+quot;MAKING OUR STREETS SAFER+quot; GOVERNOR BILL CLINTON CITY HALL JULY 23, 1992 HOUSTON
"MAKING OUR STREETS SAFER"
GOVERNOR BILL CLINTON
JULY 23, 1992
Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, I am so honored to be
here today, grateful to all these men and women in uniform who have
agreed to come here and stand here with me, overwhelmed by this
crowd of Texans who came out to see your neighbor. I am going
to...if you'll stay, I will.
I want to thank all these police officers for the work they do, and
for the support they give to you. I want to thank your mayor for
lowering the crime rate in Houston while it's going up everywhere
I want to tell you that I come here today with a vision for
America. Hey, calm down, everybody. It's raining, we're going to
have to listen up or go in. I'll stay if you will. I'm willing to
get wet to turn this country around, and I hope you are too. We've
got to do it.
Al Gore and I have a plan to put the people of this country back to
work, to give us world-class education, to provide affordable
health care to all Americans, and to challenge all of us to make
this country what it was meant to be. And I want you to be a part
One of the things that we have to do as Americans is to do a better
job in making our streets safer, and our cities safer, and our
people safer. That's what we're here today to talk about.
I've heard all this rhetoric from this administration for years and
years and years, but the fact is we're number one in the world in
the percentage of people we've got behind bars, and we're only
thirteen in wages. I want to reverse those numbers, and get this
country going in the right direction.
The people in this country who suffer most are the people who are
out here today, the people who can't afford their own security
guards and their own private systems. I want to help you to have
safer streets, and your children to have safer schools, and all of
us to have brighter tomorrows. We cannot take our country back
until we take our neighborhoods back.
Four years ago, this crime issue was used to divide Americans. I
want to use it to unite Americans. I want to be tough on crime and
good for civil rights. You can't have civil justice without order
and safety. We can go forward together, and that's exactly what
we're going to do in a Clinton/Gore administration.
I want to start by, clearly and unequivocally in the state of
Texas, endorsing the Brady Bill, something even Ronald Reagan
supports, to make our streets safer. I don't see how a President
can ask men and women to put on uniforms and risk their lives to
keep the rest of us safe, if he won't risk a little political
capital and take a little heat to ask people to wait five or six
days to check their criminal records or their mental health
histories before they get a gun which can kill a policeman.
I want to make something else clear. I come from your neighboring
state, where over half the people have hunting and fishing
licenses. I support the right to keep and bear arms. I support the
right of men and women to be sportspeople. But I think most law
abiding Americans would also like to think that we are helping
police to be safe in their work, kids to be safe in their schools,
people to be safe on their streets. And it is crazy to believe that
we shouldn't, at least, try to give our police officers a fair
fight in the fight to keep our streets safe. That's why I believe
we ought to be for the Brady Bill, and we ought to take the AK-47's
and the uzis off the streets in America.
And I want to make one other point before we all drown. This
President used crime to beat the Democrats in 1988. And then he
turned around and tried to take a hundred million dollars away for
state and local law enforcement. I've got a plan to cut federal
employment by a hundred thousand, and put another hundred thousand
police officers on the street, keeping the streets safer in
It's not just Houston, folks. In New York, the crime rate has gone
down because they've gone back to community policing, neighbors
working with their police. I've seen housing projects which have
gone from drug dens in Chicago to havens of safety for children,
because the community and the police worked together. I've walked
on streets in Pittsburgh which were dominated by crackhouses, where
kids couldn't stand in the park, where now they play basketball
free everyday. This is an issue of personal freedom, and that's
what those hundred thousand police officers will be.
Let me tell you how we're going to do it. We're going to take the
service men and women who will be reduced out of the military
because of the Cold War, and give them a chance to win wars here at
home. We will let them earn. We will make it possible for them to
be re-trained as police officers, and then let them earn credit on
their military retirement, if they'll come back to Houston, or
Dallas, or El Paso, or San Antonio, and help to keep the people
safe, and raise the children in safety.
We're going to open the doors of college education to all
Americans, and let any American, any American who borrows the money
to go to college pay it back with two years of public service. And
one of the things they'll be able to do is to work for two years as
police officers, or teachers, or nurses, or working with kids to
keep them out of gangs and off drugs.
If you want a President who knows the difference between talk and
action, who will not use crime to divide us, but use safety to
unite us, then vote for Bill Clinton and we will turn this country
My fellow Americans, we have a great decision before us, a choice
that will require some courage on your part. In the next one
hundred days, we will have a debate on the future of America. And
you will be asked once again to stay with the same old path, to
stay in the grip of a failed economic idea called trickle-down
An idea that has produced ten million unemployed and made most of
our people work harder today for less money than they were making
ten years ago, including most people here today. An idea that has
led us to be ridiculed in the face of the world, that led the
Japanese Prime Minister to say he felt sympathy for the United
States. I don't want sympathy. I want respect from the rest of the
world. We'll be number one again, if you give us the chance.
You will be asked to vote again on the same old politics of fear,
and divide, and distract. I ask you again to take a look at this
crime issue. Use it, not as a way to divide the American people,
but a way to unite the American people. Every child needs to be
It is the poor, it is the minorities, it is those who have been
forgotten and left out, who are most at risk to violent crime in
America today. They will be healed and helped if their people could
put on these uniforms and walk their streets and protect their
children. And that is what I want to do.
No more use of crime to divide, let's lift the American people up
together. We're going up or down together, and we better start
acting like it.
So I say to you, before we all drown, if you want a government that
works for all the people, that puts the American people first, that
believes we can compete and win again, that changes the way
government operates in Washington, the way your great governor, Ann
Richards, is trying to change the way government operates here, if
you want a government that really works for you and really works,
then you support Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
I will never forget this vast crowd here today, and the fact that
you all stayed when it rained. You're all going to have to stay
through some other rain. We didn't get into this mess overnight.
We're not going to get out of it overnight. It's not going to be
easy, it's not going to be quick. And we'll all have to accept the
challenge to change. But we must try some new directions.
Let me say one final thing about this issue I came here to talk to
you about. Most of the people behind bars are under-educated, with
an alcohol or drug abuse problem. If you want to fix it, we've got
to find new ways to deal with our young people--drug education,
drug treatment, work for them in the summertime, opportunities for
them to have something to say yes to.
And one final thing, we need an early intervention program, so that
when these kids get in trouble the first time, instead of being
ignored or sent to prison where they can learn how to be first-
class criminals, there should be one shot to stay in a community
punishment program--community boot camps that give you discipline,
education, treatment, and work, that give people a chance to get
connected to the future we want them to live.
I can tell you that in my state, we have a repeater rate of only
about thirteen percent for those that graduate from the boot camp
program, only about twelve percent for those that get their high
school diplomas when they're in college. We've got to empower
people to take their lives back. Punish, when punishment is
appropriate, but liberate, too, from the scourge of ignorance and
addiction, so that we can go forward together. We need both.
What I have said to you today comes from my heart. You can see I
couldn't read my notes. These are things I've been working on for
years, folks. And that's the last thing I want to say.
People are trying to hope again in America. They're trying to
believe again in America. And they always say to me, "Well, why
should I believe you?" All I can tell you is, folks, I am living
proof that the American dream works, if you get a real shot to grab
I was born thirty-five miles from the Texas line, nearly forty-six
years ago, into a family of, to put it mildly, modest means. But
the system worked for me. And I got into this race for President
because I did not want to see the system fail you. Because I did
not want to see my daughter grow up to be part of the first
generation of Americans to do worse than their parents. Because I
could not bear the thought that in this great land, which has been
the home of the free and the brave, we would literally lead the
world in the percentage of people we put in jail, and fall from
first to thirteenth in the world in wages in twelve short years.
I do not want this to be a country that is a wasteland to live in,
instead of the land of hope and opportunity for all Americans. And
that's why I got into this race for President.
And I think we have to keep score, not just on what we say, but on
what we do. This is a race, not just between the past and the
future, it's a difference between action and inaction. Anybody can
talk a good game. Al Gore and Bill Clinton have a plan, a vision,
something you can act on, something you can put your teeth into,
something people have analyzed and said will move America forward.
We need your help. Will you help us?
Do you think I did a good job in selecting a Vice-Presidential
nominee? Do you agree with him, that it's time for them to go?
Thank you. Do you believe that these fine men and women in uniform
deserve more support in keeping your streets safer, and lifting
your children up? Do you want a President who doesn't just talk the
talk, but who walks the walk?
My fellow Americans, more than anything else, I want us to be
making progress again. I want tomorrow to be better than today. I
want us to be coming together again across the lines of race and
region and income. I believe we can win again, and that's what this
campaign is about.
If you want to win again, and you want your country to be one
again, if you want America to be associated with people who have a
spring in their step and a song in their heart, you'll help Al Gore
and Bill Clinton for the next hundred days, and we will lift this
Thank you, and God bless you.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank