print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > February 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 5, 2001

Remarks by the President and Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans at Swearing-In Ceremony
The Oval Office

2:32 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. It's great to be here with members of the Congress, thank you all for coming. Senator, thank you, sir. Two members of the Texas delegation are here and we appreciate it very much for coming. I want to thank you all for giving the Vice President and me a chance to come and see the swearing-in of a really good man -- who married, by the way, a person with whom I went to 1st through 7th grade -- (laughter) -- with at Sam Houston Elementary School in Midland, Texas, and San Jacinto Junior High. And when we were on safety patrol -- (laughter) -- little did she ever imagine I'd be President. (Laughter.)

I want to thank all the good folks who work in this Department. You don't know Don yet, but you're going to love him like I do. I also want to thank you for your service to the country. I appreciate your hard work on behalf of America and the Americans citizens.

Don has taken an oath to serve this country, and I know he'll be true to that oath in every way -- because in 25 years, I have never known him to break his word or forget a promise. Don is the kind of man you can trust without reservation and turn to without hesitation. He's a good man; I trust and admire him a great deal.

Since we first met in West Texas, I have turned to Don many times for help and advice. I've never been disappointed. We were together in Midland, Texas, when we set out in the oil business with big dreams for ourselves and our families. We were together in Austin, Texas, seven years ago, when I began serving the people of Texas. He was there on our journey that led to the Presidency.

At every turn, Don has always been a wise and strong and steady influence. I thank him for taking this assignment. I am proud to call him my Secretary of Commerce. I'm honored to call him my friend. He has his work cut out for him. We came to Washington with a bold agenda. And we don't intend to waste any time.

Don shares with me a conviction that open trade is a powerful force for good in the world. In all our dealings abroad, we must stand for free markets and for the principles of democracy. We must stand for free and open trade, without favoritism and without barriers. We have set a great goal, a world that trades in freedom. And that goal will take all of our commitment.

Secretary Evans has a mission to represent to America's interests in the world. Many American industries and our farmers have met with unfair practices as they try to export their goods to foreign markets. In Don, they'll have an advocate who carries with him knowledge of trade, proven skill as a negotiator and the full support of the President.

It helps, too, that the new Secretary of Commerce has a background in energy. Our nation's economy depends on the fossil fuels that keep our engines running. And we must be less dependent on foreign suppliers. Along with my Secretary of Energy, Spence Abraham, Don will help me in pursuing a strategy of increased domestic production and energy independence. Don is a key part of my economic team. We're going to make the case for broad, fair and responsible tax reductions. We're going to respect and reward the spirit of entrepreneurship in our country, helping small businesses as they expand and provide employment. We are going to make sure that American workers can find quality jobs in our American landscape.

I can't think of a better background for Commerce Secretary than a West Texan with a creed of hard work and independence and enterprise. Don has always represented those qualities for me; now he will represent those qualities for America.

Mr. Secretary. (Applause.)

SECRETARY EVANS: Mr. President, thank you. I didn't know my mother was one of your speech writers. (Laughter.)

Thank you for those kind words. Senator Hutchison, thank you for being here. Congressman Barton, Senator Stevens -- thank you very much, I'm honored that you would be here for this.

Mr. President, thank you for your kind words, your call to service, your commitment to free enterprise, free and fair trade around the world. Vice President Cheney, thank you also for those kind words. It looks like my mother may have been helping you a little bit, too. (Laughter.)

I'm honored and humbled to lead the Department of Commerce, a true national treasure. After two weeks on the job, I realize that I have a lot to learn.

But one thing that I have learned is that the real treasures in this great Department are the people who work here. You're looking, Mr. President, at some of the members of this team right now. But there are thousands more who will implement your agenda every day, and they are doing a great job as they implement your agenda.

Let me say that if this Department is not accomplishing your mission, you only need to look at one person: me. And I'm sure you will. (Laughter.)

Kathy Card, thank you very much for that invocation. I'd like to add by drawing from Proverbs 29:18. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." My great friend in life, President George W. Bush, has a vision for America. He has a vision for this Department.

It is a vision where our e-commerce entrepreneurs are free from excessive regulation, so that they can dream and build. We look forward to leading the administration's e-commerce efforts, by our activities at NTIA, at NIST, at PTO, EDA, MBDA. I'm getting used to these acronyms now in Washington. (Laughter.)

It is a vision of prosperity that comes from free and fair trade. We will make sure that our nation's trade agreements are effectively enforced, and our security is protected, as ITA and BXA implement the President's trade policy.

It is a vision where the forgotten middle class keeps more of what they earn. As the President's economic team works to implement your agenda, they can rely on accurate data from ESA. And they can count on sound science from NOAA, where we will strive to accurately gauge climate change and forecast the weather.

Right now the dark clouds are not only in the weather data, but in the economic data: an anemic 1.4 percent fourth quarter growth rate. The President's proposed tax cut is more than just fair and responsible. It is timely, and it is necessary.

Advancing economic certainty, Mr. President, will be the mission of your Department of Commerce. Our e-commerce leaders can make plans secure in the knowledge that we will provide guidelines with certainty. Our economic team can implement your economic policy with data that is reliable and certain. Our trading partners can know we will enforce our trade agreements with certainty.

And our weather forecasts, Mr. President -- we can't do everything with absolute certainty. (Laughter.) But Mr. President, I look forward to leading this great national treasure, the Department of Commerce, in implementing your vision for America.

I thank all of you for being here, and God bless you. (Applause.)

END 2:40 P.M. EST