[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[June 12, 1998]
[Pages 945-948]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception for Senator Barbara Boxer in San Francisco, California
June 12, 1998

    The President. Thank you very much. First, let me say that I'm not 
sure it evidences good judgment to try to follow Barbara and Hillary to 
the microphone. [Laughter] But they certainly did a good job, and I 
enjoyed listening to them. Let me also thank, before I go too far, the 
San Raphael High School Advanced Jazz Band. They did a great job, and 
thank you all for playing.
    I thank our State Democratic chair, Art Torres, for being here, and all the candidates and officeholders 
who have come to support Barbara. When I was listening to Senator Boxer 
and the First Lady talk, and I was watching you listen to them talk, I 
said to myself, ``Well, all these people are for her anyway.'' 
[Laughter] ``So what should I say that would help them get other people 
to be for her?'' And that's what Hillary was trying to do.
    Why should a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley vote for this not very 
tall sparkplug from Northern California who is supposed to be so 
liberal? [Laughter] Why should a businessman in the Silicon Valley? Why 
should a woman running a small tourist inn in the redwood forest? Why 
should someone struggling to make ends meet in Los Angeles? Why should 
someone in San Diego worried about whether there's too much pollution or 
illegal immigration or whatever on the border? Why should everybody else 
vote for her, people that aren't here today? That's the case you have to 
make, you know.
    And if you think about the nature of our political debates and the 
nature of the way the political parties behave in Washington and what 
our administration has tried to do, I think it really comes down to 
whether you want progress or politics to dominate the national arena.
    Barbara said some of this, and at the risk of being self-serving--I 
don't want to be--but I want to read this to you, because when I came to 
you in California in 1991 and '92, I said, ``Look, you guys are having a 
tough time out here, and I know this is the biggest State in the country 
and my distinguished opponent says I'm just a Governor from a small 
Southern State, but I've got a few ideas about how we ought to do things 
differently moving towards the 21st century. And we've got to break out 
of this crazy, highly partisan divisive debate we've got and start 
putting people first and start thinking about the future to create a 
21st century America where there's opportunity for everybody who's 
responsible enough to work for

[[Page 946]]

it; where we're coming together as a community, respecting our 
diversity, and still valuing our unity, instead of being divided and 
weakened by it; and where we're committed to preserving America's 
leadership in the world for peace, and freedom, and prosperity. And I 
have some ideas about how to do that.''
    Well, 5\1/2\ years later, unemployment in California has dropped by 
almost 50 percent. Senator Boxer said some of this, but I want to say it 
again, not for me, but for her. Listen now. This country has the lowest 
crime rate in 25 years. It has the lowest unemployment rate in 28 years 
and 16 million new jobs. It has the lowest welfare roll, as a percentage 
of the population, in 29 years. We're about to have the first balanced 
budget and surplus in 29 years, and it will be, in dollar terms, the 
biggest one we've ever had. We're going to have--we've got the lowest 
inflation in 32 years, the smallest Federal Government in 35 years, and 
the highest rate of homeownership in the history of the United States of 
America. That is the reality.
    Now, in addition to that, I'm very proud of the fact that we have 
the lowest rate of African-American unemployment ever recorded, the 
highest rate of Hispanic business ownership ever recorded, dramatic 
increases in the number of Asian-owned and other minority-owned 
businesses, a tripling of Federal Government assistance to women-owned 
businesses, an increase--excuse me, a big decrease in inequality among 
working people for the first time in over 20 years, 2.2 million children 
taken out of poverty, 5 million kids getting health insurance who 
wouldn't have otherwise have gotten it. We've opened the doors to 
college to virtually all Americans now with the tax credits, the 
scholarships, the work-study programs. We have done a lot of good things 
together because we put old-time politics aside and put people first.
    Now, we had to take on a lot of interest groups. We made a lot of 
people mad when we said tobacco is the number one public health problem 
in America; we're going to try to do something to keep kids alive. And 
they're still trying to stop us from doing it and putting out a lot of 
interesting misinformation in ad campaigns all across America. But every 
year, more people die from tobacco-related illnesses than accidents, 
murders, AIDS, cancer, combined, and a bunch of other stuff, too.
    We said, ``Look, if we're ever going to get the crime rate down in 
this country, we've got to quit talking tough on crime and do something 
that is both smart and tough.'' So we put 100,000 police on the street. 
We took assault weapons off the street, insofar as we could legally. We 
passed the Brady bill and kept hundreds of thousands of people who had 
criminal records from getting guns. And basically, the other side 
opposed us. The House of Representatives just put out a budget which 
would terminate the 100,000 police program, one of the most successful 
programs in the history of the United States of America in lowering the 
crime rate.
    So here's what I want to say to you. You have to go out and say, 
``Look, whether you're a Republican or independent or a Democrat, 
whether you want to vote for a 7-foot tall man or a 4-foot 10-inch 
    Senator Boxer. Eleven!
    The President. Eleven. [Laughter] Whether you're a--whatever your 
ethnic background, whatever you bring to this race, California is 
beginning to work; America is beginning to work; and this is not 
unrelated to the ideas. Nevermind the charisma or whether I give a good 
speech or Barbara looks beautiful up here and makes you feel good about 
all the energy and conviction she has, the country is moving forward 
because it is on a course that makes sense. And we should not change 
that course; we should speed that course up.
    I was glad to make the announcement that Barbara has been beating up 
on me for over 2 years to make today. We not only extended the 
moratorium on offshore drilling for another decade, we made it permanent 
in certain precious sanctuary areas so there can never be any drilling 
    But what we want to do--we need to do more than that. We need to do 
more to try to make sure we can continue fishing without catching so 
many other unrelated fish in the nets that we're destroying the 
ecostructure. We need to do more research to see how we can reverse some 
of this pollution. We need to do a lot more to stop the pollution of the 
ocean from the land, because a lot of it is occurring from the land. We 
need to do more exploration. We now know more about the Moon than we do 
the ocean depths, and it's only 7 miles down to the ocean depths--long 
way underwater, isn't it? [Laughter] We've got a lot of things to do

[[Page 947]]

that directly affect how our children and grandchildren will live. You 
heard Barbara talking about some of them.
    We now have dramatically expanded preschool education, and we've 
made access to college virtually universal. But no one believes that our 
public schools, K through 12, are as good as they ought to be. 
California is doing a very good job, I think, now--the people of 
California and the grassroots movement--with things like the charter 
school movement. There was one charter school in America when I became 
President. When I started talking about them, most people thought that 
it had something to do with teaching people to draw maps. [Laughter] And 
our budget would take us up to over 3,000 over the next 4 years.
    Our budget would make sure we finish the work of connecting every 
school, classroom, and library to the Internet by the year 2000. Our 
budget would give communities enough funds to build or rehabilitate 
5,000 schools so we can have smaller classes, when we put the 100,000 
teachers in, that work.
    Our budget attempts to fund an initiative, along with some of the 
other legislation we have, to make our schools even safer, to deal with 
these horrible instances we've all had our hearts broken about in the 
last few months in our schools and other things that aren't so severe 
but are still very troubling, by not only dealing harshly with people 
who do wrong but by trying to prevent these things from happening in the 
first place. And we know that there are certain early warnings that come 
out in a lot of these instances that our schools are not organized to 
deal with, that our parents sometimes are not even attuned to.
    We also know that if we had children who are from difficult 
backgrounds, who live in difficult neighborhoods, in and around the 
school more hours a day, they would get in less trouble. Our budget 
provides, as Barbara Boxer said, for a huge increase in after-school 
programs and summer school programs.
    Let me just tell you one story. Hillary is from Chicago, and she 
will tell you that when we were serving in Arkansas, most people thought 
the Chicago schools were the worst big-city schools in America. And they 
had a strike there every year whether they needed to or not. [Laughter] 
They're not known for their teacher strikes anymore. They're known for 
their parent councils in every school. They're known for the fact that 
they have tens of thousands of children who now get three meals a day in 
the school. They're known for the fact that their summer school--they 
have mandatory summer school for people who don't score at a certain 
level from grade to grade. Their summer school is now the sixth biggest 
school district in the entire United States of America. And guess what? 
Juvenile crime has dropped through the floor, because they're taking 
care of kids and giving them something positive to live for and building 
them up. And that's what we want to do.
    We have a lot of other things to do in the environmental area. We 
have a lot of other things to do in the health care area. This health 
care bill of rights, I heard you cheering for Barbara when she talked 
about that. I'm telling you, every hour in America--and I say that as 
somebody who has not been opposed to the managed care movement in 
principle. We couldn't have continued the way we were going, where 
inflation in health care was going up at 3 times the rate of inflation 
and income in America; that was unsustainable. But we can't continue the 
direction we're going now, where the only thing that controls health 
care decisions for people in HMO's is too often the bottom line. That is 
crazy. We cannot allow it, and we need a health care bill of rights to 
protect patients, to protect people, to make sure they get the care they 
need. You can have good management and still put quality health care 
    So there's a huge agenda out there. What I want you to go out there 
and say to your friends and neighbors and fellow Californians, who have 
been so good to me and the First Lady and the Vice President, is, ``Look 
where we are now. Look where we were in 1992. Don't just look even at 
the budget surplus or the economy; look at all these things.''
    Ideas drive action and get results, good or bad. Now, we all have 
things happen that are beyond our control, and I don't claim full credit 
for every good thing that's happened in America. You and the other 
American people deserve most of the credit. You get up and lead your 
lives every day, and you've done things that make sense and do good. But 
you know as well as I do that we wouldn't have elections and give people 
authority to make decisions if the decisions didn't amount to anything. 
It matters.
    So the first thing I want you to say to somebody who says, ``Well, 
I'm too conservative to vote for Barbara Boxer,'' or, ``I'm a 

[[Page 948]]

or ``I'm this,'' say, ``Look, you're a Californian. You're an American. 
Look where you are now. Look where you were then. Their ideas were 
right. They put them in; they had good consequences. And they've got 
good ideas for the future. This is about progress over politics.''
    Then you ought to talk about these things that Barbara talked about 
for the future and ask people to vote as American citizens in this 
election, for their children and their grandchildren. And if you do 
that, she will have a great victory, California will have a great 
victory, and it will certainly be the right thing for America.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:10 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel.