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 Home > News & Policies > October 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 5, 2002

Remarks by the President in Manchester, New Hampshire Welcome
National Guard Armory
Manchester, New Hampshire

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10:32 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please be seated, except for those of you who don't have a chair. (Laughter.)

I've been here before. This was the site of the great pancake flip-off. (Laughter.) A lot of time has passed since I was flipping pancakes in this armory. (Laughter.) And I want to thank you all for coming. I want to thank my fellow citizens for taking time out of your day to give me a chance to come and talk about issues that confront our country, and my strong desire to work with all who live in America, to make America a safer, a stronger and a better place.

My dream is for this country to be a strong country. As importantly, a safe country; and a country in which each of us who live here realizes the great American potential belongs to everybody.

I want to thank you for bringing your families out to say hello. I want to thank you for sending some good people to Washington, D.C. I'm proud to call Judd Gregg my friend. He's doing a great job as the United States Senator. (Applause.)

I'm honored that Governor Shaheen is here today. I appreciate her taking time out of her schedule to come and pay her respects to the Presidency. (Applause.) I appreciate the Mayor of Manchester. I appreciate members of the congressional delegation: Congressman Charlie Bass and Congressman John Sununu, for joining us, as well. (Applause.)

I'm glad -- I am glad that your mayor, the mayor of Manchester, Mayor Baines is with us today. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming, as well. (Applause.) Ray Wieczorek is here, who is on the New Hampshire Executive Councilor. I appreciate Ray. (Applause.)

But most of all, I appreciate my fellow citizens. (Applause.) I appreciate those of you who are here to work hard to make your community and New Hampshire a strong place.

I want to tell you one of the things on my mind, and it's I worry about people being able to find work in America. Anytime anybody who wants to work and can't find a job, says to me we've got a problem, and we must do everything we can to grow our economy -- that all of us together must work to do that which we can to enable our environment, our economic environment, to prosper, so people can find work. I want Americans to be able to put food on the table.

And we've got an issue here in the country, and we've got to work together to solve it. Now, you've got to know something: I am optimistic about our economic future. First of all, I understand the American spirit. We've got the best workers in the world. We've got the best entrepreneurs in the world. Our productivity is the best there is. (Applause.)

Interest rates are low. Inflation is low. The foundation for growth is solid. But it's not good -- going good enough. Yesterday, we had a good report -- the unemployment rate dropped across the country. It's still not good enough, and we ought to continue to do that which is necessary to grow our economy. And I've got a couple of ideas, and Congress can help. I readily concede my vision of government is not to create wealth, but to create an environment in which the small business can grow to be a big business, in which the entrepreneur can realize his or her dreams, in which our producers can find markets. The job of government is to create an environment in which growth is possible.

That's why I am such a strong believer and strong advocate of letting people keep more of your own money. (Applause.) You see, it is when times are slow that you let people have money in their pocket. When somebody has more money in their pocket, they're more likely to demand a good or a service. And in the marketplace, when somebody demands a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces a good or a service, somebody is more likely able to find work.

Tax relief came at the absolute right time. (Applause.) But the reason I'm still talking about it, the reason we have to talk about it is because there is a quirk in the Senate rules. On the one hand, they giveth; on the other hand, they taketh away. Because after ten years the tax relief package ends. All the relief that had happened resorts back to the way it was prior to last year. I know that's hard to understand. That's one of those Washington things.

But for the sake of economic vitality, Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) People need to be able to plan. Part of an environment which will encourage economic growth means people -- there's certainty. And there needs to be certainty in the tax code. You can't have a tax code that's one way for a while and reverts back. That's not certainty.

The tax relief plan is incredibly good for small businesses. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships. Most small business are limited partnerships, which means the small business pays taxes at the income tax rate, personal income tax rates. And so, therefore, when you reduce all rates, you inject needed capital into the small business sector. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small business owners. For the sake of job creation, for the sake of certainty, for the sake of the growth of our small business sector, Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

A stronger America, a stronger America is one in which people can find work. We have got a problem when it comes to construction projects in America. The terrorists hit us, and now lot of folks who want to put steel in the ground can't get insurance. We need the Congress to act on terrorism insurance. We need to have Congress act as a stopgap for those who want to put construction projects forward. There's over $15 billion of construction projects which are now on hold because we can't get terrorism insurance done. They've been talking about it, but we can't get it out of the -- can't get it out of what they call the conference committee. Fifteen billion dollars' worth of projects are stalled, which means 300,000 jobs.

My call to Congress, before they go home: for the sake of jobs, for the sake of putting hard-hats back to work, for the sake of letting people have a chance to put food on their table, we need a terrorism insurance package which does not reward trial lawyers, but does reward the hard-hats of America. (Applause.)

Like you, I'm concerned about the fact that 401(k)s are being affected, that people's savings have been eroded. I'm concerned about that. We need to create an environment in Washington which promotes growth and certainty.

One thing that will send a good message to markets and to our fellow Americans is if Washington can show some fiscal discipline. And that starts with understanding whose money we spend in Washington. We're not spending the government's money, we're spending your money in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

See, we need to set priorities. We need to set clear priorities -- winning this war on terror, and protecting the homeland, making sure our kids get educated. We ought to set priorities. But we ought not to spend beyond those priorities. And here's the danger. There is no budget in the United States Senate. You see, if you don't have a budget, guess what can happen? Particularly in an environment in which every idea sounds like a great idea. See, in Washington, every idea is -- sounds wonderful. The problem in that town is, is that the price tag usually runs in the billions. Without a budget, there is a danger that the Congress will overspend.

I submitted a budget that shows us getting back to balance in a reasonable period of time if there's fiscal sanity in Washington. For the sake of job creation, for the sake of improving the economic environment here in America, the United States Congress must fund our priorities, must not try to get re-elected with extraneous spending, and must remember whose money we spend in Washington, and it is the people's money. (Applause.)

I will continue to work -- I will continue to work to make America a stronger country by working hard to improve our economy -- by working hard to help people find work, by working hard to bring confidence back into the American system.

And by the way, that started with me having the honor of signing the most significant corporate reforms since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. Here's the message: if you're running a corporation in America, we expect you to be open, we expect you to be honest, we expect you to treat your shareholders with respect, we expect you to treat your employees with respect. If you break the law, we're going to come and get you; you're going to spend hard time. (Applause.)

And we're going to work hard to make sure America is a stronger place, but my most important job is to make America a safer place. I'm reminded of that every time I come and give a speech and see the little ones here. I'm also reminded, since some of them are going to sleep, to keep my speeches shorter. (Laughter.)

I want you to know that I say we have to work to make America a safer place because there is still an enemy out there who hates America. And they hate us because of what we love. They hate us because we love freedom in America. (Applause.)We love freedom to the point we will never back down and relinquish our freedoms. We love the idea of anybody in America being able to worship an almighty God anyway he or she sees fit. (Applause.)

We love the fact that in our society there is discourse about elections and politics, a free society has open debate -- we love that. We love a free press. We love everything about our freedoms. And that's why the enemy hates us.

It's hard for some youngsters to understand that. But you've just got to know there are people that don't value life, either. See, that's one of the things that differentiates us. America says, everybody counts, everybody matters, every life has worth, everybody is precious in the eyes of the Almighty. And our enemy is willing to hijack a great religion and murder innocent life without caring. And so long as they're out there, we must do everything we can as a nation, as governments -- at the federal, state and local level -- to protect the American people. It is our most important and solemn job.

And I take it seriously. I want you to know there are a lot of good people working incredibly hard on your behalf. We're doing a much better job of sharing information than we had in the past. I mean, after all, we now know that America is a battlefield. Any time we get a hint, any time we get an idea that somebody might be trying to do something to some American somewhere, we are moving, we're acting on it. We take every threat seriously. We are on alert as a nation. Times have changed and you just need to know we have changed with the times.

Now, I have asked Congress to join me on creating what I call a Department of Homeland Security, and I want to share right quickly why I did that. There's over a hundred agencies in Washington involved with securing the homeland, or a hundred agencies involved with some aspect of doing their job that I expect them to do.

But the problem is, is that with so many agencies scattered around it's hard to align authority and responsibility. It's hard to have accountability. It's hard to make sure the cultures of the agency are aligned properly. It's hard to make sure their number one job is to protect you. And so, therefore, I said, let's create this department so that we can say to the American people, we're doing everything we can to protect you.

The House passed a good bill. The Senate is still debating it. And here's the issue. The issue is whether or not the Senate is going to micromanage the executive branch and future Presidents, or whether or not this President and future Presidents and the Cabinet Secretaries will be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect the American people. The question is this: are we going to have rules, civil servant rules which will make the process so cumbersome that we can't respond?

I'll give you an example. The Customs Service thought it appropriate that our inspectors wear radiation detection devices on their belts. That makes sense. If you're worried about weapons of mass destruction coming into America, you want your inspectors to have the tools necessary to do their job. The union said that they needed to have a negotiating session, they needed to go to collective bargaining as to whether or not the inspectors ought to be told to wear this, whether or not it would be involuntary or voluntary. That would take a long time to settle.

Nothing wrong with collective bargaining rights, I'm all for them. But what I'm not for is work rules that prohibit us from doing the job of protecting the American people. (Applause.)

This is a chance for people of both parties to come together and leave behind a legacy. Because this enemy isn't going away any time soon. And protecting the homeland is going to be an important job of future Presidents. So for the sake of the security of our country, I ask the Senate to be reasonable, to be realistic and to understand their job is to leave a legacy behind that will allow those of us who have gotten the position you've elected us to, to do the jobs you expect us to do.

But the best way to secure the homeland in the short term and in the long term is to chase the killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.)

And that is what we're going to continue to do. This is a different kind of war. We're not used to this kind of war we fight. In the old days, it used to be you could destroy an enemy's tanks or airplanes or ships and you're making progress. The people we fight don't have tanks, or airplanes. These are cold-blooded killers who hide in caves, or the dark recesses of certain cities, and send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. That's why I say our job is to hunt them down one at a time.

The doctrine that says either you're with us or you're with the enemy still stands. (Applause.)

And as a result -- as a result, there's still a coalition of freedom-loving countries that are after the killers. And we're doing a good job. Sometimes you'll see the progress on your TVs, and sometimes you won't, in this new war.

The other day, you saw progress when this fellow named bin al-Shibh, he popped his head up. (Laughter.) He's no longer a threat to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.) He was the man who thought he was -- wanted to be the 20th hijacker, bragged about the fact that he wanted to be one that was able to kill thousands of our citizens.

We're calling them in one at a time. I bet you we've captured over a couple of thousand of them. And a like number haven't been as lucky. (Applause.) And like number weren't as lucky because we have got a fantastic United States military. (Applause.) I want you to know I have great confidence in the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. I have great respect for the men and women who wear the uniform. For the loved ones of those who wear the uniform, I thank you as well, for your sacrifice, along with theirs, on behalf of a grateful nations. (Applause.)

I submitted to the United States Congress the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so for two reasons. One, anytime we send our youngsters into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) And secondly, I wanted to send a clear message to friend and foe alike that when it comes to the defense of our freedoms and values we hold dear, the United States is in for the long haul. (Applause.) There is no calendar on my desk -- there is no calendar on my desk that says by such-and-such a date, we pretty well had it, time to quit.

When it comes to the defense of that which we love, which is our country; when it comes to doing our duty, which is to protect the future for our children and our children's children; when it comes to the defense of the peace, the United States of America will stay the course. (Applause.)

I have sent that bill to the Congress. It hasn't made it to my desk yet. We are at war; I expect to get the Defense bill, the Defense appropriations bill, on my desk before the Congress goes home. For the sake -- for the sake of sending the right message, Congress should not play politics with the Defense appropriations bill. (Applause.)

Our job is to keep the peace. Our job is to make the world a more peaceful place. And sometimes it's a pretty steep hill to get there. Sometimes we're going to have to cross some hurdles. Sometimes we're going to have to anticipate problems before they become so acute that it will be difficult to keep the peace. One such area, where the nation is now beginning an important national discourse, is with Iraq. This is a country which, eleven years ago, promised the world they would have no weapons of mass destruction. And yet, for eleven years they have lied and deceived the world community.

This is a country run by one of the most brutal dictators in modern history. On Monday night, I will make the case to the country on TV yet again, but I want to share some of my thoughts with you here.

I want you to remember that this is man who kills his opponents in cold blood. This is a person who suppressed people. This is a person who has used weapons of mass destruction on his own citizens. This is a person who has used weapons of mass destruction on people in his neighborhood. This is a person who hates America, and yet still possesses weapons of mass destruction.

At one time, inspectors had a free hand in Iraq, like they should have, and they determined that had this man not been checked in the early 90s, he would have had possession of a nuclear weapon. He still wants to have a nuclear weapon. This is a man who has used weapons of mass destruction. This is a man who hates so much, he's willing to kill his own people, much less Americans. This is a man who would be a tremendous threat to world peace and security if he ever were to have and possess a weapon of mass destruction as devastating as a nuclear weapon.

I went to the United Nations the other day because I wanted to make it clear, a couple of things. One, I want the United Nations to be successful. We face a new threat for world peace. We're dealing with these treacherous terrorist organizations who have designs and desires to hook up with nations such as Iraq that have developed weapons of mass destruction. See, old Saddam might not have to show up, but he might get a surrogate who could do it for him.

In order to deal with those new threats, in order to deal with the reality that America is no longer protected by two vast oceans, it seemed like sense to me that we should give the United Nations to be an effective peace-keeping body, somebody who would keep the peace, somebody who was strong enough. Well, I've told the United Nations: either you can be the United Nations or you can be the League of Nations, your choice. (Applause.)

Sixteen different times the United Nations, an important world body, has said: you must disarm. Sixteen times, and he's defied them all sixteen times. He's lied, and he's deceived. And so now the choice is the United Nations' to make. The choice is also Mr. Saddam Hussein's to make. See, there's no negotiations; there's nothing to talk about. We don't want you to have weapons of mass destruction. You agreed to that, you said you would agree to that. Now you've got to show the world you don't have them. It's up to you, Mr. Hussein.

Nobody likes war in America. We're a peaceful nation. Nobody wants there to be war. On the other hand, a lot of folks -- Republicans and Democrats, people who could care less about political parties -- now are beginning to understand the true threat. In order to keep the peace, Mr. Hussein and the world community must work to disarm him. And if they won't, I will lead a coalition of nations, like-minded nations to send the world that we long for peace -- send a message, we long for peace in this world and we will not let the world's worst leaders threaten, blackmail, hurt America, our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons.

We owe this to our children. We owe it to peace. We owe it for a peaceful world to deal -- to deal with the threats we see. We cannot ignore history. We must not ignore reality. We must do everything we can to disarm this man before he hurts one single American. (Applause.)

I am proud -- I was proud the other day to stand in the Rose Garden with members of both political parties who agreed that this man is a threat -- both political parties. We had the Speaker, and we had Dick Gephardt. From the Senate we had Trent Lott and Joe Lieberman and John McCain and Evan Bayh. Republicans and Democrats alike. We're working on a resolution so this country can speak with one voice when it comes to the defense of our freedoms and our desire for peace.

This is not an issue of political parties. This is an issue of national concern. I look forward to hearing the debate. I welcome the voices on all sides. I understand -- I understand the need for there to be a good and honest and open discourse on peace and security and freedom.

And as we work to secure the peace and to make the country a stronger and safer place, we've always got to remember to make America a better place, too. A better place for every, single citizen who lives in this country. That starts with making sure that every child in America gets an education -- not some, but every child. (Applause.)

I was honored to work with Judd and Ted Kennedy. Believe it or not -- (laughter) -- it's amazing what can happen when people put their minds to do what's right for America and cast aside all the nonsense of the politics and focus on what's right. I signed a really good education bill. I want to share it with you because it's your responsibility, by the way, to make sure the citizens in this community get educated. See, I believe in local control of schools; Bill said that. But let me tell you two other things it said. (Applause.)

It said two other things that are really important. It said, in America, we believe each child can learn. And therefore, we must set high standards and high expectations. As a nation, if we want America to be a better place, we must challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.)

And you see, if you believe every child can learn, if you believe that -- you've got to believe it; you just can't say it, you've got to believe it. You've got to believe our inner city kids can learn. You've got to believe that a child whose parents may not speak English as a first language can learn. You have to believe it.

And if you do believe that, like I believe it, then you want to know. Then you want to know whether or not the children are learning. And therefore, in return for federal money we have said, show us, New Hampshire. You show us. You show us whether our children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. You chart the path to excellence, and you measure. In return for the biggest increase in education spending in a long, long time, we expect every child to be educated. And when you find children in schools which will not teach and will not change, in order to make sure no child is left behind, you've got to demand something different. You've got to demand excellence in your schools for every single child. (Applause.)

A better America is one that says we're going to help people in need, but we want them to work. Any good welfare reauthorization must have work as its central component. We'll help you, fine. We'll train you. But work leads to dignity. Work gives people a hopeful future. (Applause.)

A better America is one that recognizes that medicine has changed, but government programs like Medicare haven't. Medicine is modern, Medicare isn't. For the sake of a better America, our seniors need to be treated with a Medicare program that includes prescription drugs and is a modern program. (Applause.)

But see, one of the things that you've got to understand about government, government can hand out money. But what government cannot do is put love in a person's life. What government cannot do is put hope in hearts. And that's why, in order to make sure that America is a better place, we've got to really unleash the great strength of America. And the great strength of this country is the people of this country. The great strength of America lay in the hearts and souls of our fellow Americans.

Today, we are honored -- and I was honored at the airport there -- to greet Bonnie Monahan and Patrick Fraser. They are two of our fellow citizens: Bonnie is the Vice President of the Timberland Company, and Patrick works for the City Youth -- City Year Youth Service Corps.

And the reason I bring them up is there's two examples about what I'm talking about, about the great strength of the country. Timberland offers employees 40 hours of paid leave to volunteer in their communities. This good company, this company which is doing their best to look at the bottom line also understands the bottom line is more than just dollars and cents. The bottom line is being a good citizen. They provide paid leave for people to be involved with helping our community be a better place. They've got City Year Youth Service Corps where Freedom Corps volunteers -- kids who understand we can save America one heart and one soul at a time -- working in Timberland. (Applause.) I want to thank the City Corps and I want to thank Timberland for coming. (Applause.)

I want to thank you all for being here. See, it's an important signal that one person can't do everything, but one person can do something to be a part of changing America. People have often asked me, what can I do to help in the war against terror? You can join the war against terror and fight evil by loving your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)

A better America -- a better America is an America which understands that in the midst of our plenty, there are people who hurt. There are pockets of despair. There's loneliness. Some communities you say, hey, American Dream -- and they go, what does that mean? I don't know what you're talking about.

If one of us hurts, we all hurt. And, therefore, we must do everything we can to make this country a better place, a more optimistic place. And it starts with each of us. If you want to be a part of a change of America, all you've got to do is put your arm around a neighbor in need and say, I love you. Mentor a child. Start a Boy and Girls Club. Feed the hungry. Help house the homeless. (Applause.)

And it's happening in America. The amazing thing about September the 11th -- a day in which we still grieve as a nation, we still send our prayers to those whose lives were completely disrupted -- but this nation is so strong and so confident and so good, instead of being cowed by the enemy, we rose up. Out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. I don't know what was in the mind of the enemy. They must have thought we were so selfish and materialistic and self-absorbed that when they attacked us we might file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.)

Instead, what they're finding out about this country is we love our freedom. And if we remain strong and focused and tough when we need to, if we continue to speak clearly about right from wrong and defend the values -- which are not American values, but God-given values -- we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace in the world, we can achieve peace for our citizens. (Applause.)

And here at home -- and here at home, if we remember the definition of a patriot as something more than just putting your hand over your heart, the definition a patriot is something more than just putting your hand over your heart. The definition of a patriot in the face of the evil done to America is to serve something greater than yourself in life; is to help somebody in need; is to love a person one at a time, as we remember that -- which I know we will.

The enemy will have hit us, but America will be a stronger, more compassionate, better place for all of us. There's no question in my mind that we can meet our goals, that we can meet this challenge. Because, my fellow Americans, this is the greatest nation, full of the finest people, on the face of the earth.

Thank you for coming. May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 11:12 A.M. EDT