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Special Event

John McCain Addresses Students in Saginaw, Michigan

Aired February 21, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We took you live to a rally with George Bush just a few moments ago. Now here is Senator John McCain who, today, stepped up his attacks on his rival, suggesting that Bush stepped up government spending at a greater rate in Texas than President Clinton did in Washington. So, John McCain being aggressive after losing in South Carolina. Let's listen in now.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... should have a quality education and should be able to get a great job in the information technology of this country.


The way I want to give that to you -- and, by the way, our state superintendent of education in the state of Arizona, Lisa Graham Keegan, is here.

Lisa, would you say hello and come up here.

One second. I want you to me, also, not only the smartest but the most attractive superintendent of public education in America, Lisa Graham-Keegan. Can you thank -- welcome her for being here.

There you go, thank you.


We've got to give -- we've got to give you -- we've got to give your parents the same thing that every wealthy parent in America -- choice they have, and that is to send you to the school of their choice in their neighborhood. My friends, we think the charter schools work. We'd like to test vouchers, but we don't want to take the money from public education. I want to do away with all this corporate welfare and benefits that the big, powerful corporations in this company have. I want to do away with ethanol subsidies, gas and oil subsidies, sugar subsidies, and I want to give money to test vouchers. But I also want to do something else, and I think you would agree with me. We got to pay your teachers a lot more money than they're getting today. We need to give them that.


You think that Mr. Kreeger (ph) deserves a bonus today?


Yes, OK, there you go. All right. Boy, we've got those kids -- you got them trained, Randy.

Really, we need to give merit pay for teachers and we need to have it based on student performance. I know you've got some great teachers, but we've got to get a lot more of them and we've got to reward them. The average salary of a lawyer today in America is $79,000 a year. The average salary of a teacher is $39,000 a year. There is no reason, no reason why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad senator, right? So we got to give them more money than they get -- than they have today.


I want to make it possible so that every one of you here that wants to go to college will receive the ability to go to college. But I want to tell you how I think we can make that possible. The greatness of America, the greatness of this incredible nation of ours is that young people have stepped forward time after time after time to serve their country. That's really the essence of America and what has made us the noblest experiment on Earth. My friends, throughout our entire history, we have asked young people to serve and sacrifice. I want to motivate you again.

About six months ago, Russ Feingold and I, a senator from Wisconsin, were given the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage award. And the reason why we were given that award at the Kennedy Library is because we have been struggling and fighting and struggling against the establishment, against the big money people, against the guys in thousand-dollar suits, the establishment who have taken the government of this country away from you and given it to the big moneyed interests, and I'm going to get it back to you so that you're involved in the political process again, and I want you to be involved.


My commitment to you -- my commitment to you is that I'll break the iron triangle in Washington of special interests, big money and lobbyists so that you'll be represented again, so that you'll be motivated to serve.

There's a senator -- there's a United States senator in this room, and there may be a president of the United States in this room, but I've got to set the example for you so that you can serve.


Now, I also want to talk to you again about the fact that young people are not participating in the political process. I will motivate you, I will serve you in a way that you can admire and respect and that you will want to serve this country again; not only here, but around the world. The United States of America is the greatest force for good in the world and we can, therefore, make the best things happen in the world, not only here, but all around the world where people still live in poverty, in oppression, repression, under terrible conditions. We and you together can change the world, my friends, if you have the right leadership and the right motivation. And that's what my presidency is all about.


Listen, I promised you I wouldn't talk for a long time. I want you to go home. I want to give you an admonition and then I'm going to tell you a story. I want you to go home and make sure your parents vote. I don't care if your parents -- or if you are 18, I want to you vote. If you're 16, try and sneak in.

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