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 Home > News & Policies > October 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 30, 2004

President's Remarks in Orlando, Florida
Tinker Field
Orlando, Florida

8:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) Laura and I really thank you for taking time out of your Saturday evening to come by and lift our spirits, and we're grateful for your presence. We're going to carry Florida, with your help. (Applause.)

Perhaps the most important reason to put me back in office is so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)

I'm proud of my running mate, Dick Cheney. Look, I readily concede he doesn't have the waviest hair in the race. People of Orlando will be pleased to know I didn't pick him up -- pick him because of his hair. (Laughter.) 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.)

We are some kind of proud in my family of brother, Jeb. (Applause.) We share the same campaign consultant -- Mother. (Laughter.) We're both listening to her. Also proud my brother, Marvin Bush, is with us today. Thank you for coming, big Marv. (Applause.)

I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor, Tony Jennings, Attorney General Charlie Crist, Congressman Rick Keller, Congressman Tom Feeney. (Applause.) I want to thank Rich Crotty. I want to thank my friend, Mel Martinez. Put him in the Senate, he'll do a great job. (Applause.) I want to thank Mark Wills. I want to thank Shawn Michaels, professional wrestler. (Applause.) I was hoping to see him backstage -- if I could ask him if it was real. (Laughter.)

I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. (Applause.) I want to thank you for putting up the signs, making the phone calls. I know how much work went into putting this great rally together. I thank you for what you have done, and I want to thank you for what you're going to do as we're coming down the stretch run. I need your help. I need your work. We will carry Florida and win a great victory on November the 2nd. (Applause.)

My four years as your President have confirmed some lessons and taught me some new ones. I have learned to expect the unexpected, because war and emergency can arrive suddenly on a quiet autumn morning. I've learned firsthand how hard it is to send young men and women into battle, even when the cause is right. I've been grateful for the lessons I've learned from our parents: respect every person, do your best, live every day to its fullest. I have been strengthened by my faith and humbled by its reminder that every life is part of a larger story. (Applause.)

I know how a President needs to lead. As Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt, to Reagan so clearly demonstrated, a President must not shift in the wind; a President has to make tough decisions and stand by them. (Applause.) The American President must not follow the path of the latest polls. The role of the President is to lead based on principle and conviction and conscience. (Applause.) Especially in a time of war, mixed signals only confuse our friends and embolden our enemies. Mixed signals are the wrong signals for an American President to send. (Applause.)

In the last four years, Americans have learned a few things about me, as well. Sometimes, I'm a little too blunt. (Applause.) I get that from my mother. Sometimes, I mangle the English language. I get that from my dad. (Laughter.) But all the time, whether you agree with me or not, you know where I stand and where I'm going to lead this nation. (Applause.)

You can't -- you cannot say that about my opponent. I think it's fair to say that consistency is not his long suit. Next Tuesday, the American people will vote for conviction and consistency, and with your help, we're going to win this election. (Applause.)

This election comes down -- this election comes down to five choices for your family. 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. Americans will go to the polls Tuesday in a time of war and ongoing threats. The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous, and they're 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 -- if America shows --

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

THE PRESIDENT: If America -- if America shows uncertainty or weakness in these troubling times, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch. (Applause.)

Our strategy is clear: We've strengthened the protections for the homeland. We're reforming our intelligence capabilities. We are transforming our military -- the all-volunteer army will remain an all-volunteer army. There will be no draft. (Applause.) We are relentless, we are steadfast, we are determined. We will fight the terrorists across the globe so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

Because we led, the world is changing. Afghanistan is a free nation and an ally in the war on terror. Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders. Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests. Libya is dismantling its weapons program. (Applause.) The army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom. And more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been brought to justice. (Applause.)

We will use every asset at our disposal to protect the American people. And one of the best assets we have is freedom. (Applause.) I believe in the power of liberty to transform society. I want the younger Americans here to realize what has happened in a brief period of time. Three-and-a-half years ago, young girls couldn't go to school in Afghanistan, because the Taliban were so barbaric and backwards. And if their mothers didn't toe the ideological line of hatred, they were taken into the public square and whipped, and sometimes to a sports stadium and executed. Because we acted in our own interest, because we upheld the doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist, millions of people voted in the presidential election in Afghanistan, and the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)

Freedom is powerful. Iraq is still dangerous, but Iraq will be having elections in January. Think how far that country has come. (Applause.) It is in our interests, it is in our children's interests that we promote freedom and liberty around the world. I believe everybody yearns to be free. 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 your tactics change, but never your principles. And you have seen how I do my job. On good days and on bad days, when the polls are up or the polls are down, I am determined to protect the American people. (Applause.) And I will always support the United States military.

I want to thank those who wear our nation's uniform who are here today. (Applause.) I want to thank the military families who are here today. (Applause.) And I want to thank the veterans who have set such a great example for those who wear the uniform. (Applause.) We will support our troops in harm's way.

That's why I went to the United States Congress in September of 2003 and asked for $87 billion of supplemental funding. This was necessary support. We had troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We received great support for that piece of legislation, so strong only 12 members of the United States Senate opposed the funding for our troops in harm's way.


THE PRESIDENT: Two of those 12 were my opponent and his running mate. But I want to tell you another statistic.


THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you one more statistic. There were only four members of the Senate who voted to authorize force, and then did -- voted against supporting our troops in harm's way -- only four members, two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: So they asked him several times why he made the vote he made. One of those answers was perhaps the most famous quote of the 2004 campaign, when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion right before I voted against it."

AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

THE PRESIDENT: I have spent enough time -- I have spent enough time in the great state of Florida to know not a people -- not a lot of people talk that way here. (Laughter.) He's given several explanations since, but I think the most revealing explanation of all about his vote against supporting our troops was when he said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry's record on national security has a 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.


THE PRESIDENT: Well, history has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and President Ronald Reagan was right. (Applause.)

When former President Bush lead a coalition against Saddam Hussein to get him out of Kuwait after he invaded Kuwait in 1991, Senator Kerry voted against the use of force to liberate Kuwait.


THE PRESIDENT: 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 his colleague from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, voted against it.


THE PRESIDENT: Well, history has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and -- we've got to be fair about it -- 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, of Harry Truman, of John Kennedy is rightly remembered for confidence and resolve in times of crisis and in times of conflict. Senator Kerry has turned his back on "pay any price" and "bear any burden." He has replaced those commitments with "wait and see" and "cut and run."

Many Democrats in this country do not recognize their party anymore. Today, I want to speak to every Democrat. 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: When you're out -- when you're out rounding up the vote, when you're getting people to go to the polls, like I know you're going to do, remind them we have big differences as to how to best protect our country and our families. In one of our debates, my opponent said that America must pass a global test before we commit our troops.


THE PRESIDENT: I know, you're probably thinking I made that up, but I was standing right there pretty close to him when he said it. (Laughter.) I was just as startled as you are. As far as I can tell, it means our country must get permission from foreign capitals before we act. As President, I will work with our friends, I will strengthen our alliances. But I will never turn over national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

In a recent interview, my opponent said that September the 11th didn't change him much at all. Well, it changed me. It changed me a lot. It gave me -- it caused me to think about how to protect America in a different way from the past. I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers on September the 14th, 2001. It is a day I will never forget. I'll never forget the workers in hard hats yelling at me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." I will never forget the fellow who grabbed me by the arm. He looked me right 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 best protect the American people. I will never relent in the security of this country, whatever it takes. (Applause.)

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 the American families. I kept my word. (Applause.) We doubled the child credit to $1,000 per child, and that helps moms and dads. We reduced the marriage penalty. Our tax code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We dropped the lowest bracket to 10 percent. We reduced income taxes for everybody who pays income tax. And our economic recovery plan is working.

Remember what we have been through. Six months prior to my arrival in Washington, the stock market was in serious decline. That foretold a recession. We had corporate scandals. And the attacks on America cost us about a million jobs in the three months after September the 11th. But our economic policies are working. Our economy is growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. We've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. (Applause.) The home ownership rate is at an all-time high in America. (Applause.) More minority families own a home than ever before in our nation's history. (Applause.) Florida's farmers and ranchers are making a living.

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. The small business sector of our economy is thriving and doing well. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. And the unemployment rate in the great state of Florida is 4.5 percent. (Applause.) This economy is strong and it is getting stronger. (Applause.)

My opponent has a different plan for your budget -- he plans to take a big chunk out of it.


THE PRESIDENT: He's been in the United States Senate for 20 years and he's voted to raise taxes 98 times.


THE PRESIDENT: That's five times for every year he's been in the Senate. I would call that a predictable pattern -- a leading indicator. (Laughter.) During the campaign, he's made some big promises, too. He's promised $2.2 trillion of new spending. That is trillion with a "T." That's a lot. That's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.


THE PRESIDENT: So they asked him how he's going to pay for it. He said, well, he's just going to tax the rich. We've heard that before. There's a problem with that. If you run up the top two brackets like he says it's going to do, it raises between $600 billion and $800 billion. That is far short of the $2.2 trillion. That's called a tax gap. Guess who usually gets to fill the tax gap.


THE PRESIDENT: You do. But we're not going to let him tax you. We're going to carry Florida and win next Tuesday. (Applause.)

The third choice -- 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 to America's families. As a candidate, I pledged to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. I kept my word. (Applause.) I signed the No Child Left Behind Act and proudly so. It's a great piece of legislation. We increased federal funding for our schools, particularly for the disadvantaged and special-ed kids and that's important. But also what's important is to measure. We said, in return for extra money show us whether our children can read and write and add and subtract, because we believe every child can read and we believe every school must teach. (Applause.)

You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. We're now diagnosing and solving problems all across America, particularly in states like Florida because of your good Governor. We're closing an achievement gap for minority students all across America, and we're not going to go back to the old days of low expectations and mediocrity. (Applause.)

We'll continue to work to make health care more accessible and affordable. We have a duty to take care of those who can't help themselves. That's why I'm such a strong believer in community health centers, places where the poor and the indigent can get good primary and preventative care. And I believe -- and I know we must work with our governors and mayors to make sure that the -- the program for children from low-income families is fully subscribed so our children can get good health care.

But I also understand that most of the uninsured work for small businesses. And we ought to allow small businesses to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries so they can buy insurance at the same discounts that big companies are able to do. (Applause.) We'll expand health savings accounts to help our families and small businesses. And to make sure health care is available and affordable for families all across this country, we will do something about the frivolous and junk lawsuits that are running good doctors out of practice and running up the cost of your health care. (Applause.)

We have a national problem when it comes to litigation. I have met too many OB/GYNs, some from the state of Florida, that have been run out of their practice because the lawsuits have caused their premiums to be too high. And I have met too many expectant moms that are deeply concerned about the quality of health care they're going to get for themselves and their child. You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient, and pro-personal injury trial lawyer at the same time. I think you have to make a choice. My opponent made his choice. He's voted against medical liability reform ten times in the Senate, and he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket.


THE PRESIDENT: I have made my choice. I'm standing with Florida's docs and Florida's patients and Florida's families. I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)

We have a difference of opinion when it comes to health care. In one of those debates, they asked my opponent about his health care plan and he said the government doesn't have anything to do with it. I could barely contain myself. The government has got a lot to do with it. Eighty percent of the people would end up on a government plan. If you make it easier for people to sign up for Medicaid, it is likely small businesses will stop writing insurance for their employees because the government will. And that moves people from the private sector to the government plans. And when the government writes the checks, the government makes the rules. And when the government makes the rules for your health care, the government starts making decisions for you and decisions for your doctors. Federalizing health care is the wrong prescription for America's families. (Applause.)

In all we do to improve health care, we'll make sure the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C.

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 to improve Medicare by adding prescription drug coverage. I kept my word. (Applause.)

I told the Congress Medicare needed to be modernized. You know, Medicare would pay thousands of dollars for a heart -- for heart surgery, but it wouldn't pay one dime for the prescription drug that could prevent the heart surgery from being needed in the first place. That didn't make any sense. So I brought Republicans and Democrats together. We modernized Medicare. And beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)

We'll keep the promise of Social Security for our seniors, and we will strengthen Social Security for generations to come. Every election, politicians try to scare our seniors and say that they're not going to get their checks if somebody like me gets elected. They said that in 2000. I got elected, and the seniors got their checks. The seniors will always get their checks. Baby boomers like me, and like some others I see out there -- (laughter) -- we'll get our checks. But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether or not Social Security will be there when they need it. And that is why I think younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account, an account they call their own, an account the government cannot take away. (Applause.)

My opponent and I take a different approach toward Social Security. He said he's going to protect Social Security, but he forgot to tell the people that he's voted eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.


THE PRESIDENT: He can run, but he cannot hide. (Applause.) And when it comes to the next generation, he's offered no reform. The job of the President is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and to future generations. In a new term I will bring people together to strengthen Social Security for generations to come. (Applause.)

The fifth clear choice in this election is on the values that are important for our country. We stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of this society. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life, in which every being counts. I proudly signed the ban on partial birth abortions. (Applause.) We stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Applause.)

My opponent has a different point of view. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion.


THE PRESIDENT: He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.


THE PRESIDENT: And at one time in his campaign, he said the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood.


THE PRESIDENT: Most of our families don't look to Hollywood as a source of values. The heart and soul of America is found in communities like Orlando, Florida. (Applause.)

All these choices make this one of the most important elections in our history, and the decision is in the best of hands. It is in the hands of the American people. (Applause.)

I've got a clear view of where I want to take this country. I clearly see a better tomorrow. One of my favorite quotes is by a fellow Texan named Tom Lea. 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." In the course of this campaign, my opponent has spent much of his time talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that's coming. (Applause.)

I see a great day coming for America. I see a day where prosperity reaches every corner of our country. I see a day in which every child can read and write and add and subtract. And I see a day -- I see a day that after all the struggle, peace comes, a peace we want for our children and our grandchildren.

You know, when I campaigned across the state of Florida four years ago, I made this pledge, that if I got elected I would uphold the honor and the dignity of the office. With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for four more years.

God bless. Thank you all for coming. Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 8:32 P.M. EDT