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 Home > News & Policies > September 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 16, 2002

Remarks by the President at Jim Nussle for Congress Luncheon
Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds
Davenport, Iowa

12:07 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Thank you, all. Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I'm here to remind the good people of this congressional district that Jim Nussle is not only a fine man who cares deeply about the citizens of Iowa, but it's in your best interest to make sure that Jim Nussle is reelected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

Any time -- any time you introduce a candidate as "Mr. Chairman," that ought to tell you something about whether or not you want a change or not. You see, when you've got somebody who's honorable and decent and full of integrity as the Chairman, you need to keep him, it's in your interests. It's not only in your self interest, it's in the interest for your state. And I'm here to tell you it's in the interest of the United States of America to make sure this good man is reelected to the Congress. (Applause.)

I know him well. I've seen him under fire. I've seen people put immense pressure on him to change, to forget why he got elected in the first place. He's steady as a rock. He's a loyal ally. He's a strong American. He has earned the right to get reelected. Don't make a mistake; this district shouldn't make a mistake. When you've got a good one, you make sure you keep him. And Jim Nussle is a good one and it's in your interests you keep him.

Jim, I'm proud to be by your side and I urge the people of this district to send you back to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

I want to thank Karen Nussle for standing by Jim's side. It's important to have a -- in this business we're in, it's important to have somebody stand by your side. (Laughter.) We both married above ourselves. (Laughter.) I wish Laura were here with me. She's back in the White House, but I can't tell you how proud I am of the job she's doing. I want to thank you for holding up the Laura book. (Laughter.) Yes. (Applause.) I haven't read it yet, but it better say she's one of the finest women God's ever produced. (Laughter.) If they're interested in the truth they know that she's doing a great job as the First Lady, and she sends her best to all the good friends of ours here in the state of Iowa. (Applause.)

It's good to have met Sarah and Mark Nussle, Jim's children. It's good to have met his mother. I asked Ms. Laura Nussle whether or not Mark -- I mean, Jim was still listening to her. She said, about half the time. (Laughter.) I said, well, that's about as much time as I listen to mine, too. (Laughter.)

It's great to have the Nussle family here. I'm also honored to be traveling today with a great United States senator. I emphasize "great" because he's worked hard on behalf of the citizens of Iowa. When he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee, something that I dearly hope happens again soon, he made a huge difference for our country. And that's, of course, Chuck Grassley. (Applause.)

I'm also honored to be traveling today with a fine United States congressman, a gentleman, a really bright citizen of our country, somebody who cares deeply about America, and that's Jim Leach. (Applause.) In case some of you all are not in Nussle's district, but in Leach's district, it's really important to send him back, too. (Laughter.) He's a fine man, brings a lot of integrity and class. And so does the next United States senator from the state of Iowa, and that's Greg Ganske. (Applause.)

I appreciate you being here, Greg. He's a hard worker. He's going to make a fine senator. I look forward to working with both he and Senator Grassley on working on the interests of the citizens of Iowa, but more importantly, the interests of the citizens of the entire country. That's the way these two men think.

I'm proud to be here with a Congressman -- a state senator now, soon to be a Congressman named, Steve King. Steve, thank you for coming today. (Applause.) Oh, hi, Steve. I appreciate Chuck Larson, who is the Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa for coming. (Applause.) Good to see you, Chuck.

I want to thank all of you who have come to help Jim. This is a huge turnout. It's a good sign, it seems like to me. But I also want to thank those of you who are working the grassroots here in the state of Iowa. I want to thank you for what you have done, and as importantly, what you're going to do, which means turn out the vote.

You see, all this stuff helps, these rallies help. But the most important thing is to turn out the vote; is to find your neighbors, when you go to your coffee shops or your churches, or your community centers, you've got to pass the word -- pass the word that people need to participate in the process; and as they start to head to participate, tell them about the qualities of the man that we're supporting here today. Grassroots politics makes a huge difference in the outcome of these races. And so for those of you who are willing to volunteer your time and to lick the envelopes and make the phone calls and stick the signs in the ground, thanks. Just get ready, get your uniforms on. (Laughter.) We're coming down the stretch. We need your help.

Chairman Nussle is the head of the budget. The House passed a budget. The Senate can't pass a budget. That says something about his leadership. It's important to have a budget in Washington, because without a budget, there is a tendency to overspend. (Laughter.) Without a budget, every idea sounds like a brilliant idea. Without some kind of constraint on the appropriations process in Washington, as they might say in this part of the world, somebody is liable to go hog wild. (Laughter.)

And sometimes those somebodies who go hog wild forget whose money they're spending. Nussle and I understand this, when it comes to spending the money in Washington, it's not the government's money we spend, it's your money, it's the people's money. (Applause.)

And Jim understands that, and so do I. And that's why we're going to have to have some budget restraint. In order to make sure our economy -- the foundation of economic growth doesn't crumble, we've got to make sure there is budget restraint in Washington. We've got plenty of money up there. We can fund our priorities. The thing I appreciate about this Chairman's leadership is he has a clear vision of how to get back to a balanced budget.

And that's important for you. It's important to have a leader up there who understands that. He also understood what I understood, in the face of a recession, you've got to let the people have their own money. You see, if you're worried about jobs like we're worried about jobs, the best way to help the economy recover is to trust the people with their own money. And so we cut the taxes on the people, people have more money to spend -- and when you spend it, somebody is going to produce a good or a service to meet your demand. And when they do that, somebody is more likely to find work.

Our tax relief plan came at the right time in American history, and I'm proud of the work Jim did, I'm proud of the work Chuck Grassley and Jim Leach and Greg Ganske did. And now, for the sake of the hard-working people of Iowa and for the sake of the farmers and ranchers in this part of the world, we need to make sure the tax relief is permanent and the death tax is forever extinguished. (Applause.)

You listen to these debates in these congressional campaigns in the Senate race, they're going to use every excuse in the book to take the tax relief away -- that's a tax increase, as far as I'm concerned. And one thing you don't do in the midst of an economic slow-down is raise the taxes on the people. If you're interested in job creation, if you're interested more about spending a person's pocketbook rather than the government's pocketbook, you let the people keep their own money. And Jim Nussle understands that.

He also understands the importance of education. We passed a really good education bill. It's one that sets high standards, that says that every child can learn. It challenges what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. See, we understand if you lower the bar you get bad results. If you have expectations that are something other than excellent, if you have mediocre expectations, you'll get mediocrity out of your school systems.

As well, Jim and I understood, as do the other members of the Iowa delegation, that the place to enhance educational excellence is to trust the local people. See, we understand the people of Iowa care more about the children in Iowa than bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. do. So this bill passed power out of Washington. (Applause.)

And finally, we finally began to say in America that if you take federal money you need to show us whether or not our children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. See, if you believe every child can learn, the next question is, well, are the children learning to read and write? If you believe that, then you want to ask the question and you want to know. And if they are, then we ought to praise the teachers in school districts that are meeting this high standards. But if not, we need to teach children early. Because Jim and I understand there's no second-rate children in America. No child should left behind -- be behind in this country. (Applause.)

Jim mentioned a very important issue and that is Medicare. See, the Medicare system is an important system. Really important we get it right. Medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't. And one of the things that Jim Nussle is on the -- is leading in Congress -- I mean, leading -- is to make sure that there's a level playing field for Iowa seniors. He and Chuck Grassley, Greg Ganske and Jim Leach spent a lot of time on this issue, and they understand that they need to work with Congress to get it done. I'm proud of the leadership of Jim Nussle. I'm proud of the leadership of Chuck Grassley and Greg Ganske and Jim Leach. These fine Iowa citizens know there's a problem and they're working with both parties to solve the problem. If you want the problem solved, you better make sure that this man is reelected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

Nussle is a friend of the farmer, and so am I. I understand good agricultural policy is important for the economy of our country. I also want us an energy bill that includes a strong renewable section in the energy bill, which means ethanol. But also, Jim understands what I understand, that if you're good at something, you want to promote it. And since we're the best farmers in the world, we ought to be doing everything we can to sell our farm products around the world. And I appreciate so very much his strong support for a trade bill that will be good for the Iowa farmers. (Applause.)

And Greg, I appreciate your support on a trade bill that will be good for the Iowa farmers. Same with you, Senator, and Congressman Leach as well. It's an important piece of legislation I signed. And I promise you, I'm going to use this legislation to open up markets, so our farmers can make a living.

Finally, I appreciate Jim Nussle's understanding that we're -- we've got a problem with an enemy that hates us; that he clearly sees like I see that there is a true threat to our freedoms. People say, well, you know -- I'm sure youngsters say, well, why would somebody want to hurt America? And the answer is, because we love freedom. The answer to those youngsters who wonder why we're at war is, because they hate us, because we love something precious. The more we love our freedoms, the more they hate us, and that's just reality of the 21st century.

You see, we love the idea of people being able to worship freely, to worship an almighty God the way they want to worship an almighty God. We welcome that, we treasure that, we hold that dear, and the enemy hates that idea. (Applause.)

We believe in open debate, we believe in freedom of the press. We love our freedom in America. And nobody is going to take it away from us, no matter how hard they try. See, we're in a new era here in this world. It used to be we thought there was two oceans that separate us from an enemy. And we learned differently. We learned that there are no oceans which can protect us.

We used to think that war was a measurement of tanks and artillery and airplanes and ships. This is a new war. It's the kind where the enemy hides -- the leadership of the enemy hides in caves, and send their youngsters to their suicidal death. They kind of move around in the shadows of big cities in some countries, and hide, and then strike hard. It doesn't require a lot of weaponry for them to be successful, because they're cold-blooded killers. They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers.

A major difference between this great country, this decent, compassionate land, and the people we're hunting down, is we value life. We say, every life is precious, everybody counts, everybody matters in this country. (Applause.)

Our most important job is to protect the homeland. Our most important job is to do everything in our power to make sure that you're safe, that the enemy is unable to take innocent life again. And it's a big job, because we're a big country. But we're making progress, we're making good progress at home.

We've got a lot of people on alert. We've got a lot of hardworking Americans running down every lead. If we get a hint that somebody might be thinking about doing something, you need to know we're acting on it, within the confines of the United States Constitution, I might add. We believe in our freedoms and we're going to protect our freedoms. But we're running down every single -- every single lead. And we're getting a lot of leads, we are.

The other day, as you know, the country went on a higher status of alert, for a reason -- the noise level began to gin up. A lot of people are working hard to protect you. I've asked the Congress to join me -- I want to thank the House of Representatives for hearing that call -- to join me in the creation of the department of homeland security so we could better coordinate the government agencies involved with your protection.

Prior to September the 11th they would be worried about different things than the Coast Guard, or different things than the Border Patrol. Now the number one priority for these agencies is your protection. And, therefore, they ought to work under one agency. And I also need, in order to protect you better, the flexibility to move people from one place to another in order to respond to the needs of the enemy. (Applause.)

The House heard that, and I want to thank Jim for his vote. I want to thank Ganske and Leach for their votes. It looks like to me the Senate is heading down the wrong path. I hope not, but it may be. You see, they want to micromanage the process. They're more interested in special interest in Washington, as opposed to your interest, which is protecting the homeland. I expect there to be a bill on my desk soon, and I expect there to be a bill that gives me the flexibility -- and future Presidents the flexibility -- necessary to do everything we can to protect the American people from an enemy which hates. (Applause.)

The best strategy, and only strategy, to defend the homeland is to chase the killers down, one at a time, and bring them to justice. It's if they're in a cave, we head into a cave. If they're in some shadowy neighborhood, we'll finally put the spotlight on the shadowy neighborhood. It doesn't matter where they hide, we're after them, one person at a time. (Applause.)

And we're making good progress. We're making good progress. The other day I'm sure you picked up your newspapers or saw on your TVs that we captured the guy that thought he wanted to be the 20th hijacker. I want to thank the Pakistani government for cooperating with U.S. personnel to bring this person to justice. This guy is just another killer, and we got him. He, along with several thousand others we have gotten. And another like number hadn't been quite so lucky, they weren't got -- they were gotten the ultimate way. Slowly but surely, we're dismantling a terrorist network which wants to do more harm on America.

And I want to thank those of you who have got a relative in the United States military. My, we have got a fabulous United States military. (Applause.)

I asked our Congress for an increase in defense spending -- a significant increase in defense spending, because my attitude is this: any time we put our youngsters into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)

I also wanted to send a message to friend and foe alike that we're in this deal for the long haul, and when it comes to the defense of our freedoms, this mighty country is going to stay the course; that we're not going to forget what happened on September the 11th; that we're steadfast and resolved because we believe in peace. We owe it to our children to make the world more secure, that freedom has a chance and that it's a peaceful tomorrow, that's what we owe it to them.

It's going to be a rocky hill at times getting to that piece. There's some threats out there that we have to deal with. The other day I gave a speech at the United Nations, delineating one of the clearest threats we face. See, we've got a man in that part of the world who agreed to disarm, agreed to pay compensation to the victims of the horrible crimes he committed, agreed not to harbor terrorists -- and he's broken every single agreement.

For 11 long years he has stiffed the world community. I went to the United Nations and said, either you can be relevant in the world or not, your pick. We want you to be a part of keeping the peace. We want you to be strong. (Applause.)

But I also had another message -- we the world cannot let the world's worst leaders harbor and develop the world's worst weapons. This tyrant must be dealt with, for the sake of our children and our children's children. We owe it to the world to show strength and resolve and leadership. (Applause.)

This country is a great and strong country. Witness the fact that what happened after 9/11. Instead of being cowed by these terrorists, we rose up in mighty indignation. But we also did something else, and it's happening all across Iowa and all across America. People understand that in order to fight evil, you can do so by loving your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

In community after community, citizens understand there's a different calling to patriotism today, that a patriot is more than somebody who just puts his hand over his heart. A patriot is also somebody who wants to make the community in which they live a more decent and honorable place, a more compassionate place. In the midst of our plenty, there are people in America who hurt.

There are pockets of despair and hopelessness. And government can hand out money, and frankly we do a pretty good job of it. But what it cannot do is put hope into people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That's done when a citizen puts his or her arm around somebody who hurts, and says: I love you, what can I do to help you? Can I mentor you? Can I teach you to read? As a shut-in, what can I do to make your day a brighter day? No, my call to the American people, if you want to join the war on terror, is to love your neighbor, is to help somebody.

Flight 93 -- I had the honor of going to the site and hugging the families of the 40 who were on that airplane. Flight 93, it's the flight where people flying across the country heard the plane was going to be used as a weapon. They called their loved ones on cell phones, and told them: I love you. They told -- one of them said, let's -- they said a prayer, a guy said: let's roll. They took the plane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves in life.

It's an example of what is happening in America, where people understand serving something greater than self is a part of being a complete American. (Applause.) I call upon all of you all -- my call to our fellow Americans is, when you find hurt, be a part of healing; and recognize that while you can't do everything, you can do something to help change America, one heart and one soul and one conscience at a time.

No, the enemy hit us, they hit us. But out of that terrible day can come some good. There's no doubt in my mind, if America remains strong and steadfast, we can achieve peace -- can achieve peace for this generation and for future generations to come.

And the enemy hit us, and out of the evil done to America that day is going to come a more compassionate and decent and hopeful America, because they hit the greatest nation, full of the finest people on the face of the earth.

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

END 12:33 P.M. CDT