The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 29, 2004

Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally
Pease International Tradeport Airport
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

1:07 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) We are honored to be back. Such a beautiful day here in the great state of New Hampshire. Thank you all for coming out to say hello. (Applause.) We are here in your state today asking for your vote. (Applause.) And asking for your help. (Applause.) I'm asking you to get your friends and neighbors to do their duty, and that is to vote. We have a duty in this society of ours, in our free land, to vote. And so will you please find fellow Republicans and wise independents -- (laughter) -- discerning Democrats -- (applause) -- and head them to the polls. And when you get them going that way, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, and a better America, to put Dick Cheney and me back in office. (Applause.)

Perhaps the most important reason to put me back in is so that Laura will be the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.) I'm proud of my running mate, Dick Cheney. I don't want to offend anybody here who is follically challenged -- (laughter) -- but the Vice President doesn't have the prettiest hair in the race. (Laughter.) You'll be happy to hear I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. I picked him because he's a man of sound judgment, excellent experience. He's getting the job done for the American people. (Applause.)

Two of our favorite people in Washington, D.C. is Judd and Kathy Gregg. We're proud to call him friend; I know you're proud to call him Senator, and you should be. He's doing a great job for the people of New Hampshire. (Applause.) And we're fond of your junior Senator, John Sununu. What a good job he's doing. (Applause.) Congressman Jeb Bradley, your Congressman, is doing a great job in the House of Representatives. (Applause.) And Congressman Charlie Bass is with us. I appreciate you coming, Congressman. He's a good one. (Applause.)

And, finally, I'm fond of your Governor. I know something about being a governor -- I was one -- once one. He's doing a great job for the people of New Hampshire. You got to put Governor Benson back into office. (Applause.)

I want to thank Paul Needham for joining us. He's the former Democrat Dairy Town Councilor. He was John Edwards for President State Co-Chair. He's now a Democrat for Bush, and I'm proud he's here. (Applause.) And he's not alone. A lot of Democrats want a secure America. A lot of Democrats want a prosperous America. With your help, we're going to carry New Hampshire, and we're going to win a great victory in November. (Applause.)

I want to thank the grassroots activists who are here. We made a lot of friends in our travels throughout New Hampshire. I see Barbara. I know Ruthie is here, people who have been friends of ours for a long time. I want to thank you for putting up the signs, I want to thank you for making the phone calls. I want to thank you for what you have done and what you're going to do over the course of the next five days, and that is gather up the vote and turn them out for a great victory. (Applause.)

The voters have a clear choice between two very different candidates with dramatically different approaches and different records. You know where I stand. (Applause.) And sometimes, you even know where my opponent stands. (Laughter.) We both have records. I'm proudly running on mine. (Applause.) The Senator is running from his. (Laughter.)

This election comes down to clear choices for our families, issues of great consequence. The first clear choice is the most important, because it concerns the security of your family. All our progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. (Applause.) Americans will go to the polls in a time of war and ongoing threats unlike any we have faced before. The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous, and they're determined to strike us again. The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against terror. The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. (Applause.) If America shows uncertainty or weakness during these troubled times, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)

Since that terrible morning of September the 11th, 2001, we fought the terrorists across the Earth -- not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake. Our strategy is clear: We've strengthened the protections for the homeland. We're reforming our intelligence services. We're transforming our all-volunteer army. There will be no draft. (Applause.) We are relentless, we are determined. We're staying on the offensive. We're defeating the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)

Because we have led, Afghanistan is a free nation, and an ally in the war on terror. Because we led, Pakistan is capturing terrorists, and Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests. Because we led, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs. Because we led, the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been brought to justice. (Applause.)

And I'll protect America by leading the cause of freedom. I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I believe liberty can transform societies and help us keep the peace. I want you to remind your sons and daughters about the amazing history that has taken place in a relatively short period of time. Three-and-a-half years ago, young girls could not go to school in Afghanistan because of the brutality and dark vision of the Taliban. And if their mothers didn't toe their line of ideological hatred, they were whipped in the public square and sometimes executed in a sports stadium. Because we acted to protect ourselves, because we upheld the doctrine that said, if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist, millions voted in the presidential election in Afghanistan. And the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)

Iraq will have presidential elections in January. Think how far that country has come from the days of torture chambers and mass graves. Freedom is on the march, and America is better for it. Freedom is on the move around the world. (Applause.)

I believe everybody yearns to be free. That's what I believe. And it drives much of my foreign policy. Listen, I understand freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

The President has to lead with consistency and strength. In a war, sometimes your tactics change, but not your principles. And Americans have seen how I do my job. Even when you might not agree with me, you know what I believe, and where I stand, and what I intend to do. (Applause.) On good days and on bad days, whether the polls are up, or the polls are down, I am determined to protect the American people, and I will always support our men and women who wear our nation's uniform. (Applause.) I want to thank -- I want to thank those who wear our uniform. I want to thank the military families who are here today. And I want to thank the veterans who are here who have set such a great example for the men and women of the military. (Applause.)

We have made a commitment to support our troops in combat. I'm the kind of fellow, when I say something I mean it. I want the military families to know I mean what I said. That's why I went to the United States Congress in September of 2003, and requested $87 billion of important funding, to support our troops in combat. We received great support from people of both political parties. As a matter of fact, only 12 members of the United States Senate voted against supporting our troops in harm's way. Only 12 voted against the $87 billion, two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: When you're out gathering up the vote, I want you to remind people of this startling statistic: Only four members of the United States Senate voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against supporting our troops in combat -- four members, two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.


THE PRESIDENT: You might remember perhaps the most famous quote of the 2004 campaign, when they asked my opponent about his vote, he said, I actually did vote for the $87 billion, right before I voted against it. (Laughter.) You know, I spent some time here in New Hampshire. I've been to the coffee shops, I've been to the community centers. I haven't heard anybody talk that way. (Laughter.)

They asked him several times about that vote, and he's given several different answers. Perhaps the most revealing of all was when he said about his vote against the $87 billion, the whole thing was a complicated matter. (Laughter.) My fellow Americans, there's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry's record on national security has a far deeper problem than election-year flip-flopping. On the largest national security issues of our time, he has been consistently wrong. When Ronald Reagan was confronting the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, Senator Kerry said that President Reagan's policy of peace through strength was making America less safe. He voted against many of the weapons systems critical to our defense buildup to help us keep the peace. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and President Ronald Reagan was right. (Applause.)

When former President Bush led a coalition against Saddam Hussein in 1991, Senator Kerry voted against the use of force to liberate Kuwait. If his view had prevailed, Saddam Hussein today would dominate the Middle East and would possess the most dangerous weapons. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and former President Bush was right. (Applause.)

In 1994, just one year after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, Senator Kerry proposed massive cuts in Americans' intelligence budget, so massive that even his Massachusetts colleague, Ted Kennedy opposed them.


THE PRESIDENT: History as shown that Senator Kerry was wrong, and -- we've got to be fair -- Senator Kennedy was right. (Applause.)

During the last 20 years, in moments of challenge and decision for America, Senator Kerry has chosen the position of weakness and inaction. With that record, he stands in opposition not just to me, but to the great tradition of the Democratic Party. The party of Franklin Roosevelt, the party of Harry Truman, the party of John Kennedy is rightly remembered for confidence and resolve in times of war and hours of crisis. Senator Kerry has turned his back on "pay any price," and "bear any burden," and he has replaced those commitments with "wait and see," and "cut and run."

Many Democrats in this country do not recognize their party anymore. Today I want to speak to every one of them. If you believe that America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence in our ideals, I would be honored to have your support, and I am asking for your vote. (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT: There are big differences between us as to how to best protect our country. The security of our families is at stake during this election. Senator Kerry says that the war on terror is primarily a law enforcement and intelligence-gathering operation. He says that America must submit to what he calls a global test.


THE PRESIDENT: I'm not making that up. (Laughter.) He was standing right about here when he said it during one of the debates. (Laughter.) As far as I can tell, that means our country must get permission from foreign capitals before we act in our own defense. That's what the global test says to me.


THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I'll always work with our friends and allies. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

We have a big difference of opinion -- recently the Senator was quoted as saying about 9/11 that it didn't change him much at all. It changed me. It changed my outlook. A few days after the attacks I stood where the buildings fell. I will never forget that day. There were workers in hard hats there yelling at me at top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." I remember the policeman or fireman, I don't know which one, where he worked, but he came out of the rubble and he looked me square in the eye and he said, "Do not let me down." Ever since that day I've gotten up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)

The second clear choice in this election concerns your family's budget. When I ran for President four years ago, I pledged to lower taxes for American families, and I kept my word. (Applause.) We doubled the child credit to a thousand dollars per child. We reduced the marriage penalty. We think the tax code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We dropped the lowest bracket to 10 percent. We reduced income taxes for everybody who pays income taxes. And after-tax income in America is up by about 10 percent since I have been your President. (Applause.) That means more money in your pocket. (Applause.)

When you're out gathering the vote, remind people about what we have been through. The stock market was in serious decline six months prior to my arrival in Washington. Then we had a recession. Then we had corporate scandals. And then we had the attacks of September the 11th that cost us about a million jobs in the three months after September the 11th. But our economic policies are working. We're on the path to growth. Our economy is growing at rates as fast as any in 20 years. Home ownership is at an all-time high in America. (Applause.) Our farmers are making a good living. The small business sector of our economy is strong. The entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing across New Hampshire. (Applause.)

Listen, we've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. Let me put that in perspective for you. That's lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. (Applause.) The unemployment rate in New Hampshire is 3.5 percent. (Applause.) We've overcome the obstacles. This economy is strong, and it is getting stronger. (Applause.)

Now, my opponent has very different plans for your budget -- he intends to take a big chunk out of it. He voted against the higher child tax credit, and he voted against the marriage penalty relief, he voted against lower taxes. If he had had his way, the average family in America would be paying $2,000 more to the federal government.


THE PRESIDENT: That may not sound like a lot to people in Washington. It's a lot to families right here in New Hampshire. (Applause.) It means a lot to you. It means a lot to a mom or a dad who are trying to raise their children. It means a lot to a small business owner who's expanding his or her company. All told, during my opponent's 20-year career in the United States Senate he voted to raise taxes 98 times.


THE PRESIDENT: That is five times for every year he's been in the Senate. That's what I would call a predictable pattern. (Laughter.) A leading indicator. (Laughter.) When a senator does something that often, he must really enjoy it. (Laughter.) He's also promised $2.2 trillion of new spending in this campaign. That's trillion with a "T." That's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.)

So they asked him -- they asked him, how are you going to pya for it? And he trotted out that same old, tired line we hear every campaign. He said, well, I'm just going to tax the rich. Well, first of all, most small businesses in New Hampshire and around the country are sole proprietorships or sub-chapter S corporations, which means they pay tax at the individual income tax level. Most small businesses create most new jobs in America. Seventy percent of new jobs in this country are created by the small business sector. And so when you're running up the top two tax brackets, you're taxing the job creators. And that makes no economic sense. (Applause.)

Secondly, raising the top two brackets raises about $600 billion or $800 billion, depending on who's doing the counting. In either case, that's far short of $2.2 trillion of spending. See, there's a gap -- (laughter) -- a gap between what has been promised and what can be delivered. I would call it a tax gap. And you know who usually gets to fill the gap. You do. The good news is, we're not going to let him tax you. We're going to carry New Hampshire and win on November the 2nd. (Applause.)

The third clear choice in this election involves the quality of life for our nation's families. A good education and quality health care are important to a successful life. As a candidate, I pledged to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. I kept my word. (Applause.) I worked with Senator Gregg and others, and we passed the No Child Left Behind Act, a fine piece of reform. We're increasing spending at the federal level, but in return, we're asking for results. See, we believe every child can learn to read and write and add and subtract, and we expect every school to teach. You cannot solve a problem until you diagnose the problem. We're diagnosing the problems all across our country, and the test scores are improving. Reading -- scores in reading and math are on the rise, and an achievement gap for minority students is closing. In a new term -- (applause) -- in a new term, we'll build on these reforms, we'll extend them to high schools so that no child is left behind in America. (Applause.)

We'll continue to improve the lives of our families by making health care more accessible and affordable. We'll promote and extend community health centers to help the poor and the indigent get good primary and preventative care. We will make sure our programs for children from low-income families will be fully subscribed to help people get the health care they need. In order to make sure health care is affordable, small business ought to be allowed to pool together across jurisdictional boundaries so they can buy insurance at the same discounts big companies get to buy insurance. (Applause.) We'll expand health savings accounts, which will help our small businesses and families with more affordable health care.

To make sure health care is available and affordable, not only in New Hampshire, but across this country, we must do something about the frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of health care. (Applause.) I have met -- I've met too many OB/GYNs that have been driven out of practice because of high premiums as a result of these lawsuits. I have met too many moms, expectant moms, who are concerned about the health care they and their baby will receive because their doctor no longer is in practice. This is a national problem that requires a national solution. You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient and pro-personal injury trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.) You have to choose. My opponent made his choice. He's voted against medical liability reform 10 times in the United States Senate, and he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket.


THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice. I'm standing with New Hampshire's docs, I'm standing with New Hampshire's families, I'm standing with the patients. I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)

My opponent has a different point of view when it comes to health care. I don't know if you remember the debate. They asked him about his health care plan. He starred straight in the camera, and he said his plan -- the government has nothing to do with it. That's in reference to his health care plan. I could barely contain myself. (Laughter.) The government has got a lot to do with it. Eighty percent of the people under his plan will go to a government-run plan. If you make it easier for people to get on Medicaid, small businesses will start dropping insurance because the government is going to pay for it. And that moves people from private care to public care. When the government starts writing a check, when it comes to your health care, then they start making the rules. And when the government starts making the rules, when it comes to your health care, they start making decision for you, and they start making decisions for your docs, and they start rationing care. Government-run health care is the wrong prescription for health care for America's families. (Applause.)

In all we do to improve health care for our families, we'll make sure the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

The fourth clear choice concerns your retirement. Our nation has made a solemn commitment to America's seniors on Social Security and Medicare. When I ran for President four years ago, I promised to keep that commitment and improve Medicare by adding prescription drugs for our seniors. I kept my word. Medicare needed to be fixed. See, we would pay thousands of dollars for a heart surgery, but not one dime for the prescription drugs that could prevent the heart surgery from being needed in the first place. I didn't think that made sense for our seniors. It didn't make sense for the taxpayers. We brought people together, and I signed a Medicare law, and beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)

And we'll keep the promise of Social Security for our seniors. And we'll strengthen Social Security for generations to come. Now, I remember the 2000 campaign -- clearly remember it. They said in TV ads in those days and through mailers and word of mouth that if George W. got elected, the seniors wouldn't get their checks. When you're out rounding up the vote, please remind people that George W. did get elected, and our seniors got their checks. (Applause.) And our seniors will continue to get their checks. (Applause.)

And baby boomers like me and Senator Gregg, we're in pretty good shape when it comes to the Social Security trust. But we need to worry about our children, and we need to worry about our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether or not Social Security will be there when they need it. And that is why I believe in personal savings accounts, that a worker ought to take some of their money and set aside a personal savings account, an account they call their own, an account the government cannot take away. (Applause.)

Now, my opponent takes a different approach. He talks about protecting Social Security. But he's the only candidate in this race who voted eight times for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.


THE PRESIDENT: On issue after issue, he tries to run, but we're not going to let him hide. (Applause.)

When it comes to the next generation, he hadn't offered anything about fixing the system. See, the job of a President is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations. In a new term, I'll bring people together and we will strengthen Social Security for generations to come. (Applause.)

The fifth clear choice in this election is on the values that are crucial to keeping America's families strong. I stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Applause.) I stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) I stand for a culture of life, and I proudly signed the ban on partial birth abortions. (Applause.)

My opponent has taken a different approach. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. At one time in his campaign he actually said, the heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood.


THE PRESIDENT: The heart and soul of America is found in communities all across New Hampshire. (Applause.)

I'm asking for your vote based upon my plans for the future, my record and my philosophy. My opponent's views are out of the mainstream. I share your values. In a new term I will stand for bedrock values of strengthening our economy every day. And I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.

I'm sure Senator Kerry means well, but his policies are the wrong policies at this time of threat. He'll raise your taxes to pay for his promises, and that will stall our economy. He cannot lead our troops to victory in a war he does not agree with, a war he has called wrong. He cannot attract or keep allies in a cause he's labeled a diversion.

As your President I'll rally the world. I will lead our troops. I commit our nation to decisive victory in the war against terror. And my fellow citizens, against this threat to our founding values of freedom and tolerance and equality, victory is our only option. (Applause.)

One of my favorite quotes -- one of my favorite quotes that I hope helps capture my feeling about our country and about our future came from a fellow Texan named Tom Lea. He said, "Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that is gone." During the course of this campaign, my opponent has spent much of this campaign talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that is coming. (Applause.)

I see a great day coming for America. (Applause.) And with your help, and with your hard work, I'll be honored to lead this nation for four more years. God bless. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) Thank you all. (Applause.)

END 1:42 P.M. EDT

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