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 Home > News & Policies > February 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 23, 2003

Remarks by the President in An Exchange of Toasts at the State Dinner for the Nation's Governors
State Dining Room

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8:03 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Laura and I really look forward to these yearly dinners with our nation's governors, and spouses. And we welcome you all back to the White House.

For those of you who are first-timers here as governors, we welcome you, as well. I'm particularly pleased that Lyle Lovett, from the great state of Texas, is here with us. We look forward to hearing you tonight, Lyle.

I also welcome former governors who serve in my Cabinet -- Tommy Thompson and Christie Todd Whitman, John Ashcroft are here. Tom Ridge is now a member of my Cabinet, he's not here. He'll still be invited to the Cabinet Room. (Laughter.)

Governors are strong leaders with a practical point of view, and I'm really grateful for my former fellow governors for serving their country. There are 25 new governors who are here. I know it's an exciting experience for you, to set an agenda and to put together a great team to solve problems for your state or your territory.

I loved being the governor of Texas. In my six years, I placed great value on the advice of fellow governors, and made many friendships which continue to this day. I've grown especially close to the Governor of Florida. (Laughter.) The man is like a brother to me. (Laughter.)

We each have a shared experience and we have shared responsibilities. We share the responsibility for protecting the homeland. We share the responsibility for encouraging economic growth and jobs. We share the responsibility for making sure every child learns and no child is left behind. We share the responsibility for expanding access to high-quality, affordable health care, and for helping our fellow citizens in need. And we'll meet these responsibilities together.

I'm honored to have you all here. I now ask you to join me in a toast. To the governors of the United States.

(A toast is offered.)

GOVERNOR PATTON: Mr. President, we're honored to be your guests tonight. We recognize, in the wake of the loss of the Columbia and your responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief, your time is especially valuable to the nation. That you and the First Lady have made such a special effort to welcome us this evening is, therefore, even more appreciated.

As your former colleagues and your closest partners in our federal-state partnership, we know that you bear great burdens in serving the nation and our people. As our nation confronts unprecedented challenges at home and abroad, from terrorism, which has, for the first time in our nation's history, reached across the oceans into our heartland, to deep uncertainties in our national and state economies, we know this gathering faces hope and risk of a scale none of could ever have anticipated. That imposes responsibilities of leadership on your shoulders that perhaps no President before you has borne.

So this evening, I want to offer a toast to you and to the First Lady -- and we salute you, Mr. President. If I could have my toast here -- we salute you, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush, for the grace and strength that you've brought to us and to the nation in these past few weeks. For the leadership you have both demonstrated to guide us out of our sorrows and fears. And for binding us together for the task we face tomorrow.

The future of our security and economy, the foundations of our global leadership rest in no small part on your determined commitment to achieve not just a global alliance against terrorism, but also a lifting of our spirits as Americans. Tonight we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, beside you and behind you. Go well in bravery. Our best to you, Mr. President and to Mrs. Bush.

(A toast is offered.)

END 8:08 P.M. EST