Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters at a White House Ceremony for President-Elect George Bush and Vice President-Elect Dan Quayle

 

November 9, 1988

 

The President. George and Dan and Bar and Marilyn, it's wonderful to have you here, and if anyone wants to know how Nancy and I feel about this moment, just read our smiles. [Laughter]

 

Actually, though, I have some figures here that I thought you and the rest of the country might be interested in. According to my calculations, it's only 1,188 days to the Iowa caucus. [Laughter] Now, I think the country has heard quite enough political speechmaking from all of us in the past few months, so I just want to make one or two simple but heartfelt points. First I want you to know, Mr. President-elect and Mr. Vice President-elect, how proud I am of both of you of the extraordinary perseverance and character and grit that you've shown in this difficult year. And I think, too, your worthy opponents would agree what a challenge to human endurance the Presidential campaign has become. So, I want to congratulate both of you, as well as Governor Dukakis and Senator Bentsen, in taking on the great challenge, and your sense of public duty in seeing it through to the end. Each of you is better for it, and so is the country.

 

Now in this hard-fought campaign, George and Dan, I also want to complement you for going to the people on the issues and asking for a mandate on critical matters like the taxing and spending power, the nature of judicial appointments, the strength of our defenses, and the firmness of our foreign policy. I think that mandate has been unmistakably delivered, and I know in carrying it out you will be true to your promises and faithful to the people's wishes.

 

With George Bush and Dan Quayle, I feel our achievements are secure, our change now a permanent feature of American government. But I also believe your mandate will make it possible not just to continue but to build upon the achievements of the past 8 years. This is not the end of an era but a time to refresh and strengthen our new beginning. In fact, to those who sometimes flatter me with talk of a Reagan revolution, today my hope is this: You ain't seen nothin' yet.

 

And finally, let me say that despite the long months of campaigning, the seemingly endless controversy, and the sheer human exhaustion of it all, choosing our leaders is, after all, a decision critical to our own future, to the future of this much-loved nation, and to the cause of human freedom. And that's why today Americans of every political persuasion and background can come together as one. Even as we accept the verdict of the majority, and pledge to protect always the rights of the minority, we've put behind us the divisions and controversies of the immediate past and begin anew. So, it's a day for congratulations, yes, but it's also a day for remembering that whatever may temporarily divide us is far outweighed by that which unites us. America has much to be proud of today. Pledges of a new President and a new Vice President, and pledges of support from the loyal opposition, Republican, Democrat, independent -- today we're one nation, one people, and our national treasure, our national mission -- the cause of human freedom -- continues to prosper and light the world.

 

Thank you. God bless you.

 

The President-elect. Thank you, Mr. President. And all I will say just in the shadow of the office that you ennobled: We're very, very grateful to you. I don't believe there's a case in modern Presidential politics where a President has worked so hard to help someone else achieve this office. And I will always be grateful. I can hardly believe it, but it's sinking in now, the enormity of what has taken place -- peaceful election, eventually a peaceful transfer of power. And I just think for all the Bush family, and I expect I speak for Marilyn and Dan on this one, we are grateful to you and to Nancy for going that extra mile. I really believe that the results would have been entirely different if we hadn't had this loyal, steadfast campaign support. And I know they would if I hadn't learned from a giant the good things about the United States of America. Thank you, sir.

 

The President. Dan?

 

The Vice President-elect. Well, Mr. President, as one who came to the Senate in 1980, thank you for all that you have done for America. And now, Mr. President-elect, yesterday the American people overwhelmingly placed their trust and their confidence in your leadership. And I'm delighted to be a part of that team, ready to go to work and to continue to change America and make it even greater. Thank you both very, very much.

 

The President. Now you'll find out it's time for us to go to work.

 

James A. Baker III

 

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Jim Baker as Secretary of State?

 

Q. Let the women talk. Let the women talk. How about Barbara?

 

The President. I think he's been fine in every job that he's had here in the administration, and I think he'll be fine in the jobs in the next administration.

 

Q. How about Brady for the Treasury? What about Nicholas Brady in Treasury?

 

NATO

 

Q. Mr. Bush, do you plan to go to Europe before your inauguration to shore up the NATO alliance in the wake of ongoing arms control negotiations?

 

The President-elect. The NATO alliance is shorn up, as strong as it's ever been.

 

Q. Mr. President, do you feel like a has-been, Mr. Reagan?

 

Soviet-U.S. Summit

 

Q. Mr. President, what can you do to pave the way for a Bush-Gorbachev summit, since Mr. Bush seems so anxious to meet with the Secretary?

 

The President. We'll do everything we can, but I think that they already have indicated that they would anticipate such a meeting.

 

Note: The President spoke at 3:44 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.