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 Home > News & Policies > August 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 29, 2002

Remarks by the President at Hutchinson for Senate Dinner
Little Rock Convention Center
Little Rock, Arkansas

6:30 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all. I appreciate your warm welcome. Thank you. Well, thank you very much for coming out tonight. I'm proud to come back to Arkansas. I'm surprised you let a Texan come here this many times. (Laughter.) I came here today to talk about educational excellence. I went to Parkview Magnet School to talk about setting high standards and making sure no child gets left behind. And tonight I'm here to urge the good people of this state to send Tim Hutchinson back to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

He's a hard worker. He cares deeply about the people of Arkansas. He's doing a fine job as the United States Senator. I'm proud to call him friend. I appreciate his advice, and I appreciate you all working hard to send him back up to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

I'm so grateful that Randy Hutchinson, his wife, is campaigning with him and standing by his side during this campaign for reelection. I appreciate meeting Randy. And it's an honor to have you here, Randy. Thank you. (Applause.) And speaking about wives, I'm sorry mine is not here.


THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know you are. (Laughter.) You drew the short straw. (Laughter.) She's doing great. I'm really proud of Laura. She's down in Crawford. It's where I'm heading after tonight, for a couple more days. She -- you know, when I married her, she was a public school librarian. She didn't care for politics and didn't particularly like politicians. (Laughter.) Now she's stuck with one. And she's doing a fabulous job as First Lady. (Applause.)

I want to thank John Boozman, who's a member of the United States Congress, for being with us today. John, thank you for coming down for the fundraiser. (Applause.) I had the honor of being with your Governor earlier today. He's off working. You need to send Mike Huckabee back to the Governor's office here in Arkansas. (Applause.) He's a fine fellow. And so is your Lt. Governor, who is with us tonight, Win Rockefeller. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

I want to thank two guys who are running for the United States Congress, former member Jay Dickey is with us today. Jay, thank you very much. (Applause.) And the man they call TR, Tommy Robinson is with us, as well. (Applause.) I appreciate my family friend, John Paul Hammersmith, for being here tonight and for being the National Committeeman from the state of Arkansas. Thank you, John Paul. (Applause.)

I want to thank your chairman, Marty Rile (ph), for his leadership here in the state of Arkansas. And I appreciate all the grass-root activists who are here. I appreciate you for what you have done and what you're going to do. See, over the next couple of months you need to go to your coffee shops and your churches and your synagogues and your community centers and turn out the vote. You need to tell the people when you find a good one like Tim Hutchinson, we need to send him back to office. (Applause.)

And there's some good reasons why, starting with the fact that he has a good vision for education. We passed a good piece of legislation out of Washington for education. It's one that Tim had a lot to do with. He worked hard on that legislation. And let me describe the principles and why it's so important to have this type of person in Washington. It first starts, the bill says, and he and I both believe, that every child can learn. That sounds simple. But too often in our society we've lowered the standards. We don't believe every child can learn; therefore, we have low standards -- what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you lower the bar, you're going to get lousy results. So this bill believes that if you set high standards and believe every child can learn, you start with the right frame of mind.

Secondly, it says, we trust the people of Arkansas, the people of this good state, the people of Little Rock and Jonesboro and all the cities to chart the path for excellence for every child in their community. We believe in local control of schools. (Applause.)

And finally, at the core of the bill is this principle: It says we want to know whether or not our children are learning. You see, if you believe every child can learn, the next question is, are they? And the only way to know is to measure, is to hold people to account, is to let the children take a test to see whether or not they can read and write and add and subtract. If you believe every child can learn, then you want to know.

And, you see, when you find out children aren't learning, it gives you the tools necessary to do something about it. If you believe every child can learn, they ought to show us whether or not every child is learning. And if they're not, we need to correct problems early, before it's too late. You see, there are no second-class children in the state of Arkansas, and no child should be left behind. (Applause.)

I appreciate Tim's stand on education policy, and I appreciate his stand on tax policy. When I took office I knew things were kind of slow, but I didn't realize that we we're in the beginning of a recession. The first three quarters of my presidency were negative growth; that means recession. Thankfully, people like Tim Hutchinson supported my call for tax relief. See, we read from the same textbook -- it's a little different from some of the others in Washington. It says, if you let a person keep their own money, they will demand a good or a service if they have more money. And when they demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces the good and service, somebody is more likely to find jobs, in the midst of a recession. It is important to let the people have their own money. (Applause.)

Tim was the original author of the $500 per child tax credit in the House. And he supported the doubling of that tax credit in the new tax relief plan. Not only does the tax relief plan lower all rates, which, by the way, stimulates small business growth -- see, most of the new jobs in Arkansas and around the country are created by small businesses. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by the entrepreneurs who start their own business. Yet most of those small businesses are sole proprietors or limited partnerships, which means they pay taxes at the individual rate. When you lower the individual rates, you stimulate the growth of our economy by stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit in America. (Applause.)

This tax relief plan did more than that. It mitigated the ill effects of a marriage penalty. The tax code ought to promote family, not discourage family. (Applause.) And finally, the tax relief plan put the death tax on its way to extinction. I know there's a lot of farmers and ranchers in this state, and some in this audience. The death tax is bad for our ranching families, it's bad for our farming families, and it's bad for the entrepreneurial families of Arkansas. (Applause.)

And Tim was right by my side on this tax relief plan. But what's interesting -- not interesting, kind of a quirk in the law is that all this, all the tax relief that we passed goes away after 10 years from the sign of passage -- from the time of passage. That's the quirk in the Senate rules. It's hard to explain, I understand. You ought to try that in the Crawford Coffee Shop. (Laughter.) On the one hand, we giveth; on the other hand, we taketh away. For the sake of planning, for the sake of economic vitality, for the sake of job growth, you need to have a United States senator who will join me in making this tax relief permanent. (Applause.)

I appreciate Tim's concern about health care -- health care not just for Republicans, but health care for everybody who lives in Arkansas. He's on the leading edge of those in the Senate who want to bring a reasonable reform to Medicare. See, Medicare is an incredibly important program, but medicine has changed and the program hasn't. Medicine has changed, and yet the bureaucracy still strangles the capacity for our seniors to get the care they need. We need to reform Medicare and make sure our seniors have got prescription drugs. (Applause.)

I appreciate Tim's support for the farm bill. See, he and I understand that good economic policy at home means that you've got to have a strong agricultural sector. It's a luxury for this President to be able to say we feed ourselves. Imagine if we were around the world asking for food. We've got a great farm economy, and the farm bill we passed recognizes that. And Tim was one of the leaders that helped get that farm bill out of the Senate and to my desk. I was proud to sign the farm bill; it was good for Arkansas farmers. (Applause.)

And finally, I appreciate his leadership on sending a clear message to people who have got positions of responsibility in America. Our economy was hurt by a recession, and then it got shocked by the attacks of September the 11th. And then, of course, we found out that bubbling up through the years was this business about people trying to cook the books -- some of our corporate leaders deciding that the best way to get ahead was not to tell the truth, was not to uphold their responsibilities to employee and shareholder alike.

I signed the most comprehensive corporate reform legislation since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. And Tim Hutchinson was a strong supporter. It says this: If we catch you cheating, if you're not a responsible citizen, if you think you can cook the books, you're wrong. We're going to find you and we'll prosecute you, and no more easy money, just hard time. (Applause.)

Finally, I support -- I appreciate Tim's support on our war against terror and our need to protect the homeland. My most important job is to protect the homeland, is to protect innocent people. After September the 11th, the stakes obviously changed. The enemy brought war to us, and they're still out there. They just are. By the way, they're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. (Applause.) They hate us, because we love freedom. They can't stand the thought of a society which values free speech, which says you can worship the Almighty any way you see fit. They hate the idea of people being able to come to our country and succeed. The more we love freedom, the more they hate us.

But you know what, we're never going to stop loving freedom. This great country loves freedom and will do anything it takes to protect that freedom. (Applause.)

You need to know there's a lot of good folks working a lot of hours to protect you. Any time we get a hint or any piece of evidence that somebody might be plotting against America, we're moving. We're moving. There's a lot of good folks who are gathering intelligence and now sharing it like it's never been shared before. Obviously, everything we hear we take seriously, and we're trying to do everything we can to disrupt and deny.

In order to make sure that I can look you in the eye and say we're doing everything to secure the homeland I have asked the Congress to join me in setting up a department of homeland security. I did so because in order to change a culture, in order to set homeland security as a number one priority, I felt I would need to gather up agencies involved with the homeland security and put them under one umbrella organization. See, there's over a hundred of them, scattered all over Washington, which means it's kind of hard to set a tone and a culture, it's hard to set a priority.

And so I asked Congress and said, let's get together and come up with an American idea -- it's not a Republican idea, it's not a Democrat, it's an American idea -- to do everything we can to give us the tools -- not only me, but future Presidents the tools -- necessary to guard our homeland. And I'll give you an example. We need to know who's coming in America, what they're bringing into America, and if they're leaving when they say they're going to leave America. And yet, on our borders -- (applause.) And yet, on our borders, we've got your Customs, and INS, and Border Patrol, three different agencies, three different cultures, three different uniforms. I need the capacity to be able to move people to the right place at the right time to protect the homeland.

The House of Representatives got the message. They provided flexibility so that this President and future Presidents can do what it takes to move people in the right place. The Senate, unfortunately, doesn't see it that way. Fortunately, Senator Hutchinson does. But, see, there's some senators out there who would rather listen to special interests in Washington, D.C. than listen to the voice of the people. There are senators who would rather give us a rule book this thick about how we have to behave and what we must do to protect the homeland, than to trust any administration for protecting America. I refuse to accept a bill which ties my hands or the hands of future Presidents. (Applause.)

And I want to appreciate Senator Hutchinson's understanding of that. And I'm proud to call him supporter on helping craft a homeland security department which will stand the test of time, and will do the job on behalf of the American people. But the best way to protect the homeland, and the surest way to secure our freedom, the best way to leave a peaceful legacy for our children is to hunt the killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. And that's what the United States of America is going to do. (Applause.)

And it's going to take a while. It's a different kind of war. People during World War II were used to measuring progress based upon infantries marching across the plain, or squadrons of aircraft flying here, or ships sailing across the sea getting this island or that island. That's how they used to judge progress. This is a different type of war, but it's war. And the stakes are just as high.

See, this is the kind of war where you have their commanders hide in caves. They find the deepest and darkest cave they can. And then they send their soldiers, their youngsters to their suicidal death. That's who we're fighting. See, these people have no regard for human life. Innocence doesn't matter to them. They've hijacked a great religion in order to provide cover for their hatred. But there's no cave deep enough for America, as far as I'm concerned.

We've got a fantastic coalition of nations which understand what's at stake, and we've got the finest United States -- we've got the finest military in the world. (Applause.) Our soldiers are performing brilliantly under tough, tough conditions. And that's why -- the fact that they're in the field is why I submitted the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so for two reasons. One, any time our soldiers are in harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) We owe that to them, and we owe it to their loved ones. And for those of you who have got a relative in the military, I want to tell you how proud their Commander in Chief is. I'm really proud. They're fine, fine people who are sacrificing on behalf of our nation. (Applause.)

And the second reason I submitted this request, as big as it is, is I wanted to send a message to our friends and foes alike that we're in this deal for the long haul. They understand this war isn't going to end tomorrow; that when it comes to our freedom, it doesn't matter how long it takes. The United States of America will fight terror, and fight its sponsors, and will uphold doctrine. One doctrine says, either you're with us, or you're with them. And the other doctrine says, if you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist who committed the murders on September the 11th. (Applause.)

And we're making progress. Sometimes you'll see the progress on your TVs, and sometimes you won't. It's a different kind of war; it's a hard war to measure. But slowly, but surely, we're rounding them up, one way or the other. We estimate there's over a couple of thousand of them who have now been captured by our friends and ourselves, hauled off, no longer a part of the army. And another like number just weren't as lucky. They met their fate.

But we've got a lot of work to do, we really do. We -- are strategy is pretty clear. First was to rout out the Taliban. And you need to tell your kids this about America: One, we do what we say. And two, when we went into that country, we went in as liberators, not as conquerors. We freed people from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind. (Applause.) Young girls, many young girls go to school for the first time in their lives, thanks to the United States of America and our allies and friends. (Applause.)

And we're not leaving. We're not leaving for two reasons: One, there's still al Qaeda and we're after them. Slowly, but surely, we're getting them. And secondly, we want democracy to flourish in Afghanistan. We believe in the values here at home ought to be applied elsewhere -- not American values, but God-given values that each life matters, that every voice ought to be heard. (Applause.)

We're getting them on the run, getting them moving around, and then making sure that we deny sanctuary to these killers. The other day -- a while ago, you may remember the Philippines; they asked for our help. I said loud and clear to them, if you want help we'll provide you help. If you can't do it yourself, give us a call. And the Philippines, as a result of Gloria Arroyo's fine leadership -- and frankly, some of our training -- put a force together and did in the head of what they call Abu Sayyaf. This is the group of al Qaeda-sponsored terrorists who kidnapped two Americans, as well as others, and brought people to their death. They don't care about life. But we got the leader. We got the leader because our coalition remains firm.

No, our job is to get them on the run, deny them sanctuary, and slowly, but surely, get them and bring them to justice, which is exactly what this country is going to do. (Applause.) We owe it to our children, we owe it to our grandchildren to make sure that the world's worst leaders do not develop and deploy the world's worst weapons. We owe it to future generations of America to make our stand for freedom.

Oh, I know there's a lot of speculation in the press, and you've just got to know something about me -- I'm a patient man. And we've got a lot of tools at our disposal. We've got a lot of pressures we can bring to bear. We've got friends in the world. But for the sake of our children, we're going to deal with the problems now presented; for the sake of freedom, we will not allow these tyrants to hold the United States or our friends and allies blackmail with weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

I appreciate Tim's understanding, and I appreciate his support on this war against terror. I believe that out of the evil done to this country is going to come incredible good. I believed that shortly after the attacks; I still believe it. See, I believe that the stronger this country is on our quest for freedom and our willingness to battle terror, the more likely it is we'll achieve peace. And I don't mean peace just for Americans, I mean peace around the world.

The tougher we are against terror, the more willing we are to speak clearly as a nation, the more likely it is we can achieve peace in parts of the world where people have quit on peace. Peace is possible in the Middle East. Peace is possible in South Asia.

I want you to assure your children when they hear their President talk about fighting the enemy or bringing them to justice, I have peace in my mind. That's my vision. I want there to be a peaceful world for all people. See, this country values all life not just American life, every child counts. When I say no child is left behind -- that's obviously a slogan for education here in America -- I mean it for everywhere else, too. Children ought to grow up in a peaceful world and the United States of America can effect that peace. It's not going to be easy. There's going to be some steep hills to climb. But if any nation can do it, it is this strong and this nation that's based upon values.

And here at home, we can achieve some incredible good, too. I don't know what went through the mind of the enemy. They probably thought that we were so self-absorbed and so materialistic, so selfish in our ways, that after 9/11 all we might do was file a lawsuit. (Laughter.) See, they didn't understand our country. They didn't know that when it comes to something we value, we're plenty tough. Nor did they realize that when they hit us, a new culture would begin to evolve, a culture of serving something greater than yourself in life.

The thing I love about our country is that we're a compassionate nation. I hope you understand that in the midst of plenty, there are pockets of despair in America, hopelessness and addiction, people wondering whether or not the American Dream is meant for them. And I believe we have a chance now, as we take a step back and look at our inner souls, to help solve those problems.

Government can hand out money, I realize that. As I like to say, we do a pretty good job of it. But what government cannot do is put a sense of purpose in people's lives. It can't put hope in people's hearts. That is done when our fellow Americans put their arm around somebody who hurts and says, I love you. People say, what can I do in the war against terror, how can I fight evil? My answer is, love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)

And it's happening in this country, it sure enough is. People realize that a patriot is more than somebody who puts their hand over their heart and says, one nation under God. They understand that a patriot is somebody who is willing to serve something greater than themselves, and that can be in all kinds of ways. It can be leading a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop; it can be coming out of your church and feeding the hungry, or coming out of your synagogue and helping somebody who doesn't have housing find housing. You see, it's the millions of acts, millions of acts of kindness and decency that take place on a daily basis which defines the true character and true hope and true decency of this country.

No, the enemy hit us, but they've awakened a great spirit of personal responsibility. One of the reasons I decided to run for governor of Texas is I wanted to be a small part of a cultural change in America. I wanted to help encourage this country to reject the culture which said, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else. My dream was to help usher in a period of personal responsibility, when each of us understood we're responsible for decisions we make in life.

If you're fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad, your most important job and important responsibility is to love your child with all your heart and all your soul. If you're a citizen of Little Rock, Arkansas, you have a responsibility to help heal those who hurt. That is a responsibility for being an American. And that period of responsibility is coming.

The enemy hit us. They're evil. But out of that evil is going to come incredible good. Perhaps the most vivid example is that of Flight 93. Deena Burnett is here today with us. Her husband was on that flight. She knows about which I'm about to speak. She heard it firsthand. These were great Americans who were flying across the country and learned that their airplane was going to be used as a weapon. Who knows what it was targeted for, the White House or the Capitol, but it was going to be used as a weapon. Their loved ones said good-bye on the telephone. Their last words were, I love you, to their loved ones. They said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll," and they took the plane in the ground. There is a new spirit in America of serving something greater than yourself in life. (Applause.)

No, the enemy hit us. They didn't know they were hitting -- they hit a great nation. I promise you, out of the evil done to America is going to come incredible good, because we're the finest nation on the face of the Earth, full of the finest people.

Thank you all for coming. May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 7:00 P.M. CDT