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 Home > News & Policies > November 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 2, 2002

Remarks by the President at Savannah, Georgia Welcome
Executive Aviation Hangar
Savannah International Airport
Garden City, Georgia

4:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. You all go ahead and be seated. So Saxby says to me, he says, thanks for coming, thanks for speaking, but don't go on too long, there's a football game on pretty soon. (Applause.) I want to thank you all for coming today. I'm here to remind you and our fellow citizens from Georgia and America that we have a duty. If you love freedom like I know you do, you have a duty to vote. If you're interested in making sure democracy is strong, you have a duty and an obligation as an American to go to the polls.

And I'm not just talking about those who call themselves Republicans, or Democrats. I'm talking about citizens who could care less about political parties. We all have a responsibility. But I've got some suggestions for you when you get inside the box. (Laughter.) What's best for Georgia and what is best for America is to send Saxby Chambliss to the U.S. Senate. (Applause.)

What's best for Georgia and what's best for this district is put Max Burns in the U.S. Congress. (Applause.) And what is best for the state of Georgia, for your budget, for your public schools, to put Sonny Perdue in as governor of the state of Georgia. (Applause.)

Sonny is a down-to-earth fellow. You don't have to worry about him getting any fancy airs when he becomes your governor. He's a fellow who's met a payroll. It seems to make sense to me to have somebody as governor who knows what it's like to meet a payroll, particularly if you're interested about people finding jobs. He's a person that understands the importance of infrastructure in Georgia, not only infrastructure for the big cities, but roads for those of you who live in rural and small town Georgia. He's a man who understands the most important priority for a state is the education of our children. There's no doubt in my mind Sonny Perdue is going to make a great governor for the people of Georgia. (Applause.)

I appreciate the members of the congressional delegation who are here. Charlie Norwood is here with us today, and, Charlie, thank you for your leadership and your friendship. (Applause.) And Congressman Jack Kingston is with us, as well. (Applause.) I met Jack's mother at the airport. She was down there at the foot of the stairs just as I came off the plane here. And I said, well, is Jack listening to you. She said, about half the time. (Laughter.) Kind of like me and my mother. (Laughter.)

Speaking about females with the last name of Bush, you drew the short straw today. See, I wasn't Saxby's first choice. He wanted Laura to be here. (Applause.) But she sends her best. She sends her best to the people of Georgia. Like me, she's urging you the go to the polls. Like me, she knows what's best for Georgia is that Saxby become the United States senator. She's out there campaigning today. She's campaigning hard. I believe she's in Minnesota, and I know I'm going to meet her tomorrow in South Dakota.

It's pretty ironic that she is the lead campaigner for my family. After all, when I married her she was a public school librarian. (Applause.) That in itself doesn't say much, except the truth is she didn't like politics, and she certainly didn't like politicians. But thankfully, she said yes when I asked her to marry me. And the American people now know why I did -- she's calm and steady during crisis; she's got a fabulous smile, great heart; she's got a vision where every child can learn to read in America. And she's doing a wonderful job as our First Lady. (Applause.)

I'm here, as well, because I want to make sure that Denny Hastert remains the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Applause.) And so, therefore, I'm a strong supporter of Max Burns, and I urge you to support Max come Tuesday. He'll make you a fine United States congressman. (Applause.) He's a proven leader, and he spent 20 years of his life in the classroom. That makes a lot of sense to have somebody in the Congress who's had the practical experience of being a teacher. I bet there's some good teachers here today. (Applause.) Teaching is a noble profession. It's an important profession. Why don't you send yourself a teacher up to Washington, D.C. to represent you in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

We've got another fellow here who's seeking the vote that I hope wins, and that's Calder Clay. Calder Clay is running a good campaign, and if you're living in his district, give him all your support. (Applause.)

Today I'm proud to be up here with Nancy Coverdell, the widow of our great friend, Paul Coverdell. She is a -- she's cool. (Laughter.) She's a great person. And with us, as well, is former Senator Mac Mattingly. And I'm honored that both of them have joined today to do what we need to do, which is to work hard to turn out the vote. I'm here not only to urge you to vote, I'm here to urge you to urge others to vote. If you're the grassroots types, people that understand politics, you know that turning to your neighbor and saying, let's go out and vote, is an important way to help these people get elected. You understand what I understand; coffee shop chatter is just as effective as all those endless ads you see on TV.

So when you go to your coffee shops, or your houses of worship over the next couple of days, or your community centers, tell your neighbors it's not only important to vote, but tell them to support these good candidates up here on the stage. And don't be afraid to talk to Democrats, by the way. There are a lot of Democrats in this part of the world that know the difference between a balanced budget and not. A lot of Democrats in this part of the world who want somebody who can stand strong for homeland security. There's a lot of good Democrats who understand that this President needs good support in Washington, D.C. And so over the next couple of days, I urge you to man the phones, to turn out the vote, to energize the grassroots, to get people to do their duty, to support these good candidates. You can make a difference come Tuesday with your active energy. (Applause.)

And there are some reasons. We've got some big hurdles to cross here in America. We've got some big challenges ahead of us. I need people with whom I can work in the Senate and Congress to meet those challenges. One of the big challenges we have is to make sure people can find work in America. Our economy is bumping along. Our economy isn't good enough, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, there's some positive signs, but too many people can't find work in America. That's how I gauge whether or not we're doing fine in the economy.

Anybody who wants to put food on the table and can't find a job, it seems to me we've got a problem. And therefore, we need people in the United States Congress who will work with me to expand the job base. And one of the best ways to expand the job base is understand how jobs are created. Small business creates 70 percent of the new jobs in America. Small business owners -- (applause) -- we've got to have plans and policies that encourage the growth of small business, but we've also got to understand this -- if you let a person keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand an additional good or a service. And when they demand a good or a service, in the marketplace somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work. That's why the tax relief plan that Saxby Chambliss supported came at the right time in American history. (Applause.)

That tax relief plan, if it's permanent, means $39 billion in your pocket over the next 10 years. After all, it's your money to begin with. It's not the government's money, it's your money. (Applause.) But there's an issue of whether or not that tax relief is going to go away. See, it's not permanent. I need people in the United States Congress, like the candidates up here on this stage, who will join me in making the tax cuts permanent. For the sake of jobs, for the sake of people finding work, we need to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

And let me give you fair warning, let me help you break the code of Washington, D.C. When you hear them say, oh, we might need to revisit the tax cuts, that means they're fixing to get in your pocket. That's what that means. We don't need people from this part of the state, or this part of the country who are going to get back in your pocket. We need people who understand the role of government is to create an environment in which small businesses can grow to big businesses, in which people can find work because of growth. (Applause.)

No, there's a lot of issues we're going to be working on. We need to continue working on education. We passed a good bill, and Saxby Chambliss was involved in the passage of that bill. You tell your neighbors that when it comes to passing good education reform legislation out of Washington, Saxby Chambliss took an active role. It says we trust the people of Georgia to chart the path for excellence for every child. See, we believe in local control of schools. It says we're going to have high standards for every child, all across the country. It says we believe every child can learn. It says we're going to spend some substantial money out of Washington, but in return for the money, we want to know whether or not every child is learning. We don't want children trapped in schools which won't teach and won't change. We want to make sure no child in the state of Georgia gets left behind. (Applause.)

I look forward to working with these members to make sure that health care works, particularly Medicare. Our medicine has changed for the better -- new technologies, new discoveries have made medicine modern. Medicare isn't modern. Medicare is stuck in the past. Medicare has become a political football. We need people in Congress who will work with us to make sure Medicare is modern. And a modern Medicare system means prescription drug benefits for our seniors. (Applause.)

I need people in the Senate with whom I can work to make sure our judiciary is full of judges who are honest and will not -- (applause.) Bunch up there running the Senate right now has done a lousy job when it comes to my nominees for the federal bench. (Applause.) I say lousy job because we've got a vacancy problem on our benches. All across America there's too many vacancies, which means you don't get the justice you deserve. They're playing politics with the judges. They don't like the kind of people I'm nominating. You see, I'm putting the ones up there that not only can do the job, but they're not going to use the bench from which to legislate, they're going to use the bench from which to strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution. (Applause.)

And make no mistake about it in this race, if you're interested in a judiciary which is going to work and represent your views, Saxby Chambliss is the right United States senator. (Applause.)

No, there's a lot of issues we can work on together. But there's no more important issue than your protection. That's the biggest issue we face in Washington, D.C., is to protect innocent life, is to protect you from an enemy which still lurks out there. And you've just got to know, they're there and they hate us because of what we love, and we love freedom. (Applause.) We love the fact that people can pray to an Almighty any way he or she sees fit. (Applause.) We love the freedom to speak our mind; we love a free press; we love every aspect of our freedom. And we're not going to change. (Applause.)

And that enemy has put us on alert. See, we now understand. And therefore, there's a lot of good people doing everything they can to protect you, at all levels of government -- the federal level and the state level and the local level. We've got people running down any hint. Any time we get any idea that somebody is thinking about doing something to America, we're moving on it. We're disrupting -- (applause) -- we're disrupting, we're denying, we're doing everything we can.

But I think we can do a better job of protecting you. That's why I suggested to the Congress that we come together to form a department of homeland security, one that will allow the agencies involved with securing the homeland -- like port security right over here -- to be able to better coordinate, to be able to better prioritize, and if need be, change cultures so that you've got everybody in the federal government and the state government and the local government working together.

And the House of Representatives responded. As a matter of fact, when it came time to create this department, and the ideas about the department, I turned to the man from Georgia, Saxby Chambliss, for ideas, because he understands the issue. (Applause.) After all, he is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Not only do I trust his judgment, but members of the Congress trust his judgment. And so we got us a good bill out of the House.

But it's stuck in the Senate. The Senate couldn't get the job done. And here's why. They wanted me to forfeit power which every President since John F. Kennedy has had. See, every President since Kennedy has had the capacity to suspend collective bargaining rules in any department of the federal government when our national security is at stake. In other words, if there's some work rules that prevent the homeland security department from doing its job, I would have the capacity, for the sake of national security, to suspend those rules. And some senators say, you can't have that power. See, there's too much special interest in Washington, trying to make the decisions on behalf of the American people.

Let me give you what would happen if this went through. I would have the capacity to suspend work rules in the Department of Agriculture for the sake of national security, but not in the department that is being created to secure you. It just doesn't make any sense. And therefore, I need a guy like Saxby Chambliss in the Senate who won't crater to the special interests in Washington, and join me in protecting the interests of the American people. (Applause.)

But the best way to protect America is to hunt these killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.) And that's exactly what we're going to do. We have no choice, see. History has called us into action. We love our freedoms, and we're not going to give in to these terrorists. We owe it to our children and our children's children. That's why I went to the United States Congress and asked them for the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was President. And I want to thank the members of Congress for agreeing to that request.

And the message is loud and clear: First, any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best training, the best pay, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) And secondly, here's the message to friend and foe alike with this defense bill: we're in this deal for the long haul. There's no quit in America. There's not a calendar in the Oval Office that says, by such and such a date, haul them in, Mr. President. That's not the way we think and that's certainly not the way I think. It doesn't matter how long it takes to hunt these killers down, we have an obligation to our future to secure freedom and to secure the country. (Applause.)

And we're making progress. This is a different kind of war. The old days you use to -- could measure the number of tanks destroyed or airplanes shot down or ships sunk and you say, gosh, you're making progress. These people don't have tanks, they don't have airplanes. They're cold-blooded killers who hide in caves and send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. That's the way they think and that's the way they fight, which means we've got to keep that coalition together.

So I'm here to tell you today, the doctrine which says, either you're with us or with the enemy, it still stands. (Applause.) We're on an international manhunt, one at a time. A couple of thousand have been hauled in; a couple of thousand met their fate a different way. They're not a problem. (Applause.) A lot of them met their fate a different way because they dared challenge the United States and the greatest military in the history of the world. (Applause.)

Slowly but surely, we're bringing them to justice. It's going to take a while, but this country understands the stakes. See, it all changed on September the 11th, 2001. It used to be that oceans could protect us. It used to be that if there was a threat somewhere overseas that we could determine whether or not we would deal with that threat, because we were pretty secure here at home. Just got to understand it's a different era. That's why it's essential we think -- we think about the world the way it is, not the way we would hope the world would be. My job is to be as realistic about the threats as possible and to deal with them. It's the job of senators and congressmen to be as realistic about the true threats we face and deal with them.

And therefore, I asked the country to debate an important issue, and that is Iraq and Saddam Hussein. I wanted there to be a honest and open debate in our Congress, reflecting the concerns of the American people. I wanted there to be a debate in international bodies, because I understand that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the American people, he's a threat to our friends, he's a threat to our allies. He said he would not have weapons of mass destruction. And after 11 years of deceit, he has them. He was close at one time to having a nuclear weapon. We don't know how close he is today, but a Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon is a grave, grave threat to America and our friends and allies.

He said he wouldn't have chemical weapons; he has them. But not only has he got them, I want you all to remember, he used them. He not only possesses, he has had a history of using them. And he's used them not only on his neighbors, but he's used them on his own people. This man is cold-blooded; he can't stand America; he can't stand our friends; he can't stand freedom.

And so I went to the United Nations and I reminded them, for 16 resolutions -- resolution after resolution after resolution -- Saddam Hussein has defied this international organization. And my point to the U.N. was, we want you to be effective. We want to be able to work with you to help keep the peace. We want you to be the United Nations, not the League of Nations. (Applause.) But if you're unable to act, if you're unable to have the backbone necessary to help us keep the peace by disarming Saddam Hussein, if you can't do it -- and if Saddam Hussein refuses to do it, then the United States, in the name of peace and in the name of freedom, will lead a coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)

I say that because I want the world to be peaceful. I want there to be peace here at home. I want there to be peace around the world. See, the evil ones hit us, and they've given us an opportunity to do some good. Out of the evil done to America will do good because we're a great nation, full of decent and honorable people. I truly believe that if we hold the line, that if we stay steadfast in routing out terror, that if we're diligent and are willing to lead, that if we remember our values and that freedom isn't an American-given value, it is a God-given value for everybody -- if we remember those values that make us unique, we're going to achieve peace. We can accomplish some real good out of the evil done to this country, not only abroad, but here at home, as well.

One of the things I believe is going to happen is that we will be a better America. Out of the evil done to America will come a more compassionate country. We've got to remember, in this land of plenty, there's a lot of people who hurt. People wonder whether or not the American Dream is meant for them. There's addiction and hopelessness and loneliness. And government can help solve those problems, and we're going to try to do so. But you've got to remember this -- even though government can hand out money, it can't put hope in people's hearts, or sense of purpose in people's lives.

The best way to help heal America, the best way to make sure good comes out of evil, is for our fellow Americans to put their arms around somebody who hurts and says, I love you, brother; or, I love you, sister. (Applause.)

And that's what's happening all across America. See, the American spirit is alive and well. It's the spirit that says when it comes to the defense of our freedom, we're plenty tough. It's also a spirit that says we're going to serve something greater than ourself in life; that part of being a patriot is to recognize service to your community is an integral part of being an American.

Today when I landed I met Sharon Seng, who represents the Girl Scouts. I didn't realize it, I now know it, the Girl Scouts were founded right here in Savannah, Georgia. (Applause.) that's part of the soldiers in the armies of compassion, she is. And so are you. If you mentor a child, you're part of the army of compassion. If you feed the hungry or the homeless, you're a member of the army of compassion. If you help a shut-in, if you're a Boy Scout leader, if you go over to the Boys and Girls Clubs, if you help change America, one heart, one soul at a time, you're a part of this great movement to make America a more compassionate place.

No, the American spirit is alive and well, best exemplified by what took place on the fateful day that changed our history, and that was on Flight 93. Citizens 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 good-bye over modern devices -- cell phones. They said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane into the ground to save lives. (Applause.)

The enemy didn't understand who they were hitting. They don't understand the country. The American spirit is strong. It's alive all throughout our land. People understand that serving this country by helping people in need is a part of the new patriotism, which allows me to boldly predict this: Out of the evil done to America is going to come a more peaceful world. Out of the evil done to America is going to come a more hopeful America. Because this is the greatest nation, full of the finest, most compassionate people on the face of this Earth.

Thank you for coming today. May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 4:40 P.M. EST