|For Immediate Release|
Office of the Press Secretary
October 31, 2002
Remarks by the President at Indiana Welcome
South Bend Regional Airport
South Bend, Indiana
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I'm glad I came. (Applause.) I'm glad I came back. (Applause.) The last time I was here, the Fighting Irish were 1-0. (Applause.) This time, they're 8-0. (Applause.) Seems like you ought to keep inviting me back. (Applause.) I know this for sure, the next time I come back, with your help, Chris Chocola is going to be the next United States congressman. (Applause.)
I'm traveling this country, and I can tell you, the American spirit is alive and well. The spirit of people understanding that to be an American means you've got to serve something greater than yourself. The spirit of America says that we're willing to sacrifice for our freedoms. And the spirit of America says that you take nothing in democracy for granted. You see, if you're eligible to vote, you have an obligation to vote. That's what the spirit of America calls for. (Applause.)
You have an obligation to our country, you have an obligation to democracy itself. So I'm here to -- in South Bend to urge Republicans and Democrats and independents, people who don't care about political parties, to do your duty, and to go to the polls; to assume your responsibility as an American, and go to the polls. And by the way, I've got a suggestion when you get in there, Chris Chocola is the right man for the job. (Applause.)
I want to thank Congressman Steve Buyer for being here -- thanks for coming, Steve -- I want to thank Mark Souder for coming -- two of the fine Congressmen in the United States Congress for joining us. I want to thank those who are running statewide, the candidates who are up here with us who are out asking for your vote. I want to thank Todd Rokita, running for secretary of state. I want to thank Connie Nass, running for auditor. And I want to thank Tim Berry, who's running for state treasurer. I want to thank them for their dedication to the great state of Indiana, and I want to thank you for your service to your community. (Applause.)
I want to say something about Sarah, the next congressman's wife. (Applause.) I appreciate her taking on this task. I know something about what it takes to put a family through a political process. It requires a strong partner, somebody who believes in the country as much as the candidate does. And I'm here to tell you Sarah Chocola is going to be a great congressman's wife. (Applause.)
And speaking about great wives, Laura sends her love and she sends her best. (Applause.) She's doing great. A lot of people in the country now understand why I asked her to marry me. A lot of them are still wondering why she said yes. (Laughter.) But she's learned she makes a huge difference in the lives of our citizens. She cares deeply about the capacity of every child in America to read. She is a fabulous First Lady, and she is -- (applause).
I want to thank all the good folks here who are active in the political process, you call grassroots activists. Those are the people who are willing to put up the signs, the people willing to make the phone calls, the people who can really determine the outcome of an election. I want to thank you for what you have done, and I want to thank you for what you're going to do Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday, and that is find the good folks in this community who want good government and get them to vote for Chris Chocola next Tuesday. (Applause.)
You can make a difference in the campaign. You can actually determine the outcome. So when you go to your houses of worship or your coffee shops or your community centers, put out the word. And remember there are some discerning Democrats who live up here, people who know the difference between a shrill voice and a solid voice. (Applause.) There are good independents up here, people who want somebody to represent them who will bring honor and dignity to the office. There are people who understand it makes sense to have somebody who has been an entrepreneur serving in the United States Congress, somebody who has actually met a payroll, somebody who knows what it means to put people to work and to take risks. (Applause.)
So when you're putting out the word, don't just keep it narrowed to just a few. Put out the good word that you've got a good man running for the United States Congress. And if it helps, you tell them the President wants him standing by his side in Washington, D.C., too. (Applause.) I need somebody from this district whose vote I can count on. I don't need to be worrying about somebody who's running a focus group or a poll. I need a solid United States congressman up there, who will support me in making America a stronger and safer and better place for every citizen. (Applause.)
In order to make sure America is a better place, we need to do something about our economy. We had some good news today. We had some good news today. The third quarter was -- showed positive growth. And that's positive. That's good news. We're making progress. But so long as somebody's looking for work and can't find a job, says to me we've got a problem. And I need people in the Congress who understand how to create jobs. The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which the small business can grow to be the big business, in which the entrepreneur can flourish. (Applause.)
And part of creating that environment means to understand how the tax code works. If you want your small businessperson to flourish, you let them keep more of their own money. (Applause.) If 70 percent of new jobs are created by small business owners, seems like it makes sense to me, if you're worried about job creation, to let the small business person have more money in their pocket, so they can reinvest, so people can find work.
Here's what we believe. If you let a person have more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a service. And when they demand a good or a service in the marketplace, somebody is going to produce the good or service. And when somebody produces the good or service, somebody is more likely to find work. The tax relief plan we passed happened at the right time. I need a congressman who will join me in making the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
A good, strong America is an America that's got a good education system. I appreciate Chris' vision on education. We share the same vision. We want to have high standards for every child. We believe in local control of schools. We're going to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations and we're going to hold people to account. See, if you believe every child can learn like we do, then it makes sense to start asking the fundamental question, can every child read and write and add and subtract. And if so, I promise you we'll praise the teachers. And for the teachers out there, thanks for what you do. But you'd better have you a congressman who understands that when you find children trapped in schools that won't teach and won't change, you've got to challenge the status quo. No child should be left behind in the state of Indiana. (Applause.)
Chris understands that we must keep our commitments, must keep our commitments on Social Security, and must keep our commitments on Medicare. See, medicine has changed, it's modern. Medicare isn't. (Laughter.) Medicare -- medicine is, with new technologies and new discoveries, is advancing. Medicare is stuck in the past. In order to modernize Medicare -- I look forward to working with Chris to do so -- and a modern Medicare system includes prescription drugs for every senior. (Applause.)
No, there's a lot we can do together. But the most important job we're going to have to do together is to make sure that our homeland is protected, is to secure the homeland from further enemy attacks. (Applause.) No, we'll work on the economy together and we'll work to make sure every child is educated, we'll make sure the health care system is relevant. There's a lot we can do. But our number one priority will be to protect you, because there's an enemy out there which hates America. They hate what we stand for. And we're not changing what we stand for. We love freedom. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: USA, USA!
THE PRESIDENT: And we've got to be realistic about it. We've got to be clear-eyed. We need somebody from this district who will be realistic about the threats we face. See, we can't just hope for the best in the new world we live in. We can't see the world the way we would wish it would be. We've got to see the world the way it really is. And it's a dangerous world. There's still an enemy that lurks out there that -- they're killers. That's the only way I can describe them. They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. And so we've got to do everything we can here at home to protect you.
And we are. There's a lot of good folks at the federal level and the state level and the local level working hard -- listen, any time -- we understand the stakes now, and any time somebody is thinking about doing something to America, and somehow we're reading their thoughts, or reading their mail, we're moving on them. We're disrupting them. We're denying them. We absolutely refuse to let these terrorists have their way. We're going to do everything we can to shut down -- to shut down their capacity to hurt us.
And that's why I went to Congress and asked them to help -- join me in creating a department of homeland security. It seemed like to me that when you've got over 100 agencies in Washington, D.C. involved with the homeland security, that you ought to focus their attention with one agency so that we can set a clear priority, and if need be, change cultures within these agencies so that the direction is clear and the priorities are clear. And the United States House of Representatives joined in my quest to have a department that would function well, but it's stuck in the Senate. See, it got stuck in the Senate before they went home to campaign. They couldn't get it out because they were trying to extract too high a price from me. They wanted me to give up a right that every President has had since John F. Kennedy, the right and the capacity to suspend certain work rules in the name of national security.
In other words, if the Senate had their way, I would have the capacity to be able to -- I would have more flexibility with the Department of Agriculture to deal with national security concerns than I would with the new department of homeland security. Here we are at war, and they want to take away the capacity for the President to be able to better protect the American people. I need to be able to move the right people to the right place at the right time to protect you, and I'm not going to accept a lousy bill out of the United Nations Senate. (Applause.)
I'm here to tell you the best way to protect America is to hunt the killers down, one at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.) And that's what we're going to do. That's what we're going to do. I need somebody in Congress who is a cold-eyed realist, who understands the stakes. Somebody who understands that history has called our country into action. We've got to protect the future for our children. And therefore, the best way to do that is to get on the hunt, and not tire, stay steady and strong.
I went to the Congress and asked them to give me a good defense bill, and fortunately, they did. It's the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. There's two messages in that bill. There's two messages I want to send to the world: One, any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) We owe that to our troops, and we owe that to the loved ones of our troops.
And by the way, for those of you who have got relatives in the military, you can tell them this: I'm confident in their abilities; I'm proud of their service; and we're going to use them to win the war on terror. (Applause.)
And the second message that we delivered with the defense bill is that we're in this deal for the long haul. See, there's not a calendar on my desk in the Oval Office that says, by such and such a date we're quitting. That's not America. When it comes to the defense of our freedom, when it comes from doing our duty to future generations of America, there is no quit in America. It doesn't matter how long it takes, my fellow Americans, it doesn't matter what the cost, we will defend the freedom of the United States of America. (Applause.)
And we're making progress. Sometimes it's hard to tell we're making progress. Some of the old vets will tell you, in the old days, you could measure progress by the number of tanks you destroyed, or the number of enemy aircraft that were shot down out of the sky. This bunch we're fighting, they don't have tanks. They're the kind who hide in caves, kind of move around the dark corners of some of the cities in the world, and then send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. That's the kind of people they are.
See, there's a huge difference between us and them. They don't value life; we value life. We say every life is precious, everybody counts, everybody in the whole world has got worth. (Applause.) But we're after them. It doesn't matter how dark the cave is, or what corner of the world they're trying to hide in; we're after them, one at a time. That's the way this war is going to be fought, and that's the way it's going to be won.
We've got a lot of good folks working with us, because the doctrine still stands, either you're with us, or you're with the enemy. (Applause.) Slowly but surely, we're dismantling them. And it's going to take a while, it just is going to take a while. We've probably hauled in a couple of thousand of them; like number weren't as lucky. In either case, these groups are not threats to us. The other day a guy popped up, and he was going to be the 20th hijacker. He popped his head up; he's not a problem to the United States of America. Slowly but surely, we're hauling them in.
It's important to be realistic about the threats we face. It's important to understand it's a dangerous world. It's also important to understand the stakes have changed since September the 11th. When I was a youngster -- kind of when I was an older guy, too -- we thought oceans could protect us. That's what we thought. If there was a conflict or a threat to overseas, we had the luxury, because of two great oceans, to pick and choose our fights. If we wanted to help, we would; if it was a direct threat, we could decide -- if there was an indirect threat, we could decide to get involved, not -- but oceans protected us.
That's changed. And America must understand that has changed. And therefore, threats that, in the past, may not have seemed overly significant all of a sudden become significant, like the threat to America in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a threat to our country. He can't stand what we believe in. He doesn't like America; he doesn't like our friends. He's a man who told the world he would have no weapons of mass destruction, and yet, he does. And not only that, he's used weapons of mass destruction. He's used them against his neighbors, and he's used them against his own people.
For 11 years, he's deceived and denied the world, and he's a threat. He's a threat. If he were to team up, like we think he's trying to do, with one of these terrorist networks, he would be able to use a weapon of mass destruction on America and leave no fingerprints behind. We've got to be clear-eyed about our responsibilities and the threats we face.
So I went to the United Nations. See, I hope that body can be effective to deal with the new threats that we face, that freedom-loving people face. I told them that for 16 resolutions this guy has ignored you, and we want you to be successful. We want you to be able to keep the peace, so do something about it. We also sent the message to Saddam Hussein -- I'm saying it again right now -- you said you wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction; disarm. Do what you said you would do.
But if the United States won't act, won't fulfill their responsibilities to keep the peace, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm -- their choices, by the way -- the United States of America, in the name of peace and in the name of freedom, will lead a coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
And I believe, by remaining strong and tough and firm, that we can achieve peace. You've just got to know, amongst all the talk about getting them and war and all that, that my vision is for a peaceful world. And I believe we can achieve it; I do. It requires this country to be steady and resolved. It requires us to remember that freedom isn't an American gift, it's God-given. It's got to remember the values that we hold dear of being steady and resolved.
The evil done to America, the evil done to this country is going to yield some incredible good, I believe. Not only abroad can we achieve peace, I mean in parts of the world where they've quit on peace. Remember, we believe everybody has worth, everybody counts, everybody matters. We want children to grow up in a peaceful world.
That's why, when we went into Afghanistan, we went in not as conquerors, but as liberators. And thanks to the United States of America, many young girls now go to school for the first time. Those values we hold dear are important values. (Applause.) Everybody counts.
And here at home we can have a better America, as well. See, while we worked for our security and safety, we can also work to make sure this country is a better place for everybody. There are pockets of despair in America. Amongst our plenty, people hurt, people are lonely, people need help. And the role of government is a limited role. We can hand out money, which we do -- sometimes we're pretty good at it. We can repair systems when they're broken. But what government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts, or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That happens when a fellow American puts their arm around somebody in need and says, I love you, I love you.
You know, I don't know what was going through the enemy's mind when they hit us. They probably thought that the national religion was materialism; that we were so self-absorbed and selfish, that after 9/11, we'd take a step back and maybe file a lawsuit or two. They just didn't understand. They didn't understand our strength, our resolve, that when it comes to freedom, we're plenty strong. But when it comes to compassion, we're really decent people. (Applause.)
No, I believe out of the evil done to America can come a country in which the American Dream is known to everybody who lives here; in which people who hurt can find salvation and hope. Today I had the honor of meeting Dick McCloskey. He's a man who lost a daughter on 9/11 in New York. He's a man, and along with his family, has dedicated himself to work at the Center for the Homeless. He's a guy who knows what I know, that we can change America, one heart, one soul at a time; and that each of us has a responsibility -- each of us has a responsibility as an American to help people in need.
The American spirit is more than just keeping the peace and defending the homeland. The American spirit was embodied on Flight 93, that day when people were flying across the country. They heard the plane was going to be a weapon; they told their loved ones good-bye. They said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll." They drove the plane in the ground, to serve something greater than themselves in life. (Applause.)
That's the American spirit, serving something greater than yourself. No, the enemy had no idea; when they attacked us, they attacked the greatest nation, full of the finest people on the face of this Earth.
Thank you for your concern about our country. Thank you for supporting Chris. May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)