First-in-the-Nation Primary Dinner
May 2, 1999
Thank you so much Jim and thank you ladies and gentlemen for that wonderful warm welcome. I certainly want to thank Steve Duprey and the committee for this wonderful evening tonight. And you know I've learned that if you're going to do well in New Hampshire, you'd better have New Hampshire people running your operation [cheers]. And I am proud, I'm delighted that Jesse Devitte is leading a wonderful team of people here in New Hampshire for me, and it's just a joy to be with all of you tonight.
And you know I also want to thank Al Gore for inventing the Internet so that I can have a web site, www.edole2000.org. And I'm happy to say, and I believe even Al might be impressed with this, that in the first three hours that that web site was up and running we had one million hits, and in one week alone 7,400 people offered to volunteer and 1,234 to raise money. Not bad, I think. [applause].
And you know as I look at the array of speakers tonight I sort of feel like I'm back in law school. I haven't been outnumbered by this many men since I was one of 24 women in a class of 550 at Harvard Law School. [applause].
Well let me tell you, there are several important messages tonight. One is don't mess with success. New Hampshire has a very special role in our political process and we should honor that role. So let me say it loud and clear: New Hampshire first by a week. New Hampshire first by a week. [applause].
And the next president, whoever she may be [laughter], must restore our public schools to greatness and reduce our tax burden, ladies and gentlemen. Do you know that taxes are the highest percent of gross domestic product in fifty years. That's outrageous. That means that the average family is paying 40 percent, almost 40 percent of their income in taxes. In other words the wage-earner is working five months every year for the government to pay the taxes.
And ladies and gentlemen, the next president must get really tough on crime; tough on crime no matter what the special interests say. I think we have to do everything, and this is very important, to help our police fight crime. We have to have tough, enforceable laws. That means retaining the ban on assault weapons. [applause]. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I don't think you need an AK-47 to defend your family. Also, in terms of cop-killer bullets, I think that we have to eliminate all forms of cop-killer bullets, bullets which would pierce the soft-armor worn by our police force. That's very important. I also favor safety locks, yes, safety locks on guns to protect our children. [One loud "boo," applause]. And the instant background check, a very important federal law. We need the full funding to ensure that that is working effectively. The Clinton-Gore team has not provided--they've cut the funding for the instant background check. And that's very important that law, because a person seeking a gun, if indeed they fall into one of those categories such as convicted felon, will get no gun at all. So that law should have full funding so that it can be fully effective.
And while we're fighting crime, it's very important to get tough on drugs, isn't it? Tough on drugs. Indeed, you know pollsters will tell you that the American people don't have drugs very high on their list of priorities. Well my passion doesn't come from polling; my passion is not from polling ladies and gentlemen. We need leadership on this subject. And indeed it will mean that we will increase our concern for eliminating drugs. Our goal should be an America that's free of drugs, and we can do that, we can move together in a great crusade. But it takes leadership--using the bully pulpit to tell people emphatically that drugs are not cool; they kill. Drugs aren't cool; they kill.
Now, let me talk for a moment about defense. Our defense budget is at the lowest percent, our defense spending the lowest percent of gross domestic product in 50 years. That's outrageous. Military readiness is in jeopardy. Spare parts are desperately needed. Many of our most talented people are leaving the military. Indeed a whole generation of equipment needs to be replaced. And so we need to refurbish our military with a lot of additional funding, and certainly when the Secretary of Defense tells us that the North Koreans may have a nuclear missile that can hit our shores within a year, we must do everything in our power to develop and deploy a strategic missile defense system as soon as it's feasible. Wouldn't you agree? It's time to move. [applause].
Now I'm very proud of the fact that Jeane Kirkpatrick, one of the most respected women in the world, has endorsed my effort and is going to be heading my foreign policy advisory committee. Yes. [applause]. Jeane Kirkpatrick doesn't shy away from the tough issues; she doesn't shy away from the truth. And she will help me build the best possible team of experts in defense and foreign policy, to develop what we need immediately. And that's a comprehensive, coherent, consistent foreign policy. We don't have one now do we? We don't have one. [applause].
Now I was in Macedonia recently--oh, oh I think I'm getting a signal--let me just say that indeed we must win the war, because Milosovic is a war criminal, ladies and gentlemen. We've got to win this war. [applause]. And when I see the terrible things in the meeting with the refugees there--the people who've been forced from their homes, the people who have been--their homes burned and looted, the men marched off to heaven knows what kind of fate--all I can say is we are so blessed in this country, and sometimes we tend to take it for granted. We've been blessed to be a blessing; we've received that we might give. And I believe that Americans are yearning for a leader to call this country back to her better nature. And with your support we will do it together; we'll take back the White House. Let's make history. Thank you. [applause].
ema 5/99 --assistance of C-SPAN gratefully acknowledged.