Remarks by Telephone to the Annual Conference of the Republican Governors Association in Chicago, Illinois

November 15, 1983

The President. Hello.

Governor Atiyeh. Good morning, Mr. President.

The President. Hi, Vic, how are you?

Governor Atiyeh. I'm not too shoddy at all.

The President. Well, listen, I appreciate this opportunity to talk at least a minute or two with all of you during the Republican Governors Association annual conference there. And I'd like to thank Bob Orr on the fine job that he's done as chairman for the past year and, Vic, to congratulate you as the incoming chairman. I look forward to continuing a close, productive working relationship that I've enjoyed with the Republican Governors.

I understand that the theme for this year's conference is ``Creative Solutions to State Problems.'' Well, having been one of you, I can honestly say that I have firsthand knowledge of the difficult problems you face as Governors, and, working together, I know that we can find the solutions.

Governor Atiyeh. Mr. President, we appreciate that, and we have full knowledge of, of course, your Governorship and especially so as chairman, in 1968, of this association. It's kind of nice to know that you're in the company with someone as illustrious as you are.

We've passed some resolutions that you may have some interest in -- as a matter of fact, I know you will -- resolutions that relate to economic recovery. We applauded your efforts in foreign policy and appreciate very much the clear strength that you've shown in the variety of instances occurring around the Nation, and we certainly are appreciative of that.

You'll be glad to know -- at least, I'm sure you will -- that we reaffirmed the concept of a line-item veto power for the President of the United States.

The President. Well, bless you.

Governor Atiyeh. You're welcome. We thought it was kind of nice ourselves as Governors. Picking up on the theme of your interest in education, here again we recognize, as Governors, how important that is within our own States as well as nationally, and some sense the frustration that Congress hasn't acted on your crime control package, and we urge them to move forward on that issue.

The President. Well, I appreciate that more than I can say. We really need that. And that's a -- --

Governor Atiyeh. It's really a matter of you picking those elements, Mr. President, that are important to us as Americans. And we as Governors feel very much the same, that it is important that those items move forward.

I want you to know that we had a great meeting today. I want to thank you for the good work of Frank Fahrenkopf as our national chairman, doing an outstanding job, and we're very, very thankful for the fact that he's there in Washington guiding the national party.

Ed Rollins spoke to us in the morning breakfast, and there were many questions asked, which I indicated today -- indicated a very keen, very keen interest on the part of the Governors here to make sure that your reelection took place. And you can be assured of my personal support and, as well as I know of, my fellow Governors.

The President. Well, I am most grateful to all of you, and, regarding the resolutions you've passed, keeping this recovery strong, of course, is going to take control of Federal spending. And I'm very pleased to hear about that resolution. I hope you'll make sure your State delegations in Congress know about it.

On the line-item veto, I can't agree more strongly. I believe that the President of the United States should have line-item authority just as most Governors in this country do. I know what it did for me when I was a Governor. And we stop to think that in 1974 back here the Congress passed what they thought was a program to straighten out and get control of the budgeting process. And from 1974 until the beginning of 1982, the result of that has been $560 billion in additional national debt.

I'm particularly pleased also with your resolution on education. The initiative for raising standards and improving education generally has got to come from you and from the State level and the local communities, and I applaud your leadership.

You might be interested to know that I'm meeting with Members of Congress today on tuition tax credits. Getting that passed is an important step that we can take at the Federal level to improve education policy for the Nation.

Well, I know you've got a lot of work to do, and I don't think I should take up any more of your time. So, again, I just want to thank you for all you're doing. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead, and I'll say goodby now, and God bless all of you.

Governor Atiyeh. Mr. President, let me just finally end with one other thought, because I know you have a great helpmate. I want you to know that I personally thank First Lady Nancy for her efforts in that program on drug and alcohol abuse, called ``Chemical People.'' You make a great team, and we're proud of you. And we thank you very much for calling us.

The President. Well, thank you. I'll tell her, and she'll be very proud and happy to hear that. Thank you. Goodby.

Note: The President spoke at 12:45 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.