[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[January 9, 1998]
[Pages 24-26]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception for Representative Ruben Hinojosa in McAllen, 
January 9, 1998

    Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Ruben. Thank you very 
much to the Cantus, to Alonzo and Yoli, for having us in their 
modest little home here. [Laughter] Is this a beautiful place, 
or what? It's really wonderful. I'm so glad to be here.
    I want to thank the Congressman and Marty 
and their entire family for making me feel so welcome down here. I thank 
Congressman Solomon Ortiz and Congressman 
Ciro Rodriguez who are also here and have 
been good friends of our administration and good for this country. I'm 
glad to be joined here today by the Secretary of Education in my 
administration, Dick Riley; our land 
commissioner, Garry Mauro; our State Democratic 
chair, Bill White; the county Democratic 
chair, Ramon Garcia; McAllen's mayor, Leo 
Montalvo, and all the other local elected 
    I'd also like to thank Alfonso Hinostroza who created those beautiful wooden chairs inside. I 
don't know if you've seen them, but they commemorate my visit. And I 
said when I sat down in one that it actually made me feel like a real 
President. I felt--actually, I almost felt like a monarch sitting in 
that chair. It's a little too highfalutin for me on a daily basis. 
    Hector Reyna, Sr., I thank you for 
creating the stained-glass Arkansas State bird and flower. And I'd also 
like to welcome State Representative Richard Raymond, who is a candidate for land commissioner. Thank you 
all for being here, and I'm very glad to see you.
    Let me say that I'm honored to be here to help this Congressman 
mobilize his district, to sit down this morning, early, with a lot of 
community leaders and talk about the economic challenges still facing 
the valley: what should be done to generate more jobs, more investment, 
to rebuild the transportation system and improve the quality and supply 
of water--all the issues we discussed this morning.
    I loved going over to the school and seeing the children and telling 
them that starting this January we could honestly say we had opened the 
doors of college to all Americans. We've made community college 
virtually free to nearly everybody in this country now with tax credits 
called the HOPE scholarship. We've given a $1,000 tax credit for the 
junior and senior year

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of college, for graduate schools, for adults that have to go back to 
school. We've got an education IRA now that allows people to save for 
their kids' education and then withdraw from it tax free. We have 
dramatically expanded Pell grants. We have dramatically expanded work-
study positions.
    I love talking about all that. But when the Congressman was talking 
about the two people that I met in the handicapped section of the rally, 
it reminded me of something I've been thinking a lot about lately as I 
try to ponder how I should spend every remaining day in this term. I 
must say, when I saw that crowd out there today, Congressman, I thought 
it was a good thing we had the 22d amendment, which limited my ability 
to run again, because I'd do it again after today if I could. [Laughter]
    Here's what I want to tell you. He saw a great crowd, and he 
remembered the stories. In Washington we tend to talk of statistics. 
Today it came out that in December our economy created another 370,000 
jobs, now 14.3 million jobs in the first 5 years of our administration--
14.3 million. Well, that's a statistic. But behind that statistic there 
are over 14 million stories. There are people who have the dignity of 
work, who can support their children, who can create a different future 
because of that statistic.
    The statistics say there are about 14 million people--maybe more 
now--who have taken advantage of the family and medical leave law so 
they could get a little time off from work when there's a sick family 
member or a new baby born. That's the statistic. The story is it 
strengthens family life. One of the great challenges in this country is, 
how do people balance the demands of being parents and the demands of 
work? There is no more important job for Americans than taking care of 
their kids and raising them well. So how are we going to balance that? 
Those are stories; they're not statistics.
    I saw the other day something over a quarter of a million--I can't 
remember--but something over a quarter million people who had criminal 
or mental health histories were not able to buy handguns because of the 
Brady law. How many people didn't get killed, didn't get wounded, didn't 
get injured because of that? We don't know, but every one of them has 
got a different story because of that.
    How many million people will now go on to college or stay in longer 
because we have opened the doors of college to everyone? That's the 
biggest, that list I just mentioned to you, the biggest increase in aid 
to college education since the GI bill was passed when our soldiers came 
home 50 years ago from World War II. That will create millions of 
different stories.
    The reason I undertook this race initiative this year, to try to get 
people together across all the racial and ethnic and religious lines 
that divide America, is because I know that when we can celebrate our 
differences and then say what binds us together as Americans is even 
more important, then there is no stopping the United States in the 21st 
    But you can't take that for granted. Look at the problems we see in 
the world, from the tribal wars in Africa to the ethnic fight in Bosnia, 
from the longstanding religious conflict in Ireland to the religious and 
ethnic conflict that endures in the Middle East. You look all over the 
world, people have a hard time getting along with those that either look 
different or believe differently than they do about the nature of God 
and humanity's relationship to God. It's fascinating.
    But we in America have always said if you believe in freedom, if you 
believe in the rule of law, if you believe in our Constitution, and if 
you show up for work every day--or you show up for school if you're a 
kid--that's all you've got to do. You can be part of our America if you 
respect other people and their right to live, just as they respect you 
and your right to live. That is the fundamental lesson that if we can 
embody, we will continue to grow and prosper in the 21st century, and we 
will be able to lead the world toward greater peace and freedom.
    Finally, I want to say a special, personal word of thanks to Ruben 
for taking all the heat to stick with me on the fast-track issue and 
trying to continue to expand America's outreach to the rest of the 
    I can tell you that I do not believe that there is a majority in the 
House, just like there is clearly not one--we had almost 70 percent of 
the Senate with us last year--there is not a majority of Members of the 
House of Representatives who don't want to continue to expand trade. 
What they reflect is the ambivalence, the fears people have about the

[[Page 26]]

globalization of the world economy and the explosion of information and 
technology and science, and how it's bringing us all closer together. 
And what everybody wants to know is, is everyone going to have a chance 
to participate in this new economy, or are some people going to be left 
behind? Are we going to have a higher level of citizenship and a higher 
level of society, or are we going to be thrown to the winds of chaos and 
anarchy by having global marketplace dominate democratic institutions 
and people?
    There is a lot of anxiety about that out there, not only in our 
country but throughout the world. Our answer is to help people who are 
dislocated resume their normal lives as quickly as possible. And we have 
a plan to do more of that, to invest more in communities that have been 
left behind, invest more in people who need to upgrade their skills, 
give people tax incentives to invest in areas where the unemployment is 
too high. But don't let America run away from the rest of the world. 
America should be embracing the rest of the world and setting a standard 
of cooperation and an advance of freedom and democracy and prosperity at 
the same time. That's what your Congressman believes, and I appreciate 
    Thank you all for what has been an unbelievably wonderful day. I'll 
remember this day for the rest of my life. I flew all the way down from 
New York City last night. I didn't get in until about 2 o'clock in the 
morning. And I got up this morning wondering if I would be tired, but 
all the faces I have seen and the stories I have imagined have kept me 
    But you remember what I said: Politics is nothing more than people 
organized to pursue their common destiny. Our political system gives 
free people the assurance, number one, that their voice counts; number 
two, that they can make changes if they get together, and they can 
prevail; and number three, there will always be some limits on the 
Government so they can't be abused. And within that, politics gives us 
the chance to imagine what kind of life stories we want all of our 
people to have.
    I hope the people I met on that ropeline will remember it for the 
rest of their lives, but I will, too. And when I go back to Washington, 
I'll be thinking what I have to do is to create more good stories. If we 
can do that, the American people will take care of the rest.
    Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:26 a.m. at a private residence. In his 
remarks, he referred to reception hosts Alonzo and Yoli Cantu; 
Representative Hinojosa's wife, Marty; and Garry Mauro, Texas State land