21st Century Express

Royal Oak, MI; Sunday, August 25, 1996

Remarks by the President to the People of the Royal Oak Area

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years, four more years —

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you so very, very much. You have made me feel so welcome. I never dreamed when we came to Royal Oak there would be such a vast crowd. I thank you — all the way down here, back here behind us. (Applause.) And when Don Johnson was up here talking and he said, Detroit, which is near here, I thought I bet all the people in Royal Oak think of that — Detroit's a town that's near Royal Oak. (Laughter.) I bet that's what they think.

Let me begin by thanking my good friend, Bob Scully, and Don Johnson and all the other law enforcement officials who are here and those throughout the nation for their support. I'm very grateful to them and I'm very grateful to them for joining me here today.

I want to thank Congressman Sandy Levin, your Congressman and a great Congressman. (Applause.) I want you to know that he has worked for you, for your jobs, for your welfare, for the strength of your communities and your values relentlessly. He talks to me all the time, and he wears me out, until I finally do what he thinks I should do for you. And I hope you'll keep him in the Congress. (Applause.)

I'd like to thank all the other law enforcement officials who are here. I'd like to thank those who performed here -- the Kimball High School Madrigal Singers — (applause) — the Stagecrafters, David Sign, the Detroit Redwings who are here — Chris Draper and Stu Grimson. (Applause.) Jim McClain, the M.C. — thank you all very much. I'd like to thank some others who came with me — Congressman Dale Kildee, who's over here on my left. Congressman John Conyers is here. Attorney General Frank Kelly. Former Governor Jim Blanchard, Senator Don Riegle. (Applause.)

I have a lot of other people from Michigan that are traveling with me on this train. We're having a good time. I also have with me an old friend of mine and one of the great American heroes of the civil rights movement — Mrs. Rosa Parks. Please give her a great hand. (Applause.) Thank you, Rosa. God bless you. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you. (Applause.)

I'd also like to acknowledge in the audience a very brave lady, the mother of another brave woman who was to visit me in the White House next week. But Denise Marie Lazar (phonetic) just passed away from Huntington's disease. Her mother, Charlene Solo, is here in the audience. I'd like for you to give her a hand. (Applause.) She's brave lady and she's done a good job. Charlene, where are you? Thank you.

Folks, I've had a wonderful day. We've had great crowds from West Virginia to Kentucky, all through Ohio and now in Michigan. But I don't have any idea how many folks we have here. They're way back down the street there, way off down here, way off behind us, and we're glad to see you. (Applause.) We're glad to see you.

I want to say to all of you that I came through here on this train for two reasons. First, I wanted to look out into this crowd and see your faces. I wanted to see the people that I have worked for for these last four years. And I wanted you to know I'm still working for you and I'm proud to be your President. (Applause.) Secondly, I wanted you to see this train. This train is not just on the right track to Chicago; it's on the right track to the 21st century, and we're going to keep it there. (Applause.)

You know, in — we need a doctor over here. We've got one here. We'll get somebody here in a minute. We've got a doctor with us. We need a doctor over here in the crowd. We'll be right there. Let me say — here we go. We're getting somebody there right now. There you go. Here's my medic. He'll be right there. Done. You all can't do anything about that. Let's go on with the program. She's going to do a good job. She's terrific.

Four years ago, when I came to Michigan, I was hoping I'd do pretty well here because half the people that lived in Arkansas in the 1950s moved to Michigan to get a job. (Laughter and applause.) And the dream they had was largely fulfilled — the dream of being able to find a good job and educate their children and have a secure retirement and build a good life and a strong community and a strong country.

Four years ago I was afraid that dream was about to be lost. We had high unemployment, stagnant wages, no strategy for meeting our challenges, and a rising tide of cynicism among our people. Four years later it's a lot different. We wouldn't have this crowd here if you were cynical today, and we thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

Let me also say that the reason I ran for President four years ago is the reason I seek reelection — I wanted to prepare our country for the 21st century. I want us to go into that next century, only four years away now, roaring with the American Dream alive for every person, a possibility for every person to live up to their God-given abilities, for every person to live out their dreams — no matter where they live, what they start with, what their racial or their religious background is. (Applause.)

And we have followed a simple strategy: Create more opportunity for people, expect more responsibility from our people, and tell everybody that we have got to go forward together. We have got to go forward together. We know that this country, when we're together, never loses. And I don't know how you feel but I look around the world today — I spent so much time as your President trying to bring peace to places like Bosnia, the Middle East, Northern Ireland — dealing with the slaughters in Rwanda and Burundi. Why? Because all over the world there are people who insist upon looking down on each other because of their racial, their ethnic, their religious or their tribal differences; instead of joining together hand in hand to move forward. And whenever I see that in America I want to stamp it out. That's why I have done everything I could to make us all stand up against the church burnings. (Applause.) And whenever a synagogue or a Muslim center is defaced, it's wrong. (Applause.)

We have to fight that. The America I want for our children is one that says we don't care anything else about you if you believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, you work hard, pay your taxes, obey the law and believe in our country — you're our kind of American and we're going with you into the 21st century. (Applause.)

Now, this has been a great day for me, and last night was a great night when we started our convention. (Applause.) But I want to tell you something about our convention last night, we did something that had never been done before. We just had citizens talk. We had an auto worker from Toledo, that I met with again this morning. Toledo, they work — it's the oldest auto plant in America , 1910, but they're selling Jeeps in Japan with right-hand drive. (Applause.) It's a plant where there's a genuine partnership between workers and management, where 70 percent of the workers are in continuing education programs and they got a $8,000 bonus last year because they have people who believe that when a company makes money the workers are entitled to their fair share. (Applause.)

And I hope that all of you in Michigan are justly proud that for the first time since the 1970s it is the United States that is producing more and selling more automobiles than any other country in the entire world. (Applause.)

We had a police officer named Mike Robbins from Chicago there. I don't know if you heard him speak, but I'll never forget when I met him and he said, I served my country in Vietnam, in Desert Storm and by the grace of God I was never harmed; I came home to serve my country on the streets of Chicago and within 45 seconds I had nine bullets in my body from an assault weapon. And when I heard the President say we all had to speak up, I decided if I got out of my hospital bed I was going to do my part. Mike Robbins is the kind of person I'm fighting for, the kind of person we need in uniform today. The kind of person that's giving his life for our people. (Applause.)

There was a young Puerto Rican American girl, an immigrant to our country, who dropped out of high school who spoke. She got in AmeriCorps, our national service program. She started helping younger children to learn and she decided she was pretty smart herself. So she went back and finished high school and she's going to a wonderful school, Brown University, and she's going to be a doctor and give something back to her country because we gave her a chance to earn her way through college through national service. (Applause.)

There was a retired general, who is now the superintendent of schools in Seattle, Washington, reminding us that education, too, is part of our national security. (Applause.) And, of course, there were Jim and Sarah Brady talking about the Brady Bill and they were perfectly wonderful. And then there was Christopher Reeve and his magnificent performance — reminding us that we dare not balance the budget on the backs of the American families with handicapped people and we dare not — dare not — walk away from our obligations to research, to find the answers to the medical and scientific mysteries that still confront us.

And I tell you, I was proud of him and I was proud of him for saying that not everybody who gets hurt like that is an actor with a comfortable income. That's why we have to preserve Medicaid for middle class families with disabilities who deserve to have that kind of help. (Applause.)

I say that because, folks, we want our convention to be about you, not about us. We want our convention to be about the connection between our nations leaders and the people who really count — people who live in places like Royal Oak, Michigan, all over the United States of America. (Applause.) Now, you think about where we are now compared to where we were four years ago, with opportunity, responsibility and community; 10 million more jobs; a 60 percent reduction in the deficit; 4.5 million new homeowners; 10 million homeowners who have refinanced their homes at lower interest rates; a couple a million college students eligible for lower cost college loans with better repayment terms — 1.5 million fewer people on welfare and a 40 percent increase in child support payments in the last four years. (Applause.) Fifty million more Americans breathing cleaner air, more toxic waste sites cleaned up in three years than in the previous 12 years. (Applause.) I am proud of that and you should be, too. (Applause.)

But, folks, we also want our convention to be about the future, the future we have to build together. And I want to talk to you about that for a few minutes. We've gotten our economic house in order. We have record exports, record small business starts, and we are in good shape overall. But you know as well as I do, there are still a lot of people working hard who'd like a better chance to fully participate in the American Dream. There are still these kids coming up that we have to get an education. And I want to focus on not what we've done the last four years but what we're going to do for the next four. (Applause.)

And let me just give you a few examples. Number one

AUDIENCE: No scab workers! No scab workers!

THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: No scab workers! No scab workers!

THE PRESIDENT: Look, can I say something? Wait a minute. You know I agree with that. Get yourself a Congress that agrees with me. (Applause.)

So I want you to think about this. Number one, we've got to keep this economy going. And that means we have to find a way to balance the budget and protect Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, and not raid workers' pension funds and not raise taxes on the lowest income working people, and all the other things that were in that budget I vetoed last year, and I'm glad I did. (Applause.)

But I want you to listen. We do have to balance the budget. Why? Why have we brought this economy back? Because for the first time since before the Civil War we brought the deficit down four years ago, and interest rates have been lower. What happens when interest rates go down? Your home mortgage payment, your car payment, your credit car payment is lower. More important, a business person can go to the bank, borrow money cheaper, and invest to create more jobs and higher incomes for the American people.

So I say to you, I want you to have a tax cut, but I want you to have one that we can pay for, balance the budget, and invest in education and the environment and Medicare and Medicaid. (Applause.) Because we have still — if we blow this deficit up again after getting it down, what will happen? Higher car payments, higher home mortgage payments, higher credit card payments, fewer jobs, a slower economy. We've got to keep this thing going on the right track, folks. We've got to have a tax cut that we can afford that helps families to educate their children, deal with their health care problems, get that first-time home, but still keeps the economy growing and going.

The second thing we've got to do is to make sure we do an even better job of educating our children. (Applause.) And our adults. (Applause.) In the next four years I intend to spend a great deal of time trying to make sure that every single person in this country gets a world-class education. (Applause.) And I just — let me mention two or three things.

Number one, in Wyandotte earlier today I said that I want us to have a national goal that by the year 2000 every single child in America in the 3rd grade will be reading well, at grade level and not be behind. Every one. And we can do that. (Applause.) We can do it.

Number two, I want us by the year 2000 to make sure every single classroom in America and every library not only has computers, not only has teachers qualified to use the computers and teach the kids, but is hooked up to the Information Superhighway so everybody can know everything every other class can know. (Applause.)

Now, you think about this. You think about this. If we can do this, it means in the poorest inner-city school, in the most remote rural mountain village, they will have access to the same information that people in the wealthiest schools do today. We can explode learning in America if we just give everybody the same resources. (Applause.)

Finally, finally, we have to make it possible for everybody to go on after high school. And my goal is, by the year 2000 to have the 13th and 14th grades, at least two years of education after high school as universal as high school is today. (Applause.) How are we going to do it? We're going to do it with a tax cut we can afford — a $1,500 tax credit for the first two years of education after high school; a $10,000 tax deduction for all education after high school for middle class families in America to get people back in school and pay for their education. (Applause.)

Folks, we also have to recognize that there are other things to be done to help working people constitute their lives strong and good. Last week we had a good week for America's families. I signed the bill that raised the minimum wage for 10 million Americans. (Applause.) But I want you to know what else it did. I want you to know what else it did. It also gave a tax break to small businesses that invest more in their business, and made it easier for small business people and their employees to take out retirement plans and for those folks to keep those retirement plans when they change from job to job. Since most people work for small businesses, that's important for America. We need for those people to be able to have a retirement. (Applause.)

And finally, let me tell you what the minimum wage bill did. It also gave a $5,000 tax credit to any family that adopts a child, and more if they adopt a child that has a disability. And it removed the longstanding prejudice against cross-racial adoptions. There are lots of kids out there without a home. I think we can give more of them homes now. That's pro-family, pro-business, pro-work. (Applause.)

The other thing that Congress did last week that I especially liked was to pass the Kennedy-Kassebaum health reform bill. What it says to 25 million Americans in this shape, nobody can deny you health insurance anymore because somebody in your family has been sick. And if you change jobs or you lose your job, they can't automatically take your health insurance away from you. That's a great thing. That's a great thing. (Applause.)

But we have more to do. That's a great first step. That was in the health care reform I proposed in '94. I'm so proud of the Congress for adopting it. But now we need to recognize that there are still some things we have to do. Just because you have a right to keep your health insurance doesn't mean you can afford to pay for it.

The next step is in the balanced budget plan I have presented — give unemployed workers and their families health insurance for six months after they're unemployed, help them get — (applause). And then, we have to find a way for small business people to join together in pools and buy good insurance policies like we federal employees have at an affordable price. And that's the next step. (Applause.)

And there was a lady that had a sign back there I want to comment on. We also have to find a way to provide access to mental health benefits and health insurance. It's a very important thing for our country. (Applause.) The Vice President's wonderful wife, Tipper Gore, has worked so hard on that. So there is still a lot to do.

We passed the welfare reform bill, but let me tell you something, folks, that is the beginning, not the end of this process. The reason I signed that bill was, first of all, we've already reduced the welfare rolls by a million and a half by putting people in programs to move from welfare to work. But we need to do more.

So when the Congress said, okay, I'll give in — I had to veto two of those bills first — we'll give people on welfare their health care, we'll provide more for child care, we'll make sure the kids have food to eat, I said, now, we will give what used to be the welfare check to the states, the federal and the state money. But they then have to decide how to move people from welfare to work. That's our next challenge.

We have to get more jobs in the inner cities, more jobs in the isolated rural areas. If you're going to tell somebody they have to go to work because they're able-bodied, they have to have work to find. They have to have a job to go to, and we've got to do that. (Applause.)

So there's a lot to do. Let me give you another example. We worked hard to prove that you could grow the economy and clean up the environment, and I believe you can. The toxic waste sites, the clean air, the Safe Drinking Water Act. We had adopted a revolutionary pesticide protection act so that children's food will be more free of dangerous pesticides. We are moving forward. We've changed the meat and poultry inspection system of the country for the first time in 70 years, and that's important. We have to do more.

One of the most important things that we're doing that we have to continue is the work we began with the auto industry in 1993, in partnership to develop a new clean car that can get three times the mileage of the present cars, clean up the air and save money for the American people and people all over the world. (Applause.)

So there's lots to do. We want to clean up two-thirds of the toxic waste dumps that are still out there. There's lots to do. And I want you to support that. We have an interest in America, in a clean economy — I mean, a strong economy and a clean environment, and we can do both.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Clean up the —

THE PRESIDENT: You can say that, I can't. (Laughter.)

I just want to mention a couple of other things. These fine police officers have been here. In 1994, a lot of the folks that voted with them for the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban and the 100,000 police got beat when they ran for reelection. They got beat in places like Michigan and Arkansas because we live in a state — I did and you do — where probably nearly half the people have a hunting or a fishing license or both. I guess I was 12 years old the first time I picked up a .22 and started shooting cans off fence posts.

But, you know, I couldn't figure out what they were all saying back in '94, — "well, if this is a terrible thing if we check to see if a person's got a criminal record before we give them a handgun." "This is a terrible thing that we're not going to keep pedaling these assault weapons that were designed to kill people." And a lot of folks said to folks in Michigan and Arkansas, you're going to lose your rifle; boy, they're coming after you next. Let me tell you something, folks. We've had two deer seasons since then, not a single Michigan or Arkansas hunter has lost the rifle they were hunting with in 1994. Not a one. Not a one. Not a one. (Laughter.)

But according to what Sarah Brady said last night, 100,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers did lose the right to get a handgun and we're a safer country because of that. (Applause.) I would never — I would never knowingly do anything to interfere with the right of the American people to hunting and sporting, use of their weapons. But I'm telling you, folks, a lot of those folks who talk about it have never seen the war zone that a lot of American children live in. I have looked into the faces of people who live on blocks where 13 year old kids have been shot down on lark drive-by shootings. I was as — as I said last night, the convention was opened by a man who fought in Vietnam without incident and had his body riddled with nine bullet holes in 45 seconds.

So we can find a way to hunt and to fish and to shoot in contest and to have a big time and protect people. Surely, we can. I want the Congress to ban these cop-killer bullets. They're fighting that, too. (Applause.)

We need a doctor. They'll get it. We got it. The doctor is already there.

You know, I have never seen a deer in a bullet-proof vest. (Laughter.) And if they can show me one I'll reassess my position on this issue. But until I find a deer or a duck or a wild turkey wearing a Kevlar vest, I'm going to stick with these folks and be for banning those cop-killer bullets. (Applause.)

One last thing. I think one of the biggest dilemmas our people face today, I look out here and see all of you — need a doctor over there? Connie, can we send — we need someone back in the back over here. We'll be right there. Just hold up the signs where you are. Somebody hold up the sign, we'll send somebody right back there.

One of the biggest problems people face is trying to balance the demands of child-rearing and work. I bet there is not a family here that can't remember a personal instance where you were torn between the demands of your job and the demands of your children. I'll bet you can't think — there is not anybody here that hasn't been through that. That's why I'm so proud that we passed the Family and Medical Leave law. Twelve million Americans got to take some time off from work without losing their job. (Applause.)

One other thing, you know it hasn't hurt the economy. We've got ten and a quarter million new jobs and a record number of new small businesses. But 12 million families got to be there when the baby was born or the parent was sick, without losing a job. And I'd like to see that law expanded so that people could have just a little time to make those regular doctor's appointments and regular teacher's appointments with their kids or they're parents. (Applause.)

I'd like to see the provisions of my balanced budget bill passed so that people on Medicare, that ladies can get regular mammograms who are Medicare-eligible. I'd like to see people who have someone in their families with Alzheimer's they're trying to take care of, be able to access some respite care. These things will save us money. They will make us a more humane country. They will strengthen America's families. (Applause.)

So I ask you, if you agree we're better off than we were four years ago, if you agree we've got to keep working until we create opportunity for all Americans, make all communities responsible and go forward together, I want to ask you if you will, at least in your mind and heart, will you get on this train with me for 70 days and keep us on the right track? (Applause.) Will you stay with me to take America into the 21st century? (Applause.) Do you believe we can do it?


THE PRESIDENT: I know we can. Thank you and God bless you all. (Applause.)

Paid for by Clinton/Gore ’96 General Committee, Inc.