[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[October 21, 1997]
[Pages 1405-1408]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Dinner
October 21, 1997

    Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your 
exuberant welcome. Thank you for what it means. You know that our 
country is better off than it was 5 years ago. You know it's because we 
worked together to change the direction of this country. And you know 
that's what really counts in the lives of the American people. We could 
use more of you in Washington, DC, reminding people here about what 
really counts in the lives of the American people. And we thank you for 
your support.
    I want to thank, first of all, Tom Daschle. There is no way that I 
can convey to you the extraordinary leadership that he has given to the 
United States Senate and the Democratic caucus. Senator Kerrey talked 
about it a little bit. It's really an easy job; there are no egos in the 
Senate. [Laughter] Everybody comes from the same kind of place; there 
are no genuinely conflicting interests. [Laughter] It's always fun to be 
in the minority when you're getting your brains beat out; there's no 
difficulty there. [Laughter] It's an extraordinarily difficult job. He's 
done it with grace and good humor, with brilliance and insight and 
genuine courage on occasion after occasion. And this country is very

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fortunate that Tom Daschle is in the leadership of the Congress.
    I want to thank my longtime friend Senator Bob Kerrey for his 
willingness to do this job in the toughest of all times and to do it 
superbly well and to continue to fight to push our party and our country 
toward change. Whether it's reforming the IRS, facing the difficult 
issue of entitlements, Bob Kerrey is always willing to be on the cutting 
edge of change. And my belief is that every single election, if given 
the chance, will be an election where the voters vote for the future. 
And we have tried to give them a chance to have a Democratic Party that 
was about the future, in no small measure because of you, Senator 
Kerrey, and we thank you for it very much.
    Lastly, let me thank Senator Torricelli. I had the privilege of 
campaigning side by side with Bob Torricelli in New Jersey last year. 
And they said the polls were really close, and then something happened 
at the end and they miraculously opened up. They opened up for him, and 
they opened up for me. And the people of New Jersey have been very good 
to me now twice. But in 1996, it was an extraordinary election. And 
also, it was amazing how that nip-and-tuck Senate race just ballooned at 
the end, and Senator Torricelli opened his substantial lead. I think 
it's because people saw that if they voted for him, they would have 
somebody who (a) was on their side, and (b) wasn't afraid to fight for 
    And when I see Bob Torricelli trying to cut through the smokescreens 
and the rhetoric and the hot air and the disingenuous arguments that he 
has been willing to take on almost singlehandedly, day-in and day-out, 
to stand up and fight for his party, his President, and his principles, 
it makes me thank goodness that he is a United States Senator. And I 
will never forget him.
    And I want to thank the Senators that are the cochairs of this event 
tonight, Senator Bingaman, Senator Bryan, Senator Rockefeller, Senator 
Mikulski, Senator Ford. I want to join in what has already been said by 
Bob Kerrey about Wendell Ford and John Glenn and my longtime dear friend 
Dale Bumpers. I didn't want any of them to quit, and I was mad about it 
for 2 or 3 days. And then I realized it was not my choice and not my 
life. And they have more than served their country and more than paid 
their dues. But this is a much, much better America because of the 
service that has been given to us by Wendell Ford and John Glenn and 
Dale Bumpers. It's a better country, and we should all be grateful.
    I come here tonight to say that we should go into the contest in 
1998 united, and we should go into the contest based on the issues. Let 
the other side continue to follow the politics of personal destruction. 
Let us tell the American people what we have done and what we intend to 
do. Let us give them a chance to vote for their future and their 
children, for a vision of America in the 21st century that will give us 
opportunity for everyone responsible enough to work for it, a country 
that is coming together instead of being driven apart, and a Nation 
still strong and visionary enough to lead the world toward peace and 
freedom, prosperity and security. That is our job.
    And when you come here and make your contributions and support our 
endeavors, I want you to know that that's what the leaders of this 
organization believe and that's what I believe.
    We had success in 1996 for some very simple reasons. One, we 
promised to get rid of trickle-down economics and replace it with 
invest-and-grow economics. The American people had an economic policy 
that worked, and it affected their lives.
    Second, we promised to get rid of hot air and tough talk on crime 
and replace it with tough and smart action on crime. We had a crime 
policy that worked, and it made a difference in people's lives.
    We promised to get away from tough talk and anecdotes about welfare 
and try to give people a new approach to welfare that would reward work 
and childhood, that would be tough in work requirements but good for 
children. And it's working.
    We promised that we would fight for a clean environment, even as we 
tried to grow the economy. And we fought off a ferocious attack on our 
environmental protections.
    We promised to fight for a safe and secure workplace, even as we 
tried to grow the economy. And we fought off a ferocious attack on the 
rules which protect workplace safety.
    We promised to modernize the Government. We downsized it by 300,000 
without putting people in the street, got rid of thousands of pages of 
regulation and hundreds of programs, and put more money into education 
and technology. And it's worked. We promised we could

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reduce the deficit and grow the economy and invest more in our people, 
and it has worked.
    That is what accounted for the success in 1996. Ideas have 
consequences. And people who are willing and disciplined enough to 
implement their ideas can change the course of a country. That is what 
this is all about. Don't ever forget that what you do here has 
    And we had a balanced budget that passed by overwhelming bipartisan 
margins in both the Senate and the House. And I was glad of that, glad 
to celebrate it. But I think you know which party was passionately 
fighting for the biggest increase in aid to education since 1965, for 
the biggest increase in aid in access to college since the GI bill in 
1945, for our ability now to say that we have truly opened the doors of 
college to every American responsible enough to work for it. I think you 
know which party was fighting for the $24 billion to provide health 
insurance to 5 million children in working families who don't have it 
today. I think you know which party was fighting for that.
    But what I don't want you to ever forget is, before we ever passed 
that budget, the deficit had already been reduced by more than 80 
percent from its 1992 high, because of the votes taken only by members 
of your party in 1993 to drive the deficit down and get the economy 
going again. And nobody should ever be permitted to forget it.
    We've got a lot to do in the future. We have to raise the standards 
of our schools and give people more choices in the public schools they 
attend and make things that work more prevalent in all of our school 
    We have a big challenge to face in fulfilling our solemn 
responsibilities on global climate change. We have 4 percent of the 
world's people; we contribute 26 percent of the world's greenhouse 
gases; we enjoy 22 percent of the world's economic growth. The climate 
is warming more rapidly than any time in the last 10,000 years. No one 
knows when something bad will happen or exactly what it will be, but the 
overwhelming consensus of scientists is that we must reduce our 
greenhouse gases. I am prepared to see the United States take the lead. 
But I am not a pessimist. Every single action the United States has 
taken since 1970 to clean up our own environment has led to more jobs, a 
diversifying economy, a stronger American economy, a brighter American 
future. And so will this. And that's what we're going to do. But I 
refuse to hide our heads in the sand. We have to face that.
    The Democratic Party will have to prove in the next couple of years 
that we can preserve Social Security and we can preserve Medicare for 
the next generation without bankrupting our children and our 
grandchildren to pay for it. That is the responsible position, and we 
can do it in a progressive way. But we are the party that will have to 
do the work if you want it to be done in that way. We have to keep 
pushing forward into the future.
    The Democratic Party should pass, working with our friends in the 
Republican Congress who will agree with us, a genuinely progressive 
settlement to protect our children from the dangers of tobacco. And we 
can do it in the right way, and we need to do it immediately--next 
year--as quickly as we can.
    Tomorrow the First Lady and I are hosting the first-ever conference 
at the White House on child care. We know that there are millions of 
people who have to go to work every day worried about whether their kids 
have adequate child care or worried about how in the world they're going 
to pay for it. We know that child care takes almost 20 percent of the 
average lower income person's paycheck. We've got to make sure that if 
we're really going to balance work and family in the 21st century, 
people can have adequate and affordable child care.
    There are lots of things to do out there. But we have to be bound 
together by our vision. We stand for opportunity and responsibility. We 
stand for work and family. We stand for individual liberty and the 
community. And we know America cannot be strong at home unless it is 
strong abroad.
    I pray that the Democrats never turn away from our responsibilities 
to lead the world toward peace and freedom and prosperity and security. 
Whether it's in the Middle East or Northern Ireland or Latin America or 
South Asia or the Far East or in Africa, we have got to work to see that 
the people of the world keep growing together. We must never return to 
war, and we must try to stop the wars that exist now, and we must expand 
our opportunities to relate to each other in more peaceful, productive 
    I want to thank the Democratic caucus for one other thing. 
Unanimously, our caucus--unanimously--voted to support campaign finance 
reform this year, and I thank them--

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every last, single one. I don't know how long we will have to labor 
under the illusion that somehow there is no responsibility for this 
issue or somehow everyone is responsible. The White House is for 
campaign finance reform. The Democratic caucus is unanimously for 
campaign finance reform. The vast majority of the Members of the House 
in our caucus are for it. We will get it--when we can get enough help 
from our friends in the Republican Party, we will have campaign finance 
reform. And I hope that it will become clear that that is what has to be 
    Lastly, let me say, be of good cheer when you go into this campaign. 
If you read American history books, you will see that, typically, in the 
second term of an incumbent President, the party of the President 
normally doesn't do all that well at midterm elections. There is a 
reason for that. People think the sun is setting and the energy is 
running out and the steam is getting weak. Well, the sun is not setting, 
the energy is not running out, and I will be working full tilt until the 
last minute of the last hour of the last day. And I want you to give me 
a Democratic Senate to work with.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:35 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Hyatt 
Regency Hotel.