The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 23, 2003

Remarks by the President at the Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception
Sheraton New York Hotel
New York, New York

6:28 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. It's nice to be back in this great city of New York City. Thank you for your warm hospitality. (Applause.) I'm going to come back. (Laughter and applause.) And I look forward to have the Republican Convention right here in the great city of New York. (Applause.)

Thank you all so very much for your help in the campaign. You're laying the foundation for what will be a national victory come November of 2004. (Applause.) I'm getting loosened up. (Laughter.) I'm getting ready. (Laughter.) But I'm going to need your help. I'm going to need your help not only to lay the foundation at the grassroots, but I need your help to pass our message, our inclusive, positive, hopeful message for all American citizens.

I say, I'm ready -- the political season will come in its own time. There will be plenty of time for politics. Right now I'm focused on the people's business in Washington, D.C. We have a lot on the agenda and we will continue to work hard to earn the confidence of our fellow citizens by keeping this nation secure, keeping this nation strong, keeping this nation prosperous, and keeping this nation free. (Applause.)

My only regret tonight is that First Lady Laura Bush didn't come. I know, you drew the -- you drew the short straw. (Laughter.) I'm proud of her. I love her. She is a fabulous First Lady for America. (Applause.)

I want to thank Governor George Pataki for not only being a friend, but being a great governor for the state of New York. (Applause.) I appreciate so very much that my Secretary of Commerce, Don Evans, is with us tonight. I appreciate him coming. (Applause.)

I had a chance to visit with the Mayor. I want to thank Michael Bloomberg for the job he's doing on behalf of the citizens of this great city. And I want to thank him for his friendship, as well. He probably said he's going out to throw a first pitch out at the minor league park. I know something about throwing out pitches. (Laughter.) And I would suggest he goes with a fast ball, not his slider. (Laughter.)

I want to thank Congressman Vito Fossello for coming, as well. He's part of that New York delegation that's making a difference. (Applause.) I want to thank people from the statehouse who are here, the Lieutenant Governor, Mary Donahue, is with us today. Mary, thank you for coming. Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Minority Leader Charlie Nesbitt are with us, as well. Thank you for coming. (Applause.) I'm proud that my friend Mayor Jim Garner, from Hempstead, New York, who is the new president of the U.S. Conference on Mayors is with us. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. (Applause.)

I want to thank my friend Rudy Guiliani for being the co-chairman of this -- (applause.) Rudy and I and his new bride traveled from the helicopter pad together, and it's clear, like me, he married above himself. (Laughter and applause.)

It's good to see former Senator Alphonse D'Amato here. Thank you for coming, Alphonse. (Applause.) I appreciate Mr. Chairman, Sandy Treadwell, for being here. Sandy, thank you for your leadership and your help. (Applause.) And the chairman of the New York Conservative Party, Mike Long, is with us, as well. Mike, thanks for coming. (Applause.) Most importantly, thank you all for being here. It means a lot. I really appreciate your help and your support. (Applause.)

In the last two-and-a-half years, our nation has acted decisively to confront great challenges. I came to the office of the Presidency to solve problems, not to pass them on to future presidents and future generations. (Applause.) I came to seize opportunities instead of letting them slip away, and we are meeting the tests of our time. (Applause.)

Terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got. (Applause.) We have captured or killed many key leaders of al Qaeda, and the rest of them know we're hot on their trail. (Applause.) In Afghanistan and Iraq, we gave ultimatums to terror regimes. Those regimes chose defiance and those regimes are no more. (Applause.)

Fifty million people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and now they live in freedom. (Applause.) Two-and-a-half years ago, our military was not receiving the resources it needed and morale was beginning to suffer. We increased the defense budget to prepare for threats of a new era. And, today, no one in the world can question the skill and the strength and the spirit of the United States military. (Applause.)

Two-and-a-half years ago we inherited an economy in recession, then the attacks on our country, and scandals in corporate America and the war affected our people's confidence. But we acted. We passed tough new laws to hold corporate criminals to account. (Applause.)

And to get our economy going again, we have twice led the Congress to pass historic tax relief for the American people. (Applause.) Here is what we believe and here is what we know: when Americans have more take-home pay to spend, to save or to invest, the whole economy grows, so people can find work. We understand whose money we spend in Washington, D.C. It is not the government's money; it is the people's money. (Applause.)

We're returning more money to the people who are raising their families. We're reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We're giving small businesses incentives to expand and hire new people. With all these actions we are laying the foundation for greater prosperity and more jobs across America, so every single person in this country has a chance to realize the American Dream. (Applause.)

Two-and-a-half years ago there was a lot of talk about education reform -- but there wasn't much action. So I called for, and the Congress passed, the No Child Left Behind Act. With a solid, bipartisan majority we delivered the most dramatic education reforms in a generation. We're bringing high standards and strong accountability measures to every public school in America.

We believe every child can learn the basics of reading and math. And we believe that every school in America must teach those basics. (Applause.) We are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. T(Applause.) The days of excuse-making are over, and now we expect results in every classroom in America so that not one single child is left behind. (Applause.)

We reorganized the government and created a Department of Homeland Security to safeguard the borders and ports and to protect the American people. We passed trade promotion authority to open new markets for America's farmers and ranchers and manufacturers. We passed a budget agreement that is helping to maintain spending discipline in Washington, D.C. On issue after issue, this administration has acted on principle, has kept its word, and has made progress on behalf of the American people. (Applause.)

The United States Congress has shared in these great achievements. And I do want to thank the members of the Congress who have worked hard on behalf of the people. We'll continue to work together, work together to change the tone in Washington, D.C. by focusing on results. That's been the nature of the folks that I've asked to serve the United States of America. I've assembled a fantastic Cabinet and an administration. People who understand their job is to represent all of America. There has been no greater Vice President for the United States of America than Dick Cheney. (Applause.) Mother might have a second opinion. (Laughter.)

In two-and-a-half years, we have come far, but our work is only beginning. We have great goals worthy of this great nation. First, America is committed to expanding the realm of freedom and peace. (Applause.) And, secondly, in our own country, we must work for a society of prosperity and compassion so that every citizen has a chance to work, and succeed, and realize the great promise of America.

It is clear that the future of peace and freedom depend on the actions of America. This nation is freedom's home, and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are keeping it. Our war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. This country will not rest, we will not tire, and we will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed. (Applause.)

Yet, our national interests involves more than eliminating aggressive threats to our safety. Our greatest security comes from the advance of human liberty, because free nations do not support terror. Free nations do not attack their neighbors. And free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror. (Applause.)

Americans believe that freedom is the deepest need and hope of every human heart. And we believe that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. (Applause.)

America also understand that unprecedented influence brings tremendous responsibilities. When we have -- we have duties in this world. And when we see disease and starvation and hopelessness and poverty, we will not turn away. On the continent of Africa, America is now committed to bringing the healing power of medicine to millions of men and women and children now suffering from AIDS. (Applause.) This great land is leading the world in the important work of human rescue.

We face challenges at home, and our actions prove that we're equal to those challenges. I will continue to work hard on our economy until everybody who wants to work and can't find a job today can find work. (Applause.)

We have a duty to keep our commitment to America's seniors by strengthening and modernizing Medicare so they have more choices and better access to prescription drugs. (Applause.) The time has arrived for Congress to pass Medicare reform. (Applause.) And that reform must give seniors good options that meet their needs. Members of Congress and their staffs get a choice of health plans. Seniors ought to have the same kind of choices, including the choice to keep their Medicare coverage the way it is. If choice is good enough for members of the United States Congress, it is good enough for the seniors of America. (Applause.)

And for the sake of our health care system, we need to stop the frivolous lawsuits which increase the cost of medicine. (Applause.) People who have been harmed by a bad doctor deserve their day in court. Yet, the system should not reward lawyers who are simply fishing for rich settlements. (Applause.) Because frivolous lawsuits drive up the cost of health care, at the federal level, liability reform is a national issue that requires a national solution. Our fellow citizens must understand that no one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. We need medical liability reform today. (Applause.)

I have a responsibility as President to make sure the judicial system runs well. And I have met that duty. I have nominated superb men and women for the federal courts, people who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. Some members of the Senate -- (applause) -- some members of the Senate are trying to keep my nominees off the bench by blocking up-or-down votes. Every judicial nominee deserves a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It is time for some members of the Senate to stop playing politics with American justice. (Applause.)

The United States Congress needs to pass a comprehensive energy plan. Our nation must promote energy efficiency and conservation and develop cleaner technologies. But for the sake of our national security, we must produce more energy at home. (Applause.)

Our strong and prosperous nation must also be a compassionate nation. I will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, applying the best and most innovative ideas to the task of helping our fellow citizens in need. There are still millions of men and women who want to end their dependence on government and become independent through hard work. We must build on the success of welfare reform to bring work and dignity into the lives of more of our fellow citizens. Congress should complete the Citizens Service Act so more Americans can serve their communities and their country.

And both Houses should finally reach agreement on a faith-based initiative to support the armies of compassion that are mentoring children, caring for the homeless and offering hope to the addicted. (Applause.) A compassionate society must promote opportunity for all, including the independence and dignity that come from ownership. This administration will constantly strive to produce an ownership society in America. We want more people to own their own homes. We want more people to own and control their retirement accounts. We want more small business owners in America. And we want people to own and manage their own health care plan. (Applause.)

We understand that when somebody owns something, he or she has a vital stake -- a vital stake -- in the future of this country. (Applause.) In a compassionate society, people respect one another and take responsibility for the decisions they make. We're changing the culture of America from one that said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else; to a culture in which each of us understands that we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.

If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or father, you are responsible for the well-being of your child. (Applause.) If you're concerned about the quality of education in your community, you are responsible for doing something about it. (Applause.) If you are a CEO in America, you have a responsibility to tell the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) And in a responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we would like to be loved ourselves. (Applause.)

We can see the culture of service and responsibility growing around us here in America. I started the USA Freedom Corps to encourage Americans to extend a compassionate hand to a neighbor in need. And the response has been strong. Our faith-based charities all across the country are strong and vibrant, and bringing hope and healing to our fellow citizens. Policemen and firemen and people who wear our nation's uniform, are reminding us what it means to sacrifice for something greater than yourself. (Applause.) Once again the children of America believe in heroes, because they see them every day. (Applause.)

In these challenging times the world has seen the resolve and the courage of America. And I have been privileged to see the compassion and the character of the American people. All the tests of the last two-and-a-half years have come to the right nation. We're a strong country, and we use our strength to defend the peace. We're an optimistic country, confident in ourselves and in ideals bigger than ourselves.

Abroad, we seek to lift whole nations by spreading freedom. At home, we seek to lift up lives by spreading opportunity to every corner of our country. This is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it. And we know for our country and for our cause, better days lie ahead.

Thank you for coming. May God bless you. And may God bless America. (Applause.)

END 6:53 P.M. EDT

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