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 Home > News & Policies > October 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 27, 2004

President's Remarks in Lititz, Pennsylvania
Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally
Lancaster Airport
Lititz, Pennsylvania

11:12 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, before I want to say something, I'm traveling with a guest and a friend who represents thousands of people all across this country who are affiliated with the Democrat Party. My friend has come from Georgia to share a message with you about how we're going to work with Republicans and Democrats and independents to carry the great state of Pennsylvania. Please welcome my friend, Senator Zell Miller. (Applause.)

I'm thrilled to be traveling with him. I told Zell when we landed, I said, this is a good size crowd here, and there's a reason why -- because we're going to carry Pennsylvania on November the 2nd. (Applause. And that's what I'm here to do. I'm here to ask for your vote and ask for your help. (Applause.) I'm asking that you turn out your friends and neighbors to the polls. I'm asking you to continue to make the phone calls and put up the signs. I'm asking you to do everything you can, because, with your help, we'll make America a safer country, a stronger country, and a better country for every single citizen. (Applause.)

Perhaps the most important reason to put me back into office is so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) When I asked her to marry me, she said, fine, just make me a promise. I said, what is it? Promise me I'll never have to give a political speech. (Laughter.) I said, okay, you got a deal. Fortunately, she didn't hold me to that deal. She is giving a lot of speeches, and when she does the American people see a fine, compassionate, strong First Lady. (Applause.)

I'm proud of my running mate, Dick Cheney. I admit it, he does not have the waviest hair in the race. (Laughter.) You'll be happy to hear I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. I picked him because of his judgment. I picked him because of his experience. He's getting the job done for the American people. (Applause.)

What a great United States Senator Rick Santorum is. (Applause.) He and Zell serve in the Senate together. I'm proud to have Rick Santorum as my campaign manager for the state of Pennsylvania. I'm proud to have -- call him friend, and I know you're proud to call him Senator. (Applause.) And I hope you put Arlen Specter back in there. We need to work with him for six more years. (Applause.)

I'm honored to be on the stage with Joe Pitts, Congressman from this area. I appreciate you being here, Joe. Thanks for your service. (Applause.) I want to thank Pat Toomey for the class he showed during the primary campaign. I appreciate his leadership and his service to the Congress. I want to thank all the candidates who are here, people running for office. I wish you all the best coming down the stretch. I want to thank my friend, Daron Norwood and the Matt Goss Band for singing. (Applause.)

Most of all, I want to thank you all. You've lifted our spirits for being here. You're kind with your time and I want to thank you for coming. (Applause.) This election comes down to some clear choices --

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: This election -- this election comes down to some clear choices, clear choices for our families. We have issues of great consequence. The first clear choice is the most important because it concerns the security of your family. All the progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. It will be the first presidential election since September the 11th, 2001. Americans will go to the polls in a time of war, an ongoing threat unlike any we have ever faced before. The terrorists who killed thousands are still dangerous, and they are determined to strike again. And the outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against the terrorists.

The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. 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 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've strengthened the protection of the homeland. Tom Ridge, the former governor of your state, is doing a great job as the Secretary of Homeland Security. (Applause.) We're strengthening our intelligence capabilities. We're transforming our military. There will be no draft. The all-volunteer army will remain an all-volunteer army. (Applause.) We're staying on the offensive. We're relentless; we are determined. We will strike the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

And part of our strategy is to spread liberty. We believe in the transformational power of liberty to change societies. Think what happened in Afghanistan -- think about what happened there. It wasn't all that long ago that young girls couldn't go to school, and if their mothers didn't toe the line of the ideologues of the hate which ran that country, they were whipped in the public square and sometimes executed in a sports stadium. Because we acted in our self-interest, because we acted to destroy al Qaeda's capacity to train in Afghanistan, millions of people went to vote in a presidential election. The first voter in that election was a 19-year-old woman. Freedom is on the march, and America is more secure for it. (Applause.)

Iraq will be having presidential elections in January. That society has come a long way from the days of torture chambers and mass graves. Free societies are hopeful societies. By spreading freedom and liberty, we not only secure ourselves in the short-term, we spread the peace that we all long for so our children and our grandchildren can grow up in a hopeful tomorrow.

A President has to lead with consistency and strength. In a war sometimes your tactics have to change, but not your principles. (Applause.) Americans have seen how I do my job. Even when you might not agree with me, you know what I believe, and where I stand and where I intend to lead our country. (Applause.) On good days and on bad days, whether the polls are up, or the polls are down, I am determined to win this war on terror and to protect the American people. And I will always support the men and women who wear their nation's uniform. (Applause.)

I want to thank those who wear the uniform. I want to thank the families of our military. And I want to thank the veterans who are here who have set such a great example. (Applause.) We have a duty to support those in harm's way with all the resources they need, necessary for them to do their job. That's why I went to the United States Congress and asked for $87 billion of supplemental funding to support our troops in combat. And we got good support in the Congress; matter of fact, the support was so strong that only 12 United States senators voted against the supplemental funding request -- two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: As you're out gathering the vote and as you're out talking to people about this election, remind people of this startling statistic: Only four members of the United States Senate voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against providing the funding for our troops in combat -- only four -- two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: So they asked him -- they asked him -- I'm sure the people of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are just as surprised as people all around the country when he gave his famous answer about his vote. He said, I actually did vote for the $87 billion right before I voted against it. (Laughter.) He's given a lot of explanations since then -- a lot of them. One of the most interesting ones of all was that it was just a complicated matter. There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (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 after all, that's why we're there. Iraq was a dangerous place run by a dangerous tyrant who had a lot of weapons. We have seized or destroyed more than 400,000 tons of munitions, including explosives, at more than -- thousands of different sites. And we're continuing to round up more weapons every day.

I want to remind the American people, if Senator Kerry had his way, we would still be taking our global test, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, he would control all those weapons and explosives, and could have shared them with our terrorist enemies. Now, the Senator is making wild charges about missing explosives, when his top foreign policy advisor admits -- quote -- "We do not know the facts." Think about that. The Senator is denigrating the action of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts.

Unfortunately, that's part of a pattern of saying almost anything to get elected, like when Senator Kerry charged that our military failed to get Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, even though our top military commander, General Tommy Franks, said, "The Senator's understanding of events does not square with reality." And our intelligence reports placed bin Laden in any of several different countries at the time.

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's ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

When it comes to your security -- when it comes to the security of our families, my opponent takes a very different approach. He says that September the 11th did not change him much at all.


THE PRESIDENT: And his policies make that clear. He says the war on terror is primarily a law enforcement and intelligence-gathering operation. Well, September the 11th changed me. I remember the day I was in the -- at Ground Zero, on September the 4th, 2001 [sic]. It's a day I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats there yelling at me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." I remember a man grabbed me by the arm, he looked me square in the eye, and he said, "Do not let me down." Ever since that day, I wake up every morning trying to figure out how to better protect America. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)

The second clear choice -- the second clear choice in this election concerns your family budget. When I ran for President four years ago, I pledged to lower taxes for American families, and I kept my word. (Applause.) We've doubled the child credit to $1,000 per child. We reduced the marriage penalty. The tax code should encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We created the lowest -- a lower tax bracket of 10 percent so working families would get help. We reduced income taxes for everybody who paid income taxes. We helped our farmers, we helped our ranchers, we helped our small business owners. After-tax income -- that's the money in your pocket -- increased by about 10 percent since I became your President. (Applause.)

Our economy has been through a lot, and I want you to remind your friends and neighbors about these facts. First, six months prior to our arrival in Washington, the stock market was in serious decline. And then we had a recession. Then we had corporate scandals. And then the attacks of September the 11th cost us about a million jobs in the three months after that fateful day. But we acted. By cutting the taxes, we spurred consumption and investment. And our economic policies have led us back to growth. Our economy is growing faster than any nation in the industrialized world. We've added 1.9 million new jobs since August of 2003. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, which is lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. (Applause.)

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 5.3 percent. Home ownership rate is at an all-time high. Farm income is up. The small business sector of our economy is flourishing. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong, and we're not going to go back to the days of tax and spend. (Applause.)

My opponent has very different plans for your budget. He's going to take a big chunk out of it. He voted against all the tax relief that I suggested Congress pass. If he'd had his way, the average family in America would be paying $2,000 more in taxes to the federal government.


THE PRESIDENT: All told, during his 20 years in the United States Senate, he has voted to raise taxes 98 times. That's five times a year. I would call that a predictable pattern. (Laughter.) When a senator does something that often, he must really enjoy it. (Laughter.) During this campaign he's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending. Now, that is a trillion with a "T." That's a lot even for a senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.)

So they said, how are you going to pay for it? And he said, oh, we're just going to tax the rich. Now, you've heard that before. Be wary when you hear, oh, we're just going to tax the rich. My opponent has promised $2.2 trillion, but when you run up the top two brackets, you only raise between $600 billion and $800 billion. There is a gap between that which he promised and that which he can deliver. And guess who usually fills that gap.


THE PRESIDENT: We're not going to let him tax you. We're going to carry Pennsylvania on November the 2nd, and win a great victory. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: The third clear choice in this election involves the quality of life of our families. A good education and quality health care are important to a successful life. As a candidate, I pledged to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools, and as President, I kept my word. (Applause.) We passed education reforms to bring high standards to our classrooms and to make schools accountable to our parents. We're seeing progress all across America. Math and reading scores are on the rise. Achievement gaps, particularly for minority students, are closing all across our country. We're building on these reforms. We'll extend them to our high schools, so that no child is left behind in America. (Applause.)

We'll continue to improve our lives. We're making health care more accessible and affordable. We will expand health savings accounts so small businesses can cover their workers and more families are able to get health care accounts they manage and call their own. We will create association health plans so small businesses can join together and buy insurance at the same discounts that big companies are able to do. (Applause.) We will help families in need by expanding community health centers. We'll make sure every eligible child is enrolled in our government's low-income health insurance programs.

And to help the families of Pennsylvania, we will do something about the frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of medicine and running good doctors out of practice. (Applause.) Like other states, you got an issue when it comes to these medical liability lawsuits. I met too many good OB/GYNs who have been run out of practice because their premiums have gone up too high. I have met expectant mothers here in Pennsylvania who are worried about whether they and their baby will get the health care they need. You cannot be pro-doctor and pro-patient and pro-personal trial lawyer at the same time. You have to make your choice. My opponent made his choice, and he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket. I have made my choice. I'm standing with the doctors of Pennsylvania, with the patients of Pennsylvania. I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)

My opponent has got a different view when it comes to health care. I remember our debate when he looked right in the camera and he said his health care plan -- the government has nothing to do with it. I could barely contain myself. (Laughter.) The government has got a lot to do with it. Eight out of ten people would be signed up to a government program. Think about the idea of making it easier for people to sign up for Medicaid. It means small businesses will no longer provide coverage for their employees because the government will. And people would be moved from private insurance to government insurance. You see, when the government writes the checks, the government starts making the rules. And when it comes to health care, when the government makes the rules, the government starts making your decisions. And they start making the decisions for you, and they start making the decisions for the doctors.

His plan is a big government-run health care plan. It is the wrong prescription for American families. In all we do to reform health care, we'll make sure the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

The fourth clear choice in this election involves 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.) Seniors are now getting discounts on medicine with drug discount cards. Low-income seniors are getting $600 to help this year and $600 to help next year, to help them afford prescription drugs. And beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)

And we'll keep the promise of Social Security for our seniors, and as we do so, we'll strengthen Social Security for generations to come. I want you to remember what happened in the 2000 campaign. It is -- it's pretty predicable what takes place when it comes to elections. You might remember, they said if George W. gets elected, our seniors will not get their checks. Well, I want you to remind your friends and neighbors, when you're out gathering up the vote, that George W. did get elected, and our seniors did get their checks. (Applause.) And our seniors will continue to get their checks under Social Security, no matter what the politicians try to scare you with.

Baby boomers like me are in pretty good shape when it comes to the Social Security trust. But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether the Social Security system will be there when they need it. And that's why I think younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, a savings account that will earn a better rate of return, a savings account they call their own, a savings account that the government cannot take away. (Applause.)

My opponent takes a different approach when it comes to Social Security. He declared he will protect Social Security. But I want you to remind people that he voted eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits. And when it comes to the next generation, he hasn't offered anything at all when it comes to strengthening Social Security. The job of a President is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future generations and future Presidents. In a new term, I'll bring people together and strengthen the Social Security system for generations to come. (Applause.)

In this campaign, I'm speaking to the hopes of all Americans. The President's job is not to lead one party, but to serve the entire nation. I'm proud to have life-long Democrats like Zell Miller by my side. (Applause.) And he's joined by millions of other Democrats across our country who are supporting our ticket. As the citizens of this nation prepare to vote, I want to speak directly to the Democrats. I'm a proud Republican, but I believe my policies appeal to many Democrats. In fact, I believe my opponent is running away from some of the great traditions of the Democrat Party. If you're a Democrat and you want America to be strong and confident in our ideals, I'd be honored to have your vote. (Applause.)

The Democratic Party has a great tradition of leading this country with strength and conviction in times of war and crisis. I think of Franklin Roosevelt's commitment to total victory. I think of Harry Truman's clear vision at the beginning of the Cold War. I think of John Kennedy's brave declaration of American ideals. President Kennedy said: "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God." (Applause.)

Many Democrats look at my opponent and wonder where the -- that great tradition of their party has gone. My opponent takes a narrow, defensive view of the war on terror. As the United States of America hunts down the terrorists and liberates millions from tyranny, and aids the rise of liberty in distant lands, my opponent counsels retreat, votes against supporting our troops in combat, downplays the power of democracy, and accepts and adopts a narrow so-called realism that is little more than defeatism. I believe American leadership is the hope of the repressed, the source of our great security, and the greatest force for good in this world. I believe the liberation of captive peoples is a noble achievement that all Americans can be proud of. (Applause.)

If you are a Democrat who wants America to lead with strength and idealism, I would be honored to have your vote. (Applause.) The Democratic Party has a tradition of support for our public schools. The party of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey always stood up for the right of poor and minority children to get the best education America could offer. Many Democrats look at my opponent and wonder where that firm conviction has gone. Just as teachers and principals across America are lifting the sights of our schools and raising the test scores of minority children, my opponent is talking about weakening the standards and going back to the old days of stagnation and excuses for failure.

I got into politics and I ran for governor of Texas because I wanted to challenge that soft bigotry of low expectation. I didn't want to stand by and watch another generation of students miss out on the opportunity of our great country. When I came to Washington, I made schools my first domestic priority. We've increased funding to record levels. We're demanding results for our children of every background. If you're a Democrat who believes in strong public schools that teach every child, I'd be honored to have your vote. (Applause.)

Americans of both political parties have always had respect and reverence for the institution of marriage. Never in our history has marriage been a partisan issue; it's not a partisan issue today. Yet, many Democrats look at my opponent and wonder, where is his commitment to defending the basic institution of civilization. He says he supports marriage, but he'll do nothing to defend it. My opponent even voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. More than two-thirds of Democrats in the Senate supported that act, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. On the issue of protecting marriage, the Senator from Massachusetts is outside the mainstream of America, and outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

I believe that our society must show tolerance and respect for every individual; yet I do not believe this commitment of tolerance requires us to redefine marriage. (Applause.) If you are a Democrat who believes that marriage should be protected from activist judges, I'd be honored to have your vote. (Applause.)

The Democrat Party has also a great tradition of defending the defenseless. I remember the strong conscience of the late Democratic Governor from Pennsylvania, Robert Casey, who once said that when we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins. (Applause.) I remember the moral clarity of the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democrat of New York, who said that partial birth abortion is "as close to infanticide as anything I have ever come upon." Many Democrats look at my opponent and see an attitude that is much more extreme. He says that life begins at conception, but denies that our caring society should prevent even partial birth abortion.

Preventing partial birth abortion is an ethical conviction shared by many people of every faith, and by people who have no religion at all. I understand good people disagree on the life issue. So I've worked with Republicans and Democrats to find common ground on difficult questions and to move this good-hearted nation toward a culture of life. If you're a Democrat who believes that our society must always have room for the voiceless and the vulnerable, I would be honored to have your vote. (Applause.)

There are Democrats all over America, north and south, east and west, who believe their party's nominee does not share their deepest values. I know the Democrats are not going to agree with me on every issue. Yet on the big issues of our country's security, victory in the war against terror, improving our public schools, respecting marriage and human life, I hope people who usually vote for the other party will take a close look at my agenda. If you're a Democrat, and your dreams and goals are not found in the far left wing of the Democrat Party, I'd be honored to have your vote. And next Tuesday, I ask you stand with me. (Applause.)

And I want to thank -- and I want to thank each and every one of you who have come today for standing with me. I appreciate your support. I appreciate your convictions. I appreciate your good work. I believe in the future of this country. (Applause.)

One of my favorite quotes was written by a 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 the time talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that is coming. (Applause.)

We've been through a lot together in the last four years. Because we've done the hard work of climbing that mountain, we can see the valley below. For the next four years, we'll protect our families; we'll build on the prosperity of our nation; we will defend our deepest values; we will spread freedom and liberty around the world and continue to work for the peace we all long for.

You know, when I campaigned across this great state in 2000, I said, if you gave me a chance to serve, I would uphold the honor and the integrity of the office to which I have been elected. With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for four more years. Thanks for coming. God bless. Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 11:47 A.M. EDT