Defending the War

2004-07-09 - George W. Bush


Thank you all. (Applause.) I'm honored you're here. We've had a fantastic day in the great state of Pennsylvania. (Applause.) See my little bus there? We've been traveling the back roads of this great state. It's so beautiful. All kinds of people came out to say hello. And what a great place to end a great trip, in York, Pennsylvania. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

You probably know this, but for nine months in 1777 and 1778, York was the capital of the United States. (Applause.) Today, York is the capital of Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)

I want to thank all my fellow Republicans, I want to thank the discerning Democrats and wise independents who are here today. (Applause.) I'm proud you're here. I'm here to let you know that I have the desire, the drive and the vision to lead this nation for four more years. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: I'm back in this important state to ask for the vote. (Applause.) And I'm here in this crowd to ask for your help. Register your friends and neighbors. Work those phones, put up the signs. If you want to help, go on to GeorgeWBush.com on the Internet. You can find out how to sign up to help. I'm counting on you. And together we will win a great victory in Pennsylvania, and a great victory across this nation on November the 2nd. (Applause.)

You know how many people running for President would love to have Joe Paterno introduce him in Pennsylvania? (Applause.) Everybody who has ever run for President wants Joe Paterno to introduce him. (Laughter.) But in the year 2004, there's only one. (Applause.) And I'm honored it's me. (Applause.) I want to thank you, Joe. Thank you very much for being here. I'm proud of the example you set. You're a fine, fine, fine American. And you raised a fine son in Scott. We need to send him to the United States Congress -- Scott Paterno. (Applause.)

I regret that Laura is not here. I'm going to give you all kinds of reasons to send me back to Washington today, but probably the most important one is so that Laura is the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) I'm really proud of her. She's a fantastic, fantastic woman. I love her dearly. We talked to her on the phone on the bus -- she sent her best. And in her stead, traveling with me today is a new graduate from the University of Texas, one of my great daughters, Jenna Bush. (Applause.) Made it through in four years, I want you to know.

Proud to be here on stage and traveling today with a fine United States Senator, Senator Rick Santorum. (Applause.) What a fine job Congressman Todd Platts is doing for the people of this area. (Applause.) Where's your mother? There's mom, right there. She made me some fudge. (Laughter.) I'm going to run all day -- well, I'm going to bike all day tomorrow. (Laughter.) Thanks for the fudge, I actually had some.

I appreciate Jerry Pappert, the Attorney General from the great state of Pennsylvania, who joined us today. Thanks for coming, General. (Applause.) State Senator Jeff Piccola is with us. I know other members of the statehouse are here. Thank you all for coming. I'm proud you're here. Turn out the vote. Make sure you spend enough time in your district to get the vote out.

I want to thank state Senator Charlie Dent. He's running for the Congress up the road here. He's going to make a fine United States congressman. Charlie, thanks for coming. (Applause.) I know we've got other candidates here, and I want to thank you for running. I appreciate my friend, Alan Novak, the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party. He's representing the grassroots activists who are here.

A grassroots activist is somebody who is getting ready to turn out the vote. And for those of you who are going to do that, thanks a lot. It really means a lot. It's important. The stakes are high in this election. Just like you're counting on me, I'm counting on you. (Applause.)

I love the Oak Ridge Boys. (Applause.) Every time I see them, they say, we're your friend, you can count on us. And sure enough, every time I've counted on them they have been there. I am honored to have you here. (Applause.) Thanks for coming.

I want to thank the Matt Goss Band, as well. Thank you for coming. (Applause.) Ethel Berdall (phonetic) is with us. She is 101 years young. (Applause.) Hi, Ethel. I'm proud to have your support. (Applause.) Thanks for coming.

The last three and a half years have brought serious challenges. We have given serious answers. We came to office with a stock market in decline and an economy heading into a recession. But we acted. We led. We delivered historic tax relief, and over the past three years, America has had the fastest growing economy in the industrialized world. (Applause.)

There were corporate crimes in America recently, people who forgot what it means to a responsible citizen. We acted. We passed tough corporate reforms. We're bringing wrongdoers to account. It is now clear that we will not tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America. (Applause.)

We saw war and grief arrive on a quiet September morning. We acted. I have led. We pursued the terrorist enemy across the world. We have captured or killed many key leaders of the al-Qaida network. We will stay -- (applause.) We will stay on the hunt until justice is served and America is safe from attack. (Applause.)

We confronted the dangers of state-sponsored terror, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We acted against two of the most violent and dangerous regimes on Earth. We have liberated over 50 million people. (Applause.) America is safer because of our actions. The world is better off; America is once again proud to lead the armies of liberation. (Applause.)

When the Vice President -- and oh, am I running with a fine man in Dick Cheney -- (applause) -- when he and I came to Washington, the military -- remember back three-and-a-half years ago -- the military was underfunded and underappreciated. We gave our Armed Forces the resources and respect they deserve. (Applause.) And today, no friend or foe can question the skill, the strength, and the spirit of the United States military. (Applause.)

It is the President's job -- it is the President's job to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. (Applause.) It is the President's job to make hard decisions, to keep his commitments. That is how I have led our country, and that is how I will continue to lead our country for four more years. (Applause.)

I'm ready for the contest. I'm ready for the contest. (Applause.) I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a tough race, make no mistake about it. That's why I'm traveling stop to stop on this great bus. I take nothing for granted. After all, I'm running against an experienced United States Senator from Massachusetts.

AUDIENCE: Booo!

THE PRESIDENT: He's been there a long, long time. He's been there long enough to take both sides on just about every issue. (Applause.) He voted for the Patriot Act, for NAFTA, for the No Child Left Behind Act, and for the use of force in Iraq. Now he opposes the Patriot Act, NAFTA, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the liberation of Iraq. If you disagree with the Senator from Massachusetts on most any issue, you may just have caught him on the wrong day. (Laughter.)

And now, just last weekend, he even tried to claim he was the candidate with conservative values. (Laughter.) I know -- I know, but I'm quoting his own words. Believe it or not, that's what he said. (Laughter.) It's hard to square that statement with his previous statement when he said, "I'm a liberal and proud of it." On issue after issue, from funding our troops who are on the battlefield, to involving parents in important decisions of their minor daughters, to supporting faith-based and community organizations that are helping those in need, the Senator is out of step with the mainstream values that are so important to our country. (Applause.)

My opponent now has a running mate. I look forward to a spirited debate. Senator Kerry is rated as the most liberal member of the Senate, and he chose a fellow lawyer who is the fourth most liberal member of the Senate. Back in Massachusetts, that's what they call balancing the ticket. (Laughter.)

Great events will turn on this election. The person who sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror, and the direction of our economy. I have a clear vision to win the war on terror, and to extend peace and freedom throughout the world. I'm asking for your vote because I have a plan and a strategy to create more jobs, so every single citizen has a chance to realize the great promise of America. I'm seeking the vote to rally the compassionate spirit of this country so every citizen can realize their full, God-given potential. (Applause.) I will be clear on where I stand and I'll be certain about where I'm going to take this nation. (Applause.) When America gives me four more years, America will be safer, stronger, and better. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: A big issue for every family in America is the tax burden. By providing the largest federal tax relief since Ronald Reagan was the President -- (applause) -- we have left more money in the hands that earned it. (Applause.) By spending and investing and helping create new jobs, the American people have used their money far better than the federal government could have. (Applause.)

Our economy is strong and it is growing stronger. (Applause.) Since last summer, our economy is outpacing the entire world by growing at its fastest rate in nearly 20 years. (Applause.) In less than a year's time, we've added more than 1.5 million new jobs. (Applause.) In this state, in the great state of Pennsylvania, you've added 44,000 new jobs since February. (Applause.) The unemployment rate in this state is at 5.1 percent, below the national average. (Applause.)

Across the country, the manufacturing sector is growing stronger. Homeownership rate is at an all-time high. (Applause.) Interest rates are low; business investment is growing; consumer confidence is at a two-year high; personal incomes are on the rise. The economy is moving into high gear. The tax relief we passed is working. (Applause.)

My opponents look at all this progress and somehow conclude the sky is falling. But whether their mission is -- whether their message is delivered with a frown or a smile, it's the same old pessimism. And to cheer us up, they propose higher taxes, more federal spending, and economic isolationism. That's the surest way to end economic growth and to put Americans out of work. This nation is on the path of progress, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)

To sustain economic growth, we need to keep your taxes low. (Applause.) Higher taxes right now would undermine growth and destroy jobs. To help grow the American economy and create more jobs for American workers, I have a better idea. Congress needs to make the tax relief permanent, and not raise taxes on the American people. (Applause.)

To make sure this economy continues to grow we've got to be wise about how we spend the money you send to Washington. That's why we need discipline -- spending discipline -- in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) And spending discipline starts with understanding whose money we spend. We're not spending the governor's -- government's money in Washington, D.C., we're spending the people's money in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

I not only want us to grow next year, but I want us to keep growing in the out-years. So I've got a plan to do so. First, we've got to stop these frivolous and junk lawsuits. (Applause.) You cannot be pro-small business and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) You have to choose. My opponent has made his choice, and he put him on the ticket. (Applause.) I have made my choice. I will continue to push Congress to reform tort laws and end frivolous and junk lawsuits. (Applause.)

And that includes medical liability reform. (Applause.) Small businesses make it difficult -- it's very difficult for small businesses to hire new people, because their health care premiums are going up. And one of the reasons why is because there's too many junk lawsuits suing the docs around this country and in this state. (Applause.)

We need energy legislation, common-sense energy legislation if we want our economy to continue to grow. A couple of years ago, I submitted a plan to the United States Congress that encourages conservation, that modernizes our electricity grid, but also says that we need to use the resources we have at hand in environmentally-friendly ways. We need to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

We need to be opening up markets for Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and farmers and ranchers. Listen, I know we've got some farmers here. (Applause.) You're making a good living these days, and one of the reasons why is because we're selling Pennsylvania farm products all around the world. (Applause.) We need to be opening up markets. Our market is open; let's get other countries to open up theirs. Give us a level playing field, and America can compete with anybody, anyplace, anywhere, anytime. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT: Angry talk, and class warfare rhetoric, and economic isolationism won't get anybody hired. That's not a plan for the future. The best way to make sure our people find work and keep work is to reelect a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-small business, pro-farmer President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

America's future also depends on our willingness to lead in the world. The momentum of freedom in our time is strong, but we still face serious dangers. Al Qaeda is wounded but not broken. (Applause.) Terrorists continue to attack in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regimes in North Korea and Iran are challenging the peace. If America shows weakness or uncertainty in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)

As in other times, many Americans are serving and sacrificing to keep this country safe and to bring freedom to others. And we thank them for their sacrifice. We mourn the dead and vow never to forget their sacrifice. (Applause.) I thank the families, the wives and the husbands, the moms and the dads, and the sons and daughters of those whose loved one is overseas serving our nation. We stand with your loved one. America honors their service. (Applause.)

They serve because after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, this nation resolved to fight the terrorists where they dwell. We resolved to hold regimes that hide and sponsor terrorists to account. Afghanistan was a terror state, provided safe haven for al Qaeda. They trained and plotted and planned there. Because we acted, America is more secure, the training camps no longer exist, Afghanistan is a rising democracy. Young girls go to school for the first time in their lives. And they're an ally -- Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror. (Applause.)

Iraq only last year was controlled by a dictator who threatened the civilized world. He had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. For decades he tortured and tormented the people of Iraq. We must never forget the mass graves of the thousands he murdered. Because we acted, America is more secure. Because we acted, Iraq is free and a sovereign nation. (Applause.) And because we acted, the dictator is now in a prison cell and will receive the justice he denied so many for so long. (Applause.)

We must never forget the lessons of September the 11th. It's a lesson -- there are many lessons, but I want to share one with you that we -- I will never forget, and I hope this country never does: America must confront threats before they fully materialize. (Applause.) When we see a threat, we just can't hope for the best anymore. That's the lesson of September the 11th. And we must never forget the lesson. My administration looked at intelligence, and we remembered the past of Saddam. We remembered he used weapons on his own people. And then we looked at further intelligence, and we saw a threat. The members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the very same intelligence, and they saw a threat. The United Nations -- the United Nations looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat.

Remember I went to the United Nations. I said, for too long you have said the man is a threat and he has ignored you. And so we went to the United Nations and he -- and demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. That's what the United Nations said. And as he had for over a decade, he ignored the ultimatums of the free world. He said, your resolutions don't matter to me.

I happen to believe that when you say something, you better mean it. (Applause.) Well, we said -- we, being the free world out of the United Nations Security Council -- said, disclose your weapons, disarm, or face serious consequences. That's what was said. And he denied, he deceived, he wasn't about to listen to the demands. So I had a choice to make. Either take the word of a madman, or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT: Although we haven't found stockpiles of weapons, I believe we were right to go into Iraq. (Applause.) And America is safer today because we did. (Applause.) We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take. (Applause.)

We've got tough work to do. We've got hard work to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our immediate task in those countries is to capture or kill the terrorists and foreign fighters. (Applause.) Every terrorist we deal with abroad is one who will never do harm to an innocent American or anyone else. (Applause.) You can't talk sense to these people. You can't negotiate with these people. They're cold-blooded. They are -- they've hijacked a great religion. They're not religious people. You cannot sit back and hope for the best. We must engage these people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) And that's exactly what I will do during the next four years. (Applause.)

My most solemn duty -- my most solemn duty is the security of American families. (Applause.) It's my solemn obligation. There is no such thing as perfect security. The threats to our homeland are real. We know the terrorists want to strike us again because they want to spread fear and disrupt our way of life. We've reorganized our government to protect the homeland. I put a good man in there to run that organization. (Applause.) You trained him well. Tom Ridge is doing a great job. (Applause.) A lot of people are working hard on our behalf, your behalf, a lot of good people.

I want to thank the police and firefighters and emergency teams from York, Pennsylvania, for standing on the front lines of homeland security. (Applause.)

We're defending our homeland, we will defeat the terrorists abroad. Yet, in the long run, our safety and the safety of our children and grandchildren requires something more. We must work to change the conditions that give rise to terror in the Middle East -- the poverty, the hopelessness, and the resentments that terrorists can exploit. Life in that region will be far more hopeful and peaceful when men and women can choose their leaders and the people can decide their own future.

By serving the ideal of liberty, we are bringing hope to others, and that makes America more secure. (Applause.)

By serving the ideal of liberty, we also serve the deepest ideals of our country. We know that freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

Because we have taken this fight to the enemy, because freedom is rising in places they claim as their own, the terrorists are increasingly desperate. They know their cause is failing. They know that time is against them. And their only chance is to shake the resolve of America and Iraq and anyone else who loves freedom. So their actions have grown even more cruel and sadistic. They cover their faces in videos of their crimes. But those hoods cannot hide the face of evil. (Applause.) We've seen their kind before, in death camps and gulags. And as before, America will persevere, we will fear no evil, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

Our men and women in the military are keeping America more secure. They're taking great risks on our behalf. At bases across the country and around the world, I have had the privilege, the high privilege, of meeting with those who defend our country and sacrifice for our security. I've seen their decency and their unselfish courage. And I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, the cause of freedom is in good hands. (Applause.)

And when we put our soldiers in harm's way, they deserve the very best. They deserve the full commitment of the federal government. That's why I proposed supplemental funding to support our military in its mission. This legislation provided for body armor and vital equipment, for hazard pay, for health benefits, ammunition, fuel, and spare parts for the military. (Applause.)

In the Senate, only a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority voted against the legislation -- and two of those 12 senators are my opponent and his running mate.

AUDIENCE: Boooo!

THE PRESIDENT: When asked to explain his vote, the Senator from Massachusetts said this: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." End quote. That sure clears things up. (Laughter.) The American President must speak clearly and mean what he says. (Applause.)

America is leading the world with confidence and moral clarity. We have a strong coalition of more than 30 countries in Iraq. I will continue to build on our alliances and to work with our friends for the cause of security and peace. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

This nation is prosperous and strong, yet we need to remember that our greatest strength is in the hearts and souls of our the American citizens. We're strong because of the values we try to live by -- courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. We're strong because of the institutions that help give us direction and purpose -- our families and our schools, our religious congregations. These values and institutions are fundamental to our lives. They deserve the respect of the government. (Applause.)

We stand for good public schools by insisting on high standards, local control, and strong accountability measures. (Applause.) We stand for fair treatment of faith-based groups, so they can receive federal support for their works of compassion and healing. (Applause.) We stand for welfare reforms that require work and strengthen marriage, which have helped millions of Americans find independence and dignity. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every person counts. (Applause.) We stand for institutions like marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) We stand for judges who strictly and faithfully interpret the law. (Applause.)

We stand for a culture of responsibility in our country. The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. (Applause.) If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or a dad, you are responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all your soul. If you're worried about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you're responsible for supporting the teachers and the schools. (Applause.) If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) And in this new responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we'd like to be loved ourselves. (Applause.)

For all Americans, these years in our history will always stand apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation, when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one of those times. You and I are living in a period when the stakes are high, and the challenges are difficult -- a time when resolve is needed. (Applause.)

None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended and another began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I'll never forget that day. There were workers in hard-hats shouting at me, "Whatever it takes!" I remember looking in the eyes of those firefighters and policemen -- and a guy looked at me and said, "Don't ever let me down." (Applause.)

As we all did that day, these men and women searching through the rubble took it personally. I took it personally. I have a responsibility that goes on. I will never relent in bringing justice to our enemies. I will defend the security of America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)

In these times I've also been a witness to the character of this nation. I've seen the unselfish courage of our troops. I've seen the heroism of Americans in the face of danger. I've seen the spirit of service and compassion renewed in our country. We've all seen our nation unite in common purpose when it mattered most.

We'll need all these qualities for the work ahead. We have a war to win, and the world is counting on us to lead the cause of freedom and peace. We have a duty to spread opportunity to every part of America. We will make America safer, stronger, and better. This is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it. And we know that for our blessed country, the best days lie ahead.

God bless. Thank you all. (Applause.)