For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 27, 2002
Remarks by the President at the Graham for Senate Luncheon - Greenville, SC
The Palmetto Expo Center
Greenville, South Carolina
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you, all. It is nice to be back in South Carolina. Please be seated. Thank you.
My only regret is I didn't bring Laura with me. I can't tell you how proud I am of her. She is -- she is a fabulous wife and a great lady. She's flying Barney and Spot and the cat down to Crawford, Texas, as I speak. America is getting to see why I married her. A lot of people are wondering why she said "yes." (Laughter.)
Lindsey, thanks for mentioning Laura. She is -- I love her dearly, and she's a great First Lady. (Applause.)
And you're going to be a great senator for South Carolina. I'm here with one message: I want Lindsey Graham elected to the United States Senate. (Applause.) It is in South Carolina's interest that he get elected to the United States Senate. And it's in our nation's interest that he get elected to the United States Senate.
And, frankly, it's in my interest that he get elected to the United States Senate, because I've got a lot I want to do. And I look forward to working with him to get it done. So I'm proud to be here on Lindsey's behalf and I want to thank you all -- the organizers of the event and you all for coming to support this good man for this important cause.
I also want to thank Jim DeMint. It's important that he win, as well. Jim is the kind of fellow that I like to work with in Washington. First of all, he understands his district well. And he loves the people of his district. We've got the kind of relationship where I welcome him into the Oval Office, to sit down and discuss important issues. And we can have frank discussions and come to agreement.
Now, I know there are some of them here picking on him because of textiles. Because of Jim DeMint's leadership, my administration has got a plan to strengthen the textile industry, and I want to thank him for his leadership on this issue and so should the people of this district. (Applause.)
And I want to thank Congressman Henry Brown for coming all the way up from the coast. It's nice of you all to let him in. (Laughter.) And he's doing a fine job, as well.
As you know, I'm fortunate enough to make a lot of friends in your great state and I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to be your President. But I also want to thank some of those that I spent a lot of time with in South Carolina for coming over today: Carroll Campbell, and Iris, thank you all for being here. They tell me Beasley is around here somewhere. Beasley, how are you? Good to see you. I appreciate your coming. (Applause.)
And the Speaker -- I've got no better friend than the Speaker. Election Day, he took me to the Ham House. (Laughter.) I'm still running off the pancakes. (Laughter.)
The Lieutenant Governor, Peeler, and Attorney General Condon, two fine friends of mine. And I was proud to call them friends back in 2000, and I'm still proud to call them friends. And it's great to see you guys, and thank you all for being here, as well.
And I want to thank my friend, Barry Wynn, as well. Barry and I have been friends for a while and he helped me get to where I am, and so did many of you all.
I've got a lot to do in Washington. And we need somebody who can help get that done in the United States Senate from South Carolina. Listen, you've had a fine, fine man in Strom Thurmond representing you all. And what you need is a young visionary leader to take his place. (Applause.)
He understands how Washington works. I want the voters of South Carolina to remember he was for a strong military prior to September the 11th. He understood we need a strong military to defend our freedoms. He doesn't need to be educated, once he gets to Washington, on this issue. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee and has served proudly. And I look forward to working with Lindsey as we fight this war on terror.
He also has been a leader on education reform. For too long, our party was identified as being anti-school; that we weren't for educating children. That's changed. I had the honor of signing a piece of legislation which recognizes the importance of education in our society; refusing to allow for mediocrity; challenges the status quo when children are simply shuffled through the system, regardless of whether they can read or not; insists that every child -- I mean every child -- can read in America.
And Lindsey Graham stood by my side on this important piece of education reform. And not only that, he's sponsoring a piece of legislation, which I strongly support, that will forgive loans to teachers who teach in the neediest areas in America. He's a reformer when it comes to education, and the South Carolinians ought to be proud of his record. (Applause.)
Now, we've got a lot to do. We've got a lot to do. There's a lot to do at home. As you know -- let me put it to you this way. I was campaigning in Chicago one time and a fellow said, would you ever allow for deficit spending, would that ever enter your vocabulary?
I said, well, under certain circumstances: only if we're at war or there was a national emergency or there was a recession. Little did I realize we'd draw the trifecta. (Laughter.)
But I want to make it clear about how we dealt with the latter, and then I'm going to talk about the first two. The slow-down in our economy. The best way to make sure an economy recovers is to trust the people with their own money.
You see, when people have more money in their pocket, when they've got more money to spend, that increases demand for goods and services. And when there's an increase in demand for goods and services, somebody is going to produce goods and services. And as they produce goods and services, it firms up the job base. We cut the taxes on the American people at exactly the right time, and our economy is improving because of it. (Applause.)
Lindsey understood that, and he was a strong proponent of the tax relief for the American people. He was describing the other fellow's position. He said he wouldn't have supported the tax increase. Yet another reason why Lindsey Graham ought to be in the U.S. Senate, it's because we trust people with their own money. The tax money is not the government's money, it is the people's money and when we can give it back and afford to give it back, we ought to do so. (Applause.)
Now, there are some of them up there that believe in times of a recession, you increase the taxes on the people. But that's not the textbook that Lindsey and I have been reading. Our textbook starts with, you trust the American people -- particularly when it comes to their own money.
So I need to have an ally in the United States Senate who understands how our economy works and who trusts the private sector and trusts the people with their own money. We're going to have some issues coming up and, I'll tell you one. We got rid of the death tax, but because of the law, it can conceivably come back into life nine years from now. We need to make the repeal of the death tax permanent. (Applause.)
That's an important issue for small business owners. It's a particularly important issue for South Carolina farmers, South Carolina ranchers. And we need somebody in the U.S. Senate who will vote to make that tax relief permanent. Listen, we don't need a tax system that encourages somebody to work all their life to build up an asset base and have it taxed again, have it taxed twice. What we need is a system that encourages hard work, the entrepreneurial spirit and allows people to pass on their assets to whoever they want to pass on their assets to. (Applause.)
We need an energy plan in America. We need a plan that not only encourages conservation and the development of exciting new technologies, but we also need a plan that reduces our dependency on foreign sources of crude oil. (Applause.) We need a plan that encourages biomass, ethanol, interesting alternatives.
But I want you all to understand something Lindsey understands and I darn sure know, is that we now import over 50 percent of our energy from overseas. Sometimes we get it from nations that aren't really pleased with U.S. foreign policy. For the good of national security, we need to explore, in environmentally friendly ways, for energy in our own country, so we can reduce dependency. It's in our national security interests that we do so. (Applause.)
We need to get a faith-based initiative out of the United States Senate. We need to rally the great compassion of our country in order to stand up in the face of evil. We need to understand that the best welfare programs sometimes are those that come out of our churches and synagogues and mosques.
Our federal government must not fear faith in our society. We must welcome faith -- faith programs that heal hearts, that provide hope to the hopeless, that give people the opportunity to realize the American Dream. And that's incredibly important at this stage of our nation's history.
Because in order to win the war on terror, we must not let terror affect the hearts and souls of the American people -- quite the opposite. It's important for me and all of us in positions of responsibility to rally the great compassion of America so that we can stand squarely in the face of evil; so that we can say, out of evil acts of September the 11th have come incredible goodness.
And that's what's going to happen in America. I firmly believe it. I believe that out of this evil will come great goodness because of the compassion of the American people. (Applause.)
I just had the honor of speaking to a lot of folks who wear the uniform in Greenville, South Carolina and surrounding neighborhoods, the police and the fire and the EMS folks, to talk about a homeland strategy that Tom Ridge and my administration is developing; a strategy that provides a significant amount of money in the new budget to provide first responders not only with a strategy, with ample money to be able to be prepared for any emergency that might arise.
We've got money in our budget for bioterrorist attack, a possible bioterrorist attack. We've got money in the budget to make sure that the INS, the folks who are supposed to know who is coming in and out of our country, do a better job of understanding who is coming in and out of our country.
We're buttoning-up the homeland. And I want to tell you that my biggest job is to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure that innocent lives are not lost in America again. I want the moms and dads to know that my priority is to make sure your children can grow up in a peaceful country. And we're making progress.
The law enforcement -- law enforcement at the federal level and the state level and the local level are communicating a lot better than they have ever before. Every morning, like this morning, I ask the FBI Director Mueller, what are you doing in running down leads? Are you hunting them down here on the homeland, if we get a hint that somebody do something against us? And we are. We're chasing down every single lead.
But I want to tell you all, the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt the enemy down wherever they hide and bring them to justice and that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)
The budget I submitted to the United States Congress not only makes our homeland security a priority, it makes the defense of the United States a priority. It's the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years. And the reason why is twofold. One, whenever we commit people who wear our uniform into battle, they must have the best equipment, the best training, the best pay possible. The price of freedom is high, no question about it. But it is not too high, as far as I'm concerned. (Applause.)
And the other reason why I've submitted a significant increase in the defense spending is because we're in this thing for the long haul. We defend freedom. We're fighting murderers, cold-blooded killers who hate what America stands for. They hate our religious tolerance. They hate the fact that we speak freely. They can't stand our democracy. And they want to hit us again.
And we're going to chase them down one by one, until we rid the world of the global reach of terror. We have no other choice, my fellow Americans. We fight for our children's freedom. (Applause.)
They must have not understood who they were dealing with on September the 11th. I guess they thought we were so materialistic and so self-absorbed that all we would do is file a lawsuit. They found out we think differently here in America. They found out when it comes to defending our freedom, we will take whatever means are necessary.
They found out what I meant when I said either you are with us or you're against us. And they found out in the first theater on the war against terror what I meant when I said if you harbor a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the murderers who attacked New York City and Washington, D.C. on September the 11th. (Applause.)
Thanks to our mighty United States military and a vast coalition of freedom-loving countries, we upheld that latter doctrine. The Taliban found out exactly what I meant. They are no longer in power, thank goodness, for the people of Afghanistan.
I want to assure you that we did not go into that theater, or any theater, to seek revenge. We seek justice. And when we went into Afghanistan, we didn't enter as conquerors, we entered as liberators. This past weekend, young girls, many young girls, for the first time in their life went to school. And I am proud of a nation that is not only tough and strong, but a nation that is compassionate and cares deeply about the lives of all citizens around the world. (Applause.)
Thankfully, our nation is united and determined, because we've got a lot more work to do. There are still a lot of them out there that would like to harm our country. And the best way to deal with them is to treat them like international criminals, precisely who they are, and keep them on the run, and deny sanctuary. And be patient and deliberate and tough and determined. The world watches the United States of America. If we were to blink, I think they might go to sleep. But I can assure you, we're not going to blink. We're determined, no matter how long it takes, this administration will lead this nation in chasing down the killers.
And not only that, we must not allow and will not allow the world's worst leaders to develop the world's worst weapons that could conceivably hold the United States and our allies and friends hostage. There is an axis of evil in the world, and the United States of America will deal with it in a firm way. (Applause.)
We are patient, we are deliberate. We will consult with our allies. But the world must understand, we love freedom, we hold freedom dear to our hearts. And we will not let our freedoms be threatened or our freedoms taken away from us.
You know, one of the most interesting -- not interesting, one of the most compelling and moving moments during this -- from September the 11th on, was Flight 93. It was a time when America got to see that there are people in our society who are willing to serve something greater than themselves. This was an airplane flying toward who knows -- the White House, or the Capitol. Americans on that plane on their cell phones told their loved ones goodbye. They said a prayer, told them they loved them and said, "let's roll," and drove the plane in the ground so somebody else could live.
I believe out of this evil will come incredible good. On the one hand, if we're tough and strong and firm, the world will be more peaceful. I believe that when the United States leads with firm resolve, we have a much better chance to solve the world's most intractable problems.
But I also know that by unleashing the compassion and goodness of America, by following the example of others who are willing to sacrifice for something greater, that we can rally the great compassion of the country so that the American Dream extends its hope into every neighborhood, in every corner of this great country.
Out of evil will come great good because the great strength of the nation is in the hearts and souls of an incredible country.
Thank you all for being here. May God bless you all. Send Lindsey Graham to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
END 11:50 A.M. EST