George W. Bush
Remarks by the President at Iowa Welcome
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you all. So I couldn't think of a better place to roll over in my bed and -- (laughter) -- and say to Laura, happy birthday. Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a great place. (Applause.) I want to thank you all for coming. Old Jim Leach said, if you come by we may be able to get a couple of our friends over early in the morning before election day. I said, all right, I'll come. (Laughter.) He's always understated things. (Laughter.)
President George W. Bush waves to the crowd after addressing the Iowa Welcome in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Monday, Nov. 4. White House photo by Eric Draper I really do appreciate coming out so early in the morning. It shows your concern for our democracy. Laura and I are working our way home. I'll be voting in Crawford, Texas tomorrow morning, and so will she. I'm not undecided. (Applause.) I'm here to urge the good folks of Iowa from all political parties to vote. See, we have a duty as Americans to support our democracy. We have an obligation as citizens of this free land to exercise our right to express ourselves in the voting booths. We have that obligation. I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, or could care less about political party, you have an obligation to America. Part of the American spirit is the participation by our citizens.
But when you get in that voting booth here in Iowa, I've got some suggestions for you. (Applause.) Jim Leach is the right man for the United States Congress. (Applause.) Doug Gross is the right man to be your governor. (Applause.) Greg Ganske is the right man to represent you in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
We've got two other candidates -- three other candidates here today: Running for Congress, a good man named Jim Nussle; Tom Latham and Stan Thompson -- they're all running and they're good folks, good, honorable folks. (Applause.)
So I want to thank you all for coming. I particularly want to say thanks to the senior Senator from Iowa, Mr. Chuck Grassley. (Applause.) I remember traveling the state with Chuck; he knows everybody. (Laughter.) We're driving along, he says, that's where the old Jones house is. He said, I shook their hand 10 years ago. (Laughter.) He not only does a great job here in Iowa, he does a fantastic job in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) And it makes sense to send another senator up there with whom he can work and with whom I can work, and that senator is Greg Ganske. (Applause.)
Ganske is leading a lot of issues. He's leading on his medical issues that are going to make a big difference in people's lives. He's for patients bill of rights; he's for modernizing Medicare. He wants to make sure the Iowa seniors are treated fairly. He's a doctor. He's a compassionate soul. He's the kind of person with whom I can work. And there's a lot of issues I need to work on in the United States Senate.
Perhaps one of the most crucial issues is the judiciary. (Applause.) It's a defining issue as far as I'm concerned. It's a fundamental issue. And we've got a problem because the leadership in the Senate has done a lousy job with my nominees. (Applause.) And the problem is there's a vacancy gap in America, there's a problem on the bench. We can't get our nominees through the Senate. They're playing needless politics with them. And in some cases, they're distorting their records. They don't like my nominees because I'm putting good, honorable people up there who will not use the bench from which to legislate, but will use the bench to strictly interpret the United States Constitution. (Applause.)
I know I can count on Greg, just like I've been counting on Chuck Grassley's support. I hope you send him to the Senate. It's in the best interest of this state, it's in the best interest of our country that Greg Ganske represent us in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
Congressional District 1 is represented by Nussle. He's the Chairman of the Budget Committee. I can't imagine anybody in their right mind getting rid of a chairman. It doesn't make any sense. Maybe I'm missing something when some Iowa citizens say it makes sense to get rid of powerful chairmen. That's not the politics I remember. It seems like to me that when you've got somebody in an important position that could help their district and help their state, you want to keep them there -- particularly somebody -- (applause) -- particularly somebody like Nussle, who is doing a fantastic job. (Applause.)
See, Jim and I understand this. We're not spending the government's money in Washington, D.C. As the Chairman of the Budget Committee, it's important to have somebody who understands, it's the people's money we spent. (Applause.) And we better have people watch the people's money. Nussle is a good man, who deserves to be reelected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
And then there's Tom Latham, out of the 4th Congressional District. I know him well. I've worked closely with him on a lot key issues related to the citizens of Iowa. He's been strong about making sure our communities are drug-fee and are safe. He understands that -- like the other members up here -- we got to work together to keep the commitments of Social Security. He's the right man for Congressional District 4. He's done a fantastic job in the past. There's no doubt in my mind he'll continue that tradition of excellence. Tom Latham deserves to be reelected to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Stan Thompson is running from the 3rd; he's with us today. Stan is a good, young, bright star of the Republican Party. He's got him an uphill climb, he's got a tough race. I walked on the stage, he looked me right in the eye, and he said, Mr. President, if we turn out the vote, I'm go to the United States Congress. (Applause.) And I appreciate you being here, Stan. I'm honored that you're here. I appreciate the fact that you're running. And I'm going to take you for -- your word for it. I look forward to working with you.
And then from the 5th Congressional District, is Steve King -- state Senator Steve King. Nothing -- you can't take anything for granted in politics, but I'll bet -- well, I shouldn't bet anything. (Laughter.) I'm looking forward -- let me put it to you this way -- I'm looking forward to working with the man in the United States Congress. (Applause.) He's run a great campaign. I appreciate him coming.
One thing I certainly know something about is what it takes to be a good governor. I understand the role of governor in a state. The governor must set some priorities. You can't try to be all things to all people -- can't try to promise everybody everything with the people's money; otherwise you can't control your budget. You got to have the courage to set priority. Doug Gross knows how to do that. He understands how to set clear priorities so that your money isn't wasted; so that your money is focused; so you don't have these kind of endless budget crises that you try to blame on somebody else. You need somebody who can manage the budget as your governor. (Applause.)
You also got to have somebody who will set education as the number one priority. (Applause.) Iowa's got a good reputation in it's schools. Better make sure you got a governor who keeps that reputation strong by challenging the status quo when it needs to be challenged -- by praising teachers when you find excellence, but demanding excellence for every single child in Iowa is absolutely essential with your next governor. You've got to have a governor who is not beholden to the special interests that tend to capture the statehouses. You've got to have a governor, when it comes to education, who's got one interest in mind. And that's the schoolchildren and their parents of the state of Iowa. (Applause.) And that person is Doug Gross. He'll make you a fine governor for the state of Iowa. I look forward to working with him. (Applause.)
No, I appreciate all the grassroots activists who are here, the party chairman, Chuck, and all the people who are working hard to turn out the vote; all the people who are manning the phones and putting up the signs. See, these elections, they're kind of tight. And a tight election means you can have a tremendous influence on who wins. So Laura and I are here today to thank you for what you have done, and more importantly, thank you for what you're going to do, today and tomorrow, to get people to the polls, to turn them out, to not only encourage them to vote, but encourage them to vote for the right person.
And don't be afraid to -- talking to Democrats. There's some discerning Democrats who know the difference between lousy government and good government. And they want good government. (Applause.) Make sure you find those independent souls who are looking for good, honorable people. And there's nobody more honorable in this race than Jim Leach. (Applause.) He's a breath of fresh air in Washington, D.C. He's so honest, he squeaks. (Laughter.) He's an independent thinker. But when he thinks he's profound in thought. He's not the typical person that you think would be in politics.
I can't imagine anybody in their right mind in Congressional District 2 putting this man out of office. I don't understand the thinking. Not only do I not understand the thinking about why you would turn back somebody who is full of integrity and decency and courage of his convictions, but also turn back another chairman. This man has worked hard in the Congress to build up -- put himself in a position where he can influence policy in a positive way. He's the kind of man you want representing you in Congress because you can turn to your kids and say, I'm proud of Jim Leach, I'm proud of how he handles himself. (Applause.)
And so I hope you go turn out that vote in this Congressional District 2. It's important. And when he wins you can take great satisfaction in knowing you had a big hand in influencing the outcome of this election.
And there's some reasons why I'm here. I want some allies in Congress to work with on key issues. Not only am I here because I understand the character of the people that are represented on this stage, but we've got some key issues ahead of us. Of course, we've got a -- our economy is kind of bumping along. It's not as strong as it should be. It's bumping and bumping. And therefore, some people can't find work, and when they can't find work it says to me we got a problem. The best way to help people find work -- and this is a fundamental difference of philosophy -- is to let people keep more of their own money.
See, when you have more money in your pocket, when more of your own money -- (applause) -- I want you to remember this fundamental economic fact, that when you've got more money in your own pocket, you're likely to demand a good or a service. And when you demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody in Iowa or somebody around America is more likely to find work. The best way to encourage job growth is to let you keep your own money. And therefore, I need people in the Senate and the House of Representatives who will make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
I don't know what they're saying here in these campaigns, but I'm beginning to hear that echo around the country that says, well, we might ought to revisit the tax relief. That's code word, that's Washington, D.C. speak for I'm fixing to get back into your pocket. The worst thing for economic vitality and jobs is to increase your taxes. And these members up here on the stage are going to work with me to make sure that the tax relief is permanent and real and you can plan on it. (Applause.)
Good economic policy means good farm policy. And I look forward to working with these members on good farm policy. We took a step toward good farm policy by opening up markets for Iowa growers. Iowa farmers are the best in the world, they're the most productive in the world. (Applause.) And if you're the best in the world, you want to have a chance to sell your product all around the world. And I want to thank these members up here, all the members of Congress -- and Ganske, soon to be in the Senate; of course, Chuck Grassley -- for joining together to grant the President the capacity to open up markets for Iowa farmers. It's important to do that.
It's also important to continue to promote ethanol, which I will do, and work with these members to promote ethanol. (Applause.) And there's another cutting-edge issue when it comes to farmers, people who own the land, and that's the death tax. See, people talking about the family farm -- a lot of people have to give up their farms prematurely in order to pay the government -- twice. First pay them if they ever make any money; then they pay them on the value of their assets when they die. It's bad for farmers. It's bad for the agriculture community. The death tax is running too many people off their farms too early. The death tax is bad for small business owners who want to leave their assets to somebody they choose, not to the federal government. A key issue in this campaign is are we going to get rid of the death tax once and for all. I'm for it; these members are for it; and you should be for it. (Applause.)
I'm looking forward to working with these folks on good education policy. Thanks to the members up here, we're sending a record amount of federal money back to Iowa schools. And I want to thank them for that help. I want to thank Leach and Nussle and Latham and Greg Ganske and Chuck Grassley for working hard on behalf of the citizens of this state. But I want you to remember, for the first time in our state's history -- our country's history and your state's history -- we're saying, we want something in return for the money. See, we're going to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations.
We believe every child can learn. We're going to set high standards. We believe in local control of schools. But in return for excess -- additional federal money, we want us to -- we want you to show us and show everybody else whether or not every child in this state is learning. And when they are, we'll praise the teachers. But we refuse to accept schools which won't teach and won't change. No child should be left behind in the state of Iowa. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with these members for good health policy. Make no mistake about it, they're leading the charge in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to make sure that the Medicare system works. Oh, the others talk a good game, but they haven't delivered. The House of Representatives, controlled -- led by Lenny Hastert, passed a prescription drug benefit, and yet it can't get out of the Senate. There's a lot of good talkers in Washington. We need doers.
The Medicare issue is an important issue. It's an important issue for Iowa for two reasons: One, the formulas need to be fair for the Iowa citizens, and these members are working to make the formulas fair. And secondly, medicine has changed. Medicine is modern. Things have changed in the medical world. Technology has changed. There's new discoveries which make it easier for people to become healthy. And, yet, Medicare is stuck in the past, Medicare hasn't changed. It's been so politically driven, nothing can get done. These members can get it unstuck. They can help me modernize Medicare, which means prescription drug benefits for our senior citizens. (Applause.)
And, finally, I look forward to working with these members, and it's -- up there on the biggest issue we face, which is your protection. See, that's the number one issue. So long as there's an enemy out there lurking around, our biggest responsibility is to protect our homeland; it's to do everything we can to protect innocent life from nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers, people who hate us because of what we love. See, we love freedom. We love the idea that people can worship freely in America. We love the fact people can speak their mind. We love a free press. We love every aspect about freedom, and we're not changing. (Applause.)
They're out there, and they're out there moving around. But we got the message, and therefore, there's a lot of good people working hard to protect you. Any time we get any lead, any hint of evidence that somebody might be thinking about doing something, we're moving on it. We're disrupting, we're denying, we're working long hours to protect the American people. And that's the way it should be.
But we can do a better job. That's why I asked the Congress to join me in the creation of the department of homeland security, where we can get all the -- bunch up these people that are involved with your protection into one agency, so there's one culture, one priority, and that's your protection; so that the good people at the federal level understand what the new rules are -- the rules of the game in our world. And the rules are, we got to do everything we can to protect you. It's changed. The nature of our life has changed. And we've got to change with it.
The House of Representatives, thanks to the members up here, voted a good piece of legislation out, which I can say will give me the capacity to be able to manage this organization and protect you. The bill is stuck in the Senate because the Senate wants me to give up power that Presidents have had for 40 years. And that power is the capacity for a President to suspend some collective bargaining rules for the sake of national security.
In other words, if there are rules involved that prevent me from putting the right people at the right place at the right time for your protection, I ought to be able to suspend those rules. I ought to be able to do what it takes to protect you. But the Senate has a lousy version. They're more interested in special interests, which dominate the dialogue in Washington, D.C., than they are in protecting the American people. I refuse to accept a lousy bill, and I need senators like Grassley and Ganske to support the creation of a department of homeland security which will work. (Applause.)
Now, there's a good, honest debate on this issue. But we can't have a big, thick of bureaucratic rules preventing this President and future Presidents from doing whatever it takes to keep the homeland secure. The best way to secure this homeland is to stay on the hunt, to get this enemy on the run and to bring them to justice, which is exactly what this country is going to do. (Applause.)
You got to understand it's a different kind of war. In the old days, we blew up tanks and airplanes, and everybody said, well, they're making progress. These folks we're after hide in caves; they send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. They don't -- they don't value life like we do. See, in this country, we say everybody matters, everybody is precious, everybody counts, every life counts. These people are willing to take innocent life in the name of a great religion.
Not only do I want you to remember September the 11th, but I want you to think about Indonesia, and the attack on our Marines in Kuwait, the attack on a French freighter. I mean, they're out there. And the only way to deal with them -- and by the way, I've come to the conclusion, and I hope you have, that therapy is not going to work. (Laughter and applause.) So we're chasing them down. We're chasing them down. We're making good progress. Slowly but surely, we're dismantling that terrorist network.
I went to the Congress and asked for the biggest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was President. I want to thank the members up here for their support. No question where they stand. No question where they -- they believe that I believe that any time we put our troops into harm's way, these youngsters deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)
And also -- also our message is real firm to friend and foe, alike: It doesn't matter how long it takes to defend freedom, we're going to defend freedom. It just doesn't matter. There's not a calendar on my desk in the Oval Office that says, such and such a date, we're quitting. That's not how I think. That's not how these members think. See, history has called us into action. We have an obligation to future generations of Americans. And we're not going to forsake that obligation. And it doesn't matter -- it doesn't matter how long it takes. (Applause.) It doesn't matter how deep the cave, the United States of America -- (applause) -- the United States of America with a great United States military and a strong alliance for freedom, will work hard all of the time to protect the homeland and protect our freedoms. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA, USA, USA, USA!
THE PRESIDENT: It's important -- it is important for us to be realistic about the threats to our country. Times have changed. Used to be oceans could protect us, and therefore, we could see a gathering threat and maybe deal with it, or maybe not. Used to be we could be quite confident in our capacity to protect our homeland because we never thought an enemy could make it to our shore. And we learned a tough lesson. We did. And, therefore, it's important for all of us in elective office to be clear-eyed about the threats we face; to see the world exactly the way it is, not the way we wish it would be. In order to protect America from current threats and future threats, we've got to be cold-eyed realists. And that's why I brought up the issue of Saddam Hussein.
See, I view him as a serious threat to America. I see him as a threat to our country because I understand his hatred toward America, and equally important, his hatred toward our friends in the Middle East. This is a man who has deceived the world for 11 long years. He said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction; he's got them. We know for a fact he was close to having a nuclear weapons at one time. We don't know how close he is today because he has stiff-armed the United Nations.
We not only know he's got chemical weapons, but incredibly enough he's used chemical weapons. He's used them in his neighborhood, he's used them on his own people. This is a man who has got terrorist connections, who would like nothing more than to provide -- be the arsenal and the training grounds for these cold-blooded killers. And they could attack us and he would leave no fingerprints behind. He's a threat.
I went to the United Nations, I want to assure you, because I want the United Nations to be effective. I want it to work. I want this collection of body -- this body of countries to work together to make the country free, to promote the peace. The United Nations can be effective. But for 11 years and 16 resolutions, this man has defied the United Nations.
It's an historic moment as far as I'm concerned for the U.N. They can show the world whether or not they can work together to keep the peace, whether they be the United Nations, or whether they'll be the League of Nations, an ineffective debating society. And the choice is theirs.
And the choice is Saddam Hussein's, as well. For the sake of peace, he must disarm. He said he would disarm. But if he doesn't disarm, and if the United States cannot find the backbone necessary to assume its responsibilities, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of doing our obligations to our children, the United States will lead a coalition of nations to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
I believe -- I believe out of the evil done to America is going come some great good. I believe that. I can't imagine what was going through the mind of the enemy when they hit us. They said this country must have a religion called materialism; that we were so selfish, so self-absorbed, probably looking at ourselves in the mirror all the time; that all we would do after 9/11 2001 is step back and maybe file a lawsuit. That's what they thought.
They don't understand the determination and drive -- they don't understand the American spirit. I believe if we're -- remain strong and firm in our conviction, and clear in our thinking, if we don't forget our roots and remember that freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to the world -- (applause) -- if we stand true to our beliefs, we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace.
That's the vision of this government, is to achieve peace not only at home, but in parts of the world. See, every life matters to Americans. Everybody counts. Everybody is precious. Not just a few -- everyone. And we want peace for people all around the world. And we can achieve it. By staying the course and remaining strong, we can have peace not only for America, but for the Middle East and South Asia. It is possible. As a matter of fact, I believe it's going to happen.
And I know what's going to happen here at home -- we'll be a better society as a result of what's happened. A lot of people have taken a step back and kind of taken an assessment, an inventory of their lives, and realized that the American spirit says we've got serve something greater than ourself in life. Government can help, we'll help people in need. Listen, there are people who hurt in Iowa, and they hurt all around America. There's addiction and loneliness and hopelessness in this country. And if any of us hurt, we all hurt. And we've got to do something about it. And government will help. We'll all work together to try to help. But government is limited in its capacity. And that's what we know up here on this stage. Government can't put hope in people's hearts, or love in people's lives. (Applause.)
No, the best way to help bring light where there's darkness, to help people see a better tomorrow, is for the strength of the country to step forward. And the strength of the country is the heart and soul of American people. People are stepping around -- coming around, they're saying, what can I do to help? And they're putting their arm around somebody who hurts and says, I love you. There are mentors in this audience who are making a difference. There are Boy Scout leaders and Girl Scout leaders who are making a difference, and Boys' and Girls' Club leaders -- people who are working hard to change America one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
No, the enemy hit us. But out of the evil done to America is going to come some great good. There's going to be peace in the world, and we'll have a better tomorrow, a hope -- more hopeful America; an America where everybody understands the great promise of this country belongs to them just as much as to their neighbor.
You know, the American spirit means not only should we participate in the process, the democratic process, the America spirit says that when we're threatened, we respond. We defend our freedoms. We have an obligation to future generations. But the American spirit also says that we must serve something greater than ourself.
It was personified vividly to me -- I want the youngsters here to remember the story of Flight 93, people flying across the country that fateful day. They heard the airplane they were on was going to be used as a weapon. They told their loved ones good-bye. They said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves. The spirit of this country is strong and alive and well. And it allows me to boldly predict that we'll have a more peaceful world, and a more -- better America.
Thanks for coming. May God bless you. (Applause.)