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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 27, 2004
President's Remarks in Findlay, Ohio
Hancock County Fairgrounds
4:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) You know, it is such a beautiful day in Flag City, I think I'll just take off my jacket. (Applause.) And stay a while. (Applause.) Thanks for coming out. You are lifting our spirits. We're honored you're here. (Applause.) And Laura and I have come with the great Senator from Georgia to not only ask for your vote, but to ask for your help. (Applause.) We need your help coming down the stretch to get your friends and neighbors to go to the polls.
We have a duty in our democracy to vote. We have an obligation to vote. So I'm asking you to tell your friends and neighbors about that obligation. Get our Republicans to go out there. Get independents to go out there. And find those discerning Democrats like Zell Miller and head them to the polls. And when you get them to the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America and a stronger America and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I have been traveling your state a lot. (Applause.) And I enjoy it. (Applause.) I have had a chance to say hello to a lot of the citizens from Ohio. And I've been telling them why they ought to put me back in office. But perhaps the most important reason why I ought to have four more years is so that Laura is the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) I'm sure some will be able to relate to this story. You know, Laura and I went to the 7th grade together in San Jacinto Junior High in Midland, Texas. We became reacquainted. She was a public school librarian, and when I asked her to marry me, she said, fine, but make me a promise. I said, okay, what is it? She said, promise me I'll never have to give a political speech. (Laughter.) I said, okay, you got a deal. Fortunately, she did not hold me to that promise. She is giving a lot of speeches, and when she does, the American people see a warm, compassionate, strong First Lady. (Applause.)
I'm looking around. I see some people out there who are follically challenged. (Laughter.) And think about that, it reminds me of my Vice President. (Laughter.) Dick Cheney is a great Vice President. He does not have the waviest hair in the race. (Laughter.) But you all will be pleased to hear, I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. (Applause.) I picked him because of his judgment; I picked him because of his experience; I picked him because he's getting the job done for the American people. (Applause.)
It's a joy to travel with my friend, Zell Miller. He's strong, he is courageous, he puts party aside and puts his country first. And for that, I am grateful. (Applause.)
I call him, Ox, you call him, Congressman. Mike Oxley is as fine as they are in the House of Representatives. He's a good man, and I appreciate his service. (Applause.) And I want to thank his wife, Pat, for joining us, as well. And I am proud to be up here, or close by, with the fine United States Senate Michael DeWine. He's doing a good job for the people of Ohio, as is George Voinovich. Make sure you put George back in. (Applause.) And I appreciate Fran DeWine joining us.
I want to thank Congressman Paul Gillmore for being here today. I want to thank your Governor, Bob Taft, for joining us today. Mr. Governor, I appreciate your service to the state of Ohio. I want to thank Jennette Bradley for joining us today, the Lieutenant Governor of the state of Ohio. I appreciate Mayor Iriti for joining us today. Mr. Mayor, you didn't ask me for any advice, but I'm going to give you some: Fill the potholes. (Applause.) Mayor Iriti is a good man, and I appreciate him being here, and I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, for serving. I want to thank all the other state and local officials.
I want to thank the Findlay High School Marching Band for joining us. (Applause.) I want to thank Wil Gravatt Band for joining us today.
Most of all, I want to thank you all. I want to thank the grassroots activists, the people who are putting up the signs, the people making the phone calls, the people who have worked so hard to make this rally such a successful rally. I want to thank you for what you have done, and I want to thank you for what you are going to do, which is turn out that vote. (Applause.) And with your help, there is no doubt in my mind, we'll carry Ohio again and win a great victory on November the 2nd. (Applause.)
This election comes down to some clear choices for America's families, choices on issues of great consequence. The first clear choice is the most important because it concerns the security of your family. All progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. This will be the first presidential election since September the 11th, 2001. Americans will go to the polls in a time of war and of ongoing threat unlike any we have faced before. The terrorists who kill thousands of innocent people are still dangerous, and they are determined to strike. The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror. The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. (Applause.) If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
Since that 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. Our strategy is clear: We have strengthened the protections for the homeland. We're reforming our intelligence capabilities. We're transforming the United States military. We will keep the all-volunteer army an all-volunteer army. There will be no draft. (Applause.) We are relentless, we are determined, we are staying on the offensive so we do not have to face these terrorists here at home. (Applause.)
And we're spreading freedom and liberty. Some amazing things have happened in a short period of time. I want the youngsters here to understand what has happened in the world. In Afghanistan, three-and-a-half years ago, young girls couldn't go to school. And if their mothers did not toe the line of the ideologues of hate who ran that country, they were whipped in the public square, sometimes executed in a sports stadium. We acted to defend ourselves. We upheld the doctrine that said, if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist. And in so doing -- and in so doing, we liberated people from the clutches of those barbaric people called the Taliban. Millions of people went to vote in a presidential election. The first voter was a 19-year-old woman. Freedom is on the march. (Applause.)
It's never easy to go from tyranny to liberty, but that's where we're headed. There will be elections in Iraq. Think how far that country has come from the days of mass graves and torture chambers. I believe everybody in the world yearns to be free. I believe people deep in their soul want to live in a free society. I believe that because 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.)
A President must lead with consistency and strength. In a war, sometimes you have to change your tactics, but never your principles. (Applause.) Americans have seen how I do my job. Even when you might not agree with me, you know what I believe, you know where I stand, and you know what I intend to do. (Applause.) On good days and on bad days, whether the polls are up or the polls are down, I will do everything we can do to defend the American people and win this war against the terrorists. (Applause.) And I will always support the men and women who wear our nation's uniform. (Applause.)
We have got a great United States military. (Applause.) And I am proud to be their Commander-in-Chief. I want to thank the families of those who wear our nation's uniform. I want to thank you for your sacrifices. I want to thank the veterans who are here today for having set such a great example for those who wear the uniform. (Applause.) As I've told families all across this country, we will make sure your loved ones have the support necessary to complete their missions.
And that's why I went to the United States Congress and asked for $87 billion of supplemental funding in September of 2003, necessary funding, important funding, to support our troops in harm's way. And we received good support for that. As a matter of fact, the support was so strong that only 12 members of the United States Senate voted against funding for our troops, two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I would like for you to share this startling statistic with your friends and neighbors as you get them going to the polls: There were only four members of the United States Senate, four out of a hundred, that voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against supporting our troops in harm's way. And two of those four were my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, you might remember his -- Senator Kerry's explanation about that vote. He said, I actually did vote for the $87 billion right before I voted against it. Now, I haven't spent much time in the coffee shops of Findlay, but I suspect you're not going to find many people in this part of the world who talk that way.
They kept pressing him about it. He's given four or five different explanations about the vote. One of the most interesting ones of all that speaks to my opponent, said, well, the whole thing was just a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in harm's way. (Applause.)
After repeatedly calling Iraq the wrong war and a diversion, Senator Kerry, this week, seemed shocked to learn that Iraq was a dangerous place full of dangerous weapons. (Laughter.) The Senator used to know that, even though he seems to have forgotten it over the course of the campaign. But that's why we went there. See, Iraq was a dangerous place run by a dangerous tyrant who hated the United States. And he had a lot of weapons. And we've seized or destroyed more than 400,000 tons of munitions, including explosives at thousands of sites. And we're continuing to round up weapons nearly every day.
Now, I want to remind you all, If Senator Kerry had had his way, we would still be taking our global test.
THE PRESIDENT: And Saddam Hussein would still be in power, and he would control all those weapons and explosives and could have shared them with a terrorist enemy. Now, the Senator is making wild charges about missing explosives. One of his top foreign policy advisors admits he doesn't know the facts. He said, "I don't know the truth." End quote. Well, think about that. The Senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts. Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site. This investigation is important and it is ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not the person you want as the Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
Unfortunately, that is part of a pattern. My opponent is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001, and that our military passed up a chance to get him at Tora Bora. You might remember that. He kept repeating that in the debates. Well, this is unjustified criticism of our military commanders in the field. This is the kind of -- worse kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking, what we've come to expect from him, however. In fact, our commander in Afghanistan, General Tommy Franks, recently wrote this about Tora Bora: "The Senator's understanding of events does not square with reality." He went on to say, the General says, "American Special Forces were actively involved in the search for the terrorists at Tora Bora," and that "intelligence reports at the time place bin Laden in any of several countries." That's what Tommy Franks, who knew what he's talking about, said.
Poor Senator Kerry got into political difficulty and revised his views. He saw our actions in Tora Bora differently. In the fall of 2001, on national television, he said this about Tora Bora: "I think we've been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way." At the time the Senator said about Tora Bora: "I think we have been smart. I think the administration leadership has done it well and we are on the right track." End quote. All I can say is that I am George W. Bush and I approve of that message. (Applause.)
The security of our families is vital, and it's important to our people of this country to understand the records. Senator Kerry's record on national security has the far deeper problem than election-year flip-flopping. On the largest national security issues of our time, he has been consistently wrong. When Ronald Reagan was confronting the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, Senator Kerry said that President Reagan's policy of peace through strength was making America less safe. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and President Ronald Reagan was right. (Applause.)
When former President Bush led a coalition against Saddam Hussein in 1991, Senator Kerry voted against the use of forces to liberate Kuwait. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and former President Bush was right. (Applause.)
In 1994, just one year after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, Senator Kerry proposed massive cuts in America's intelligence budget, so massive that even his Massachusetts colleague, Ted Kennedy, opposed them. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and -- we have got to be fair -- that Senator Kennedy was right. (Applause.)
During the last 20 years, in key moments of challenge and decision for America, Senator Kerry has chosen the position of weakness and inaction. With that record, he stands in opposition not just to me, but to the great tradition of the Democratic Party. The party of Franklin Roosevelt, the party of Harry Truman, the party of John Kennedy is rightly remembered for confidence and resolve in times of war and hours of crisis. Senator Kerry has turned his back on "pay any price" and "bear any burden," and he has replaced those commitments with "wait and see," and "cut and run."
Many Democrats in this country do not recognize their party anymore. And traveling Ohio, I want to speak to every one of them. If you believe that America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence in our ideals, I would be honored to have your support, and I'm asking for your vote. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: The second -- the second clear choice in this election concerns your family's budget. When I ran for President four years ago, I pledged to lower taxes for American families, and I kept my word. (Applause.) We doubled the child credit to $1,000 per child to help our families. We reduced the marriage penalty. I believe the tax code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We dropped the lowest bracket to 10 percent, we reduced income taxes for everybody that pays income taxes. After-tax income, that's money in your pocket. It's gone up by about 10 percent since I became your President.
And I want you to remind your friends and neighbors, when you're out there getting people to the polls, what this economy has been through. Six months prior to my arrival, the stock market was in serious decline. Then we had a recession. Then we had corporate scandals. But we passed what's called the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, a bill that makes it abundantly clear that we will not tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America. (Applause.) And I want to thank Congressman Oxley for authoring this legislation.
And then we got attacked on September the 11th. Those attacks cost us about a million jobs in the three months after that fateful day. But our economic policies have led us back to growth. Our economy is growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. Home ownership in America is at an all-time high. (Applause.) We saw a lot of good farmland, flying in today. The farm incomes are up all across America. (Applause.) Our small businesses are flourishing. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. We've added 1.9 million new jobs since August of 2003. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. Let me put that in perspective for you: That's lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. (Applause.)
I know there are placed hurting here in Ohio. I've traveled into those neighborhoods. I've talked about an economic plan to continue growth. But I want to remind you that just last month, the unemployment rate in the state of Ohio went from 6.3 percent to 6 percent, and this great state added 5,500 new jobs in one month. We're on the move. We're moving forward. (Applause.)
My opponent has very different plans for your budget. He's going to take a big chunk out of it.
THE PRESIDENT: He voted against the child tax credit; he voted against marriage penalty relief; he voted against lower taxes. And if his way had prevailed, the average family in America would have been paying $2,000 more in taxes to the federal government.
THE PRESIDENT: That may not seem like a lot to folks in Washington; it means a lot to people in Finley, Ohio. (Applause.)
He served in the United States Senate for 20 years, and he's voted for higher taxes 98 times. That's five times every year he served in the Senate. I would call that a predictable pattern -- (laughter) -- a reliable indicator. (Laughter.) When a senator does something that often, he must really enjoy it. (Laughter.) Around the campaign, he's been promising $2.2 trillion in new federal spending -- that's trillion with a "T." That's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.)
So they asked him, how are you going to pay for it? And he said that same old, tired line you've heard over and over again: We're going to tax the rich. Well, there's a problem with that. When you're run up the top two brackets, you only raise between $600 billion and $800 billion. That's far short of the $2.2 trillion he has promised. I would call that a tax gap. And guess who gets to usually fill that tax gap.
AUDIENCE: We do!
THE PRESIDENT: You do. The good news is we're going to carry Ohio and we're not going to let him tax you. (Applause.)
The third choice in this election involves the quality of life for our nation's families. A good education and quality health care are important for your future. As a candidate, I pledged to end the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. I kept my word. (Applause.) We passed a really good piece of reform legislation. We're raising the standards. We've increased federal spending, but now we're asking for results. We want to measure. See, you can't solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And we're diagnosing problems all across America and we're beginning to solve them. Our test scores in reading and math are up. We're closing achievement gaps for minority students all across America. We'll build on these reforms and extend them to our high schools so that no child is left behind in our country. (Applause.)
We'll continue to improve life for our families by making health care more affordable and accessible. We'll make sure the poor and the indigent get health care in what's called community health centers. We'll make sure our low-income -- our program for low-income -- children in low-income families is fully subscribed so they get health care. To make sure health care is affordable, we'll help our small businesses. We'll allow them to pool together so they can spread risk and buy insurance at the same discounts big companies are able to do. (Applause.)
We will expand health savings accounts, which will help our families and small business owners. Let me tell you what else we need to do. We need to do something about these frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of medicine and running good doctors out of practice. (Applause.)
I was in Canton the other day talking to a OB/GYN who got run out of business because these lawsuits made her premiums too high to practice medicine. And I met too many citizens not only in your state, but across the country -- too many moms, expectant moms, who are worried about their health care and the health care of their baby because these lawsuits have made OB/GYN care more scarce. This is a national problem. You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient, and pro-plaintiff injury attorney at the same time. You've got to make a choice. My opponent made his choice and he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I have made my choice. I'm standing with the doctors of Ohio, I'm standing with the patients of Ohio. I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)
In one of our debates, my opponent looked straight in the camera when they asked him about his health care plan, he said, "the government doesn't have anything to do with it." I'll be frank with you, I could barely contain myself. The government has got a lot to do with his plan. Eighty percent of the people who sign up on his plan would end up on the government. See, if you make it easier for people to sign up for Medicaid, it means small businesses are likely not to provide insurance for their employees because the government will provide insurance for their employees. That's logical. And when the government starts writing the checks, the government starts making the rules. And when it comes to health care when the government's making the rules, the government starts making decisions for you and decisions for your doctor. The wrong prescription for health care in America is to increase the role of the federal government. (Applause.)
In all we do to improve health care, we'll make sure the decisions are made by patients and doctors, not by officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
The fourth clear choice in this election comes to your retirement. Our nation has made a solemn commitment to America's seniors on Social Security and Medicare. When I ran for President four years ago, I promised to keep that commitment and improve Medicare by adding prescription drug coverage. I kept my word. (Applause.) We have modernized Medicare for our seniors. Beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)
And we'll keep our promise for Social Security for our seniors and we will strengthen Social Security for generations to come. I remember the campaign in 2000. I remember those ads they were running. You might remember them. They said if George W. gets elected, the seniors are not going to get their checks. They may be doing it again this year. I want you to remind your friends and neighbors as you get them to the polls that George W. did get elected, and our seniors did get their checks. (Applause.) And our seniors will continue to get their checks. Nobody's going to take away your check.
Baby boomers like me, we're in pretty good shape when it comes to the Social Security trust. We'll probably get our checks. But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether or not the Social Security system will be there for them when they retire. That's why I believe younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own money -- some of their own payroll taxes, and put it in a personal savings account, an account they call their own, an account the government cannot take away. (Applause.)
Now, my opponent takes a different approach. He says he's going to strengthen Social Security, he's going to protect it. But you might remember, he is the only candidate in this race who has voted eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.
THE PRESIDENT: He doesn't like talking about that. He can run, but he cannot hide. (Applause.)
And he offered nothing for the younger generation in terms of reform. The job of a President is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. In a new term, I will bring Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen the Social Security system for generations to come. (Applause.)
And the final -- the final choice in this election is on the values that are so crucial to keeping our families strong. And here, my opponent and I are miles apart. I stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Applause.) I believe marriage is a sacred commitment -- (applause) -- a pillar of our civilization, and I will defend it. This is not a partisan issue. When Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, the vast majority of Democrats supported it, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. But Senator Kerry was part of an out-of-the-mainstream minority that voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.
THE PRESIDENT: I believe that reasonable people can find common ground on difficult issues. Republicans and Democrats came together and agreed we should ban the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) I proudly signed that bill. (Applause.) But Senator Kerry was part of an out-of-the-mainstream minority that voted against the ban.
THE PRESIDENT: He voted against parental notification laws, and against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. I will continue to reach out to Americans of every belief and move this good-hearted nation toward a culture of life. (Applause.)
At one point in this campaign, you might remember this, my opponent said that the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood.
THE PRESIDENT: Most American families do not look toward -- to Hollywood as a source of values. The heart and soul of America is found in communities like Flag City, Ohio. (Applause.)
All these choices make this one of the most important elections in our history. The security and prosperity of our country, the health and education of our families, the retirement of our citizens, and the direction of our culture are all at stake. And the decision is in the best of hands. It is in the hands of the American people. (Applause.) It is in your hands. You get to decide. And that gives me great confidence. See, I'm optimistic about this country and our future. One of my favorite quotes is from a fellow Texan named Tom Lea. He said this: He said, "Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that is gone." During the course of this campaign, my opponent has spent much of his campaign talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that's coming. (Applause.)
We've been through a lot together. We have been through a lot together during the last nearly four years. Because we've done the hard work of climbing the mountain, we can see the valley below. The next four years, we'll work to protect our families, build our prosperity, and defend our values. We will work hard to spread freedom and liberty so we can achieve the peace we want for generations to come.
Four years ago, when I traveled your great state asking for the vote, I made you this pledge, that if I was elected to the office I hold, I would uphold the honor and its dignity. With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for four more years. Thanks for coming. God bless. Thank you all. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
END 4:57 p.m. EDT