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 Home > News & Policies > October 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 18, 2002

President Highlights Education in Rochester, Minnesota
The University Center Rochester
Rochester Community and Technical College Fieldhouse
Rochester, Minnesota

1:45 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Yes, kind of sounds like the Metrodome in here. (Applause.) I appreciate so many good folks coming to say hello. You know, I'm aware of Rochester -- after all, I still listen to my mother. (Laughter and applause.) She's a proud member of the Board of Mayo Clinic. (Applause.)

I thank you for coming today. I'm here to talk about some of the challenges we meet as a nation. I want you to know that I'm incredibly optimistic about this nation's future. And I'm here to support a man for the United States Senate who shares my optimism about America. There's no doubt in my mind that what is best for Minnesota and what is best for America is that Norm Coleman become the next United States Senator. (Applause.)

I'm here to support the ticket, and there's no question in my mind that you need to have Tim Pawlenty as the next governor for Minnesota. (Applause.) I want to thank you all for your concern about our country; I want to thank you for your participation in the process; thank you for taking your time to look the candidates over; thank you for understanding that being a part of America is the obligation to participate in our process.

I want to thank you for what you have done for America. I want to thank you for what you're going to do. And that is man the phones -- (applause) -- go to your coffee shops, go to your houses of worship, remind the people of our community -- whether they be Republicans or Democrats or couldn't care less -- (laughter) -- that when you find a good one, you ought to support him. And you found some good ones in these candidates here in Minnesota. (Applause.)

I'm also glad to be in the bread basket of America. (Applause.) We eat because of you. (Laughter.) I love the values of this part of the world -- faith and family, love of country. I love the values of this part of the world. (Applause.) Hard-working, good, honest, decent people -- people I'm proud to call "friend." People neighbors are proud to call "friend." No, you're the strength of our great country, and nothing we can't overcome, because we're the finest country on the face of the earth. (Applause.)

I want to thank the good folks here at Rochester Community and Technical College for your hospitality. I particularly want to thank -- (applause) -- it's kind of hard to welcome a President, I know, but you've done a heck of a good job, plus you've got a Texan running the deal. (Laughter.)

I want to thank Don Supalla, who's the president, for his hospitality. I want to thank the members of Congress who are with us: Gil Gutknecht, who's a friend of mine; thank you for coming, Gil, I appreciate you coming. (Applause.) I want to thank Congressman Mark Kennedy for being here, as well. Mark's a fine one. (Applause.) You lowered your standards, you let somebody from Missouri travel with me -- (laughter) -- but he's a fine congressman, named Roy Blunt. I appreciate Congressman Blunt being here with us today. (Applause.)

I want to thank the people who are running for office. I want to thank Carol Molnau, who's running for the lieutenant governor of the state of Minnesota. (Applause.) I want to thank John Kline, who will make a fine United States congressman. (Applause.) Clyde Billington is running for the Congress, we need to help Clyde. (Applause.) And Dan Stevens is running for Congress. (Applause.) I want to thank these candidates for running. (Applause.)

You drew the short straw today -- you didn't get my mother and you didn't get my wife. (Laughter.) But Laura sends her best; she's doing great. (Applause.) She's doing really good. She's an amazing lady. You know, when I married her -- we were both raised in Midland, Texas, which is really not a pretty place to look at, but it's full of fine people. (Laughter.) She was a public school librarian. (Applause.) By the way, her heart is still with our children. She desires for every child to learn how to read in America. But, anyway, when I married her, or asked her to marry me, at least, the truth of the matter was, she didn't like politics. (Laughter.) And didn't particularly care for politicians, either. (Laughter.)

Thank goodness she said "yes." She's now a fabulous First Lady for our country. (Applause.)

I know something about what it takes to be a governor, and you've got a good man running for governor here in Minnesota. (Applause.) He's a person who can get results. He's proven that already in the State House. He has worked to make sure that government stays within a budget, and that's not easy. Generally, when governments meet, everybody has got a great idea. They all cost billions of dollars. (Laughter.) That's why you've got to have somebody who understands the money we spend in government is not the government's money. (Applause.)

Tim understands that. He also understands the most important thing a state can do is to make sure you get it right when it comes to the schools. (Applause.) The most important issue -- the most important issue for any governor in any state is to make sure every single child in your state receives a quality education. What you've got to have in the State House is somebody like Tim who is willing to insist upon high standards and high expectations; somebody who is willing to challenge what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.) You see, you've got to have a governor who understands you must raise the bar and expect the best; who believes in his heart of hearts that every child can learn. You've got to believe that. (Applause.)

And then you've got to -- and then you must have a governor who trusts the local people, who trusts the local people to chart the path to excellence, who empowers the teachers and parents and principals to chart the path for excellence so every child can learn. And then you've got to have a governor who's willing to ask the fundamental question: are we succeeding?

You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you want to know whether every child in your state is learning. If you believe every child can read, then it makes sense to measure to determine whether or not every child is learning to read and write and add and subtract. And when they are, there will be plenty of praise for the teachers. But you better have you a governor who's willing to challenge the schools that won't teach and won't change. No child should be left behind in Minnesota or anywhere else in America. (Applause.)

No, I'm proud to support Tim and I encourage you to go out and work on his behalf. He'll make you a good governor. And I'm also proud to be here with Norm Coleman. (Applause.) I need him in the United States Senate. And let me tell you why.

First, I'm confident he can do the job. He has proven himself as a leader. He was the mayor of St. Paul. He kept taxes down. He helped revitalize that city. He's got his priorities straight. You lost your hockey team and he got you another one. (Applause.) He's not one of these polarizer-type people -- you know, pitting one group of people against another. Frankly, we've got too much of that in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) There's too many voices up there that would rather call names than get things done, too many dividers.

Norm Coleman is a uniter. He starts in the center and he works with people to bring them together to do what's right for America. No doubt in my mind he can do the job and, like me, he married well. (Laughter and applause.)

And I tell you, we've got some problems -- and we do. The economy is not as good as we'd like it to be. There are too many people looking for work and can't find it. And any time that's the case in this country, we need to do something about it. The foundation for growth is strong. Interest rates are low, inflation is low. Listen, we've got the most productive people in the world -- our farmers are the most productive in the world, are workers are the most productive in the world. (Applause.)

The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in America. Small business sector is vibrant. There's a lot right with what our country -- when it comes to our economy. But still, too many are looking for work. And so the fundamental question is, what to do about it. The role of government is not to create wealth. That's how some of the other folks in Washington think. The role of government is to create an environment in which the small business can flourish, in which the producer can find markets, in which the entrepreneur can make a living. That's what the role of government is. (Applause.)

And that's why I feel so strongly about tax relief. You see, when your -- (applause) -- when your economy is bumping along, when your economy is not doing as well as we want it to do, one way to increase jobs is to let people keep more of their own money. (Applause.) Some folks in Washington don't understand that. They think when the economy is bumping along, it's better to take more money.

Here's what we believe: we believe that when a person has more money, they're more than likely to demand a good or a service. And in our society, when somebody demands a good or a service, somebody is more likely to produce the good or service. And when somebody produces that good or service, somebody is more likely to be able to find work. For the sake of job creation, for the sake of the working people in America, the tax relief came at the right time. (Applause.)

If the tax relief were permanent, that would mean $33 billion of more money in your pocket over the next 10 years -- $33 billion as the result of the rates going down. It would mean $4 billion of tax relief over the next 10 years because of the child credit. It would mean $1.4 billion because we significantly slashed the marriage penalty. See, one of the things we believe is the tax code ought to encourage marriage, not discourage marriage. (Applause.) That's a little bit over $38 billion if the tax cuts were permanent. Let me explain the problem with the issue, and why you need to be asking the questions here in Minnesota about this issue.

See, there's a quirk in the Senate rules that says, yes, you can have tax relief, but after 10 years it goes away. It's kind of like the Senate giveth and the Senate taketh away. (Laughter.) I have trouble explaining that in Crawford, Texas, I'll be honest with you. (Laughter.)

It's hard to explain a system where we say, you bet, we're going to let people keep more of their own money, but then after a while it goes away, like a significant tax increase. And so I've been asking the Congress to join me in making the tax relief permanent. (Applause.) It's essential for job creation. It's essential for job growth that you have a United States senator who will join me in making tax relief a permanent part of the tax code. (Applause.)

One of the worst taxes of all is the death tax. You just ask your farming families what I'm talking about. You see, it's a tax that taxes a person's assets twice. Once is plenty, as far as we're concerned. You can tax them once, but don't tax them twice. (Applause.) You know, for the sake of the family farmer or the rancher or the small business owner, we need to get rid of the death tax forever. You see, it ought to be right for somebody to be able to pass their assets on to whoever they wan without the federal government getting in the way. (Applause.)

And I hope the farmers of this part of the state ask the question of the two candidates: who's willing to make sure the death tax is forever gone from the tax code? That ought the be a question people all over Minnesota ought to be asking in this race. It's an important question. It's a question that shows whose philosophy and whose values are more in tune with the people who live in Minnesota.

We can do more to make sure our economy is strong. Listen, we need to have an energy bill that includes ethanol. We need to have an energy bill that encourages conservation. If you're worried about jobs in America, we need to be less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil. (Applause.)

I look forward to working with Norm to make sure our medicine is -- the medical system is modern. Listen, Medicare is old, and medicine isn't. Medicine has changed. Medicine has evolved, and Medicare hasn't. A lot of talk in Washington, but they have yet to get it right when it comes to treating our elderly the right way. We need to modernize Medicare and include prescription drugs. (Applause.)

We want our medicine to be affordable and accessible. We want people to have access to the health care and we need it to be affordable. But we've got a problem, and that is, there's too many lawsuits. There's too many junk lawsuits suing our docs. It's one thing to hold a person to account, it's another thing to fill our courts with frivolous lawsuits. It's running up the cost of medicine. (Applause.)

These junk lawsuits are running people out of work, and it's making it harder for people to get health guys down in Mississippi. I met with a doctor. He and his wife were good missionary-type folks and they moved to the Delta -- it's one of the poorest parts of our nation. They wanted to practice medicine to help people; they were healers; they wanted to use their God-given talent so somebody else could be healthy. The junk lawsuits ran them out of the state. Made me want to cry, made me want to weep.

The cost of medicine affects the federal budget. It affects our Medicare. It affects VA hospitals. It affects Medicaid. For the sake of making sure our health care system works, we need to have federal medical malpractice reform and Norm Coleman will support me on that issue. (Applause.)

There's a lot we can do to make sure we're wise about spending your money. There's a lot we can together to make sure that people can find work. There's a lot we can sure do together to make sure that the promises made to certain of our citizens are kept.

But the biggest job I've got and the biggest job we will have is to protect the American people from an enemy which hates America because of what we love. (Applause.) They hate us because we love freedom. (Applause.) And we're not changing. We love the fact that in this great country people from all different kinds of walks can worship an almighty God anyway he or she sees fit. That's what we love. (Applause.)

We love the fact that people can speak their mind in America, can freely say what they want. We love the idea that there's a free press. We love every aspect of the freedoms. And so long as we hold those dear to our heart, there's going to be an enemy out there. And since we're not changing, we're going to have to do something about that enemy out there. (Applause.)

We learned a terrible lesson on September the 11th, a lesson that we must adjust to as a nation. And that is no longer can two oceans protect us. See, it used to be we could sit back and say, oh, there's an emerging threat -- but two oceans can protect us and we can take our time to decide whether or not we need to respond to that threat.

We learned something else about us, and that is, we're a battlefield now. And, therefore, as a nation, we've got to do everything we can to win the battle, protect the people here at home.

I recently have been talking about an issue that's a grave issue of national concern, and that's Iraq. It's an issue that we've had a good debate in Congress, it was an important debate. Congress is now speaking with one voice, along with me, and here's what we're saying: any man who murders his own people, any man who uses weapons of mass destruction on his own people, any man who invades two countries in his region, any man who has defied resolution after resolution after resolution, any man who said he would disarm and hasn't is a man who is a threat. And, therefore, we call upon Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm, just like he said he would do.

And we call upon the United Nations to show us whether or not this is a body that can effectively keep the peace, or it's like one its predecessors, the League of Nations. We call upon people to come together to disarm this man before he harms the United States or our friends and allies. In the name of peace, in the name of peace, we call upon Saddam to disarm. (Applause.)

So long as there's a threat out there, your government will do everything we can to protect you. And we're making progress. There's a lot of good folks -- you've just got to know this, there's a lot of good folks working a lot of long hours to run down any hint, any idea, any whisper that somebody might be thinking about doing something to America, we're moving on it. We're doing everything we can to share intelligence.

And we're getting better at it, by the way. See, we're now on alert. We understand, we know the risks. We understand the enemy better and better. We're going to protect our United States Constitution, and at the same time, we're going to follow every lead. That's our most solemn duty.

And that's why I asked the United States Congress to join me in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. This is an important issue. It's an important issue, and it's important we get it right. You see, this is an issue that is going to be -- that is going to haunt us if we get it wrong long after I'm the President. Presidents will be dealing with the homeland security for a while. So Congress must make sure their department works and functions well, so this President and future Presidents can stand up in Rochester, Minnesota, and say, we're doing everything in our power to protect you, we're doing everything we can.

There's over a hundred agencies in Washington that have something to do with the homeland, so I thought it made sense to put them all under one, so that if the number one priority is to protect the homeland, it becomes the priorities of all those scattered agencies. That way we're able to focus the attention, and if need be, change the culture of agencies and people who are -- whose job it is to protect you.

And so the House of Representatives acted, and they passed a good bill, a bill I can live with. But it's stuck in the Senate. They can't get it out of the Senate, and let me tell you why. They said, well, you can have the homeland defense bill, but there is a price. They wanted to extract a price from me. And I say, well, what is that price. Let me tell you what it is, and I think you'll share -- you'll understand the reason I said, no.

Every President, since John F. Kennedy, has the authority to act in the interests of national security. In other words, every President since John F. Kennedy has the capacity in the name of national security to suspend certain work rules, has the capacity to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time, even though certain work rules would prevent that from happening. In the name of national security, the President has got to be able to respond quickly. The Senate wants to take away that authority.

You see, let me tell you what. They want me to have that authority when it comes to the Agriculture Department, but not that authority in the time of war when it comes to the Department of Homeland Security. This is a big issue in this campaign. There's no question where Norm Coleman will stand. He will stand with making sure that this President and future Presidents -- (applause.)

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about, so we can clarify this issue, so people understand why I'm being reasonable. The Customs Department wanted the Customs agents to be able to carry a radiological detection device on their belt. Just in case somebody was trying to bring some weapon of mass destruction in, it made sense to have these people wearing these devices.

The union head said, uh-uh, that must be voluntary, it can't be mandatory, and therefore we must have a collective bargaining session which could take months to resolve whether or not our Customs agents should be wearing radiological detection devices. That doesn't make any sense. You cannot allow a President to have work rules bind him in a time of national concern. The enemy moves fast, and so should we. We need to have the flexibility to make this work. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure our homeland is to chase these killers down one person at a time and bring them to justice. (Applause.) I know the enemy, and therapy isn't going to work. (Applause.) I don't know what was going through their mind when they hit us. They probably thought America was so self-absorbed, so materialistic, so incredibly selfish that after September 11th, 2001, we'd kind of shudder and maybe file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) They met a different America. They met America -- (applause) -- an America that understands we have a duty; we have a duty to defend freedom, we have a duty to defend our fellow citizens, we have a duty to make sure our children grow up in a free and peaceful society. (Applause.)

We're making progress on this different kind of war. In the old days, you could measure progress based upon the amount of tanks you destroyed or boats you sunk or airplanes that don't fly for the enemy. You could measure progress. You could see lines of infantry going across, you know, different countries and say, gosh, we're making progress, we're pushing the enemy back.

These people that we fight hide in caves, send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. They're cold-blooded killers. They don't value life like we do. See, we believe every life matters, every life is precious, everybody has worth. (Applause.) And they don't. And I must constantly remind our friends and allies of the stakes. And the stakes are high.

That's why the doctrine that says, either you're with us or you're with the enemy still stands. That doctrine that says, either you're joining the United States in our quest for freedom and peace, or you're with the other team. It's still a viable doctrine. A lot of people still hear the message and we're after them. The other day a guy named Abu Sayyaf -- I mean Bin al-Shibh, he popped his head up. He's no longer a threat to America and our friends. (Applause.)

It is a significant, significant capture because he was the person that wanted to be the 20th hijacker. And he was still on the loose and he was still plotting to hurt America. We've captured -- or hauled in, however you want to put it -- a couple of thousand. A like number weren't quite so lucky. So we're making progress, slowly but surely making -- and sometimes you'll see the progress on you TVs and sometimes you won't.

You've just got to know that we've got a fantastic United States military and a strong alliance. (Applause.) A fantastic military and a strong alliance that is on course. And we find them lighting somewhere, we get them on the run, and we're going to keep them on the run until we whip terror once and for all. I asked the Congress for a significant increase in defense spending for two reasons. It's important for you to know this. I strongly believe that any time we put one of our troops into harm's way, we owe it to the troops and we owe it to their loved ones to make sure they've got the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)

And the second reason is, it's an important message to friend and foe alike that when it comes to the defense of our freedom, there is no calendar that says, you've got -- we're quitting. It doesn't matter how long it takes, it just doesn't matter how long it takes. However long it takes, this country of ours will stay the course. We will stay the course to protect America, and we will stay the course to promote the peace.

You see, the enemy hit us. They didn't know who they were hitting. They didn't understand that out of the evil done to America can come some incredible good, because we're a great nation. (Applause.) And one of the goods -- and part of that good, part of that good is to achieve peace. If we're tough -- and we'll be tough -- if we speak plainly about terror -- which we'll do -- if we stay the course and remain strong, I believe that we can achieve peace, I truly believe it. I believe peace -- we can achieve peace for ourselves. I believe we can achieve peace in parts of the world that have quit on peace. I believe peace is possible in the Middle East. I believe peace is possible in South Asia.

No, the United States can lead a coalition toward peace. I want you to know, that's my vision, and that's my hope, and that's what I believe is going to happen. (Applause.)

And as we work hard, as we work hard with Senator Coleman to make sure the country is stronger and safer, we must always remember that we've got to work to make the country better, a better place. We can do that through good education policy, good health policy.

But the truth of the matter is, the best way to make sure America addresses some of our deepest problems is to remember that if you want to do some good in the face of evil, love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.) In our country, it's important to remember, amongst the plenty, there are people who hurt -- people who are addicted, people who need love, people who are hopeless. And we can solve that problem, too. We can solve that problem.

You can help solve that problem by putting your arm around somebody in need, and saying, I love you. You can solve that problem by mentoring a child. I saw the Scouts when I walked in. You can solve that problem by running a Boy Scout troop or a Girl Scout troop. You can solve that problem by going to your church or synagogue or mosque, and listen to the call of the Almighty and feed the hungry and house the homeless. (Applause.)

That's how we can solve the problems of America. Government can hand out money, but government can't put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That's done when a fellow American understands there's a new patriotism in this country. It's more than just putting your hand over your heart. The new patriotism calls upon each of us to be that one person, helping to change America, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. (Applause.)

Today, when I landed here in Rochester, I met a young fellow at the airport named Nick Reichel. Nick, where are you, stand up. (Applause.) Fifteen years old, right? He doesn't look it. (Laughter.) I'll tell you about Nick. See, he's heard the call. It didn't require any law passed. This young fellow has already volunteered 400 hours of community service, 400 hours as a part of the army of compassion, to help make his community as good a place as it can be. (Applause.)

No, there's no question in my mind, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. I hope you can sense my optimism for our future. I hope you can see I see a brighter day for all of us, a day of peace, and a day in which the great promise of America shines its light into every corner in this country -- the day in which we can proudly say that the American Dream is vivid and bright for every person who lives in my country.

I feel optimistic about it, because I know America. I know America to be the greatest country, full of the finest people on the face of the earth. Thank you for coming today. May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 2:35 P.M. CDT