For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 4, 2004
President's Remarks in Davenport, Iowa
Leclaire Park and Bandshell
11:09 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all so very much for coming. Thanks for having me. (Applause.) It's great to be back here in the Quad Cities area; it's a great place to work and raise your family; it's what I would call the heart and soul of the country. (Applause.) We have a little difference of opinion about the heart and soul -- some of them think you can find it in Hollywood.
THE AUDIENCE: No!
THE PRESIDENT: I think you find it right here in Davenport, Iowa. (Applause.)
I'm looking forward to the race. I'm here to ask for your vote and ask for your help. (Applause.) Everywhere we're going, the crowds are big, the enthusiasm is high, the signs are good -- with your help, Dick Cheney and I will have four more years. (Applause.)
I regret -- I regret that Laura is not here to see this significant crowd. (Applause.) She is a fabulous First Lady. (Applause.) She is a great mother and a wonderful wife. Today I'm going to give you some reasons for you to put me back in office, but perhaps the most important reason of all is so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)
I'm proud to be running with Dick Cheney. I admit, he's not the prettiest one on the ticket. (Laughter.) I didn't pick him for his looks. (Laughter.) I picked him for his judgment and his experience. Dick Cheney is a great Vice President. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend, Jim Nussle. I appreciate his leadership in the United States Congress. He's the budget man. He's looking out after your money. He and I understand when we spend money in Washington, it's not the government's money, it's the people's money. (Applause.)
I appreciate my friend, Jim Leach joining us today. What a fine, fine citizen of the state of Iowa. (Applause.) I want to thank my friend, Tom Latham, for joining us, the congressman from the other part of the state. Thanks for inviting him here to eastern Iowa. (Applause.) It's good for your congressmen to get a taste for the decency of the folks that live in this part of the state. (Applause.)
I want to thank Chuck Gipp, David Vaudt, all the state officials here. I appreciate the mayor coming. Mr. Mayor, we're proud you're here. (Applause.) Fill the potholes. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Mayor Freemire, of Bettendorf, as well; I'm proud you're here. I want to thank my friend, David Roederer, who is campaign chairman for this great state of Iowa. I appreciate my friend, Larry Gatlin -- we were both raised in west Texas together, I was in Midland, he was in Odessa. I can't sing, he can. (Laughter and applause.)
Listen, I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. I appreciate you coming. I want to thank you for what you are going to do -- which is to register the voters. We have a duty in this country to vote. Make sure you register people. Don't worry about what party they're in; we want everybody voting in America. (Applause.) However, now when you're convincing them who to vote for, don't overlook discerning Democrats and wise independents. (Laughter.) When you get them headed toward the poll, nudge them our way. I'm counting on your help, and together we're going to win not only Iowa, but it's going to be a great victory in November nationwide. (Applause.) We were close in Iowa last time. Not this time, we're going to carry it. (Applause.)
Every incumbent who's asking for the vote has to answer a question: Why? Why should the American people give me the great privilege of serving as your President for four more years? In the past years we've been through a lot together. We've been through a whole lot together. And we've 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.
I'm asking for your vote because so much is at stake. We have more to do. We must work to move America forward. I want to be your President for four more years to make our country safer. (Applause.)
THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
`THE PRESIDENT: I want to be your President for four more years to make our economy stronger. I want to be your President for four more years to make our future brighter and better for every one of our citizens. (Applause.) From creating jobs to improving schools, from fighting terror to spreading the peace, we have made much progress and there is still more to do. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make our public schools the centers of excellence we know that they can be, so that no child is left behind in this country. 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've challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations. We've raised the bar. (Applause.) We believe in accountability. We believe in making sure local folks are in charge of public schools. We believe in empowering parents. And, 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.)
Listen, we've got more to do. The world we're in is changing. The jobs of the future will require greater knowledge and a higher level skills. So we've got to reform our high schools to make sure a high school diploma means something. We're going to expand math and science so young people can compete in our 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 confidence they need to realize 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 could not afford prescription drugs -- and Medicare didn't pay for them. Leaders in both political parties for years had promised prescription drug coverage for our seniors -- we got it done. (Applause.) Already, more than 4 million seniors have signed up for drug discount cards that provide real savings. 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.
I remember campaigning with Nussle and Leach and Latham, and your fine United States senator, Charles Grassley. (Applause.) I said, we're going to strengthen Medicare to make sure rural hospitals in Iowa get the help they need. So we provided more funds to hospitals healing -- handling a low volume of patients. We've increased payments for ambulance providers and suppliers in rural areas. We're giving better bonuses to physicians, so we can keep good doctors practicing in rural America. In other words, we delivered on our promise to the people of Iowa. (Applause.) The other folks talk a good game -- we deliver. (Applause.)
To help 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 going to turn 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 coverage. 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 end the frivolous lawsuits that raise health care costs and drive doctors out of medicine. (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. (Laughter.) I made my choice: I will continue to work with Congress to pass medical liability reform for the patients of America. (Applause.)
We can do more to harness technology to reduce costs and prevent health care mistakes. We can do more to expand research and seek new cures for terrible diseases. And in all we do to improve health care in America, we'll make sure the health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make our economy stronger. Listen, we've come through a recession and terror attacks and corporate scandals and a stock market decline. We overcame these obstacles because of the hard work of Iowa's small business people, because we've got the best workers in the world. We've overcome these obstacles because we've got the best farmers in the world. (Applause.)
And we've overcome these obstacles because of well-timed tax relief for the American people. Listen, we didn't pick winners and losers when it came to tax relief. We gave tax relief to every American who pays federal income taxes. (Applause.) We gave tax relief for families with children. We gave tax relief for married couples. (Applause.) What kind of tax code is it that penalizes marriage? It's a tax code that needs to be changed. (Applause.) We gave tax relief for every small business that purchases equipment. 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 in nearly 20 years. Because we acted, America has added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. (Applause.) Because we acted, Iowa has added more than 11,000 jobs over the past year. Because we acted, Iowa's unemployment rate now is 4.3 percent. (Applause.) When it comes to creating jobs for American workers, we are turning the corner and we're not going back. (Applause.)
We worked to strengthen our farmers and ranchers. We passed a good Farm Bill, I was proud to sign it. We phased out the death tax, so America's family farmers [sic] can stay in the family. (Applause.) We've opened up foreign markets for Iowa and Illinois farmers. You see, if you're good at something, you ought to have the opportunity to sell that which you're good at around the world. (Applause.)
Listen, this country needs an energy strategy. We must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy if we want to keep jobs here in America. (Applause.) And one way to become -- one way to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy is to promote alternate sources of fuel, like biodiesel and ethanol. (Applause.) I told the people of this state when I was running in 2000, I support ethanol. I have kept my promise to Iowa's farmers. (Applause.) In the last three years, America's farmers have posted record net-cash, farm income -- record. Record exports. Record farm equity and land values. I have made the success of America's farmers and ranchers a priority, and America is better off for it. (Applause.)
To keep jobs in America, regulations need to be reasonable and fair. To keep jobs in America, we must end the junk lawsuits which threaten our small businesses. (Applause.) To keep jobs in America, we will not overspend your money, and we will keep your taxes low. (Applause.) To keep jobs in America, we will offer a workers a lifetime of learning, and to make sure they get training for the jobs of the future at 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 them to be.
And we're going to make sure America's families keep more of something they never have enough of, and that is time -- time to be with your kids, time to take care of your parents, time to go to class to improve yourselves. Congress needs to work with the administration to enact comp-time and flex-time to help America's families better juggle their home needs and their work needs. (Applause.)
What I'm telling you is, after four more years, the economy will be better. More small business owners will be in America. Better and higher paying jobs will exist here. And our farmers will be able to put something aside for the future generations. (Applause.)
We have more to do to wage and win the war against terror. America's future depends on our willingness to lead in this world. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch. (Applause.)
THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: 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 for 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. Afghanistan is a place where many young girls now go to school for the first time. (Applause.) Afghanistan is an ally in the war against terror, and 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 the terrorists. America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
In Saudi Arabia, before September the 11th, terrorists were raising money and recruiting and operating with little opposition. Today, the Saudi government is taking 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 have 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 America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots, enforcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction -- (applause) -- against his own people. He had harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized families of suicide bombers. He had murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was a source of great instability in a volatile part of the world. After September the 11th, we looked at all the threats in a new light. One of the lessons of September the 11th, is this country 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, had ties to terror, had used weapons of mass destruction might use those weapons or share his deadly capabilities with our enemies. (Applause.) We saw a threat. The United States Congress, members of both political parties -- including my opponent -- looked at the same intelligence and saw a threat to America. The United Nations looked at the same intelligence, and it saw a threat and unanimously demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons and weapons programs, or face serious consequences. That's what the free world demanded. After 12 years of defiance, the tyrant refused to comply. He continued to deceive the world. He deceived the weapons inspectors that the world had sent into Iraq. Now, I had a choice to make: Do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and trust a madman?
THE AUDIENCE: No!
THE PRESIDENT: Or do I take action to defend America? Given that choice, I will defend our country. (Applause.)
THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Because the dictator sits in a prison cell, the people of Iraq are better off. America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
When it comes to fighting the threats of our world, when it comes to making America safer, when it comes to spreading peace, we're moving forward, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
We've got more to do. I'm running for four more years because we've got more to do. (Applause.) We must continue to work with our friends and allies around the world to aggressively pursue the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. See, you can't talk sense to the terrorists.
THE AUDIENCE: No!
THE PRESIDENT: You cannot negotiate with them.
THE AUDIENCE: No!
THE PRESIDENT: You cannot hope for the best. 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. (Applause.) We put together a strong coalition to help us defeat terror, and that's necessary. Over 60 nations are involved with the proliferation security initiative. Nearly 40 nations are involved in Afghanistan. Some 30 nations are involved in Iraq. We will continue to build our alliances. We will continue to work with our friends for the cause of security and peace. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
We will keep our commitment to help Afghanistan and Iraq become peaceful, democratic societies. These two nations are now governed by strong leaders, people who want the boys and girls of their respective countries to grow up in peace. They know what we know in America: moms and dads long for a peaceful society; they long for their children to be able to be educated and realize their dreams. The people of these countries are stepping up, providing security for their own people. After years of brutality they see a glimmer of hope, a chance to live in a free society. And these people can count on our help and the help of our coalition.
You see, when we acted to protect our own security, we also promised to help deliver them from tyranny, to restore their sovereignty, to help set them on the path to liberty. And when America gives its word, America will keep its word. (Applause.)
In these crucial times, our commitments are kept by the men and women of our military. At bases across our country and the world, 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 their unselfish courage. The cause of freedom is in really good hands. (Applause.) And our men and women in uniform deserve the full support of our government. (Applause.) Last September, while our troops were in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, I proposed supplemental funding to support our military and its mission. This legislation provided funding for body armor and vital equipment, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel and spare parts for our military. In the Senate, only a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority of 12 voted against the legislation. Two of those 12 senators are my opponent and his running mate.
THE AUDIENCE: Booo!
THE PRESIDENT: Here's how my opponent tried to explain his vote. He said: I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it. (Laughter.) End quote. (Laughter.) Then he went on to say that he was proud that he and his running mate voted against it and he further said: The whole thing is a complicated matter.
There is 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. A free and peaceful Iraq, and a free and peaceful Afghanistan will be a powerful example to their neighbors in a part of the world that is desperate for freedom. (Applause.)
Free countries do not export terror. Free countries listen to the dreams and aspirations of their citizens. By serving the ideal of liberty, we're bringing hope to others, and that makes America more secure. By serving the ideal of liberty, we're making the world a more peaceful place. By serving the ideal of liberty, we serve the deepest ideals of our country. Freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
We have more to do to protect us. Enemies who hate us are still plotting to harm us. Those who claim that America's war on terror is to blame for terror threats against the United States have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy. See, the 9/11 Commission said something wise: Our homeland is safer, but we are not yet safe.
Beginning immediately after September the 11th, we started the hard process of reform. We transformed our defenses. We've created a new Department of Homeland Security. We passed the Patriot Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to help make America more secure. (Applause.) The mission of the FBI is now focused on preventing terror. We're integrating intelligence and law enforcement better than we ever have before. We've taken action on a large majority of the Commission's recommendations. We have more to do to better secure our ports and borders, to train first responders, to dramatically improve our intelligence gathering capability. That's why this week I called on Congress to create a position of National Intelligence Director, so that one person is in charge of coordinating all our intelligence efforts, overseas and here at home.
These reforms are not going to be easy. I understand that. You see, reform is never easy in Washington. (Laughter.) There's a lot of entrenched interests there. People don't like to have the status quo challenged. It's not enough, though, to advocate reform, you have to be able to get it done. (Applause.)
And we're getting it done on behalf of the people of this country. When it comes to reforming schools to provide an excellent education for all our children, results matter. When it comes to health care reforms that give families more access and more choices, results matter. When it comes to improving our economy, and creating quality jobs, results matter. When it comes to a strong farm economy, results matter. When it comes to better securing our homeland, fighting the forces of terror, and promoting the peace, results matter. When it comes to electing a President, results matter. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: No, there's a lot of big talkers in the nation's capital. We just like to be known as the people who can get the job done. (Applause.) We're living in a time of great change. And it's an exciting time -- it really is -- to be an American. We got to make sure government responds to these times by standing side-by-side with people, side-by-side with our workers and side-by-side with our families. The best way to do so, in my judgment, is to encourage people to own something; to encourage people to own their own homes. Listen, the home ownership in America is at an all-time high, and that's good news for our country. (Applause.)
We want our workers to be able to own their own health care accounts so they can take them from job to job. We want younger workers to be able to own a Social Security personal retirement account that they can call their own and pass on from one generation to the next. (Applause.)
We want people owning their own farm and their own small business. See, we understand when you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of this country. The world is -- times have changed, but some things are not going to change. Our belief in liberty will not change. Our belief in the non-negotiable demands of human dignity will not change. Our desire to make sure opportunity, the great American experience is spread throughout every corner of this country, will not change. The individual values we try to live by won't change: courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. The institutions that give us direction and purpose are important: our families, our schools, our religious congregation. They are so important and so fundamental, they deserve the respect of government. (Applause.)
We stand for things. We stand for something. We stand for institutions, like marriage and family, which are the foundations of our 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.
And we stand for a culture of responsibility in America. This culture of ours 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 we 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're worried about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you are responsible for doing something about it. (Applause.) If you are 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. Listen, the strength of this country is not our military; the strength of this country is not our wallets -- the strength of this country is the heart and soul of the American people. (Applause.)
I want to be your President for four more years so we can continue to rally the armies of compassion, so we can help change America one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. (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 that requires strength and firm resolve. This is a time that requires courage and our willingness to lead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's why we love you! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: None of us will ever forget that era -- that week when one era ended and another one began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me: Whatever it takes. A guy grabbed me by the arm, he had tears in his eyes, he was exhausted from searching through the rubble to find his friend. He said: Do not let me down. He took it personally. The people searching through the rubble took that day personally. You took it personally and so did I. (Applause.)
I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our people. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
THE AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: No, we've come through much together. We've done hard work. During the next four years we will spread ownership and opportunity all throughout our land. We'll pass the enduring values of our country to another generation. And during the next four years we'll continue to lead in the cause of freedom, so the world will be a more peaceful place. (Applause.)
You know, four years ago I traveled your great state asking for the vote, and I made a pledge that if you honored me with this great responsibility I would uphold the dignity and the honor of the office to which I had been elected, so help me, God. (Applause.) And with your help, I will do so during the next four years. May God bless you. Thanks for coming. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 11:27 A.M. CDT