|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 30, 2007
Remarks by the President at New Jersey Republican Committee Reception
New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center
Edison, New Jersey
6:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Yes, it's good to be back in Jersey. Thank you for the warm welcome. (Applause.) I appreciate you all coming. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your kind remarks.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mr. President!
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, last time I was in Jersey there was a lot of heckling, as well. (Laughter.) Good heckling. I love you, too. Thank you. Thanks for coming. Thank you for your enthusiasm. Thank you for supporting the Republican Party.
Mr. Chairman, I am glad to come and help you raise money so that you can achieve big things -- first of all, taking those New Jersey houses in the November '07 election -- (applause) -- and laying the groundwork for an important election in '08. It's important that a Republican succeed me as President of the United States. (Applause.) And I thank you for supporting those efforts. I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here.
One grassroots activist I've known for a long time is the senior chairman of the county chairmen here in the state of New Jersey, George Gilmore. He happens to be the chairman of the Ocean County Republican Party. (Applause.) And I want to thank all the other county chairmen who are here. And I want to thank all the people who put up the signs and make the phone calls and do all the hard work, so that our candidates know that they're supported when they're out there seeking the vote.
I really appreciate you coming. I'm proud to be here with my friend, Lew Eisenberg, former Republican National Committeeman from New Jersey, and his wife, Judy. I thank Larry Bathgate, former finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. I want to say thank you to State Minority Leader Leonard Lance, and Alex DeCroce of the State Senate for serving -- actually DeCroce is in the statehouse, and Lance is in the Senate. And I appreciate them serving. And our job -- (applause) -- our job is to help you all become the majority leaders. (Applause.) They've got a good chance to do it. The experts tell me that with hard work, there's a good chance that the statehouse and the state Senate become Republican. And I'm glad to be a part of helping, and I want to thank you all for helping, as well.
I want to thank -- I want to thank you all for recognizing the fact that you've got the B team in the Bush family. (Applause.) The A team is across the river in New York City. Yes, that's Laura. She sends her love. I will tell you this; I'm a lucky man, when I asked her to marry me, and she said, yes. A lot of her friends aren't so sure she's so lucky. (Laughter.) But I am pleased to report she's doing well. She's a great First Lady, a great wife, and a great mom. (Applause.)
I believe you win elections by telling the people what you believe, not necessarily what they want to hear. And here are the things that we believe: We believe that the number one priority of this country is to protect the people of the United States from further attack. (Applause.) And that's why we believe in a strong national defense. We believe in supporting those who are in the homeland defending this country, and we believe those who are defending it overseas.
We believe that we ought to trust people to make the decisions on how they run their lives, not trust the government. And the classic case of whether we trust people or not is when it comes to cutting taxes. If you believe in cutting taxes, it means you trust you to spend your money better than the government can. (Applause.)
We believe you've got to trust in the values of our citizens. We believe the role of government is to unleash the great compassion of America, to help solve many of the problems that can only be solved through love and decency and care. That's what we believe. We believe that there is a role for government, but the primary role for government is to empower our citizens to realize their God-given potential.
And if we campaign on that message, and if we stick to those principles, and if we govern for what's right, not based upon the latest Gallop Poll, we will continue to lead this country. (Applause.)
I want to talk about our security and our economy. We are a nation at war. I wish I didn't have to say that, but that's the reality of the world in which we live. Now, I understand there's some good, decent people who disagree with that assessment. We're a country where people are free to express their views. Some people don't believe we're in war. I'm just not one of them. I believe that the role of the United States government is to do everything we can to protect you from further attack. (Applause.)
You were affected by the September the 11th attacks a lot. And so was I. I vowed on that day that I would use all U.S. assets to do what was necessary to protect the American people. We're fighting an enemy that is cruel, an enemy that murders the innocent to achieve objectives. These folks just aren't isolated, angry people; these are ideologues; these are people that have got a set of beliefs. I would suggest that people, if they're trying to figure out what these people believe and their vision of the world, just remember what life was like under the Taliban in Afghanistan -- particularly if you were a woman or a young girl -- you had no rights, no freedoms. If you expressed your belief, it was contrary to their view, you would be, at minimum, whipped in the public square. These people are brutal. They have no conscience.
They do want to spread their vision as far and wide as possible. They have a vision of establishing a califate. They hate the United States of America and what we stand for. They hate many of our friends, including Israel. The only way to deal with these people is to stay on the offense, fight them overseas so we don't have to fight them here at home. (Applause.)
And that's exactly what we've done. I vowed that this nation wouldn't tire. I vowed that I would do everything I could to lead this nation, to protect you. And since that fateful day that killed nearly 3,000 people, innocent people, this country has been on the offense. If we find them overseas, we'll bring them to justice. (Applause.) We're using everything in our power to get good intelligence. We reformed homeland security. We're supporting those on the front line of securing this country.
Oh, I know there's a big debate about how to deal with these folks. I will just tell you my view. You can't ration [sic] with them. You can't compromise with them. You can't hope for the best with them. You must treat them as they are: cold-blooded killers, and bring them to justice before they hurt us -- (applause.)
One of the lessons of September the 11th is we must confront threats before they come home to hurt us; that when we see a threat, we must deal with it -- not always with the military, necessarily, but we've got to take threats seriously. We just can't hope that oceans will protect us from these people. They have strategies to impose their will. They want to cause enough harm to cause us to retreat in order for them to be able to impose their vision. These folks found safe haven and got help in Afghanistan. We gave them a chance to -- the government to turn them over. They refused, and so we removed the Taliban from power, and thereby removed the ability for al Qaeda to plot and plan and attack again.
In Iraq we faced a threat. He was an enemy of America, a person who had used weapons of mass destruction, and a person who was paying Palestinian -- the family -- Palestinian families of suicide bombers, a person who had harbored terrorists. I went to the United Nations, right across the river here. I said to the world, we face a common threat. The United Nations Security Council agreed. We told Saddam Hussein with one voice, international voice, disarm or face serious consequences. It was his choice to make. He defied the demands of the free world. I made the decision that we would liberate the people of Iraq. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein made the world a better place. (Applause.)
And now the question is, will our country help these two struggling democracies succeed. See, the short-run strategy is to bring people to justice, is to keep the pressure on. The long-term strategy is to defeat their ideology with a more hopeful ideology. And that's the ideology based upon liberty. Free societies are societies that best answer the hopes and dreams of people.
In the short-term we'll keep the pressure on the enemy. In the long-term we must confront the circumstances by which 19 people decided to get on airplanes and kill nearly 3,000 people on a brutal attack on the United States of America. And the stakes are high. You know, I know that many people are deeply concerned about Iraq, and so am I. You see the carnage on your TV screens and you wonder whether or not success is possible. I want to remind you that there has been pretty startling progress made in Iraq. After all, 12 million people went to the polls and supported a modern-day constitution, and voted for a free government, which stands in stark contrast to life under a brutal tyrant who killed thousands of his own people.
And a knowing enemy realized there was being progress -- progress was being made, and they want to stop it. Isn't it interesting, to determine the mind-set of people who would want to stop the advance of a free society? Those are people we need to take seriously in this world.
Many of the spectacular bombings you see are inspired and done by al Qaeda. As General Petraeus said, public enemy number one in Iraq is al Qaeda; public enemy number one in the United States of America is al Qaeda. We must defeat al Qaeda there so we don't have to face them here. (Applause.)
As you know, last fall, I made a decision about how we should conduct our affairs in Iraq. I had to choose between allowing the sectarian violence that was beginning to get out of hand to continue to foster, or whether or not to put in more U.S. troops to try to quell that sectarian violence, to give this young democracy and its leaders a chance to make the decisions necessary for its society to move forward.
Now, I want to tell you -- I want to share why I made the decision I made. I believe that if we allowed the sectarian violence to rage in that young democracy, it could create chaos, not only in the capital, but throughout the country. I was deeply concerned that chaos would create a security vacuum into which radical extremist elements would flow, many of which would have been fueled by outside forces. I was concerned that the chaos could spill out into other countries and destabilize governments. I was concerned that the message it would send to a country like Iran was that the United States of America couldn't be counted on. I was concerned that moderate people all throughout the Middle East would say, the United States doesn't keep its word. I was concerned that the enemy that wants to strike us again would be emboldened and would find more recruits. I was concerned that the chaos would be exactly what the enemy wants. And so I made a decision to put more troops in, as opposed to retreat. (Applause.)
And I believe this: No matter what the opinions of people in Washington may be, when we've got our troops in harm's way, they need all the support, they need all the support they can get from the U.S. government. (Applause.)
This is hard work, but it is necessary work for the security of this country. What happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home. And I understand how hard it is. But I'll tell you what, this is an amazing country when we produce men and women who fully understand the stakes of serving in the United States military in a time of danger. I am constantly amazed that people raise their right hand to wear the uniform of America, to do what is necessary to protect us. (Applause.) And I am proud to be their Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
You know, I tell people that one of the startling aspects of my presidency has been that one of my really best friends as President was the Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi. I find it interesting -- he was such a good friend, remember we went down to Elvis's place. (Laughter.) In Memphis. And we had a wonderful trip, and by the way, his replacement, Prime Minister Abe is a good friend, too.
Isn't it amazing that my dad and many of your relatives fought the Japanese as a sworn enemy? Right there is one. Isn't that interesting -- George H.W. Bush, young Navy fighter pilot, put his life on the line, along with a lot of other good folks, to fight the Japanese in a really bloody conflict. And some 60 years later, his son sits at the table with the Prime Minister of the former enemy, talking about helping this young democracy in Iraq survive, talking about making sure the leader of North Korea doesn't get a nuclear weapon, talking about keeping the peace. (Applause.)
Liberty has got the capacity to transform troubled regions into peaceful regions. It has got the capacity to help enemies become allies. In order to defeat the ideologues that murder the innocent to achieve their objectives, there must be an alternative ideology available, and we've got one for the world and it's called freedom. (Applause.)
I firmly believe we'll succeed in doing the hard work if we do not lose our nerve. I believe -- I firmly believe that the decisions I have made not only will help secure this country from further attack, but will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. I don't want it to be said, when the chaos were to spill out, and the nuclear arms race may occur in the Middle East, that people will look back and say, what happened to them in the year 2007? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? I'm prepared to continue to lead this nation, and will lead this nation, for the next 20 months, to make sure that we do the hard work necessary to secure this country from attack. (Applause.)
Our foreign policy, though, is much more than just military action and kinetic action in dealing with an enemy. Our foreign policy is one based upon the premise and the principle, to whom much is given, much is required. Today in the Rose Garden I talked about the great compassion of our American citizens when I announced that we were going to double our program to deal with HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa. (Applause.) You ask, why would you do that, Mr. President? And the reason why it matters to help ease the suffering around the world is what happens overseas matters to the security of the United States of America. Where you find disease and hunger and poverty, you find despair. And the danger is that despair could turn into extremism and radicalism, to the point where people would be willing to come and kill to achieve political objectives.
I am so proud of the United States of America. I don't know if you know this or not, but three years ago 50,000 people were receiving anti-retroviral drugs on the continent of Africa, thousands were dying and a generation was in the process of being wiped out. And today, because of your generosity, 1.1 million people receive anti-retroviral drugs, and we intend to double that number. (Applause.) The soul of America is enriched when we help those who need help. Whether it be feeding the hungry, or fighting malaria, or dealing with HIV/AIDs, the United States of America is in the lead. (Applause.)
And we're also the leader in the industrialized world when it comes to economic growth. This economy of the United States of America is strong. (Applause.) The unemployment rate is low; it's low in a state like New Jersey. We're adding new jobs. Inflation is down. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. People are investing. People are making a living in this country.
You know, it wouldn't necessarily have been that way -- you might remember the short-term economic history of the United States. A recession set in, in 2001. We had those terrorist attacks, which, of course, you remember here in New Jersey, vividly remember, which affected our economy. We had corporate scandals. We had a lot of hurdles in the way of economic vitality. But I think I made a decision that affected the economic future of the country when I worked with the United States Congress to cut the taxes on everybody who paid taxes in the United States. (Applause.)
The best way to keep this economy strong is to let you keep more of your own money in your pocket. (Applause.) If you're interested in small business growth, you let our small businesses keep money -- more of the money they earn. (Applause.) If you want investment, you incent investment by cutting the taxes on investment. (Applause.) If you want a family to do well, you keep the child credit high. If you want to make sure you get -- if you want marriage, you get rid of the marriage penalty. In other words, if you want the American people to do better, you cut the taxes, is what you do. (Applause.)
And that's exactly what we did. And now guess what's happening? The rhetoric in Washington is beginning to shift, as you know, and the Congress changed hands. And they submitted a budget up there.
THE PRESIDENT: They submitted a new budget. And it's a throw back to the old days. They said, we need more of your money, and therefore, oh, we're just going to tax a few of you. But that's not the way it works in Washington, D.C. You can't save their appetite for spending your money. The bunch in power in Congress now wants to raise your taxes as much as they possibly can because they think they can spend your money better than you can.
THE PRESIDENT: And that is why it's important for us to make sure those tax cuts we passed are permanent. (Applause.)
Oh, I know, look, you'll hear the same tired rhetoric. Listen, we got to balance the budget by raising your taxes. But we've shown it is possible to balance the budget by keeping taxes low, keeping our economy strong, and being wise about how we spend your money.
You might remember, a while ago, I said we're going to cut the deficit in half over a period of time. Well, we did so quicker than anticipated -- three years quicker. And now we've submitted a new budget that shows how you can balance the budget by keeping taxes low, within five years. And here's the logic, and here's the reason behind such a philosophy: Low taxes encourages economic growth. Economic growth, it turns out causes there to be more tax revenues coming into the treasury. More tax revenues in the treasury means you have more money to offset spending.
So when you're wise about spending and you keep taxes low, growing the economy, so we've got the revenues to spend, you end up balancing the budget. We've got plenty of money in Washington, D.C. We need more money in your pockets so this economy continues to grow. (Applause.)
And I believe that if our candidates run on strong national defense and strong security, and I believe if our candidates say, we trust you to make your health care decisions, or we trust you to make rational decisions for your family, and we trust you with your own money, we'll keep the White House in 2008, that we can retake the statehouses across the country, and we can retake -- retake the Congress. Our philosophy is hopeful. Our philosophy is optimistic. And we have shown over this last six years, our philosophy works, for the good of the American people. (Applause.)
So that's what I've come to share with you. I hope out of this talk, you get a sense for my optimism about America's future. (Applause.) I believe there is no problem we can't solve when we put our mind to it. I believe that we are a country of determined, fine people, who are willing to do the hard work necessary to grow this economy and, at the same time, protect our country. I believe there are better days ahead for the American people.
I am proud to lead you. I am proud you're here. May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 6:33 P.M. EDT