Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Author: George Bush  | Date: September 29, 1992

Remarks on Arrival in Knoxville, Tennessee
September 29, 1992

The President. Thank you. What a great Tennessee welcome.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. This is fantastic. Thank you, Knoxville. Thank you very, very much. Thank you, Knoxville, Tennessee. This is fantastic.

Let me thank Naomi Judd for being with us. I’m the guy who’s honored. What a wonderful entertainer and a great personality and a wonderfully strong character we have standing here today in Naomi Judd. And may I salute your former, some of you all’s former president of the great university here, our marvelous Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander; and another Tennessean known nationally as a true leader, a true, honest, decent, strong leader in a Congress that was crying out for it and still is, I’m talking about Howard Baker.

You know, you hear a lot of calls—everyplace I go, people have brooms and they’re yelling, "Clean House! Clean House! Change the Congress!" If we had more Congressmen like Jimmy Duncan and more like Don Sundquist and Jimmy Quillen with us here today, we wouldn’t have to clean House. But since we do, help us clean House and get this country moving again.

May I salute another old friend, longtime friend for Barbara and me, Victor Ashe, the Mayor of this city. And also I understand our county executive, Dwight Kessel, is here. And that brings me also to another special friend who’s taking it out on the trail for me, Ricky Skaggs. I’m just delighted to be with him; and standing over here, another good one, another great one, T.G. Sheppard. Thank you very much for being with us.

Now, first let me start with a word about the polls and the talking heads. [Laughter] Every one of them said that Tennessee would lose to Georgia, and every one of them said that Tennessee would lose to Florida. So much for the polls, and so much for the talking heads. Enough of it. We’re going to win this election.

This campaign, like every campaign, is about a simple question: What kind of America do you want for the young people that are here today? I’ll tell you what kind of an America I want and am working for, an America that is not just a military superpower but the greatest economic superpower in the entire world. That means more jobs for the American people.

I have laid out a comprehensive Agenda for American Renewal, a specific, integrated agenda to create in America the world’s first $10 trillion economy. We can get that happening by moving to change the Congress and moving forward with my program.

The Democrats don’t like my even talking about it, but I am very proud of our record in ending and winning the cold war, proud of the way the sons and daughters of Tennessee performed in the sands of Saudi Arabia. It was a proud moment, not a moment to be forgotten.

The Clinton ticket feels that I ought not to talk about foreign policy. I want to use my experience to lead the way to new markets for America products because that is how we are going to create good American jobs, the same leadership that changed the world. Now let’s make America better and renewed.

But look, we all know that if we’re going to compete abroad and do what I am talking about with markets, we’ve got to make changes at home. It’s small business that creates two-thirds of the new jobs in the new economy, and Governor Clinton promises small business higher taxes and more Red tape.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. And I promise relief from regulation and taxation and, yes, relief from these crazy lawsuits that are killing us in this country.

If we’re going to compete in this new world, in this new economy, we must reform our schools. I am very proud of our great Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander. I am proud of our national America2000 program; proud that we’re raising standards; proud that we’re freeing up the teachers, and God bless them all, freeing them up from regulation and Red tape; and proud that we are designing totally new schools for a new century. And I thank our Secretary. I thank these communities in Tennessee that are working to rebuild American education.

Lamar and I want to go further. The parents of today’s Volunteers had the power to choose the best college for their kids. I want that same choice for elementary and high school. My "GI bill" for kids will give parents and fundamental resources they need and the right to choose the best schools for their kids, whether they’re public, private, or religious.

Now, these are some of my ideas and what we’re fighting for and what this election is about. I’m proud of our retort[, and I’ll stand by it in November. But if candidate Clinton wants to talk about the past, then I say I’m ready. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on in Arkansas. Sorry to ruin your day, but we’ve got to look at the record.

There’s a lot you don’t know about this man, and the more you find out, the more you know is that he’s wrong for America. We cannot take a risk with this great country of ours. Take a look at the issue of education. As long as I’m standing here with some greats on education, let me put it this way: Governor Clinton was part of the national summit which set our education goals. I’ve given him credit for participating in that, and so has Lamar Alexander.

But in Arkansas, his rhetoric does not match his record. He talks about a high-tech economy that Arkansas is 48th in the percent of students who have high school diplomas. Three out of every four Arkansas high school graduates spend his first year in college relearning what they were supposed to learn in high school. I think America must do a lot better than that.

I think of Tennessee as a fair play State when it comes to race. It’s the same thing on every issue with him. Governor Clinton says he’s for civil rights, but Arkansas doesn’t even have a basic civil rights law. He says he’s for a clean environment, but the Institute of Southern Studies ranks Arkansas 50th, 50th in environmental policies. It’s the only place where mother fish teach baby fish to jog instead of to swim— [laughter] —it’s so polluted in that river over there. Governor Clinton says he’s been tough on crime. But in the eighties, Arkansas’ crime increases far outstripped the Nation. The Little Rock police say it all, because they have endorsed me for President of the United States of America.

Now let’s take a look at the economy. I know America has had some tough times. I know families are concerned, worried about the next job. Those out of work are worried about how they’re going to get back to work. But understand, we are being affected by a global economic slowdown. It isn’t just the United States. Look at Europe. Look at Canada. Look at other countries around the world. Our competitors in Europe would trade places with us in a minute. And yes, Governor Clinton offers America the European social welfare state policies—

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. more Government, more special interest spending, more regulation, and more taxes on the middle class. We cannot let him do that to the taxpayers in this country.

This is not simply campaign rhetoric. As Governor, he raised and extended the sales tax, including a tax on baby formula, vegetables, and other groceries. He raised the gas tax. He taxed mobile homes. For those of you ESPN watchers, he even taxed cable TV. Then he put a tax on beer just for an add-on.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. I knew the college crowd wouldn’t like that too much. [Laughter]

Governor Clinton now says, well, he’s seen the light. In this campaign he’s proposing at least, and look at the record, $150 billion in new taxes, plus at least a $220 billion in new Federal spending. "But don’t worry," he says, "I’ll get it all from the rich, from the top 2 percent."

But the problem is, here’s the truth, to get the money that he needs for this plan, everybody that’s analyzed it says this, the $150 billion that he’s promised in new taxes, Governor Clinton would have to gethis money from every taxpayer and every individual with taxable income over 836,000. And these are not people that you see out there on the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." They deserve a break, not a tax increase.

The problem is, this is just for openers. He’ll need hundreds of billions of dollars more to pay for every one of these programs that he’s proposed. There’s an old saying: When you go hunting for ducks, hunt where the ducks are. Well, he’s hunting for ways to pay for all of his promises, and he’s going to go right smack to the middle class because that’s where the bucks are. So watch your wallets. Watch your pocketbooks. He’s coming right after you. Don’t let him say anything different.

On this one you don’t have to take my word for it. Go right to his neighborhood. Go to Pine Bluff and listen to the Pine Bluff Commercial. Here’s what it says: "If Congress followed the example that Bill Clinton set as Governor of Arkansas, it would pass a program that hit the middle class the hardest." He’s going to treat the middle class the way Johnny Majors’ team treated Cincinnati last Saturday, exactly. The Volunteers pounced on the Bearcats, and he’s going to pounce on your wallet. Look at the record. We cannot let this happen to America.

I’ll give you a factual example. Let’s say you’re a nurse just starting out with about $22,000 a year in taxable income. Governor Clinton would have you fork over another 430 bucks a year to the tax man. I say that you ought to be able to use that to help your kids’ education or pay the mortgage on the house and not send it to the IRS in Washington, DC.

But he says, "Hey, forget about this. Forget my record. Forget the facts. Don’t talk about Arkansas and my record there. I am a different kind of Democrat." But what is different about him? George McGovern, Bill Clinton ran Texas for him in 1972. He learned his liberalism from George McGovern, and in that campaign he was out there front for George McGovern. Then Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton wore the same moderate costume; but at least Carter meant it, even though he brought us the highest "misery index" in modern times. Then Michael Dukakis, Clinton nominated him in an endless nomination speech, I might say. [Laughter] Then he praised the Massachusetts Miracle right before it went south and the economy collapsed. America does not need this kind of different Democrat. There are some wonderful Democrats out there, but we don’t need this kind, this McGovern, Carter, Dukakis Democrat.

Now, Governor Clinton wants you to trust the America’s economy is going to improve if you turn full control of your paycheck over to the crew that already runs the United States Congress. He wants tax-and-spend Government plannings, those kind of planners to have total control over the executive branch, too.

They tried this 12 years ago, and we ended up with double-digit inflation. We had interest rates sometimes as high as 18 percent, and we had a "misery index" over 21 percent, unemployment and inflation added together. It took years to wring inflation and high interest rates out of the American economy. I want to strengthen our economy and protect your paycheck from the ravages of inflation. We cannot go the tax-and-spend route anymore. It all boils down to this. At this time in our history we simply cannot take the risk of Governor Clinton in the White House.

You know, I’ve been in the Oval Office, and I’ve faced some tough decisions. It’s not easy. You cannot be on all sides of every question when you’re a President of the United States. I stand before you today admitting mistakes, but saying I called them as I saw them. I hope I brought the character and integrity to this high office that you can respect and appreciate.

So I came here to ask for your support so that we can get to work with the new Members of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, to fix the problems that stand in the way of this country; so that we can reform our health care system and we can literally reinvent our schools; and so that we can retrain the workers from one generation and create jobs for the next; so that we can cut Government spending and taxes and get this economy moving again; and that we can pass an amendment to limit the terms of Members of the UnitedStates Congress and give the Government back to the people.

Now, if you want a guy that has a statistic for every problem, your man is the Governor of Arkansas. He’s got more statistics than there are problems: 38 percent of this, 28 percent of that. But he’s got to face up to the fact that as President you can’t have it all ways; you’ve got to make the tough calls.

If you’re looking for a leader of experience, a leader of ideas, a leader who shares your values, and a leader who understands that America’s real strength is not in Government but in places like Alcoa, a leader you can trust, then I know that I can count on your support. I need it to be President of the United States for 4 more years.

Let me say this: I am very proud of the sons and daughters of Tennessee that have worn the uniform of the United States of America. You are a great and proud Volunteer State. Governor Clinton wants us to forget that we have changed the world. I am not going to let him forget that the young men and women that fought in Desert Storm helped us change the world and make it much more peaceful for every young person here today.

I ask for your trust. I ask for your trust, and I will not betray it. I ask for your vote, and I hope I have earned it.

tie can talk about the United States being lower than Germany and someplace above Sri Lanka. I’ll end this way: We are the most decent, fairest, strongest country on the face of the Earth. Let’s not tear it down. Let’s build it up. We are Americans.

May God bless you all, and thank you very, very much. Thank you so much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:11 p.m. at McGhee-Tyson Airport. In his remarks, he referred to entertainers Ricky Skaggs and T.G. Sheppard.


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Chicago: George Bush, "Remarks on Arrival in Knoxville, 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 1695–1697. Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2019,

MLA: Bush, George. "Remarks on Arrival in Knoxville, 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. 1695–1697. Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2019.

Harvard: Bush, G, 'Remarks on Arrival in Knoxville, 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.1695–1697. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2019, from