Welcome everybody. Well, Mary and I and our two daughters are delighted to welcome the Clintons to Geneva, to our home and to their Finger Lakes Labor Day vacation. Of course, this is Senator Hillary Clinton's third visit to Geneva and we're delighted she brought along her husband for his first visit to Geneva. The Clintons are here for some time to relax, to enjoy our region here in the Finger Lakes and this beautiful campus. Our hope is that they will find what my family has found in the past two years since moving up here to Geneva, and that is the friendliness of the people here in our area in Geneva, the beauty of this region, and the dynamic community of our students here at Hobart and William Smith. Students? (audience cheers) As well as our faculty and staff and all that make up the Hobart and William Smith family. To show this kind of hospitality we have some gifts for the Clintons to make sure their time here is an enjoyable one. We need to start with some Hobart and William Smith apparel. We all need Hobart and William Smith apparel. Courtesy of The College Store presented to President Clinton by our student trustee Quentin Robbins. Quentin? (presentation of sweatshirt) Not to be outdone, William Smith trustee Reneé Conklin has a hat for Senator Clinton. Many of our community members wanted to make sure that they also welcome the Clintons here to the City of Geneva. Acting Mayor John Greccho is here; Mayor Kass is out of town, but Acting Mayor Greccho will present a framed watercolor by Yolanda Scofield depicting various Geneva buildings. They want to make sure President Clinton has that forum. Mayor Greccho?
From the Geneva schools, if he can carry it, Antwon Evansburg, a freshman at Geneva High, will present to Senator Clinton. (oversized gift presented) We may need someone to help the Senator with that. We'll make sure that gets back to the house. From DeSales High School, the Catholic high school here, Sharon Rose Mantell wanted to also present a gift to Senator Clinton. (bouquet of roses presented)
And lastly, the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce wanted to recognize Senator Clinton for all her work on economic development. The past President and his wife, Frank Pullano and Donna Pullano, who present a basket of area wines and assortments for the Clintons. (Mark pointing to his right "There's a great sign there, 'Clinton is God.' Which one are you talking about, we have them both here.") Let me get right to the program here and introduce New York's junior Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is certainly no stranger to this campus. She's been here, as I mentioned; this is her third visit. She was here about a year and a half ago where she moderated a forum for 90 minutes with our students about service and community service. She came back to meet with area college presidents. She certainly is very hard working, as the Chamber wanted us to remind everyone, for the economic development issues in this region. I was impressed by reading Time magazine and noting an interesting statistic about our senator, that she has introduced and co-sponsored and written more legislation than any junior senator.
Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Thank you. Wow. Thank you so much. I am absolutely delighted to be back and I'm so pleased that we could have an opportunity to greet all of you and thank you for coming out, both from the colleges and the community, and that my husband could come because I've been telling him how beautiful Geneva is and I have all of President Gearan's talking points about the colleges so I've been also telling him how special Hobart and William Smith are and now he can see for himself. Thank you for welcoming us here to the Colleges. I want to thank all the students for being here and I also want to recognize that the Latin American and Caribbean Student Associations were having a barbecue on Smith Green so I'm glad that they would come over and be part of this event as well. Let me thank you, Mayor and the Pullanos and everyone who's gathered here as part of this, but I especially want to thank our longtime friends, the Gearans. I'm so pleased that Bill and I will have a chance to just relax and spend some time here with Mark and Mary and their daughters and really get a little R&R in this beautiful Finger Lakes area.
How many freshmen are here at Hobart and William Smith? (loud cheers) Well, welcome to college. You've made a very good choice. Mark was pointing out to me the big sculpture of the scissors is a perfect metaphor for what you're finding here and I wish you well this first year and I hope that everything works out for you. You know, New York has so many colleges and universities that are first rate and the small liberal arts colleges are particular favorites of mine because I just think you have so many opportunities to get to know one another and your professors and really pursue other interests that you might never have thought about before you came. I'm also impressed, as I was when I first visited, with the breadth of community service on this campus. It is very impressive to me and I know it must be not only the faculty and staff who are very proud of the work that you do but based on my visit, it's true throughout the region because you're doing so much work that wouldn't otherwise be done. I thank you for that because while you're getting not only a good academic education, you're learning more about yourselves and about what goes on around you and that's a tremendous experience and you're making a great contribution.
You know, we're going back into session next week and it's going to be a very difficult couple of months because we have a lot of hard decisions to make and they're not partisan decisions, they're problem-solving decisions. I mean, how are we going to fund education? I'm going to be on the education conference committee because I serve on that committee and there's no issue that I care more about. If we don't make the kinds of investments in our public school system and have the sort of accountability that we know will work to increase student learning then I think we're turning our backs on the institution that really makes America unique.
You know, I've been fortunate to travel all over the world both on my own and with my husband. You can go to any country anywhere in the world and you'll find very smart people and you'll find very rich people and you'll find accomplished artists and great athletes but you won't find what we have, which is this extraordinary engine of opportunity that provides people who are willing work for their betterment and a better future for themselves and their children. The chance to really show what they can do. I believe with all my heart that our education system is absolutely essential to the continuation to the kind of country we've always enjoyed and loved.
And so part of what we'll be working on is how we going about doing that. We'll be facing environmental and energy issues, and when I met here, the second time I was on campus, the presidents and executives from so many of the colleges and universities from around upstate New York, I was thrilled to hear about the work that is being done in wind power and bio-mass and fuel cells and all kinds of alternative energy, but if we don't have an energy policy that is a 21st century energy policy to invest in those kinds of alternative energy sources, I'm afraid we're going to go backwards instead of forwards. We also have to make a real commitment to developing our energy needs to that we are self-sufficient without undermining our commitment to the environment. That's why I oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (applause) and it's why Chuck Schumer and I fought for and successfully passed a prohibition on any drilling in the Finger Lakes for any reason whatsoever. (applause)
And we're going to have big health care issues. We really believe it's important to provide a prescription drug benefit for people on Medicare and that's something I thought everybody agreed to in the last election. But it's not going to be easy or maybe even possible, given what's happened to the budget and the slowdown in the economy. And I think it's important that we modernize, reform, and protect and preserve Social Security, and I will be fighting to do that so that it does remain a solemn obligation and contract. And part of why I'm concerned is because we have had something of an economic slowdown but it's been made worse by the economic policies that have been pursued. I am very concerned that we have moved back into fiscal irresponsibility. We're heading back into deficits. We're beginning to see the use of the social security surplus. I don't think that's smart and it's not smart because it places a burden on young people like you and our daughter. I don't think that's fair. One of the reasons I was so proud of the last eight years because, under my husband's leadership, our country moved out of deficits and began paying down on our debt and investing in our future.
You know, I supported a more balanced approach. I didn't support the big tax cut. I thought it was too big. I supported a more reasonable, affordable tax cut. I supported paying down the debt and I supported making investments in education and the environment and energy and health care and economic development for places like upstate New York. And that's what I'm going to keep fighting for because to me there isn't any place that is either more beautiful or more deserving of investment than upstate. I mean, all you have to do is come to the shores of this beautiful lake, come to Geneva, travel throughout upstate New York. So much of our history was made here. So many of the people have a work ethic that you're not going to find anywhere else. We should be making investments, tax credits, incubators, broadband, and the kind of investments that will make it possible for people to be part of the new modern economy that will come because this is a beautiful place to live and work. So we have our work cut out for us in order to make that case and I'm going to do everything I possibly can.
We just came from the State Fair where we had a great time and I gave a speech about agriculture because I'm sure a lot of you know, but many New Yorkers don't even know, that agriculture is still the number one industry in New York. We need to support our farmers and we need to be buying local New York products. So it's a great honor to serve in the Senate and represent you and every day I'm just absolutely privileged and delighted to go to work and advocate for all of you and for the needs of this institution, and Geneva, and everyone who makes New York not only a great state but, I think, sort of the leading edge of change and opportunity as it always has been historically, but will be into the future.
I will not surprise you by saying that I believe we had a good eight years. I believe that the two terms of the Clinton/Gore Administration were not only good for New York and America but good for our world. As we look around the world we see a lot of troubling spots. We're not sure exactly what's going to happen from Northern Ireland to the Macedonia conflict to the Middle East, and we have many worries that we have to pay careful attention to.
There's going to be a big debate about national missile defense. I hope you all will follow it. Don't let your eyes glaze over. This may be the most important decision that is made in the next year or two because if we don't do it right we not be safer and secure. We will be rendered less safe and less secure. I am a very strong supporter of defense. I was up at Fort Drum. I don't know if any of you are from the north country. I was up at Fort Drum, which is one of the most advanced bases we have anywhere in America. We deploy out of there to Sinai and the Balkans and those men and women are ready to go to represent the American interest. They need our support. We do not need to be deploying unproven technology. How many of you have followed this and seen that a couple of months ago they said that they had done a test where the missile was intercepted, and that was a success, and lo and behold we pick up a publication called Defense Week and we read that the missile had a global positioning beacon in it so they knew exactly where it was and that's how they could shoot it down. I don't think Saddam Hussein is going to say 'let's put a beacon in our missile so that they'll know where it is.' We need to do the research, we need to be careful about how we do this and do it right. You're going to have a great treat in the next couple of days. Madeleine Albright is going to be here and she has traveled around this world, knows what's going on. You'll be able to talk with her. But now it's my great pleasure, because I'm so pleased that he could come and see how beautiful this campus is and how beautiful this area is, to introduce my husband, our former president, Bill Clinton.
Thanks, thank you very much.
Nice boots, Bill.
Thanks, I got these boots in Australia, but I have some from Texas where I once took a very brief vacation. (laughter) Let me first of all thank President Gearan. Well, that sounds funny. (laughter) Right before I left office, Mark said 'well, at least one of us is not term-limited.' But I want to thank Mark and Mary and members of the Hobart and William Smith and Geneva communities for making us feel so welcome. You've just heard the politician in my family speak. Didn't she do a good job? I'm very, very grateful to the people in this part of New York State for the support you gave to me and the Vice President through our eight years and the support you gave to Hillary in the last election. It is true, as Mark said, she has introduced more legislation that any other freshman member of the Senate and she's also passed more, and I am very proud of her for doing that.
This is a higher education community and I just want to sort of make two observations, if I might, that may help you think about these political issues as they come up. What should you think about the tax cut? What should we do about it now? What should you think about Social Security and national missile defense or the energy crisis? I just want to offer two observations. Number one, if I ask you to describe in a sentence, the dominant characteristic of this age, what would your answer be? What is the most important characteristic of the early 21st century? You might say information technology. You might say the technology revolution. When I became President there were 50 sites on the World Wide Web, now there are 350 million. Nothing like it ever in history. You might say the globalization of the economy, which had ironically lifted more people out of poverty in the last 20 years than in any time in history, but we still have half the people in the world living on less than two dollars a day; a billion people living on less than a dollar a day. You might say global warming. Hillary talked about that. Eight of the ten hottest years ever recorded were in the last decade and if we have 50 more years like them, then we'll lose about 50 feet of Manhattan Island, we'll lose the Florida Everglades; we'll lose the Louisiana sugarcane fields, and Pacific island nations will be flooded, and we'll have tens of millions of food refugees within 50 years. You might say the increasing diversity within our societies. Look around here today and you can see that. You might say, to echo something Hillary said, that the explosive mixture of modern technology and weaponry with ancient racial, religious, tribal, and ethnic hatreds. Bosnia, Kosovo, the Middle East, Northern Ireland and other places.
What do all these things, positive and negative, have in common? Our interdependence. Global warming is an interdependent problem. We may be the worst emitters of greenhouses gases but they're hurt just as bad in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as Americans are by a climate change. Maybe worse. Every one of those issues, the global economy proves our interdependence. The threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction prove our interdependence. Information technology is premised on our interdependence.
You might also talk about the phenomenal rise in medical research. The sequencing of the human genome and that fact that in all probability, there'll be a cure for most cancers within a matter of ten years and we'll be able to be tested and further have them identified before they're a few cells in size. Scientists are now working in digital chips that can replicate damaged nerves in spines that will enable people confined to wheelchairs to stand up and walk. So, you might say all those things but every one of the developments of the modern world emphasizes and increases the extent to which our future is tied up with others around the country and around the world. Therefore, every time you hear one of these issues debated you should ask yourselves 'is this going to make our interdependence more positive or more negative.'
The second thing I think you ought to think about it is the speed with which we are moving into the future and how much things will change when the baby-boomers retire in ten years. One of the things I'm proudest of in our eight years is we increased college aid by more than had been increased in 50 years since the GI Bill was established at the end of World War II. We had a record number of people going to college from all racial and ethnic groups. Why? Because I thought it was important to your future and to our nation's future. So the second question you ought to ask yourself whenever any issue is debated today is 'how will this issue look ten years from now?' because that's when it will matter to most of you. Those young students here, when you move out of here and get into your child-bearing years, your children will in all probability with have a life expectancy in excess of 90 years because of biomedical research. You'll come up with the right position on whatever the issue is. Thank you, God bless you.
I'd like to announce the latest adjunct professor here at Hobart and William Smith, William Jefferson Clinton. He's agreed to come without tenure so members of the faculty here, meet your new colleague. We're glad you're all here. The Clintons are going to spend the weekend here at our house. We promised to keep the noise down to our neighbors on South Main Street. Thank you all very much for coming. Good afternoon.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton Visit
Sept. 1, 2001