TOPICS > Politics

Bob Dole in Iowa

January 30, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT

SEN. ROBERT DOLE, Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s a very exciting time to be in Iowa, and I want to say just a few words about Bob Dole and the nomination on the Republican side for President.

I would guess that people in this audience are looking for someone with experience, someone who’s been tested, someone who can work with the Congress, and if I know Iowa at all, I know that there are times when, of course, you want us to say no. But there are other times you want us to work together, whether we’re Republicans or Democrats or Independents. And I think I have a reputation of trying to get things done, not making bad deals but trying to get things done.

For three years, we’ve had an administration which has valued dependence on government over self-reliance, federal power over community, and federal planning over individual enterprise. It has tried to place experts, government experts in charge of our economy, our health, and our lives. And President Clinton’s prescription for what ails us is simple: more government. And this is no accident. He shares a vision of America held by our country’s elites. And that’s a basic difference. We have basic difference in our philosophies.

I carry around in my little pocket here a copy of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. It’s only 28 words in length. It’s getting kind of dog-eared. And what it says, in effect, and it’s part of the Constitution, been around for a couple of hundred years, not a radical idea, didn’t–wasn’t dreamed up by the Republican National Committee or Newt Gingrich or Bob Dole–our Founding Fathers said the power’s not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.

And that’s what we’re about, when we try to send welfare back to the states, back to Gov. Branstead, back to the Iowa legislature, back to Kansas, back to New York, back to California, and again, it’s not because we have no empathy or we’re not sensitive to the needs of people who need welfare. We think governors and state legislatures are just as sensitive and just as caring. And in the process, we save at least $60 billion by conservative estimates over the next seven years by just sending one program, welfare, back to the states.

So I am, again, trying to make the point–if you’re looking for leadership, there’s one candidate of the nine Republican candidates who’s been in a position of leadership. For 11 years, I’ve been the Senate Republican leader. For 11 years, I’ve made tough decisions almost on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. And I try to say very modestly–in fact, I didn’t know this but Sen. Robert Byrd, who follows all these things in the Senate, got up on the floor about two months ago and said, Sen. Dole has just set a new record; he has now served longer than any Republican in history as the Republican leader of the United States Senate. Now, I think that says something. It says I have a lot of friends in the Senate, people like Sen. Grassley, who supported me when I first ran. I hope it also says that Bob Dole keeps his word, that Bob Dole can work with people, that Bob Dole gets things done, and that Bob Dole is not a polarizer.

I’m not going to take you over the edge, that I want to get things done if we can do the right thing. And that’s what it says to me. So for six times I’ve been elected by my colleagues in the Senate, six times I’ve been elected by my colleagues in the Senate. And I happen to believe that if you want to be the President of the United States, maybe a little prior government experience is not a bad thing.

I mean, it seems to me if you’re going to get an operation, you’d like to hope the doctor has had a little practice, maybe at least one, two, or three customers, before you get in there. Somebody has to be first, but we’re talking about the Presidency of the United States. We’re talking about a very complex position but a very powerful position as President of the United States. And so I’m prepared to put my qualifications up against those of anybody else, and it’s all going to start right here in Iowa.

I said the other night in my State of the Union speech–and some of my liberal friends didn’t care much for it–but I thought I had a great message–maybe I need to practice a little on the teleprompter–but the message was good–the message was good–I think we have reached the defining moment in America. And I said, nobody’s ever accused Bob Dole of going in for dramatics. I’m fairly plain-spoken. I don’t try to exaggerate things.

But I do believe we reached that moment, and I think the choice we make, as I said, will determine the character of our nation, whether it’s deficit spending or welfare bureaucracy or liberal courts, or the troubles in our schools, what’s wrong is that the elites in charge don’t believe in what the people believe in. But we can fix that. And America’s troubles are real and our choices are clear, and our will is strong.

So I would just conclude by saying in my view, we’ve got to stop the runaway government, and again I’ll stand right here and I’ll tell anybody I believe the government does a lot of good things. I’m not trying to get out on the right fringe somewhere and denounce everything in the federal government.

There have been some good farm programs. I think the 1985 Farm Bill was about the best we had for a long time, but there have been others. Some of us were able to get an education because of the GI Bill of Rights.

Some of the younger members probably don’t remember that. And there are other good things the government does obviously, but we can rein in the federal government, we can make it less intrusive and less bureaucratic and more sensitive to the needs of the people.

We can reconnect this vast government of ours to the values of the American people, the people in Iowa and across America, and we can regain our stature around the world as a leader of the free world. And I think we’ve lost a lot of that prestige over the past three years.

But my final thought would be this, because a lot of people think this is just one big game, the budget battle is one big game, all we do is one big game, there’s a new survey in the “Washington Post” that says people are losing trust and faith not just in politics but in all their institutions, more cynicism, more doubt–well, let me tell you that trying to achieve a balanced budget is not a game. It’s not a struggle between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton.

It’s not a struggle between Republicans and Democrats in the Congress. It’s not about numbers. It’s about policy. It’s about a balanced budget. It’s about lowering interest rates 2 percent, and that’s what will happen, we’re told by the experts if we reach an agreement on a balanced budget with real numbers, with real savings over the next seven years.

Your farm loan will drop interest rates 2 percent, college loans 2 percent, any loan probably 2 percent, and that’s like a big, big tax cut. And I would say about the tax system, itself, that in a Dole administration, the one thing we will not do under any system offered by anyone is to shift the tax burden from the upper income to the middle income, the people in this room. That’s not what I would call tax reform.

So it’s not a game. It’s about the future. It’s about the generation ahead of us. It’s about the century ahead of us. And you just ask yourself who do you want standing up for you in the White House when they’re making decisions about your family and about family values, who do you want in the bully pulpit?