[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book I)]
[January 31, 1994]
[Pages 148-150]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 148]]

Remarks at the Democratic Governors Association Dinner
January 31, 1994

    Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Governor Bayh, Father 
Malloy, Chairman Wilhelm. I want to begin by just congratulating 
Governor Bayh and your dinner committee, Bob and the others and Katie 
Whelan, on this wonderful evening in which you have raised $2 million to 
continue the work of changing our country for the better.
    I was outside in the holding room looking at Evan Bayh introducing 
me, and I thought to myself, was I ever that young? [Laughter] Three 
years ago Roy Romer invited all of the Democratic Governors up to 
Colorado so we could powwow about the coming Presidential election. And 
we all talked and emoted and said everything we had to say, and as 
usual, Ned Ray McWherter just sat there and didn't say a word--
[laughter]--looking like a cross between a country sage and the Grand 
Old Opry's Buddha. And all of a sudden, he said, ``You know something, 
we need to nominate somebody in '92 that's a new face, that's younger, 
got a head full of hair and a bunch of new ideas.'' And I got all puffed 
up, and he said, ``Go get that Bayh boy and put him in there.'' 
    I am so glad to see all of you here. I enjoyed my time with the 
Governors this morning and will again tomorrow. And I've enjoyed having 
the chance to visit with so many of you. I'd like to, before I say 
anything else, just say a personal word of thanks to my former 
colleagues who are leaving the statehouses this year:
    My good friend John Waihee from Hawaii, who headed our campaign out 
there last year--it was our first Western States victory--and who lives 
in a State that has proved now for many years you can actually have a 
comprehensive, affordable health care system that covers everybody, 
something the Republicans don't believe can be done.
    Governor Cece Andrus of Idaho, the only person along with Bruce King 
and me, the three of us, the only remaining survivors who actually 
served as Governors in the seventies, the eighties, and the nineties. I 
will miss him enormously and his wisdom.
    Joan Finney, who leaves after 20 years in statewide office and led 
an awful lot of fights out there. And I want to thank her for a lot of 
things but especially for being a source of personal encouragement to me 
in the last year. Thank you, Joan, and good luck, and God bless you.
    I want to say a special word of appreciation to one of my 
neighboring Governors now, William Donald Schaefer of Maryland, who has 
done a lot of things, been more outspoken than me. But don't you ever 
forget this: In addition to helping revitalize and rebuild Baltimore, he 
was out there fighting to do something sane and strong about guns a long 
time before it was popular. He was on the cutting edge of change.
    My friend and neighbor David Walters of Oklahoma, who I saw take 
over that State when it was in terrible shape financially. When the 
price of oil collapsed, it was good for the rest of us, but it was awful 
for Oklahoma and for Texas. And I saw them make improvements in 
education and turn their economy around, redo the entire budget, thanks 
to David's leadership. And his friendship and cooperation with me when I 
was his neighbor is something I will never forget, and I thank you, 
    I'd like to say a special word of appreciation, too, to my friend 
and colleague Barbara Roberts, the Governor of Oregon, who has had more 
difficult, courageous stands on more issues, she has had more things to 
face than anybody. And she had one of those catch-22 situations where 
the voters said, ``We're going to do away with one form of funding and 
leave it to you, Barbara, to figure out how to pick up the pieces.'' And 
she did it with good cheer, without ever complaining, and with a great 
deal of courage. She is a real example, I think, not only for women 
officeholders but for all elected officials everywhere, and I thank her 
for that.
    Finally, I don't know if he's here tonight, but I have to say a word 
of awe-inspired respect for Bob Casey of Pennsylvania for his personal 
courage and his record as Governor. I thought when he got sick that if 
anybody could ever come back, he could. He is tough as a boot, but he 
loves his State. And he said once that he knew he would be elected 
Governor of Pennsylvania on his fourth try because he was more

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like Pennsylvania than anybody else running. That's a compliment to him 
and a compliment to Pennsylvania.
    And finally, I want to thank my neighbor and friend whom I made fun 
of, but who has been my counselor for many years now, who's calmed me 
when I was excited and lifted me up when I was down. Ned Ray McWherter 
is one of the finest people I've ever met, and I thank him. And I'm 
certainly going to miss him as a Governor.
    Now I want to mention two other people. You know, I used to be 
chairman of the DGA, but I couldn't raise this much money. [Laughter] 
But when I was chairman 5 years ago, we had just lost our third straight 
Presidential election, and people said, well, the Democratic Party is on 
its way out. And there were two people who ran for office in that year 
who proved them wrong, Doug Wilder and Jim Florio. And what they did to 
win is something we would do well to remember even though we have the 
White House and a good record in 1994, and that is, they waged tough, 
outsider, aggressive, pro-change campaigns. And when they got in, they 
were as good as their words. Both of them brought extraordinary 
discipline to their budgets under difficult circumstances, and they will 
be thanked for it for a long time to come, and especially in New Jersey, 
which was in terrible budget shape when Jim Florio took over. Both of 
them fought for tougher and more responsible laws affecting guns in 
their respective States, successfully. Both of them fought for a 
brighter future. And I know that we all wish for them a bright future. 
They gave it to their States, and we hope that they get it in turn.
    Finally, I want to say a special word of thanks to the DGA's 
treasurer for a long time now, my friend Bob Farmer, one of the first 
people who signed on to my Presidential campaign. And Bob Farmer could 
talk an owl out of a tree if he made up his mind to do it. He could 
raise $1 million at a convention of bankrupts if he made up his mind to 
do it. [Laughter] And he's been working hard for the DGA for a long time 
now. And I know that as we go into this very vigorous and challenging 
election year with 36 seats up, that every person in this room joins me 
in our appreciation, our gratitude, our support, and our friendship for 
the years and years of work that Bob Farmer has given to the Democratic 
Governors. And I thank you very much, Bob.
    Ladies and gentlemen, this has been an invigorating year. It's been 
full of challenge and change. And many, many times I have felt that I 
was fighting a war on two or three fronts, not only a war to change the 
policies of the Government but to change the attitudes of the people who 
live in this city about what is possible, in an environment that I 
found, frankly, pretty negative when I got here and one always 
vulnerable to being sidetracked by some political distraction, always 
vulnerable to being sidetracked by what is negative, to playing to 
people's fears instead of their hopes, to assuming the worst instead of 
working for the best.
    I was raised to believe that most people are good people--if you 
give them a chance, they'll do the right thing--and that ordinary people 
will do extraordinary things if they're just given the opportunity to do 
it. I tried to put together a government of people who felt the same 
way, who looked like America, who shared the experiences of America, and 
who could work with people at the grassroots to do that. And after a 
year in which we have a lot of things we can be proud of--and I thank 
the Democratic Committee for that fine film that was just shown--the 
American people are beginning to believe it, too: that we really can 
change things, that politics is for producing things, not for posturing, 
that it really is for moving forward and bringing people together.
    I ran for this job for three reasons. One is I thought we were going 
in the wrong direction economically, and I wanted to revitalize the 
country. The second is I was convinced we were coming apart as a people 
when we ought to be coming together and that unless we worked to rebuild 
our sense of common community and our grassroots communities and our 
families, our sense of togetherness, we could never be what we ought to 
be. And finally, I did it because I wanted to restore faith in the 
political system. I wanted the political system to work for the people 
of this country instead of having it work the other way around. And I 
think in the last year, we have made major strides in all three areas.
    As my colleague and the best--I would argue that history will 
record--the best Vice President in the history of the Republic, Al Gore, 
said, ``What should be up is up, and what should be down is down.'' 
[Laughter] But if we want to keep what should be up, up and what should 
be down, down, then the Democratic Governors

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need to be up in '94. We need to win these seats.
    I am convinced that the yearning of the American people to see a 
responsive, change-oriented, open political system, that that appetite 
has not been satisfied; it has only been barely whetted. The American 
people think, well, we've made a good start, but we've got a long way to 
go. And you know as well as I do that the things that I'm trying to do 
up here cannot be done by the President and the Congress alone. I see 
many Members of Congress here tonight, and I am delighted to see them 
here making common cause with you.
    If you think about what it is we seek to do in reviving the economy, 
or totally reorganizing our job training program so that people who lose 
their jobs can constantly be retrained for the jobs of the future, or 
developing a health care system that will be more efficient and more 
effective and provide comprehensive benefits to all Americans, or 
reforming the welfare system, or having a crime bill that is both tough 
and smart--none of these things can really be done in ways that change 
the lives of the American people unless the people who occupy the 
statehouses are committed to that change, unless they think every day 
about what they can do to change the lives of the people who live and 
work in their States.
    I was raised to believe that public service can be a noble 
profession and that people who work in it and give themselves to it and 
spend themselves completely in the attempt to achieve great things are 
doing the work of citizenship in a profoundly important way and should 
be bound to, not divided from, the rest of the American people. That is 
the spirit that the Democratic Party has to bring not only to national 
politics but also to every one of these governorships. And if we can do 
that, we will not only win the governorships in 1994, we will be able to 
continue to change the country. And that is how we will be judged in 
1996 and beyond: Are we doing what we said we would do? We have a bigger 
burden to bear than our adversaries, because we don't enjoy getting up 
every morning and saying no to family leave, no to motor voter, no to 
meaningful deficit reduction, no, no, no. We want to say yes, we believe 
we can do better. And our burden must be borne by you.
    I've told a lot of people that in many ways being Governor was the 
best job anybody could ever have. And I want to thank you again, all of 
you who have been my colleagues over the years, for your friendship, 
your wisdom, your support, and your continuing insights. It's easy for 
us up here in Washington to get out of touch with what's going on in the 
heartland, and we depend upon you to keep us in touch. But we're glad to 
be here; I am, this association is, the national Democratic Party is, 
Members of Congress who are here are. We're glad to be here to support 
the efforts of the people who want the statehouses to be the people's 
houses. The White House belongs to the people of this country tonight a 
lot more than it has in many years in the past, and we are going to keep 
working together until we do what we promised to do in 1992.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:08 p.m. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. In 
his remarks, he referred to Gov. Evan Bayh of Indiana; Edward A. Malloy, 
former president, University of Notre Dame; David Wilhelm, chairman, 
Democratic National Committee; Bob Rose, dinner chairman; Katie Whelan, 
executive director, Democratic Governors Association; Gov. Roy Romer of 
Colorado; Gov. Ned Ray McWherter of Tennessee; Gov. Bruce King of New 
Mexico; Gov. Joan Finney of Kansas; and Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of