President Clinton Address to Democratic National Convention 1996
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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
(Chicago, Illinois)
________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release August 29, 1996


ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION


United Center
Chicago, Illinois


9:00 P.M. CDT


THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, my
fellow Democrats, and my fellow Americans: Thank you for your
nomination. I don't know if I can find a fancy way to say this, but I
accept. (Applause.)

So many -- so many have contributed to the record we
have made for the American people, but one above all -- my partner, my
friend, and the best Vice President in our history, Al Gore.
(Applause.)

Tonight, I thank the city of Chicago, its great Mayor
and its wonderful people for this magnificent convention. (Applause.)
I love Chicago for many reasons -- for your powerful spirit, your sports
teams, your lively politics, but most of all, for the love and light of
my life, Chicago's daughter, Hillary. (Applause.)

Four years ago, you and I set forth on a journey to
bring our vision to our country, to keep the American Dream alive for
all who were willing to work for it, to make our American community
stronger, to keep America the world's strongest force for peace and
freedom and prosperity.

Four years ago, with high unemployment, stagnant wages,
crime, welfare and the deficit on the rise, with a host of unmet
challenges and a rising tide of cynicism, I told you about a place I was
born -- and I told you that I still believed in a place called Hope.
(Applause.)

Well, for four years now, to realize our vision we have
pursued a simple but profound strategy -- opportunity for all,
responsibility from all, a strong united American community.
Four days ago, as you were making your way here, I began
a train ride to make my way to Chicago through America's heartland. I
wanted to see the faces, I wanted to hear the voices of the people for
whom I have worked and fought these last four years. And did I ever
see them.

I met an ingenious businesswoman who was once on welfare
in West Virginia; a brave police officer, shot and paralyzed, now a
civic leader in Kentucky; an autoworker in Ohio once unemployed now
proud to be working in the oldest auto plant in America to help make
America number one in auto production again for the first time in 20
years. (Applause.) I met a grandmother fighting for her grandson's
environment in Michigan. And I stood with two wonderful little children
proudly reading from their favorite book, "The Little Engine that
Could." (Applause.)

At every stop, large and exuberant crowds greeted me and,
maybe more important, when we just rolled through little towns there
were always schoolchildren there waving their American flags, all of
them believing in America and its future. I would not have missed that
trip for all the world, for that trip showed me that hope is back in
America. We are on the right track to the 21st century. (Applause.)

Look at the facts, just look at the facts: 4.4 million
Americans now living in a home of their own for the first time; hundreds
of thousands of women have started their own new businesses. More
minorities own businesses than ever before. Record numbers of new small
businesses and exports.

Look at what's happened. We have the lowest combined rates
of unemployment, inflation and home mortgages in 28 years. (Applause.)
Look at what happened -- 10 million new jobs, over half of them
high-wage jobs; 10 million workers getting the raise they deserve with
the minimum wage law; 25 million people now having protection in their
health insurance because the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill says you can't lose
your insurance anymore when you change jobs, even if somebody in your
family has been sick; 40 million Americans with more pension security; a
tax cut for 15 million of our hardest working -- hardest pressed
Americans, and all small businesses; 12 million Americans -- 12 million
of them -- taking advantage of the Family and Medical Leave law so they
can be good parents and good workers. (Applause.)

Ten million students have saved money on their college
loans. We are making our democracy work. (Applause.)

We have also passed political reform, the line-item veto,
the motor voter bill, tougher registration laws for lobbyists, making
Congress live under the laws they impose on the private sector, stopping
unfunded mandates to state and local government. We've come a long way;
we've got one more thing to do. Will you help me get campaign finance
reform in the next four years? (Applause.)

We have increased our investments in research and
technology. We have increased investments in breast cancer research
dramatically. We are developing a supercomputer -- a supercomputer that
will do more calculating in a second than a person with a hand-held
calculator can do in 30,000 years. More rapid development of drugs to
deal with HIV and AIDS and moving them to the market quicker have almost
doubled life expectancy in only four years. And we are looking at no
limit in sight to that. We'll keep going until normal life is returned
to people who deal with this. (Applause.)

Our country is still the strongest force for peace and
freedom on Earth. On issues that once before tore us apart, we have
changed the old politics of Washington. For too long, leaders in
Washington asked, who's to blame. But we asked, what are we going to
do. (Applause.)

On crime -- we're putting 100,000 police on the streets.
We made three strikes and you're out the law of the land. We stopped
60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers from getting handguns under the
Brady Bill. (Applause.) We banned assault rifles. We supported
tougher punishment and prevention programs to keep our children from
drugs and gangs and violence.
Four years now -- for four years now the crime rate in
America has gone down. (Applause.)

On welfare, we worked with states to launch a quiet
revolution. Today there are 1.8 million fewer people on welfare than
there were the day I took the oath of office. (Applause.) We are
moving people from welfare to work.

We have increased child support collections by 40 percent.
The federal work force is the smallest it has been since John Kennedy.
And the deficit has come down for four years in a row for the first time
since before the Civil War, down 60 percent on the way to zero. We will
do it. (Applause.)

We are on the right track to the 21st century. We are on
the right track. But our work is not finished. What should we do?
First, let us consider how to proceed. Again I say the question is no
longer who's to blame, but what to do.

I believe that Bob Dole and Jack Kemp and Ross Perot love
our country, and they have worked hard to serve it. It is legitimate,
even necessary, to compare our record with theirs, our proposals for the
future with theirs. And I expect them to make a vigorous effort to do
the same.

But I will not attack. I will not attack them personally
or permit others to do it in this party if I can prevent it.
(Applause.)

My fellow Americans, this must be -- this must be a
campaign of ideas, not a campaign of insults. The American people
deserve it. (Applause.)

Now, here's the main idea: I love and revere the rich and
proud history of America. And I am determined to take our best
traditions into the future. But with all respect, we do not need to
build a bridge to the past. We need to build a bridge to the future.
And that is what I commit to you to do. (Applause.)

So tonight -- tonight let us resolve to build that bridge
to the 21st century, to meet our challenges and protect our values. Let
us build a bridge to help our parents raise their children, to help
young people and adults to get the education and training they need, to
make our streets safer, to help Americans succeed at home and at work,
to break the cycle of poverty and dependence, to protect our environment
for generations to come, and to maintain our world leadership for peace
and freedom. Let us resolve to build that bridge. (Applause.)

Tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask all of our fellow
citizens to join me and to join you in building that bridge to the 21st
century. Four years from now, just four years from now -- think of it
-- we begin a new century, full of enormous possibilities. We have to
give the American people the tools they need to make the most of their
God-given potential. We must make the basic bargain of opportunity and
responsibility available to all Americans, not just a few. That is the
promise of the Democratic Party. That is the promise of America.
(Applause.)

I want to build a bridge to the 21st century in which we
expand opportunity through education, where computers are as much a part
of the classroom as blackboards, where highly-trained teachers demand
peak performance from our students, where every eight-year-old can point
to a book and say, I can read it myself. (Applause.)

By the year 2000, the single most critical thing we can do
is to give every single American who wants it the chance to go to
college. (Applause.) We must make two years of college just as
universal in four years as a high school education is today. And we can
do it. (Applause.) We can do it, and we should cut taxes to do it.

I propose a $1,500 a year tuition tax credit for Americans,
a Hope Scholarship for the first two years of college to make the
typical community college education available to every American.
(Applause.)

I believe every working family ought also to be able to
deduct up to $10,000 in college tuition costs per year for education
after that. (Applause.) I believe the families of this country ought
to be able to save money for college in a tax-free IRA; save it year in
and year out, withdraw it for college education without penalty.
(Applause.)

We should not tax middle-income Americans for the money
they spend on college. We'll get the money back down the road many
times over. (Applause.)

I want to say here, before I go further, that these tax
cuts and every other one I mention tonight, are all fully paid for in my
balanced budget plan, line by line, dime by dime. And they focus on
education. (Applause.)

Now, one thing so many of our fellow Americans are learning
is that education no longer stops on graduation day. I have proposed a
new G.I. Bill for American Workers -- a $2,600 grant for unemployed and
underemployed Americans so that they can get the training and the skills
they need to go back to work at better paying jobs -- good high-skilled
jobs for a good future. (Applause.)

But we must demand excellence at every level of education.
We must insist that our students learn the old basics we learned and the
new basics they have to know for the next century. Tonight let us set a
clear national goal: All children should be able to read on their own
by the 3rd grade. (Applause.) When 40 percent of our eight-year-olds
cannot read as well as they should, we have to do something. I want to
send 30,000 reading specialists and national service corps members to
mobilize a voluntary army of one million reading tutors for 3rd-graders
all across America. (Applause.) They will teach our young children to
read.

Let me say to our parents, you have to lead the way. Every
tired night you spend reading a book to your child will be worth it many
times over. I know that HIllary and I still talk about the books we
read to Chelsea when we were so tired we could hardly stay awake. We
still remember them, and more important, so does she. But we're going
to help the parents of this country make every child able to read for
himself or herself by the age of 8, by the 3rd grade. Do you believe we
can do that? (Applause.) Will you help us do that? (Applause.)

We must give parents, all parents, the right to choose
which public school their children will attend, and to let teachers form
new charter schools, with a charter they can keep only if they do a good
job. We must keep our schools open late so that young people have
someplace to go and something to say yes to and stay off the street.
(Applause.)

We must require that our students pass tough tests to keep
moving up in school. A diploma has to mean something when they get out.
(Applause.) We should reward teachers that are doing a good job, remove
those who don't measure up. But in every case, never forget that none
of us would be here tonight if it weren't for our teachers. I know I
wouldn't. We ought to lift them up, not tear them down. (Applause.)

We need schools that will take our children into the next
century. We need schools that are rebuilt and modernized with an
unprecedented commitment from the national government to increase school
construction; and with every single library and classroom in America
connected to the Information Superhighway by the year 2000. (Applause.)

Now, folks, if we do these things, every 8-year-old will be
able to read; every 12-year-old will be able to log in on the Internet;
every 18-year-old will be able to go to college. And all Americans will
have the knowledge they need to cross that bridge to the 21st century.
(Applause.)

I want to build a bridge to the 21st century in which we
create a strong and growing economy, to preserve the legacy of
opportunity for the next generation by balancing our budget in a way
that protects our values, and ensuring that every family will be able to
own and protect the value of their most important asset, their home.

Tonight let us proclaim to the American people we will
balance the budget. And let us also proclaim, we will do it in a way
that preserves Medicare, Medicaid, education, the environment, the
integrity of our pensions, the strength of our people. (Applause.)

Now, last year, when the Republican Congress sent me a
budget that violated those values and principles, I vetoed it. And I
would do it again tomorrow. (Applause.) I could never allow cuts that
devastate education for our children, that pollute our environment, that
end the guarantee of health care for those who are served under
Medicaid, that end our duty, or violate our duty to our parents through
Medicare. I just couldn't do that. As long as I'm President, I'll
never let it happen. (Applause.)

And it doesn't matter if they try again, as they did
before, to use the blackmail threat of a shutdown of the federal
government to force these things on the American people. We didn't let
it happen before. We won't let it happen again. (Applause.)

Of course, there is a better answer to this dilemma. We
could have the right kind of balanced budget with a new Congress -- a
Democratic Congress. (Applause.)

I want to balance the budget with real cuts in government,
in waste. I want a plan that invests in education, as mine does, in
technology, and, yes, in research, as Christopher Reeve so powerfully
reminded us we must do. (Applause.)

And my plan gives Americans tax cuts that will help our
economy to grow. I want to expand IRAs so that young people can save
tax-free to buy a first home. Tonight I propose a new tax cut for
homeownership that says to every middle-income working family in this
country, if you sell your home you will not have to pay a capital gains
tax on it ever -- not ever. (Applause.) I want every American to be
able to hear those beautiful words, "welcome home." (Applause.)

Let me say again, every tax cut I call for tonight is
targeted; it's responsible; and it is paid for within my balanced budget
plan. My tax cuts will not undermine our economy. They will speed
economic growth.

We should cut taxes for the family, sending a child to
college, for the worker returning to college, for the family saving to
buy a home or for long-term health care, and a $500-per-child credit for
middle-income families raising their children who need help with child
care and what the children will do after school. That is the right way
to cut taxes -- pro-family, pro-education, pro-economic growth.
(Applause.)

Now, our opponents have put forward a very different plan,
a risky $550 billion tax scheme that will force them to ask for even
bigger cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment than
they passed and I vetoed last year. But even then, they will not cover
the costs of their scheme, so that, even then, this plan will explode
the deficit, which will increase interest rates by two percent,
according to their own estimates last year. It will require huge cuts
in the very investments we need to grow and to grow together, and at the
same time slow down the economy.

You know what higher interest rates mean. To you it means
a higher mortgage payment, a higher car payment, a higher credit card
payment. To our economy it means business people will not borrow as
much money, invest as much money, create as many new jobs, create as
much wealth, raise as many wages. Do we really want to make that same
mistake all over again?

AUDIENCE: Nooo!

THE PRESIDENT: Do we really want to stop economic growth
again?

AUDIENCE: Nooo!

THE PRESIDENT: Do we really want to start piling up
another mountain of debt?

AUDIENCE: Nooo!

THE PRESIDENT: Do we want to bring back the recession of
1991 and '92?

AUDIENCE: Nooo!

THE PRESIDENT: Do we want to weaken our bridge to the 21st
century?

AUDIENCE: Nooo!

THE PRESIDENT: Of course, we don't.

We have an obligation, you and I, to leave our children a
legacy of opportunity, not a legacy of debt. Our budget would be
balanced today, we would have a surplus today, if we didn't have to make
the interest payments on the debt run up in the 12 years before the
Clinton-Gore administration took office. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: So let me say this is one of those areas
in which I respectfully disagree with my opponent. I don't believe we
should bet the farm, and I certainly don't believe we should bet the
country. We should stay on the right track to the 21st century.
(Applause.)

Opportunity alone is not enough. I want to build
an America in the 21st century in which all Americans take personal
responsibility for themselves, their families, their communities, and
their country. I want our nation to take responsibility to make sure
that every single child can look out the window in the morning and see a
whole community getting up and going to work.

We want these young people to know the thrill of the first
paycheck, the challenge of starting that first business, the pride in
following in a parent's footsteps. The welfare reform law I signed last
week gives America a chance, but not a guarantee, to have that kind of
new beginning; to have a new social bargain with the poor guaranteeing
health care, child care, and nutrition for the children, but requiring
able-bodied parents to work for the income.

Now I say to all of you, whether you supported the law or
opposed it, but especially to those who supported it, we have a
responsibility, we have a moral obligation to make sure the people who
are being required to work have the opportunity to work. We must make
sure the jobs are there. (Applause.)

There should be one million new jobs for welfare recipients
by the year 2000. States under this law can now take the money that was
spent on the welfare check and use it to help businesses provide
paychecks. I challenge every state to do it soon.

I propose also to give businesses a tax credit for every
person hired off welfare and kept employed. I propose to offer private
job placement firms a bonus for every welfare recipient they place in a
job who stays in it. (Applause.) And more important, I want to help
communities put welfare recipients to work right now, without delay,
repairing schools, making their neighborhoods clean and safe, making
them shine again. There's lots of work to be done out there. Our
cities can find ways to put people to work and bring dignity and
strength back to these families. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, I have spent an enormous amount of
time with our dear friend the late Ron Brown, and with Secretary Kantor
and others opening markets for America around the world. And I'm proud
of every one we opened. But let us never forget, the greatest untapped
market for American enterprise is right here in America -- in the inner
cities, in the rural areas, who have not felt this recovery. With
investment and business and jobs, they can become our partners in the
future. And it's a great opportunity we ought not to pass up.
(Applause.)

I propose more empowerment zones like the one we have right
here in Chicago to draw business into poor neighborhoods. I propose
more community development banks, like the South Shore Bank right here
in Chicago, to help people in those neighborhoods start their own small
businesses. More jobs; more incomes; new markets for America right here
at home making welfare reform a reality. (Applause.)

Now, folks, you cheered -- and I thank you -- but the
government can only do so much. The private sector has to provide most
of these jobs. So I want to say again, tonight I challenge every
business person in America who has ever complained about the failure of
the welfare system to try to hire somebody off welfare, and try hard.
(Applause.) Thank you.

After all, the welfare system you used to complain about is
not here anymore. There is no more "who's to blame" on welfare. Now
the only question is what to do. And we all have a responsibility,
especially those who have criticized what was passed and who have asked
for a change, and who have the ability to give poor people a chance to
grow and support their families. I want to build a bridge to the 21st
century that ends the permanent under class, that lifts up the poor and
ends their isolation, their exile, and they're not forgotten anymore.
(Applause.) Thank you.

THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: I want to build a bridge to the 21st
century where our children are not killing other children anymore; where
children's lives are not shattered by violence at home or in the school
yard; where a generation of young people are not left to raise
themselves on the streets.

With more police and punishment and prevention, the crime
rate has dropped for four years in a row now. But we cannot rest,
because we know it's still too high. We cannot rest until crime is a
shocking exception to our daily lives, not news as usual. Will you stay
with me until we reach that good day? (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, we all owe a great debt to Sarah and
Jim Brady -- and I'm glad they took their wrong turn and wound up in
Chicago. I was glad to see that. (Applause.) It is to them we owe the
good news that 60,000 felons, fugitives, and stalkers couldn't get
handguns because of the Brady Bill. But not a single hunter in Arkansas
or New Hampshire or Illinois or anyplace else missed a hunting season.

But now I say we should extend the Brady Bill, because
anyone who has committed an act of domestic violence against a spouse or
a child should not buy a gun. (Applause.)

And we must ban those cop-killer bullets. They are
designed for one reason only, to kill police officers. We ask the
police to keep us safe. We owe it to them to help keep them safe while
they do their job for us. (Applause.)

We should pass a victim's rights constitutional amendment
because victims deserved to be heard, they need to know when an
assailant is released. They need to know these things, and the only way
to guarantee them is through a constitutional amendment.

We have made a great deal of progress. Even the crime rate
among young people is finally coming down. So it is very, very painful
to me that drug use among young people is up. Drugs nearly killed my
brother when he was a young man. And I hate them. He fought back.
He's here tonight with his wife, his little boy is here, and I'm really
proud of him. (Applause.)

But I learned something -- I learned something in going
through that long nightmare with our family. And I can tell you,
something has happened to some of our young people -- they simply don't
think these drugs are dangerous anymore, or they think the risk is
acceptable. So beginning with our parents, and without regard to our
party, we have to renew our energy to teach this generation of young
people the hard, cold truth -- drugs are deadly, drugs are wrong, drugs
can cost you your life. (Applause.)

General Barry McCaffrey, the four star General who led our
fight against drugs in Latin America, now leads our crusade against
drugs at home -- stopping more drugs at our borders, cracking down on
those who sell them and, most important of all, pursuing a national
antidrug strategy whose primary aim is to turn our children away from
drugs. I call on Congress to give him every cent of funding we have
requested for this strategy, and to do it now. (Applause.)

There is more we will do. We should say to parolees, we
will test you for drugs; if you go back on them we will send you back to
jail. We will say to gangs, we will break you with the same
anti-racketeering law we used to mob bosses in jail; you're not going to
kill our kids anymore or turn them into murderers before they're
teenagers. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, if we're going to build that bridge to
the 21st century we have to make our children free -- free of the vice
grip of guns and gangs and drugs; free to build lives of hope.

I want to build a bridge to the 21st century with a strong
American community, beginning with strong families; an America where all
children are cherished and protected from destructive forces, where
parents can succeed at home and at work.

Everywhere I've gone in America, people come up and talk to
me about their struggle with the demands of work and their desire to do
a better job with their children. The very first person I ever saw
fight that battle was here with me four years ago, and tonight I miss
her very, very much. My irrepressible, hard-working, always optimistic
mother did the best she could for her (my) brother and me, often against
very stiff odds. I learned from her just how much love and
determination can overcome.

But from her and from our life, I also learned that no
parent can do it alone. And no parent should have to. She had the kind
of help every parent deserves -- from our neighbors, our friends, our
teachers, our pastors, our doctors, and so many more.

You know, when I started out in public life with a lot of
my friends from the Arkansas delegation down here -- (applause) -- there
used to be a saying from time to time that every man who runs for public
office will claim that he was born in a log cabin he built with his own
hands. (Laughter.) Well, my mother knew better. And she made sure I
did, too. Long before she even met Hillary, my mother knew it takes a
village, and she was grateful for the support she got. (Applause.)

As Tipper Gore and Hillary said on Tuesday, we have, all of
us in our administration, worked hard to support families in raising
their children and succeeding at work. But we must do more. We should
extend the Family and Medical Leave law to give parents some time off to
take their children to regular doctor's appointments or attend those
parent-teacher conferences at school. That is a key determination of
their success. (Applause.)

We should pass a flex-time law that allows employees to
take their overtime pay in money or in time off, depending on what's
better for their family. (Applause.)

The FDA has adopted new measures to reduce advertising and
sales of cigarettes to children. (Applause.) The Vice President spoke
so movingly of it last night. But let me remind you, my fellow
Americans, that is very much an issue in this election, because that
battle is far from over, and the two candidates have different views. I
pledge to America's parents that I will see this effort all the way
through. (Applause.)

Working with the entertainment industry, we're giving
parents the V-chip. TV shows are being rated for content so parents
will be able to make a judgment about whether their small children
should see them. And three hours of quality children's programming
every week, on every network, are on the way. (Applause.)

The Kennedy-Kassebaum law says every American can keep his
or her health insurance if they have to change jobs, even if someone in
their family has been sick. That is a very important thing. But
tonight we should spell out the next steps. The first thing we ought to
do is to extend the benefits of health care to people who are
unemployed. I propose in my balanced budget plan paid for to help
unemployed families keep their health insurance for up to six months.
(Applause.)

A parent may be without a job, but no child should be
without a doctor. And let me say again, as the First Lady did on
Tuesday, we should protect mothers and newborn babies from being forced
out of the hospital in less than 48 hours. (Applause.)

We respect the individual conscience of every American on
the painful issue of abortion, but believe as a matter of law that this
decision should be left to a woman, her conscience, her doctor and her
God. (Applause.) But abortion should not only be -- abortion should
not only be safe and legal, it should be rare. That's why I helped to
establish and support a national effort to reduce out-of-wedlock teen
pregnancy. And that is why we must promote adoption. (Applause.)

Last week the minimum wage bill I signed contained a $5,000
credit to families who adopt children; even more if the children have
disabilities. It put an end to racial discrimination in the adoption
process. It was a good thing for America. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, already there are tens of thousands of
children out there who need a good home with loving parents. I hope
more of them will find it now. (Applause.)

I want to build a bridge to the 21st century with a clean
and safe environment. We are making our food safer from pesticides.
We're protecting our drinking water and our air from poisons. We saved
Yellowstone from mining. (Applause.) We established the largest
national park south of Alaska in the Mojave Desert in California. We
are working to save the precious Florida Everglades. (Applause.)

And when the leaders of this Congress invited the polluters
into the back room to roll back 25 years of environmental protections
that both parties had always supported, I said no. (Applause.)

But we must do more. Today 10 million children live within
just four miles of a toxic waste dump. We have cleaned up 197 of those
dumps in the last three years, more than in the previous 12 years
combined. In the next four years, we propose to clean up 500 more --
two-thirds of all that are left, and the most dangerous ones.
(Applause.) Our children should grow up next to parks, not poison.
(Applause.)

We should make it a crime even to attempt to pollute. We
should freeze the serious polluter's property until they clean up the
problems they create. (Applause.) We should make it easier for
families to find out about toxic chemicals in their neighborhoods so
they can do more to protect their own children. These are the things
that we must do to build that bridge to the 21st century. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, I want to build a bridge to the 21st
century that makes sure we are still the nation with the world's
strongest defense; that our foreign policy still advances the values of
our American community in the community of nations. Our bridge to the
future must include bridges to other nations, because we remain the
world's indispensable nation to advance prosperity, peace and freedom,
and to keep our own children safe from the dangers of terror and weapons
of mass destruction.

We have helped to bring democracy to Haiti and peace to
Bosnia. (Applause.) Now the peace sign on the White House lawn between
the Israelis and the Palestinians must embrace more of Israel's
neighbors. The deep desire for peace that Hillary and I felt when we
walked the streets of Belfast and Derry must become real for all the
people of Northern Ireland. (Applause.) And Cuba must finally join the
community of democracies. (Applause.)

Nothing in our lifetimes has been more heartening than when
people of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe broke the grip of
communism. We have aided their progress and I am proud of it. And I
will continue our strong partnership with a democratic Russia.
(Applause.) And we will bring some of Central Europe's new democracies
into NATO, so that they will never question their own freedom in the
future. (Applause.)

Our American exports are at record levels. In the next
four years, we have to break down even more barriers to them, reaching
out to Latin America, to Africa, to other countries in Asia, making sure
that our workers and our products -- the world's finest -- have the
benefit of free and fair trade. (Applause.)

In the last four years, we have frozen North Korea's
nuclear weapons program. And I am proud to say that tonight there is
not a single Russian nuclear missile pointed at an American child.
(Applause.) Now we must enforce and ratify without delay measures
that further reduce nuclear arsenals, banish poison gas, and ban nuclear
tests once and for all. (Applause.)

We have made investments, new investments, in our most
important defense asset -- our magnificent men and women in uniform.
(Applause.) By the year 2000 we also will have increased funding to
modernize our weapons systems by 40 percent. These commitments will
make sure that our military remains the best-trained, best-equipped
fighting force in the entire world. (Applause.)

We are developing a sensible national missile defense, but
we must not -- not now, not by the year 2000 -- squander $60 billion on
an unproved, ineffective Star Wars program that could be obsolete
tomorrow. (Applause.)

We are fighting terrorism on all fronts with a
three-pronged strategy. First, we are working to rally a world
coalition with zero tolerance for terrorism. Just this month I signed a
law imposing harsh sanctions on foreign companies that invest in key
sectors of the Iranian and Libyan economies. As long as Iran trains,
supports and protects terrorists, as long as Libya refuses to give up
the people who blew up Pan Am 103, they will pay a price from the United
States. (Applause.)

Second, we must give law enforcement the tools they need to
take the fight to terrorists. We need new laws to crack down on money
laundering and to prosecute and punish those who commit violent acts
against American citizens abroad; to add chemical markers or taggents to
gunpowder used in bombs so we can crack the bomb makers; to extend the
same power police now have against organized crime to save lives by
tapping all the phones that terrorists use. Terrorists are as big a
threat to our future, perhaps bigger, than organized crime. Why should
we have two different standards for a common threat to the safety of
America and our children? (Applause.)

We need, in short, the laws that Congress refused to pass.
And I ask them again, please, as an American, not a partisan matter,
pass these laws now. (Applause.)

Third, we will improve airport and air travel security. I
have asked the Vice President to establish a commission and report back
to me on ways to do this. But now we will install the most
sophisticated bomb-detection equipment in all our major airports. We
will search every airplane flying to or from America from another nation
-- every flight, every cargo hold, every cabin, every time. (Applause.)

My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I know that in
most election seasons foreign policy is not a matter of great interest
in the debates in the barbershops and the cafes of America, on the plat
floors and at the bowling alleys. But there are times -- there are
times when only America can make the difference between war and peace,
between freedom and repression, between life and death. We cannot save
all the world's children, but we can save many of them. We cannot
become the world's policeman, but where our values and our interests are
at stake, and where we can make a difference, we must act and we must
lead. That is our job, and we are better, stronger, and safer because
we are doing it. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, let me say one last time, we can only
build our bridge to the 21st century if we build it together, and if
we're willing to walk arm and arm across that bridge together. I have
spent so much of your time that you gave me these last four years to be
your President worrying about the problems of Bosnia, the Middle East,
Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Burundi. What do these places have in common?
People are killing each other and butchering children because they are
different from one another. They share the same piece of land, but they
are different from one another -- they hate their race, their tribe,
their ethnic group, their religion.

We have seen the terrible, terrible price that people pay
when they insist on fighting and killing their neighbors over their
differences. In our own country we have seen America pay a terrible
price for any form of discrimination. And we have seen us grow stronger
as we have steadily let more and more of our hatreds and our fears go;
as we have given more and more of our people the chance to live their
dreams.

That is why the flame of our Statue of Liberty, like the
Olympic flame carried all across America by thousands of citizen heroes,
will always, always, burn brighter than the fires that burn our
churches, our synagogues, our mosques. Always. (Applause.)

Look around this hall tonight, and to our fellow Americans
watching on television, you look around this hall tonight -- there is
every conceivable difference here among the people who are gathered.
(Applause.) If we want to build that bridge to the 21st century we have
to be willing to say loud and clear, if you believe in the values of the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, if
you're willing to work hard and play by the rules, you are part of our
family and we're proud to be with you. (Applause.)

You cheer now, because you know this is true. You know
this is true. When you walk out of this hall, think about it. Live by
it.

We still have too many Americans who give in to their fears
of those who are different from then. Not so long ago, swastikas were
painted on the doors of some African American members of our Special
Forces at Fort Bragg. Folks, for those of you who don't know what they
do, the Special Forces are just what the name says -- they are special
forces. If I walk off this stage tonight and call them on the telephone
and tell them to go halfway around the world and risk their lives for
you and be there by tomorrow at noon, they will do it. They do not
deserve to have swastikas on their doors. (Applause.)

So look around here, look around here -- old or young,
healthy as a horse or a person with a disability that hasn't kept you
down, man or woman, Native American, native born, immigrant, straight or
gay -- (applause) -- whatever; the test ought to be I believe in the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. I
believe in religious liberty. I believe in freedom of speech. I
believe in working hard and playing by the rules. I'm showing up for
work tomorrow. I'm building that bridge to the 21st century. That
ought to be the test. (Applause.)

My fellow Americans, 68 nights from tonight the American
people will face once again a critical moment of decision. We're going
to choose the last President of the 20th century and the first President
of the 21st century. (Applause.) But the real choice is not that. The
real choice is whether we will build a bridge to the future or a bridge
to the past; about whether we believe our best days are still out there
or our best days are behind us; about whether we want a country of
people all working together or one where you're on your own.

Let us commit ourselves this night to rise up and build the
bridge we know we ought to build all the way to the 21st century.
(Applause.) Let us have faith -- and let us have faith -- faith --
American faith that we are not leaving our greatness behind. We're
going to carry it right on with us into that new century -- a century of
new challenge and unlimited promise.

Let us, in short, do the work that is before us, so that
when our time here is over, we will all watch the sun go down -- as we
all must -- and say truly, we have prepared our children for the dawn.

My fellow Americans, after these four good, hard years, I
still believe in a place called Hope, a place called America.

Thank you, God bless you, and good night. (Applause.)

END 10:05 P.M. CDT



 

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