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 Home > News & Policies > October 2004

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

Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally
Brown County Veterans Memorial Complex
Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin

11:50 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) Thank you all. It's good to be with all the cheeseheads. (Applause.) It's great to be back in Brown County. We're here to ask for your vote, and here to ask for your help. (Applause.) It is close to voting time. We have a duty in our democracy to vote. And so I'm asking you to get your friends and neighbors and remind them of that duty. Find our fellow Republicans and turn them out. Find independents and turn them out. Find discerning Democrats -- (applause) -- and head them to the polls. And when you get them going to the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)

Perhaps the most important reason of all to put me back in for four more years is to make sure that Laura is the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)

I'm proud of my running mate. I don't want to offend anybody here who is follically challenged -- (laughter) -- but I admit it, Vice President Cheney doesn't have the waviest hair in the race. (Laughter.) People in this part of the world will be happy 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.)

I'm proud of your former governor, my friend and Cabinet Secretary, Tommy Thompson. He's done a great job. (Applause.) You know, one of the jobs of a President is to surround himself with smart, capable people. I obviously know how to do that when I picked Tommy Thompson. (Applause.)

I want to thank Congressman Mark Green for being such a fine member of the United States Congress. (Applause.) I want to thank his wife, Sue. I want to thank Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, and wife, Cheryl, for joining us today. (Applause.) I want to thank Congressman Tom Petri for joining us today. I want to thank Congressman Paul Ryan for joining us today. (Applause.)

I want to thank your State Treasurer, Jack Voight. I want to thank the Assembly Speaker for being here. I want to thank Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker. I call him, Scott W. (Applause.) I want to thank all the local officials, the Mayors and the City Council folks. I want to thank Tina Danforth, the Oneida Nation Chairwoman, for joining us today. (Applause.) I want to thank Bob Scheick, the Stockbridge Tribal President, for joining us today. I am honored -- I'm honored these tribal leaders are here, and I look forward to working on a government-to-government basis in the next four years to help build a more hopeful America for every citizen who lives in this country. (Applause.)

I hope you vote for Tim Michels for the United States Senate. (Applause.) Laura and I have come to know he and Barbara, and he is a fine, fine man. He'll make a great United States senator. (Applause.)

I want to thank my friend, Kayne Robinson, who's the President of the NRA, the National Rifle Association. I want to thank Wayne LaPierre for being with us today. I'm proud to have -- (applause) -- I'm proud to have the endorsement and support of so many of the sportsmen and women across the state of Wisconsin. I appreciate Jeff Schinkten who's the Whitetail Unlimited founder and board president, for supporting my candidacy. (Applause.) I want to thank Lee Greenwood for being here, my friend. (Applause.)

But most of all, Laura and I thank you all for coming. Thank you for taking time out of your Saturday afternoon to come by and say hello. I want to thank those of you who are putting up the signs. I want to thank those of you who are making the phone calls. I want to thank you for turning out such a huge crowd today. I want to thank you for what you have done and what you're going to do. (Applause.) By working hard and by turning out the vote, there is no doubt in my mind we will carry Wisconsin and win a great victory in November. (Applause.)

The person who sits in the Oval Office for the next four years will set the course of the war on terror and the direction of our economy. America will need strong, determined, optimistic leadership, and I am ready for the job. (Applause.) My four years as your President have confirmed some lessons and have taught me some new ones. I've learned to expect the unexpected because war and emergency can arrive suddenly on a quiet morning. I have learned firsthand how hard it is to send young men and women into battle, even if the cause is right. I've been grateful for the lessons I have learned from my parents: respect every person, do your best, live life to its fullest. I've 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 must lead, as Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan so clearly demonstrated. A President must not shift with the wind. A President has to make the tough decisions and stand by them. (Applause.) In the last four years, Americans have learned a few things about me. Sometimes, I am a little too blunt. (Laughter.) I got that from my mother. (Laughter.) Sometimes -- sometimes, I mangle the English language. (Laughter.) I got that from my father. (Laughter.) But all the time, whether you agree with me or disagree with me, you know where I stand, you know what I believe, and you know where I'm going to lead. (Applause.)

You can't say that about my opponent. I think it is fair to say that consistency is not his long suit. (Laughter.) Next Tuesday, the citizens of this country will vote. They will vote for conviction, they will vote for principle, they will vote for somebody who knows how to lead this country. And with your help, they'll be voting for George W. Bush. (Applause.)

This election comes down -- this election comes down to five choices for America's families. And 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. The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous and 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.) And if our country, if America shows any uncertainty or any weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to 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're protecting the homeland. We're transforming -- or reforming and strengthening 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 chase the terrorists around the globe so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

Because we led, Afghanistan is a free nation and now an ally in the war on terror. Because we led, Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests. Because we led, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs. Because we led, an 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 not only stay on the offense with all our assets, we will stay on the offense by spreading freedom and liberty. I believe in the power of liberty to transform societies. And I want the youngsters to know firsthand what I mean. Just look at what happened in Afghanistan. It wasn't all that long ago that the people of that country lived under the brutal reign of barbarians, ideologues of hate, called the Taliban. Young girls were not allowed to go to school. And if their mothers did not toe the line, they were taken into the public square and whipped, and sometimes executed in a sports stadium. Because we acted in our own self-defense, because we upheld a doctrine that I clearly laid out for the world, which said, if you harbor a terrorist you're equally as guilty as the terrorist, because we did what we said we were going to do, millions of people in Afghanistan voted for President of that country. And the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)

And America is better off to have freedom take the place of tyranny in Afghanistan. And there are going to be elections in Iraq in January. Think how far that country has come from the days of torture chambers and the brutal reign of a hater of America who had mass graves for thousands of his citizens. Freedom is on the march, and America and the world are more secure because of it. I believe -- I believe in my heart of hearts that every person in the world desires to live in a free society. I believe this because I understand that freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman of this world. (Applause.)

A President must lead with consistency and strength. In a war, sometimes your tactics have to change, but never your principles. Americans 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 security of the American people, and I will always support the men and women who wear our nation's uniform. (Applause.)

I want to thank those who wear the uniform who are here today. I want to thank the military families who are here today for your sacrifice. And I want to thank the veterans who are here today for having set such a great example for the men and women of today's military. (Applause.) And we'll make sure our troops have got the full support of the government.

That's why I went to the Congress and requested $87 billion of funding to support our troops in combat. It was important. This happened in September of 2003. And it was vital, a vital funding request. And we got good bipartisan support there in Washington. Only 12 members of the Senate voted against the funding, two of whom are my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: But I want to tell you this fact. As you're gathering up the vote, remind your friends and neighbors about this: Only four members of the United States Senate, four out of a hundred, voted to authorize force and then voted against the funding to support the troops they authorized. And two of those four were my opponent and his running mate. They kept asking him -- they kept asking him why he made the vote he did. And he uttered 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. (Laughter.)

Now, I haven't spent a lot of time in the coffee shops here in Green Bay, but I suspect I'm not going to find many people who talk that way. (Laughter and applause.) They kept pressing him, they kept asking for answers. He's given several answers since then, but perhaps the most revealing of all was that he said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. (Laughter.) My fellow Americans, there is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)

My opponent's positions are kind of like the weather here in Green Bay -- (laughter) -- if you don't like it, wait a little bit and it will change. (Laughter and applause.)

My opponent's record on national security has a far deeper problem than election-year flip-flopping. And it's important for you to understand the record. 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 Reagan was right. (Applause.)

When former President Bush led a coalition against Saddam Hussein in 1991, because the tyrant had invaded Kuwait and threatened the peace and stability of the world, Senator Kerry voted against the use of force 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 colleague from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, voted against them. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and -- we have got to be fair -- in this case, Senator Kennedy was right. ((Laughter and applause.)

During the 20 years -- 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 and Harry Truman and John Kennedy is rightly remembered for confidence and resolve in times of crises and in times of war. 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 today, 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.)

We have big differences about how to approach the security of our country. You might remember one of our debates when my opponent said that America must pass a global test before we commit our troops.


THE PRESIDENT: I'm not making that up. (Laughter.) I heard it, too. (Laughter.) As far as I can tell that means we've got to get permission from foreign capitals before we act in our own defense. That's --


THE PRESIDENT: That is a dangerous policy in the world in which we live. I'll work with our friends. I will work with our allies. I understand how important these alliances are, but I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

The security of our families are -- is at stake. We've got to be firm and resolved. My opponent was quoted about September the 11th, and he said, it didn't change him much at all. Well, September the 11th changed me. It made me look at the world in a different light. I'll never forget the day I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers -- that was September the 14th, 2001. I'll never forget the sights and the sounds of that moment when the workers in hard hats were yelling at me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." And one of the first responders -- I don't know if he worked for the fire department of New York, or the police department -- he came out of the rubble, and he grabbed me by the arm, and 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 better protect America. I will never relent in defending 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 our families, and I kept my word. (Applause.) We raised the child credit. We lowered the penalty on marriage. We believe the code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We created a 10-percent bracket. We reduced taxes on everybody who pays taxes, and we're overcoming obstacles because of that plan.

When you're out gathering the vote, remind your friends and neighbors that six months prior to my arrival the stock market was in serious decline. That would be six months prior to my arrival in January of 2001. And then we had a recession, and corporate scandals, and an attack that cost us about a million jobs in the three months after September the 11th. But our economic policies are working. This economy of ours is strong and it is getting stronger. (Applause.)

We've added 1.9 million jobs in the last 13 months. (Applause.) 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.) Wisconsin farmers are making a living. (Applause.) The small business sector in our country is strong. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and it is well. (Applause.) 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. The unemployment rate in the great state of Wisconsin is 5 percent. We're overcoming the obstacles. We're strong, and we are getting stronger. (Applause.)

My opponent has different plans for your budget. He's going to take a big chunk out of it. He voted against the child credit -- raising the child credit. He voted against reducing the marriage penalty. He voted against the tax relief. And had he had had his way, the average family in Wisconsin would be paying $2,000 more per year in taxes.


THE PRESIDENT: Now, that probably doesn't seem like a lot to some of them in Washington, but I understand, it's a lot for the families in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Applause.) People can use that $2,000. It can help them raise their children, help them make a living -- and if you're a small business owner.

My opponent's been in the Senate for 20 years, and he voted to raise taxes 98 times. That's five times a year. Now, I would call that a leading indicator. (Laughter.) He's also promised $2.2 trillion in new spending -- that would be trillion with a "T." (Laughter.) And that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.)

So they asked him how he's going to pay for it, and he threw out that same old, tired line: Oh, we'll pay for it by taxing the rich. That means he's going to raise the top two brackets. You know most small businesses are sole proprietorships or sub-chapter S corporations, which means they pay tax at the individual income tax level. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small businesses. So therefore, when you run up the top two brackets, you're taxing job creators, you're taxing small business owners. And that doesn't make any economic sense at all.

And secondly, when you top -- raise the top two brackets, you raise between $600 billion and $800 billion, which is far short of the $2.2 trillion he has promised. I call that a tax gap. (Laughter.) And given his record, guess who gets to fill the tax gap. You do. The good news is, you're not going to get taxed. We're going to carry Wisconsin and win on November the 2nd. (Applause.)

The third -- the third clear choice in this election involves the quality of life for our families. That means good education and quality health care. As a candidate, I pledged to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. I kept my word. We passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which I proudly signed into law. In return for increased federal spending, we're now expecting results because we believe every child can learn and we expect every school to teach. You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And so the new system enables us to diagnose and solve problems. The test scores are on the rise across this country in reading and math. We're closing an achievement gap for minority students all across this country. And we refuse to go back to the days of low standards and mediocrity in our classrooms. (Applause.)

And we will improve health care by making sure it is available and affordable. To make sure health care is available, we'll expand community health centers to help the poor and the indigent get primary and preventative care. We'll make sure our program for children of low-income families is fully subscribed. A compassionate society takes care of those who cannot help themselves. But I also recognize that most of the uninsured work for small businesses. And so to enable the small businesses to better afford insurance, we ought to allow them to join together to pool risk so they can buy insurance at the same discounts that big companies are able to do. (Applause.)

We will expand health savings accounts to help our families and our entrepreneurs. And to make sure health care is available and affordable, we will do something about the frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of medicine and driving too many doctors out of business. (Applause.) I have met too many OB/GYNs as I've traveled our country who are having trouble staying in practice because these lawsuits are running up their premiums and running them out of practice. And I have met too many women who are concerned about whether or not they and their child will get the health care they need. Too many communities have been upset because doctors can no longer practice medicine.

This is a national problem, I'm telling you, that requires a national solution. You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient, and pro-personal injury trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) I think you have to make a choice. My opponent made his choice. He has voted against medical liability reform not once, but 10 times as a senator. And he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket.


THE PRESIDENT: I've made my choice. I'm standing with the doctors. I'm standing with the patients of Wisconsin. I am for medical liability reform -- now. (Applause.)

My opponent has got a different point of view when it comes to health care. You might remember the debate when he said, well, the -- they asked him about his plan, and he -- he looked in the camera and he said, the government doesn't have anything to do with it. I could barely contain myself. (Laughter.) The government has got a lot to do with it. Eighty percent of the people that would be signed for health insurance under his plan would go on the government health care plan. If you make it easier for people to sign up for Medicaid, small businesses will drop insurance because the government will provide the insurance. And so you're moving people from the private sector to the public sector. And when the government starts writing the check, the government starts making the rules. And then the government starts making the rules for your family's health care, they start making the decisions for your family's health care. And they start making the decisions for your doctors. Federalizing health care is the wrong prescription for American families. (Applause.)

In all we do to make sure health care is available and affordable, we will 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. Now, 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.) The Medicare debate -- the Medicare debate was one of those debates in which people said a lot of stuff, but nothing ever got done. I worked with Republicans and Democrats to make the system work better. We would pay thousands of dollars for a heart surgery under Medicare, but not one dime for the prescription drugs that could prevent the heart surgery from being needed in the first place. It didn't make any sense. The system wasn't working. We got the job done. And beginning in 2006, all seniors will get prescription drug coverage under Medicare.

And we'll keep our commitment in Social Security, as well. (Applause.) Let me talk about Social Security -- well, you don't have any choice. I'm going to talk about Social Security. (Laughter.) You might remember the 2000 campaign when they ran the ads in Wisconsin that tried to scare our seniors by saying that if George W. gets elected, the seniors will not get their checks. Remind your friends and neighbors, George W. got elected and the seniors got their checks. And the seniors will continue to get their checks. (Applause.) No matter how they try to scare Wisconsin seniors, the seniors will get their checks.

And baby boomers like me and like some of the others I see out there -- (laughter) -- are in pretty good shape when it comes to Social Security. But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether the Social Security trust will be available for them when they need it. And therefore, I think younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account -- a personal saving account they call their own, a personal savings account the government cannot take away. (Applause.)

My opponent takes a different approach about Social Security. He's promised he's going to protect the system, but what he didn't tell you was he voted eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits. He can run from his record, but he cannot hide. We're not going to let him hide.

And he didn't offer anything for the youngsters when it comes to strengthening Social Security. 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 people together and strengthen Social Security for generations to come. (Applause.)

And the fifth clear choice is on the values that are crucial for our country. We stand for things. We stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life, in which every person matters and every being counts. I proudly signed the ban on partial birth abortions. (Applause.) And 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 had a different point of view. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. And at one point in this campaign, he said that the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood.


THE PRESIDENT: The heart and soul of America is found in communities all across the great state of Wisconsin. (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.) In less than 72 hours, the American people will be voting, and the decision comes down to who do you trust?

AUDIENCE: You! (Applause.)


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

THE PRESIDENT: I offer -- I offer leadership and results for a time of threat and a time of challenge. I ask for your trust; I ask for your vote; I ask for your help. I have a vision for this country that is clear. I know where I want to take us, and it's to a more hopeful 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." During this campaign, my opponent has spent much of the campaign talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that's coming. (Applause.) I see a day where prosperity reaches every corner of America. I see a day when every child can read and write. I see a day when we achieve the peace that we all long for our children and our grandchildren.

When I campaigned across your state four years ago, I made this pledge, that if 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 12:32 P.M. CDT