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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 31, 2004

President's Remarks in Canton, Ohio
Canton Memorial Civic Center
Canton, Ohio

11:04 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. I'm glad so many came out on a Saturday morning. I appreciate the warm welcome. I particularly thank those who are sitting behind me -- you've probably got the best view in the house. (Applause.)

We're on the Heart and Soul of America tour. I'm out asking for the vote. I'm out asking for your help. I want to serve this nation for four more years. (Applause.)

THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more Years! Four More Years!

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, there's going to be big differences in this campaign. You hear big differences on taxes, on how to win the war on terror. There seems to be a difference over the heart and soul of America. My opponents think you define the heart and soul of America in Hollywood.


THE PRESIDENT: The true heart and soul of America is found right here in Canton, Ohio. (Applause.)

Last night I was in Cleveland; we're heading to Cambridge; I'm heading to Pittsburgh today. We're taking this bus tour. I'm excited about the campaign. The crowds are big. The crowds are enthusiastic. With your help, Dick Cheney and I will win four more years. (Applause.)

I'm sorry Laura is not here.


THE PRESIDENT: That's generally the reaction. (Laughter.) It's kind of like, bring her on and you stay at home. (Laughter.) But she is a great First Lady. I am proud of her. (Applause.) Today, I'm going to talk about what I intend to do over the next four years, but perhaps the most important reason to put me back in is so that Laura will be First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)

I mentioned my running mate. I admit, he's not the prettiest on the ticket. (Laughter.) That's not why I picked him. (Applause.) I picked him because he's strong, he's steady and he gets the job done. (Applause.)

I want to thank my friend, Senator Voinovich. Put him back in there, will you, for the sake of Ohio and for the sake of America. (Applause.) He is a fabulous human being and a great United States senator. Every time I talk to him, he says, you be thinking about Ohio, Mr. President. I said, don't worry, Ohio is an important state, George. It's important for a lot of reasons. I carried it last time. I intend to work hard to carry it this time. (Applause.)

And if you want to know how you can help, go to That's where you get your marching orders. I want to thank Mike DeWine, the United States senator that serves with George Voinovich so well. (Applause.) I appreciate your governor, Bob Taft, joining us today. I'm proud he's joining me on the bus tour. (Applause.) I want to thank Congressman Ralph Regula, and Mary, for joining us. (Applause.) I'm proud to say hello to your mayor, Mayor Creighton, today when I came in. I appreciate the fact that Janet ran for office. She said, when you get up there, make sure you assure them that I'm going to fill the potholes. (Laughter.) I said, okay.

I want to thank all the other state and local officials. I'm proud that grassroots activists are here. Those are the people who put up the signs. Those are the people who make the phone calls. Those are the people who register the voters. Those are the people who tell Republican, Democrat and independent you have a duty in this country to vote. And those are the people, when they get people heading to the polls, are going to nudge them our way. (Applause.) Thanks for what you're doing.

Also, I'm proud that Chris Spielman is here. I'm glad that he is -- (applause.) Taking one look at him reminded me how I'm glad we're both on the same side. (Laughter.) He's a good man. I want to thank the McKinley Bulldog marching band. (Applause.)

Every incumbent who asks for your vote has to answer a central question, and that's: Why? Why? Why should the American people give me the great privilege of serving as your President for four more years? In the past few years, we've been through a lot together. Think about what we've been through. We've accomplished a great deal. We've done a lot together. But there's only one reason to look backward at the record, and that's to determine who best to lead the nation forward. (Applause.) I'm asking for your vote because so much is at stake. I'm asking for your vote because we have so much more to do together to move this country forward. (Applause.)

If the people give me four more years, this country will be safer. Our economy will be stronger. Our future will be brighter and better for every single citizen. (Applause.) From creating well-paying, good jobs; to improving schools; from fighting terror, to spreading peace and protecting the homeland; we have made much progress. And we will do more. (Applause.)

We have more to do to make America's public schools the centers of excellence we all know they can be so that no child is left behind in America. (Applause.) When we came to office three-and-a-half years ago, too many children were being shuffled from grade to grade, year after year without learning the basics. So we challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations. We raised the bar. We set high standards. We're focusing on results. We're empowering parents. We're making sure the local folks are in charge of their own public schools. (Applause.) Today, children across America are showing real progress, substantial progress in reading and math. When it comes to improving public schools, we are turning the corner, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)

We have more to do. The world we live in is changing. The jobs of the future will require greater knowledge and higher level skills. We will reform our high schools to make sure a high school diploma means something. (Applause.) We will expand our math and science education so young people can compete in the high tech world. We will expand the use of the Internet to bring high-level training into classrooms. With four more years, we will help a rising generation gain the skills and the confidence to achieve the American Dream. (Applause.)

We have more to do to make quality health care available and affordable. When we came to office too many older Americans couldn't afford prescription drugs, and Medicare didn't pay for them. Leaders in both political parties had promised prescription drug coverage for years. We got it done. (Applause.) More than 4 million seniors have signed up for the drug discount cards that provide real savings. And beginning in 2006, all seniors on Medicare will be able to choose a plan that suits their needs and gives them coverage for prescription drugs. (Applause.)

We've expanded community health centers for low-income Americans. We've created health savings accounts so families can save, tax free, for their own health care needs. When it comes to giving Americans more choices about their health care and making health care more affordable, we are turning the corner, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)

This world is changing. Most Americans get their health care coverage through their work. Most of today's new jobs are created by small businesses, which too often cannot afford to provide health care. To help more American families get health insurance, we must allow small employers to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies. (Applause.)

To improve health care, we must limit the frivolous lawsuits that raise the cost of health care and drive good doctors out of medicine. (Applause.) To make the health care industry more efficient and cost effective, we must harness technology to reduce costs and prevent mistakes. We must expand research and seek new cures for terrible diseases.

In all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure the health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Still back there? (Applause.) They are.

We have more to do to make America's economy stronger. We have come through a recession. We've come through terrorist attacks. We've come through a stock market decline. We've come through corporate scandals. Yet, this nation has overcome all these obstacles. (Applause.) We've overcome the obstacles because we've got great workers in America -- (applause) -- the most productive workers in the world, many of whom are right here in eastern Ohio. (Applause.) We've overcome these obstacles because we've got great farmers and ranchers in America. (Applause.) We've overcome these obstacles because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and the small business sector is alive and well in America. (Applause.)

And we've overcome these obstacles because of well-timed tax relief. (Applause.) We gave tax relief to every American who pays federal taxes. (Applause.) We didn't play winners or losers. We did it the fair way. We gave tax relief for families with children. (Applause.) We gave tax relief for married couples. (Applause.) We provided tax relief for every small business that was making purchases. (Applause.) And this time, the check really was in the mail. (Applause.)

Because we acted, our economy since last summer has grown at a rate as fast as any time in nearly 20 years. (Applause.) Because we acted, America has added 1.5 million new jobs since last August. (Applause.) The economy is strong and it's getting stronger. It lags in places like eastern Ohio, I know that. I'm aware of that. I just traveled on the bus with workers who told me they are nervous about their future. They're concerned. I am, too. And, therefore, we must have a President who understands that in order to keep jobs at home, America must be the best place to do business. (Applause.)

I'm here to tell you we can do more to make America job-friendly, and America's workplaces more family-friendly. To keep American jobs in America -- (applause) -- our regulations must be reasonable and fair. (Applause.) To keep American jobs in America, we must lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To keep American jobs in America, we must end the junk lawsuits that hurt our business and employers. (Applause.)

If you want to keep jobs in America, the government must not overspend your money, and the government must keep your taxes low. (Applause.) And that's how you keep jobs at home. (Applause.)

You also keep jobs at home by making sure American workers have a lifetime of learning. And you help them get training for the jobs of the future. And a great place to do that is in our community college system. The education and training they offer can be the bridge between people's lives as they are, people's lives as they want them to be.

I know there's great concern about trade in eastern Ohio. Let me tell you something about trade. I believe that America and Americans can compete with anybody, anyplace, anywhere so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)

We understand what currency valuations can do to manufacturing, particularly in eastern Ohio. We've been working with China to put fair policy in place. Just give us a chance to compete, is all we're asking. (Applause.) We've been enforcing our trade agreements. We're making sure that our workers and our manufacturers are treated fairly.

We'll help American families keep more of something they never enough of: time -- time to play with their children; time to go Little League games, or Girl Scout meetings; time to care for elderly parents; time to go to class to improve their lives. I believe that Congress should enact comp-time and flex-time rules to allow American families to better juggle the demands of work and home. (Applause.) I think government ought to be on the side of the American family. (Applause.) After four more years, there will be better paying jobs in America. After four more years, there will be more small businesses. After four more years, the American economy will continue to be the strongest in the world. (Applause.)

We have more to do to wage and win the war on terror. America's future depends on our willingness to lead in the world. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)

The world changed on a terrible September morning. And since that day, we have changed the world. Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home base of al Qaeda, which trained and deployed thousands of killers to set up terror cells in dozens of countries, including our own. Today, Afghanistan is a rising democracy. (Applause.) Afghanistan is now a place where many young girls go to school for the first time. (Applause.)

Yesterday, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the International Children's Games, I was able to hug and say hello to a young girls' soccer team from Afghanistan. (Applause.) That wouldn't have happened -- that wouldn't have happened three years ago. Because we acted, Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror. Because we acted, America and the world are safer. (Applause.)

Before September the 11th, Pakistan was a safe transit point for terrorists. Today, Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror. Pakistani forces are aggressively helping to round up terrorists, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.) Before September the 11th, in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were raising money and recruiting and operating with little opposition. Today, the Saudi government is taking the fight to al Qaeda and America and the world are safer. (Applause.) Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because America and our allies have sent a strong and clear message, the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction -- America and the world are safer. (Applause.)

Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots and forcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and he had used weapon of mass destruction. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: He harbored terrorists, he invaded his neighbors, he subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He had murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was the source of great instability.

After September the 11th, we looked at all the threats of the world in a new light. The lesson of September the 11th is we must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.) The September the 11th Commission concluded our institutions of government had failed to imagine the horror of that day. After September the 11th, we cannot fail to imagine that a brutal tyrant who hated America, who had ties to terror, had used weapons of mass destruction, might use those weapons, or share those capabilities with a deadly enemy.

We saw a threat. I looked at the intelligence and saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress, from both parties -- including my opponent -- (applause) -- looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion: they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, saw a threat, and unanimously demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons and weapons programs, or face serious consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he again refused to comply. He continued to deceive the weapons inspectors.

And so I had a choice to make; this nation had a choice to make: either forget the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the best and trust a madman, or take action to defend our country. Given that choice -- (applause.) Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.) When it comes to fighting the threats of our world, when it comes to making America safer, when it comes to spreading the peace, we're turning a corner, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)

We have more work to do -- more hard work to do. We'll continue to work with our friends and allies around the world to aggressively pursue the terrorists and the foreign fighters wherever they hide in -- Afghanistan and Iraq, or elsewhere. See, you can't talk sense to the terrorists. You can't negotiate with them. You cannot hope for the best. You must bring them to justice.

THE AUDIENCE: Yes! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: We will engage these enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, so that we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) We'll continue to lead the world with competence and moral clarity. (Applause.) We put together a strong coalition -- a strong coalition joined together to defeat the terrorists. There are nearly 40 nations involved in Afghanistan, some 30 nations involved in Iraq. Over the next four years, we will continue to build alliances and work with our friends, but I will never turn America's national security decisions over to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

We must keep our commitments to help Afghanistan and Iraq become peaceful, democratic societies. You see, these two nations are now governed by strong leaders who believe that there's a democratic future for their countries. These are courageous people who have stood up and led. And more and more of their citizens are joining them. More and more of the security needs in Iraq are being handled by Iraqis. It's their future. It's their responsibility. They understand that the men and women, the fathers and mothers of Iraq, want their children to grow up in a peaceful world, just like the moms and dads of America want their children to grow up in a peaceful world. (Applause.)

When we acted to protect their own security, we promised to help deliver them from tyranny, to restore their sovereignty, and to help them on the path to liberty. And when America gives it word, America will keep its word. (Applause.) And in these times, America's commitments are kept by the men and women of our military. (Applause.) I've had the privilege of meeting with those who defend our country and sacrifice for our security. I've seen their great decency and unselfish courage. The cause of liberty, the cause of freedom, is in really good hands. (Applause.)

And we must make sure that the men and women who wear our uniform have the very best -- the best training, the best equipment. (Applause.) And so last September, while our troops were in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, I proposed supplemental funding to support them in their missions. This legislation provided funding for body armor and other vital equipment for hazard pay, for health benefits and ammunition and fuel and spare parts. In the Senate, only a handful, only a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority voted against the legislation. And two of those 12 senators are on the ticket opposing us.


THE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry tried to explain his vote this way: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it. (Laughter.) End quote. (Laughter.) Now, he's offering different explanations. At one time he said he was proud that he and his running mate voted against the funding for the troops. And then he said: The whole thing is a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)

In the long run, our security is not guaranteed by force, alone. We must work to change the conditions that give rise to terror: poverty, hopelessness, and resentment. A free and peaceful Iraq, a free and peaceful Afghanistan will be powerful examples to their neighbors. (Applause.) Free countries do not export terror. Free countries do not stifle the dreams of their citizens. Free countries listen to the hopes and aspirations of the people that live there. By serving the ideal of liberty, we're bringing hope to others and making America more secure. By serving the ideal of liberty, we serve the values we believe in. Freedom is not America's gift to world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

We have more to do to protect America. An enemy still lurks, an enemy which hates what we stand for and they're still plotting. The September the 11th [Commission] had this interesting conclusion, which I agree with. It said: Our homeland is safer, but we are not yet safe. They're right. We've started the hard process of reform. We've transformed our defenses, or we're transforming our defenses, and we've created a new Department of Homeland Security. We passed the Patriot Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to track the terrorists. (Applause.) The mission of the FBI is now focused on preventing terrorism. We've integrated intelligence and law enforcement better than we ever have before. When it comes to better protecting America, we are turning the corner, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)

Listen, we've got more to do. Over the next four years, we'll better secure our ports and borders and train first responders and dramatically improve our intelligence gathering capabilities. Reform is not going to be easy, I understand that. It never is. You see, there's a lot of entrenched interests around, particularly in Washington. A lot of people happy with the status quo. But it's not enough to advocate reform; you have to be able to get it done. (Applause.)

When it comes to reforming schools to provide an excellent education for all our children, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to health care reforms to give families more access and more choices, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes improving our economy and creating jobs, results matter. When it comes to better securing the homeland, to fighting the forces of evil and spreading peace, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to choosing a President, results matter. (Applause.)

THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four More Years!

THE PRESIDENT: This week -- this week, the other party gathered in Boston.


THE PRESIDENT: We heard a lot of -- there were some clever speeches, and some big promises. Their intentions, I think, are good. My opponent's intentions are good. But the problem is intentions don't always translate into results.

After 19 years in the U.S. Senate, my opponent has thousands of votes but few signature achievements.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: He's a flip-flop.

THE PRESIDENT: During eight years in the Senate Intelligence Committee, he voted to cut the budget -- intelligence budgets, yet he had no record of reforming America's intelligence-gathering capability. He's had no significant record in reforming education or health care. As a matter of fact, he and his running mate consistently oppose reforms that limit the power of Washington, and leave power in the hands of the people. He spent 20 years in government, nearly 20 years, it appears he's concluded that government just isn't big enough. (Laughter.) He's proposed more than $2 trillion of additional spending, and the campaign is just getting started. (Laughter.) The times of the big promise is coming down the stretch. (Laughter.) The problem is he hasn't told us how he's going to pay for it.


THE PRESIDENT: If you look at his record, I think we can figure it out. (Laughter.) He believes in higher taxes -- at least that's how he's voted time in and time out, time in and time out. If I had to guess how we're going to pay for all these new promises, it's going to be: You get to pay.


THE PRESIDENT: He said he's only going to raise the tax on the so-called rich. But you know how the rich is, they've got accountants. That means you pay. That means your small business pays. It means the farmers and ranchers pay. That's the wrong medicine for this economy, and we're not going to let him prescribe it. (Applause.)

There's a big philosophical difference in this campaign. Our opponents share an old Washington mind set: They'll give the orders, and you pay the bills. But we've turned a corner, and we're not turning back to that way of thinking. (Applause.)

Listen, we live in -- we're living in a time of amazing change -- amazing period of time, isn't it? In our parents' generation, moms usually stayed at home, and fathers worked for one company until retirement. A lot of people are still doing that today, but it's changing times when you think about it. The company provided the health care, and training, and pension. And government programs reflected that way of life. That's just the way the government was structured in those days.

Yet, today, oftentimes, workers change jobs and careers frequently; a lot of times both parents are working; a lot of times there's only one mom at home working. It's a different world we're living in. Government has got to reflect the different world. Government has got to work with America's working families. That's why workers need to own and manage their own health care accounts, so they can take them with them from job to job. (Applause.)

That's why our pensions and retirements systems must insist that the owners be the workers. You see, Social Security needs to be strengthened by giving younger workers the opportunity to manage some of their own money in personal savings accounts. (Applause.) Social Security will be strengthened by telling those who have retired, or are near retired, nothing is going to change. The government is going to pay your commitment. But younger workers, and a country will be benefited with younger workers, have an opportunity to take some of their own money, their choice, and build up their nest egg so they can pass it from one generation to the next. (Applause.)

You see, my reforms are based on the basic conviction the role of government is not to control or dominate the lives of our citizens. The role of government should help our citizens, help our citizens gain the time and tools they need to make their own choices and to improve their own lives. (Applause.)

That's why I'm working hard to usher in an era of ownership in America. See, we want more people owning something in our country. We want more people owning their own home, owning their own small business, owning their own health care accounts, owning a piece of their retirement plan. When you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country. (Applause.)

This is a world of change, a world of change. But some things will never change: our belief in liberty and opportunity for all, and the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. The individual values we try to live by will not change: courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. The institutions that give us direction and purpose will not change our families, our schools, our religious congregations. These values are fundamental to our lives. These institutions are necessary for a hopeful America; they deserve the respect of our government. (Applause.)

Some things will not change in this changing world. We stand for institutions like marriage and family, which are the foundations of society. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every person counts. (Applause.) We stand for judges who faithfully interpret the law, instead of legislating from the bench. (Applause.)

And we stand for a culture of responsibility in our country. You know, the culture of the country is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and, if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions you make in life. (Applause.)

If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, you're responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all your soul. If you're worried about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you're responsible for doing something about it. It's your responsibility. (Applause.) If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) And in a responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor, just like we'd like to be loved ourselves. (Applause.)

For all Americans, these years in our history will always stand apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one of those times. It's a time where we need strong resolve and clear vision.

None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended and another began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I'll never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me: Whatever it takes. I remember walking along and a fellow grabbed me, policeman or fireman, I don't know which one, but he had tears in his eyes and said: Do not let me down. You see, all of them working through the rubble there took the incident personally, just like you did and just like I did. I have a responsibility that goes on. I wake up every single morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in bringing justice to the enemy and protecting our country, whatever it takes. (Applause.)

We've come through a lot together; there's more to do. We've done a lot of hard work and the world is getting better. During the next four years, we'll spread opportunity and ownership through every corner of this country. During the next four years, we'll continue to pass on enduring values to a younger generation. And during the next four years, we will lead the cause of freedom and peace, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

Four years ago -- four years ago, I had traveled the great country and the great state of Ohio asking for the vote, pledging to our fellow citizens that if you honored me with the great responsibility of being President, I would uphold the dignity and the honor of the office to which I had been elected. (Applause.) And with your help, I will do so for four more years. (Applause.)

God bless. Thanks for coming. Thank you all very much. Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 11:52 A.M. EDT