[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 22, 1997]
[Pages 1640-1644]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Dinner for Senator Patty Murray in Medina, Washington
November 22, 1997

    Thank you very much, Senator. Thank you, Lori, and thank you for the 
convictions you expressed in your remarks. And I want to thank you and 
Lars for opening your home, and I want to thank your children for the 
wonderful gifts they gave me from their classes.
    Mayor Rice, Mayor-elect Schell, Congressmen Dicks and McDermott and 
Smith; candidates Brian Baird and Greta Cammermyer; and ladies and 
gentlemen. I want to say most of all, thank you for being here for Patty 
Murray. We have representatives of great companies here, Boeing,

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Microsoft, Starbucks, and others. We have representatives of labor here. 
We have educators here. We have Native Americans here. We've got small-
business people. We have all different kinds of folks that make up 
Washington State's future and America's future. And I want to thank the 
first lady of Washington for being here. It's my understanding that 
there's a good chance that Gary Locke now has a sterling opportunity to 
become the first American President of China as a result of his--
    I also want to say Congressman Dicks is an incredibly graceful loser 
tonight. [Laughter] You were great, but those of us who know you know 
that you hated every minute of that--[laughter]--which is one of the 
reasons you are such a good Representative of your people. [Laughter]
    I would like to say just a generic word of thanks to the people of 
Washington for sending Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott and Adam Smith and 
Patty Murray to Washington. And there's a reason I'm here, besides the 
fact that Patty Murray is a Democrat. And I hope the fact that she votes 
with me most of the time will not be a deterrent; the people of 
Washington voted for me twice and I appreciate that very much. But Patty 
Murray will take a tough stand and do what's right over the long run 
even if it's painful in the short run. And in a period of great change 
in how we work and live and relate to the rest of the world, I think 
that's a pretty important quality. Someone who remembers that her 
obligations to her children translate into a larger obligation to the 
children of this State and Nation is someone worthy of your support.
    She was one of the cosponsors of our deficit reduction plan back in 
1993, and we didn't get a single vote from the other party. They said, 
oh, we were going to explode the deficit and bankrupt the economy, and I 
heard all that. And some of the voters bought it in 1994. But now you 
know, because--this year the deficit is $23 billion, down 92 percent 
from where it was before I took office, and that's before we get one 
dollar of savings from the Balanced Budget Act, thanks to Patty Murray. 
And I'll never forget it.
    She fought to pass the crime bill in 1994. And I'll never forget it; 
I thought I was lost in the fun house when people said, ``Well, Mr. 
President, they'll accuse you of being a Republican. Democrats aren't 
supposed to care about crime.'' I said, ``Well, if you've ever been a 
victim, you know it has no partisan tinge.'' And we had a crime bill 
that was basically written by community activists, police chiefs, and 
prosecutors, based on what was working to bring the crime rate down in 
communities around the country that were doing something about it.
    It made pretty good sense to Patty Murray, even though she didn't 
agree with every provision of it. And she stood up and fought for it. 
And we had the bitterest partisan opposition. We did get some Republican 
votes for it, and I'm very grateful to the people who voted for it, but 
the leadership was stomped-down against it. And they went out, and they 
got some profits out of that. They convinced a lot of people in rural 
Washington we were going to take their guns away. And I was able to go 
back to Washington in 1996--to this Washington--and say, ``You beat some 
Congressmen here over that gun issue and if you lost your gun, I want 
you to vote against me, too. But if you didn't, they didn't tell you the 
truth, and you need to send them a message.'' Two hundred and fifty 
thousand people lost the right to buy handguns because they had criminal 
backgrounds or they were stalkers or they had mental health histories, 
and America is a better place because of it. And we don't need these 
assault weapons in the hands of young street gangs in our country, and 
we're putting 100,000 police on the street. The crime rate's come down 5 
years in a row because Patty Murray had the courage to stand up and do 
what was right in 1994. And she deserves the support that--[applause].
    And let me say this is also important, not just when we have 
disagreed in Washington but when we have agreed. We had an overwhelming 
bipartisan majority for the balanced budget plan that I signed this 
year, and I applaud the Republican leadership and all the Republicans 
who voted for it. But in reaching that kind of agreement, it came out 
the way I wanted because we had Democrats in the mix, because Patty 
Murray was fighting to restore education funding.
    Just imagine this now--we passed and I signed--they passed and I 
signed a balanced budget that not only will balance the budget, I 
believe, before 2002 when it was supposed to but has the largest 
increased investment in education in a generation, 35 years, including 
funds to do our part working with the private sector to hook up every 
classroom and library

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to the Internet by the year 2000, to train the teachers, get the 
software, do the things we need to do, open the doors of college to all 
Americans because of the tax cuts and the scholarships and the work-
study funds. It's a terrific bill. It includes the biggest increase in 
health care for poor children in working families in 30 years, and I'm 
proud of that. It includes a huge increase in biomedical research, and 
I'm proud of that.
    We contributed a lot to that, the members of our party, because we 
said it's okay to be fiscally conservative; it's imperative in the world 
we're living in. But if we're going to grow the economy over the long 
run, we've got to invest in our people, all of our people. That's what 
Patty Murray fought for, and she deserves your support for that. America 
is a better place because of it.
    Let me just say, in addition to that, I hope all of you who are here 
for her understand that there really is a very direct connection between 
your presence here for Patty Murray or when you support Norm Dicks or 
Jim McDermott or Adam Smith or anybody else you support--there's a very 
direct connection between your presence and your support and what 
happens in America a long way away in Washington and how it comes back 
to you. I thought Lori's remarks were pretty compelling in that regard 
and stated it better than I probably could.
    But we're living in a time now where no one has all the answers 
because of the dramatic scope and pace of change. And every country in 
the world with an advanced society is trying to deal with the following 
question, in a thousand different ways: How do we get the benefits of 
this huge technological and information revolution, the globalization of 
economics and society, people being able to move information and money 
around and even themselves around in the flash of an eye; how do we get 
the benefits of all this and meet the challenges it poses and preserve 
some sort of coherent life for ourselves, our families, our communities, 
and our nations? How do we preserve the common good as we break down the 
old bureaucracies, the old established ways of doing things, and all of 
    And you see it in a thousand different ways. How can you maximize 
economic growth and improve the environment instead of undermining it? 
How do you take advantage of the things you have to do to protect the 
environment or grow the economy and help the people that are dislocated, 
and do it in a prompt and quick way so they can go on and be part of 
tomorrow's economy so that everybody who is willing to work hard and be 
responsible can have their say? How do you bring the benefits of this 
marvelous new economic system to the places that it hasn't reached yet? 
How do you balance the demands of work and family when way more than 
half the women in the work force--I mean women with children under the 
age of one are in the work force and when people I know in upper income, 
in comfortable income groups, who aren't even United States Senators, 
have the same plaintive statement that you heard from Senator Murray 
tonight? I hardly know anybody with school-age kids, without regard to 
their income, that hasn't had at some point a serious sense of conflict 
between their obligations at work and their obligations at home.
    And I might add--I want to compliment Patty on this--we had some 
differences within our caucus over the welfare reform bill. My position 
was, having worked as a Governor with welfare for many years, was it 
didn't make any sense to stay with the system we had because we were 
trapping people in welfare dependency if they didn't have many skills. 
But it didn't make any sense to do what our friends in the other party 
wanted to do and just tell them they had to go to work, because if they 
took low-wage jobs, they'd be hurting their kids if they gave up their 
health care and their nutrition and if they didn't have any training and 
any opportunity to do better.
    So we fought hard for a bill that would say: If you're able-bodied 
and you can go to work, you've got to go to work, and you can have your 
benefits terminated within a certain time if you don't. But we won't 
take medical care away from your children; we won't take nutrition away 
from your children; we will give billions of dollars more in child care, 
because we know you can't afford to pay for that if you get a low-
skilled job; and we'll give some extra money to the areas where there 
aren't enough private sector jobs.
    And then Patty Murray said, ``Don't forget a lot of these women on 
welfare have been in abusive positions in the home, and you shouldn't 
hold them to the same standards unless they have supports that are 
extraordinary.'' I just was in Wichita, Kansas this week--we were 
talking about it--where I saw a training facility for people on welfare 
with a housing

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project across the street for welfare recipients who had no cars or had 
suffered abuse in their previous homes. But Patty Murray brought that to 
our attention. She said, ``You've got to do this with a conscience.'' 
And we all have to recognize that the most important job of any society 
is the raising of children.
    So I believe that these general problems that--you can see it in 
every advanced society--have to be met with a commitment, number one, to 
seize the future, not run away from it, whether it's in education or 
trade or technology; but number two, with an understanding that in 
America, to preserve the American dream, you have to guarantee 
opportunity for everybody who is responsible enough to work for it. And 
we have to reaffirm the fact that among all of our differences, we're 
still united as one America. That's basically what I'm trying to do.
    We have to redefine our notion of what the Government is supposed to 
do, away from a Government that tries to do everything and a Government 
that says that we're the problem, we're not going to do anything, to 
action that focuses on genuine partnership and giving people the tools 
to make the most of their own lives.
    Now, I think our approach has worked pretty well. I think if, after 
5 years that Patty Murray and I have been teammates in Washington, we 
have the lowest unemployment rate in 24 years, the lowest crime rate in 
24 years, the biggest drop in welfare in history, an improvement in the 
economy, cleaner air, cleaner water, fewer toxic waste dumps, and safer 
food, I think that's a pretty good argument to reelect a Senator who 
supported those policies and that direction for America.
    Let me just close with this thought: In the end how you feel about 
somebody like Patty Murray basically depends upon how you feel about 
your place in America and what you think it will mean to be an American 
in the 21st century. There are a lot of very brilliant people who 
believe that the nation-state is fast becoming a relic of the past, that 
the technological revolution basically means that globalized financial 
and product and service markets and extremely localized governments will 
dominate the 21st century.
    I believe that we don't have a person to waste and that the mission 
of America is to create opportunity for everybody that's responsible 
enough to work for it and then to reassert our fundamental values of 
community in a world where there are maybe not the cold war nuclear 
threats that we faced for 50 years but where, make no mistake about it, 
we have real threats to our security at home and abroad.
    I just came from Denver today, a wonderful American city, where 
they've got radical rightwing groups, skinhead groups, that have been 
involved in the death of a police officer, the shooting of an African on 
the streets there, the shooting of a woman who bent down to help the 
person on the streets there.
    We see what happens in Bosnia or Northern Ireland and the Middle 
East, where people hate each other over race or religion, and say, 
``That stuff can't happen here.'' It can't if we don't permit it to 
happen here. But if we don't teach our children and practice and live 
that we are part of one community, in spite of whatever differences we 
have, if you agree to obey the law and work hard and go to school if 
you're a kid and go to work if you're an adult and take care of your 
children and pay your taxes and do the right thing, you're part of our 
America. We have to teach people that. Just like kids have to be taught 
    You know, I'm not running anymore. Some people are happy about it. 
[Laughter] One child said to me today she wished I could run for a third 
term. I heard a draft right there, you know. [Laughter] No, it wasn't 
Chelsea; believe me, it's not Chelsea. [Laughter] She'll be glad when 
I'm home. She wants her daddy back, I think.
    But what I really believe, having observed this over the last 
several years as we go through these massive changes, that the biggest 
difference in attitude between the two parties--and I'm heartened when 
we can do things like reach this wonderful compromise to overhaul the 
Food and Drug Administration to get drugs and medical devices to the 
market more quickly, or to reach this wonderful compromise in 
overhauling the adoption and foster care laws of the country to move 
children into homes more quickly. And we reach these things after we 
debate. But if you hear our side of the debate, basically it's not true 
that Democrats are not fiscally responsible, committed to bringing the 
crime rate down, committed to running a strong economy, committed to a 
strong foreign policy. That's not true.

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    We just believe that you can't hold a country together unless you 
honestly believe everybody counts; unless you honestly believe we don't 
have a child to waste; unless you honestly believe that the United 
States of America in the 21st century must mean, more than ever, one 
America that celebrates all of our diversity, lets all the 
entrepreneurial things that could possibly happen occur, tries to stay 
on the edge of change, but tries to make sure everybody can have a shot 
at the brass ring, and challenges every citizen to serve in some way 
beyond his or her immediate self-interest because we're all better off 
when the least of us are better off.
    And how you feel about Patty Murray, I think, more than anything 
else, depends upon how you feel about that. I know one thing: She has 
done a wonderful job for you. She has advocated for Washington's 
interests. She has worn me out on specific environmental interests in 
this State. She is always there. But the real thing that's important 
about her is how she feels about her country, the children, and the 
future. And I want you to make sure that everybody in this State knows 
that at election time.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. In his 
remarks, he referred to Lori MacDonald Jonsson and Lars Jonsson, dinner 
hosts; Mayor Norman B. Rice and Mayor-elect Paul Schell of Seattle; 
Brian Baird and Greta Cammermyer, candidates for Washington State's 
Third and Second Congressional Districts, respectively; Mona Lee Locke, 
wife of Gov. Gary Locke of Washington; Denver police officer Bruce 
VanderJagt and African immigrant Oumar Dia, slain in separate incidents 
earlier in the month; and Jeannie VanVelkinburgh, wounded while 
attempting to help Mr. Dia.