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 Home > News & Policies > October 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 6, 2004

President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Farmington Hills, Michigan
Oakland Community College-Orchard Ridge Campus
Farmington Hills, Michigan

3:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) You know what I think, Bill -- I think that with the help of these good folks here, we'll carry Michigan; we'll win a great victory in November. And I'll be there in the White House when you come back. (Applause.)

I appreciate you coming. Thanks for coming today. We're coming down the stretch. I'm here to ask for your vote, and I'm here to ask for your help. (Applause.) When you register your friends and neighbors, make sure you don't overlook discerning Democrats, people like Zell Miller. (Applause.) Get people headed to the polls, and remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)

Speaking about the Vice President, I'm sure some of you stayed up to watch the debate last night. (Applause.) America saw two different visions of our country, and two different hair styles. (Laughter.) America saw why I picked Dick Cheney to be the Vice President. He's strong, he's steady, he knows what he's talking about. (Applause.)

Laura sends her best. (Applause.) She's warming up for the Jay Leno show. He's lucky to have her as a guest, and I'm lucky to have her as a wife. (Applause.) She is a great First Lady. Perhaps the most important reason to put me back into office, so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)

I appreciate Bill Laimbeer for being here. I also want to thank another great leader and sports figure of your great state, Bo Schembechler is with us today, as well. (Applause.) I appreciate you bringing Cathryn. I also want to thank the Attorney General, Mike Cox. (Applause.) Longtime friend, Brooks Patterson is with us today. (Applause.) I thank Ruth Johnson and other state and local officials. I want to thank Betsy DeVos, and all the grassroots activists who are here. I appreciate what you're doing. (Applause.) I appreciate the hard work you're doing. (Applause.)

I want to thank Mary Spangler, the Chancellor of the Oakland Community College; and Ed Callaghan, who's the President. Thank you all for having me. I want to thank my friend, Mark Wills, country/western singer, for being here. (Applause.) Most of all, thank you all for being here. (Applause.)

In less than a month you'll have a chance to vote for Dick Cheney and me. As your President, I've worked to make America more hopeful and more secure. I've led our country with principle and resolve, and that is how I'll lead our nation for four more years. (Applause.)

When I took office in 2001, the bubble of the '90s had burst and our economy was headed into a recession. Because of the attacks of September the 11th, nearly a million jobs were lost in three months. It was a dangerous time for our economy. People were warning of potential deflation and depression. And I led. To stimulate the economy, I called on Congress to pass historic tax relief -- which it did. (Applause.) The tax relief was the fuel that got our economy growing again. Thanks to the efforts of our citizens and the right policies at the right place at the right time, we put the recession behind us, and America is creating jobs again. (Applause.)

We have built a broad and solid record of accomplishment. In the past year, the United States of America has added about 1.7 million new jobs -- more than Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and France combined. (Applause.) Real tax -- real after-tax income, the money in your pocket you have to spend on groceries and house payments and rent, is up more than 10 percent since I took office. Home ownership is at an all-time high in America. (Applause.) The farm economy is strong. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. The small business sector of America is doing well. (Applause.)

Thanks to our reforms in education, math and reading scores are increasing in our public schools. Under my budget, 10 million students will get record levels of grants and loans to help with college. (Applause.) Low-income seniors are getting $600 extra to help pay for medicine this year, and soon Medicare will offer prescription drug coverage to every senior in America. (Applause.) We've made America stronger, and we're just getting started. (Applause.)

Listen, I understand we're living in changing times -- people are living and working in a time of change. Workers switch jobs more often than they used to, which means they need -- oftentimes, need new schools and new benefits that they can take with them from job to job. Ultimately, in our competitive global economy, it's our people that make America successful. And that's why I believe education is so vital. (Applause.)

So we'll raise standards and expectations for every public school in America. We'll invest in our nation's fine community colleges, like this one right here, so they prepare workers for the jobs of the 21st century. We'll expand health savings accounts so people can pay health expenses with tax-free money. We'll improve Social Security to allow younger workers to own a piece of their retirement, a nest egg that Washington, D.C. politicians can never take away. (Applause.)

To keep our economy strong and competitive, we must make sure America is the best place in the world to do business. (Applause.) That's why we need to make our tax relief permanent for our small businesses and our families. (Applause.) To keep jobs here, we need to cut needless regulations. To keep jobs here, we need to pass an energy plan that makes our nation less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To make sure we got jobs here, we need to stop these junk and frivolous lawsuits that badger our employers. (Applause.)

My opponent and I have a very different view as how to grow our economy. We have a difference of opinion. Let's start with taxes. I have a record of reducing them. He has a record of raising them.


THE PRESIDENT: He voted in the United States Senate to raise taxes 98 times.


THE PRESIDENT: That sounds like a lot to me. He voted for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.


THE PRESIDENT: He voted in 1997 for the formula that has helped cause the increases in Medicare premiums.


THE PRESIDENT: And when I proposed middle class tax relief in order to get this economy going, I asked Congress to raise the child credit, reduce the marriage penalty and create a new 10 percent bracket for lower-income Americans -- he voted against every one of those taxes to help the middle class.


THE PRESIDENT: Now he's proposing higher taxes -- higher taxes on about 900,000 small business owners.


THE PRESIDENT: When you hear him say, tax the rich, a lot of small businesses pay individual income taxes. As a matter of fact, 90 percent of small businesses do. And we've heard that rhetoric, haven't we, tax the rich? That's why the rich hire lawyers and accountants, to stick you with the bill, to stick those small business owners with the bill. We're not going to let him tax you. We're going to win Michigan and win in November. (Applause.)

My opponent is one of the few candidates in history to campaign on a pledge to raise taxes. That's the kind of pledge a politician from Massachusetts usually keeps. (Laughter.)

We have a different view on another threat to our economy: frivolous lawsuits. Senator Kerry has been a part of the Washington crowd that has obstructed legal reform again and again. Meanwhile, all across America, unfair lawsuits are hurting small businesses. Lawsuits are driving up the cost of your health care. Lawsuits are driving good doctors out of the practice of medicine. We need a President who will stand up to the trial lawyers in Washington, not put one on the ticket. (Applause.)

The Senator and I have very different views on health care. I believe we ought to help the poor with community health centers. We ought to fully subscribe to the children's health program for low-income families. We need association health plans to help our small businesses afford insurance. We need health savings accounts to help our workers and small businesses be able to better afford insurance. We need to make sure we use technology to help drive down the cost of medicine. He has a different view. Under his health plan, 8 million Americans would lose the private insurance they get at work, and most would end up on a government program. Under his plan, 8 out of 10 people who get new insurance will get it from the federal government. My opponent's proposal would be the largest expansion of government-run health care ever. And when government pays the bills, government makes the rules. His plan would put bureaucrats in charge of dictating coverage, which could ration your care and limit your choice of doctors. My opponent's plan would put us on the path to "Hillary-care."


THE PRESIDENT: In everything we do to reform health care, we will make sure the decisions are made by patients and doctors, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

My opponent and I have different views on spending -- spending your money. Over the years he's voted 274 times to break federal budget limits. In this campaign he's announced more than $2 trillion in new spending. And that's a lot of money, even for somebody from Massachusetts. (Applause.)

During his 20 years as a senator, my opponent hasn't had many accomplishments. Of the hundreds of bills he submitted, only five became law. One of them was ceremonial. But to be fair, he's earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate.


THE PRESIDENT: And when the competition includes Ted Kennedy, that's really saying something. Listen, it wasn't easy for my opponent to become the single most liberal member of the Senate. You might even say it was hard work. (Laughter.) But he earned that title. He earned it by voting for higher taxes, more regulation, more junk lawsuits, and more government control over your life.

And that sets up one of the real differences in this campaign. My opponent is a tax-and-spend liberal; I'm a compassionate conservative. (Applause.) My opponent wants to empower government; I want to use government to empower citizens. (Applause.) My opponent seems to think all the wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; I trust the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)

Our differences are also clear on issues of national security. When I took office in 2001, the threats to America had been gathering for years. And on one terrible morning, terrorists took more lives than America lost at Pearl Harbor. Since that day we've waged a global campaign to protect the American people and bring our enemies to account. Our government has trained over half a million first responders and tripled spending on homeland security. Law enforcement and intelligence have better tools to stop terrorists, thanks to the Patriot Act, that Senator Kerry voted for, but now wants to weaken. The Taliban regime that sheltered al Qaeda is gone from power, and the people of Afghanistan will vote in free elections this coming Saturday. (Applause.)

A black market network that provided weapons materials to North Korea and Libya and Iran is now out of business. (Applause.) Libya, itself, has given up its weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.) Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are joining the fight against the terrorists. And more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been brought to justice. (Applause.)

After September the 11th, America had to assess every potential threat in a new light. Our nation awakened to an even greater danger, the prospect that terrorists who killed thousands with hijacked airplanes would kill many more with weapons of mass murder. We had to take a hard look at everyplace terrorists might get those weapons.

One regime stood out: the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. We knew the dictator had a history of using weapons of mass destruction, a long record of aggression and hatred for America, and was listed by Republican and Democrat administrations as a state sponsor of terror. There was a risk Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorists networks. In a world after September the 11th that was a risk we could not afford to take. (Applause.)

After 12 years -- after 12 years of United Nations Security Council resolutions, we gave him a final chance to come clean and prove his disarmament. He chose defiance. And when he did, he chose war. Our coalitions enforced the just demands of the free world, and the world is better off today with Saddam Hussein in a prison cell. (Applause.)

We have had -- we have had many victories in the war on terror. And that war goes on. Our nation is safer, but not yet safe. To win this war we must fight on every front. We will stay on the offensive against terrorist networks. We will strike them overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) We will confront governments that support terrorists and could arm them, because they're equally guilty of terrorist murder.

And our long-term victory requires confronting the ideology of hate with freedom and hope. Our long-term victory requires we must change the conditions that produce radicalism and suicide bombers. Our long-term security depends upon finding new democratic allies in a troubled region of the world.

America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. (Applause.) And freedom is on the march -- in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and elsewhere. There will be good days and there will be bad days in the war on terror. But every day we will show our resolve and do our duty to future generations of Americans. (Applause.) This nation is determined. We will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)

My opponent agrees with all this -- except when he doesn't. (Laughter.) Last week in --

AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

THE PRESIDENT: Last week in our debate, he once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. (Laughter.) He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that America had no business removing that threat. Senator Kerry said our soldiers and Marines are not fighting for a mistake; he also called the liberation of Iraq a colossal error.


THE PRESIDENT: He said we need to do more to train Iraqis. But also said we shouldn't be spending so much money over there. He said he wants to hold a summit meeting so he wants -- so he can invite other countries to join what he calls the "wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." He said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border, but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the war on terror. If you hear all that you can understand why somebody would make a face. (Laughter and applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: My opponent -- my opponent's endless back-and-forth on Iraq is part of a larger misunderstanding. In the war on terror, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. Senator Kerry approaches the world with a September the 10th mind-set. He declared in his convention speech that any attack will be met with a swift and a certain response. This was a mind-set of the 1990s, while al Qaeda was planning attacks on America. After September the 11th, our object in the war on terror is not to wait for the next attack and respond, but to prevent attacks by taking the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: In our debate -- in our debate, Senator Kerry said that removing Saddam was a mistake because the threat was not imminent. The problem with this approach is obvious: If America waits until a threat is at our doorstep, it might be too late to save lives. Tyrants and terrorists will not give us polite notice before they launch an attack on our country. I refuse to stand by while dangers gather. (Applause.)

My opponent has also announced the Kerry doctrine, declaring that American actions in the war on terror must pass a global test.


THE PRESIDENT: Under this test, America would not be able to act quickly against threats because we'd be sitting around waiting for our grade from other nations. I have a different view. America will always work with our allies for security and peace, but the President's job is not to pass a global test, the President's job is to protect the American people. (Applause.)

When my opponent first ran for Congress, he argued that American troops should be deployed only at the directive of the United Nations.


THE PRESIDENT: Look, he has changed his mind, but it is a window into his thinking. Over the years, Senator Kerry has looked for every excuse to restrain America's actions in the world. He says he praises America's broad coalition in the Persian Gulf War, but in 1991, he criticized those coalition members as -- quote -- "shallow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden." Sounds familiar. That time, he voted against the war. If that coalition didn't pass his global test, clearly nothing will. His mind-set would paralyze America in a dangerous world. I will never hand over America's national security decisions to foreign leaders or international bodies. (Applause.)

The Kerry doctrine has other consequences, especially for our men and women in uniform. The Senator from Massachusetts supports the International Criminal Court --


THE PRESIDENT: -- which would allow unaccountable foreign prosecutors and judges to put American soldiers on trial.


THE PRESIDENT: And that would be a legal nightmare for our troops. My fellow citizens, as long as I'm your President, Americans in uniform will answer to the officers and laws of the United States, not to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. (Applause.)

The Senator speaks often about his plan to strengthen America's alliances, but he's got an odd way of going about it. In the middle of the war he's chosen to insult America's fighting allies by calling them "window dressing" and a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed." The Italians who died in Nasiriyah were not window dressing. They were heroes in the war on terror. (Applause.) The British and Poles at the head of multinational divisions in Iraq were not coerced or bribed. They have fought, and some have died, in the cause of freedom. (Applause.) These good allies and dozens of others deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician. (Applause.)

Instead, the Senator would have America bend over backwards to satisfy a handful of governments with agendas different from our own. This is my opponent's alliance-building strategy -- brush off your best friend, fawn over your critics. That's no way to gain respect in this world. (Applause.)

My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. Parts of it sound pretty familiar. It's already known as the Bush plan. (Applause.) Senator Kerry suggests we train Iraqi troops. That's what we've been doing for months. Senator Kerry is proposing that Iraq have elections. Those elections are scheduled for January. (Applause.) He wants the U.N. to be involved in those elections. The U.N. is already there. There's one new element of Senator Kerry's plan; he talked about artificial timetables to pull the troops out of Iraq. He has send the signal that America's overriding goal in Iraq would be to leave, even if the job isn't done. That may satisfy his political needs, but it complicates the essential work we're doing in Iraq.

The Iraqi people need to know that America will not cut and run with their freedom at stake. (Applause.) Our soldiers and Marines need to know that America will honor their service and sacrifice by completing the mission. (Applause.) Our enemies in Iraq need to know that they can never outlast the will of America. (Applause.) Senator Kerry assures us that he's the one to win a war he calls a mistake, or an error, and a diversion. But you can't win a war you don't believe in fighting. (Applause.) On Iraq, Senator Kerry has a strategy of retreat; I have a strategy for victory. (Applause.)

We returned sovereignty to the Iraqi people ahead of schedule. We've trained about 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel. And the total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. These people are fighting for their freedom. They want to be free -- they're being trained to be able to fight and stop these terrorists -- (inaudible) -- defending the march of freedom. We've allocated more than $7 billion for reconstruction efforts so more Iraqis can see the benefit of freedom. We're working with a coalition of some 30 nations to provide security. Other nations are helping with debt relief and reconstruction aid for Iraqis. And although terrorists will try to stop them, Iraq will hold free elections in January -- because the Iraqi people want to be free. (Applause.)

I understand some Americans have strong concerns about our role in Iraq. I respect the fact that they take this issue seriously. It's a serious matter. I assure them we're in Iraq because I deeply believe it is necessary and right and critical to the outcome of the war on terror, and critical for long-term peace for our children and grandchildren. (Applause.)

If another terror regime were allowed to emerge in Iraq, the terrorists would find a home and a source of funding and a source of support, and they would correctly conclude that free nations do not have the will to defend themselves. If Iraq becomes a free society at the heart of the Middle East, an ally in the war on terror, a model for hopeful reform in that region, the terrorists will suffer a crushing defeat. (Applause.) And that is why Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman calls Iraq "a crucial battle in the global war on terrorism." And that is why Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the struggle in Iraq "the crucible in which the future of global terrorism will be determined." That is why the terrorists are fighting with desperate cruelty -- they know their future is at stake. Iraq is no diversion. It's a place where civilization is taking a decisive stand against chaos and terror, and we must not waver. (Applause.)

Unfortunately, my opponent has been known to waver. His well-chosen words and rationalizations cannot explain why he voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, and then voted against money for bullets and vehicles and body armor for the troops on the ground.


THE PRESIDENT: He tried to clear it up by saying, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it." Now he says he made a mistake in how he talked about that vote. The mistake is not what Senator Kerry said; the mistake is what Senator Kerry did in voting against funding for our troops in combat. (Applause.) And that is the kind of wavering a nation at war cannot afford.

-- candidate, my opponent promises to defend America. The problem is, as a Senator for two decades, he has built a record of weakness. The record shows he twice led efforts to gut our intelligence service budget. The record shows he voted against many of the weapons that won the Cold War and are vital to current military operations. And the record shows he has voted more than 50 times against missile defense systems that would help protect us from the threats of a dangerous world.

I have a record in office, as well, and all Americans have seen that record. (Applause.) Not all Americans agree with me, but they know where I stand. (Applause.) On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling to me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." A guy grabbed me by the arm, he said, "Do not let me down." Ever since that day I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I've acted again and again to make America safe. I will never relent in defending the people of this country, whatever it takes. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: Twenty-seven days from today, Americans will make a critical choice. My opponent offers an agenda that is stuck in the thinking and policies of the past. On national security, he offers the defensive, reactive mind-set of September the 10th -- a global test to replace American leadership; a strategy of retreat in Iraq, and a 20-year history of weakness. Here at home, he offers a record and an agenda of more taxes and more spending and more litigation, and more government control over your life.

The race for President is a contest for the future -- and you know where I stand. (Applause.) I'm running for President to keep this nation on the offensive against the terrorists with the goal of total victory. I'm running for President to keep this economy moving so every worker has a good job and quality health care, a secure retirement. I'm running for President to make our strong nation a more compassionate society, where no one is left out and every life is valued. (Applause.)

And I have a hopeful vision. I believe this young century will be liberty's century. (Applause.) We'll promote liberty abroad to protect our country and to build a better world beyond the war on terror. We'll encourage liberty at home to spread the prosperity and opportunity to every corner of this great land. I will carry this message to my fellow citizens in the closing days of this campaign. And with your help, we'll carry Michigan and win a great victory in November.

Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) God bless. (Applause.) Thank you all.

END 3:58 P.M. EDT