For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 4, 2004
President's Remarks at Victory 2004 Rally in Kirtland, Ohio
12:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Listen, there's nothing better than taking a Saturday bus ride with your family. (Laughter.) Especially in Ohio. (Applause.) Thanks for coming out today. It's great to be in Lake County. (Applause.) I appreciate so many people turning out. It looks like Lake County and Ohio is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
I believe you got to get out with the people and ask for the vote. And that's what we're doing today. I'm here to ask for your vote, and I'm here to ask for your help. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to give you some reasons why I think you ought to put me back in, but perhaps the most important one of all is so that Laura is First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) She's a great mom, a wonderful wife. She is a terrific First Lady for the United States. (Applause.)
And I'm so proud of Barbara and Jenna. I really appreciate them coming out on the campaign trail with us today. (Applause.) Campaigning like this is kind of like going on the family camping trip -- ((Laughter) -- I promised, but never took them on. (Laughter.)
I appreciate my friend, Steve LaTourette. He's a great United States congressman. (Applause.) You need to put him back into office. (Applause.) And while you're putting me back in and putting him back in, put George Voinovich back in, as well. (Applause.) I appreciate you being here, Senator. (Applause.) I also appreciate Senator Mike DeWine and his daughter, Alice, joining us today. Michael, thank you for coming. (Applause.)
Congressman Ralph Regula from Ohio is on the bus trip with us today. Thanks for being here, Ralph. (Applause.) I appreciate Mayor David Anderson coming today. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming. (Applause.) Fill the potholes. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the Sonny Burgess Band for coming today. (Applause.) I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. I want to thank you for setting up such a fantastic rally. (Applause.) I appreciate your hard work. I appreciate what you've done and what you're going to do. I'm here to ask you to register your friends and neighbors to vote. We have a duty in this country to vote. Remind your citizens, your fellow citizens to do their duty. And when you're registering voters, register independents and discerning Democrats. You heard Zell Miller the other night. (Applause.) He represents a lot of folks who understand that, with four more years, Dick Cheney and I will make this country safer, stronger and better. (Applause.)
We're approaching an historic national election and the time for choosing is getting closer. I'm looking forward to campaigning in your state. You've got a great state full of great people. (Applause.) I'm looking forward to talking about the records we've built, the convictions we hold and the vision that guides us forward. I fully understand a presidential contest is a contest over the future. And so as I travel your state, I'll tell you where I stand, what I believe, and where I'll lead this country for the next four years. (Applause.)
I believe every child can learn and every school must teach. (Applause.) And that's why we passed the most important federal election reform in history. We are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. We're raising standards. We're using accountability system to figure out who needs help early before it's too late. We believe in local control of schools. We know reading is a new civil right. We're making progress in America. The achievement gap is closing, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor our seniors with good health care. That's why I brought Republicans and Democrats together. Seniors now get immediate help buying medicine. Soon, every senior will be able to get prescription drug coverage, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America's workers, small business owners, farmers and ranchers, and that is why we unleashed that energy with the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.) Because we acted, our economy is growing. Yesterday, we received the jobs report for August that shows that our economy is strong and getting stronger. We added 144,000 new jobs last month -- (applause) -- including 22,000 new jobs in manufacturing. (Applause.) We've added 1.7 million new jobs since last August, a year ago last August. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. (Applause.) That is a full point below last summer. It is lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. (Applause.)
There's more work to be done here in the state of Ohio. I understand there's people looking for work and can't find a job. We will not rest until they do find a job. We're making progress, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
I believe the job of the President is to confront problems, not pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. (Applause.) I believe the most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. (Applause.) If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I'm running with a clear and positive plan to build a safer world, and a more hopeful America. I'm running with a compassionate conservative philosophy that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives. (Applause.) I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership. And that is why, with your help, we're going to carry Ohio and win a great national victory in November. (Applause.)
One of the things I talked about the other night in New York was how this world of ours is changing. People are changing jobs. Women are working not only inside the house, but now outside of the house, as well. It's a different world from the world of our parents and grandparents -- yet most of the fundamental systems of our country haven't changed. The tax code, the health coverage, the pension plans, the worker training were created for the world of yesterday, not for tomorrow. We're going to transform these systems so that all citizens are equipped and prepared and thus truly free to make your own choices so you can pursue your dreams.
Any good plan starts with making sure people can find work. Any good plan makes sure that we expand hope and opportunity with a growing economy. To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business. (Applause.) To create jobs in America, Congress must get my energy plan to my desk so we become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To create more jobs in America, we must open up markets around the world for U.S. goods and services. We open up our markets -- my message to other countries like China is you open up yours. We can compete with anybody, anywhere, any time, so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)
To create more jobs in America, we must get rid of these junk lawsuits that threaten our small business owners. (Applause.) To create more jobs here, we've got to be wise about how we spend your money. (Applause.) See, I believe government can set priorities and fund those priorities and let you keep more of your own money. My philosophy says, we're good at some things. But once we fund those things, you can spend your money far better than the federal government can. (Applause.)
In order to make sure this economy grows, we've got to make sure we keep your taxes low. (Applause.) And there, we have a difference of opinion in this campaign. I'm running against a fellow who has already promised over $2 trillion of new federal programs if he's elected.
THE PRESIDENT: That's a lot. That's a lot, even for a Senator from Massachusetts. So they asked him the other day, how are you going to pay for it, and he said that old line we've heard before -- oh, don't worry, we'll pay for it by taxing the rich. We have heard that line before. First of all, you can't raise enough money to pay for all those programs by taxing the rich. And secondly, you know how it works. They get accountants and lawyers, and you get stuck with the bill. But we're not going to let him. We're going to carry Ohio and the country. (Applause.) Thank you all for being here. I appreciate you coming.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Today, a little earlier, I talked about creating what's called American opportunity zones. These will help communities recovering from lost manufacturing, textile and other jobs. For example, an area like greater Cleveland will be able to apply for tax relief and investment incentives and regulatory relief, specifically designed to attract new businesses and new jobs. (Applause.)
Another drag on our economy is the federal tax code. (Applause.) Yeah, that tax code is a complicated mess. It's filled with special interest loopholes. You realize it takes 6 billion hours of paperwork and headache every year to comply with the tax code. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. (Applause.)
In a new term, we'll help our workers by expanding access to community colleges so they can gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. (Applause.) Let me tell you what else we need to do. In a time of change, most new jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college. That's the realities of the 21st century. Yet one in four of our students gets there. In our high schools, we'll fund early intervention programs to help students at risk. We'll place a new focus on math and science. Over time, we'll require rigorous exam before graduation. By raising performance in our high schools and expanding Pell grants to low- and middle-income families, we will help more Americans start their career with a college education. (Applause.)
In changing times, we got to do more to make quality health care available and affordable. One-half of all the uninsured are small business employees and their families. Small businesses are having trouble affording health care. So in a new term we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts that big companies get. (Applause.)
We're going to offer tax credits to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts. In the short term, I'll ensure every poor county in America has a community or rural health center. And to make sure we improve health care for you in Lake County, we've got to get rid of these frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of medicine and running your docs out of practice. (Applause.) We've got a national problem when it comes to these frivolous lawsuits. I don't think you can be pro-doctor, pro-hospital and pro-patient, and pro-plaintiff attorney at the same time. (Applause.) I think you have to make a choice. My opponent made his choice and he put him on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice. I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)
In changing times, there's nothing like owning something to bring stability to your life. We're going to continue to promote home ownership in America. The home ownership rate in our country is at an all-time high. Nothing better than knowing more people are opening the door to their house and saying, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece of property. (Applause.)
As well, if you're a younger worker, you better look at that Social Security system very seriously. Older guys like me are just fine when it comes to Social Security. But the fiscal solvency of Social Security is in doubt if you're a younger worker. We'll strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal savings account, an account they call their own, an account they can pass on from one generation to the next. (Applause.)
In this world of change, there are some things that do not change -- the values we try to live by, courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. (Applause.) The institutions that bring us stability must not change, our families, religious congregations. (Applause.) They deserve our support. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every person counts. (Applause.) We believe religious charities provide a safety net of mercy and compassion and our government must never discriminate against them. (Applause.)
Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the protection of marriage against activist judges. (Applause.) I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Applause.)
This election will also determine how America responds to the continuing danger of terrorism. Since the terrible morning of September the 11th, 2001, we have fought the terrorists across the Earth, not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake.
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: Our strategy is clear. We are defending the homeland; we're transforming our military; we're strengthening our intelligence services; we're staying on the offensive. We will strike the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: We are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East because freedom will bring hope and the peace we all want. By being resolute and strong, we will prevail. (Applause.)
Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al Qaeda. Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups. Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising. Libya was pursuing nuclear weapons. Iraq was a gathering threat. Al Qaeda was largely unchallenged as it planned its attacks. Because we acted, today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror; Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders; Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests; Libya is dismantling its weapons programs; the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom; and more then three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained or killed. (Applause.)
We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.) This progress involved careful diplomacy, clear moral purpose and some tough decisions. And the toughest came on Iraq. We knew Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. Remember, he subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He harbored Abu Nidal and his organization. He let Zarqawi run free in Baghdad, and his crowd. We knew his long history of pursuing and even using weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.) And we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently. We must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.)
And so I went to the United States Congress. I saw a threat and I said to the Congress, do you see a threat? And members of both political parties looked at the same intelligence I looked at and came to the same conclusion we came to. And they authorized force, including my opponent. He looked at the same intelligence. He came to the same conclusion. And when they said on the floor of Congress, do you vote to authorize the use of force, he said, I do.
The last commitment of the Commander-in-Chief has to be to put troops in combat. The first commitment has got to be to try to resolve problems diplomatically. And so I went to the United Nations. I said to that body, I said, we see a threat. They looked at the same intelligence we had looked at, and again concluded that Saddam Hussein was a threat. They passed a resolution 15-nothing that said, disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. The free world had spoken. But as he had for over a decade, Saddam Hussein ignored the demands of the free world. He wasn't about to listen to the collective voice of the world. As a matter of fact, he deceived inspectors that were sent into his country.
So I had a choice to make. It's the kind of choice that only comes to the Oval Office. It's the kind of decision no President would ask for, but must be prepared to make. The decision was, do I trust a madman and forget the lessons of September the 11th, or defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Because we acted to defend our country, 50 million people have been liberated. Think about this. Think about this. Young women, young girls could not go to school in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Their mothers were whipped in the public squares. Yet, because we acted, we're not only more secure, but 10 million people have registered to vote for the upcoming presidential election in October. (Applause.) Iraq has got a strong Prime Minister and national council, and national elections are scheduled in January. The world is changing. Freedom is on the march. (Applause.)
We're standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because when America gives its word, America must keep its word. We're also doing so because we're serving a historic cause that will make our country safer. See, free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies, which no longer feed resentment and breed violence for export. Free societies change people. Free governments in the Middle East will fight terrorists instead of harboring them. That helps us keep the peace.
Our mission in those countries are clear. We'll help new leaders train their army so they can do the hard work of defending themselves against a few who want to deny the hopes of the many. (Applause.) We will help those countries head toward elections. We will help them get on the path of stability and democracy as quickly as possible. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. (Applause.)
We've got a fabulous United States military full of decent, honorable and courageous people. (Applause.) I want to thank the veterans who are here for having set such a great example for those who wear the uniform. (Applause.)
I made a pledge to those who wear the uniform and their families we'd give them all they need so they can do their job. And that's why I went to the Congress last September, proposed -- and the Congress overwhelmingly passed -- $87 billion of funding needed for our troops for body armor and fuel, spare parts, ammunition, hazard pay, health benefits -- all that's necessary to support them in their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I was pleased that we received strong bipartisan support. As a matter of fact, it was so strong that only 12 United States senators voted against the funding.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Two of them are my running mate and his -- my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Only four United States senators voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against funding our troops. Two of those senators were my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: So they asked him why, and he said, well, I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it. That's a --
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE PRESIDENT: I bet you they don't speak that way on the town square in the cities here in Lake County. They pressed him further, and he said he's proud of the vote. Then he just said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
Over the next four years, we'll continue to work with our friends and allies in the cause of freedom and peace. There are nearly 40 nations involved in Afghanistan, some 30 nations involved in Iraq. I'm proud of their contributions. I appreciate working with the leaders of those countries for making us all more secure. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. That's what I believe. I believe the wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. I've been spending time with Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. We sit at a table and discuss a lot of things, and one of the most important things we discuss is peace. Think about that. It wasn't all that long ago in the march of history that my Dad and your dads or granddads were fighting Japan in a brutal war. They were our enemy. And here today, because my predecessor and others believed in the power of liberty to transform an enemy into an ally, because they stood strong in the face of the skeptics, because they believed that freedom is the deepest desire of every human heart, that Japan is a democracy and ally. And here I am talking about the peace, talking about North Korea -- how to make it work on the peaceful peninsula, talking about Iraq, talking about how to bring terrorists to justice. Some day an American President will be sitting down with a duly-elected leader of Iraq talking about the peace, and our children and grandchildren will be better off. (Applause.)
I believe millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I believe that, given a chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised by man. I believe all these things, not because freedom is America's gift to the world, but because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
I believe that the 21st century will be the century of liberty. By promoting freedom here at home and abroad, we will build a safer world and a more hopeful America. We'll spread ownership and opportunity to every corner of this land. We'll pass the enduring values on to another generation. We'll continue to lead the world in the cause of freedom and peace. (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. This is a time when we need firm resolve, clear vision, and a deep abiding faith in the values that make this a great nation. (Applause.)
None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended and another began. September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget. I'll never forget those workers in hard hats at the top of their lungs yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I'll never forget shaking hands with people who just came out of the rubble, the firefighters and the police who set such an incredibly powerful example for bravery and courage and compassion all across the country. (Applause.) The guy looked me in the eye -- the guy looked me in the eye and he said, "Do not let me down." And since that day, I wake up thinking how better to protect our country. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
Four years ago -- four years ago when I traveled your great state and asked for the vote, I made a pledge. I pledged 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. With your help -- with your help I will do so for the next four years.
God bless. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) God bless you all. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 12:30 P.M. EDT