Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Author: George Bush  | Date: September 29, 1992

Remarks on Arrival in Blountville, Tennessee
September 29, 1992

The President. You know, Naomi says this is the first time that she’s introduced a President. But look at it this way, this is the first time I’ve ever been introduced by such a wonderful person, Naomi Judd. And I’m just pleased to have her with us on Air Force One.

You know, lest you didn’t know it, wehave a great Secretary of Education, as Secretary, Lamar Alexander, a former Governor of this State. I’m very proud to be with him. And of course, my old friend Howard Baker is still beloved not only in Tennessee but all across this country as a great leader. And may I salute another old friend. If we had more like these three that I’m about to introduce, everybody would not be yelling at me, "Clean House!" because you’ve got three greats in Jimmy Quillen, in Don Sundquist, and Jimmy Duncan right here with us today. Send us more like these three, and let’s get this country moving again.

Audience members. Clean the House! Clean the House! Clean the House!

The President. That’s it, we’ve got to clean it.

And about these three characters over here, Barbara Bush and I are their friends, and we are very proud of that. They don’t know how to throw horseshoes. We had them at Camp David, and they came in second, third, and fourth. [Laughter] But in life they’re coming in first because of their talent and because of Larry’s fighting back. And I’ll tell you, we are very proud to have the Gatlin Brothers at our side. And of course, may I salute Sarah Sellers, our national committeewoman, and our great chairman in this State, Tom Hopper. They tell me we are going to win Tennessee, and they are absolutely right. I also want to salute the Volunteer High School Marching Band. Thank you all for being with us.

This campaign, like every campaign for the Presidency, is about a simple question: What kind of America do we want for the young people here today? I want an America that remains a military superpower, but is the greatest economic superpower on the face of the Earth. We’re going to make it even better.

You know, I have spelled out a specific agenda for America’s renewal, a specific comprehensive plan, an integrated agenda to create in America the world’s first $10 trillion economy. I am proud of America’s leadership role in ending the cold war, proud of the sons and daughters who wowed the world in the sands of Saudi Arabia. The Democrats want us to forget it, but we are not. I will continue to thank the sons and daughters of Tennessee who served with honor in Desert Storm. We’re not going to let Bill Clinton forget that this was a proud moment in the history of the United States.

Audience members. Where was Bill? Where was Bill? Where was Bill?

The President. I don’t know where he was. I’ll tell you where he was on the war. You want me to answer the question? On Desert Storm he was on both sides. He was for the people that opposed it, but he was for those that supported me. That’s a great thing, but you can’t do that as President of the United States of America. You’ve got to make the tough call.

But now what we’ve got to do is work with these great Members of Congress, using our experience to lead the way to new markets for American products cause that is how we’re going to create more good jobs for people all across the United States of America. You see, small business will create two-thirds of the new jobs in the new economy. Governor Clinton, well, he promises small business higher taxes and more Red tape. I promise small business relief from taxation, regulation, and litigation.

You know, we spend almost $200 billion a year on direct costs to lawyers. Japan doesn’t pay that and neither do the European countries. My opponent doesn’t think this is a problem. He’s in cahoots with the trial lawyers, and they spend so much time in court that their favorite song is "A Boy Named Sue." [Laughter] But here is my view. We’ve got to take the pressure off doctors who are scared to practice or Little League coaches who are afraid to coach. We’ve got to sue each other less in this country and care for each other more.

I am proud of my record. All the Governor of Arkansas does is go around tearing me down, tearing our country down, saying we’re less than Germany and a little more than Sri Lanka. He ought to open his eyes. We are the most respected country on the face of the Earth.

But if you’ll bear with me for just a minute, if he wants to talk about the past, fine. But let’s take a look at what’s going on in Arkansas. The people there are decent.They are hard-working. They are sound, grass roots people. But there’s a lot they don’t know about their Governor’s record and a lot you don’t know about it. The more you find out about it the more you know that Governor Clinton is wrong for President of the United States. lie is wrong for America.

Look at the issue of crime. We simply have got to take back our streets from the crackheads and the criminals. Candidate Clinton, oh, he talks a tough game. But in Arkansas, the average criminal served just one-fifth of his sentence, and then he’s let back out on the streets. Compare that to the Federal prisons for which I am responsible. The average inmate there serves 85 percent of his sentence. When it comes to crime, I am not much for letting these prisoners out of jail early. If you steal a car or you beat up some elderly woman, you ought to go to jail. And I say this: You should not be let out until you’re eligible for a birthday salute from Willard Scott.

Hey, don’t take it from me, though. Listen to those in Arkansas. Ask the police over there in Little Rock. The cops who know Bill Clinton best have endorsed me as the best candidate for President of the United States.

The same thing on every issue. I think of Howard Baker and the others standing here as leaders in fair play on civil rights matters. Governor Clinton says he’s for civil rights, but Arkansas doesn’t even have a basic civil rights law.

He says he’s for the clean environment, but the Institute of Southern Studies ranked Arkansas 50th in environmental politics. It’s the only place where fish teach the young fish to jog instead of swim. That’s how polluted the rivers are over there. I love fishing. I’m a bass fisherman. The fish in Arkansas light up at night because of what the chickens are doing to the river.

Governor Clinton says he’s for high-tech. But under Clinton, Arkansas has been falling behind in high school. Three out of every four Arkansas graduates spend their first year in college relearning what they were supposed to learn in high school. That is not fair to those young people over across the way.
Let’s take a look at the economy. All we hear from him is how bad things are. I know we’ve been through some tough economic times. But we are affected, of course, by the global economic situation. Our competitors in Europe would trade places with us in a minute. Yet Governor Clinton offers America that European social welfare state politics: more Government, more special interest spending, and more taxes on the middle class. That is wrong for America.

If you can take another horror story this early in the morning, let me tell you this: He has raised and extended the sales tax, including a tax on baby formula, vegetables, and other groceries. He raised the gas tax. He raised the mobile home tax. And for those of you ESPN watchers, he even taxed cable TV and slapped a tax on beer. How do you like that?

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Now he says he’s seen the light. In this campaign he’s proposing at least $150 billion, direct proposal, in new taxes, plus at least $220 billion in new spending. "Don’t worry," he says, "I’ll get it all from the rich, people making over $200,000 a year, the top 2 percent." But here’s the problem, and here is the truth. To get the money that he needs for his plan, the $150 billion that he’s already promised in new taxes, he would have to get his money not from those with over $200,000, but from every individual with taxable income over $36,600, and that is not good for America. These people aren’t out there on the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." They work hard, and they deserve a break. That’s just the start of his tax campaign against the middle class. He will need hundreds of billions of dollars more to pay for all these programs he’s promised.

There’s an old saying: When you hunt ducks you go where the ducks are. Well, he’s hunting for ways to pay for all his promises, and he’s going back to tax the middle class because that’s where the bucks are.

Listen to the news. Don’t take my word for it. You listen to the newspaper from his own backyard, the Pine Bluff Commercial. Here’s what they say, "If Congress followed the example that Bill Clinton set as Governor of Arkansas, it would pass a programthat hit the middle class the hardest." I say the middle class has been hit hard enough already. The Pine Bluff paper is not bluffing.

Let me give you one example. Let me just—this is an example. Say you’re a third grade teacher with about 22,000 bucks a year in taxable income. Governor Clinton could have you fork over another $430 a year to the tax man. I say that you ought to be able to use that money to pay for your kids’ education, pay the mortgage on the house, not send it up to the IRS in Washington, DC.

And Governor Clinton will say, oh, I’m on the side of the middle class. But he says then, well, I’m going to have it both ways. Consider his principled stand on both sides of the Gulf War—I mentioned that—when he said, and here’s an exact quote, an exact quote, "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote, but 1 agree with the arguments the minority made." Now, how would that be for a Commander in Chief when you’ve got to stand up against aggression halfway around the world?

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The?resident. One day Governor Clinton says, "Well, I’ll never run for President." The next year he announces he’s running for President. One day he says he’s for the North American free trade agreement. Then he says, "Well, I haven’t made up my mind yet." One day he’s for raising fuel efficiency standards on cars. And the next day he says, "Well, I’m flexible on that one." One day he says the middle class deserves a tax break. And the next day he’s plotting new ways to hit the middle class to pay for all his programs.

If he ever became President of the United States, and he won’t, we’d have to replace the American eagle with a chameleon. That is not the way it works in the Oval Office. You cannot come down on both sides of every issue. You have to take your lumps, and you have to take a stand. I don’t think that we can take a risk on Governor Bill Clinton to be President of the United States of America.

You know, I’ve made mistakes as President. Different than him, I’ve admitted when I’m wrong. But I believe I’ve been a good leader, willing to make the tough calls. I’m a leader whose ideas are right for America.

I stand before you today asking for your support so that we can go to work with a new Congress to fix the problems that stand in the way of this country; so that we can reform our health care system and reinvent, as Lamar is so eloquently stating, reinvent our American schools; so we can retrain our workers from one generation and create jobs for the next; so that we can cut Government spending and cut taxes and get this economy moving again; and also, so that we can limit terms for the Members of the United States Congress and give Government back to the people. Now, this is our agenda.

If you want one who has a statistic for every problem, go ahead and east your vote for the other guy. But if you’re looking for a leader of experience, a leader of ideas, a leader who shares your values, a leader who understands that America’s real strength is not in Government but in places like this marvelous town right here today in your great State of Tennessee, then I know I can count on your support on November 3d.

Governor Clinton says that we are a nation in decline, somewhere less than Germany and a little better than Sri Lanka. I say we are the greatest, freest country on the face of the Earth. Now let’s make life better for everybody at home by using that same courage and leadership we have to change the world.

Thank you, and may God bless the people of Tennessee and the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much. What a wonderful rally.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:17 a.m. at Tri-City Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to former Senator Howard Raker,. entertainers Naomi Judd and the Carlin Brothers; and Sarah Sellers, member, Tennessee State Republican executive committee.


Related Resources

George H. W. Bush

Download Options

Title: Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: George Bush, "Remarks on Arrival in Blountville, Tennessee," Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275 1691–1693. Original Sources, accessed December 4, 2023,

MLA: Bush, George. "Remarks on Arrival in Blountville, Tennessee." Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp. 1691–1693. Original Sources. 4 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Bush, G, 'Remarks on Arrival in Blountville, Tennessee' in Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp.1691–1693. Original Sources, retrieved 4 December 2023, from