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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 27, 2002
Remarks by the President in Arizona Welcome
4:54 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Governor, thanks for that kind introduction. (Applause.) You know, it wasn't all that long ago that a lot of people were saying, old man Salmon didn't even have a chance. (Laughter.) A lot of pundits here in the state of Arizona had written this good man off. But it looks like to me they might have wasted a little ink. (Applause.)
A lot of people were saying, well, he's just not going to get there. My fellow Americans and the good folks from Arizona, with your help, with your hard work, we are turning out the vote, with you're joining this good man and his good wife, Max Salmon is going to be the next governor of Arizona. (Applause.) And I am proud to be here as one of his strongest supporters. (Applause.)
I'm not as strong a supporter as the next first lady from Arizona. I'm proud the Nancy is here, she's going to make a great first lady. (Applause.) Old Matt and I married above ourselves. (Laughter.) Laura sends her best; she sends her best regards to the Salmons. She knows what it's like to be running for office. She knows what it's like to be running for office. She knows what it's like to be the first lady of a state. She's got all the confidence in the world, as do I, in the Salmon family. They will represent you with dignity, they'll represent you with class. They'll do a great job for everybody who lives in the state of Arizona. (Applause.)
I'm also proud to be up here supporting Rick Renzi for the United States Congress. (Applause.) I like a man who believes in family values -- all 12 of them. (Laughter and applause.) I had the privilege of campaigning with Rick in northern Arizona, the heart of his district. He's well liked there. People understand him. He's going to make a fine United States congressman. No question in my mind, with your help he is going to win. (Applause.)
I want to thank one of my Cabinet secretaries for joining us today, Mel Martinez, from the Housing and Urban Development. Let me tell you about Mel. He's from Florida. There's another governors race over there I'm paying attention to, I might add. (Laughter.)
A long time ago when Mel was a little fellow, his parents made a difficult decision. They sent him to the United States from Cuba. They sent him in what they call Operation Pedro Pan from an island controlled by a dictator to the land of the free. They put their young lad -- let him go. They stayed behind for a while, not certain if they could get out. Because of what America stood for. And here is that little man, that Pedro Pan, years later is now in the Cabinet of the President of the United States, doing a fabulous job on behalf of America. The American Dream is alive and well and Mel Martinez represents it all. (Applause.)
I'm honored to be here with my good friend, the Governor of Arizona; I appreciate her service to your state and I appreciate her friendship to Laura and me -- Jane Dee Hull. Thank you, Governor. (Applause.)
I want to thank Cindy McCain for coming. (Applause.) She didn't bring John, she brought Jack. (Laughter.) Senator McCain is out working hard to make sure that we change the leadership in the United States Senate. (Applause.) I appreciate John McCain and John Kyl's good work on behalf of the American people. And there's a lot of reasons why we need to change the Senate -- no more clear reason than to make sure the good, honest judges I put up for the federal bench get a good hearing. (Applause.)
We've got some of the members of mighty Arizona congressional delegation who are here with us. One man not with us, but a man who's done a fabulous job on behalf of the people of Arizona and the people of the United States is the Chairman, Bob Stump. (Applause.) He served with distinction. He served with class. And, of course, we all wish Bob all the very best.
I'm so proud to be up here with John Shadegg and Jeff Flake and big J.D. Hayworth. (Applause.) I told J.D., those of us in the political world make a living by shaking hands, and I'm not shaking his anymore. (Laughter.)
I also want to thank Trent Franks, who's running for the United States Congress, for joining us today. For those of you in Trent's district, give this good man your hard work. Thanks for coming, Trent. (Applause.)
I know we've got the mayor here, Skip Rimsza, from the city of Phoenix. I want to thank you for coming, Skip. I'm proud to -- I don't see you anywhere, but I'm proud that you're here -- you're not Skip. (Laughter.) You're not even old enough to vote. (Laughter.) But if you're wise, you'll follow in his footsteps and serve your community, like he does. But thank you, Mr. Mayor, for coming today. (Applause.)
I want to thank the Mountain View High School Band for being here on a Sunday afternoon, thank you, all. (Applause.) I appreciate you all coming. I'll try to keep my short -- my speech short, so you can go back and study. (Laughter.)
I want to thank all those of you who are involved in the political process for being here today. Obviously, you're interested, otherwise, you wouldn't have come. But a lot of you are the folks at the grassroots level who make a tremendous difference as to whether or not a candidate has a chance of winning or not.
For those of you who are at the grassroots, I want to thank you for what you're doing and going to do, which is to man the phones, put up the signs, send the letters, remind your friends and fellow Arizonians they have an obligation to America to vote. (Applause.) If you're living in this country -- if you're living in this country, you have an obligation as a citizen to exercise this wonderful freedom.
Go to your houses of worship and your community centers and your coffee shops and talk it up. Talk it up about Matt Salmon and your congressional candidates. Don't be afraid to talk to good democrats, either. Listen, a good democrat knows the difference between a tax raiser and a tax cutter. (Applause.)
These candidates are going to win, and they're going to win because of you all. So thanks for coming and thanks for your interest.
The governors race of any state is really important. It's important to have somebody who's going to do in office what they say they're going to do; not somebody who kind of walks around taking a poll here and running a focus group there, trying to figure out what position to take. Not somebody who will take a position one day, and then the butane gets turned up and changes their mind. That's not the kind of governor you need. You need somebody who's steady, somebody who knows what he believes. Somebody like Salmon that, when he went to the United States Congress, he said he was only going to serve three terms, and then did what he said. That's the kind of governor you need, somebody whose word you can trust. (Applause.)
You must have a governor who's got the right priorities. Educating a child is the right priority and that's Matt Salmon's priority. (Applause.) Education is to a state what national defense is to the federal government, by far the most important priority. And this governor understands that. (Applause.)
But a good governor is someone who also has the right frame of mind when it comes to education. And that frame of mind starts with realizing every child can learn, and believing that every child can learn. A frame of mind that is willing to set high standards and therefore challenge what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations; somebody that understands that if you set the bar low, you're going to get bad results.
It's that type of attitude, by the way, the people that set the bar low or those who are willing to write off certain children who are hard to educate. You see, it's much easier to walk into a classroom full of children whose parents may not speak English as a first language and say these kids can't learn, let's just move them through. You've got to have a governor who's willing to challenge the status quo, who's willing to say that it is not acceptable to socially promote children who may be hard to educate. A governor whose vision for their state says every child can learn, not just those in good suburban districts but every single child can learn. (Applause.)
You've got to have a governor who also understands that bureaucracies don't set the path to excellence for every child, that you've got to have local control of schools, that one size doesn't fit all. And you've got to have a governor who's willing to ask the fundamental question: is every child learning in Arizona. See, if you believe every child can learn, then you've got to ask the question, show me. And therefore you must have accountability.
And with Matt Salmon as the governor, when he finds children in schools that are working, he'll praise the teachers, and we need to praise the teachers. (Applause.) But the thing I appreciate about this good man is when he finds children trapped in schools that will not teach and schools that will not change, this is a man who will challenge the special interests of Arizona with one interest in mind, the children. He will challenge the status quo because he believes like I believe, that no child should be left behind in the state of Arizona. (Applause.)
I appreciate so very much that Matt understands the role of government is not to create wealth. The role of government is to create an environment in which the small business owner and the entrepreneur can flourish. (Applause.) Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small business owners, and you better have you a governor who understands the role of small business in our society. And Matt Salmon understands that. (Applause.) When he says he's not raising taxes, book it. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with Matt when we get a welfare reauthorization bill through the Congress, one that says that we're going to help people find work. The best welfare program is a program which incorporates work so that people have the dignity of being able to put food on their own table. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with Matt to make sure our health care system works. And I look forward to working with Rick and the other members of Congress and the two United States senators to make sure our health care system works.
Medicine has changed; Medicare hasn't. Medicine is going modern; Medicare is stuck in the past. For the sake of our seniors, for the sake of the quality of life for those who depend upon the federal government when it comes to Medicare, we need to modernize Medicare, reform Medicare, and include a prescription drug benefit for Arizona's seniors. (Applause.)
Now, there's a lot of issues that we can work on together. The people of Arizona will understand when Matt becomes the governor that he's going to work to change the tone. He's going to elevate the discourse; that he's not politics as usual. That he's here to serve the good people of the state. He's not going to be one of these fellows that says, well, did you vote for me, I'm going to be your governor; if you didn't vote for me, I'm not. His intention is to represent every single person in Arizona, and he will do so with distinction and with class. (Applause.)
I keep talking about Renzi. One reason I'm anxious to get Renzi up there is because I want to make sure Denny Hastert remains the Speaker of the House. (Applause.) The leadership of the House of Representatives and the members of the House of Representatives from the Republican Party have done a really good job on behalf of America. They've had a very strong agenda. They passed a lot of legislation that has been positive for our country.
I can't say the same thing for the United States Senate. A lot of good legislation is stuck. No more important piece of legislation than the homeland security bill.
The reason why we need a homeland security bill is because there's an enemy out there which hates America; enemy out there still lurking around; enemy out there that hates us because of what we love. And we're not changing what we love. We love freedom. (Applause.)
We love the idea of our fellow Americans being able to worship an Almighty God any way you see fit. We love that. (Applause.) We love -- we love our -- we love our democracy. We love our free press. We love every aspect of our freedom. And so long as we hold those freedoms dear to our heart, there's an enemy out there which is trying to hurt us. And so our biggest job now is to protect the American people. I take that seriously. It's a solemn obligation. (Applause.) You all go ahead and sit down.
It's even more solemn now that -- that we're no longer protected by two oceans. It used to be, of course, that we could depend upon our geography to protect us from hatred. That there might be a turmoil somewhere in the world or there might be a threat somewhere in the world, and we could contain that threat if we choose to do so, or we could be involved in the conflict if we chose to do so. But we felt pretty comfortable about our security because of our -- because of the two oceans which protected us.
And we learned a rough lesson on September the 11th, 2001: that when there's hatred and people trying to hurt us, the battlefield can end up right here at home. And we've always got to remember that. I'm certainly going to remember that, that the stakes are different and that they're higher. In order to protect the American people, we must see clearly the threats we face. We can't have any fuzziness anymore, because the oceans aren't there.
And there's a true threat that we face in the form of Saddam Hussein. It's a real threat; it's not an imagined threat. It's a threat -- it's a threat because he's shown the world what he's like.
He said he doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction, said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, and he does. He's not only got a weapons of mass destruction, he's used weapons of mass destruction. He's used them against his neighbors, he's used them against his own citizens. This is a man who can't stand America and what we believe in. Nor can he stand some of our friends and allies. He's a danger, he's a threat.
And so I went to the United Nations and I said, you've told this guy for 11 years in 16 different resolutions to disarm and he hasn't done it. And for the sake of world peace, why don't you show us whether or not you're going to be a body which can act in the name of peace, or whether you're going to be something like the League of Nations. You have a choice to make, I said to them. (Applause.) Show us whether or not -- show us whether or not you can be effective. We want you to be effective in the name of peace. We want you to have people listen to your word. If you say disarm, we want people to disarm. If you come together as an organization that puts out a decree, that the free world speaks, we want you to be effective. I think he's going to make the world a more peaceful place as we head into the 21st century, particularly as we face these new threats. It's their choice to make.
And at the same time, we said the same thing to Saddam Hussein: you said you would disarm, now disarm; the choice is yours.
But my fellow Americans, for the sake of peace and security, for the sake of making sure the Middle East is peaceful, for the making sure that the true threats don't come to our shore in the form of a terrorist organization which may have obtained weapons of mass destruction from this man -- I believe we owe it to our children and our children's children to lead a coalition. If the U.N. won't act, if Saddam Hussein will not act, if he continues to defy the world, the United States, in the name of peace, will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
No, the threat is real. The threat is real. It's important to be clear-eyed. It's also important to do everything we can here at home to protect you, and a lot of good people are working hard to do so. Any time we find a hint, any kind of evidence of a plot, we're doing everything we can to disrupt or deter or deny. We've got a lot of good people at the federal level and the state level and the local level working a lot of long hours.
You see, we are on alert, we're aware. We weren't aware prior to September the 11th about this enemy that -- how evil they are. But now we know they're out there. And we're doing good things here at home, but we can do better. And that's why I've asked the Congress to join me in creating this Department of Homeland Security, so that the agencies involved with protecting you have got the capacity to have as a number one priority and a number one focus and a culture which says protecting America is the most important thing we'll do. (Applause.)
And the House of Representatives passed a good piece of legislation that enables this administration and future administrations to be able to have the management capacity to protect the homeland. The Senate is stuck. See, they want me to give up some power -- power that has been in the Presidency since John Kennedy was the President -- the ability to suspend work rules in the name of national security; the capacity to say it's in our national interests to suspend certain work rules so that you put the right people at the right place at the right time to protect the American people. And I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United States Senate. (Applause.)
And the reason -- the reason why is, this is a task we'll be involved with for a while. And so the best way to protect the homeland is to hunt these killers down one person at a time and bring them to justice, which is exactly what the United States of America is going to do. (Applause.)
Last week I signed a defense bill which is the biggest increase in defense money since Ronald Reagan was the President. (Applause.) People ought to read two things in that defense bill. One, any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) We owe that to our troops and we owe that to the loved ones of the troops. And for those of you who have got a relative in the military, you've just got to know, this Commander in Chief has all the confidence in the world in the men and women who wear our uniform. (Applause.)
It's a different kind of war -- oh, the second message that we're sending, by the way, is that we're in this deal for the long haul, that there's no time certain where we've got to quit. In other words, this isn't a -- defending freedom doesn't have anything to do with the calendar; it has everything to do with success. And so we're going to stay the course until we defeat the agents of terror. (Applause.)
The coalition is strong. The doctrine still stands that says either you're with the United States and freedom-loving people or you're with the enemy. That doctrine still stands. And the message of that defense bill says it's going to stand for quite a while. (Applause.)
And we're making progress, we're making progress. It's a different kind of war we fight. So I like to spend time, whether it's in the midst of the campaign, on Governor Salmon's time, or any other speech, to help educate the American people about the nature of this war.
The best way I like to describe it is in the old days, you could determine whether or not you were making progress against the enemy by the number of tanks that you destroyed or the number of aircraft you shot out of the air or the number of ships you sunk. This bunch we fought, they don't have ships. They hide in caves and send youngsters to their suicidal death. These are the kind of people that have hijacked a great religion, they have no regard for innocent life, and are nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers, and we're going to treat them like that. (Applause.)
So we're after them. We're after them one at a time. And that's why intelligence-sharing is incredibly important. That's why it's important to work with others to cut off their money. I just came up from Cabo San Lucas where I was meeting with APEC nations. These are nations that border the Pacific. And yesterday, the first agenda amongst the leaders was terrorism, counterterrorism.
I was the first speaker. I reminded them that the war goes on. I reminded them they have an obligation to join with us. And when we find somebody that we know is a part of this terrorist network, they go get them or we go get them. Either case, we're going to get them.
The other day, one guy popped his head up. His name was Bin al-Shibh. He's not a problem anymore to America. (Applause.) He's now -- he was -- this is the person that was going to be the twentieth hijacker, and he was in Pakistan, hiding. But we found him. See, there's no cave deep enough to hide. There's no corner of the world dark enough. Slowly but surely, America and others who love freedom are hunting them down. We've probably hauled in a couple of thousand of them so far. A like number wasn't as lucky. (Applause.)
And it's going to take a while. It's going to take a while. We've got brave troops still on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They've got -- I was with -- I talked to the President of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo, who has been such a strong supporter. I said, we'll continue to provide you help, and thanks for going to get the head of the Abu Sayyaf, who was the person that led a group of killers that kidnaped Americans and just tried to wreak havoc, they're terrorists.
Slowly but surely, we're going to bring these people to justice. There's no doubt in my mind. See, the enemy didn't understand who they were hitting. (Applause.) They thought they were hitting somebody that -- somebody that was so selfish and materialistic and so self-absorbed that, after September the 11th, 2001, we'd take a step back and file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) That's what they thought. And they found out something differently. They found out the mighty United States of America loves freedom, and we're relentless when it comes to the pursuit of justice. And we're not backing down. (Applause.)
I believe strongly -- I believe strongly that out of the evil done to America is going to come some good. I believe that because we're such a great nation, and a strong nation and a compassionate nation, that out of the evil done to the country will come some good, starting with peace.
You've got to understand and I hope you tell your loved ones that amidst all the talk about war is a deep, abiding desire for peace. I long for peace for our own country. But because this nation says everybody matters -- in contrast to the enemy, this nation believes every life counts, everybody has worth. I long for peace around the world. I long for peace in places where people have quit on peace. And I believe we can achieve it. I believe by being strong and tough, by being true to our love of freedom and understanding that freedom isn't America's gift to the world, it is a God gift, and that freedom is universal, it is applied to everybody. (Applause.)
If we remain true and strong and diligent, we can achieve peace -- we can achieve peace. And here at home we can achieve a better America, too. An America that -- that the great hope of America, the great bright light of America shines in every neighborhood. See, amongst our plenty, there are people who hurt. There are some who say, you say American Dream and they don't even know what you're taking about -- American Dream, what is that?
And so long as one of us hurts, we all hurt, as far as I'm concerned. And we have a chance -- we really have a chance. The government can help, we can do things, of course, to make sure that people's lives are better. I talked about education. I talked about Medicare. Another thing government can do to make sure lives are better is to make sure that tax cuts we passed are permanent. (Applause.) You see, when you let people have more money -- if you let people have more money in their pocket, it's going to encourage economic growth. And so long as somebody is looking for work, who wants to work and can't find a job, we've got a problem.
And, therefore, one of the things government can do is be pro-growth, is do everything we can to encourage the vitality of the economy to go forward. I'm optimistic about our economy. Interest rates are low, inflation is low, productivity is up. But in order to make sure small business flourishes and the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) Congress needs to make sure we get rid of the death tax, once and for all. (Applause.) Another reason to make sure that we change the Senate and keep Denny Hastert as the Speaker. (Applause.)
But one of the things we've got to remember is that government can do certain things. Government can hand out money, for example. And sometimes we do a pretty good job of it. But what government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives.
See, we can change America one heart and one soul at a time if all of us understands that we can make -- each of us can make a difference. When you put your arm around somebody who hurts and somebody in need -- who's in need, and say, I love you, you're part of changing America. If you're a Boy Scout leader or a Girl Scout leader, you're changing America. If you work in a Boys or Girls Club, you're changing America. If you're involved in the quality of education in your neighborhood, you're changing America. If you just walk into a shut-in's house and say, "I love you, can I help you," you're changing America.
No, the enemy hit us. They didn't know who they were hitting. They didn't understand America like I do. Not only are we strong, we are compassionate. Many of our fellow citizens have taken a step back, and they said, what is life all about? What is the true definition of a patriot? I think we're all beginning to understand, serving something greater than yourself in life, serving your nation by helping a neighbor in need is the definition of the American spirit that is alive and well. (Applause.)
I want the youngsters here to realize that you live in the greatest land in face of the earth. It's a land that we can never take for granted. That's why voting is incredibly important. But as a citizen of this land, in order to make sure it continues to remain great, you have an obligation -- we all have an obligation to do what we can do, to do what government cannot do, and that's to help people one person at a time.
Perhaps the most vivid reminder -- I think history will show this is a vivid reminder of what I'm talking about, the American spirit that is alive and well -- took place on Flight 93. (Applause.) People were flying across the country -- people were flying across the country, people were flying across the country that day. They weren't sure what was going on. They were on cell phones, using the modern technology to learn that the airplane they were on was being used as a weapon.
Some of them didn't panic. Probably all of them didn't. They were on the phones to their loved ones. They said goodbye. I'm sure they said, I love you. They used the word, love. They said a prayer. One guy said, let's roll. They took the airplane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves in life.
That's the American spirit that is alive and well and strong. It is a spirit of sacrifice. It is a spirit of compassion. It is a spirit of decency. And it is the spirit that allows me to boldly predict that out of the evil done to America is going to come an America that is more hopeful, more decent for every single person who's fortunate to live in this country.
No, you're looking at one of the greatest optimists ever to hold the office of the Presidency, because I understand America is the greatest nation, full of the most decent people on the face of the earth.
Thank you all for coming today. May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 5:32 P.M. MDT