The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 24, 2002

Remarks by the President at Columbia, South Carolina Welcome
Jimmy Doolittle Flight Facility Hangar
Columbia, South Carolina

12:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Well, thanks for coming out today.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love Bush! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: And I love South Carolina. (Laughter and applause.)

We've got a lot of friends here. I want to thank you all for coming today. I want to talk about a couple of things. I want to talk about some of the challenges facing our country. We've got some steep hills to climb, but there's no doubt in my mind we can climb them -- after all, we're the finest nation on the face of the Earth. (Applause.)

I want to talk a little politics with you. You see, there's no question in my mind that if you're interested in the state of the South Carolina, and if you're interested in the future of this state, you need to have Mark Sanford as the next governor. (Applause.) And there's also no question in my mind, one, that you've been really well represented by the great Strom Thurmond. (Applause.)

I'm really proud to be able to serve with the Senator. As a matter of fact, he came by the other day, we were talking about an important issue, and he reminded me that early December is his 100th birthday. (Laughter.) I couldn't tell if he was hinting or not, so I took the bait and invited him over to the White House for his 100th birthday party. (Laughter.) So he's coming. (Applause.)

So you've got to make sure you replace this good man with somebody who can do the job, somebody who will do what's right for South Carolina, and somebody who will make the strong stands for America. No question in my mind, the right man to take the place of Strom Thurmond is soon to be United States Senator Lindsey Graham. (Applause.)

I appreciate Jenny Sanford being here, your next first lady. (Applause.) She brought those four Sanford boys with her. (Laughter.) Speaking about first ladies, you drew the short straw. See, if Graham and Sanford were smart, they'd have asked First Lady Laura Bush to come instead of me. (Applause.) But I -- he said he did. (Laughter.) The reason she couldn't come, well, it rained in Crawford. (Laughter.) And that's where she is, and she's sweeping the porch because the President of China is coming tomorrow. (Laughter.)

But she sends her love. You know, when I asked Laura to marry me, she was a public school librarian. (Applause.) That always gets one cheer. (Laughter.) But you know what I'm talking about; that's a job that requires a good heart and deep care about our children. Anyway, when I asked her to marry me she was that and she didn't particularly like politics -- (laughter) -- and she didn't like politicians. (Laughter.) And now here she is, as a fabulous First Lady for America. (Applause.)

I appreciate so very much members of the United States Congress who joined us here. That would be Congressman Henry Brown and Congressman Joe Wilson. (Applause.) Some of the Statehouse folks are here, and they're doing a fine job on behalf of the South Carolinians. That would be Bob Peeler, David Wilkins and Charlie Condon and Jim Miles. I'm honored that they're here. (Applause.) You've got a great slate of candidates running with -- running with Mark.

Let me tell you why I'm here. I want you all to understand it's important to do your duties as Americans. It's important that you vote. It's important that you find good candidates. I've obviously got a few suggestions for you here. (Laughter.) It's important that you go to your coffee shops and houses of worship and your community centers, and remind your fellow South Carolinians they have a duty, they've got a duty to this country, they've got a duty to democracy to participate. It doesn't matter whether they're Republican, Democrat, could care less about parties -- they have a duty. And so you need to go out there and round up the vote.

I want to thank you for what you have done in the political process. But, as importantly now, I want to thank you for what you're going to do -- which is to turn out that vote and make sure this good slate of candidates win on November the 5th. (Applause.)

And there's a reason, there's a reason here in South Carolina. You need a governor who's willing to change the tone of this state. You know, there's just too much partisan bickering that goes on in the Statehouse. You need somebody who is going to rise above it all, somebody who doesn't need a poll or a focus group to tell him how to think, somebody who stands on principle. (Applause.) Somebody that's going to be the governor of everybody when he wins. And that person is Mark Sanford. (Applause.)

I appreciate his commitment to education. When I was the governor of Texas, I used to tell them that education is to a state what national defense is to the federal government. It's by far the most important priority of any governor. That is, educating every child. Mark and I share a philosophy. It's a philosophy that's going to be good for South Carolina when he wins. It's a philosophy that starts with this concept: Every child can learn.

You see -- and I mean every child. Not just those who live in nice, suburban districts -- every child. If you believe that, it's historic for educational excellence for every single child. We've got to have you a governor who's willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you lower the bar, if you believe certain children can't learn, that's what's going to happen.

And so you've got to start with a governor who's optimistic and bold in his vision about every child being able to learn. That's how Mark thinks. But you've also got to have a governor who's willing to challenge the bureaucracy and trust the local people to chart the path to excellence for every child.

We believe in local control of schools. (Applause.) This year, we're going to be sending $600 million of federal money to help South Carolina run its schools. But, for the first time, thanks to the work of Lindsey Graham in the United States Congress, and the other Congressmen here, Henry and Joe, we're starting to ask this question: What are the results? See, if you believe every child can learn, then you want to know whether every child is learning. If you believe every child can learn to read, then it seems to make sense to ask the question, is it happening? Are the schools in South Carolina meeting the objective to teach every single child, not just a few -- every child how to read? So you're asking the question for the first time.

You've got to have a governor who's willing to hold people to account, who's willing not to be captured by special interest. The only interest Mark cares about is the children. That's his special interest. You've got to be willing to have high standards, local control of schools, and you've got to know -- you've got to know whether or not children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. (Applause.) And then once you know, you must have a governor who's willing to praise those hardworking teachers for being successful. And for those of you who teach, thanks for what you're doing. (Applause.)

But if you believe every child can learn, and you find children trapped in schools which will not teach and will not change, for the good of South Carolina, you better have a governor who's willing to challenge the status quo -- and that governor is going to be Mark Sanford. (Applause.)

And I look forward to working with Mark when we continue to work on welfare reform. Welfare reform is an important issue. Because if a person gets trapped in the government's cycle, they won't be able to realize their human worth. People can find dignity through work. So one of the things I'm going to do when I'm the President if they reauthorize welfare is to work with Mark Sanford, to make sure that there's training programs available, so a man or a woman can find work, can be able to see the dignity of work. He understands that. He understands that if you're trapped in government, it will sap your soul and drain your spirit.

Everybody counts in the state of South Carolina. And so when we work on important issues that deal with the human condition, we've got to work in a way that understands human dignity is found by empowering each and every person. Mark Sanford understands that clearly.

No, he's going to make you a good governor. I urge you to -- as they're coming down the pike, to support this good candidate and his family with your vote, with your energy, with your enthusiasm and, sure enough, on election day, you will have Mark Sanford as your governor. (Applause.)

And I'm looking forward to working with Lindsey Graham. And I don't need a senator from South Carolina where I've got to worry about where he lights on any issue. (Laughter.) You don't need a senator from your state that kind of is for one thing one day and the heat gets on and changes his position the next day. That's not going to serve your state well. It's certainly going to make it harder to get an agenda through that will make America safer, stronger and better. And, after all, that's what we need to do, to work together to make America a safer country and a stronger country and a better country.

When it comes to making America a stronger country, that starts with making sure our economy continues to expand. My attitude is, any time somebody who wants to work and can't find a job -- says we've got a problem. My attitude is, is that we want to help people put food on the table. If people are struggling to get ahead, we've got to do everything we can in Washington, D.C. to expand the job base.

And it starts with understanding how our economy works. The page of the textbook that we have read says this: If you let a person keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a service. And in the marketplace, when somebody demands a good or a service, somebody is going to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work. The tax relief plan that Lindsey Graham supported came at the right time in American economic history. (Applause.)

Over the next 10 years, that tax relief plan will put about $14.9 billion in the pockets of South Carolinian citizens. That's your money to begin with, by the way. Listen carefully to the rhetoric of these candidates when they start saying, oh, we're going to spend the government's money. They seem to forget whose money they're spending in Washington, D.C. You listen carefully to the rhetoric of the candidates. You want you a candidate who understands whose money we've got in Washington, D.C. And when you have more of your own money -- not the government's money, but your money -- in your pocket, it means it's more likely somebody is South Carolina is going to find work.

But we've got a problem. See, the Senate, on the one hand, giveth, and on the other hand, taketh away. And the tax relief we plan -- passed is not permanent, it's temporary. Which means some in Washington, D.C. want that $15 billion, more or less, of tax relief, of your money, to go to the government coffers. And that would be bad for the economy. And that would be bad for South Carolina.

The death tax is bad. The marriage penalty is bad. The child credit is good. Reducing income tax rates helps small business. For the sake of economic vitality, you need to have a United States senator who will make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) And that's Lindsey Graham.

He also understands the quality of life for our seniors is important. Medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't. Medicine is modern, and Medicare is stuck. For the sake of our seniors, elect a senator who will work with me to make sure Medicare is modern and our seniors have got a prescription drug plan. (Applause.)

A stronger America is an America who's got a good federal bench. One of my jobs is to nominate good, solid citizens, good lawyers, good jurists to our benches. It's a solemn obligation of the President. Yet, the way this Senate is structured, they have done a lousy job. (Applause.)

The percentage of our judges which have been approved is the lowest in a long time. And when my judges have made it to the floor, they have been -- their records have been distorted because of petty politics, special interest politics in Washington, D.C.

I named a good man named Dennis Shedd to represent the 4th Circuit Court. (Applause.) He's a good jurist. For 17 months, he's still waiting for a vote. The two senators from South Carolina supported him; both Republican and Democrat senators supported him. For 17 months, he's been able to get -- unable to get his hearing in the Senate, and we've got a vacancy problem. We've got a vacancy problem because the Senate is playing too much politics. We've got a vacancy problem because they don't like it that I'm nominating good people who are going to strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench from which to legislate. (Applause.) We've got a vacancy problem on the federal court, and one way to solve that is to put Lindsey Graham into the United States Senate. (Applause.)

We've got problems with our economy -- it's not growing as robust. And I can promise you I'm going to work with Senator Graham to do everything to make sure people find work; and work with Senator Graham to make sure the people have got a good health care system; work with Senator Graham to make sure the judiciary is strong. And I intend to work with Senator Graham on the most pressing problem facing us, and that's our security of our homeland.

You've just got to understand there's an enemy out there that hates America because of what we love. We love freedom. We love the fact that people can worship freely in America. We love our free press. We love every aspect of our freedom, and we're not changing. We're not backing down, and the enemy can't stand that. (Applause.)

The more we love, the more they hate. So our most important job is to protect the American people from further harm, from further attack. And they're out there. People in Australia, many of them grieve now because they're just not -- cold-blooded killers hit them in Bali. You may remember that. That's all part of this campaign to terrorize the free world, to try to get us to retreat, forget what we're made out of. They don't understand America. They just don't understand us.

They must have thought after September the 11th, 2001, we'd file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) That's not us. See, when it comes to the defense of our freedom, when it comes to the defense of our people, when it comes to protecting innocent life, we value innocent life. Every life matters in America. To these killers, no life matters. (Applause.)

When it comes to protecting this country, we'll be plenty tough. When it comes to protecting this country, we've also got to be realistic about the new -- the new world we're in. Prior to September the 11th, 2001, we used to think two oceans could protect us from harm. I remember thinking about conflicts and realizing our country could pick and choose whether or not we wanted to participate in the conflict, but never really worried about whether or not the conflict would hurt us here at home. For a long time, our country felt like oceans could keep us immune from personal attack, and people wouldn't suffer here at home. We learned a horrible lesson, that in the new wars of the 21st century, we're the battleground -- we're one of the battlegrounds.

And that's why I've asked our country to think seriously about Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction -- he made that promise to the world. He's hiding, he's deceiving, he's lying about whether he has them or not. Not only does he have them, he used them. He used them against people in his neighborhood. He used them against his own people. This is a man who has lied about whether or not he possesses weapons of mass destruction, a man who uses them, a man who hates America, a man who hates our friends. He's a threat to peace.

The United Nations decided they were going to deal with Saddam a while ago. Sixteen resolutions have been passed in the United Nations, resolution after resolution after resolution, calling him to account. And he's ignored them. So I made a decision on behalf of our country that I would go to that body and, for the sake of peace, remind them they have an obligation to honor those resolutions, to do something about them. I made the case that you have a choice, United Nations, to keep the peace by showing some backbone -- you can be the United Nations or the League of Nations, it's your choice. (Applause.)

And my message to Saddam Hussein is clear, as well: You've said you would disarm. For the sake of peace, you said you would get rid of the weapons of mass destruction. It's your choice to make. And so we're working with the international community, reminding Saddam Hussein of his obligations. But I want you all to know, for the sake of peace, for the sake of the security of the United States and our friends and allies, if the United Nations won't deal with him, if he refuses to hear the call for peace, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)

As we're clear-eyed about the threats we face overseas, we must be clear-eyed about the threats at home, as well. There's a lot of good people working hard to protect you. We're now on alert. We understand the new reality. There's people at the federal level and the state level and the local level working a lot of long hours to chase down any lead, any hint. Any time we think somebody is thinking about doing something to America we're responding. We're disrupting, we're denying, we're making sure we fulfill our solemn obligations to protect you.

But there's more we can do. And so that's why I went to the United States Congress and asked them to pass a department of homeland security. You see, there's over 100 agencies involved with securing our homeland. They're kind of scattered around up there in Washington. It seemed to make sense to me to put them under one umbrella organization, so that the priority can be set, and if need be, cultures can be changed, so we can get people focused on doing the most important job they've got. And we're making progress.

Part of the progress was made because the House of Representatives -- Lindsey Graham was strong on this, and Joe and Henry voted with us -- was to create a department of homeland security that would give an administration the capacity to manage the department, to be able to protect you. It's stuck in the Senate. It's stuck in the Senate because the Senate wants to extract a price from the administration. Every President since John Kennedy has had the ability to act in a national security interest. He had the ability to suspend work rules if they got in the way of protecting the homeland, or got in the way of national security. But the Senate wants to take that away.

Here we are at war, and all of a sudden, they decide I shouldn't have the same authority as every President since John F. Kennedy. I'd have that authority for the Department of Agriculture. (Laughter.) But not for the department of homeland security.

Secondly, I need to be able to put the right people at the right place at the right time. We've got a border control issue. We need to know who's coming into our country. (Applause.) We need to know who's coming in and who's going out. We don't know what they're bringing in. Yet, on the border we've got good, hardworking people, fine people, working in three different agencies -- Border Patrol, INS, and Customs. Some sectors of the border they've got different strategies, they wear different uniforms. But yet, the work rules prevent us from coordinating them. For the sake of the national security, I need a senator who will join me in making sure that we can structure the agency so it works. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure the homeland is to chase these killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.) And that's what we're going to do. That's what we're -- yesterday I signed a defense bill, right there in the Rose Garden. It's the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. The reason why -- (applause) -- the reason why was because any time we put our troops into harm's way, we owe it to our troops and we owe it to the loved ones of the troops to make sure they've got the best training, the best possible pay, and the best equipment. (Applause.)

And our troops are good. They're really good. (Applause.) And the other message was, to our friend and foe, it doesn't matter how long it takes. It doesn't matter how long it takes to win this war on terror. There's no calendar on my desk, right there in the great Oval Office. There's not a calendar that says, you know, by such and such a date, we're hauling them home; by such and such a date, we're going to forget our obligations to our future; by such and such a date that we say, fine, let them sit out there. That's not the way America thinks.

It doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter how long it takes, this great country will defend our freedoms and defend our people. (Applause.) And we're making some pretty good progress. Remember the doctrine that said, either you're with us or you're with them, it still stands. And so we've got a lot of people working together to haul them in.

See, this isn't the kind of war that some of the old vets here are used to -- you destroy a bunch of tanks, and you make progress. That's not the kind of war this is. See, we fight these killers who hide in caves and send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. It's a new kind of army. That's why we've got to do a better job of cutting off their money, of sharing intelligence, of finding where they hide, of finding these kind of -- putting the sunlight on these dark corners of the world where they kind of slither around. That's what we got to do.

But we're making progress. And sometimes you'll see it, and sometimes you're just not going to see it. The other day one of them popped his head up -- bin al-Shebh -- he's no longer a problem. (Laughter and applause.) Slowly but surely, we're doing our duty to our country. Slowly but surely, we're hunting these killers down, one at a time.

And that's what we've got to do. But you know how I feel about this, that by being tough and strong and clear, by remembering that freedom is not American-blessed, it is God-given, it's universal, remembering that freedom is a part of what we think about -- (applause) -- we remember those values that make us a great nation, we will keep the peace. That the mission of this administration is to make the world more peaceful. That the reason we do what we do is because we believe in freedom and we believe in peace.

And it's going to happen. See, the enemy hit us; they didn't know who they were hitting. They hit the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. They gave us a chance, a chance we will seize, to not only protect America and keep America peaceful, but because we value all life, everybody counts, that we want there to be peace in parts of the world where people have quit on peace.

We have a chance to achieve the peace in the Middle East. We have a chance to achieve the peace in South Asia. By being strong and determined, and resolute in our mission, we can make the peace. (Applause.)

And here at home, we can make America a better place, too. See, out of the evil done to America can come some incredible good, incredible good. You just got to know -- and I know you know -- that there are pockets of despair and loneliness in our country. There are people who are hurt, people who are addicted, people who wonder when you say, American Dream -- they don't understand what that means.

My attitude is, so long as one of us hurts, we all hurt. It's an opportunity, though, however, for us to deal with these pockets of despair. Government can help -- we will; we'll worry about education, we'll worry about making sure the welfare system works. We have a faith-based initiative to encourage people of faith to love their neighbor. But government is limited in its capacity. It can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives.

That is done when a fellow American has heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself; find somebody who hurts, puts their arm around him and says, I love you, what can I do to help make your day. (Applause.)

Each of us -- each of us can help change America, one heart, one conscience, one soul at a time. Each of us can make a difference in making sure that the enemy hit us, but out of that evil and harm and hurt and tears can come a more compassionate and decent society. There's no question in my mind, no question in my mind, that this great country will lead the world to peace. And there's no question in my mind that this great country, the hope of this great country, the great promise of America can have -- can shine in every neighborhood and every home.

And do you know why? Because we're the greatest nation, full of the finest people on the face of this Earth. Thank you for coming. May God bless you all, and may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 12:50 P.M. EDT

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