[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 9, 1998]
[Pages 548-549]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception Honoring Senator Barbara A. Mikulski 
April 9, 1998

    This is exhibit A for everything I believe in in politics. You know, 
Senator Mikulski just reeled off my week to you, and we just got home 
from--Hillary and I did--from this incredible 12-day trip to Africa. And 
I have been in all those places she said, so I was tired when I got 
here. But if you stand this close to Barbara Mikulski for 5 minutes, I 
could get down and do 100 push-ups right now. [Laughter] I want to go 
out and run around the block. [Laughter]
    Let me say, all of you know I do a number of these kinds of events, 
and some nights when I'm tired I say, ``Gosh, I can't believe we've got 
to do one of these.'' I wanted to come tonight, and this is one that 
Hillary is jealous of me that I got to do that she didn't, because of 
our admiration for Barbara.
    I want to read you something. I normally don't speak from notes at 
these things, but I just want to read you this. Barbara Mikulski: the 
first Democratic woman to hold a Senate seat in her own right; the first 
Democratic woman to serve in both Houses; the first woman to win a 
statewide election in Maryland; the first woman to have a leadership 
position in the Senate for our party. She's the first woman Senator to 
write two mysteries, which I love because I read scads of them every 
year. [Laughter]
    What I want to say to you is that she got to be all that--first, 
first, first, first, first--not because she was a woman but because she 
has the heart of a lion and because she's done good things for the 
people of Maryland.
    The State of Maryland has been extraordinarily good to me, and we've 
won two great victories there, because I didn't have to run against 
Barbara Mikulski. [Laughter] And there's so many things that I could say 
about her, but let me just say a couple of things.
    First of all, in 1993, when we were being absolutely eviscerated 
with criticism from the Republicans in Congress, and when, to the 
person, they voted against my economic plan, and they said it would 
cause a terrible recession, and they said it was going to raise taxes on 
ordinary people--they said all these things--we carried that by one vote 
in the Senate. And if Barbara Mikulski hadn't voted that way, we 
wouldn't have the economy we enjoy today. But more importantly, Barbara 
Mikulski gave other people the courage to vote right. When it comes to a 
tough fight, she is the tallest member of the United States Senate.
    And I'm grateful to her for standing with me in the fight for safer 
streets, for 100,000 police, and to get the assault weapons off the 
streets. I'm grateful to her for helping to create the national service 
program, AmeriCorps, which has now given 100,000 young people, a lot of 
them in Maryland, a chance to earn money to go to college while serving 
in their communities. I'm grateful to her for leading the fight for 
safer food. The ``Food Safety Act'' that we adopted is profoundly 
important, and it will become more important in the years ahead as we 
have more and more food exported from the United States to other 
countries, more and more food imported into our country from others. I'm 
grateful to her for the work she's done on women's health in so many 
different areas. I'm grateful to her because she believes that we're 
here to do things. And I will say again, this is a year which is 
election year, and the country is in great shape, and I'm grateful for 
that. But Barbara Mikulski is helping me to challenge the Republican 
majority in Congress not to sit still and relax and enjoy the success of 
America but to take it as an opportunity and an obligation to deal with 
the long-term challenges of this country, to deal with the challenge of 
fixing Social Security; to deal with the challenge of making sure that 
we don't keep killing another 1,000 kids a day by not doing what we can 
to reduce teenage smoking, to deal with the further challenges of child 
care and education and the environment. We have a lot to do, and we need 
some more doers in the Congress. I

[[Page 549]]

don't think a single soul here doubts that there is no bigger doer in 
the Congress than Barbara Mikulski.
    Let me say, one of the big votes that Congress is going to face in 
the next few days--the Senate when they come back--is whether to vote to 
enlarge NATO, to take in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland. I wish 
every constituent of Senator Mikulski could have been with me in Warsaw 
when we had tens of thousands of people in the square there, and I 
introduced Barbara Mikulski, a daughter of Poland, to the assembled 
crowd, along with the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John 
Shalikashvili, also a Polish American.
    What we want to do in expanding NATO is to give Poles the chance and 
the security in their own country to grow up and live their dreams, to 
have the kinds of careers and lives that Barbara Mikulski has had.
    The last thing I want to say, which is, to me, more important than 
anything else: She is a person who lives her faith. She believes that we 
will all be judged by whether we have tried to provide opportunity to 
those without it, whether we have tried to take decent care of those who 
through no fault of their own are in genuine need. And she has helped us 
to prove that the Democratic philosophy that we have advanced, beyond 
any shadow of a doubt, demonstrates that the whole country does better 
when more people have opportunity.
    For all those reasons, I predict an overwhelming victory in 
November. And I thank you for making sure it happens.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:50 p.m. at the Hay Adams Hotel.