Alexander, on N. H. tour, gives Dartmouth speech
Republican presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander told students on Friday that the New Hampshire primary in February is crucial because it will determine who will lead America into the next century.
"The person who sits in the oval office in the entire first year of the 21st century will be nominated in New Hampshire," said Alexander, the former governor of Tennessee and the first presidential candidate to visit the College this fall.
Speaking to a large crowd in Collis Common Ground, Alexander spoke about preparing America for the next century. He said the two main problems the country faces are government meddling and a breakdown in personal responsibility.
"We are turning over to Washington too much," he said. "We need to expect less from Washington and more from ourselves."
Alexander, the former secretary of education under President George Bush, said one solution is to allow people to choose between public and private grammar and high schools.
"This is identical to the way we created the best colleges in the world very quickly," he said.
Alexander also said as America prepares for the future, its citizens must be willing to accept personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
"I have to ask for your help," he said. "I can balance the budget and make executive decisions, but when it comes to personal responsibility, I have to ask for your help."
Alexander said he is the best presidential candidate because he is removed from the insider politics of Washington, D.C.
"The difference between me and the others is that I came home" to Tennessee, he said. "I have gone out and lived under the rules I made."
"It is very hard to change the culture of Washington if we are the culture of Washington," he said.
During the question and answer session following his speech, Alexander said he reluctantly supports cutting federal funding for student loans in order to balance the budget.
"One of the last things I want to cut is federal grants and loans for students," he said. "But if I must cut some, I will."
When asked about abortion, Alexander said he believes states have a right to restrict abortion but the federal government should not get involved.
Alexander also fielded a question about retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell's possible entry into the presidential race. He said the move "would confuse the race, but hurt Dole more."
Alexander also questioned America's involvement in the Bosnian conflict.
"We can't become involved in every civil war that occurs in the world," he said. "I think we do not have a vital interest and a willingness to contribute substantial troops to the conflict."
He said Clinton's failure to make a clear decision on Bosnia earlier and to communicate it to the public, "zig-zagged and prolonged war."
Alexander said he did support "modestly increasing military spending. "We have to have a strong America," he said.