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Teleconference Remarks on the Expansion of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport

May 20, 1996

The President. It's Bill Clinton. How are you?

Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara. Well, I'm great. How are you? We have a room full of supporters here.

The President. Well, I'm very glad that Secretary Pena and I could join you today, at least by telephone, to congratulate all of you who have worked so hard to make the expansion of the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport a reality. I know that a lot of people deserve praise for their hard work, but I want to say a particular thanks to Senator Carl Levin and Governor Engler and former Governor Jim Blanchard and Congressman Dingell, Congresswoman Rivers, Congressman Knollenberg, the executive vice president of Northwest Airlines, Don Washburn. But I especially want to thank you, Ed McNamara, for all the work you've done. We had to have this day; otherwise I could never look at you again without remembering all the times you twisted my arm and put bruises all over me. [Laughter]

Mr. McNamara. Well, you've got to know we never would have done it without you. You were the most key individual in this whole show, and you've helped turn Michigan's greatest generator of jobs and economic activity into a reality. So we're grateful.

The President. I'm very pleased that we can provide some extra funding. The $150 million in new funds, in addition to the millions already committed, as you know, will fund the infrastructure for the airport's domestic and international terminals. And this is just a great example of the kind of partnership we need between the Federal, State, and local governments and the private sector.

And I agree with you, it's going to have a tremendous impact on Michigan's economic future. It will help to create nearly $3 billion in business activity in the Detroit area every year. It will create thousands of jobs. And it will enable the metro airport to be a worldclass airport well, well into the 21st century. So it's very exciting.

And let me say that there's one other person that deserves some credit here, and I want to introduce him, our Secretary of Transportation, Federico Pena, who strongly supported this project and worked with us. And I'd like to have Secretary Pena say a word to you, too.

[At this point, Secretary Pena reviewed the economic impact of the airport expansion.]

Mr. McNamara. You know, Secretary, Don Washburn and I still remember the cattle prod you used to put us back at the table, and it was very effective. You might tell the President, and I might also tell you, that Mayor Dennis Archer just dropped by to say hi and to congratulate us. He happens to be in the room with us also.

The President. Hello, Mayor.

Mayor Archer. How are you doing, Mr. President?

Mr. McNamara. He says, "How are you doing, Mr. President?"

The President. I'm doing great. I think you all are too.

Mr. McNamara. We certainly appreciate all of your efforts and the fact that you were with us today. And we will promise not to make any more great demands on you for at least a couple of years.

The President. Just make the most of this. I know you will.

Mr. McNamara. I got my fingers crossed.

The President. Thank you all. Goodbye.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:24 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. John Engler of Michigan.

William J. Clinton, Teleconference Remarks on the Expansion of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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