[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[July 30, 1998]
[Pages 1376-1378]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Reception for Senatorial Candidate John Edwards in Raleigh, 
North Carolina
July 30, 1998

    Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. Thank you for 
waiting. Thank you for enduring the heat. I'll tell the Vice President 
100 percent of the people in this crowd believe there is global warming 
now. [Laughter] Thank you so much.
    I'd like to thank all the young people who provided our music over 
there. [Inaudible]--thank you very much. I'd like to thank the 
Lieutenant Governor, your Education Commissioner, and the other 
officials who are here; my old friend Dan Blue; my former Ambassador 
Jeanette Hyde and Wallace are here. Barbara Allen, your State chair, 
thank you very much. I saw Sheriff Baker here. I thank him for being 
here. I think every county ought to have a sheriff that's 9 feet tall. I 
wish I could find one everywhere.
    I want to thank my good friend Erskine Bowles for coming home to 
North Carolina with me. You should know that on October 1st, when we 
have that balanced budget and surplus for the first time in so many 
years, there is no single person in America more responsible for the 
first balanced budget in a generation than Erskine Bowles. And it's a 
good thing for this country, and I appreciate it.
    I thank my great friend Jim Hunt. We've been friends for 20 years 
now, a long time before some of you were born. And we've been out here 
working to try to improve education and move our country forward, move 
our States forward.
    I want to thank Margaret Rose Sanford, Mrs. Terry Sanford, for being 
here tonight. Thank you for coming. But most of all, I want to thank 
John Edwards and his wife and his children for this race for the Senate.
    You know, it's just a commonplace today that you can't beat a 
Republican incumbent running for the Senate because they have all the 
money--and that's why campaign finance reform never passes, I might add. 
[Laughter] And so times are good; people are happy; your opponent has 
money, he's already in; therefore, you can't win.
    And John Edwards said, ``I don't think so. I think we can do 
better.'' And I appreciate and respect that. I also want to thank them 
for giving up their anniversary dinner to come here and be with us. 
[Laughter] I'm not going to talk that long. It will still be open when 
we finish tonight. [Laughter]
    I want to make a couple of brief points. It's hot, and you've heard 
it all. I feel like the guy that got up to the banquet and said, 
``Everything that needs to be said has already been said, but not 
everyone has said it yet, so you all sit tight.'' [Laughter] I'll be 
very brief.
    First, I bring you greetings from the Vice President and the First 
Lady, who wish they could be here tonight. We want to thank the people 
in North Carolina who have been our friends since 1992, who stayed with 
us every step of the way, who believed in us when we were often under 
    Here are the points I want to make, and they all bear on this race 
for the Senate. Number one: We came to office in 1992 carried by people 
who believed our country could do better if we had not only new 
leadership but new ideas. We not only had the right people,

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I believe we did the right things. We said, ``We want a Democratic Party 
based on the old virtues of opportunity, responsibility, and community, 
but with new ideas for the 21st century.''
    Five and a half years later, we have the lowest unemployment rate in 
28 years, the lowest crime rate in 25 years, the lowest welfare rolls in 
29 years, the first balanced budget in 29 years, the lowest inflation in 
32 years, the highest homeownership in American history, with the 
smallest Federal Government in 35 years, since John Kennedy was the 
President of the United States.
    There were fights over these ideas. When we passed the budget in 
1993 that reduced the deficit by over 90 percent, not a single member of 
the other party was with us. When we passed the crime bill to put 
100,000 police officers on the street, which officers had been begging 
for--I just left Bristol, Tennessee, the airport, all these law 
enforcement officers standing there in east Tennessee, saying, ``Thank 
you very much for still helping us to keep our community safe''--very 
few members of the other party were there. When we passed the family and 
medical leave bill that's allowed 12\1/2\ million people to get a little 
time off from work when they've got a new baby or a sick parent, most of 
the people in the other party opposed us.
    It was the Democratic Party that said, ``Yes, balance the budget, 
but give 5 million poor children health insurance. Give a HOPE 
scholarship to make the first 2 years of college free for virtually all 
Americans; increase those Pell grants; increase those work-study funds; 
give tax deductibility for the interest rates on student loans. Let's 
make college universal for everybody who is willing to work for it.'' 
That was our party's legacy.
    It was the Democratic Party that said, ``We can grow the economy and 
improve the environment; we can't afford to do the reverse.'' And 
against often relentless odds, I can tell you today, compared to 6 years 
ago, we not only have more new jobs, we have cleaner air, cleaner water, 
safer food, fewer toxic waste dumps, the most land set aside for eternal 
preservation since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. We are 
moving this country in the right direction.
    I love John Edwards' idea for the way to conduct a Senate campaign. 
I'm convinced that one of the few reasons that I am President today is 
that when I went to New Hampshire in 1992, a State with fewer than a 
million people, with the first election, I just started having open 
townhall meetings--said, ``Folks, come on in here. We're going to 
talk.'' And I'd talk 5 or 6 minutes, and they would ask questions for an 
hour or two. And pretty soon the word got around. This is a little 
State, keep in mind. So I went to a place, and they said, ``Bill, if you 
get 50 people it's an acceptable crowd. If you get 150 people, it's a 
huge crowd.'' There were 400 people who showed up. Why? Because they 
wanted to participate in their democracy. John Edwards is trying to give 
this Senate race and this Senate seat back to you, and I hope that his 
opponent will accept his offer.
    Here's the second point I want to make. Here's why you ought to be 
for him: Most people, when times are good, especially if times have been 
bad, want to take a breather. They want to say, ``Oh, everything is fine 
in America today''--it's in my self-interest to say that. So people say, 
``Oh, everything is fine. Let's just relax and kick back and kick off 
our shoes,'' and ``It's a hot summer. We'll drink lemonade and leave 
them all in.''
    But let me tell you, those of you who study what's going on know 
that the world is changing very fast still, every day. The way we work, 
the way we live, the way we learn, the way we relate to the rest of the 
world, it's changing. We cannot afford to sit back. We have to bear 
down. Pretty soon us baby boomers will retire, and we don't want to 
bankrupt our kids and our grandkids. That's why I say--and John Edwards 
says--don't you dare spend that surplus until we save the Social 
Security system for the next generation.
    We have already 160 million Americans in HMO's and other managed 
care plans. We say, ``Okay, manage the care; save the money. But don't 
turn people away from an emergency room. Don't turn people away from a 
specialist. Don't have an accountant making a decision a doctor should 
make with a patient to save lives and guarantee quality health care.'' 
That's what the Patients' Bill of Rights is all about.
    We say America has the finest system of college education in the 
world, and most of our public schools are doing a good job. But nobody 
believes every American child has the finest elementary and secondary 
education in the world. So let's keep working until they do, with 
smaller classes in the early grades; hooking up all the schools, even 
the poorest, to the Internet; giving kids the chance to have 
opportunities in the

[[Page 1378]]

summer and after school if they need it to learn more. In other words, 
let's make a commitment that our elementary and high school education 
will be world-class for everybody, just like college education is. 
That's my commitment, and that's his.
    And so, I have never given a speech in a cool room in North 
Carolina. [Laughter] And I tell you, you got my blood running strong. 
You make me feel good. I can't wait to go home and tell about it. But 
don't you forget, this good man and his family, here before you on their 
21st anniversary, defied all the conventional wisdom along with the good 
people that ran in the primary with him, and they said, ``We can do 
better. Just because America's doing well, just because North Carolina's 
doing well, we have to think about the long-term challenges.''
    Folks, when times are good, that's the time to repair the house; 
that's the time to prepare for the future; that's the time to build on 
the confidence you have. You stay with him and bring him home to the 
United States Senate, and we'll build a stronger America together for 
the 21st century.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 7:35 p.m. in the Governor W. Kerr Scott 
Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. In his remarks, he 
referred to Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker of North Carolina; Lynda McCulloch, 
State education commissioner; State Representative Dan Blue; Jeanette 
Hyde, former Ambassador to Barbados, and her husband, Wallace; Barbara 
Allen, State Democratic Party chair; Sheriff John Baker of Wake County; 
Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., of North Carolina; Margaret Rose Sanford, wife 
of former Gov. Terry Sanford; and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of candidate 
John Edwards.