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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 2, 2002
Remarks by the President at Bob Ehrlich for Governor Reception
Hyatt Regency Baltimore
5:39 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thanks. The reason this is such a successful event is because people know that Bob Ehrlich will make a great governor for Maryland. (Applause.) I believe it, and that's why I'm here. (Applause.) I believe that's the reason why Democrats and Republicans support this good man -- because he's honest, he's hardworking, and he's got a positive vision for everybody who lives in the state of Maryland. (Applause.)
I'm here because this man is somebody who wants to unite this state, not divide it. (Applause.) And I'm here because he married well. (Applause.) I appreciate Kendel, and I know Bob does, as well. And I want you to know, I appreciate Laura, too. She's sorry she can't be here tonight. She is -- you know, when I married her, she was a public school librarian. She was living in Texas, and so was I. The truth of the matter is she didn't like politics then. (Laughter.) And she wasn't too fond of politicians either. (Laughter.) And here she is, married to me. (Laughter.)
But people, as they've gotten to know Laura, now know the reason why I asked her to marry me. She's really a fine, fine lady. (Applause.) A lot of her buddies are wondering why she said yes. (Laughter.) But she does send her best, and sends all her support to the Ehrlichs and wishes them all the best, and joins me in urging the people of Maryland to give this good man a chance to be the Governor of this important state. (Applause.)
I have known the next Lieutenant Governor for a while. He's a good, solid citizen of the state of Maryland. He'll work well with Bob. It is an honor to be on the podium with the next Lieutenant Governor of the State of Maryland, Michael Steele. (Applause.) And I had the honor of meeting his good wife, Andrea, and I appreciate Andrea standing by her man during this tough campaign here. Campaigns are hard; they're not easy on a family. But I appreciate, I appreciate her joining Michael in this race. (Applause.)
I'm honored to be back with former Congressman, soon-to-be Congresswoman Helen Bentley. (Applause.) I figure -- I figure that when she wins, she'll be telling me what to do. (Laughter.) And those of you know, who know Helen, know that I'd better listen. (Laughter.) It's great to see Helen; I love her spirit. I know she's going to win.
I'm also proud to be here with Ellen Sauerbrey, who's the National Committeewoman. (Applause.) I want to thank Chairman Louis Pope of the Republican Party. I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I didn't ask for any speeches; I just said -- (laughter.) Okay, let me tell you what you're going to have to do then. (Laughter.) I want to thank you for what you're going to do, which is to turn out the vote. (Applause.)
Listen, a lot of you -- a lot of you never get thanked enough. I'm thanking you. I'm thanking you for dialing the phones and putting up the signs, and for mailing the letters. I'm thanking you for going to your community centers and your coffee shops. I'm thanking you for supporting this ticket ahead of time, because they need your help, and they want your work. You've got to talk it up between now and Election Day. And you've got to find those Ehrlich voters, and make sure they go to the polls, and this man will be your next Governor. (Applause.)
And there's some reasons why. You need somebody who can manage your government, somebody who knows how to balance the books without raising the taxes on the taxpayers. That's what you need. You need somebody who can make a tough decision who doesn't need a poll or a focus group to tell him how to think. (Applause.) Somebody who stands on principle, somebody who will do in office what he says he will do. And when he says he won't raise your taxes, he won't raise your taxes. (Applause.)
I appreciate the fact that Governor Ehrlich will set education as the number one priority for this state. The way I used to put it when I was a governor, I said, education is to a state what national defense is to the federal government. Education has got to be the number one priority of your governor. And it will be Bob's number one priority. We share the same philosophy. It says, every child can learn. That's what we believe. See, that's important to have in your governor's office, somebody who's willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.)
You see, if you lower standards, if you lower the bar, you're going go get lousy results. And that's not fair for the children. Governor Ehrlich will raise the standards. He'll trust the local people to manage their way to excellence. But he and I agree on this -- and that is, we've got to know. See, as a society, we've got to measure to determine whether or not our children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. It is essential that you have a governor who is strong on accountability.
You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you're willing to measure. If you believe certain children can't learn, then you don't care and you don't measure. But in order to make sure no child gets left behind in the state of Maryland, you must have a governor who uses the accountability system to praise those teachers and principals who succeed on behalf of the children, but also someone who is willing to challenge the schools which will not teach and will not change. Bob Ehrlich will be a governor who will make sure that no child is left behind in the state of Maryland. (Applause.)
The job of a governor is to create an environment in which people can find work and the economy grows. That's why he is insistent upon infrastructure, to be wise about the use of taxpayer's money, to expand the asset base which will encourage private sector growth. I love his vision about the Port of Baltimore and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. He understands job creation. See, that's what he knows. And it's important to have somebody in the governor's office who understands how jobs are created.
The role of government isn't to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneur can realize his or her dream, in which small businesses can grow to be big businesses. That's the kind of governor you need. (Applause.)
He'll be effective. He's smart. He's compassionate. And his record speaks to his compassion. He worked for tax credits for parents who adopt children. He worked hard to make sure there's equal health insurance benefits for the mentally ill. He works to have increased -- he worked to have increased access to individuals in the workplace who may be disabled. See, that's the kind of governor you want. You want somebody who's tough when it comes to the budget, making sure that it's balanced, but compassionate when it comes to helping people who need help. (Applause.)
There's no question in my mind that this man, when elected, will make Maryland a safer and stronger and better place for every citizen who lives in this state. And my job as the President is to make sure America is a safer and stronger and better country. (Applause.) A strong country is one in which people can find work. Any time somebody is looking for work and they can't find work in America, I think we have a problem. And we've got to do everything we can at the federal level to make sure our economy grows.
I worry about people who have lost value in their 401ks. I worry about people looking for work who can't find work. I worry about uncertainty.
We're beginning to make progress because the foundations for growth are strong -- interest rates are low, inflation is down, the productivity of the American worker is the highest and best in the world. We've got a lot of strong things going for us.
For a while there was a kind of an overhang in our economy because we had some of our citizens who thought they could fudge the books, who forgot what it means to be a responsible citizen, who got caught up in money, not in responsibility. I had the honor of signing, and Bob voted for the most significant corporate reform since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. Our message to corporate America, to those citizens who think they can cheat, is, those days are over with. (Applause.)
When I first came in, I was aware that the economy was dragging. And that's why I worked with Congressman Ehrlich and others to pass a significant tax cut, because I took a page out of this economic textbook. The page said if you let a person keep more of their own money -- and notice I said more of their own money; it's not the government's money, it's your money -- (applause) -- if you keep more of your own money, if you have more money in your pocket, you're going to demand a good or a service. And when you demand a good or a service, in this marketplace economy, somebody's going to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work. If you're interested in creating more jobs, you let people keep more of their own money. The tax cuts came at the exact right time in American economic history. (Applause.)
We slashed the marriage penalty. We believe that the tax code ought to encourage families and encourage marriage, not discourage families and marriage. (Applause.) And we did something else to help the entrepreneur, and the farmer, and the rancher, and that is we put the death tax on the way to extinction. (Applause.)
But here's the problem. Here's the problem -- this is kind of hard to explain. The rules in the Senate are such that that tax relief plan that we all worked so hard to enact, that goes away after ten years. So the Senate giveth and the Senate taketh away. (Laughter.) For the sake of job creation, for the sake of economic expansion, for the sake of those who want to find work, the Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
I worry about hard-hats trying to find work. I worry about that. And so -- I met, I guess it was yesterday -- time flies up there -- (laughter) -- but I met yesterday with members of the House and Senate, both parties, to urge them to pass a terrorism insurance bill.
There's over $15 billion worth of projects, construction projects, which are not going forward because people can't get terrorism insurance. And for the sake of economic vitality, for the sake of job creation, for the sake of hard-hats, they need to get together and get a bill -- a bill, by the way, which does not reward trial lawyers, and does reward working people in America. (Applause.) I want to assure you, we will not rest until people can find work. And I look forward to working with ways to create the environment for economic expansion. I want to work to make America more confident about our future.
One way to make sure that Americans are more confident about the future and availability of capital is to make sure Congress does not over-spend. And we have a problem in Washington, right around the corner from here. Every idea sounds like a brilliant idea. (Laughter.) The problem is they've all got billions of dollars attached to them as price tags. There is no budget in the United States Senate. They couldn't pass a budget. You can imagine what that means. It means that there is the tendency to over-spend.
For the sake of economic vitality, for the sake of making sure people can find work, the Congress must fund our priorities and not over-spend the people's money. We must be fiscally sound in Washington, D.C. if we want our economy to grow. (Applause.)
A stronger America is one in which people can find work. And while I'm optimistic about our future, while I understand the spirit of the -- the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, we've got work to do. We've got work to do on the economy. And we've also got work to do to make sure America is a safer place.
Economic vitality and growth are a really important part of my job and what's on my mind, but nothing more on my mind than protecting the American people. That's my most important job now, is to make sure that the enemy -- (applause) -- is to make sure the enemy doesn't hit us again. And they're still out there. They're out there because of what we love and what they hate. They're out there because we love freedom. We love the fact that our fellow citizens can worship an almighty God any way he or she sees fit. We love that and we're never going to relinquish that freedom. (Applause.)
We love our diversity. We love the fact that people can realize their dreams in America, regardless of where their mom or dad was born. That's what we love. We love the fact that this great country -- in this great country you can speak your mind freely. We love a free press. We love everything about our freedoms. And yet we face an enemy which hates freedom. They hate us because of what we love.
We also value life in America. Everybody's precious, everybody counts, everybody has worth in this country. (Applause.) And the enemy is nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers who are willing to take innocent life in the name of a hijacked religion. And that's who we fight. (Applause.)
It's a new reality we face. It just is. This is the first war of the 21st century, but it's a different kind of war. And therefore, I've spent a lot of time explaining to the American people how best we can keep the peace and what we must do to win this new war. It starts with making sure we do everything here at home to organize the agencies involved with the defense of the homeland.
There's over a hundred different agencies in Washington, D.C. involved with your protection. Before September the 11th none of them really had as their number one priority the protection of the homeland. Now they should. In order to make sure that we change culture and set priority, I've asked Congress to join me in the creation of a department of homeland security. Listen, I readily concede my slogan wasn't, vote for George, he wants your government to be bigger. That wasn't my slogan. My slogan -- (laughter.) What I want to have happen is I want the government to work. I want to be able to better do the job you expect me to do. And therefore, and therefore, I call upon the Senate to join the House in creating a department of homeland security which enables this President and future Presidents to be able to move people to the right place at the right time in order to protect America.
I need the ability to manage the process. I don't need rules and regulations. I don't need micromanagment by the Legislative Branch. (Applause.) The House passed a good bill, and now the Senate must do so. They must get after it before they go home. I need a good bill. And I won't accept anything less. See, this is a chance to leave -- for the Congress to leave a legacy for future people, future Presidents, future administrations, to deal with this real threat we face.
But I want you to know, and you need to know, there are a lot of good folks working hard here in America to protect you. There really are. And we're doing a better job. We've got great police and fire, lots of FBI agents and CIA agents working hard. Anytime we get any hint about something might happen, a scintilla of evidence, we're moving on it. We are. We're more responsive, we're more alert, we're disrupting, we're making progress, all within the confines of the United States Constitution.
But the best way to protect the homeland, short-term and long-term, is to chase the killers down one at a time and bring them to justice. (Applause.) This is the kind of war, we don't face people who have got tanks and destroyers and bombers. That's a different kind of war. Those are wars of the past. This is a war in which we're fighting resourceful, determined people who hide in caves or the dark recesses of certain cities, and then send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. That's the kind of people we fight.
They are -- they are haters, is what they are. And therefore, we're on an international manhunt. And we're making progress. That's just what you've got to know. Sometimes it's hard to tell, it's hard to measure progress. If you're not destroying equipment, it's hard to tell. But we have captured over a couple of thousand of them. I say, "we" -- the doctrine that says, either you're with us or you're with the enemy, still stands. That doctrine is still a part of American foreign policy. (Applause.)
And so there's a lot of countries working with us. We're sharing intelligence, we're disrupting their finances, and we're hauling them in. The other day we got the fellow -- I forgot the guy's name -- bin al-Shebh, or whatever his name was. He thought he was going to be the 20th hijacker.
Q Moussaoui --
THE PRESIDENT: No, that wasn't Moussaoui. Bin al-Shebh is the guy's name. (Laughter.) And he popped his head up, and now he's no longer a problem. (Laughter and applause.( We're making progress. We're making progress. We're working with our friends. We've got a vast coalition of people who understand the stakes and understand the nature of the war. I said we hauled in a couple of thousand; a like number weren't as lucky. Slowly but surely, we're dismantling this particular terrorist network.
I want to thank those of you who have got loved ones in the United States military. I am proud of our military. (Applause.) They're making a huge difference. They're brave, brave troops. I sent the largest increase in defense spending to Capitol Hill -- since Ronald Reagan was the President up to Congress, because I wanted to send two messages: One, any time our troops go into harm's way they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)
And secondly, the defense spending should send a clear message to friend and foe alike that the United States of America is in this deal for the long haul; that when it comes to the defense of our freedom, when it comes to defending this country, there's no time line until we get it right, that we are -- (applause) -- that we will stay the course, we will stay -- we owe that to our children. We owe it to our children and our children's children to defend freedom and to protect the homeland.
It's a new era. We have new responsibilities in many ways. The same responsibilities, I guess, but new challenges to uphold those responsibilities, because we learned a tough lesson, and that is oceans no longer protect us. It's a different war, with a different battlefield. And therefore, we must deal with threats as we see them -- threats which maybe in the past have not been so frightening, but now in the new era we've got to deal with them, it seems like to me. In order to do our duty as Americans and leaders, we've got to defend our country and our friends and allies against the real threats that we face.
And there's a grave threat in Iraq; there just is. This is a man who has gassed his own people, used weapons of mass destruction on his own citizens. Imagine what his intentions will be about a country that loves freedom like we do. This is a man who has attacked -- and by the way, he used weapons of mass destruction in his own neighborhood, too, against countries on his border.
This is a man who has attacked two countries in 22 years. This is a man who kills political dissenters in cold blood. This is a man who, 11 years ago, told the world that he would get rid of weapons of mass destruction, and yet, for 11 long years, he has defied resolution after resolution after resolution after resolution out of the United Nations. This is a man who like nothing more than to team up with a terrorist network; a man who could use a terrorist network perhaps to use the weapons of mass destruction he's developed -- and lies about -- to harm countries that he can't stand -- America, Israel, countries in his own -- immediately around him.
And therefore, I thought it was time for us to deal with him, for the sake of freedom. So I went to the United Nations. And my message to the United Nations was this: We want you to succeed as a international body. The world is different, the threats are real, we can do a better job if we work together through the United Nations, and here's your chance to succeed. You have a choice, and the choice is whether you'll be an effective peacekeeping organization, or whether you'll be like the League of Nations. Your choice. (Applause.)
I also said to Mr. Saddam Hussein, you said you would disarm. Your choice to disarm. Military option is my last choice. It's not my first choice. This man should disarm, like he said. He should do what he said he would do. The United Nations should insist that he does what he said he would do. But for the sake of freedom, and for the sake of peace, for the sake of a world that doesn't fear the world's worst leaders with the first world's weapons -- with the world's worst weapons, this country will be deliberate, will work with others, but we will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
And today I was joined on the steps of the Rose Garden with members of the House and members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have joined with us to pass -- the desire to pass a strong statement to the world about the resolve and determination of the United States. We're going to have a very constructive debate in Congress, and there should be. I told them today I thought the debate that was going on is going to be one of the most historic debates ever in the hall of Congress.
That sentiment was echoed by not only the Speaker, but Richard Gephardt, who was there; not only Trent Lott, but Joe Lieberman was there; not only John McCain, but Democrat Evan Bayh was there. Democrat and Republican alike joined hand in hand to send a clear message to the world: we love our peace; we want the world to be a better and more peaceful place. If the United States remains strong and tough and focused, we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace here at home. If we speak clearly and renounce terrorism and fight terrorism, we can achieve peace in the Middle East, we can achieve peace in South Asia.
No, the enemy hit us, the enemy hit us. But they didn't realize who they hit. Oh, they probably thought we'd file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) But they hit a country -- they hit a country which loves freedom. A country based upon solid values. A country which when we need to be strong is strong; and we need to be compassionate, we can be compassionate. I believe, sincerely believe that out of the evil done to America can come incredible good, starting with peace. (Applause.)
And I know we can be a better country. I know we can be a better country. We can work hard to make sure every child is educated. We can make sure to work -- work hard to make sure our seniors get quality health care. Listen, medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't. (Applause.) Medicare is -- medicine is modern; Medicare is ancient. For the sake of our seniors, let's modernize Medicare with prescription drugs. (Applause.)
But we must remember here in America, in spite of our plenty, there are pockets of despair. There just are. And there's pockets of hopelessness. There's places people are addicted, they're lonely. They wonder whether or not the American Dream means anything to them. And my attitude is -- and I know it's Bob's attitude -- so long as one hurt, we all hurt. And as a society, we must do everything we can to eradicate those pockets of despair.
Now, listen -- government can hand out money. We're pretty good at it at times. (Laughter.) But what government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts, or love in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. Government can't do that. That is done when our fellow Americans have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
If you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want to fight evil, if you want to join in the war against terror, if you want to show the world what we're made out of, help somebody in need. See, our society will change, one heart, one conscience, one soul at a time, when a neighbor loves a neighbor in need. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with Governor Ehrlich to unleash the true compassion of each society. I'm a strong proponent of the faith-based initiative. I want to unleash the power of love. I want people who go to church and synagogue and mosque, if they want to help a person in need, to be empowered by the government to do so. Our governments must not fear faith; we must welcome faith in our society. (Applause.)
No, the enemy hit us, but they -- in doing so, they have awakened a great spirit, an American spirit. And I want you all to help move that spirit forward. I know many of you already do this, but mentor a child, or help somebody in need. Continue doing the charitable works you do to help the communities in which you live. It will be a better place for all of us.
One of the reasons I first ran for office is because I wanted to challenge the culture of our country, which has 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 usher in a period of personal responsibility, to be a part of a cultural shift in which each of understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.
If you are a mom or a dad, your most important responsibility is to love your child with all your heart. (Applause.) You're responsible for helping a neighbor in need, you're responsible for the quality of education in the community in which you live. If you're running corporate America, you're responsible to your employees and shareholders to tell the truth. And it's happening. (Applause.)
The responsibility era is happening in America, probably most vividly displayed on Flight 93, when average citizens were flying across the country. They learned their plane was going to be used as a weapon -- imagine. They got on the phone with their loved ones -- they used the word "love" a lot. They said goodbye. They said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane in the ground to serve something greater than themselves in life. I believe that is an important lesson for all of us to learn.
Patriotism is more than putting your hand over your heart. Patriotism is serving your nation. Patriotism is helping people in need. Patriotism is loving somebody just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
No, the enemy hit us. But they didn't know who they were hitting. They hit the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, and out of the evil done to America is going to come a peaceful world. And out of the evil done to America is going to continue to be a hopeful, compassionate, decent country.
I'm optimistic about our future, because I know America. We're the finest nation on the face of the Earth, because we're full of the finest people. (Applause.)
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 6:15 P.M. EDT