Summary: WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Following is the text of Republican
response to President Clinton's State of the Union address Tuesday. The response was delivered Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.
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Text of Republican response to Clinton address
WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Following is the text of Republican
response to President Clinton's State of the Union address Tuesday.
The response was delivered Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.
Good evening. I'm Bob Dole, and I'm here to very briefly reply to the
president's message on the State of the Union. But a reply need not
be an argument.
Instead, I want to present another view, another way of thinking
about the problems we face. A few years back, I met with a group of
100 high school seniors -- one young man and woman from every
state. During the meeting, one young man stood up and said,
"Senator, everybody has somebody who speaks for them, but who
speaks for us?" he asked me. "Who speaks for the future?"
That's what I want to talk with you about tonight -- the future and the
values that will shape it. Those values are at the heart of our
disagreements with the president. President Clinton says our
differences are few, the budget numbers are close, and that we
should try to find common ground. We have tried and tried, again
and again. But such a place appears to be elusive.
For while we share an abiding love of country, we have been unable
to agree. Why? Because we have starkly different philosophies of
government and profoundly different visions of America. So all the
talk and fighting in Washington can seem very remote, and we
political figures can seem detached and petty, and far removed from
the everyday struggle of American citizens and families.
But the truth is we cannot ignore the future. The point of our lives,
after all, is to raise children who are smarter and healthier and nobler
than we are, to contribute to a country that is better than today's
America, to make a world that is better and finer for all of God's
creation. America's greatness -- all that we take such justified pride
in today -- America's greatness was built by men and women who
sacrificed ease and comfort and the joys of today to build a better
future for those who came after.
How many pioneers faced a hostile and threatening frontier? How
many immigrants gave their bodies to the mines? How many soldiers
lost their lives on distant battlefields to secure a better future for their
children and their children's children? In every generation,
Americans have made these sacrifices and found in their making a
purpose and a direction to life.
Now, we have to do that in this generation. Thanks to God and
fortune and to those who went before, we don't have to conquer a
dangerous frontier. We don't have to fight another great war. What
we have to do is to face the fact that we cannot give in to all of our
As we have just heard, President Clinton and those who share his
vision of America have chosen their ground. The President has
chosen to defend with his veto a welfare system that no one can
defend, for it is a daily assault on the values of self-reliance and
family. He has chosen to defend an education establishment, run by
liberals, whose goal is to operate every school in America by remote
control from Washington.
He has chosen to veto a defense bill because it provided for
defending America against weapons of mass destruction. He has
chosen to defend the status quo in Medicare -- a system on which
lives depend -- and a program in urgent need of rescue.
President Clinton has chosen to defend and increase a tax burden that
has pushed countless families into their own personal recessions.
And unfortunately he has chosen to veto the first balanced budget in
a generation, offering only a fantasy in its place.
Now, if you have a child asleep in your home tonight, you'll
probably check on him or her before you go to bed. And as you bend
over to tuck your child in, think about this -- if we continue down
this path, we will place a tremendous burden of debt on every child
in America. Now, how can we betray them, and their parents, and
their grandparents? How can we fail to act?
We cannot -- and we will not.
Every political movement, and every public official, must locate a
place in his heart where compromise ends -- a core of conviction
where we keep our conscience. There comes a time when even
practical leaders must refuse to bend or to yield.
And for Republicans -- and countless Democrats and Independents --
we have arrived at that time. America's troubles are real but our
choices are clear and our will is strong.
We must rein in our runaway government, return power to the
people, reduce the tax burden, put parents back in charge of our
schools, untie the hands of our police, restore justice to our courts
and put our faith once again in the basic goodness, wisdom and self-
reliance of our people.
The president spoke with great eloquence tonight about a future with
unlimited possibilities. It is a vision we all share -- for it is the story
of America. But while the president's words speak of change, his
deeds are a contradiction. The president claims to embrace the future
while clinging to the policies of the past.
For three years, this administration has valued dependence on
government over self-reliance, federal power over community,
federal planning over individual enterprise. It has tried to place
government experts in charge of our economy, and our health and
It has put liberal judges on the bench to war with our values and it
questions the participation of religious people in public life, treating
them as fanatics out of step with America.
President Clinton shares a view of America held by our country's
elites -- a nation of special interest groups, united only by a
dependence on government, competing with each other for handouts,
and held back by outdated values.
Now, for those who hold this view, there is only one answer for our
problems -- more government, bigger government, more
meddlesome government. And if you listened closely tonight, that's
what President Clinton talked about.
President Clinton may well be the rearguard of the welfare state. He
is the chief obstacle to a balanced budget and the balanced budget
amendment. He is almost the last public defender of a discredited
We Republicans will not give up the struggle, because America will
round the corner to a brighter future if we prevail. I come from
Russell, Kansas. There's not much money there, but the people are
rich in many other ways. Life isn't easy, but the values are durable --
love of God and country and family; commitment to honesty,
decency, and personal responsibility; and self-reliance tempered by a
sense of community.
Those values made America the greatest nation on Earth, and there is
no doubt in my mind that we can get our country back on track if we
reassert them again as a people and if our government returns to
them as a matter of national policy.
Now, just like the debate over the budget this winter, our arguments
this spring will seem a maze of conflicting numbers, assertions, and
But what we're really arguing about are the values that will shape our
nation, our government, and the future of that child sleeping down
Now, some people try to make these matters complicated, but they're
simple in my hometown and probably where you are as well.
Americans know that handouts without responsibility destroy human
dignity. We know that the help of a neighbor is preferable to that of a
bureaucrat, and we know that wealth is created by free individuals in
their smarts and their sweat. Government programs can only spend it.
Now, I'm a very practical man, but I believe in the miracle of
America. And I've never gone in for dramatics, but I do believe we
have reached the defining moment.
It is as if we went to sleep in one America and woke up in quite
another. It is as though our government, and our institutions, and our
culture have been hijacked by liberals and are careening dangerously
Oh, we know the way back, but we must act now. And my promise
tonight is that we can and we will. If there is no agreement, we will
send President Clinton another balanced budget with tax relief for
American families; regulatory relief for small businesses, farmers,
and ranchers; and real welfare reform.
We will always be mindful of the poor and disadvantaged, education
and the environment, but we will begin the defunding of Big Brother
by unfunding wasteful programs and meddlesome departments. We
will send the President bill after bill, returning power and programs
to the states and to the people. We will challenge President Clinton
again and again to walk the talk he talks so well. As we do,
remember this: Our battles will not be about numbers. They'll be
about the character of our nation.
Yes, our country has problems, but we can handle them. Whether it's
deficit spending or the welfare bureaucracy or our liberal courts or
the trouble in our schools, what's wrong is that the elites in charge
don't believe in what the people believe in. That, we can fix.
We know what made America great. All we need now is the resolve
to lead our country back to her place in the sun, and the courage to
speak for the future. So when you close the door to your child's room
tonight, remember it's not too late.
This is a great country. Our strength has always come from the truth,
and from sacrifice and honor, and from the bottomless reservoir of
hope and work and courage that is the American people. Always, we
have built for the future -- with a half-silent consciousness that we
were doing the work of the Lord.
Today, we feel ourselves beset by many difficulties: by violence and
resentment, by racial and partisan divisions, by economic storms, by
dizzying changes of every kind. Yet, the blood of greatness, of noble
forbears, of men and women of incredible achievement, still runs
through us all. That birthright is what it means to bear the name
In this time, in this generation, in this year, we -- like they -- can and
will overcome. We need only to rededicate ourselves to earning the
name we have inherited.
Thank you very much. God bless America and good night.