|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 2, 2006
Remarks by the President at Heller for Congress Reception
Mercury Air Center
5:29 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. It's good to be back in Reno. I appreciate the invitation. I'm here to say as clearly as I can, Dean Heller is the right person for the United States Congress. (Applause.) And I want to thank you for helping him.
I appreciate the fantastic fundraiser. It's a good sign, Dean, when your friends and neighbors are willing to put a little hard-earned cash into the hat in order to help you. (Laughter.) But he's going to need more than your money. He's going to need your time. And so coming down the stretch, I call on the grassroots activists and those who have been participating in campaigns to put up the signs and go to your houses of worship or your community centers and say, we've got a good man in Dean Heller; he loves his family; he loves his country; he loves the people of the 2nd congressional district -- let's send him to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
All he's got to do is get his family to go to work for him. (Laughter.) I met a bunch of them today. I'm really proud to be with them. (Laughter.) With Lynne and the four children. I like a man who knows his priorities. We need people in Washington who have got the right priorities. And the priorities - he and I share priority: our faith, our family and our country. (Applause.)
Now, I wasn't Dean's first choice. (Laughter.) He wisely had put in a request for Laura -- (laughter) -- who sends her love and her best to all our friends out here in Reno, in Nevada. We're blessed with friends. I wouldn't be standing here without the people of this good state voting for me, not once, but twice. (Applause.) And in selecting me, you selected a really fine person to be the First Lady. I can't tell you how proud I am of Laura. (Applause.) I am a lucky man that she said "yes" when I asked her to marry me, and some of her friends in Texas wondered whether it was a wise decision or not, but we're doing great.
And we're really proud -- I'm proud to be here. She, like me, understands Dean Heller will make a great United States Congressman. I want to thank his predecessor, Jim Gibbons. I've been honored to work with Jim on behalf of the people. (Applause.) Another predecessor is here, Barbara Vucanovich, is with us. Barbara, it's good to see you. I'm proud you're here. Mother and Dad send their best. (Laughter.) This Barbara knows the other Barbara. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Kenny Guinn and Dema for joining us. Kenny Guinn has been a great governor for the state of Nevada. (Applause.) We're proud to call him friend and I'm proud to call Dema friend. You know, one of the interesting things that we get to do is to share the White House with our friends from around the country. We've had the Governor and his wife spend the night with us when the National Governors were in town. And I remember Kenny walking around the White House saying, my goodness, I can't believe I'm here. (Laughter.) And then he looked at me. (Laughter.)
I hope you all support Jim Gibbons to replace Governor Kenny Guinn. (Applause.) And now that I'm going down the election roster, and make sure you put Ensign back in, too, he's a great United States senator. (Applause.)
I want to thank Brian Krolicki, he's going to be the lieutenant governor of the state of Nevada. Thanks for coming, Brian. (Applause.) We've got the mayor here, Bob Cashell. Bob, good to see you again. Mr. Mayor, proud you're here. (Applause.) And all the local officials -- it's a good sign when the local officials are coming. It's when they stay away from the rallies is when you get nervous. (Laughter.)
I want to thank you all. It really is important you're here. Obviously, this is a race that my administration considers to be an important race. That's why I got on the airplane after meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey to come out here and help Dean. (Applause.)
I want to thank Troy Marston, he led the Pledge of Allegiance -- Private 1st Class, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne, recently returned from Iraq. (Applause.) It is an honor to be the Commander-in-Chief of the finest military in the world. (Applause.) And the reason we're the finest military in the world is because of the men and women who have volunteered to wear the uniform of the United States of America. (Applause.) And being in one of your jobs and one of my jobs is to make sure our troops have all that is necessary to do their job and protect the United States of America. (Applause.)
I've been looking forward to this campaign because it gives me a chance to travel around the country making it clear there are significant differences in what we believe and what the other bunch believes. You take taxes, for example. You know, Dean talked about the fact that when we came in we had a recession and then there was a terrorist attack and then we went to war and there was corporate scandals, there was hurricanes and high gasoline prices -- and, yet, this economy is growing. And the reason it's growing, and the primary reason in my mind it's growing is because we cut the taxes on the working people, we cut the taxes on the small business owners, we cut taxes on families with children. (Applause.)
We put an end to the marriage penalty -- or started to put an end to the marriage penalty. I really don't understand a tax code that penalizes marriage. (Laughter.) We ought to be encouraging marriage in the United States. The tax cuts we passed have worked. (Applause.)
And this election campaign is one in which the people have got a stark choice. You listen to those Democrats in Washington talk. I don't know how they're talking in Nevada, but I can tell how they're talking in Washington. And they're saying, well, we're not going to -- we're going to let these tax cuts expire, see, hoping the American people don't pay attention to those words.
See, if you let the tax cuts expire -- in other words, if you don't make the tax cuts permanent -- it means your taxes are going to go up. It's a tax increase. The way I like to put it is if the Democrats take control of the United States Congress, they're going to have their hand in your pocket, they're going to be running up your taxes. Raising the taxes on the people who work for a living, raising the taxes on the farmers and ranchers, raising the taxes on the small business owners is bad economic policy. And that's why we need Dean Heller in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Oh, you'll hear them tell you up there, or over there, they'll say, well, we need to raise taxes just on some of you in order to balance the budget. That's not the way Washington, D.C. works. They'll raise your taxes and they'll figure out new ways to spend your money. The best way to balance the budget is to keep pro-growth economic policies in place so this economy grows and to prioritize how we spend your money. And the priorities I've set for the United States Congress is winning this war on terror and making sure we've got what it takes to defend the American people. (Applause.)
You know, it's amazing what happens when you grow the economy. See, cutting taxes is counterintuitive for some in Washington, but when you reduce taxes it causes the economy to grow. And when the economy grows, there's more tax revenues coming in. And that's what's happened recently. And that's why we're cutting the deficit in half prior to the goal I set in 2009. We need fiscally responsible people in Washington, D.C. And Dean Heller will be a fine congressman when it comes to watching your money. (Applause.)
We need people in Washington, D.C. who understand that we need to make sure health care is available and affordable. There's an interesting debate up there in the nation's capital, and it's this: Who best to decide how to make decisions for health care, who best to make that decision -- the federal government, or the doctors and patients? We believe that the doctors and patients should be making the health care decisions in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And one way to make sure health care is available and affordable is to do something about these junk lawsuits that are running good doctors out of practice. (Applause.)
I'm looking forward to working with Dean on good domestic policy that keeps this economy growing and keeps the power -- decision-making power in the hands of the people. And I'm looking forward to working with him to do our most solemn duty, and that's to protect you.
You know, when I ran in 2000 -- I remember campaigning here -- you know, I didn't want to be a war President. As a matter of fact, anybody who says, vote for me, I want to be a war President, don't vote for him. (Laughter.) No one should ever wish that. But an enemy declared war on us, a war we didn't want; but it's a war we must engage. September the 11th made it abundantly clear that the most solemn responsibility of the federal government is to protect the American people.
We're fighting an enemy that knows no rules. They're inhumane. They are evil people who have taken the religion and kill in the name of that religion to achieve geopolitical objectives. They're bound by a common ideology. They want to establish a caliphate that ranges from Indonesia to Spain. I'm not making this up. I'm simply repeating that which we have learned about the enemy from their own words.
You can't negotiate with these people. Therapy is not going to work. (Laughter.) The best way to deal with this enemy is to bring them to justice before they hurt the American people again. (Applause.)
You know, it's a difficult task to protect the homeland, because we've got to be right 100 percent of the time, and these killers have got to be right once. And, therefore, I thought it was important to make sure that those on the front line of fighting terror and the extremists had all the tools necessary to protect the American people.
And that's why I called upon Congress to eliminate the walls and barriers that had arisen over time between the intelligence services and the criminal justice people so they can share intelligence that is necessary to protect you. And that's why I thought it was important to set up a program that said, if al Qaeda or an al Qaeda affiliate is making a phone call into the United States of America, we need to know why in order to protect the American people. (Applause.)
And I want our fellow citizens to look at who voted for those proposals and what political party voted against them. There's a clear difference of opinion about how to protect this homeland.
You know, recently, we just had an important debate in Washington, D.C. It's a debate over whether or not the Central Intelligence Agency should have a program that enabled our professionals to question high-value detainees to determine if they had information that could help protect the homeland. Obviously, I thought that was an important program. I submitted the bill after a speech in the East Room of the White House. I submitted that bill to the Congress. See, I understand the nature of the information we received from people such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He is the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks.
I'll be signing that bill pretty soon. The Congress passed the bill, but I want you all to remember when you go to the polls here in Nevada, what political party supported the President to make sure we had the tools necessary to protect the American people, and which political party didn't? (Applause.)
I have made the decision that the best way to protect the American people is to get on the offense against this enemy, and stay on the offense. There is a difference of opinion in Washington. If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democrat Party, it sounds like -- it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is, wait until we're attacked again. That's not the way it's going to be under my administration. (Applause.) We will stay on the offense, we will defeat the enemy overseas, so we do not have to face them here at home.
And it's hard work, but it's necessary work. It's the calling of the 21st century. It's the call of a generation to determine whether we have the will and the vision to protect the American people.
Now, the lesson I have learned from September the 11th was two -- one -- many, but two of the most notable ones were, if you find somebody harboring a terrorist, they're equally as guilty as the terrorists and must be held to account. And that's why we removed the Taliban from Afghanistan and freed 25 million people from the clutches of a barbaric regime. (Applause.)
And I saw a threat in Iraq, and so did members of the United States Congress and people on the United Nations Security Council. Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terror. He had killed thousands of his own people. He had used weapons of mass destruction. He was a sworn enemy of the United States. He paid families of suicide bombers. He was a threat. And the United Nations said that loud and clear. It was his choice to make of whether or not he wanted war. He chose war, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. (Applause.)
And I think it's a legitimate question to ask candidates running for Congress, or United States senators who have been critical of policy, whether or not they think the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. You know, when this question was asked to a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, the Democrat member, he said, yes, the world would be better off, given the world today, with Saddam Hussein in power.
Well, I just see it differently. I think it's important we take threats before they come home to hurt us. America cannot wait to be attacked again. In order to protect the United States of America, we must stay on the offense, and we will do so. (Applause.)
The other thing you hear coming out of the nation's capital is whether Iraq is a distraction on the war on terror -- you know, it's not part of the war on terror. I happen to think it's a central front in the war on terror. Success in Iraq will help make this country more secure. Failure in Iraq will mean that we will have left behind a treacherous world for children and our grandchildren.
But if you don't take my word, take the word of Osama bin Laden, or Mr. Zawahiri, about the importance of Iraq. The number one and two of al Qaeda have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and their ambitions are to drive the United States out of Iraq and to abandon the 12 million people who went to the polls, and to say it's not worth it. They believe it's worth it. Al Qaeda thinks it's necessary in order to defeat America. They want us to leave so they can have a safe haven from which to plot and plan new attacks against the United States of America.
Imagine a world where moderate governments have been toppled by extremists, and extremists get a hold of oil. If you think it was tough at $70 a barrel, imagine what it will be like when these extremists get a hold of a valuable resource and say to the free world, do it our way or we're going to have an unbelievable economic peril. And couple with that an Iran with a nuclear weapon, and 20 or 30 years from now, the world will look back and say, what happened to America? How come they couldn't see the threat?
The threat is real. We will help those 12 million people who demanded freedom in Iraq achieve a stable democracy that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and America and generations of Americans will be more secure. (Applause.)
You know, people ask me all the time, do you really think people in the Middle East want to be free? It's a legitimate question, I guess. But it belies the fact that we believe in the universality of freedom. Freedom is not just an American possession. It's not our gift to the world. I happen to believe there is an Almighty, and I believe one of the great gifts of that Almighty is the desire to be free to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. (Applause.)
So in the short term our strategy is clear, we will stay on the offense, we will bring people to justice before they can hurt us again. In the long term, we will defeat the ideology of hatred with an ideology of hope.
I have made it clear to the American people, I view the struggle we're in as the great ideological struggle of the 21st century. It's akin to the Cold War in some ways. It is a difference between tyranny and freedom, between moderation and extremism. Make no mistake about it, most moms in the Middle East yearn for the same things our mom's want, which is a peaceful world in which to raise their children. Most people in the Middle East long for peace. What we're dealing with are radicals and extremists who have a dark vision for the future. And the fundamental question facing this country is, will we have the nerve, will we have the willpower, will we have the perseverance to do the hard work today so a generation of younger Americans can grow up in a more peaceful world.
And I take great hope, and I'm optimistic about achieving our objectives. First, I know how good our military is. Point them in the right direction, give them a clear goal, and they'll achieve the objective. Second, I know how hard people are working to protect you. Our intelligence is getting better. See, it's a different kind of war. You used to -- could measure progress based upon the number of airplanes in the air or number of ships on the sea. It's hard to measure progress in this kind of war. But I'm just telling you, we're dismantling al Qaeda one person at a time. We're on the hunt. (Applause.) And it's just a matter of time before Osama bin Laden gets the justice he deserves. (Applause.)
You know, let me conclude by sharing this story with you. You might remember, I had an interesting experience recently when I went down with the former Prime Minister of Japan, my buddy, Koizumi, who just left office recently. And we went down to Elvis' place -- (laughter) -- in Memphis. It was an interesting experience. (Laughter.) I went there for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to see Elvis' place; I'd never been. (Laughter.) Sixty years old and had never been to Graceland. Plus, Laura wanted to go. Secondly, Prime Minister Koizumi really wanted to go. (Laughter.) He liked Elvis. He likes his songs, he likes everything about Elvis.
Thirdly, I wanted to tell a story about what's possible and what will happen if we keep faith in the values that led to our formation and has led to us doing hard work in order to keep the peace. You see, the story I tell is the one that started with 18-year-old George H.W. Bush, my dad, when he joined the United States Navy to fight the sworn enemy, the Japanese. A lot of other people did, too. It was a brutal war. A lot of folks died.
And I find it interesting -- not only interesting, I find it ironic in many ways that some 60 years later, the son of the 18-year-old fighter pilot was on Air Force One, flying to Memphis, Tennessee, with the Prime Minister of the former enemy, talking about how to keep the peace. We talked about North Korea, we talked about the fact that the way you defeat extremists and radicals is by helping people realize the blessings of liberty. Isn't that interesting? The Prime Minister of the former enemy talking about the blessings of liberty and freedom. (Applause.)
Something happened between World War II and 2006, and that was, Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy. Liberty has the capacity to transform enemies into allies. Liberty has the capacity to transform regions of hate into regions of hope. What you're seeing is the beginning of a victory against an ideology of extremists, by an ideology that yields the blessings of peace, an ideology that enables the sons of former enemies to sit down, crafting strategy to make the world a better place for generations to come.
And that's what's going to happen some day. Elected leaders in the Middle East will be sitting down with an American President, talking about how to keep the peace. And our children and our grandchildren will be better off for it. (Applause.)
And those are the stakes in this election. It's an important election. And we need people in the United States Congress who see the world the way it is, not the way we would hope it would be now. We have to have clear-eyed realists on the one hand, but people who have got faith in the great values, the universal values that can enable us to look back when history passes by and say, we did our jobs. We were called to serve, and we served by leaving behind a better world -- and Dean Heller is such a man.
Thanks for coming. God bless. (Applause.)
END 5:55 P.M. PDT