President Clinton used a commencement speech to the U.S. Military Academy on Saturday to make an appeal for his economic program, declaring that for the nation to be strong abroad, "it must also be strong at home."
The president did not cast his words in partisan political terms but quoted a Republican predecessor in the White House, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Ultimately, preparedness lies in strength," Clinton said, noting that Eisenhower, himself a West Point graduate, once said: "A strong economy is the physical basis of all our military power."
And Clinton reminded his audience that the nation's industrial might was responsible for its victory in World War II and the Cold War.
He said that the defense cuts that have come with the end of Cold War were "necessary, even welcome" but pledged that "there is a limit beyond which we must not go."
The president said the world needs "a new approach and a new determination" to oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical. Clinton said the United States plans to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and reform export controls to safeguard weapons-related technology.
The spiraling national debt has hurt the nation's ability to provide new opportunities for its people, the president said.