For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 3, 2002
Remarks by the President at Illinois Welcome
Illinois Police Academy
11:50 A.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming today. It's such an honor to be here and I'm glad I came. (Applause.) Jim said, if you come over you might be able to say hello to a few of my friends. (Laughter.)
I do have the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the wall of the Oval Office. I do so because I think he was our country's greatest President. (Applause.) I think he was our country's greatest President because he understood that a united country is one that can achieve big things. He had great faith in the American people. He was willing to stand by principle. He understood his duty to future generations of Americans. And that's what I'm here to talk about today, the American spirit.
The American spirit is alive and well in America. It's the spirit that says we're willing to defend our freedom no matter what the cost. (Applause.) The American spirit says that we must serve something greater than ourselves. The American spirit says that if you love democracy you've got to go to the polls. (Applause.) The American spirit says that there's obligations to our citizens -- by our citizens to our country. And one of the most solemn obligations is to exercise your right as a citizens in the United States to vote. I'm coming to Illinois to make sure that all people hear this message, Republicans and Democrats, people who could care less about political parties. But when you get in that poll I've got a suggestion for you. (Laughter and applause.)
For the sake of Illinois, for the sake of this congressional district, for the sake of the country, put John Shimkus back in the United States Congress. (Applause.) I appreciate Karen and the Shimkus family; I appreciate their hard work on John's behalf. You drew the short straw today, speaking about wives. Pretty soon after a couple of stops I'll be joining up with Laura in South Dakota. (Applause.) Shimkus really did want Laura as the speaker. (Laughter.) Wise man. (Laughter.) But she sends her best, she sends our love to our friends here in Illinois. Like me, she urges you to support this good man for the United States Congress. (Applause.)
And while you're in that voting booth, support a good man for governor. His name is Jim Ryan. (Applause.) He's got a record you can be proud of. You've seen him in action; you know he can do the job. A lot of folks around this state have written him off. I think they spoke a little too soon, don't you (Applause.)
And I'm proud to say I'm for Jim Durkin for the United States Senate. (Applause.) There's a lot of reasons why we need Jim in the Senate, but let me give you one good reason. I need somebody to help me fulfill one of my most awesome responsibilities, which is to pick good judges for our federal benches. (Applause.) The current Senate has done a lousy job on the judges. We've got a vacancy crisis in America, which means Americans aren't getting justice. And that's not right. We have a vacancy crisis because they won't give a lot of my nominees a fair hearing. They won't give them a vote. They don't like the fact that I'm naming good, honorable people who will not use the bench from which to legislate, but will use the bench to strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States. (Applause.)
I'm also proud to be up here with Joe Birkett, who's running for the attorney general; Kristine Cohen for secretary of state; Thomas Ramsdell for comptroller; and Judy Topinka to be reelected for your treasurer. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friends, Jim and Brenda Edgar, for coming today. (Applause.) They're a class act. (Applause.) I'm proud to call him friend, I've known him for quite a while. I was going to say, my old friend, but it might offend him. (Laughter.) I also appreciate the Springfield High Marching Jazz Band for being here today. (Applause.) And the Debby Ross Band for coming, too. (Applause.)
If you're 18 years old, you've got to vote. (Applause.) You make sure you go vote. And take my advice when you're in there. (Laughter.)
I want to thank you all very much for -- I want to thank you so much for being involved in the political process. See, grassroots politics decides who wins and who loses. I believe that. So much of this stuff is done on TV and that's part of the process, but the person who's going to win, particularly in this race, is the one who can get their friends to the polls. So my call to you today is, take time out of your day tomorrow, this afternoon, and on election day, and get somebody to go to the polls with you. If you voted absentee, get somebody to go to the polls on election day on your behalf. (Laughter.) Don't be afraid of getting -- of talking to Democrats. Democrats know a good congressman when they see one. John Shimkus has done a good job in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Make sure you don't forget to talk to independents. They care about good government. My point to you is, is turn out the vote. Do whatever it takes. Get on the phones, grab your neighbor, do whatever it takes to get people to the polls, because we're supporting a good slate of candidates for the different offices for which they're running. These are good people and they need our help and they deserve our support. (Applause.)
Let me talk about John a little bit. First of all, he's done in office what he said he would do. That's refreshing. He's a good, honest man. He's a hardworking fellow. He's represented this district with class and distinction. He's an ally of mine, I can count on him. I don't need somebody from this district where I have to look over my shoulder, wondering where they're standing. I don't need somebody having to run a focus group decide whether or not the President's agenda makes any sense for the American people. (Applause.)
Not only has John done the job, not only do I call him friend, but it seems like it makes sense to me to send him back to the Congress so that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is from the state of Illinois. (Applause.) It makes practical sense to me. (Laughter.) It seems like it should make sense to people who live in this district to understand that Denny Hastert is not only good for Illinois, he's really good for the country, and his leadership has made an important difference. (Applause.)
I need John up there because we've got some big hurdles to cross here in America. We've got some issues that we've got to work together on. Got some problems to solve. One of the biggest problems we've got is there's some people in this country that can't find work, and that troubles me. Our economy is kind of bouncing along, it's not as good as it should be. It needs to be stronger, because any time somebody is looking for work and can't find a job means we've got a problem. I want people to be able to put food on the table. That's why it's so important to have members of Congress who understand the role of government -- it's not to create wealth, but an environment in which the small business can grow to be a big business; in which the entrepreneurial spirit of America can flourish. (Applause.)
John understands that one way to create an environment in which there's job growth is to understand how important taxes are in the equation for creating jobs. See, if you let people keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a service. And when they demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody is more likely to find a job in America. Tax relief is good for small businesses, it's good for consumers, and it's good for job creation in America. (Applause.)
Over the next 10 years, if these tax cuts are permanent, you'll get $81 billion of your own money to spend. (Applause.) That means jobs for the American people, that's what that means. And I want you to be wary; I've learned to decode some of the talk in Washington, D.C. -- they say, let's revisit the tax relief. That means they're fixing to get in your pocket. That's what that means. (Laughter.) John Shimkus and I understand, for the sake of jobs, for the sake of small business growth, we need to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
I appreciated his help on getting a trade bill through the Congress. Trade is good for this part of the state. Trade means people are going to be able to find work. Trade means when we're selling those farm implement products overseas, somebody is going to be likely to have a job in this part of the world. Trade is good for job creation in America, and John Shimkus understands that. (Applause.)
Somebody told me Ray LaHood is here. I hope he is. He's a fine Congressman from up the next district over. Where is Big Ray? There he is. He knows what I'm talking about. (Applause.) He understands what trade means. It also is good for your farmers and your ranchers. When you're good at something you want to be able to sell it. We're really good at growing crops. We're really good at raising cows and hogs and chickens, and we need to be selling our food all across the world. And that's what the trade bill will enable us to do. (Applause.)
No, there's a lot of things we can do together. One thing John did was join me in helping solve -- we had a confidence problem. See, we were in recession, and then the enemy hit us, and that hurt. And then we had some of our citizens forget what it means to be responsible. They thought they could fudge the numbers on these corporate ledgers. They thought they could hide the truth. They thought it was okay not to be responsible in their positions of authority. I proposed a bill, John supported me strongly on it, that now says to those kinds of people in America, we're going to hold you responsible. You need to be responsible to your employees and your shareholders. (Applause.)
No, there's a lot of work we can do to make sure people get back to work. I'm not going to pay attention to the numbers; what I'm going to pay attention to is whether or not the human being is working. That's what I care about. And so long as somebody is struggling for a job, you can rest assured we're going to be doing everything we can to grow our economy.
John and I have worked together on some other key issues, one of which is to make sure every child gets educated. (Applause.) We passed a really good piece of legislation. I want to describe it to you right quick because it shows you his mind, his philosophy. It says, we believe every child can learn. See, we believe we want to set high standards and high expectations. We're going to challenge what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. And we also believe that the best way to achieve excellence for every child is to pass power out of Washington and trust the local folks. We believe in local control of schools. (Applause.)
But thanks to John's hard work, among others, we were able to get $1.7 billion of federal money for the Illinois schools. And that's important. But also what's important is, for the first time we're asking the question whether or not the money is being well-spent. (Applause.) It's a fundamental change in attitude coming out of Washington, D.C. See, we now believe every child can learn; therefore, we want to know if every child is learning to read and write and add and subtract. For the first time, we're saying, why don't you show us whether or not the schools are working. We want every child to learn, we can believe every child can learn, so show us.
And when we find success, we'll praise the teachers. And I bet there some teachers here, and we want to thank you for your hard work. (Applause.) But when we find children trapped in schools which won't teach and which won't change, for the good of Illinois, for the good of America, we're going to demand something else happens. Because no child should be left behind in America. (Applause.)
There's a lot of issues we can work on together. One of the big issues that we need to work on is to make sure the Medicare system works. Medicine has changed. Medicine is becoming modern. Technology is changing medicine; new discoveries are changing how we cure people. But Medicare is stuck in the past. See, medicine is changing for the better, and Medicare won't change at all. Therefore, I need somebody in Congress like John Shimkus who will join me in modernizing Medicare, which means prescription drug benefits for our seniors. (Applause.)
There's a lot of things we can do, working together, to make sure that America is a better place for everybody. But I need him in the Congress, as well, to work on the biggest issue which we face, which is to protect you. Homeland security is the biggest issue that this next Congress and Presidents down the road will face. (Applause.)
And the reason why I say that is because there's still an enemy out there which hates America. They just are. They can't stand, they cannot stand what we believe in. They hate the fact that we love freedom. (Applause.) We love the fact that in this great country you can worship an Almighty any way you see fit. We love that. (Applause.) We love the fact we have free elections, we have a free press. We love every single aspect of freedom, and we're not going to change. (Applause.)
And so long as that enemy is out there threatening the homeland, we need to protect you. And we've got a lot of good people working overtime to do so. We've got people at the federal level, and at the state level and at the local level, doing everything we can to run down any hint, any idea that somebody is thinking about hurting America -- we're chasing it down. We're denying, we're disrupting. But I think we can do a better job on your behalf. And that's why I went to the United States Congress and asked them to join me in the creation of a new department of homeland security, so we can better coordinate all the activities that are taking place at the federal level; so we can change culture, if need be, so that people know that the number one priority is your protection; so there's no doubt in anybody's mind who are working on your behalf that this is the most important job we have.
Thanks to John and members of the United States House of Representatives, we got a good bill. The problem is it's stuck in the United States Senate. It's stuck because they want to take away power from the President, and here's the power they want to take away. Presidents have had the ability since John F. Kennedy was the President to suspend collective bargaining rules in any department of government to make sure that -- when the national security is at stake -- to make sure that we're able to do our job. See, I need to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect you. Certain work rules prevent that from happening. And the Senate wants to keep those work rules in place.
To show you how short-sighted they are, as far as I'm concerned, I would have the ability to suspend certain rules in the Department of Agriculture; yet at a time of war, I would not have that ability for the homeland security department. And that doesn't make sense. And I'm here to tell you, I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United States Senate. (Applause.) We can't let the special interests of Washington prevent us from doing what is necessary to protect the biggest interest we have, which is the American people. (Applause.)
But the best way to secure the homeland is to chase these killers down, one at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.) And therapy won't work. (Laughter.) And we're making progress. See, I asked our Congress to support me on the biggest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so because any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best training, the best pay, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)
We're also sending an important message to friend and foe alike, we're in this deal for the long haul. There's no quit in America when it comes to the defense of our freedom. We understand our obligations. We understand our duty to future generations of Americans. No matter how long it takes, no matter how long the -- how much the cost, we will defend the freedoms of the United States of America. (Applause.)
We're making some pretty good progress. Slowly but surely, we're hauling them in. See, this is a different kind of battle we face. In the old days you could destroy airplanes and ships and tanks, and you know you're making progress. These people don't have that kind of equipment. They hide in caves; they send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. Therefore, it's important to make sure that doctrine that says, either you're with us or you're with the enemy, still stands. And the doctrine still stands. (Applause.)
We've hauled in a couple of thousand of them. And like number weren't as lucky. In either case, in either category, they're not a problem to the American people. We're doing our job.
It's important for us to be realistic about the threats we face. Some would like to see the world the way they would hope it would be. You can't have that in your President or elected members of Congress. You've got to see the world the way it really is. And after September the 11th, 2001, after September the 11th, 2001, the world changed. It used to be that oceans could protect us from harm. We're in a different world now; there's a new reality that we have to deal with. Some may not like it, but you've got to deal with it in order to do the most solemn job you have, which is to protect the American people.
The reason I brought up the threat from Iraq is because I understand the new realities. I see the world the way it is. Saddam Hussein is a threat to America. He's a threat to our friends. He's a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, yet he has them. He's a man that not only has weapons of mass destruction, he's used them. He's used them in his neighborhood; he's used them on his own people. He can't stand America, he can't stand our friends and allies. (Audience interruption.) He is a man who would likely -- he is a man who would likely team up with al Qaeda. He could provide the arsenal for one of these shadowy terrorist networks. He would love to use somebody else to attack us, and not leave fingerprints behind.
So I went to the United Nations to say to that august body, why don't we join together and hold this man to account. Why don't we hold him to his word? Why don't you, instead of letting him defy you 16 times, why don't you hold Saddam Hussein to account and disarm him? (Applause.) The United Nations can show us whether it's the United Nations, or the League of Nations. Their choice to make.
And Saddam Hussein now has a choice to make. He said he would disarm, he said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction; now the time is coming close where he must do what he says he should do, is going to do. But I'm going to tell you all something. And the Congress spoke with one voice, loud and clear, that if the United Nations cannot fulfill its duty, if it doesn't have the backbone necessary to work together to keep the peace, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm, in the name of peace, in the name of freedom, the United States will lead a coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
I don't know what was going through the mind of the enemy when they hit us. They must have thought the national religion of America was materialism. They must have thought we were so self-centered and so shallow and so self-absorbed, that after the attacks of September the 11th we might take a step back and file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) They don't understand our character. They don't understand the nature of this country. They don't understand the fact that when somebody attacks us, when somebody tries to take away our freedom, that we're going to react, that we'll be strong and diligent and focused. They don't understand that out of the evil done to America can come some great good, because of the nature of our country.
I want you to understand that my vision is one of peace. I want the world to be peaceful, and I strongly believe that by being tough when we need to be tough, compassionate when we need to be compassionate, strong when we need to be strong, that we can not only make America a more peaceful place, we can bring peace to the world. (Applause.)
And here at home, we can be a better America. And that's important, that while we work hard to make our country more secure and more safe, that we can be a better country. You've got to understand in this world, in America, people hurt, people are lonely, people are addicted, people need help. John Shimkus and I and others in Congress will work to pass laws to help, but you've got to remember that government can hand out money, but it can't put hope in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. Hurt can be healed when a loving America puts their arm around somebody and says, I love you, what can I do to help you. If you want to join the war against evil, love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)
You can help in any kind of way. You can mentor a child; you can make sure your school system works well; you can feed the hungry; you can run a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop. There's all kinds of ways you can help. Today when I landed at your airport, I met the Swartz family -- Larry, Linda and Eric. They're involved with the Special Olympics. Eric is an athlete, and he's a spokesman for the Special Olympics. Larry volunteers as an assistant swim coach. Linda helps with the bowling tournaments. There are all kinds of ways. And they're here, by the way, with us. Where are the Swartzes? There they are. I'm honored you all are here. Thank you for coming. (Applause.)
There's all kinds of ways to help. You see, the spirit of America says that in order to be an American you've got to serve something greater than yourself in life. Perhaps the best example came on Flight 93. These are average citizens flying across the country. They learned the airplane they were on was going to be used as a weapon. They said good-bye to their loved ones. They said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll." And they took the plane into the ground, to serve something greater than themselves in life. (Applause.)
The American spirit is strong and alive. The enemy had no idea who they were hitting. Out of the evil done to America, I promise you is going to happen, will be a more peaceful world. And out of the evil done to America will be a better country, a more hopeful country, a more optimistic country for every citizen who lives here. Because this is the greatest nation, full of the most decent people on the face of the Earth.
I'm honored you're here. Thank you for coming. May God bless, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
END 12:20 P.M. CST