[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[September 27, 1998]
[Pages 1689-1692]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1689]]

Remarks at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Garry Mauro in San 
Antonio, Texas
September 27, 1998

    The President. Thank you very much.
    Audience member. Don't give up!
    The President. Well, ladies and gentlemen--you don't have to worry 
about me giving up. [Applause] Thank you. Garry Mauro promised me that 
if I came to Texas in the wake of all this controversy, I would get a 
warm welcome. And he nearly overdid it today. [Laughter]
    It's great to be back here. I want to thank Frank Herrera and his 
whole family for making us feel so welcome at their humble little 
homestead here. We ought to give him a hand. Thank you. [Applause]
    I want to thank all the people who provided our music and catered 
our food and made this such an enjoyable occasion. I want to thank the 
candidates who are here who are running for office--Jim Mattox, Charlie 
Gonzalez--Richard Raymond is not here--Joe Henderson. I want to thank 
Molly Beth Malcolm, your State chair, and all the members of the Texas 
House and Senate who are here.
    I want to say a special word of appreciation for the life and career 
of a man who has been my friend for more than 25 years, Henry B. 
Gonzalez. You can be really proud of what he has done.
    And I want to thank my friend Ann Richards for finding ways to say 
things no one else can say that make a point no one could misunderstand. 
[Laughter] She's unbelievable.
    I want to tell you why I wanted to come here today, for reasons 
other than the fact that Garry Mauro has been my friend since 1972.
    Audience member. Mango ice cream!
    The President. And the mango ice cream. [Laughter]
    First of all, many of you whom I've already met have said some 
wonderful personal things to me about my family, and I thank you for 
that. You know, it's easy to forget in Washington, but Presidents and 
their families are still people. And it meant more to me than you'll 
ever know, and I thank you for that.
    But I also want to tell you that I desperately want this election 
year, all across America and in Texas, not to be about what's going on 
in Washington, DC, but what's going on in San Antonio, in El Paso, in 
Lufkin, and towns like them all over America. You know, this is still a 
democracy; you're still in the driver's seat, but you have to get behind 
it and drive if you want to be heard.
    Now, I ran for President--I started almost 7 years ago--in just 
about a week it will be the 7th anniversary of my declaration for 
President. When I started, nobody but my wife and my mother thought I 
could win. I had a lot of good friends in Texas and got two-thirds of 
the vote in the Democratic primary here on Super Tuesday, and it 
catapulted me on.
    Now, I ran for President because I wanted to make this country work 
for ordinary citizens again; because I wanted us to be a leader for 
peace and prosperity and freedom in the rest of the world, to which 
we're closer and closer tied; and because I wanted to bring this country 
together in a spirit of harmony and unity across all the lines that 
divide us.
    And in the last 6 years--Garry mentioned it, but I just want to reel 
it off to you--we tested the ideas that we brought to Washington. 
They're no longer the subject of debate. If you believe elections are 
about ideas, ideals, and the impact they have on ordinary people, in 
every election in this country and in every election in Texas, you ought 
to tell people we have the lowest unemployment rate in 28 years, the 
lowest crime rate in 25 years, the smallest percentage of people on 
welfare in 29 years. And Wednesday we'll have the first balanced budget 
and surplus in 29 years.
    But the real question is, what will we do with it? I want you to 
remember what Garry said today. Our enemy is not adversity. Look at this 
crowd. Feel your own enthusiasm. Remember what many of you said to me 
today. Adversity is our friend. It forces us to dig deep, to ask 
ourselves what we believe in, what kind of people we are, what kind of 
people we want to be, where we want to go, and what we want to do with 
our lives. Adversity is our friend. Our enemies are complacency and 
cynicism. Those are our enemies, and don't misunderstand it.

[[Page 1690]]

    The biggest problem Garry Mauro has got in this election is if 
people think, ``Well, things are going well. Why do anything?'' A lot of 
people think, ``I had a tough time in the eighties, and things are going 
well now, and why don't we just relax and let things rock along?'' And I 
can tell you that's appealing, but it's wrong. In Washington people 
think, ``Things are going well; why don't we fight with each other and 
see who we can hurt?'' [Laughter] And it's tempting, but it's wrong. 
It's wrong because the world is changing very fast.
    I just got back from Silicon Valley, where all those computer 
companies are born, you know? Those people change for a living every day 
at blinding speed. But they understand something a lot of our fellow 
Americans don't, which is the world is changing for everyone. You pick 
up the papers; you know that we've got economic problems in Japan and 
the rest of Asia. There's a real risk that it will spread to our friends 
in Mexico and throughout Latin America who are doing a pretty good job 
managing their economies. If that happens, it will hurt Texas very, very 
badly, and our economy.
    You see terrorism throughout the world; you see people fighting with 
each other throughout the world because of their racial, their ethnic, 
religious differences. We have challenges, and we have challenges at 
home. And the real question in this election in America and in Texas is, 
what are we going to do with this moment of prosperity?
    This is Sunday, so I'll just make one Biblical reference. One of the 
most successful leaders in the Bible was Joseph. And what did he do? 
When Egypt was fat and sassy, he saved the grain. He made all those 
people go out and work and do things they'd just as soon not do. And 
they said, ``This Joseph, why doesn't he let up on us?'' But when the 
famine came, the people of Egypt were all right because a true leader 
did something in good times, understanding change.
    When people ask you about Garry Mauro, you tell them about Joseph, 
and tell them what a mistake it would be for Texas to say, ``We're just 
going to stand pat because things are good; who cares if anybody does 
anything? As long as I feel good, everything is all right.''
    Let me tell you what's going on in Washington. I believe as strongly 
as I can say that we have to use these good times as a responsibility to 
look to the future and deal with our challenges. Let me just mention 
four of them. Number one--and I'll compare the positions of the two 
    Number one, Wednesday we're going to have the first balanced budget 
and surplus for 29 years. I've worked hard for it for the last 6 years. 
In 1993 we had a vote, without a single member of the other party--not a 
one--that passed by one vote in both Houses, that brought the deficit 
down over 90 percent before we passed the bipartisan balanced budget 
amendment. And that started this recovery. Now, the guys that didn't 
vote to balance the budget say, ``Well, we're going to have a surplus 
for the first time in 29 years; let's give everybody an election-year 
tax cut 6 weeks before the election.'' Now, it's very popular. It's very 
popular, but it's dead wrong. And I'll tell you why.
    Number one, it's wrong because the rest of the world is in economic 
trouble, and we have to set a standard of being strong economically and 
responsible. If we want to keep growing, we've got to help them get back 
on their feet, not make the same mistakes others are making.
    Number two, the Social Security system is solid now, but it is not 
sustainable when the baby boomers retire. I ought to know; I'm the 
oldest of the baby boomers. [Laughter] And when we retire--you look at 
all the young people here today--when the baby boomers retire, there 
will only be two people working for every one person drawing Social 
Security. If we start now, well ahead of time, we can make modest 
changes that save Social Security that will not require us to make the 
horrible choice of either putting seniors back into poverty or taxing 
our children so that we undermine their ability to raise our 
    Now, people say no one thinks that far ahead. But you know that I'm 
telling the truth, don't you? [Applause] So I say, I want you to support 
us when the Republicans say, ``Here's the goody; it's election time,'' 
and I say no. I'm not against tax cuts. We've got tax cuts for 
education, for child care, and for the environment in our balanced 
budget bill. But I'm against using that surplus for tax cuts or for 
spending programs until we save Social Security for our parents and our 
    Number two, I never thought this would be an election year issue, 
but you know now that 30 percent of our growth comes from our trading 
with other countries. Texas knows how important it is that we sell our 
goods and our

[[Page 1691]]

products and our services to Latin America, to Asia, all over the world. 
We have got to lead the world back from the financial trouble they're 
in, or we will eventually get hurt. And it will be sooner rather than 
    In order for us to lead the world, we have to make our fair 
contribution to something called the International Monetary Fund. That's 
the fund we use to help the countries that are trying to help themselves 
and to keep the problems from spreading so we can keep selling our 
stuff. For 8 months I've been begging the Congress to do it, and they 
still haven't done it. So I say to you, if you like this economy and you 
want to keep it going, vote for us and our side because we will pay our 
fair share and lead the world back to prosperity.
    Number three, in the balanced budget this year, I have given the 
Congress an education agenda. There has been no action for 8 months. 
Here's what it does: It puts 100,000 teachers in our classrooms to lower 
class size to 18 in the early grades; it repairs or builds 5,000 
schools; it provides funds to hook up every classroom in the poorest 
schools in America to the Internet by the year 2000; it helps schools 
where the kids are poor and the neighborhoods are poor to adopt high 
standards, but to have after-school programs and summer school programs 
so the kids aren't deemed failures just because the system is failing 
them. It gives 35,000 young people college scholarships that they can 
pay off if they'll go out and teach in hard-pressed school districts for 
a few years after they get out of college. It is a good education 
program. It deserves to be passed. And our party is for it, and they're 
    Number four, Garry talked about the Patients' Bill of Rights. I want 
a national bill that says the following things: Number one, if you get 
hurt in an accident, they've got to take you to the nearest emergency 
room, not one halfway across town because it's covered by your plan. 
Number two, if your doctor tells you you need to see a specialist, you 
can. Number three, if you're in the middle of treatment and your company 
changes health insurance providers, they can't make you change doctors.
    Now, let me tell you what's happening in America today. Pregnant 
women, 6, 7 months into their pregnancy--their employer changes 
coverage, they say, ``Get another obstetrician.'' Have you ever had 
anybody in your family on chemotherapy? A lot of us have. I have, and 
it's pretty tough. And if somebody in your family--I bet you had the 
same experience we did when my mother had to do that. You sit around and 
you try to put on a brave face; you make a few jokes. You say, ``Well, 
what are we going to do when you're running around bald?'' And then you 
say, ``Well, I'll finally get to wear that wig I've always wanted.'' You 
try to make fun of it to keep from the agony. And then you sit there and 
worry down deep inside, what's going to happen if you're so sick you 
can't eat anymore? Now, how would you feel in the middle of the 
chemotherapy treatment, if somebody said, ``I'm sorry, your employer 
changed providers; you've got to get another doctor''? That happens.
    And our bill would protect the privacy of your medical records, 
which is something people ought to care a lot more about today than ever 
    Now, in Congress, the Republicans passed a bill that didn't do any 
of that, and left 100 million Americans out of what little they did do. 
It is the symbol of the difference in the two parties in Washington and 
throughout the country today.
    So I say to you, here's what we're for: We're for saving Social 
Security first; we're for keeping the economy going; we're for putting 
education first among all our investment priorities; and we're for a 
Patients' Bill of Rights. That's what we're for, and they're opposite us 
on all those issues. That is the choice nationally.
    You want to know--Ann Richards asked if you could think of anything 
that Congress has done. Let me tell you what they've done this year, 
what our friends in the Republican Party have done with their majority. 
They killed campaign finance reform. They killed tobacco reform 
legislation to help us save our kids' health. They killed an increase in 
the minimum wage, with unemployment and inflation low, that would have 
helped 12 million hard-working Americans. They have gone backwards on 
saving Social Security first. They have gone backwards in protecting the 
environment. And they have done nothing on helping us to lead the 
international economy and nothing on the education agenda. That's what 
they have done less than a week before the end of this budget year. And 
that's the difference.
    Well, what's that got to do with the Governor of Texas? I'll tell 
you what. For years and years and years, I heard the Republicans talk 

[[Page 1692]]

how there ought to be more power given to the States, how the Federal 
Government did too much. They talked about it; we did something about 
it. We have the smallest Federal Government in 35 years. But what that 
means is it matters a lot more who the Governor is. We have given 
Governors more responsibility in education, more responsibility in 
health care, more responsibility in managing the environment, and more 
responsibility in growing the economy. It matters. If Garry Mauro were 
not my friend, I would be here saying he has a plan for Texas, and just 
because you're doing well doesn't mean you can stand pat. You need to 
bear down and think about your children and the future and stand up for 
what's right.
    Now, our friends in the other party think they're going to do real 
well this year because of complacency and cynicism and what I call the 
M&M syndrome: money and midterms. They always have more money than we 
do. And at midterm elections our folks--who work hard, have a lot of 
hassles, and it's more trouble for them to vote--don't vote in the same 
numbers their folks do. But we can surprise them if the American people 
know what's really at stake. If they understand this is a question about 
progress over partisanship, people over politics, unity over division.
    And I'm telling you, you go out there and they ask you what it's 
about, tell them it's about the economy. Tell them it's about saving 
Social Security. Tell them it's about the integrity of your health care. 
Tell them it's about the education of your children. That's what we're 
for. And they know--every voter knows what they're for. Make a decision 
for your future and our country's future.
    Thank you, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 3:09 p.m. at a private residence. In his 
remarks, he referred to reception host Frank Herrera; Jim Mattox, 
candidate for State attorney general; Charlie Gonzalez, candidate for 
Texas' 20th Congressional District; State Representative Richard 
Raymond, candidate for State land commissioner; Joe B. Henderson, 
candidate for State railroad commissioner; Molly Beth Malcolm, State 
Democratic chair; and Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas.