For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 23, 2001
Remarks by the President
Crawford Elementary School Students and Faculty
Crawford Elementary School
11:08 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you,
Linda. Thanks for having me come. It's -- what I
thought I would do is just say a few words and maybe answer some of the
questions -- have questions from some of the boys and girls here, if
you have any.
First, thanks for inviting me, Linda, and
thanks for being so patient. And also, thank you all for hosting the
national press corps. (Laughter.) I know they've appreciated
it very much, and on their behalf, I would like to thank
them. They are, most of the time, well
behaved. But they're an important part of our country,
because in order for people to be able to know what's going on, they
report the news. Sometimes they exaggerate, sometimes they
don't. But they're an important part of our
democracy. And I appreciate so very much you welcoming them
here into your school.
I want to thank all the teachers who are
here. Teaching is a noble profession, and we can't say
enough good words about the teachers, not only here in Crawford, but in
Texas and across America. So thank you very much for being a
I want to thank the parents who are
here. You're right, some of the sweetest -- one of the
sweetest words in our vocabulary is mom. And my advice to
you is, listen to your mother. (Laughter.) That's
about as good advice as a fellow can give. Your mom always
has good advice.
I want to ask you a couple of
questions. Do any of you read more than you watch TV?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's
important. The reason I asked that question is, it's so easy
to watch TV, and it's hard to read. But you need to do it
the other way around. You need to read more than you watch
TV. Because when you get to be a good reader, and I know you will be,
it makes learning so much easier. And then when you learn a
lot of things, it helps you realize your dreams.
And let me ask you this
question. Some of you are too young to have probably thought
about this question, but some of the older kids, how many of you dream
about going to college?
Oh, that's great. That means
you'd better practice reading. That means you'd better read
more than you watch TV if you want to achieve that
goal. That means you've set a goal, right? That's
what that is. You set a goal, and now you're going to work
hard to achieve the goal.
A couple of other points I want make, and
then I'd be glad to answer some questions. In order to go to
college or realize your dreams, you have to make right choices in
life. As you grow up, you've got to learn to say yes to the
good things and no to the bad things, like saying no to drugs. That's
going to be important in order to realize your dreams. No to
alcohol, excessive alcohol. You've got to learn to make the
right choices when you get older.
And guess what is going to help you learn
that? Not only your moms and your dads, but your
teachers. And so I hope when you're in school, listen to the
people that care about you a lot. Read more than you watch
TV, listen to the values that you are being taught, and study hard, and
then you will be able to realize your dreams.
Now, I'll be glad to answer a couple of
questions and I'm going to answer some questions from the press corps
You got any questions? Yes,
Q Where are your
Secret Service? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's right,
let's see. There's a few of them in here. They're
important because, unfortunately, there are some people in our society
that don't think right, that are interested in harming people, and they
do a great job and they're good citizens too, and I bet you get to see
a lot of them around Crawford. They like to eat the
hamburgers downtown here.
Q Where did you
play golf at?
THE PRESIDENT: I played golf at
Ridgewood Country Club in Waco this morning. I played with
my friend, Senator David Sibley. He is your state senator
and just -- he's not going to run again, he told everybody the other
day, but we have a good time playing golf. And I played at
Clifton the other day.
But I'm through playing golf -- (laughter)
-- for a while.
Q Was your dad the
THE PRESIDENT: My dad was the
President. He was the 41st President and I'm the 43rd
President. And there has been one other time in which a dad
and his son were presidents. Do you know who that was?
Q John Quincy
THE PRESIDENT: John Quincy
Adams was the son and the daddy's name was John Adams.
Q What is it like
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a
great honor being President. It's one of these jobs where
you can help people help themselves. It's a job that
requires an understanding of where you want to lead. You've
got to know who you are and where you want to lead the nation, which
means you have to know what you believe in. And I believe in
family and I believe in faith and I believe in personal responsibility
and I believe that we ought to trust local people to make the decisions
for schools and their cities and counties.
I trust the people of Texas and all the
other states across the country to make right
decisions. It's a great job. Thank you for
asking. It's a lot of work. That's okay. People
in Crawford are used to work.
Q What do you do on
a regular basis?
THE PRESIDENT: On a regular
basis? That's kind of a regular basis
I'm going back -- I'm going to go back to
our place right around the corner here and I'm going to meet with
Condoleezza Rice who is the National Security Advisor. I'm
going to give a phone call to President de la Rua who is the President
of Argentina, to talk about the recent financial package that has been
developed on behalf of his nation, so that his nation doesn't default
on debt which would then affect other people in the hemisphere.
I'm going to have lunch with First Lady
Laura Bush, who sends her very best, by the way. I'm going
to see Barney the dog and Spot the dog and India the cat.
I'm going to have a phone call this
afternoon with my personnel office. One of the things the
President does is name people to different positions of responsibility
in Washington. We've got about an hour conference call to go
over the names they've recommended to me to be nominated for a variety
We've got a horticulturist coming out from
Texas A&M to help us identify the hardwood trees on our beautiful
place. We've got about 12 or 13 different types of hardwoods
out there. So he is going to educate us about the
land. So I've got a lot going on today.
Tomorrow, interestingly enough, here in
Crawford, Texas, the Secretary of Defense is coming down and I'm going
to hold a big, major press conference tomorrow morning to discuss
defense matters. And that's very important because one of
the jobs of the President is to be the Commander-in-Chief, which means
we've got to have a strong military and a strong vision about our
military, and we will discuss that tomorrow with the pool press corps
tomorrow morning. The nation will be interested in the
announcements we make as well as the discussion we have, I'm
But when I get back -- by the way, the
interesting thing about Crawford, it's just like I moved my office from
Washington to Crawford. See, the thing about the President is, you're
always the President and there's always an issue, and somebody is
always calling and somebody needs to visit and somebody is flying into
town to come by to sit down and talk about variety of
issues. And so it's just like I moved my office from the
Oval Office right out here to Crawford and I'm glad I did. I
love being here.
Q Did you --
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q Did you ever get
mad at Al Gore during the election?
THE PRESIDENT: Not
really. No, I never did. I really -- you know, he
ran a good, hard race and I felt like we ran a good race too and never
got mad at him. One of the things in politics you learn is
you can't get mad at people. And it's -- never really did.
Q Does your family
go with you sometimes in Washington and --
THE PRESIDENT: On
trips? Sometimes. We have -- Laura goes with me a
lot, of course. We spend a lot of time together, and that's
good for me. I don't know if it's so good for her but it's good for
We've got twin daughters who are 19 years
old and sometimes they travel with us and sometimes they
don't. We recently went to Europe, overseas, and Barbara
went and traveled with us that time and she got to meet the Pope and
saw some really interesting parts of the world. But they're
pretty independent little girls right now and they're both in college
and that's good.
Q Where's the White
THE PRESIDENT: The White House
is in Washington, D.C., it's up East. It's a beautiful house and guess
what color it is?
THE PRESIDENT: That's
right. That's a good answer.
And the other thing is, but it's not --
it's the people's house, see. The people of America own that
house. And any time you go to Washington or most of the
times you go to Washington, there's a tour and you can go look at the
White House and see what's in it. It's a beautiful
place. We're very lucky to live there and we find it a great
Q Is it like
really, really big or --
THE PRESIDENT: It's
big. Yes, it's really, really big.
Q Is it bigger than
THE PRESIDENT: Bigger than
Q The tower.
THE PRESIDENT: Bigger than the
tower here? I don't know. That's pretty
big. It's got a lot of rooms. It's got some
fantastic, big rooms. One of the things the President does is have
what they have a state dinner.
We occasionally welcome a foreign leader
to come to Washington, D.C., and we have a dinner, a very formal, fancy
dinner. And Laura and I are entertaining President Vicente
Fox from Mexico. And that will be the first week we're back,
the week right after Labor Day. It's going to be a majestic
event. And the rooms are just really beautiful, formal rooms
that I think you would find amazing.
Red shirt, right there.
THE PRESIDENT: What?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't hear
Q Are you looking
forward to getting out of your office?
THE PRESIDENT: Am I looking
forward to getting out of the office?
No. (Laughter.) I enjoy it. It's been
a great experience. This is a job where you can actually
make a huge difference in people's lives, and I like that part of the
Q What's your most
favorite thing --
THE PRESIDENT: Most favorite
thing -- helping people, to make a difference in people's lives,
setting a good example, so that youngsters like yourself realize that
democracy is -- can be a very good system, that politics is a noble
calling. I hope that I can inspire people to get involved in
the political process. I hope I can inspire people to get
involved with helping neighbors in need in Crawford,
Texas. I hope I can help raise the bar, to make sure every
child is educated. And I hope to make the world more
And that's a pretty big agenda, and the
President's got a chance to do those things. And I'm honored
to be able to do it.
THE PRESIDENT: My
limo? I don't have one here. I've got an SUV
Q Where did you go
THE PRESIDENT: Yale
Q Can I have your
PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.) I mean,
yes, of course. I'll sign one and hopefully we'll allow you
to get a copy of it.
Q How old are you?
THE PRESIDENT: How old am
I? I'm the speed limit. (Laughter.) Fifty-five.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the old
Q What is your
favorite childhood memory?
THE PRESIDENT: My favorite
childhood memory was playing Little League baseball in Midland,
Texas. I was -- I loved baseball, still love
baseball. As a matter of fact, I'm going to the Little
League World Series on Sunday. So we're going to fly out of
Waco, and I'm going to go to a picnic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and
then go to the Little League World Series, and then I'm going to come
home. I'll be back home here Sunday night. So
it's a pretty fast life I'm living these days.
Q How did it -- you
just became President. How has it --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, when I got
sworn in as President, it was a pretty cold day in Washington,
D.C. And it was -- the Inaugural ceremony was at the end of
a pretty pressure packed time. One, the election -- I
campaigned hard in the election. Secondly, we weren't sure
what the outcome was. You might remember that period of
time. It took a period -- it took about 30 something days to
figure out who the President was going to be. I spent a lot
of my time here in Crawford, as a matter of fact.
And then when I was declared the winner,
we had to get moving, because I had to put an administration together,
had to put a team together. And we got up to Washington -- I
went from Crawford to Midland, Texas, where I was raised, and then flew
up to Washington and got settled in in what they call the Blair
House. And the Inaugural day came and I got sworn in.
And I guess I had a lot of mixed
emotions. One, I was exhilarated. I was -- gave a
very, what I thought was a pretty good speech. The people
seemed to listen to it. I turned around, everybody -- dad
and mother, they had tears in their eyes, so it was
emotional. And it was just a lot of activity. It
was hard to describe. But it was a real proud
moment. And then frankly, that night, I was a little tired.
But I get to work early, I'm excited about
my job. I'm one of these early-bird type
people. I'll be in the Oval Office about 7 a.m. every
morning, because I'm anxious to get to work. I like what I'm
doing. And it's been a great honor.
Q Have you been to
THE PRESIDENT: I have not --
yes, I've been to China, but I haven't been to China since I've been
President. But guess where I'm going in October,
Q What did you
score at the end of the golf game?
THE PRESIDENT: Too high to
count. (Laughter.) A lot. (Laughter.)
Q Have you been to
THE PRESIDENT: Been to where?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven't
been. Do you recommend it?
Q That's where I'm
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, you live
Q I live there
THE PRESIDENT: You live in
Speegleville? That's great.
Q Is it hard to
make the decisions as President?
THE PRESIDENT: Is it hard to
make decisions as President? Not really. If you
know what you believe, decisions come pretty easy. If you're
one of these types of people that are always trying to figure out which
way the wind is blowing, decision making can be
difficult. But I find that -- I know who I am. I
know what I believe in, and I know where I want to lead the
country. And most of the decisions come pretty easily for
me, to be frank with you.
I realize sometimes people don't like the
decisions. That's okay. I'm never been one to try to please
everybody all the time. I just do what I think is
right. The good thing about democracy, if people like the
decisions you make, they let you say. If they don't, they'll
send me back to Crawford. Isn't all that bad a deal, by the
THE PRESIDENT: Why do I live in
this state? I love Texas. I was raised in
Texas. Texas has got a way of life that I really
like. I like the can-do attitude of the Texas
people. Texans are really caring people. I've changed my
address, but I haven't changed my home.
A couple more and then I've got to go.
Q How many
important places do you go in a week?
THE PRESIDENT: How many places
do I go in a week? Well, it just depends on the
week. When I went to Europe, it seemed like I was going to a
country every day. And I travel around some, but I spend a
lot of time in Washington, at my office, particularly when the United
States Congress is in town. I get to deal with the
congressmen and the senators. A lot of them come down to the
White House to say hello, and we have nice discussions about different
I sometimes travel a lot, and sometimes
not so much.
Q What are your
PRESIDENT: Hobbies? I like to fish. I
like to exercise. And by the way, I hope everybody takes
some time to exercise. It's really -- it's really
important. That's a good way to stay healthy, even if you
only walk 20 minutes a day. But I love to
exercise. I like to play golf. I'm not very good
at it, but I like to play. I like to read a
lot. I hope you read. I've read a couple of books
since I've been down here. It's very important to read a
Anybody got anything over there?
Q Mr. President,
you plan to make an announcement tomorrow, we're lead to believe, on a
new Chairman for the Joint Chiefs --
THE PRESIDENT: There will be a
press conference tomorrow, and --
Q Could you tell
us, if you don't want to tell us who it is, what is the message you
intend to send to the world?
THE PRESIDENT: I'll talk about
that tomorrow. Thank you.
Q Mr. President,
when will you put President Putin on notice that the six-month clock is
running on U.S. withdrawal from the ABM?
THE PRESIDENT: We don't have a
She's talking about what they call the ABM
Treaty, which is a treaty signed in 1972. And I have made it
clear that I think the treaty is a treaty that hampers our ability to
keep the peace, to develop defensive weapons necessary to defend
America against the true threats of the 21st century.
We will withdraw from the ABM Treaty on
our time table at a time convenient to America. And one of
the things I've said in the course of questions about the ABM treaty, I
said that we would consult closely with our allies in Europe as well as
continue to consult closely with Mr. Putin.
I have no specific time table in
mind. I do know that the ABM treaty hampers us from doing
what we need to do. And, secondly, I do know that Mr. Putin
is aware of our desires to move beyond the ABM Treaty and we will.
Q Sir, as you've
looked for a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what have you
been looking for, what have you been considering?
THE PRESIDENT: I have been
looking for -- and it's not just me, of course. It's the
Secretary of Defense, we've been in collaboration. We've
been looking for someone who will bring the highest standards of
excellence to the office, someone who is willing to think differently
about the missions of our military and how to conform -- the
fundamental question is how do we conform our defenses to the true
threats that face America not only now but in the out years.
I'm looking for somebody obviously with
experience, somebody who understands what the job is, what the job
entails. And we found that person.
Q Is it General
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to
tell you who it is until the appropriate time.
You just saw a good reporter, how a good
reporter asks questions. See, she's trying to get me to say something
I don't want to say. (Laughter.) But that's her
job. Her job is to try to jump the news.
But tomorrow, we will have a full
discussion on defense matters and that subject may be included.
Q The Mid-Session
Review came out yesterday and outside of the Social Security surplus,
there isn't much of a surplus left. Are you concerned when
Congress gets back, there won't be room for your education or defense
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think if
-- the Mid-Session Review showed that the budgets we submitted not only
are in balance but meet the priorities that I think are important,
including defense and education.
I tell you what the numbers are
showing. They're showing that we've inherited an economic
slowdown and the country is in an economic slowdown. And so what a
President should ask and what the Congress should ask is what can we do
to stimulate economic growth. And we responded with tax
Now, evidently, there are some people in
Washington, D.C., who are having second thoughts about tax
relief. And so my question to them is do they want to raise
taxes? Do they suggest that helping the economy grow -- a
good way to do so is to raise taxes? If that's the case,
that's a brand new economic theory.
The way to stimulate growth is to cut
taxes and we have done so. Now it is going to be incumbent
upon the Congress to make sure they don't overspend. And the
surest way to make sure the economy does not recover is to bust the
budget. And one of my jobs as the President is to make sure
that we don't bust the budget. I will use the veto to make
sure that Congress stays within the budget.
There is -- we have the second largest
surplus in the nation's history. We're paying down over $100
billion of debt, in spite of the fact the economy is
slow. But this tax relief package is going to help our
economy recover and that is going to be important.
Q Sir, what is your
time table for amnesty for illegals, or --
THE PRESIDENT: There will be no
blanket amnesty for illegals. I have said that point
blank. I will say it as many times as I need to say it. I'm
more than willing to talk to the Mexican officials about how to help
willing employers find willing employees, how to treat people with
respect once they're here in the country.
I think we ought to have a good, honest
dialogue about how we make sure our neighbors to the south do a better
job of enforcing their own border. We've got great
collaborative efforts going now on a wide variety of
fronts. Relations with Mexico have never been better.
But there is going to be no
amnesty. Amnesty is not the right answer to the immigration
Now, there are ways to discuss -- as I
said -- a worker program of some type that will legalize the hard work
that is taking place now in America. So long as there is
somebody who wants to hire somebody and somebody willing to work, it
seems like to me it's in our nation's interest to make sure the two go
Q Mr. President, I
don't know if you think this is being a good reporter or not, but
seriously, you --
THE PRESIDENT: Probably
not. (Laughter.) But I don't want to embarrass
you so --
Q You've talked a
lot about family values and personal responsibility. For
better or worse, so much of the country seems to be focused on this
controversy involving Congressman Condit?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I'm not
going to discuss Congressman Condit. Evidently, he's making a
statement to the nation tonight, and let's just see what he says.
Q Will you watch
THE PRESIDENT: No, probably
not. I'll read about it. Maybe in AP or
Reuters. I'm not sure which one.
Q Sir, what is your
reaction to Senator Helms' decision to retire, and are you concerned
that that seat might be in jeopardy for the Republicans?
THE PRESIDENT: It depends on
who runs, obviously. Senator Helms has served our nation
with distinction. I called him yesterday, had a good visit
with him, I told him I appreciated his service to
America. He explained to me he and Dot wanted to take some
time to be together after the sessions -- after his term is up, and I
said, "I appreciate that, Senator, you served well."
I tell you one thing about Senator Helms,
he was a gentleman. You may not have agreed with his
politics all the time, but he was a gentleman about it. He
brought a lot of class, I thought, to the Senate, and he will be
missed. And it depends on who we field, obviously.
Q Would you support
Elizabeth Dole as a candidate?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm not --
as you know, one of the things the President doesn't do is get involved
in all the speculation on these run-ups for these different
candidacies. I will tell you, Elizabeth Dole would make a
fine candidate. I've competed against her once before and
she was formidable and a fine lady, there's no question about that.
But I'm not going to get involved in the
primaries. I'll, of course, look forward -- if she is the
nominee of the Republican Party in North Carolina, I of course will
campaign hard for her.
Okay. Listen, I want to thank
you all for giving me a chance to come by. Good luck to you
all. What you just watched is a mini press conference.
(Hat presented.) (Applause.)