TOPICS > Politics

Where They Stand: President Clinton and Senator Bob Dole

October 23, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


PRESIDENT CLINTON: Four years ago, I came to Daytona Beach amid a time of high unemployment, rising frustration, and increasing division. Compared to four years ago, we are better off, and we are on the right track to that 21st century. The unemployment rate in Florida has dropped to an eight-year low. We have 10 ½ million new jobs, a 15-year high in home ownership, we have declining crime rates for four years in a row, and almost 2 million people fewer on welfare than there were when I took the oath of office.

We are moving in the right direction. And I ask all of you when you go home tonight to take a little time in a quiet moment before you go to bed and see if you can answer this question: What do you want your country to look like when we start the 21st century, and what do you want your country to be like when your children are your age? For me, it is a simple but profound issue, and it’s a question as your president I deal with every day. I know what I want for America. I want us to start that new century with the American dream alive and well for every person responsible enough to work for it.

I want us to keep leading the world for peace and freedom and prosperity, and I want us amidst all our diversity to be coming together, not to be torn apart. I want us to have families where people can succeed in raising their children and at work. I want us to live in harmony with our national environment, and I want us to live in harmony with each other. I do not want America to be torn apart by the racial, the religious, the ethnic, the tribal hatreds that are consuming so much of the rest of the world. That is what I want for America. (applause)

Now, you’ll have to decide what path you want to take. Your vote will decide whether we balance the budget while we protect our obligations to the future through education and the environment, and protect our obligations to each other through Medicare and Medicaid, or whether we adopt a dangerous scheme that would increase the deficit, weaken the economy, and undermine the very values we seek to advance. Your vote will decide whether we build on the family and medical leave law, and our efforts to protect our children from drugs and guns and gangs and tobacco are turned back to a course that has failed in the past. Your vote will decide whether we build on our efforts, so far successful, to tell people no more can you lose your health insurance because somebody in your family has been sick, or because you changed jobs. No more can a new mother and a newborn be kicked out of a hospital after 24 hours by an insurance company’s rule. (applause)

Your vote will decide whether we continue to add people to the ranks of health insurance, whether we continue to help people, as I propose, by helping people when they’re unemployed to keep their health insurance for several months more, or whether we stop that. Your vote will decide whether we can continue to put a hundred thousand police on the street, continue to follow those strategies which have brought the crime rate down for four years in a row until we bring it down four more years, and everybody feels safe on our streets, in our schools, in our neighborhoods again. Your vote will decide. (applause)

And your vote will decide which of two competing visions of education we adopt. My vision is an America in which every eight-year-old can read. We’re going to mobilize a million volunteers to help people teach their children and to help teachers teach children to read so that every eight-year-old in America in the year 2000 can pick up a book and say, I can read this all by myself. (applause)

Your vote will decide whether the United States for the first time in history helps desperately overcrowded schools in substandard conditions to build new facilities adequate to the 21st century. Your vote will decide whether we connect every classroom and every library and every school in America to that information superhighway, to the Internet, to the World Wide Web. (applause)

Your vote will decide whether finally we take a step we should have taken long ago and open the doors of college education to every single American who is willing to work and go. Your vote will decide whether you vote will decide. Don’t let anybody in this community, don’t let anyone you know anywhere in America believe that their vote doesn’t make a difference. This is a different country than it was four years ago. Our country is stronger than it was four years ago, and four years from now, on the build–on that bridge we’re all going to build together, we will go roaring into the 21st century with our best days ahead. Will you help us build that bridge? Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you. (applause)

JIM LEHRER: President Clinton speaking today in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bob Dole was also in Florida today. He spoke at a rally in Jacksonville this afternoon.

SEN. BOB DOLE: Welcome to this retirement party for Bill Clinton right here today. (applause)

If I had a dollar for every time Clinton leveled the American people, I would keep one and give the other one to Elizabeth. (applause)

It hasn’t happened very often, and I am very honored to be here. Sen. Mack has just arrived, and he’ll sort of wrap up this program. We’re talking about a lot of things today, but we’re talking about America, we’re talking about courage, we’re talking about values, we’re talking about the future. Right back here, this is the future, right here. (applause)

I fought for America before, but this is a different kind of war. This is a battle for the soul of America. This is a battle for your future, your opportunities, your job, your community, your state, and your nation, and make no mistake about it, this election is critical. If you want strong leadership, you can have strong leadership. If you don’t care, you can keep what you have. But I think most Americans care. (cheers and applause)

And I believe the current administration is out of touch with the problems in America, the average Americans. I also believe and have always believed that the government is too big and spends too much of your money, too much of your money. (applause)

And I’ll bet it’s represented here today. In many families today, one parent works full-time just to take care of the family. The other has to work full-time just to pay the taxes, because 40 percent of what you make, an average 38.2, more than you spend for food, clothing, and shelter combined, is paid for taxes.

Now if both parents want to work, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t have to work. We’re finding more and more women going back to work because they have to pay the taxes–about 20 percent. Wages are stagnant. Women’s wages are down. Men’s wages are almost even. We’re not in a good recovery. Now did the government come out and talk to you before they raised taxes in 1993? No. And the President will come–I think he’s in Florida today somewhere, trying to scare senior citizens. He’s somewhere out there, and it’s not even Halloween. Wait till Halloween. He will tell you that the government can’t afford it. He will tell you that the largest tax increase in history–his–only touched 1.1 percent of the American people. That’s not true, Mr. President. 70 percent of those taxes were paid by small businessmen and small businesswomen. He also raised taxes $28 billion on senior citizens, on their Social Security. We’re going to repeal that tax, Mr. President. (applause)

Now, he wants your family to pinch pennies. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s have the government pinch pennies for a change. (applause)

And with our tax plan, a family making–a family of our making $30,000 a year will get about a $1261 tax credit. That’s an 86 percent tax cut, 86 percent less. Now what do you do with $1261? Well maybe child care, maybe something else, maybe even take a vacation with your family. That’s not illegal either in America, but–(applause)–even the President hasn’t had the gall to say it’s a rich man’s tax cut. This is family tax cut. This is a Main Street tax cut. This is for real Americans, working Americans, and we’re going to make it work, and you can count on that. You have my word, and I keep my word. That’s the difference. (applause)

Now, let me say a word about how our plan and how the economic plan will protect vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, because I know the Democrats and organized labor have spent millions and millions and millions of dollars, about $91 million, running negative ads attacking Bob Dole and every other Republican. We do not touch Medicare. In fact, it grows 39 percent under our plan. Social Security grows 34 percent. There will be no cuts in Medicare, and no senior is going to be forced off Medicare in our plan. (applause)

Who knows what’ll be made public next? There are only 13 days left. I didn’t know we’d ever get foreign aid in America, but suddenly foreign aid’s coming in from Indonesia and from India, all over the world, foreign aid. (applause)

Foreign aid is coming to America. Oh, boy, we finally lined up for it. But it’s all going to President Clinton. That’s not fair. That discriminates. That’s–that’s a preference or quota, whatever you call those things. It shouldn’t happen. It’s not legal either. It shouldn’t happen in America. So keep in mind one thing and forget everything else. Let’s give America back to the people. Let’s give America back to the people.

JIM LEHRER: Bob Dole speaking this afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida.