For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 13, 2004
President's Remarks at Marquette, Michigan Rally
Northern Michigan University
2:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Thanks for inviting me. (Applause.) I'm proud to be here in Marquette, Michigan. (Applause.) I'm proud to be on this beautiful campus of Northern Michigan University. (Applause.) You know, I just heard that William H. Taft is the last sitting President to visit this city. The rest of them missed out on a lot. (Applause.) They should have come. And I'm glad I did come. By the way I'm looking at things, the UP is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
I'm here to ask for your vote. I'm here to ask for your help. I'm here to ask you to get your friends and neighbors to register. Tell them they have a duty as an American citizen to go to the polls. When you get them heading to the polls, make sure they pull that George W. lever. (Applause.) The best way to make sure America has strong, consistent, optimistic leadership is to put Dick Cheney and me back in office for four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to talk about what I intend to do for the next four years, but perhaps the best reason to put me back in there is so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) I married a fabulous woman. (Applause.) She is a great First Lady. And traveling with me today is one of our daughters, a newly-graduate from college, Barbara Bush. Thanks for coming, Barbara. (Applause.)
I appreciate being introduced by Steve Mariucci. (Applause.) Yes! Do you know what he said to me? He said, you get reelected, and I'm bringing the Lions to the White House. (Applause.) And if anybody can lead that group of men, he can. He's a fine man. I'm proud to call him friend. I know you're proud to call him citizen of the UP. Thank you, Steve, for coming. I'm proud to -- proud you're here. (Applause.)
I want to thank Dr. Les Wong and Phyliss for greeting me. And thanks for opening up this beautiful facility. Thanks for working to educate our children, too.
I appreciate Steve Trent, a National Guard staff sergeant of the 652nd Engineer Company that led the Pledge. I appreciate his service to the United States of America. I appreciate all who wear the uniform of the United States of America. (Applause.)
I want to thank the grass-root supporters who are here. Those are the people that are going to turn out the vote. (Applause.) Those are the hardworking people that are going to do their duty in democracy and gather up the voters and get them to the polls. I want to thank you for what you're going to do, and urge you to do so -- if you'd like some instructions, if you'd like a go-by, get on the Internet at georgewbush.com and sign up to become a volunteer in this campaign. The stakes are high. And I'm ready to lead the country. (Applause.)
The last three-and-a-half years have brought serious challenges, and we have given serious answers. We came to office with the stock market in decline and an economy headed into recession. We delivered historic tax relief; over the past three years, America has had the fastest growing economy of any major industrialized nation in the world. (Applause.) We uncovered corporate crimes that cost people their jobs and their savings, so we passed strong corporate reforms. We are bringing the wrongdoers to account. We are making it clear we will not tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America. (Applause.)
We saw grief and war arrive on a quiet September morning. So we pursue the terrorist enemy around the world. We've captured or killed many key leaders of the al Qaeda network. We will stay on the hunt until justice is served and America is safe. (Applause.)
We confronted the dangers of state-sponsored terror, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. So we acted against two of the most violent and dangerous regimes on Earth. We have liberated over 50 million people. Once again, America is proud to lead the armies of liberation. (Applause.)
When the Vice President and I came to Washington, the military was underfunded and underappreciated. So we gave our Armed Forces the resources and respect they deserve. (Applause.) And today no one can question the skill and the strength and the spirit of the United States military. (Applause.)
We've accomplished a lot on behalf of the American people. You see, I believe it is my job to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. (Applause.) It is my job to make the hard decisions and to keep my commitments. And with your help, that is how I will continue to lead our country for four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I enjoy campaigning. I like to be with the people. I'm not afraid to ask for the vote, because I know we've got a tough campaign. I'm running against a strong candidate. He's been in Washington a lot longer than I have. He's been there long enough to take both sides of just about every issue. (Applause.) He voted for the Patriot Act, he voted for NAFTA, he voted for the No Child Left Behind Act and for the use of force in Iraq. Now he opposes the Patriot Act, he opposes NAFTA, he opposes the No Child Left Behind Act and the liberation of Iraq. He kind of reminds me of the weather here. (Laughter and applause.) Just wait a day and it's going to change. Recently, campaigning in the Midwest, he even tried to claim he was the candidate with conservative values.
THE PRESIDENT: I know, I know. Those were his own words. Kind of hard to square that with what he said when he said, "I'm a liberal and proud of it." And now he has a running mate. Senator Kerry is rated as the most liberal member of the United States Senate. And he chose a fellow lawyer who is the fourth most liberal member of the United States Senate.
THE PRESIDENT: Back in Massachusetts, that's what they call balancing the ticket. (Laughter and applause.)
Great events will turn on this election. The person who sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror and the direction of our economy. I'm seeking the vote because I have a vision and a strategy to win the war on terror and extend peace and freedom throughout the world. (Applause.) I'm seeking your vote because I have a plan to continue to create jobs and opportunity for every single American. (Applause.) I want -- I want your help because I have a plan to rally the compassionate spirit of Americans so every single citizen has a chance to realize the great promise of our country. Give me a chance to be your President and America will be safer and stronger and better. (Applause.)
A big issue for every family in America is the tax burden. By providing the largest federal tax relief since Ronald Reagan was the President, we have left more money in the hands that earned it. By spending -- (applause) -- by spending and investing and helping create more jobs, the American people have used their money far better than the government would have. (Applause.)
This economy of ours is strong and it's growing stronger. Since last summer, our economy has been growing at its fastest rate in nearly 20 years. In less than a year's time, we've added 1.5 million new jobs. Here in Michigan you've added over 29,600 new jobs since February. (Applause.) You're unemployment rate -- your unemployment is 6.5 percent -- too high, but it has dropped by more than a full point since December, and it is moving in the right direction. (Applause.)
Across this country, the manufacturing sector is growing stronger. Homeownership rates are at an all-time high. Interest rates are low. Business investment is growing. Consumer confidence is at a two-year high. Personal incomes are on the rise. The tax relief we passed is working. (Applause.)
My opponents look at all this progress and somehow conclude that the sky is falling. But whether they're message is delivered with a frown or a smile, it's the same old pessimism. And to cheer us up, they propose higher taxes, more federal spending, and economic isolationism.
THE PRESIDENT: That is the surest way to end economic growth and to put Americans out to work. This nation is on the path to progress, and we will not turn back. (Applause.) To sustain this economic growth, we need to keep taxes low. Higher taxes right now would undermine growth and destroy jobs. To help grow the American economy and create more jobs, I have a better idea than raising taxes. We need to make the tax relief permanent. We ought not to be raising taxes on the American people. (Applause.)
We need to be smart about how we spend the money in Washington, D.C. We need fiscal discipline and fiscal sanity. It starts with understanding whose money we spend. We're not spending the government's money in Washington, D.C.; we're spending your money. And you deserve fiscally sound government. (Applause.)
In order to make sure this economy grows and people can find work, we need to stop frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) You cannot be pro-small business and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) You have to choose. My opponent has made his choice, and he put him on the ticket. I made my choice: I will continue to push Congress for reform to end the junk lawsuits that are hurting small businesses and hurting the job creators of America. (Applause.)
In order to make sure people can find work, Americans must have affordable health insurance. And the way to do that is not to have the federal government make all the decisions on behalf of the consumers of America. We must not federalize health care in America. The best way to do so is to empower the American people through association health plans, tax-free health savings accounts. And for the sake of affordable health care, we need to pass national medical liability reform. (Applause.)
To make sure people can find work, to make sure this is the most competitive place in the world to do business, Congress needs to pass my energy plan. Listen, I understand we need to modernize our electricity grid, and we've got a plan to do so. We will encourage more conservation. We will spend research and development monies on how to -- on how to grow our way out of independence. Listen, I want to be the President who says, the corn crop is up and we're less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) But for the sake of economic security, we need to be developing our own resources in an environmentally friendly way. For the sake of national security, we must be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
Now, the best way to make sure this economy continues to grow is to make sure America is the best place for people to risk capital; to make sure the entrepreneurial spirit is strong; to have less regulation and less taxes for the small business people of America. This administration understands how to -- how to create economic opportunity for all Americans. Reelect us and you'll have a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-small business President of the United States. (Applause.)
America's future also depends on our willingness to lead in the world. The momentum of freedom in our time is strong, but we still face serious dangers. Al Qaeda is wounded, but not broken. Terrorists continue to attack in Afghanistan and Iraq; regimes in North Korea and Iran are challenging the peace. If America shows weakness or uncertainty in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. That will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
After the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, this nation resolved to fight terrorists where they dwell. We resolved to hold regimes that hide and sponsor terrorists to account. Afghanistan was a terrorist state, a training camp for the al Qaeda killers. Because we acted, Afghanistan is a rising democracy; Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror. (Applause.)
And because we acted, a barbaric regime was removed from power, and many young girls now go to school for the first time in their lives. (Applause.) Iraq, only last year, was controlled by a dictator who threatened a civilized world, a dictator who had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. For decades he tormented and tortured the people of Iraq. Because we acted, Iraq today is a free and sovereign nation. Because we acted, its dictator is now in a prison cell and will receive the justice he denied so many for so long. (Applause.)
September the 11th taught a lesson I will never forget and America must never forget: America must confront threats before they full materialize. My administration looked at the facts and the history and looked at the intelligence in Iraq, and we saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence, and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat. The previous administration and the previous Congress looked at the intelligence and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country.
In 2002, the United Nations Security Council -- yet again -- demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. They did so because they saw a threat. And as he had for over a decade, Saddam Hussein refused to comply. He deceived the inspectors. He did everything he can to deny access to the truth. And so I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or defend the United States of America. And given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. And America is safer today because we did. (Applause.) We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.
We still have important and difficult work to do. Our immediate task in Iraq and Afghanistan is to capture or kill the terrorists and foreign fighters. You see, you can't talk sense into these people. You can't negotiate with the terrorists. You can't sit back and hope for the best. We must engage these enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
In a country as big as ours, there's no such thing as perfect security, and threats to our homeland are real. We know the terrorists want to strike the United States again, to spread fear and disrupt our way of life. So we reorganized the government to better protect the homeland. There's a lot of good people -- really a lot of good people working hard on your behalf. Speaking for everybody here, I want to thank the first responders of the UP -- the firefighters, and the police, and the emergency teams. (Applause.)
No, we're doing everything we can to defend the homeland and we'll stay strong and relentless in defeating the terrorists abroad. Yet in the long run, our safety requires something more. We must work to change the conditions that gave rise to terror in the Middle East -- the poverty and the hopelessness and the resentment that terrorists can exploit.
Life in that region will be far more hopeful and peaceful when men and women can choose their own leaders, and the people can decide their own future. By serving the ideal of liberty, we are bringing hope to others, and that makes America more secure. By serving the ideal of liberty, we also serve the deepest ideals of our country. We understand that freedom is not America's gift to the world -- freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman on this world. (Applause.)
The world is changing for the better because of American leadership. America is safer today because we're leading the world. Afghanistan was once the home base of al Qaeda. Now terror camps are closed, democracy on the -- rising, and the American people are safer. (Applause.)
Pakistan -- Pakistan used to be a safe transit point for terrorists on missions of murder. Now Pakistani forces are rounding up terrorists, and the American people are safer. (Applause.) Saudi Arabia -- in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were meeting little opposition. And today, the Saudi government is taking the fight to al Qaeda, and the American people are safer. Not long ago, Libya was spending millions to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Now, thousands of Libya's chemical munitions have been destroyed, Libya has given up nuclear processing equipment, and the American people are safer. (Applause.) Not long ago, the dictator in Iraq had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder. And now, the dictator is a threat to nobody, and the American people are safer.
We will -- we will finish the work we have begun in Afghanistan and Iraq. These nations have courageous and responsible leaders, people who believe in the future of their countries. And nations around the world are helping. The NATO Alliance, the E.U., the United Nations are standing behind the newly-liberated peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. And these good people are taking more and more responsibility. They're beginning to defend themselves because they want to live in a free society.
And these people must hear our voices loud and clear: They can count on America and on our coalition. We promise to help deliver them from tyranny, to restore their sovereignty, and to set them path -- and to set them on the path to democracy. And when America gives its word, America keeps its word. (Applause.)
And our men and women in the military are keeping America's commitment, and they're taking great risks for our security. At bases across the country and the world, I've had the privilege of meeting with those who defend our country and sacrifice for our security. It's important for those loved ones who have lost a husband or a wife or a son or daughter to know that the best way to honor the memory of your loved one is to complete the mission, is to work for peace and freedom around the world. (Applause.)
I've seen the decency of our troops. I know their unselfish courage. And I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, the cause of freedom is in really good hands. (Applause.) And we owe it to the loved ones of our troops to make sure that their mission is fully funded, that they have the best. That's why I proposed what they call supplemental funding to support our military mission. I did so last fall. The legislation provided funding for body armor and vital equipment, for hazard pay, for health benefits, for ammunition, for fuel, for spare parts. In the Senate, only a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority, voted against the legislation. And two of those 12 senators are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry tried to explain his vote by saying this, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) That sure clears things up. (Laughter.) And now, just recently, he offered a different explanation. Yesterday, my opponent said he is proud that he and his running mate voted against funding the troops.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, listen, he's entitled to his view. He's entitled to his view. But members of Congress should not vote to send troops into battle, and then vote against funding them. (Applause.) And then brag about it. Leaders need to stand up with our military. We need to back them a hundred percent. And that is what I will continue to do as the Commander-in-Chief of a great United States military. (Applause.)
America -- America is leading the world with confidence and moral clarity. We have a strong coalition to help us defeat the terrorists -- 60 nations in the Proliferation Security Initiative; nearly 40 nations in Afghanistan; we have more than 30 countries with us in Iraq. We will continue to build our alliances and work with our friends in the cause of security and peace. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other foreign countries. (Applause.)
Our nation is strong because -- the nation is strong because we're prosperous. We're strong because we got a great military. Yet we need to remember that our greatest strength is in the character of our citizens. The other day my opponent said, when he was with some entertainers from Hollywood, that they were the heart and soul of America.
THE PRESIDENT: I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places right here, in Marquette, Michigan. (Applause.) We are strong because of the values we try to live by: courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. We're strong because of the institutions that help give us direction and purpose: our families, our schools, and our religious congregations. These values and institutions are fundamental to our lives. They deserve the respect of our government. (Applause.)
We stand for high standards in our public schools. We believe in local control of schools. We believe in strong accountability. We believe in parental involvement so no child is left behind in America. (Applause.) We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based groups so they can receive federal support for their works of compassion and healing. (Applause.) We stand for welfare reforms that require work and strengthen marriage, which have helped millions of Americans find independence and dignity. (Applause.) We stand for institutions like marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) We stand for judges who strictly and faithfully interpret the law, instead of legislating from the bench. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters, and every person counts. (Applause.)
We've been making progress on building the culture of life here in America. Members of both political parties believe that moms and dads should be involved in important decisions of their minor daughters. Members of both parties came together to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, to punish the violent crimes against mothers and their unborn children. (Applause.) Members of both parties voted to end the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) Republicans and Democrats agree on these issues. Yet on these positions that so many Americans share, my opponent is on the other side.
We also stand for a culture of responsibility in America. We're changing the culture of America from one that has said, if it feels good, do it; and if you got a problem, blame somebody else -- to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. (Applause.)
If you're fortunate to be a mother or a father, you're responsible for loving your children with all your heart and all your soul. (Applause.) If you're worried about the quality of the education right here in Marquette, you're responsible for doing something about it. (Applause.) If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.) And in this new responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we'd like to be loved ourselves. (Applause.)
For all Americans, these years in our history will always stand apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one of those times. You and I are living in a period where the stakes are high and the challenges are difficult, a time when resolve is needed.
None of us will ever forget that one -- that week when one era ended and another began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I'll never forget that day. There were workers in hard-hats shouting, "Whatever it takes!" A guy grabbed me by the arm -- he was a firefighter or a policeman -- his eyes were bloodshot. He said, "Don't you let me down." (Applause.)
As we all did that day, these men and women searching through the rubble took it personally. I took it personally. I have a responsibility that goes on. I will never relent in bringing justice to our enemies. I will defend the security of the United States, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
In these times, I've also been witness to the character of the nation. I've seen the unselfish courage of our troops. I've seen the heroism of Americans in the face of danger. I've seen the spirit of service and compassion renewed in our country. We've all seen our nation unite in common purpose when it mattered most. We will need all these qualities for the work ahead. We have a war to win. And the world is counting on us to lead the cause of freedom and peace. We have a duty to spread opportunity to every part of America.
This is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it. And we know that for our blessed land, the best days lie ahead.
Thanks for coming. May God bless. (Applause.) Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 2:54 P.M. EDT