[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book II)]
[October 3, 1994]
[Pages 1686-1689]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Victory Rally for Senator Charles S. Robb in McLean, 
October 3, 1994

    The President. Thank you. Thank you so much. You have already 
answered one of my questions--[laughter]--and that is whether you were 
going to take this laying down or whether you were going to stand up and 
fight for the future of your State.
    I am so delighted to be here with all of you, and I'm glad to see 
Lieutenant Governor Beyer here tonight and all of the other local 
officials. Toddy, you did a terrific job introducing us, and you ought 
to be better known than we are. Thank you. And I'm glad to be here with 
my good friend Senator Robb and with my good friend Lynda and their 
children. You know, we have been friends a long time. And we have seen a 
lot of things happen in this country. And Chuck Robb and I, during most 
of the eighties, were Governors. You heard Toddy talking about what he 
did for education here, how hard he worked to build Virginia's economy.
    I want to say two things about our common experience because it 
really will craft what the differences are in this race. And whether you 
can get this across to the other voters in Virginia will determine what 
they do. The first thing was that all during the eighties, we thought, 
Chuck and I and a number of others, that the Democratic Party had to 
change, that we had to be identified with mainstream issues, that we had 
to reach out to a broad base of supporters,

[[Page 1687]]

that we could never give up our devotion to the rights of individual 
citizens, to the obligation to fight for equal opportunity, but that we 
also had to be prudent in spending for economic growth, tough on crime, 
and facing the relevant problems of the country. That's how we got into 
the whole Democratic Leadership Mainstream Forum group, to try to move 
this country forward beyond left and right and beyond all the 
partisanship that had paralyzed Washington, DC, for too many years.
    But the other thing that both of us had to do, even to make a career 
in public life, was to fight against what has been the brilliant 
strength of the Republicans, particularly the Republicans on the right, 
for many years now, and that is that they are better talkers than we are 
and--and listen to me now--and they raise more money than we do to turn 
their opponents into aliens. Right? [Laughter] How do they do that? They 
do that by exalting fear over hope, by exalting blame over 
responsibility, by exalting division over unity. That is what they do. 
And they are brilliant at it. They sort of try to turn you into a space 
alien. I tell people--and they are devoted to it. And they are brilliant 
at saying one thing and doing another.
    So Chuck Robb and I, for most of our lives, tried to change two 
things: We wanted to change the Democratic Party from a left-right 
debate to a forward-backward debate, to broaden our base and move 
forward; and we wanted to break the stranglehold that the national 
Republican Party had on ordinary Americans because they were not acting 
in their interest; they just told them what they wanted to hear and 
demonized their opponents. Now, here in this election, you see it all 
being played out again here in Virginia and throughout the country.
    Three years ago today, I announced for President. And I must say, my 
mother was the only person who thought I could win that day. [Laughter] 
The incumbent President was over 70 percent in public approval. But what 
I didn't like was that we had won the cold war and we were in danger of 
losing the peace, that the economy was going down, the country was 
becoming more divided. I did not want my child and the children of this 
country to grow up to be the first generation of Americans to do worse 
than their parents. I saw an opportunity for this country to enjoy peace 
and prosperity, to build a unity out of our diversity, to move into a 
relationship with the rest of the world unknown in all of human history 
if only we had the courage, the wisdom, and the good old-fashioned 
common sense to line up our problems and take them on one at a time and 
go on into the future. That's why I ran.
    And I had these grand dreams that I would come to Washington and not 
only be able to move the country forward but that we would launch--
people like Chuck Robb and others and I would launch a new bipartisan 
debate where people of good faith in both parties would argue about what 
ideas would best take America into the future and would wind up 
cooperating on the important issues of the day to move the country 
forward, knowing that at election time, there would always be enough to 
argue about. [Laughter]
    Well, let me tell you what has happened instead. We came here with 
America suffering from terrible social problems, crime, violence, drugs, 
family breakdown. They had been developing for 30 years, folks. We came 
here with America suffering from serious economic problems where many, 
many wage earners were working longer and longer and longer and never 
getting a wage that kept up with inflation and often losing jobs and 
taking lower paying jobs because of the pressures of a global economy.
    And we came here after 12 years in which Presidents of the other 
party had talked tough about our problems but acted soft. They railed 
about the deficit and quadrupled the debt. They railed about the 
Government and put their folks in all the Government jobs they could 
get. They talked tough about crime, but all they did was talk. Every 
single issue was talk.
    We've been here 20 months, folks. And now the Republicans are 
saying, ``Well, if your problems aren't all solved, it's just because 
the aliens have taken over Washington.'' [Laughter] Isn't that right? 
``They don't share your values. They're for big Government.'' You know 
all the things they say.
    Well, look at the record. We have made a good beginning that matters 
to America. The next time you hear their space invaders speech--
[laughter]--you ask them this: Well, how do you explain the fact that we 
have passed the biggest deficit reduction package in history, the 
largest number of spending cuts in history, and tax rates went up only 
on the top 1.2 percent of our people; that we made 90 percent of the 
small businesses in this country eligible for a tax cut and reduced 
taxes on 15 million

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working families to keep them out of welfare and in the work force; that 
while were cutting spending, we increased investment in education and 
training and new technologies and defense conversion; we expanded trade 
by more than any comparable period in 35 years.
    And what has that produced? They said the sky would fall. You 
remember? The same crowd that is campaigning against Chuck Robb said the 
sky would fall. Well, instead, we have 4.3 million new jobs, 130,000 in 
Virginia alone; 330,000 families in Virginia alone were eligible for 
income tax cuts; 600,000 people in Virginia alone, today, already 
eligible for lower interest college loans. We've had 3 years of deficit 
reduction in a row for the first time since Harry Truman was President. 
And we have reduced the size of the Federal Government already by more 
than 70,000--270,000 over 5 years. The Federal Government will be the 
smallest that it has been since John Kennedy was President. That is the 
record of this administration.
    Now, that is why Chuck Robb pleads guilty to voting for that 
economic plan: It produced for the people of Virginia. Republicans and 
Democrats got those jobs. Republicans and Democrats got those tax cuts. 
Republicans and Democrats will get those lower interest college loans. 
It was good for the people of Virginia.
    Chuck Robb hates deficit spending. And when I reeled off all this to 
him in private, he said, ``It's a good start, but you've got to keep 
going.'' [Laughter] The difference is the other guys want to go back.
    Let me give you the second example. We have made a good start in 
fighting the crime and the social problems that are gripping America: 
100,000 more police on the street; 100,000 more jail cells for violent 
criminals; ``three strikes and you're out''; the assault weapons ban, 
over the opposition of the NRA. And we've made a start in making 
Government work for ordinary Americans again.
    Now, what have they done?
    Audience members. Nothing!
    The President. They have done--oh yes, I wish that were the answer. 
[Laughter] I came to Washington with all my dreams that we'd be able to 
work together. The first week I was here, I was told by the leader of 
the other party in one of the Houses of Congress--listen to this--I was 
told, ``You're going to have to pass this economic plan without one 
single, solitary vote. It doesn't matter how you change it. We're not 
going to vote for any tax increases on the wealthy. And if it fails, 
we'll be able to blame you. And if it works, we'll attack it and call it 
a tax increase anyway,'' which is exactly what happened. But he said, 
``No point in you even talking to us. You won't get a vote.'' So I sort 
of waited 8 months; we passed it anyway. They said the sky would fall, 
and the economy is booming.
    Then last year they voted 42 to 2 for the crime bill. Last year they 
voted for the assault weapons ban; they voted for prevention programs--
all those things they call pork, they voted for, they sponsored a lot of 
them--42 to 2. Why? They did not believe the House of Representatives 
would pass it.
    So then, when the crime bill comes back this year in the Senate--I 
want you to understand what you're thinking about doing here, what the 
consequence of this race is--all of a sudden, all of those prevention 
programs they voted for, they sponsored, that on an annual basis they 
were spending more on in their bill than in the one we finally passed, 
they went from 42 to 2 for it, to 6 to 38 against it. Why? Because they 
were told the objective was not to lower crime but to hand a political 
defeat to the administration and to the Democrats. That's why.
    Let me give you another example. On health care, when I introduced 
the health care bill, I said, ``Look, I don't have a monopoly on truth. 
You may have a better idea.'' And I was so happy. I thought, finally, 
we're going to get there because 24 members of the other party, 24 
Republican Senators, were on a bill that would have provided coverage 
for everybody and would have controlled costs. So, anyway, so they had 
24 Republicans on this bill. So I said, ``Great, we're going to get 
health care.'' That's right. I said, ``We're going to get health care.'' 
And I thought, they'll have ideas; we'll have ideas; we'll get together 
and we'll work out a deal. We'll have health care--24. By the time the 
bill got to the committee process, do you know how many of those 24 were 
left? Zero. Why? Why? Why? Because--because--don't take my word, take 
their word. Republican Congressman says, in print, ``We were ordered not 
to cooperate on health care.'' Republican Senator says, in print, ``We 
have killed it. Now the trick is to keep our fingerprints off of it''--
in print; Republican idea person says, in print--passed it out, proud of 
it--to the Republicans, ``The one thing you must not do is pass any

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health care reform. It will help the Democrats too much.''
    Now that is what we are facing. That is the national context in 
which you must see this election. But far more important than that is 
they have now told us what they will do. They have put their contract 
out. And what is it? Trickle-down economics; eighties promises; a 
trillion dollars worth of unfunded promises, $1 trillion.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. I'll tell you what that contract is. It's a contract 
on America's future. It's a contract on our deficit reduction. It's a 
contract on Medicare. It's a contract on paying for the crime bill. It 
will take us right back down the road that we were on before if you do 
not change the direction of the country. So I say to you, let's don't 
quit. We have made a good start in 20 months on 30 years of social 
problems, 20 years of economics problems, and 12 years of neglect.
    I want to say something else. If you say, ``I want the same thing 
from Chuck Robb today that I did when I voted for him for Governor: I 
want a mainstream, progressive, bipartisan, commonsense effort to move 
this country forward''; if you say, ``I am sick and tired of this 
demonization; I am sick and tired of this distortion of a good man's 
record and a good man's life and a good person's public service''; if 
you say, ``I will not reward people who talk tough, just tell me what I 
want to hear, pander to my every whim, and act weak when they have 
power; I will instead reward people who make tough decisions and think 
about my children's future, and Chuck Robb has done that every day he 
was in public office from the first day I elected him''; if you say, 
``We don't want to demonize our opponents either, but we have values, 
too, and we can read the rules, too, and we know that one of the rules 
that sometimes the other side forgets to mention in their litany of 
values is `Thou shalt not bear false witness'''--let me tell you 
something, the people of this State are good people. They are good 
people, regardless of their party or their background or their 
experience. They can only vote in this election based on what they know, 
what they see, what they feel.
    Now, let me end where I began. We've made a good start in 20 months 
on 30 years of social problems, 20 years of economic problems, 12 years 
of neglect. But most people have not felt it yet. And while we have been 
working, they have been talking, blaming, dividing, turning us into 
    You, you can decide whether we go forward or backward. We've moved 
the economy; we've taken a serious step on crime; we've begun to make 
Government work for ordinary people again. They have put out their 
contract on America. They want more of trickle-down economics, more of 
inequality, more of division. You can decide.
    But the voters who are not here at this rally tonight can only vote 
based on what they know. There is a mountain of money raining down on 
them at home tonight while you're here with us, coming through the 
television screen, playing on people's paranoia, their disillusionment 
over the years, their frustration, their cynicism. You have to break 
through it. And you can do it.
    But paying to come to this rally is not enough. You've got to talk 
at work. You've got to talk on the weekends. You've got to talk to your 
friends. You've got to talk. You've got to work. You've got to walk. Do 
not take this lying down. Do not take this lying down.
    This is your State. It is your country. It is your children's 
future. Go take it back.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 7:53 p.m. at the McLean Hilton Hotel. In 
his remarks, he referred to Lt. Gov. Don Beyer of Virginia and Toddy 
Puller, Virginia House of Delegates member and widow of author Lewis