of Americans in history. We will have more opportunity to promote peace and freedom and prosperity for ourselves and the world than any generation of Americans in history.

But we must decide that we really believe down deep inside that there are things we must do together, and that we will all be better off if we give our people not a guarantee but a chance to become what God meant them to be and if we're willing to say, "We don't care anything else about you; if you believe in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, if you're willing to get up and go to work or go to school or do whatever you're supposed to do tomorrow, we don't care where you come from; we don't care whether you're rich or poor; we don't care what your racial or ethnic or religious background is; we don't need to know anything else about you. You are part of our America, and we are going to build an even greater future for the greatest country in all of human history."

Give us a chance on Tuesday. Give Bob Torricelli a chance on Tuesday. Give yourselves a chance on Tuesday. We need you, New Jersey. Be there.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:10 p.m. at the Union Township municipal building. In his remarks, he referred to 8-year-old Christina Skleros, who sang the national anthem; Mayor Jerome Petti of Union Township; Jim Florio, former Governor of New Jersey; Mayor David M. Del Vecchio of Lambertville, candidate for New Jersey's 12th Congressional District; Larry Lerner, candidate for New Jersey's 7th Congressional District; and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg.

William J. Clinton, Remarks in Union Township, New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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