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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 5, 2004
President's Remarks at Saginaw, Michigan Rally
6:05 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) Thanks for having me here. (Applause.) I'm here to ask for the vote. (Applause.) And I'm here to ask for your help. (Applause.) It's been a great turnout. Thanks for coming.
It's going to be an interesting campaign. We have big differences of opinion. For example, we have a difference of opinion over the heart and soul of America. See, my opponents believe you can find the heart and soul of America in Hollywood. I think you can find it right here in Saginaw, Michigan. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: That's not the only thing my opponent seems a little confused about. The other day in Ohio, he said that there's nothing better than Buckeye football, period.
THE PRESIDENT: Then he came to Michigan. First he told the crowd, "I go for the Buckeye football. That's where I'm coming from." No, I know, that's not what the Michigan folks were expecting to hear. (Laughter.) Then he remembered where he was and he called an audible. (Laughter.) He said that the University of Michigan was a powerhouse of a team. You see, my opponent is a Washington politician who's taken both sides of just about every issue, including Big Ten football. (Applause.)
Listen, I want to thank you for welcoming Vice President Cheney here a couple of months ago. (Applause.) I admit it, he's not the prettiest face on the ticket. (Laughter.) That's not why I picked him. I picked him because of his judgment, his experience, his ability to do the job. (Applause.) Everywhere I go, the crowds are big, the enthusiasm is high, the signs are good. With your help, Dick Cheney and I will win four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: My only regret is that Laura is not traveling with me. She is a great wife, wonderful mother, and a excellent First Lady for our country. (Applause.) I'm really proud of her. I'm really proud of her. I'm going to give you some reasons why to put me back into office, but perhaps the most important one of all is so that Laura will be First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend Dave Camp, Congressman Camp. I appreciate you being here. (Applause.) Congresswoman Candice Miller, my good friend, is with us today. Thank you. (Applause.) Terri Lynn Land, I appreciate the Secretary of State joining us. (Applause.) I wish Myrah Kirkwood all the best in her run for the United States Congress. (Applause.)
You invited the Gatlin Brothers. (Applause.) I know, they grew up in Odessa, which is Ector County; I grew up in Midland County, which is right around the corner from here. (Applause.) Just a different state. (Laughter.) I appreciate my friends being here. They're good friends, and they're good guys who care a lot about our country.
I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. (Applause.) That means you're the people who put up the signs, make the phone calls -- (applause) -- you're the people who are going to help register our fellow citizens. See, everybody needs to participate in elections. I believe we have a duty. I know you believe we have a duty to vote on election day. (Applause.) And so when you're out registering voters, please don't overlook discerning Democrats and wise independents, because like you, they want a safer and stronger and better America. (Applause.)
Every incumbent who asks for the vote must answer a central question: 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, Americans have been through a lot together, and we have accomplished a great deal. But there's only one reason to look backward at the record, and that is to determine who best to lead our nation forward. (Applause.)
I'm here asking for the vote because there's so much at stake. We have much more to do to move our country forward. I want to be the President for four more years to create more jobs, improve our schools, to spread the peace. We have made much progress; there is still more to do. (Applause.) We have more to do to make our public schools the centers of excellence we all know they can be so that no child in our country is left behind. (Applause.) When we came to office three-and-a-half years ago, too many of our children were being shuffled from grade to grade, year after year, without learning the basics. So we challenged what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. We raised the bar. We believe in setting high standards. We believe in accountability. We believe in local control of schools. We believe in empowering the parents of America. (Applause.)
Today, children across America are showing real progress in reading and math. When it comes to improving America's public schools, we're turning the corner and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
We have more to do. The jobs of the future will require greater knowledge and higher level skills. We're going to reform our high schools to make sure a high school diploma means something. We'll expand math and science education so our young people can compete in the high-tech world. We'll expand the use of the Internet to bring high-level training in the classrooms. With four more years, we'll help a rising generation gain the skills and competence they need to realize the great promise of our country. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make quality health care available and affordable. When we came to office, too many older Americans could not afford prescription drugs. Medicare didn't pay for them, either. Leaders in both parties had promised prescription drug coverage for years. You remember all the promises. We got it done. (Applause.) More than four million seniors have signed up for drug discount cards that provide real savings for them. 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.
To help more people get access to quality care, 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're moving America forward and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
Listen, this world we're in is changing. Most Americans get their health care coverage through their work, but most of today's new jobs are created by small businesses, which, too often, cannot afford to provide health coverage. And so, to help American families get health insurance, we must allow small employers to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big corporations. (Applause.)
To improve health care, to make sure health care is available and affordable for our citizens, we must end the frivolous lawsuits that run up the cost of health care. (Applause.) You cannot be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) You have to choose. My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice. I'm going to continue to push Congress to pass real, meaningful medical liability reform in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We'll do more to harness technology, to reduce costs and prevent health care mistakes. We'll do more to expand research and seek new cures for diseases. And in all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make this economy stronger. We've come through a recession. We've come through a terror attack. We've come through corporate scandals. We've come through a lot. And we've overcome those obstacles because our workers are great, because the farmers are good at what they do, because the entrepreneurial spirit of this country is strong. We've overcome these obstacles, as well, because of well-timed tax cuts. (Applause.)
Listen, when it came time to cutting taxes, we didn't pick winners or losers. We did it the fair way. We gave tax relief to every American who pays federal taxes. (Applause.) The child credit went up to help families with children. We're reducing the marriage penalty. Imagine a tax code that penalizes marriage.
THE PRESIDENT: We need to be encouraging marriage in America. (Applause.)
We helped our small businesses with tax relief, and this time the check was really in the mail. Because we acted, our economy since last summer has grown at a rate as fast as any in nearly 20 years. Because we acted, America has added 1.5 million new jobs since last August. (Applause.)
Listen, I understand we face serious challenges in part of our country. The recovery here in Michigan has lagged behind other parts, but we've got a plan in place. The economy is improving, it's getting better. Factory orders are on the rise, manufacturing jobs are coming back, your unemployment rate has fallen a full percent, and we're not going to rest until everybody who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.)
To keep this economy strong, to keep jobs here at home, we need to end the endless regulations that strangle America's employers. (Applause.) To keep jobs here at home, we need tort reform in America. (Applause.) To keep jobs here at home, we need a reasonable energy policy that makes us less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To keep jobs here at home, we'll be wise about how we spend your money, and we will keep your taxes low. (Applause.) Listen, to make sure this economy is strong we will offer American workers a lifetime of learning, and help them get training for the jobs of the future at places like our community colleges. The education and training community colleges offer can be the bridge between people's lives as they are and people's lives as they want to be. (Applause.)
Let me tell you something else I believe. In order to keep jobs here, we've got to reject economic isolationism. I believe that the American worker, the American farmer, the American entrepreneur, the American manufacturer can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere, so long as the playing field is level. (Applause.)
And you know what else? We're going to help American families keep more of something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to be with your kids, time to take care of your parents, time to go back to school. Congress must enact comp-time and flex-time rules to give American families more opportunities to choose their time. (Applause.)
After four years, our farm economy will be strong; after four years there will be more small business owners; after four years there will be better-paying jobs under the Bush administration. (Applause.)
We have more to do to wage and win the war against the terrorists. America's future depends on our willingness to lead in the world. But if America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: The world changed on a terrible September morning. And since that day, we've 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, because we acted, Afghanistan is a rising democracy. (Applause.) Afghanistan is going to have presidential elections this fall. (Applause.) Because we acted, many young girls now go to school for the first time in their life. (Applause.) Because we acted, Afghanistan is an ally in the war against 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 against terror. Pakistani troops are aggressively helping to round up the 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 has taken the fight to al Qaeda. 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 sent a strong and clear message, the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of the United States of America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots enforcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued, and he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He harbored the terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He had murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was a source of great instability in the world's most volatile region. He was a threat. After September the 11th, we looked at all the threats of the world in a new light. You see, one of the lessons of that fateful day was that we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize. (Applause.)
The September the 11th Commission concluded that our institutions of government had failed to imagine the horror of that day. After September the 11th we could not fail to imagine that a brutal tyrant who hated America, who had ties to terror, who had used weapons of mass destruction might use those weapons or share his capabilities with the terrorists. We saw a threat.
I went to the United States Congress who looked at the same intelligence I did. Members of both political parties looked at the same intelligence, including my opponent. (Applause.) And they reached the same conclusion. And in the United Nations, they looked at the same intelligence and unanimously demanded a full accounting of Saddam's weapons programs, or face serious consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he again refused to comply with the demands of the free world. He deceived the weapons inspectors. And so I had a choice to make: Either forget the lessons of September the 11th and trust the actions of a madman, or take measures necessary to defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: Because we acted, the dictator sits in a prison cell and America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
I'm seeking the vote, I'm running for four more years because I understand we must continue to work with our friends and allies around the world to aggressively pursue the terrorists in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. See, you can't talk sense to the terrorists. You cannot negotiate with the terrorists. We must engage the enemies around the world so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
America will continue to lead the world with confidence and moral clarity. See, we put together a strong coalition to help defeat terror: over 60 nations involved with the Proliferation Security Initiative, nearly 40 nations involved in Afghanistan, some 30 nations involved in Iraq. Over the next four years, I will continue to build alliances and work with our friends in the cause of security and peace. (Applause.) But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years, four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: We must keep our commitments to help Afghanistan and Iraq become peaceful and democratic societies. Those two nations are now governed by strong leaders. See, these leaders care deeply about the future of their nations. They care deeply about the aspirations of their people. These are strong people, and many in their country are now stepping up because they realize the great promise of a free society. And the people of those countries, those who love freedom, can count on continued help from America and our allies. You see, when we acted to protect our own security, we also promised to help deliver them from tyranny, to restore their sovereignty, to set them on the path of liberty. And when America gives its word, America keeps its word. (Applause.)
In these crucial times, America's commitments are kept by the men and women of our military. (Applause.) I want to thank the veterans who are here for setting such a fine example for those who wear our uniform. (Applause.) I've had the privilege of meeting with those who defend our country and sacrifice for our security. I've seen their unselfish courage. The cause of freedom is in really good hands. (Applause.)
And those of us in government have a duty to support those who wear the uniform. (Applause.) Last September, while our troops were in combat in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, I proposed supplemental funding to support them in their missions. The legislation provided funding for body armor and other vital equipment, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel, and spare parts. In the Senate, only a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority of 12 senators voted against the legislation.
THE PRESIDENT: Two of them are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: They asked him about his vote, and he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) Now he's offering a different explanation. He said, you know, he was proud that he and his running mate voted against the funding, and then he further went on to say, 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 and hopelessness and resentment. See, a free and peaceful Iraq and a free and peaceful Afghanistan will be powerful examples for their neighbors. Free societies do not export terror. Societies which listen to the hopes and aspirations of their people are peaceful societies. We long for peace. I want your children growing up in a peaceful world. (Applause.) And I understand that by serving the ideal of liberty, we will spread freedom and peace. By serving the ideal of liberty, we'll also represent the values of this country. Freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
Listen, we've got more to do to protect this country. Enemies who hate us are still plotting to harm us. My opponent says that going to war with the terrorists is actually improving their recruiting efforts. It's a fundamental and dangerous misunderstanding of the enemy we face. As the 9/11 report shows, terrorists had attracted recruits in the 1990s, long before America was at war with them. Now we're on the offense, we're striking the terrorists where they plot and plan before they can come and get us here. (Applause.) By taking -- by staying on the offense, we have captured information that has proved critical to improving the security here at home. Listen, I agree with the conclusion of the 9/11. They said, because of the actions we have taken since September the 11th, our homeland is safer, yet we're not totally safe. I understand that. The way to make America more secure is to continue fighting this war on the offense, continue bringing justice to our enemies. (Applause.)
Right after September the 11th, we started the hard process of reform. We've transformed our defenses and created a new Department of Homeland Security. We passed the Patriot Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to fight and find the terrorists. (Applause.) The mission of the FBI is now focused on preventing terrorism. We're integrating intelligence and law enforcement better than we ever have before. We're taking action on a large majority of the recommendations of that important commission.
We've more to do. We've got more to do to secure our ports and borders, to train our first responders, to dramatically improve intelligence-gathering capability. That's why I called on Congress this week to create the position of National Intelligence Director so that one person is in charge of coordinating all our intelligence efforts overseas and here at home. (Applause.)
Listen, these reforms are not going to be easy, particularly in Washington. (Applause.) There's some entrenched interests up there, people who defend the status quo. It's not enough to advocate reform, you have to be able to get it done. (Applause.) You see, when it comes to reforming schools and making sure we have an excellent education for all our children, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to health care reforms to give our families more access and more choices, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to improving our economy and creating jobs, results matter. When it comes to seeing to it we have a healthy agriculture economy, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to better securing our homeland, and fighting the forces of terror, and spreading the peace, results matter. When it comes to electing a President, results matter. (Applause.)
Listen, we have -- we're in changing times, and they're exciting times. The government has got to stand on the side of people during changing times. That's why I will continue to promote what I call an ownership society. See, if you change jobs, you want to be able to own your health care plan so you can take it from job to job. If you're a younger worker -- if you're a younger worker, you're probably concerned about whether or not you'll see a dime from Social Security. Therefore, younger workers ought to be given the option of managing some of their own money in personal retirement accounts. (Applause.)
We want more people in this country owning their own business. And you know, we want more people owning their own home. I love it when somebody says, welcome to my home. Thanks for visiting my home. See, we understand that when you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of the United States. (Applause.)
In this world of change, there are some things that will not change: our belief in liberty, opportunity, and the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. (Applause.) The values we try to live by will not change: courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. (Applause.) There are institutions in our society that give us direction and purpose: our families and our schools and our religious congregations. (Applause.) These values are fundamental to our lives. They deserve the respect of our government.
We stand for institutions like family and marriage, which are the foundations of society. (Applause.) We stand -- we stand for a culture of life in which every person matters, and every being 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 this country. The culture 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're responsible for the decisions you make in life. (Applause.)
If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, you are responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all your soul. (Applause.) If you don't like the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you're responsible for doing something about it. (Applause.) If you're a CEO in corporate America, you are responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) In a responsible society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)
I'm seeking the office for four more years because I want to continue to rally the armies of compassion, which exist all across our country. The great strength of this nation is the hearts and souls of our citizens. By rallying the love and the hearts and souls of our citizens, we can change America, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years, four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: 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 that requires clear vision, firm resolve. 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 that I will never forget. People in hard-hats were screaming at me, "Whatever it takes." I was working a rope line, and a guy grabbed me -- I don't know if he was a firefighter or a policeman -- I do know that he was looking through the rubble for one of his buddies -- and he said, "Do not let me down." (Applause.) He took it personally, the people in that site took it personally, you took it personally, I took it personally. I have a duty that goes on. I wake up every morning thinking about how best to protect our people. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
We have come through much together. We have done hard work. We're moving America forward by extending freedom and peace around the world, and by expanding opportunity here at home. During the next four years, we will spread ownership throughout our country. We want everybody realizing the American Dream. We will pass enduring values of our country to another generation. We will lead the cause of freedom and peace, and we will prevail. (Applause.) With your support and prayers, I will be a leader America can count on in a world of change. (Applause.)
Four years ago, as I traveled this great country asking for the vote, I made a pledge to my fellow Americans. I said, if you honor me with this great responsibility, 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. God bless, thanks for coming. (Applause.) Thank you all.
END 6:46 P.M. EDT