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 Home > News & Policies > February 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 6, 2002

Remarks by the President at Friends of Governor Pataki Reception
The Sheraton
New York, New York

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6:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Gosh, thanks for the warm welcome.  It's great to be back in New York City.  It's the home of such courage and strength and resolve.  It's shown the world and the country what it means to be a community that refuses -- refuses -- to back down in the face of evil and terror.  I'm proud to be the President of a country where we've got such a fabulous city called New York City.  (Applause.)

I want to thank the Party Chairman for his hard work.  I want to thank the Lt. Governor for being here.  She certainly brightens up the stage. (Laughter and applause.)  She's smarter than all of us, too.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank the Mayor.  I appreciate the Mayor taking on the awesome responsibility of being the Mayor of this huge city.  He could have easily have just continued to run his successful business and said, what the heck, I'm not interested in serving.  But he made a personal sacrifice for the good of the people.  And the city is going through tough times, but you made the right decision to have a man who knows how to lead to be your Mayor.  (Applause.)

And I look forward to working with the Mayor.  George is right, we're going to work hard to make sure that New York City gets the help she needs. And it's comforting to me to be able to tell the spenders up in Congress that when we send the money here, it's going to be well managed by Mayor Bloomberg.  (Applause.)

And I want to thank you all for coming to support my good, close friend, George Pataki.  He has done a -- (applause.)  If for no other reason you ought to send him back, it's because, like me, he married well. (Laughter and applause.)  But he's got a fabulous record.  He has been a breath of fresh air here in New York State.  He's done in office what he said he would do.  He's a plain speaker, and just goes out and does it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Like you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  He's one of these candidates who can actually run on his record and be proud of it.  (Laughter.)  Some of them run away from their record.  He's running on it.  He's running on a great record.

But there's another reason to send him back.  As you know, we're in tough times here in America.  As I said in my State of the Union, we're at war, we're in recession, but we've never been stronger.  (Applause.)  And one of the reasons we're strong is that this important state has got a leader who, in the face of -- in the face of danger, in the face of an emergency, shoots strong and steady and was reliable.

In tough times, what this state needs is somebody who you can count on, somebody who won't panic, somebody who won't play politics with the situation, somebody who knows how to lead.  And that somebody is Governor George Pataki.  (Applause.)

He's got a good record.  He's proven that he knows how to lead.  And it also makes sense for New York State to have a governor whose phone calls will be returned from the White House.  (Applause.)

We do have some tough times ahead of us.  But you've got to know, I've never been more optimistic about the future than I am right now.  I'm optimistic because I know what we need to do.  And what we need to do is to make a clear statement and a stand for freedom -- never relenting, never tiring, and pursuing a grand and noble objective, and that objective is to rid the world of terror.  (Applause.)

The enemy, in attacking New York City, made a terrible mistake.  They must not understand what America's character is like.  I like to say they must have been watching too much daytime TV.  (Laughter.)  They -- they miscalculated.  They thought we were soft.  They thought we were so materialistic and selfish that we couldn't think beyond ourselves, that we couldn't think in terms of a grand idea, that we wouldn't cherish freedom to the point where we would fight for it.  And that miscalculation has been most notable with the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

I unleashed the mighty United States military on a clear objective. (Applause.)  I said that not only would we find the killers and bring them to justice -- but if you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist, you're just as guilty as a terrorist.   (Applause.)

There's been some proud moments for this country.  Nothing more proud for me than to see our military liberate a people -- liberate women and children from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind.  Not only are we fighting for justice, we're liberators.  We free people so they can realize their potential.  This great country is not only tough and resolved, but we stand on principle. And freedom is our principle.  We love freedom at the core.  And we will not relent, we won't relent in our quest to not only make the world more free, but to make the world more peaceful.  (Applause.)

I want you to know I'm a patient man.  I don't feel any great anxiety toward achieving objectives on the moment.  And therefore, those who think they can hide can't hide long enough.  Those who think they can run can't run far enough.  We are deliberate; we are patient; but make no mistake about it, we will deliver justice.  (Applause.)

The country is united, and for that I am really grateful.  I appreciate the support of members of both political parties in Washington, D.C. for this most important cause, this most important campaign.  History has called us into action, and we'll respond.  It's our chance to leave a better world.

And so I want to tell you that the first theater on the war against terror is going well.  But there will be other theaters.  So long as the enemy wants to harm us, so long as people believe they can get away with terror, this nation will lead our vast coalition with firm resolve, dedicated to a peaceful world.

The other day I spoke very clearly about some choices countries get to make.  I talked about an axis of evil, because I firmly believe that nations need to be put on notice that this nation will not allow our citizens to become threatened not only by terrorist acts, but by nations which develop weapons of mass destruction which could easily, or eventually be used against us. We will not be intimidated.  I will not allow nations to hold us hostage, or our friends and allies hostage.  Terror is our mission -- (applause.)

And so, my fellow citizens, I appreciate our nation's resolve and understanding and adherence to some important principle.  I also want you to know that every morning I walk in to the Oval Office and sit at this magnificent desk that had been used by the Roosevelts and by President Reagan -- by the way, today is his 91st birthday -- (applause) -- and other leaders, and sit down there at the desk and read a threat assessment.  It's a summary of the intent of the enemy.  And you've got to know that there are still ambitions against us.  But I also want to assure you, our great land is doing everything we possibly can to protect our American citizens.

We're on alert.  The law enforcement agency at the federal level, the FBI, is now focused on prevention.  We're running down every lead, we're seeking every opportunity to disrupt potential cells in America.  We're working overtime.  I'm proud of the way our law enforcement officials have responded.  You need to know that we are doing -- my most important job and the most important job of your government is to protect the American people, and we will do so with all our vigor and all our might. (Applause.)

As I said in my State of the Union, I stand in awe of the American people and in awe of the citizens of New York City.  This great city refused, absolutely refused, to be intimidated.  (Applause.)  This city, it stood in defiance of evil.  And America watched and America was impressed, and so was your President.  I've been impressed -- (applause.)

I'm asked all the time by people, what can I do to help. You see, as you probably can tell, I don't see many shades of gray in this world.  Either you're with us or you're against us.  Either you support evil or you support good.  This great nation stands on the side of good. And for those who want to help, you can do so by acts of kindness.  You can do so by showing compassion for your neighbor.

And it doesn't require much.  Walking across the street to a shut-in to say, "I care for you, I hope you're okay," is an act of kindness that will stand in the face of evil.  Mentoring a child who can't read is an act of kindness which stands in the face of evil.  Saying to a child whose parent is in prison, "America belongs to you just as much as it belongs to me," is an act of kindness in the face of evil.  The gathering momentum of a million acts of kindness and compassion is how America can stand strong in the face of evil.  And, make no mistake about it, that is how America is responding.  (Applause.)

I believe out of this great evil will come great good.  I believe the world will be more peaceful when we accomplish our mission.  And I know our country is beginning to make different kinds of choices.  The old culture said, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it.  Now we've learned a new ethic, and it had to do with Flight 93.  When people on that airplane said a prayer, told their lives they loved them, and drove the plane in the ground to save others' lives, we're beginning to get a sense of sacrifice.

We saw it here in New York City, where firefighters and policemen rushed into buildings to save others.  This nation is in the process, I believe, of ushering in a period where we said each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life.  We're responsible for loving a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourselves.  We're responsible for loving our children.  We're responsible for the communities in which we live.

No, they hit us and they're going to pay a terrible price.  But as a result, our nation will be stronger and more compassionate and more decent. It will hold more promise for people who are lucky enough to call themselves Americans.

I love being the President of a nation whose strength is not its government; whose strength is the American people.  I'm proud to be here. May God bless you all, and may God bless America.  (Applause.)

END         6:55 P.M. EST