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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 1, 2001
President Speaks to Students in Little Rock, Arkansas
Lakewood Elementary School
North Little Rock, Arkansas
8:58 A.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Anybody got any questions for me?
STUDENT: When our kids grow up and read about your presidency in history books, what do you hope they'll read?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope they read that our country, our politicians are able to discuss differences in a civil way; that there's not a lot of anger in the political process; that you and I might disagree, but we can respect each other when we disagree. So I hope I've been able to help change the tone in Washington, so people respect each other.
I hope the reading test scores are the best in the world. I hope the world is at peace. I hope that boys and girls who dreamt about owning their own business will be able to do so in America, continue to do so. I hope that our nation is one in which people who have dreams, regardless of where you're raised, whether you can speak English -- whether your parents speak English as a first language or not, no matter what neighborhood you're from, will realize those dreams are possible, if you make the right choices in life. So that's my ambitions for the country.
STUDENT: What made you run for President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I thought I could do a better job than anybody else that was running for President. I was concerned about a country that was becoming too bitter at times. I'm concerned that the American Dream, the idea that you can be -- have a dream and work hard to achieve it might not have -- is bright for everybody in America, as I hoped. I'm worried that the education system in some places isn't working. Concerned about a military that -- the morale in the military wasn't high enough. I think we need to have a strong military to keep the peace.
So I had some reasons for running, and now I'm working to achieve them. One of the reasons I've come to your school is to be able to talk about education. I'm also talking about a budget plan. One of the things a President does is submit a budget to Congress -- here's where we ought to spend money, here's where we ought to -- and if you have any money left over, I'm arguing we ought to give it back to the people who pay taxes, like the teacher right here.
Now, one other thing my wife is going to do, by the way, is she's going to go around the country encouraging people such as yourself to think about being a teacher when you get older. There's nothing more important than being a teacher. So as you start to think about your ambitions and your possible careers when you get out of college, think about being a teacher. It's a very important profession.
STUDENT: What is it like being President and living in the White House?
THE PRESIDENT: It's a big honor. It's a big honor, as I'm sure you can imagine. It's a very exciting job. The White House is a majestic place. It's like a museum in many ways, and we're, of course, now turning parts of the White House into our home. And Laura and I are the proud parents of 19-year-old twin daughters, but they go to college so we don't see much of them anymore. But we do have two dogs and a cat living with us. And so all five of us are adjusting to our new home.
But it's an honor. And I hope some day you'll come up to Washington and tour the White House. And you'll get to see where we live. It's a big honor.
STUDENT: What school did you go to when you were our age?
THE PRESIDENT: Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas. I was raised -- you know where Texas is, of course. Most people in Arkansas know where Texas is, and all the people in Texas know where Arkansas is. Anyway, it's the state right south of here. But I lived in the western part of the state. Many people in Arkansas have got kinfolks generally in east Texas and I lived out in west Texas, that's where I lived. And so I went to a place called Sam Houston Elementary School.
And I had no idea when I was your age that I would run for President of the United States. I, frankly, thought that what I wanted to be at the time is I wanted to be a baseball player, just like a guy named Willie Mays. He was my favorite player growing up. Then I realized I wasn't a very good hitter, so I wasn't going to be like Willie Mays.