[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[August 11, 1998]
[Pages 1433-1435]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1433]]

Remarks at a Luncheon for Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis of California 
in San Francisco
August 11, 1998

    Thank you. Well, thank you, Governor Davis. That sounds pretty good, 
doesn't it? [Applause] That sounds pretty good. You know, Gray was up 
here making all those sort of funny, self-deprecating remarks about 
being dull, and I thought, well, as long as we carry Willie Brown around 
with us, all the rest of us will look dull. [Laughter]
    Mr. Mayor, it's nice to be back in your city. I'd like to thank all 
the Members of Congress who are here: Representatives Harman and 
Tauscher and Lantos and Sanchez and, I believe, visiting Representatives 
Reyes and McCarthy.
    Senator Cranston, thank you for coming. It's good to see you looking 
so young and fit. When I was a young Governor, I used to go to 
Washington, DC, and every morning I'd get up very early and go running 
along The Mall in Washington. And I would end down there around--there's 
a pool right in front of the Capitol, and I'd run around that three or 
four times. The only person I ever saw up that early running was Alan 
Cranston. And I've never forgotten it, and I am delighted to see him.
    I want to compliment the Democrats in California on putting together 
such an impressive ticket, with Cruz Bustamante and my longtime friend 
Phil Angelides and Senator Lockyer and Michela Alioto, who used to work 
with us in the administration; Delaine Eastin and Kathleen Connell--all 
of these people are very, very impressive, and they'll be a good team 
with Gray Davis. And I want to compliment you on that.
    I'd also like to say to Gray and Sharon, I thank you for offering 
yourselves to California and to its future. I am deeply indebted, and I 
promised myself I would never come out here again without just saying 
thank you to the people of California for making it possible for Hillary 
and me and for Al and Tipper Gore to serve our country, to help to move 
America forward, to help to bring America back. And of course, now I 
have a little extra debt to California for the educational opportunity 
you're giving to our daughter. And I thank you for that.
    I want to make a few brief points. Everything that needs to be said 
has been said; not everyone has said it yet. But I would like to make a 
couple of points that I'd ask you to keep in mind between now and the 
November election as events heat up and unfold. I am very glad and 
grateful that you have come here to this fundraiser, that you have 
contributed to this good man's worthy campaign, and I thank you for 
that. But one of the things we really need in America and in California 
at this moment of renewed prosperity and opportunity is for people to 
take more interest in the daily work of citizenship and to understand 
that there really is a connection between the decisions elected 
officials make and the consequences we feel in our daily lives.
    That is so important. It may sound so self-evident to you. But do 
you ever ask yourself why an otherwise responsible person who has to get 
up and work every day and is forced to pay taxes, and if times are bad, 
suffers for it, and if times are good, benefits from it--a normal 
American that doesn't vote--millions of them don't? It is, I think, 
because they don't understand the connection between the decisions made 
by people in public life and the conditions they face, and they don't 
believe they can make a difference. But they can make all the 
    Now, if you look at where we are as a country today compared to 
where we were--Gray said some of this--we have the lowest unemployment 
rate in 28 years and the lowest crime rate in 25 years and the lowest 
percentage of people on welfare in 29 years; we're about to have the 
first balanced budget and surplus in 29 years, with the lowest inflation 
in 32 years, the highest homeownership in history; and the Federal 
Government is the smallest it's been in 35 years. That's pretty good. 
That's pretty good.
    The American people deserve the lion's share of credit for this 
because of their hard work, their ingenuity, getting over some of the 
economic problems of the eighties. But the policies of the Government 
are not unrelated to what has happened. They have created the conditions

[[Page 1434]]

and given people the tools to make these good things happen.
    And I say that because I think--if you think of the changes that 
have been made in the last 6 years and then the things you're facing 
here in this State over the next 6 years, I think you can make a 
compelling argument that it is more important than ever before who is 
the Governor of California. What is his philosophy--in this case, since 
you have two male candidates--what is the dominant philosophy? How is 
the job defined? How will their positions on issues and the actions they 
take affect the lives that you and your children and the people you care 
about live? Will it be something that fits in with what we have tried to 
do in Washington to bring America back? Will it be an administration 
that makes the most of every opportunity that we could provide in the 
next 2 years and, hopefully, beyond?
    This is an important election. This is a huge deal. If we've had the 
smallest Federal Government in 35 years, it means that we have, among 
other things, given more flexibility to the States in how they pursue 
education reform. One thing the legislature has done--thank you, Senator 
Lockyer--that I approve of strongly is to support the charter school 
movement out here, which are public schools, but they're created under 
new rules without so much hassle from central administration, and they 
have high standards, and they only stay in existence as long as they 
meet them. It is a great reform. California is now leading the way 
    Now, we have all kinds of programs to support those charter schools. 
When I became President, there was one charter school in America. And I 
was out there talking about--in 1992 it wasn't one of the more widely 
applauded parts of my campaign speech, because most people didn't know 
what they were. There are now 1,000--1,000--and I want there to be at 
least 3,000 by the year 2000. It's very important. In California, you've 
got all these different kinds of folks with all these different 
challenges and ideas and opportunities; this is the ideal place in 
America to have a real generation of this. It'll matter a lot what the 
policy of the administration is on this.
    We are ahead of schedule and under budget in putting 100,000 police 
officers on the street. That has contributed to the decline in the crime 
rate. And I just want to say it's important to remember that it matters 
whether the mayors and whether the Governor really believe in what we're 
trying to do and are really trying to help grassroots law enforcement 
officials drive the crime rate down to make sure California gets its 
fair share of those remaining officers.
    In the Balanced Budget Act, we passed a bill, as a part of the 
Balanced Budget Act, to provide for health insurance for 5 million 
children--mostly the children of the working poor who do not have health 
insurance. But the system by which they will be insured must be 
developed State by State. Now, from the day I became President, even 
before, I was besieged by appeals from representatives from California 
about the unfair cost California bore of health care, because the 
Federal Government didn't pick up its legitimate share of what should be 
the health care burdens of the State of California. Now, California's 
about 13 percent of America's population, but more--I'll bet you 
anything--more of the percentage of uninsured children who are eligible 
for this program.
    You need somebody who believes in the potential of government to 
alleviate problems and strengthen our common life to be the Governor, to 
make sure that we do this right. I worked very hard to get that $24 
billion in that Balanced Budget Act. I want 5 million kids to know and I 
want their parents to have the peace of mind to know that they can have 
health care if they need it. But it's got to be implemented by the 
Governors. So, anyway, you get the point.
    Gray and I were out here the other day; we were talking about--we 
had this oceans conference on the Monterey Peninsula. We had to face the 
fact that the ocean quality in this country is deteriorating. The global 
warming, among other things, is changing the whole biostructure along 
the coastline, and we need to help meet this challenge. Now, some of 
this is a national challenge, but some of it is a State challenge. You 
can't think of an area of our common life where it won't make a 
difference who the Governor is.
    I spent a lot of time talking about our big challenges as a nation: 
education; growing the economy while preserving the environment; 
extending economic opportunity to people who haven't felt it, even in 
the recovery; quality health care for everybody; passing a Patients' 
Bill of Rights to guarantee people the right, even in an HMO, to 
emergency room care and appropriate specialists, privacy for their 

[[Page 1435]]

These kinds of challenges are important--proving that we can be one 
America across all the racial and ethnic and religious and other lines 
that divide us. And by the way, I'm getting sick and tired of coming to 
San Francisco and saying, as I must say one more time, Jim Hormel should 
have a hearing. Anyway, these are big issues.
    Now, in almost everything--there is one thing I have to do in the 
next year that I don't believe the Governors can help or hurt on, and 
that is that Congress should not spend any of this surplus until we have 
saved Social Security for the 21st century and alleviated the questions 
that are there. And we have some national security matters, as we've 
been painfully reminded of in the last few days, that are national. 
Every other single challenge I'm trying to get our country to face will 
be better met if there is a strong person in the Governor's office who 
has your values and cares about the future of your children.
    I have to put in a plug, too, for Senator Boxer and for the Members 
of our House delegation that are up. You know, everybody is going around 
celebrating the new economy. But I just want to remind you that way back 
in 1993, 5 years ago this month, when all the chips were on the line and 
America finally had to decide whether we were going to unhook ourselves 
from this addictive deficit spending we had been doing, and I presented 
a plan to the Congress to reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of 
dollars, there was not a single member of the other party that voted for 
it, and it passed by one vote in both Houses. So I would say to the 
people of California, if you like where the California economy is today, 
remember, if Barbara Boxer had voted the other way, we wouldn't be here 
today. And she deserves to be reelected to the Senate this November.
    So here's the last point I want to make. I thank you for being here. 
I thank you for contributing to Gray Davis. I thank you for your good 
citizenship. I thank you for the support of the initiatives of the 
administration, for the friendship you have given to the First Lady, to 
me, to the Vice President, to our families. And I will always be 
grateful to California. But the thing that I don't want to see happen is 
this: The most natural thing in the world when times are good, after 
they've been tough, is for people to relax when times are good. Isn't 
it? It's natural in your personal life, your family life, your business 
life. People say to me all the time, ``Man, it was tough out here before 
the last 4 or 5 years; we worked hard to get California back.'' My 
advice to you is to go out and tell your friends and neighbors that this 
is a time too dynamic to rest in. You can enjoy it, but you can't take 
it for granted, and you can't kick back.
    I think the only thing that could keep this good man from becoming 
Governor is a low voter turnout caused by people who think that things 
have been made all right, therefore there is nothing for them to do, and 
the consequences are not so great. Nothing could be further from the 
truth. When things are changing as fast as they are changing now, good 
times are not to be relaxed in; they are to be seized, used, made the 
most of. We have the confidence, the resources to face the long-term 
challenges of the country, to think about the future. That's what you've 
got to go out and tell people.
    So you give him the contributions; that makes it possible for his 
voice to be heard across a bigger microphone. But you have a voice every 
day. You come in contact with people every day. And you have to convey 
your sense of confidence and pride in the people you support and where 
we are now, but also a sense of urgency that we have big challenges to 
face, that the world is changing, and that our best days are before us, 
but only if we remember our fundamental responsibilities, as citizens, 
to the future.
    California has always been about the future. This is not a time to 
relax in that pursuit. We've worked too hard to get this far. We have to 
take advantage of it. And the best way to do it is to elect Gray Davis 
    Thank you very much, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:05 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the 
Westin Saint Francis Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Willie 
L. Brown, Jr., of San Francisco; Representative Karen McCarthy; former 
Senator Alan Cranston; State Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante, candidate 
for Lieutenant Governor; Phil Angelides, candidate for State treasurer; 
State Senator Bill Lockyer; Michela Alioto, candidate for California 
secretary of state; Delaine Eastin, State superintendent of public 
instruction; Kathleen Connell, State controller; and James C. Hormel, 
nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg.