|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 30, 2004
President's Remarks in Minneapolis, Minnesota
2:17 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) We appreciate you coming. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Laura and I are honored so many came to say hello. We, first, want to thank you for lifting our spirits. (Applause.) How good does it get? Arnold yesterday, Mike Tice today. (Applause.) I'm proud to be introduced by a leader, and somebody who's getting results. (Applause.) Thanks for coming, Mike. Laura and I are thrilled you are here.
We are here to ask for your vote. We are here to ask for your help. (Applause.) It is close to voting time. That's the time when people in a free society do their obligations and go to the polls. We have a duty in this country to vote. I'm here to get your friends -- I'm here to ask you to ask your friends and neighbors to do their duty. Get our fellow Republicans to the polls. Get wise independents to the polls. (Laughter.) Discerning Democrats, like Mayor Randy Kelly, from St. Paul, Minnesota, to the polls. (Applause.) I appreciate you, friend. (Applause.)
The Democrat Mayor of St. Paul is not alone. There are a lot of Democrats who, just like you, want America to be a safer, stronger and better place. When you get people headed to the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, and a better America, put me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)
Perhaps the most important reason why people should reelect me is so that Laura is the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)
I'm proud of my running mate, Dick Cheney. (Applause.) I don't want to offend anybody who is follically challenged, but I fully recognize that the Vice President doesn't have the waviest hair in the race. (Laughter.) The people of this great state will be pleased to know I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. I picked him because of his judgment, his experience. He is getting the job done for the American people. (Applause.)
I am proud of your Governor, Tim Pawlenty. (Applause.) And so are the people of Minnesota. I want to thank my friend, and your United States Senator, Norm Coleman, for his leadership. (Applause.) I want to thank the members of Congress who are here -- Congressman John Kline, Congressman Jim Ramstad, Congressman Mark Kennedy, for their service. (Applause.) I want to thank Pat Anderson. I want to thank all the candidates running for office. I thank my friend, Rudy Boswich (phonetic) for being such a strong and loyal supporter. (Applause.) I want to thank Gary Cayo, the President of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police, for his support and the support of the Fraternal Order of Police all across our country. (Applause.) I want to thank Billy Dean.
Most of all, I want to thank you all. I want to thank the grassroots activists who are putting up the signs, making the phone calls, doing the hard work necessary to have such a big rally as this one. (Applause.) I want to thank you for what you have done, and what you are going to do, which is to turn out that vote. No doubt in my mind, with your help, we will carry Minnesota and win a great victory in November. (Applause.)
This election takes place in a time of great consequence. The person who sits in the Oval Office for the next four years will set the course on the war on terror and the direction of our economy. America needs strong, optimistic, determined leadership, and I'm ready for the job. (Applause.)
My four years as your President have confirmed some lessons and taught some new ones. I've learned to expect the unexpected, because war and emergency can arrive suddenly on a quiet morning. I've learned firsthand how hard it is to send young men and women into battle, even if it's the right cause. (Applause.) I've been grateful for the lessons I've learned from my parents: Respect every person, do your best, live every day to its fullest. I've been strengthened by my faith and humbled by its reminder that every life is part of a larger story. (Applause.)
I know how a President needs to lead. As Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan so clearly demonstrated, a President must not shift with the wind. A President has to make the tough decisions and stand by them. (Applause.) In the last four years, Americans have learned some things about me as well. Sometimes, I'm a little too blunt. (Laughter.) I get that from my mother. (Laughter.) Sometimes, I mangle the English language. I get that from my father. (Laughter.) But all the time, whether you agree with me or not, you know where I stand and where I intend to lead this country. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: You cannot say that about my opponent.
THE PRESIDENT: Consistency is not his long suit. (Laughter.) People of this country will vote next Tuesday. I am confident they will vote for consistency, for conviction and for principle. And with your help, we'll win in November the 2nd. (Applause.)
This election -- this election comes down to five clear choices for America's families. The first clear choice is the most important because it concerns the security of your family. All progress on every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. (Applause.) Americans go to the polls in a time of war and ongoing threats. The terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people are still dangerous and determined to strike. The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against the terrorists. 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 is not going to 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 -- our strategy is clear: We've strengthened protections for the homeland. We're reforming and strengthening our intelligence capabilities. We're transforming our all-volunteer army. There will be no draft. (Applause.) We are determined, we are steadfast, we are resolute. We will stay on the offensive against the terrorists around the world so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
Because we led, the world is changing. Afghanistan is a free nation and an ally in the world on terror. Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders. Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests. Libya is dismantling its weapons programs. The army -- (applause) -- the army of a free Iraq is fighting for the freedom of its people, and more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been brought to justice. (Applause.)
So long as I'm your President, I will use every asset at our disposal to protect the American people, and perhaps the strongest asset we have is our belief in liberty, our belief that liberty can transform societies. I want the youngsters here to understand what has taken place in a brief period of time. It wasn't all that long ago in Afghanistan that young girls couldn't go to school because the country was run by the ideologues of hate called the Taliban. And if their mothers didn't toe the line, they were taken into the public squares and whipped and sometimes taken to a sports stadium and executed. Because this great nation acted to defend ourselves, because we upheld the doctrine that said, if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist, millions of citizens -- millions of citizens voted in a presidential election in Afghanistan. And the first voter was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)
And America is better off as freedom spreads around the world. Iraq will have presidential elections in January. Think how far that society has come from the days of torture chambers and mass graves and the brutal rule of a fierce tyrant. Freedom is on the march. (Applause.) I believe everybody longs to be free. I believe deep in everybody's soul is the desire to live in a free society. I believe that, not because freedom is America's gift to the world, freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
A President must lead with consistency and strength. In a war, sometimes your tactics change, but never your principles. And Americans have seen how I do my job. On good days, on bad days, when the polls are up or the polls are down, I am determined to protect the American people. (Applause.) And I am the Commander-in-Chief of a great United States military. (Applause.) I want to thank those who wear our nation's uniform who have joined us today. I want to thank the military families who are with us today. And I want to thank the veterans of the United States of America who set such a great example. (Applause.) And I assure you, and I assure our vets and our families and those men and women in uniform that you'll have the resources -- the military will have the resources they need to complete their mission.
That's why I went to the United States Congress and asked for $87 billion of supplemental funding in September of 2003. That money was necessary. That money was important. We had troops in harm's way and they needed the full support of the government. And we received good bipartisan support -- so strong that only 12 senators voted against the funding.
THE PRESIDENT: Two of whom were my opponent and his running mate. But as you gather the vote, I want you to remind people of this fact. Four members of the Senate -- only four out of 100 -- voted to authorize force and voted against the support for our troops in combat. Two of those four were my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, they asked him why he made the vote he did, and you might remember perhaps the most famous quote of the 2004 campaign, when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't spent a lot of time in the coffee shops in this great state, but I doubt I'm going to find hardly anybody who talks that way in Minnesota. (Applause.)
He's given several reasons why he made that vote. But perhaps the most revealing of all was when he said, he whole thing is a complicated matter. (Laughter.) My fellow Americans, there is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
The American people have been watching this election carefully and they noticed my opponent's positions are kind of like the weather here in Minnesota. If you don't like it, wait a little bit and it will change. (Laughter.) He was for the war and against the war, for the war and against the war. But his 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 -- (applause) -- 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.
THE PRESIDENT: History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and President Ronald Reagan was right. (Applause.)
When former President Bush lead a coalition against Saddam Hussein in 1991 because he had invaded Kuwait, Senator Kerry voted against the use of force to liberate Kuwait.
THE PRESIDENT: 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 America's intelligence budget -- so massive that even his Massachusetts colleague, Ted Kennedy, opposed them. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and -- we've got to be fair about it -- Senator Kennedy was right. (Applause.)
During the last 20 years, in key moments of challenge and decision for America, my opponent has chosen a 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 and Harry Truman and John Kennedy is rightly remembered for confidence and resolve in times of war and in hours of crisis. (Applause.) Senator Kerry has turned his back on "pay any price," and "bear any burden," and he's replaced those commitments with "wait and see" and "cut and run."
Many Democrats in this country do not recognize their party anymore, and 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'd be honored to have your support and I'm asking for your vote. (Applause.)
We have a difference --
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: We have big differences about how to protect our country's families. I recall that moment in one of our debates when my opponent said that America must submit to a global test before we commit troops.
THE PRESIDENT: As you can tell, that's kind of how I felt, too. (Laughter.) As far as I can tell, that means our country must get permission from foreign capitals before we act in our own defense. I'll work with our allies, and I'll work with our friends. I believe in building coalitions, and we have done just that. But I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
We have differences of opinion, clear differences of opinion about this war on terror. Recently, my opponent said that the -- September the 11th didn't change him much at all. That's what he said.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, September the 11th changed me. It changed my view of the world and how we must defend ourselves. I remember standing in the ruins of the Twin Towers on September the 14th, 2001. It's a day that will be forever etched in my memory -- the sights and the sounds. I can remember those voices of the workers in hard hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I remember looking in the eye of a fellow who grabbed me by the arm, and he said, "Do not let me down." Ever since that morning -- ever since that day, I wake up every morning trying to better figure out how to protect America. I will never relent in defending this country, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
The second clear choice -- 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 America's families, and I kept my word. (Applause.) We doubled the child credit to $1,000 per child to help the moms and dads in America. We reduced -- we reduced the marriage penalty. We believe the tax code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. (Applause.) We dropped the lowest bracket to 10 percent. We reduced taxes on everybody who pays taxes. And we're growing. This economy is getting stronger.
Remind your friends and neighbors, as you round them up to go to the polls -- (laughter) -- what we have been through. Six months prior to my arrival in Washington, the stock market was in serious decline. And then we had a recession and corporate scandals, and the attacks of September the 11th cost us about a million jobs in the three months following that fateful day. But our policies are working. We're on the path to growth. This economy is as strong as it's been in nearly 20 years. (Applause.) The home ownership rate is at an all-time high in America. More minority families own a home all across this country than anywhere at any time in our history. (Applause.) Minnesota farmers are making a living. The farm economy is strong in America. (Applause.)
The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. Small businesses are flourishing all across America. (Applause.) We've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. And let me put that in perspective for you, It's lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. And the unemployment rate in Minnesota is 4.6 percent. We are strong, and we will get stronger. (Applause.)
My opponent has different plans for your budget. He's going to take a big chunk out of it.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, he voted against the child tax credit. He voted against marriage penalty relief. He voted against lower taxes. If he had had his way, the average family in Minnesota would be paying $2,000 more per year in federal taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, that probably doesn't seem like a lot to some of them in Washington, but I understand it's a lot for the families in this part of the world. (Applause.) It means a lot to people trying to raise their children. It means a lot to people struggling to put food on the table and meet their expenses. He's been in the Senate 20 years; he has voted to raise taxes 98 times. That's five times for every year in the Senate. I would call that a leading indicator -- (laughter) -- a predictable pattern. (Laughter.) If you put that in this context, he promised $2.2 trillion in new federal spending. Now, that's trillion with a "T." That's a lot. Even for a Senator from Massachusetts, that's a lot. (Laughter.)
And so they asked him, how are you going to pay for it? And he said, well, we'll just tax the rich. You have heard that before. First of all, most small businesses around Minnesota and around the country pay tax at the individual income tax level. See, most small businesses are sub-chapter S or sole proprietorships. And by the way, 70 percent of new jobs in America are created by small businesses. (Applause.) And so when you raise the top two brackets, you're taxing job creators. It makes no economic sense to tax the entities that are creating the new jobs in our country. (Applause.)
And secondly, he has promised 2.2 trillion, but raising the top two brackets only raises between $600 billion and $800 billion. That's what I would call a tax gap, the difference between what is promised and what's delivered. Given his record, I think you understand how he's going to fill that tax gap. Yes, he's going to tax you. But we're not going to let him. We will carry Minnesota and win next Tuesday. (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 candidate, I pledged to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools, and I kept my word. (Applause.) I proudly signed the No Child Left Behind Act to raise the standards. See, we believed every child could learn and we expect every school to teach. (Applause.)
We're spending more money at the federal level and, in return, we expect measurement. See, you cannot solve a problem until you diagnose the problem. And as a result of the law we put in place, we are now diagnosing and solving problems. Math and reading scores are up across America, and we are closing the achievement gap for minority students. And we will not go back to the days of low expectations and mediocrity in our schools. (Applause.)
We will continue to improve life for our families by making health care available and affordable. We will take care of the poor and the indigent by expanding community health centers. We have a duty to help people who cannot help themselves. And that's why we'll make sure our program for children of low-income families is fully subscribed, to make sure people get the health care and the help they need. But I also recognize that most of the uninsured in America work for small businesses. And to help small businesses better afford insurance, we must allow them to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries so they can buy insurance at the same discounts that big companies are able the do. (Applause.)
We will expand health savings accounts to help our small businesses and families. And to make sure health care is available and affordable, we will do something about the junk lawsuits that are running up the cost of medicine and running too many doctors out of practice. (Applause.) We have a problem in this nation. I have met too many OB/GYNs that no longer practice because the premiums are too high. See, they can't afford to stay in practice. These lawsuits are driving them out of practice. I met too many patients, expectant moms who are traveling miles to find an OB/GYN, and they are deeply concerned about the quality of health care that they and their little one will receive.
This is a national problem, and it requires a national solution. You cannot be ro-doctor and pro-patient and pro-personal injury trial lawyer at the same time. You have to choose. (Applause.) My opponent has made his choice. He voted 10 times against medical liability reform and he put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice. I'm standing with the doctors of Minnesota, I'm standing with the patients of Minnesota, I'm standing with the families of Minnesota. I am for medical liability reform. (Applause.)
My opponent has a different view when it comes to health care. In one of the debates I remember the questioner said, tell me about your health care plan. He looked square in the camera and he said, my health care plan, well, the government doesn't have anything to do with it. I could barely contain myself. (Laughter.) The government has got a lot to do with it. Eighty percent of the people, according to his plan, would be signed up by the government. If you raise Medicaid and make it easier for people to get on Medicaid, it provides an incentive for small businesses to stop writing insurance because the government will write the insurance. And when the government writes the checks, the government makes the rules. And when the government makes the rules for your health care, the government makes decisions for you, and they make decisions for your doctors. The wrong prescription for American families is to federalize health care. (Applause.)
In all we do to improve health care for our families, we will make sure that the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Your fourth clear choice in this election involves 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 drug coverage. I kept my word. (Applause.)
Medicare needed to be modernized for our seniors. We would pay thousands of dollars for a heart surgery under Medicare, but not a dime for the prescription drugs that could prevent the heart surgery from being needed in the first place. And that wasn't fair to our seniors. So I brought people together and I proudly signed a Medicare reform bill that will make prescription drugs available for all our seniors beginning in 2006. (Applause.)
And we will keep the promise of Social Security for our seniors and we will strengthen Social Security for years to come. I want you to tell your friends and neighbors about what took place in the 2000 campaign. You might remember those ads and the flyers, when people said if George W. gets elected, the seniors will not get their checks. Well, tell them, George W. did get elected and the seniors got their checks -- and the seniors will continue to get their checks. (Applause.)
And baby boomers like me and a couple others out there I'm looking at -- (laughter) -- will get their checks. The Social Security trust is in good shape for us. But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren. We need to worry about whether or not the Social Security system will be available when they need it. And that's why I believe younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account, an account that will earn a better rate of return, an account they own, an account the government can never take away. (Applause.)
My opponent takes a little different point of view on this. First, he said he'd protect Social Security, but he forgot to tell the American people he's voted eight times to tax Social Security benefits.
THE PRESIDENT: See, he can run from his record, but we're not going to let him hide. (Applause.)
And he has offered nothing to help a younger generation when it comes to strengthening Social Security. See, the job of a President is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future generations and future Presidents. I'm going to bring people together, and we will work to make sure the Social Security system is strong and viable for generations to come. (Applause.)
The fifth clear choice in this election involves the values that are crucial for our nation. We stand for things. We stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. (Applause.) We stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) I'll reach out to Americans of every belief and move this good-hearted nation toward a culture of life. We believe in a culture of life. I proudly signed the ban on partial birth abortion. (Applause.)
My opponent -- Senator Kerry has had a different view on these issues. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. And at one time in his campaign actually said that 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 the great state of Minnesota. (Applause.)
All these choices make this one of the most important elections in our history. And the decision is in the best of hands -- it is in the hands of the American people. (Applause.)
In less than 72 hours, the American people will be voting, and the decision comes down to who do you trust.
AUDIENCE: You! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I stand -- I offer -- I offer leadership and results for a time of threat and challenge. I'm asking for people's votes. I'm asking for their trust. I'm asking for your help. I have a view of the future that is bright. I see clearly where I want to lead this country, and it is to a better day.
One of my favorite quotes was written by 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 this campaign, my opponent has spent much of the time talking about the day that is gone; I'm talking about the day that's coming. (Applause.)
I see a great day coming for America. I see a day when prosperity reaches every corner of our country. I see a day when every child can read and write and add and subtract. And I see a day in which this world becomes more peaceful, by spreading liberty that we achieve the peace we all want for our children and for our grandchildren.
When I campaigned across this state four years ago, I made this pledge that if I got elected, I would uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I had been elected. With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for four more years.
God bless. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
END 3:00 P.M. CDT