TOPICS > Politics

Where They Stand: President Clinton and Senator Bob Dole

October 31, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


JIM LEHRER: Bob Dole appeared with former President Bush this morning at a rally in Tampa, Florida.

SEN. BOB DOLE: My campaign is about telling the truth. And the truth is that the federal government is too big and spends too much of your money, your money. (applause) Now in these final days before the election, the White House is telling everybody, oh, you never had it so good, everyone is better off in America, but you can’t square that with the economic facts. The economy is slow, as been pointed out by the President and Connie Mack, and it’s getting slower. Economic growth was cut in half the last three months. It’s down to 2.2 percent, as the President indicated; they inherited a strong economy, and now we have a weak economy. And what does this mean? It means it’s bad news for people out there working for wages and businessmen and businesswomen trying to make it go. It’s disastrous for low- and middle-income wage earners who’ve been squeezed by hirer taxes and more regulations, and we believe it’s time for a change. It’s time for a change. It’s time to change Presidents, and we’re going to get it done. (applause)

Now, what else is happening out there? Sales have barely grown at all in the last three months, and inventories are piling up. When businesses aren’t seeing their sales grow, every economist will tell you that job layoffs are just around the corner. You wait and see. It’ll happen. Exports grew in the third quarter by a tiny .6 percent. Compare that with President Bush–where they grew by 6 percent–10 times as great as far as exports are concerned. So he inherited a strong economy. The bad news just keeps on coming. He’s going oh, we’ve never had it so good, never had it–well, he’s never had it so good, but–(laughter among audience)–what about the people out there working for a living?

What about the people working for a living? The consumer confidence has dipped. I met a guy the other day–President Clinton said in the debate–there wasn’t really a debate–he showed up and I showed up, and that was about the end of it–but–(laughter among audience and applause)–he says, I have created 11 million jobs. I said, yeah, I met a guy the other day that’s got three of them. (laughter among audience, applause, and cheers) You’ve got to have three jobs just to pay the bills and keep the family together. And that should not happen in America. In many cases–I bet there are cases right in this audience–where the husband’s been working, the wife’s been at home. If you both want to work, that’s fine, but now you’re forced to work. Women are forced to work in many cases, homemakers, mothers, whatever, just to pay the bills. One parent works for the government. The other works to pay the taxes. Taxes have never been higher in America. They’re 40 percent, 40 percent of what you earn. (applause)

Under our plan, the average family of four makes $30,000, in the state of Florida, it’s $1261. This is a main street, not a Wall Street tax cut. Even the President said he could use it in the first debate. And he’ll get it if he leaves his change-of-address card. We’ll send it to him next year. (applause)

Now, to some people, to some people $1261 is not a lot of money, but it is to a lot of people. If you’re making $30,000, it’s a lot of money. It’s four or five days a month of child care. It’s mortgage payments, you know, maybe even taking a vacation with your family. There’s nothing wrong with that. Better you flying around the country than Hazel O’Leary. She’s been flying around for years. (applause)

Well, we don’t give ’em hell. We, just Harry Truman says, tell ’em the truth, they think it’s hell. That’s the difference. (applause)

I want to address another serious problem, it’s called Medicare, and I know you–I bet you’ve all seen these scary ads that Republicans are going to take away your Medicare and going to put you out in the street and going to take you off the rolls. Well, just the other day we learned that the Medicare Trust Fund lost $4.2 billion last year. That’s more than ever before. And we need to fix it because it’s going to go belly up here between four and five years unless something is done. This a problem that cries out for leadership, but we don’t have any leadership in the White House. We never had any leadership since he arrived in the White House. And we don’t have it now. (applause)

Let me say this. This campaign is about the truth. It’s about one more thing. It’s about voting on November 5. It’s about being proud of the votes you cast. I’m so proud of the vote I cast for Ike Eisenhower I’ve never been anything but proud. I want you to be proud on November 5 and a year from now and five years from now and ten years from now, I want you to–(applause)–

JIM LEHRER: Bob Dole speaking in Tampa, Florida, today. President Clinton’s speech was one he made today at Arizona State University in Tempe.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Five days from today, the American people will choose the last President of the 20th century and the first President of the 21st century. I am very, very glad that there are so many young people here today, because this election is about your future. (applause)

You know, there are many different issues in this election, many matters on which Senator Dole and I disagree, many matters on which I disagreed with Sen. Dole and Speaker Gingrich over the last two years. But the big issue that embraces them all is what you want America to look like when we cross that bridge into the 21st century and what you are prepared to do to get us there. I want an America where the American dream is alive and well for any person responsible enough to work for it, without regard to race or gender or background or where they start out and right. I want everybody to have a chance to live up to their God-given capacity. (applause)

Compared to four years ago, we have ten and a half million more jobs, we have the lowest combined rates of unemployment, inflation in home mortgages in 27 years, the biggest drop in inequality among working families in 27 years, the biggest drop in child poverty in 20 years, the highest home ownership rates in 15 years, the deficit has been cut in all four years of an administration for the first time in the 20th century. We are moving in the right direction. (applause)

The prime rate is down for four years in a row and is now at a ten-year low in America. Welfare rolls have been reduced by 1.9 million, child support collections have been increased by $4 billion a year, 50 percent, we are moving in the right direction. So today,

I want to just take a minute to ask you want you think would build strong families. And would we be better off saying, you’re on your own, or here’s what we can do together to give you the tools to build a stronger family life? I believe we value families when we have welfare reform that is good to children but tough in work requirements, that requires teen mothers to live at home or in a supervised setting and stay in school to draw benefits and requires able-bodied people to go to work but gives them the child care and the jobs there to do the work and succeed at home and at work just the way we want for everybody else in this society. (applause)

And I believe we value families when we open the doors of college education to all Americans. (applause)

I do not believe we will strengthen our economy, or our families, or our future, by doing what my opponent is advocating, cutting the student loan program and abolishing the Department of Education and entering the 21st century as the only country in the world with no one to speak for the education of our children at the President’s cabinet. I will not do that. I will improve education in America, working with you and our teachers, for all Americans. (applause)

I believe we strengthen families when we take steps to protect our young children from gangs and guns and drugs and tobacco. (cheers and applause)

I believe we strengthen families by supporting the safe and drug free schools program and doubling the number of people who are in it, and getting that message out to our young children when they’re young enough to listen that drugs can kill you, they’re wrong, they’re not just illegal, they’re wrong, and they can kill you. Turn around, don’t do it. I believe that’s making a difference, and I think our opponents were wrong when they tried to cut the safe and drug free schools program in half and deprive 23 million children of a chance to get that message. And I’m going to keep on going until we turn that around, and I want you to help me do it. (applause)

We are moving into a very different future. And what you have to decide is whether you have the courage to say I believe that our best days are still ahead if we have opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and an American community which we all have a part to play and a place at the table. You have to decide whether we’re going to go into the future by saying you’re on your own, or whether we’re going to build a bridge. You are part of our America, and we’re going forward. Will you help me in Arizona to build that bridge? Will you be there on Tuesday? Will you talk to your friends? God bless you! Let’s do it! Your best days are ahead! Thank you.

JIM LEHRER: President Clinton speaking today at Arizona State University.