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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 29, 2002
President's Remarks at Victory 2002 Event
Remarks by the President to the Republican Party of Texas -
Victory 2002 and Cornyn for Senate Luncheon
Hyatt Regency Hotel
12:15 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you all. Please be seated; thanks.
Everybody in Crawford says hello -- (laughter) -- starting with Laura. (Applause.) She is doing a fabulous day. I tell people it's because she's from Midland, Texas. (Applause.) But I send her best. She's got a lot of friends here. And the country now realizes why I asked her to marry me. (Laughter.) A lot of people are still wondering why she said, yes, but nevertheless, she's doing great and she sends her love. And I want to thank you all for coming here today, as well. (Applause.)
It is my honor to come and campaign for the next United States Senator from the State of Texas. (Applause.) I'm going to miss Phil Gramm. He is a close friend. He is a strong, strong advocate for principles that are sound for our freedom. He has been a great United States Senator from Texas. (Applause.)
I was disappointed he chose not to run again. I understand, but I was disappointed. But my disappointment waned when I realized my friend John Cornyn was running to take his place. (Applause.) I know John. I've seen him work. I've seen him in action. I've not only seen his as a campaigner, but somebody who does in office what he said he is going to do. There is no question in my mind that he can do the job and bring a standard of excellence to the United States Senate. And there's no question in my mind we need him in the United States Senate, to make sure our agenda moves forward. (Applause.)
I want to thank Bill and Rita Clements for being here. I like to call Bill the pathfinder for Republican governors. (Applause.) I appreciate my friend, Henry Bonilla, for taking on the Texas Victory 2002 committee. It is important we send Henry back to the United States House of Representatives. (Applause.) I know Kay Granger from Fort Worth is here, and I appreciate so very much working with Kay. She is a great friend, a reliable voice for sound and common sense policy in Washington, D.C. I'm so glad to see Greg Abbott, the next Attorney General of Texas here. (Applause.)
I know that Wallace Jefferson and Mike Schneider are here. Thank you all for coming. I know that Jeb Hensarling, the next United States Congressman from the 5th Congressional District, is here as well. Congratulations on your primary win, Jeb. Charles Matthews is here. Our party chairman Susan Weddington is here. I want to thank Susan for her long-time service to the Republican Party of Texas. I see Tommy Craddick here, other members of the House and the State Senate. I miss you. I wish I could count on your votes in Washington, like I could have in Austin. But thanks for coming by to see your old buddy. And thank you all for being here, as well.
This is an important election for Texas. And it's an important election for the country. We've got to have a man like John Cornyn representing our state in Washington. And there are a lot of reasons why.
First, we've got to get good, conservative judges appointed to the bench and approved by the United States Senate. (Applause.) I want people on the bench who don't try to use their position to legislate from the bench. We want people to interpret the law, not try to make law and write law. And I sent such a man up from Mississippi the other day -- a good, honest, honorable man, who had been approved unanimously by the United States Senate earlier -- and, yet, did not get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.
We need people like John Cornyn in the United States Senate, who will work with the White House to have a solid judiciary, to make sure that the judges do what they're supposed to do in the United States and not overstep their bounds. (Applause.)
We need somebody like John, who is going to take a tough position, tough stand on issues like energy. I don't need to be telling my friends in Texas that we've got an energy problem, but we do. We need to do a better job of conservation, no question about it. And we will. As technology advances, we will conserve more.
But for the sake of our national security, we need to be finding more energy at home. We need to be less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil. John Cornyn will be a steady vote and a steady voice when it comes to good, sound energy policy in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
You know, one of the interesting issues that always faces us in Washington is what to do with the people's money. The tendency, of course, is to over-promise and then overspend. We need fiscal sanity in Washington. I want to thank Phil and his leadership on the issue of taxation. As you may remember -- I think it was in this room -- I said, if you give me a chance to be your President, I will make sure the people get to keep a substantial amount of their own money. I reminded people that we weren't dealing with the government's money, we were dealing with the people's money. John understands that.
And we passed tax relief in Washington, exactly at the right time. You see, we understand -- Phil understands, I understand, and John understands -- that if you let people keep more of their own money, they will demand more goods and services. And if they demand more goods and services, somebody will help produce those goods and services. And if somebody else produces those goods and services, it makes it easier for somebody to find work.
And so we cut the taxes on the people. Right in the middle of a recession, we cut the taxes, which is the right thing to do. Now, there are some people up there who read a different textbook. See, they advocate raising your taxes. They get caught in that Washington trap. They forget whose money we're spending. John Cornyn understands we spend the people's money, not the government money, and he'll be a reliable ally when it comes to making sure that tax relief that we passed is permanent and long-lasting and real.
And I'll tell you an issue that's coming up where we're going to need his support, if they don't get it done this year. We put the death tax on its way to extinction. (Applause.) But because of a quirk -- but because of a Senate rule, after 10 years, that death tax can come back to life. I proposed, Phil has proposed, that we make the death tax -- getting rid of the death tax permanent. I'll guarantee he'll vote for that. (Applause.)
You know, when I was campaigning in Chicago, in the general election, somebody said, would you ever deficit spend? I said, well, only if we were at war, or there was a national emergency, or we were in a recession. Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.)
We've dealt with the recession with good fiscal policy, a budgeting process that holds the line on spending, and at the same time, let people have more of their own money back. And it's important for us to make sure that those actions we took to stimulate the private sector remain in place.
And we're also dealing with the other two issues. Today I had the opportunity of going to the Dallas Fire Department's training center, to thank Texas Task Force 1, for going to New York City on September the 16th, to be there at Ground Zero to help rescue those who were trapped in the rubble.
I went by there because I wanted to highlight one of the key initiatives in the homeland defense strategy, which is to make sure we've got a coordinated effort with our first responders, to respond to any emergency that may come up from this point forward.
The reason I bring that up to you is that my most important job as your President is to defend the homeland; is to protect American people from further attacks. Not only are we working on a first responders initiative, we've got a good, fine bioterrorism initiative as to how to respond if there were a bioterrorist attack.
We're beefing-up our border security. It's important for this country to understand who's coming in and who's going out. And we know we've got a lot of work to do with the INS. It's a troubled agency that needs reform, and we will reform it. (Applause.)
I want to assure you all that we're doing a much better job in Washington of coordinating intelligence and information between jurisdictional boundaries, and we're sharing information in a much better way with state and local authorities. If we get any kind of hint that there's an al Qaeda cell in America, we're moving on it. If we get any whisper that somebody wants to harm us again, I can assure you we're moving quickly.
Every morning in the Oval Office, George Tenet of the CIA comes in and gives me a briefing about what he knows. And then the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, comes in. I ask him every single day, what do you know and what have you done about it? If you've got any hint, Mr. Director, for the good of the American people, I want you and over 4,000 agents dedicated to protecting the homeland to move quickly.
I'm proud of the way we're responding as a nation. The nation is on alert. We're prepared. Because we understand that we fight an enemy that are nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. They can't be rehabilitated. They hate what America stands for. They hate our religious tolerance. They hate our freedom of speech. They hate freedom of the press. They despise freedom. They despise freedom.
And, therefore, the best way to secure the homeland, and the only way to secure the homeland for the long-term is to hunt 'em down one by one and bring 'em to justice and that's exactly what I intend to do. (Applause.)
I don't know what was on their mind when they attacked America. They must have thought we were so self-absorbed and materialistic that all we were going to do was file a lawsuit. (Laughter.) But they found out we think differently here in this country. They now know we love freedom, and we will defend our freedom with all our might.
I laid down a doctrine early. It said either you're with us or you're against us. And, fortunately, most of the world said they're with us. And we've put together a vast coalition of freedom-loving nations to defend not only America, but our friends and allies.
I also said that if you harbor a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist and feed a terrorist, you are just as guilty as the murderers who killed thousands of innocent Americans. And the Taliban found out exactly what we meant. I unleashed the mighty United States military and other coalition forces and, thanks to the bravery of U.S. soldiers, the Taliban has been routed out of existence. (Applause.)
It is so important for young Americans to know that our nation does not seek revenge. We seek justice. And we'll do whatever it takes to defend freedom. We view freedom as non-negotiable. It is precious.
It's also important for Americans to understand that we went into Afghanistan not as a conquering nation, but as liberators. Last Saturday, many young girls went to school for the first time in Afghanistan, thanks to the United States of America. (Applause.)
We've got a lot more to do. And that's what I want to share with you, and that's what John understands. Even though we've upheld the doctrine if you hide a terrorist you're just as bad as a terrorist, there are other countries that might not get the message. And there are a lot of people still on the loose that want to hurt America.
And that's why I've submitted the largest increase in the defense budget during the last 20 years. Because here's what I know: if we put our soldiers at risk, they deserve the best equipment, the best training, the best pay. Oh, some of them are talking in Washington about it's too high a price. Listen, there is never too high a price for freedom, as far as I'm' concerned. (Applause.)
And I submitted this budget because it's a clear signal to the American people and, just as importantly, to our enemy, that we're in this for the long pull. I have no calendar on my desk that says this must end by a certain date and I'll feel better. It doesn't matter how long it takes, as far as I'm concerned. So long as I'm the President, we will treat these killers as international terrorists and get them on the run and keep them on the run until we bring each and every one of them to justice. And that's what we're going to do. (Applause.)
This fight on the war against terror is larger than any single individual or any single network. There are other nightmare scenarios that our nation must be worried about. One such scenario would be for a terrorist killer organization to team up with some of the world's worst leaders who harbor and develop the world's worst weapons.
I've told this to a lot of world leaders, that I'm just not going to let that happen. History has called us into action. We can't look back after our time in Washington, D.C. and say, how come we let this happen? For the good of our children and our grandchildren, we must deny the world's most dangerous leaders from having and harboring the world's most dangerous weapons. (Applause.)
We'll be deliberate; we'll be thoughtful; we will consult with our friends and allies. But when I said, axis of evil, I meant it. (Applause.)
I believe that out of this incredible evil that has been done to our country will come great good, though. I do. When the United States remains firm and strong and determined, we can achieve peace in parts of the world where people never thought peace could happen.
Oh, I know the Middle East is -- looks like there will never be peace, but I can assure you we're not giving up. We're not going to let murderers disrupt a march to peace. My heart breaks for those who were celebrating Passover in the hotel, when a cold-blooded killer came in and destroyed innocent life, to derail the attempts of peaceful-loving people for coming together.
But they're not going to stop us as a nation for longing for peace, and working for peace. And the best way to achieve the peace is to be strong and steadfast against terror. (Applause.) I see a peaceful world, I do. The rest of the world watches us very carefully. I like to say, if the United States blinks, they'll go to sleep. We're not going to blink.
I also believe at home we can achieve incredible good, too. People often say, well, what can I do to help in the war against terror? My answer is, love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. I look around the room and see a lot of my friends who I know have been doing good for a long, long number of years here in Texas. And I want to thank you for that. But it's important you keep doing it. It's important you give of your time and your money to help people in need.
This nation is based upon some great principles: our love for freedom, our love for democracy. But our real strength is the hearts and souls of the American people. We're e a tough nation, we're a courageous nation. But we're also a compassionate nation. And in order to fight terror, in order to stand squarely in the face of evil, we must help people in need. Just walking across the street to see a shut-in, and saying, I care about you, is part of fighting evil. Mentoring a child -- telling your own child you love him every single day, going to a church or a synagogue or a mosque, and developing a program to help feed the hungry or clothe those who need clothes and help, that's all part of not only defining our nation, but fighting against evil.
And that's why I'm such an optimistic soul, because not only do I know that we've got what it takes to achieve the peace -- we've got the determination, the will and the strength to have a more peaceful world. I know we've got the heart and compassion to show the world the true definition of our nation.
And it's happened. It's the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and compassion which show the world the true worth of the greatest country on the face of the earth.
Thank you for helping John Cornyn. May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 12:36 P.M. CST