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 Home > News & Policies > August 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2005

President Discusses Second Term Accomplishments and Priorities
Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center
Grapevine, Texas

     Fact sheet President Bush's Second Term Accomplishments and Agenda

11:58 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all. Please be seated. Earl, thanks for the warm introduction, thanks for the invitation, and thanks for the award. And I appreciate your leadership of ALEC. Good leaders make good decisions -- you made a good decision bringing this convention to Texas. (Laughter.)

President George W. Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council next to their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday August 3, 2005.  White House photo by Paul Morse I'm pleased to be with the members of ALEC, and I want to thank you for serving. And I want to thank your families for standing by you as you serve. I appreciate you putting your community and your state and your nation ahead of your self-interest. I also appreciate the philosophy you espouse -- the philosophy rooted in free enterprise, accountability for local officials at all levels, and your focus on results. I used to work with some ALEC members when I was governor of the great state of Texas. I see a couple of them sitting around here. I appreciate you all coming. The thing I found about ALEC members is they're always willing to challenge the status quo, to espouse what I call a compassionate conservative philosophy; a philosophy that says government if necessary, but not necessarily government.

And so, thanks for having me, thanks for serving, and thanks for the invitation. Laura sends her best. She is the -- (applause.) She's down there in Crawford, and she is -- I got to tell you, I country -- she's a great First Lady, is what she is, and a great wife. (Applause.)

I see the Speaker and Nadine Craddick from Midland, Texas. I think one of the reasons why Laura is admired is because she never forgot where she came from or how she was raised. She's proud of Midland, Texas; she's carrying those Midland, Texas values to Washington, D.C. And she's a great mom, great wife, and a great First Lady. (Applause.)

I want to thank -- thank you, Tommy Craddick, who is the Speaker of the House of -- the Texas House is with us. And, Speaker, you're doing a great job. Proud of your accomplishments, proud to be with you today. (Applause.) I want to thank Duane Parde, the Executive Director. I want to thank the members of the Texas Host Committee. I want to thank the Congress folks who are here today. I see a couple of you out there, a couple of Texas Congressmen; Feeney from Florida, and Culberson is here. Thank you all for coming. I want to thank former Senator John Breaux from Louisiana for joining us. John, thanks for being here. (Applause.)

I asked Breaux to help out on simplifying the tax code. It needs to be simplified, and -- (applause.) Looking forward to seeing your report. (Laughter.) But thanks for serving.

In Washington, we're working on two great goals; one, strengthening our economy so people can realize their dreams, and defending this country. And we're making good progress on both. This economy of ours is strong, it is getting stronger, and the amazing thing is to remember where we have come from. We went through a recession, and a stock market correction, and a terrorist attack, and corporate scandals, and war. And in spite of that, this economy is growing at some of the highest levels ever.

President George W. Bush poses with the American Legislative Exchange Council's Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award after speaking to the group in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday August 3, 2005.  White House photo by Paul Morse In 2003, growth was at the highest levels in nearly 20 years. (Applause.) Our economy today is growing faster than any other major industrialized nation in the world. (Applause.) We've added 2 million new jobs in the last 12 months. More people work today than ever before in our nation's history. (Applause.) Employment is up in 48 of the 50 states; unemployment is down to 5 percent. That's below the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. More people own a home today than ever before in our nation's history. Our tax relief plan is working. (Applause.)

This week's report shows that both personal income and consumer spending grew rapidly in June. Real disposable personal income has grown by about 12 percent since the end of 2000. You know, some have questioned in Washington whether or not you can cut taxes and increase revenues for the Treasury. Well, I don't know if you saw the report that came out -- recently came out. It showed that the federal deficit is projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected. And that's because revenues are catching up. And the reason revenues are catching up is because the tax cuts stimulated economic vitality and growth all across the country. (Applause.) I laid out a goal for the Congress to work with the administration to cut the deficit in half by 2009, and we're ahead of pace to realize that goal.

At the state level, there's some good news. You've seen the effects of the growing economy on your revenues. State revenues in the first quarter of 2005 increased 11.7 percent from the prior year; 42 states have received more in revenue than expected, which tells me that we need to work together to make sure we're wise about how we spend that money. (Applause.)

Part of making sure that our economy continues to grow is to pass budget resolutions that are fiscally sound. And that's what we did in Washington, D.C. I submitted the first budget to propose a cut in non-security discretionary spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. And I appreciate the action in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate to pass a budget resolution that adhered to those principles. And now the appropriators must follow the guidelines of the budget. To keep this economy growing, we must not over-spend at the federal level. (Applause.)

I set out some priorities this winter, priorities to adhere to our principle that the role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish, in which dreamers can be -- realize big dreams. And as they do, they'll employ more of our fellow citizens.

I'm proud to report to you that we're making headway when it comes to legal reform. We got too many junk lawsuits that make it hard for people to create jobs in America. (Applause.) We passed class-action reform. We passed bankruptcy reform -- hope we can get asbestos reform done. I tell you one other thing we need to get done in Washington, D.C. this fall; for the sake of good health care, to make sure health care is available and affordable, Congress needs to pass medical liability reform and get it on my desk. (Applause.)

I told the United States Congress this country needs to develop an energy strategy. We should have done that 10 years ago. We should have developed a strategy that would help us diversify away from foreign sources of oil. And finally, after years of work, I'm proud to announce I'll be signing next week a comprehensive energy bill. And it's a good piece of legislation. It's a legislation that encourages domestic production. It's a piece of legislation that encourages conservation. It's also a piece of legislation that recognizes over time we must diversify away from our dependence on hydrocarbons. That's why we're now promoting nuclear energy. It makes sense for this country to use safe, clean nuclear power. (Applause.)

We got plenty of coal in America. We're now spending the money to make sure we burn it wisely, so that we can protect our environment. In this bill, we've got good clean coal technology research and development. I believe that the best way to end our dependence on foreign sources of energy is to figure out how to use different kind of automobiles. And I believe hydrogen power is going to be the source of power that will allow us to diversify over time. And this bill is good about promoting research and development for hydrogen automobiles.

Some of you from the Midwest may remember we had a problem with our electricity grid. This is a bill that modernizes the electricity grid and gets rid of old laws that prevent utilities from being able to raise money efficiently in the capital market. This is a good piece of legislation. It's a legislation that sets us on our own for independence from foreign sources of oil. I'm proud to sign it next week in New Mexico, and I want to thank the members of the House and the Senate for getting it done. (Applause.)

Congress recently passed the patient safety bill which improves health care by reducing medical errors. Congress passed the highway bill. We had a little problem getting that bill done over the last couple of years because we had a disagreement about the right number. I felt that the number ought to be fiscally -- a fiscally responsible number. We worked hard with members of the Senate and the House. I'll be proud to sign a fiscally responsible highway bill next Wednesday in the state of Illinois. (Applause.)

Finally, I campaigned across this country telling people I believe in free trade and fair trade. I hope we all understand the importance of opening up markets for U.S. products. If you're good at something, you ought to be selling those products, not only here at home, but around the world. And we're really good at certain things. We're great at growing crops, for example. We're good at growing soybeans, and therefore, it seems to make sense that the administration ought to be working hard to opening up markets for our soybean growers and our manufacturers and our entrepreneurs and our high-tech folks.

We had a problem in our hemisphere about trade. I don't know if you realize it or not, but most of the goods from Central America came into this country duty-free. Yet 80 percent of our goods were taxed through tariffs in Central American countries. That didn't seem to make sense to me; it certainly wasn't fair. All I say to people is you treat us the way we treat you. If your goods can come into our markets duty-free, our goods ought to be able to go into your markets duty-free.

And that's the spirit of the CAFTA legislation that I signed yesterday. It recognized that free trade must be fair trade. And the piece of legislation I signed is going to help people find jobs here in America. It's going to make it easier for us to sell our products to 44 million consumers.

But CAFTA was more than a trade bill; CAFTA was a statement about democracy in our own neighborhood. We entered into a pact, a long-term pact with new democracies, countries that not all that long ago were wrestling with civil strife and dictatorships. These young democracies turned to America, and said, we want to be allied with you through an economic trade pact. And by passing that bill, the United States of America made a clear statement to those young democracies that we stand with you; we will help you develop free markets and free societies; we will help you stand as you struggle to build your democracy. It's in our national interest that democracy prevail in our neighborhood. (Applause.)

So we got some stuff done, and I want to thank you all for your support in this legislation. I also want to thank you for standing strong when it comes to insisting that there be high standards and accountability in our public school systems.

I was proud to sign the No Child Left Behind Act. It's what I call challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you do not have high standards and if you do not measure, people just simply get shuffled through the system. That's not what we believe. And I told you earlier I was proud of ALEC because of your results-oriented nature. You believe in results.

I believe in local control of schools and that's inherent in the No Child Left Behind Act. It says: You measure; you court your -- chart your course to excellence. But I also believe in results, and when we spend money at the federal level, I expect people who are spending that money to show the taxpayers results. And that's why we're measuring. That's why we want to know whether a child can read and write and add and subtract. It's not too much to ask. You shouldn't be afraid to ask that question to your local educators and school boards. You ought to say, listen, we trust you, we believe in you, we support you, but why don't you show us. See, you can't correct a problem until you diagnose a problem.

Inherent in the No Child Left Behind Act is our belief that we've got to diagnose problems before you can solve problems. And by the way, it's working. There's an achievement gap in America. We've got too many young African American kids who aren't reading at the proper grade level, relative to Anglo kids. But because of the No Child Left Behind Act, and because of good teachers, and because of good leadership at the state level, that achievement gap is narrowing and America is better off for it. (Applause.)

I want to thank you for your support of the faith-based and community initiatives. We understand that government -- government can't love. Government can pass law; government can hand out money; but government cannot put heart -- hope in a person's heart or a sense of purpose in a person's life. That's done when a loving citizen puts their arm around somebody who hurts and says, how can I help you? What can I do to make your life better? The true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens. That's our strength. Our strength can be found -- (applause.) Our strength can be found in the armies of compassion which exist all across America.

ALEC understands that the best way to bring hope into the dark corners of our country, the best way to bring optimism into people's lives is to stand squarely on -- side-by-side with faith-based organizations and community-based organizations whose members have heard that call to love a neighbor just like you'd like to love -- be loved yourself.

At the federal level, we'll continue to open up federal money for grant purposes for faith-based programs. And at the same time, we will not allow bureaucracies to say to a faith-based program, you can't practice your faith. We're saving lives in America because we're unleashing the great compassion of America, the people of America, and the people whose hearts are right. I'm honored to be standing with good folks who understand that we can save America, one heart, one soul, and one conscience at a time. So I want to thank you for your support of the faith-based initiatives. (Applause.)

I hope Congress gets a good rest because they got a lot of work to do when they get back. The Senate has got work to do, starting with the confirmation of a fine man, Judge John Roberts. (Applause.) John Roberts is highly qualified. He's one of the best appellate attorneys in the United States. He has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court. I nominated him to the D.C. District Court, and he was approved by unanimous consent in the United States Senate. That means nobody objected. I spent time with John Roberts. He's a good family man. He has got a good way about him, a good modest fellow who is plenty bright. But most importantly, John Roberts is a man who will interpret the law -- interpret the law based upon the United States Constitution, and he will not legislate from the bench. (Applause.)

The Senate needs to conduct this hearing in a way that brings credit to the Senate. They need to have a good, honest debate about Judge Roberts. But I hope it's done in a way that brings dignity to the process. And they must be deliberate, but they also must hear this call: Roberts needs to get his hearing done and the confirmation completed so he can be seated before the Supreme Court reconvenes in early October. (Applause.)

Congress needs to continue debating Social Security. Let me tell you about what I think my job description is. I think my job is to confront problems, not pass them on to future Presidents and future Congresses. (Applause.) I know that's what the American people expect of their leaders. And I see a problem in Social Security. I'm part of the problem -- I'm fixing to retire. (Laughter.) Matter of fact, my retirement age is in 2008; that's when I'm eligible for Social Security. It's a convenient year. (Laughter.) And I'm not the only one. There's a lot of us who are eligible to retire. We're called the baby boomers. There's about 40 million people today receiving Social Security. By the time the baby boomers like me get completely retired, there will be about 75 million. In other words, a lot -- there's a lot of us. And we're living longer than previous generations. Matter of fact, I think I'm going to ride the old mountain bike this afternoon in Crawford to make sure I live longer. (Laughter.) If I can survive the heat.

We've been promised greater benefits than the previous generation. People went around the country saying, vote for me, I'll increase your Social Security benefits. And sure enough, that's one of the promises that Congress kept. You got a lot of people living longer, getting greater benefits, with fewer people paying in the system. In the early '50s, there was about 16 workers to every beneficiary. Today, there's 3.3 workers for every beneficiary. Soon there's going to be two workers for every beneficiary. If you look at the cash flow analysis, you'll find that the system goes red in 2017.

And by the way, it is a pay-as-you-go system. Some people think it's a trust fund. The trust fund concept means we take your money, we hold it and we give it back to you. No, this isn't the way it is. It is a pay-as-you-go -- you pay, we go ahead and spend. (Laughter.) You pay, we pay -- you pay your payroll taxes, and we go ahead and pay for the benefits. And with money left over, we fund federal programs. And all that's left is a file cabinet full of IOUs. Somebody told me that, and I went to West Virginia to see it for myself and, sure enough, it's still there -- paper, promises. No, the system in 2017, goes in the red. In 2042, it's bankrupt.

So my first question to members of Congress is, how can you go back to your districts, when you look at the facts, and stand up in front of young workers and look them in the eye and say, man, the future is bright for you, knowing full well somebody is going to be paying payroll taxes into the system that's going broke? I certainly can't do that. And that's why I stood up in front of the Congress and said, we've got a problem, let's work together to fix it -- and have gone around the country describing to the people the nature of the problem. The system is going broke is what is the problem.

Secondly, I've done something most Presidents haven't done and that is put out some solutions. First of all, if you were born prior to 1950, nothing is going to change for you, and that's important for those of you who are interested in the subject to remind your mothers and fathers, or some of the elderly in your districts. Nothing changes. I understand older people don't like change, and therefore, when they hear, Social Security reform, it makes them nervous. As a matter of fact, some folks who don't want to see any Social Security reform at all have used that leverage -- they go into people's districts and say, George W. is going to take your check away. It's not going to happen. There's plenty of money for the senior citizens.

It's the younger workers who are coming up who better be paying attention to this issue. It's the younger folks who are coming up who are going to have to pay for people like me who are going to live longer and get more benefits than the previous generation. And so I said, why don't we go ahead and come up with a system that says you're going to get your benefits if you're a poor person based upon wage increases, and if you're a wealthy person, you get your benefits that increase based upon the cost of living increases, and you scale it in between? And that solution -- that solution, or that suggestion nearly solves all of the permanency problems in Social Security. Listen, if you're a younger -- somebody told me about a survey about the younger folks said they're more likely to see a UFO than a Social Security check. (Laughter.) Well, if you believe that, it seems like it makes sense to have a system that if you're doing all right, it increases your benefits based upon cost of living. That means you're going to get a check, and it's going to be at least increasing at the rate of cost of living.

We've got a lot of politics in Washington these days, though. People don't want to discuss the idea. It's kind of zero-sum up there when it comes to big issues. By the way, as we're talking about how to make the system permanently fixed, seems like to me now is the time to make sure it turns out to be a better deal for younger workers, too. I strongly believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, so they can watch their money grow at a rate greater than that which the government can grow their money, a personal account they call their own, a personal account the government cannot spend, a personal account they can pass on to whomever they want. (Applause.)

We believe in ownership. We understand that the more people that own their home, or own their own business, or own and manage their own health care account, or own and manage their own retirement account, the more people that do that the better off America is. If you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of this country. Now is the time to permanently fix Social Security, and now is the time to trust people with their own money, to give people a chance to build an asset base they call their own. (Applause.)

I told you about old Johnny Breaux and his tax reform. When Congress gets back, I think they ought to do two things. One, I think they ought to make the tax cuts we passed permanent. (Applause.) And that includes getting rid of the death tax forever. (Applause.) And as I mentioned, I'm looking forward to -- to the tax simplification ideas. It's not going to be easy, but it's necessary. And John is a good man, and he'll work with his fellow citizens on that panel, both Republicans and Democrats, to propose some interesting ideas for the administration and Congress to look at. It's important. It's a big idea, and it's a necessary idea.

I'll tell you another big idea. We've got to do something about our immigration laws. (Applause.) Our obligation is to secure the borders. We've got to make sure that -- (applause) -- we've got to make sure that we have the resources and technologies available for our Border Patrol agents. We've got to make sure we have a focused strategy to prevent people, goods, drugs, whatever, being smuggled in this country. That's one of our duties. And I meet with Chertoff quite frequently -- he's the head of the Homeland Security. We do talk about how best to modernize the border security. One way to protect this border is to recognize that people are sneaking in here to work. And I believe that if you are a willing employer -- in other words, if you have somebody looking for work and you can't find an American, there ought to be a legal way -- not an illegal way -- a legal way for you to be able to employ that person.

Listen, we'd rather have people coming in with a card that said, I'm a legal worker, than trying to sneak across the border. And we've got people being smuggled across -- a whole smuggling network, and a network of forgers and document falsifiers that are trying to beat the system. It seems rational to me that says there ought to be a way to let somebody come and do jobs Americans won't do, on a temporary basis.

I've heard all kinds of talk about amnesty. I'm against amnesty. I think amnesty would be a mistake. But I do think it would be good to make sure -- (applause) -- but I do think it's good to make sure our employers who are looking for workers are able to find people who are willing to do the jobs they have in a legal way. I'd rather our Border Patrol agents be looking for terrorists and drugs and guns being smuggled across our border, and people here -- coming here to work have a legal way to do so on a temporary basis.

So immigration reform is going to be an interesting subject when we get back to Washington, D.C. I'm looking forward to the topic. I also want to talk to you about national security. Make no mistake about it, we are at war. We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001. We're at war against an enemy that, since that day, has continued to kill. They have killed in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca and Riyadh and Bali and London and elsewhere.

These are ideologues. These people have an ideology. It's really different from ours. We believe in human rights and human dignity and minority rights and rights for women and rights to worship freely. That's what we believe. We believe in a lot of rights for people. These killers don't. They have a narrow view of life. They have taken a great religion and converted it to their own vision. They have goals; they want to drive us out of parts of the world. They want the free world to retreat so they can topple governments. They want to be able to do in parts of the world that which they did in Afghanistan -- take over a government; impose their negative, dark vision on people.

Remember what life was like in Afghanistan. It's hard for the Western mind to even comprehend what life was like for people in Afghanistan, but this is a society in which young girls couldn't go to school. And if you objected to their point of view, you were taken into the public square and whipped, or sometimes assassinated. There was no freedom. The only people that were free were the tyrants and the dictators, those who imposed their view of the world. This is -- this is their vision, and they would like -- they would like to see that vision spread. Make no mistake about it, this is a war against people who profess an ideology, and they use terror as a means to achieve their objectives.

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people that the United States of America will not wait to be attacked again. We will take the fight to the enemy, and we will defend our freedom. (Applause.)

To win this war on terror, we will use all elements of national power. We will use our military. For those of you who have got loved ones in the military, I want to thank you -- tell them to thank -- you thank them for me, on behalf of a grateful nation.

We'll use our diplomatic corps. In other words, we're working with friends and allies. Part of winning this war on terror is to remind others of what's at stake, and to work diplomatically to get people to keep pressure on the enemy. We've got our Treasury Department working with our friends and allies to cut off money. One way to defeat the enemy is deny them access to money. And when we find money being spent illegally, or funding these terrorist organizations that funnel money to these killers, we do something about it.

We're beefing up our intelligence here in America. We want to make sure that the FBI and CIA can share intelligence. We want to make sure that we not only get the best intelligence, we analyze it properly, and we share it with our friends and allies and vice versa.

See, it's a different kind of war. In the old days you'd have armies that were funded by states. You knew where they were, you could trace them. This war is against killers who hide, and then they show up and kill innocent life, and then they retreat. And so you've got to have good intelligence in order to defeat them. We're working hard to coordinate law enforcement around the world. In other words, we're using all assets of this great nation in order to defeat this enemy.

We're making progress in defending the homeland. We've more than tripled homeland -- funding for the homeland security since 2001. I'm sure some of you, in your states and local communities, have seen some of that money come down to help our first responders be trained and to be equipped. I'm proud to report that the House of Representatives and the Senate renewed parts of the Patriot Act, permanently, and a small part of the Patriot Act will be sunsetted.

This is an important piece of legislation. It was passed overwhelmingly right after September the 11th, and it's been used effectively by our government. You see, the Patriot Act did several things. One, it allowed law enforcement to share intelligence with the enforcement side of their operations. The FBI couldn't talk to each other before the Patriot Act. You couldn't have your intelligence division sharing information with your law enforcement division. It didn't make any sense, but that's the way it was. And the Patriot Act ended that. It tore down walls. It allows parts of our government to share information with one another.

The Patriot Act, in essence, gave our terror fighters the same tools that our government has given our drug fighters. The Patriot Act enables us to more effectively defend the homeland, and it does not usurp your rights under the Constitution. Every tool we use has got the scrutiny within the guidelines of the Constitution. The Patriot Act is important. I'm looking forward to the House and the Senate to reconcile their differences and get a Patriot Act to my desk as soon as possible. Our law enforcement officials must have the tools to protect the United States of America. (Applause.)

We're making progress here at home. We've broken up terrorist cells and -- in America. We've broken up networks, financing networks in America, in places like California, Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida and other states. There are a lot of people working hard on our citizens' behalf to protect this homeland. The best way to protect the homeland, however, is to stay on the offense, is to bring the enemy to justice before they come to our shores. And that's precisely the second part of our strategy. We're fighting the enemy in Afghanistan; we're fighting them in Iraq; we're defeating them there so we do not have to face them here. And our troops are doing great work. (Applause.)

Iraq is the latest battlefield in the war on terror. Foreign fighters are going into Iraq to fight coalition troops for a reason: They understand the stakes. A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will deal a serious blow to their hateful ideology. A democracy in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to their desire to spread an ideology that's hateful and dark and negative.

The violence in recent days in Iraq is a grim reminder of the enemies we face. These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They want us to retreat. They want us, in our compassion for the innocent, to say we're through. That's what they want. They will fail. They do not understand the character and the strength of the United States of America. They do not understand our desire to protect ourselves, to protect our friends, protect our allies, and to spread freedom around the world. (Applause.)

Our men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause, in a selfless cause. Their families can know that American citizens pray for them. And the families can know that we will honor their loved one's sacrifice by completing the mission, by laying the foundations for peace for generations to come.

We have a strategy for success in Iraq. On the one hand, we've got a military strategy, and we'll continue to hunt down the terrorists, as we train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own country. As Iraqis stand up, Americans and coalition forces will stand down. And we're making progress. More and more Iraqi units are more and more capable of defending themselves.

You know, my -- I hear all the time, well, when are you bringing the troops home? And my answer to you is, soon as possible, but not before the mission is complete. Why would -- why -- why would a Commander-in-Chief -- (applause) -- it makes no sense for the Commander-in-Chief to put out a timetable. We're at war. We're facing an enemy that is ruthless. And if we put out a timetable, the enemy would adjust their tactics.

The timetable is this -- and you can tell your Guard troops and reserve troops and mothers and dads of those serving -- the timetable depends on our ability to train the Iraqis, to get the Iraqis ready to fight. And then our troops are coming home with the honor they have earned. (Applause.)

At the same time we're helping that country defend itself and training its troops, there's a political track. A democracy is beginning to grow. I don't know about you, but when those 8 million-plus Iraqis went to the polls, it was an amazing moment. You know, I believe this, and at the heart of much of my policy is this firm belief -- that freedom is the gift of an Almighty to every person in this world. It doesn't matter who you are. Embedded in your soul is the deep desire to live in freedom. That's what I believe. And if you believe that, then you shouldn't be all that surprised when, if given a chance, 8 million-plus people, in defiance of car bombers and killers and terrorists, said loud and clear to the world: We want to be free. We want to live in a democracy. We want a government that listens to us and doesn't tell us what to do. (Applause.)

And it's that movement toward freedom that frightens the enemy. It's that movement toward a free society in which people of different religious persuasions can live in peace together. It scares -- it's that movement that says, women have got equal rights with men that frightens these people.

But that movement is going forward. They're in the process now of arguing about a constitution. I don't know if you've read our American history much, about when we were writing our Constitution. You know, if there had been that much scrutiny when we were writing our Constitution as has been given to their -- scrutiny when they're writing their constitution, a lot of people would have said it's never going to get written. It was not an easy deal for our forefathers, our founders to get consensus on our Constitution. But nevertheless, they worked hard and came up with a great Constitution.

That's what the Iraqis are doing. They're coming up with a doctrine that will survive the years so that self-government and freedom prevail. And then they'll be voting on the document in October. And then they'll elect a permanent government in November. Democracy is moving forward, and that's part of laying the foundation for peace.

We have done this type of work before in our nation. We have fought evil before. We have been through ideological struggles. Your dads and granddads fought against the Nazis and fought against the Japanese. It was an ideological struggle against an enemy that was ruthless. And we prevailed. We prevailed in more ways than one. We prevailed militarily, but we also helped spread democracy. We laid that foundation for peace for the next generation coming up.

Do you know that one of my best friends in the international community is the Prime Minister of Japan? Isn't that interesting? The Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi, and I work together on North Korea and Iraq, and Afghanistan. He's an ally. He's a good buddy. It wasn't all that long ago that my dad and your dads and granddads were at war with the Japanese in a brutal war. They were the enemy. But something happened in between, something other than a military victory happened in between. And what happened was, was that Japan embraced a democracy. It wasn't an American democracy; it was a Japanese democracy. But it was a democracy.

And it turns out if you look at history, democracies are peaceful nations. The spread of democracy yields peace. What you're seeing on your TV screens today is the work of brave soldiers and diplomats and coalition partners, spreading democracy, defeating a hateful ideology with an ideology of hope, an ideology that has got a clear vision for a better tomorrow for all its citizens. We've seen this work before, and we have prevailed because we have been steadfast and true to our beliefs.

And we'll prevail again. This nation will be steadfast. This nation will be strong. And this nation, like other generations before us, will make sacrifices necessary to lay the foundation for peace for generations to come. We got a big task in Washington, D.C., and that's to remember the stakes of the war on terror, and to do our duty, and to be true to the principles of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.

I want to thank you for letting me come here today. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)

END 12:45 P.M. CDT