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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 2, 2002
Remarks by the President in Atlanta, Georgia Welcome
Cobb Galleria Centre
12:18 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you, all. Glad I came. (Applause.) So you're probably wondering what Sonny -- I mean, what Saxby said. He said, keep it short, the Bull Dogs are playing. (Applause.)
Really what he was saying is, it's time to quit the sermons and start passing the plate. That means it's time to turn out the vote. (Applause.) I'm here in the great state of Georgia because I want all the citizens of this state to understand that we have a responsibility as Americans in a land of freedom to vote. See, we have a responsibility. If you believe in democracy, if you love freedom, then you have a responsibility to go to the polls next Tuesday. (Applause.)
And I'm not talking about just a handful of Georgia citizens, I mean everybody -- Republicans and Democrats and people who could care less about political parties need to do their duty. But when you get inside that box, I've got some suggestions. (Applause.)
For the good of Georgia and for the good of the country, Saxby Chambliss needs to be the U.S. Senator. (Applause.) For the good of the 11th, Phil Gingrey needs to be the U.S. Congressman. (Applause.) And for the good of the school children of Georgia and the taxpayers of Georgia, Sonny Perdue ought to be the next Governor. (Applause.)
I appreciate Sonny, I appreciate him being straightforward, down to earth, tells it like it is. That's why he's going to be a fine governor. I appreciate him being straightforward, down to earth, tells it like it is. That's why he's going to be a fine governor. And I appreciate the fact that he set education as a priority. That's why he's going to be a fine governor. I appreciate the fact that he has actually met a payroll before. (Laughter.) That's why he's going to be a fine governor. (Applause.)
No, I appreciate Sonny being here. And I appreciate the members of the mighty Georgia congressional delegation for being here as well: Mack Collins and Johnny Isakson, John Linder and Bob Barr. I appreciate their friendship, and I appreciate their service to our country. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the candidates who are here. I want to thank the grassroots activists who have come. And I want to thank you for accepting the fact that you drew the short straw today -- Laura is in another state. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I understand -- yes, she was here yesterday, he's right. You got stuck with me. But I can't tell you how proud I am of her. She is a big backer of Saxby and Sonny, everybody else running here in Georgia. She understands good government. How you get good government is you put good people in place. She sends her best, she sends her love. And I'm telling you, she's doing a great job as the First Lady of America. (Applause.)
I want to thank the grassroots activists who have worked so hard in the past for what you're about to do. Today and tomorrow and Monday and Tuesday, you need to do everything you can to turn out the vote. You need to go to your coffee shops and tell people they've got to vote, and talk up these good candidates. You need to go to your houses of worship, remind people they have an obligation to vote.
And don't be afraid of taking this message to discerning democrats. They want good government, they want the best candidates. And when they hear of the stories of these three candidates up there, they're going to support them. And don't be afraid of taking your message to independents. Take the message, work hard, turn out the vote, and when you do, we'll realize victory on November the 5th. (Applause.)
And there are reasons why, and there are important reasons why these good candidates need to win. We've got some hurdles to cross here in America. We've got some big challenges ahead of us. One of the biggest challenges we have is the fact that our economy is just kind of bumping along. It's not as strong as it should be.
There are people looking for work and they can't find a job -- which means we've got a problem. People want to put food on the table and they're unable to find work -- which means we've got to have people in the Senate and in the United States Congress who understand the role of government is not to create wealth, but to create an environment in which the small business can grow to be a big business. (Applause.)
Here's the page of the textbook we read from -- the economics textbook, that is. We strongly believe that if you let a person keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a service. (Applause.) And when they demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, somebody in Georgia and around America is more likely to find work.
The best way to make sure people can find work is to let people keep more of their own money. And the best way to do that is to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
The thing I like about Saxby and about Phil is they understand up in Washington we're not spending the government's money. We're not giving you back the government's money -- it's the people's money. (Applause.)
No, there are some things we can do to work together to make the job base increase. We need to have us a terrorism insurance bill. That bill says that terrorists attack, we understand, we need the government to underwrite insurance so that big construction projects can get going forward, so our hard-hats can get back to work, so those hard-working Americans all across the country are able to put food on the table.
I look forward to working with them and the Congress to get a good bill out -- one, by the way, that rewards the hard-hats and not America's trial lawyers. (Applause.)
So long as this economy is bumping along and so long as people can't find work, you've just got to know we're going to be doing everything we can to create jobs. And I need people up in the United States Congress who will work with me to do just that. And the two best people to do just that is Saxby Chambliss for the Senate and Phil Gingrey for the United States House of Representatives. (Applause.)
We need people up there we can work together to make sure our education system is strong. I want to thank Saxby for his strong support, unwavering support for an education bill which is going to really help the schoolchildren of the state of Georgia. (Applause.) He, along with the other members up here on the stage, worked with me to get $1.2 billion of federal money for the schools of Georgia. That's a good sum of money for the people of Georgia.
But for the first time, we've got a new frame of mind when it comes to children, a frame of mind which shows that Saxby is an optimistic person about our future. See, it says, every child can learn. That's what we believe, every child can learn. We believe in high standards and high expectations. (Applause.) We believe strongly in challenging what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. We understand if you lower the bar, you're going to get lousy results.
In that bill we also understand that the people who care more about the children in Georgia are Georgian citizens, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., so we passed power out of Washington, we believe in local control of schools. (Applause.) But also in this bill, we finally started asking the question, when we spend that $1.2 billion here, are we getting our money's worth? If you believe every child can learn, then you want to know if every child is learning. If you believe every child can read, then you want to know.
And that's why for the first time in our nation's history, we're seeing a return for this money. Why don't you show us, show us whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And when we see they are, I promise you, we'll praise the teachers. And for those of you who are teachers out there, thank you for being involved in such a noble, important profession. (Applause.)
But it's also important to understand that if things aren't working, when we find children trapped in schools which won't teach and won't change, it's important to have people elected who are willing to challenge the status quo. No child, not one single child should be left behind in the state of Georgia. (Applause.)
I appreciate Saxby's strong support for the education bill, and his clear vision for how to improve education for every child, not just a few, but for every single child who lives in the great state of Georgia. I also look forward to working with Saxby and Phil on the health issue. We've got a problem in health.
One of the problems is, there's too many junk lawsuits, too many frivolous lawsuits which make it hard -- (applause) -- which make it hard for people to have access to the courts. If you've got junk lawsuits clogging up the courts, you can't get access to the courts. But as importantly, these frivolous lawsuits are running up the cost of medicine, and they're driving doctors out of the practice of medicine, which makes it harder for people to be able to be able to find a professional help they need. For the sake of good health care, for the sake of affordable and accessible health care, we need medical liability reform at the federal level. (Applause.)
And we need a Medicare system which works. Medicine is modern, it's evolving. Technology is changing medicine, new discoveries are changing medicine. But Medicare is not changing. It's stuck in the past. For the sake of fulfilling our promises to our seniors, we need a Medicare system which is modernized, and that means prescription drugs for every senior in America. And Saxby Chambliss and Phil Gingrey will help me deliver that promise to the seniors. (Applause.)
There's one other -- a lot of issues that are going to be important, and I need an ally there in the Senate. Saxby is an ally. Make no mistake about it, in this race, if you're interested in sending an ally to the President, that ally is Saxby Chambliss. (Applause.) It doesn't matter what they're putting on the TV screens. I know the definition of ally.
I need an ally in the Senate on judges. We've got a problem with our federal judges. The Senate has done a lousy job in confirming my judges. (Applause.) They have done such a lousy job that there are too many vacancies around the country. Vacancies on the federal benches mean people are denied justice. And that's not right. Part of the problem is, there's just too much bickering, too much ugly politics. Part of the problem is, they don't like the nature of the people I'm nominating.
See, the kind of people I've put up there are honest, honorable people, who will not use the bench from which to legislate, but will use the bench from which to strictly interpret the Constitution. (Applause.) If the people of Georgia are interested in a sound judiciary, they need to send Saxby Chambliss to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
There's a lot of issues we'll work on together, but no bigger issue than protecting the American people from attack. That's still an issue because there's still an enemy lurking around which hates America. And they hate us for what we love. We love freedom, and we're not changing. (Applause.) We love the fact that people can worship an Almighty God freely in America. (Applause.) We love every aspect about freedom. And o long as we hold freedom dear, there's an enemy lurking around out there which will try to cause further harm on the American people -- that's just the way it is. That's the clear reality we face.
So we have an awesome responsibility to do everything we can to protect you. You need to know there's a lot of really good people at the federal, state and local level working hard to protect you -- running down every hint, every idea. Any time we get a whisper that somebody is thinking about doing something or talking about doing something to the American people, we're moving on it. We're disrupting, we're denying. We understand the stakes.
But we can do a better job of protecting the American people. We can do a better job by creating a Department of Homeland Security. (Applause.) One which needs to be set up correctly so that it can function properly on behalf of the American people. As I was beginning to set up the Department of Homeland Security I knew one person I could turn to for good advice, somebody whose judgment I could trust, somebody from the state of Georgia who has a good vision, somebody who was put in a position as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security -- and that person I turned to for advice was Saxby Chambliss. (Applause.)
And we got a good bill out of the House of Representatives -- but they can't get it out of the Senate. It's stuck in the Senate. Here we are with a threat to the United States people and we can't get us a homeland security bill. And the reason why is some in the Senate wanted to extract too high a price from this President and future Presidents.
They asked me to give up a power Presidents have had for 40 years, since John Kennedy was the President -- and that is the ability to suspend collective bargaining rules in any department in the federal government when national security is at stake. In other words, I need to be able to suspend rules that prevents us from doing everything in our power to protect you. If some of the senators had their way, these rules would apply to the Department of Agriculture, but not to the homeland security department. These rules would be okay for a department that deals with farmers, but not with a department dealing with your national security.
I need to have the ability to put the right people at the right place at the right time to protect the American people, and Saxby Chambliss understands that. (Applause.) I sure would like to have a Senator Chambliss, I wouldn't have to be worried about his vote. (Applause.) I wouldn't have to be worried about him being captured by special interest in Washington, D.C. The only interest he has in mind is the interest I have in mind, which is the protection of the American people. (Applause.)
And the best way to protect the American people is to chase these killers down one at a time and bring them to justice, which is what we're going to do. (Applause.) Therapy isn't going to work on them. (Laughter.)
I asked the Congress to join me in passing the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President, and they did. And it sends two messages, two messages I want to share with you today. 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.)
And, secondly, we're in this deal for the long haul. That increase in defense spending should say to friend and foe alike, there's no quit in the American people. When it comes to the defense of our freedom, there's no artificial time, there's no calendar on my desk that says, well, time's up. Time isn't up until the United States is secure and we have done our duty to future generations of Americans by defeating the agents of terror. (Applause.)
This is a different kind of war. In the old days you used to say, well, you destroyed so many tanks or airplanes -- we're making progress. That's not the way this war is conducted. They don't have tanks. They've got caves and they've got suiciders. And they're willing to send youngsters to their suicidal death. These people hijacked a great religion to murder in the name of that religion.
So we've just got to hunt them down. There's no cave dark enough, deep enough; there's no corner of the world shady enough for the long arm of justice of the United States and our friends and allies. You've got to understand, the doctrine that which says either you're with us or with the enemy, it still stands. (Applause.)
Slowly but surely, we're dismantling them. We've got them on the run and we're going to keep them on the run. This is a different kind of world we live in. September the 11th, 2001 changed the stakes, and it's important for all of us in America to understand that. It's important for us to see the world the way it is, not the way we hope it would be.
It used to be that oceans could protect us from threats, that two vast oceans could protect the American people from a threat which was gathering abroad. And we really had the luxury, if you think about it, for picking and choosing if we were to be involved or not. September 11th changed that. All of a sudden, the battlefield is here at home.
And, therefore, we must deal with each threat seriously. We must see threats as they are. And that's why I brought up the cause to Congress and the American people and the international community to fully debate the issue of Saddam Hussein. He's a threat to America, he's a threat to our close friends and allies. He's a man who has said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them. He's a man who at one time, we know for certain, was close to having a nuclear weapon. We don't know how close he is today, because he shut down his country.
You know, not only does he have weapons of mass destruction, but, incredibly enough, he has used weapons of mass destruction. And he's used weapons of mass destruction not only against people in his neighborhood, but he's used them against his own people. He hates America. He can't stand what we stand for. He's had connections with shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda. He would like nothing more than to use an al Qaeda type network, if not al Qaeda itself, to be the advanced army to utilize his training and his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction on his most hated enemy, the American people.
Therefore, I felt it was important for us to understand the nature of the threat, to realize the changing circumstances of the American vulnerability requires us to be steadfast and strong when it comes to dealing with potential threats to the American people. It's my most important job.
I went to the United Nations because I wanted to make it clear to the United Nations that, one, we want them to succeed, we want them to be an effective organization in helping us keep the peace, we want them to have backbone. We want them to have the capacity to say to somebody who 16 times has defied resolution after resolution after resolution: enough is enough. (Applause.)
The message to that august body is: be effective; be the United Nations, not the League of Nations. (Applause.) The Congress spoke with one voice, and here's what we said to the world: if the United Nations does not have the backbone to disarm Saddam Hussein like they said he should do, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm like he said he would, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of a secure future, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
We have an obligation, all of us elected to office have an obligation to protect the American people. But you know what I believe? I believe out of the evil done to America is going to come some great good, because we're a great country. I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the enemy when they hit us. They probably assumed that materialism was the national religion; that we were so materialistic, that we were self-absorbed and selfish, that after the attacks America would take a step back and maybe file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.)
They don't understand a country like we do. I believe that by being steadfast and strong, by remembering that this nation never conquers, but we liberate -- by remembering that example of Afghanistan when our troops went in to liberate people, that young girls for the first time went to school thanks to the United States and our friends and allies -- (applause) -- by being diligent in our pursuit of terror, the pursuit of the terrorists, and remembering that freedom is not an American gift to the world, it is God-given, holding those values dear, that we can achieve peace.
That we can achieve peace not only for America and Americans, but we can achieve peace in parts of the world which have quit on peace. No, I believe out of the evil done to America is going to come a peaceful world. And I know out of the evil done here at home can come a better world for all Americans. Any time anybody hurts, we all hurt. And we've got to remember, amongst the plenty, there are pockets of despair and loneliness. Some communities, you say, American Dream, and people go, what the heck are you talking about, American Dream, I don't understand that.
And, therefore, we must do everything we can at the government level to pass laws necessary to help people help themselves, to make society work better. I talked about some today, education and health. But we've got to remember that government can pass out money, but it can't put hope in people's hearts. It can't put a sense of purpose in people's lives. It can't heal the hurt that we find in many of our neighborhoods. (Applause.)
A better America happens when we save souls, one person at a time. And that happens when an American puts their arm around somebody who needs help, and says, I love you, what can I do to help you? If you want to fight evil, love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)
No, the spirit of America is strong, it's alive, and it's well. The spirit talks about making sure that democracy flourishes by going to do your duty. It talks about the willingness to defend freedom, no matter the cost. It also talks about serving something greater than yourself to make America the greatest country it can possibly be.
Today I met Frances Grove, of the Literacy Volunteers of America. She came out to Air Force One to say hello, probably because she's part of my mother's army to fight illiteracy. But, nevertheless, she's an example of what I'm talking about. See, each of us can make a difference to make sure that the evil done to America is -- doesn't stand. Each of us can help, by helping people in need. It doesn't matter whether you work with Frances Grove or mentor a child or run a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, it doesn't matter whether you feed the homeless or make sure people who are -- people are -- people who have hurt find love. That's what matters in life, and that's what's happening.
Perhaps the most vivid example of the strength of the American spirit, of what I'm talking about, took place on Flight 93. You remember that horrible day, when the people were flying across the country. They learned the plane they were on was going to be used as a weapon. They told their loved ones goodbye. History will show they said a prayer. One guy said, let's roll. They took the plane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves. They represented the absolute strength of the American spirit.
I'm going to tell you this: out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. I can say that with certainty. It's going to be a peaceful world, a better world. (Applause.) I say it with certainty because I understand the American spirit is alive and well. And I also understand that this country is the greatest country, full of the finest, most decent, compassionate people on the face of the earth.
I want to thank you for being a part of this great country. Thank you for doing your duty. May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 12:50 P.M. EST