[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 3, 1998]
[Pages 877-880]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 877]]

Remarks at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Lee Fisher in 
June 3, 1998

    Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen; I am delighted to be 
here. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, and I know it's a little warm. 
If it makes you feel any better, yesterday I was in Dallas. It was 105. 
    I'd like to begin by thanking Mayor White for his truly outstanding leadership in Cleveland. It's 
been a great pleasure for me to be able to work with the city of 
Cleveland and to support the initiatives that he has done so much to 
    I thank my good friend Lou Stokes. I will 
miss him terribly, and he has done a magnificent job for this city, for 
all of Ohio, and for the country.
    I thank Congressman Tom Sawyer for 
being here, and I congratulate Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and I wish Mary Boyle well. And 
Hillary is going to be here for her 
in a few weeks, and I hope you will all support her. I'd like to say to 
Michael and Frankie Coleman, I'm glad you're taking this great adventure with Lee 
and Peggy, and I think you'll be proud of the trip when it's over. And 
especially to Lee and Peggy Fisher, I thank 
them for just giving me the opportunity to be here to try to repay in 
some small measure the friendship and support they have always given to 
    This State, as I'm sure most of you in this crowd today know, has 
been very, very good to me. In 1992 I officially got enough votes to be 
nominated on the first ballot of the Democratic Convention when the Ohio 
primary results were announced, and then when we had the convention in 
New York, Ohio's votes put me over the top. And then on election night 
in 92, the election was called after the vote from Ohio came in, and I 
appreciate that. In 1996 we tripled our victory margin here, thanks to a 
lot of you in this room, and I thank you for that.
    People--all kinds of people from Ohio have been critically important 
to the success of our administration. There's a wonderful young woman 
from Cleveland named Capricia Marshall 
who now runs the White House for us. And Mike White mentioned the 
tensions we're having now in the Indian subcontinent in the nuclear 
tests. Dick Celeste is now our Ambassador 
to India, and we couldn't have a better person there to deal with this 
very significant problem, and I appreciate that.
    So I'm glad to be here, and I'm feeling pretty good about things in 
our country and about Ohio. I just came from--Mike and I, as he 
mentioned, were at the national conference of a group called City Year, 
which is one of our AmeriCorps national service projects. And they have 
people here in Cleveland, 200 of them, who do everything from tutor in 
schools to work with seniors to environmental cleanup projects. They 
represent the spirit of citizen service I've tried to spread across this 
country. And the young people are also earning credits for college. They 
can earn money for a year's worth of service to City Year to help them 
pay for their college tuition. One of the lesser known but perhaps, over 
the long run, more important achievements of this administration is that 
now in the last 4 years, 90,000 Americans have given a year or 2 years 
of their lives to serve in our national service program in community 
projects like this all across America. So I'm very, very proud of that.
    Let me say, I'm here partly because I want to help Lee and Peggy and 
Michael and Frankie, but mostly because I'd like to do Ohio a favor. I 
think Lee Fisher becoming the Governor would be doing Ohio as big a 
favor as Ohio would be doing for Lee Fisher. This is a subject on which 
I can speak with some authority, because I was a Governor for 12 years 
before I became President. I had almost gotten the hang of the job 
before I left it. [Laughter] And I can tell you that--the first thing 
I'd like to say is that it's more important now than it used to be, and 
I've worked hard to make it that way because, while I have wanted a more 
aggressive National Government, I've also wanted one that was more 
focused, more centralized, and that left more decisions about how to 
achieve our national objectives to Governors and to mayors.
    The Federal Government is now 310,000 people smaller than it was 
when I took office; it's the smallest since John Kennedy was President.

[[Page 878]]

We've eliminated hundreds of programs, thousands of pages of 
regulations, cut two-thirds of the regulations in the Education 
Department alone. We have tried to give more freedom to Governors and to 
mayors. But when you do that, it means the person you elect is more 
important than he or she used to be. Their judgments matter; their 
values matter.
    And I've known Lee Fisher a long time. I associate him with 
children, families, public safety, and the future. I named him to be the 
Chairman of the President's Commission on Crime Control and Prevention. 
And we have worked on a lot of these issues for a long, long time.
    Let me just give you a couple of examples of what I mean. When we 
signed the balanced budget bill last year, which will produce, by the 
way, the first balanced budget and surplus in 29 years this year, one of 
the lesser known provisions of the bill provided enough funding to the 
States to extend health insurance coverage to 5 million children who 
don't have it. Almost all these kids are the children of working 
families on modest incomes, where they don't get health insurance at 
work. And we know from painful experience that children who don't have 
access to good health care run far greater risks of having problems in 
childhood and later in life.
    Now, that's the good news. But the second part of the story is it's 
up to the States to design and implement a program that will actually 
work to add 5 million kids to the ranks of the insured and give peace of 
mind to the couple of million families or so who are the parents of 
those children.
    The next Governor of Ohio will have a heavy responsibility there: Is 
this program going to be carried out properly or not; is it going to be 
designed well, or not; what will happen to those children, those 
families? And if you're on the board of a local hospital, what will 
happen to you if you have people in emergency care that ought to be 
getting funded that aren't? Every Ohioan has a stake in this decision.
    Let me give you another example. I'm working very, very hard now to 
pass comprehensive tobacco legislation to protect our children from the 
dangers of tobacco. Three thousand kids a day start smoking, even though 
it's illegal to sell cigarettes to kids; 1,000 will die earlier because 
of it. More people die from tobacco-related illnesses than die from 
cancer, AIDS, murders, accidents, and fires combined every year.
    Now let's assume we pass the legislation. It will, among other 
things, require a substantial increase in the tobacco tax, which all the 
surveys show huge majorities of the American people, including adult 
smokers, support. But the rest of the story is this: A substantial 
portion of that money will be given back to the States, and then there 
will be a laundry list only--not a specific directive but a laundry 
list--of the kinds of things that the States can spend this money. We're 
talking major money to a large State like Ohio. One of the things on 
that list will be to make child care more affordable, one of the most 
significant challenges we face in the country. Now, there will be all 
kinds of other things that deal with trying to help kids stay off 
tobacco or out of trouble and to help build up the quality of health in 
this State. The Governor will have to make recommendations about how 
that's going to be spent. To some extent, the Governor will be able to 
decide, although the legislature will be involved as well. It really 
matters who's going to be the next Governor of Ohio if we pass this, 
because this is a huge set of decisions that will affect your lives.
    I'll give you another example on which there has been a lot of 
publicity in this State, and that's welfare reform. I'm very proud to 
have been involved in now a 6-year effort which has given us, along with 
an improving economy, the lowest welfare rolls in 27 years. But there's 
a twofold objective here. You don't just want to move people off the 
welfare rolls. You want people who used to be on welfare to be 
successful as workers and to be successful as parents.
    We just passed a new transportation bill, by the way. It provides a 
lot of funding to help people who are very poor who don't have cars get 
from their homes to their work. But the States have to decide, how is 
that going to be done, working with the local communities. So it really 
matters who the Governor is and what the Governor's vision is for making 
families succeed at home and at work and building a community which we 
can all pull together.
    One final example: We have a great task in this country today to try 
to continue to lead the world away from this incredible rash of violence 
and potential violence rooted in ethnic, racial, and religious hatred. 
It's the new problem at the end of the cold war. And the prospect that 
that might get mixed with weapons of mass destruction is what troubles 
people about the

[[Page 879]]

nuclear tests in South Asia. And it's what troubles us when we demanded 
the inspections in Iraq be complied with, because we don't want to see a 
country that might foment trouble build up chemical and biological 
weapons capacity.
    In order to continue to do that work, which sometimes has a happy 
success like the recent vote in Ireland--and I met with a number of 
Irish Ohioans today who thanked me for our administration's efforts 
there; which has ongoing importance in our work in the Middle East; 
which has ongoing importance in our work in the Balkans, where we've got 
the Bosnian peace process working, but new troubles in Kosovo between 
the Serbs and the Albanians; and which has special meaning now in South 
Asia, we have to prove that in America we can set a good example.
    And if you look at Ohio and the heartland of the country, if you 
look at Cleveland, if you look at the diversity of Ohio, if you look at 
the endless fields that I saw in 1992--the best corn crop I ever saw in 
my life I saw on the bus trip across Ohio--and you compare and contrast 
the life that people in small towns and rural areas in Ohio have with 
the bustling, incredible diversity of Cleveland, it matters that there 
is a Governor who is sensitive to the importance of that, that Ohio 
reflect the very best in America, not only the best of our past but the 
best of our future.
    I was talking to some of our folks coming in today about the pivotal 
role that Ohio played in our country's history between the Civil War and 
the turn of the last century, when, frankly, if you were a Republican 
and you fought for the Union Army and you were an officer and you were 
from Ohio, you had about a 50 percent chance of getting elected 
President of the United States. [Laughter] I mean, you had Grant and 
Hayes and Harrison and McKinley. By the time they got around to 
McKinley, I don't think he ever made general, and he still got to be 
President. [Laughter]
    But Ohio had a pivotal role. If you think about the 21st century and 
the fact that your State is generally considered to be a bellwether in 
so many ways, Ohio will play a pivotal role again. Now, who the Governor 
is really matters. What kind of people will be in this government? Well, 
you get a pretty good indication from looking at this team. What will 
the values be? What will the message be? Will everybody feel that they 
have a seat at the table? This is very important.
    Now, I know you were kind of expecting me to give you a stump speech 
today, but I want you to think about this because it's a long time 
between now and the election. And you need to go out and talk to people 
about this. I know Lee Fisher well. And too often, elections get decided 
based on slogans. Well, if somebody wants to talk about being tough on 
crime, he should win that argument. But the thing that I like about him 
is he's also smart about crime. That is, sure, you have to punish people 
who are doing dumb things and bad things and evil things and who 
deliberately hurt other people, but even better is to work with police 
officers and community leaders and concerned parents to keep our 
children out of trouble in the first place. So you want somebody that 
understands these things, that has character, depth, experience.
    And I think--I would just like to ask you--I thank you for 
contributing to this campaign; it makes a big difference. But I think 
there's something going on today in our politics which are very 
important. Yesterday we had a raft of elections in America, and there 
were any number of campaigns where the person who won did not, as it 
happens, spend the most money. They had to have enough money, and that's 
why I'm glad you're here. [Laughter] You have to have enough to be 
heard. But there were many places where the person with the most money 
didn't win yesterday because the people who won were thought to be more 
closely connected, more deeply rooted to the communities, more in tune 
with what people wanted and the better future that we're all trying to 
build. And I make no judgment about the outcome of any of those 
primaries. I just think that's an interesting thing for me to tell you 
because what that means is that voters are taking their responsibility 
seriously in this election. I think that is a good thing for Lee Fisher.
    But you have to go about and talk about these things I shared with 
you. And remember, it will have a lot to do with what 21st century Ohio 
looks like, what your children and your grandchildren have to look 
forward to. And I believe that if you work hard, you're going to win, 
and when you do, you can be very, very proud.
    Thank you. God bless you all.

[[Page 880]]

Note: The President spoke at 4:45 p.m. at the Cleveland Playhouse. In 
his remarks, he referred to Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney 
Stephanie Tubbs Jones; Mary Boyle, candidate for U.S. Senate; Michael 
Coleman, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and his wife, Frankie; and 
Lee Fisher's wife, Peggy.