The President. Thank you all very much. Thank you all. Glad I came.
Audience member. We are, too.
The President. Thanks for coming. "Governor," thanks for those kind, kind remarks. I'm proud to be—[applause]. I strongly stand with Mitt Romney because I believe he is the best person for the job of Governor of Massachusetts.
I say that I know that because I know his values. He's got his priorities straight: his faith, his family, and his State. And he's not going to waver from those priorities. They're etched in his heart.
He's got a record. He's done things in life. He started his own businesses. He's an entrepreneur. He knows how to create jobs at a time when you need somebody in Massachusetts who knows job creation.
He knows how to take a struggling organization and turn it around. He's done that recently. He's not one of these talkers that you find in the political arena. He's a doer. Just ask the folks—just ask the folks who were wondering whether or not the Olympics were going to go bankrupt. Ask them what happened when Mitt Romney showed up and brought some managerial skills and some vision and the ability to set priorities and the know-how how to set budgets and turned that organization around and made sure the Olympics in Salt Lake City were not only successful but profitable. It's the same kind of attitude you need here in your State budget in Massachusetts.
No, you've got the right man for the job here. You've got the right person for the job. And I want to thank you for backing him.
And I'm real proud of his wife, Ann. She'll be a great first lady for Massachusetts. She's a dedicated mom. She's looking forward to working hard with Mitt to do everything they can to help everybody in the State of Massachusetts, to help people get ahead in this State.
Mitt and I married above ourselves— [laughter]—in my case, by a long shot. [Laughter] Yes, I know. Laura sends her best to the Romneys, sends her love to our friends here. She is—I can't tell you how proud I am of her. You know, when I married her, she was a public school librarian in Texas. The truth of the matter is, she didn't like politics—[laughter]—nor did she like politicians. [Laughter] Now she's stuck with me. [Laughter]
But the American people have gotten to see why I asked her to marry me. She is steady. She's calm. She's—in my judgment, and I must confess it's not very objective—she's a class act. A lot of her buddies in Texas are wondering why she said yes to my proposal. [Laughter] But she sends her best.
I'm also honored to be here with the next Lieutenant Governor, Kerry Healey. I'm impressed by Kerry's know-how, her knowledge. She's a smart, smart lady, and she's going to make a great Lieutenant Governor.
You all have got a great team here, a great team to represent you. And so I want to thank you for coming. I want to thank those of you who are involved with grass-roots politics here in Massachusetts for what you have done and, more importantly, what you're going to do. See, you can't win a race unless you've got citizens willing to go to the coffee shops and the community centers, the churches and synagogues and mosques, and talk up good people when you find them. You've got two good ones here. And you owe it to them, in my judgment, for the sake of the future of your State, to do everything you can between now and election day to turn out the vote. The votes are there. They need your help in turning them out.
I appreciate the agenda of the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor. It starts with jobs. You've got to have you somebody in the Governor's office who can recruit, who knows the language of the entrepreneur, who understands how small businesses are created and function, in order to make sure that not only is the landscape here good for attracting jobs but he can recruit jobs.
See, you need somebody who knows what they're talking about when it comes to making sure the people of this important State can find work. And there's no question in my mind Mitt Romney knows what he's talking about. He knows—he knows capital. He knows entrepreneurship. He understands small-business creation.
The role of Government is not to create wealth. That's what other people might think. The role of Government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish, in which the small business can grow to be big business.
That's why he also is focusing on infrastructure, to make sure your transportation system is efficient, cost-effective, works well. [Laughter] It's an important part of making sure the environment for attracting jobs is competitive, and Mitt understands that.
But what I like best about him is, they understand—Mitt and Kerry understand— the number one priority of any State is the education of the children of the State. See, I used to say—I used to put it this way: Education is to a State what national defense is to the Federal Government. It's the most important priority. And this team has got education as a priority.
We share a philosophy. It's a philosophy incorporated in the No Child Left Behind bill that I had the honor of signing. It starts with the belief that every child can learn, a belief that there ought to be high standards and high expectations in our society. You've got to have a Governor who is willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you lower the bar, see, if you believe certain children can't learn— inner-city kids, kids whose parents may not speak English as a first language—if you believe that, the systems will reflect that. They'll just shuffle the kids through. That's unacceptable anywhere in the United States of America.
Part of what this next team, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, believe is, you've got to decentralize power; you've got to trust local people to manage the path to excellence. If you have high standards and local control of schools, you're more likely to achieve educational excellence. But finally, the cornerstone of the new bill and a cornerstone of any good education policy is this: If you take money, taxpayers' money, you need to show society whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract.
You see, if you believe every child can learn, if you believe every child can learn, then you want to know if every child is learning, and therefore you measure. If you have no accountability, how do you know? If you have no accountability, you're more likely just to shuffle the kids through and, at the end of the process, you say, "Oops, they forgot to learn to read," and that's unacceptable. You need to have a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor who are willing to hold people accountable and are willing to praise success but willing to blow the whistle on failure when you find kids trapped in schools which will not teach and will not change.
Now, they've got a good, positive agenda. They've got a good, positive agenda. When they get in there, they're going to represent everybody, not just those who voted for them, not just the 50-percent-plus that voted for them. [Laughter] They're going to represent all the people. They believe in uniting people, not dividing people. They believe in rejecting old-style politics. This team is going to be a breath of fresh air for the citizens of Massachusetts.
I'm confident they'll make this State a safer, stronger, and better place. And that's what I want to do for our country. A stronger country—a stronger country is one in which our citizens can find work—that's a stronger country—a country in which the job base is expanding, a country in which somebody who wants to put food on the table is able to do so. Too many of our citizens can't find work—although we got some good news today, an indication that the economy has got the foundation for growth. The unemployment rate dropped, which is good news.
But that's not good enough; it's not good enough. There are still too many people who wonder whether or not they're going to be able to find employment. My job is to continue to insist upon growth, urge Congress to pass the necessary legislation to create the environment for growth.
And we've got a good chance to do that before they go home to campaign, and that is to pass a terrorism insurance bill. Here's the problem we face in America: Over $15 billion worth of construction projects have been put on hold or canceled because of the lack of terrorism insurance. See, after the enemy hit us on September the 11th, it distorted market. You can't find insurance; you can't go forward with a project.
And therefore, I think it's a useful tool of the Federal Government to provide— to mitigate some of that risk. Congress has been talking about this, now, for a long time. The House of Representatives passed a bill. The Senate passed a bill. They're still talking about it. I'm convinced when they pass a good terrorism insurance bill that rewards hardhats and not trial lawyers, 300,000 additional Americans will find work. No, they get a bill to my desk— they get a bill to my desk before they go home and help this economy. There's a lot of plumbers and bricklayers, ironworkers, good solid Americans who are going to more likely find work, 300,000 of them, if they can get these projects back. If Congress is worried about the economy like I am, they need to join us.
They also need to make sure the tax cuts are permanent. Let me tell you my thoughts about tax relief. When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's important to let people have more of their own money. Here's the page out of the textbook—here's the page out of the textbook that I believe is important. I know Romney feels the same way. If you let somebody keep 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 this system, somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to be able to find work. For the sake of job creation, for the sake of helping people put food on the table, the tax relief plan we passed came at the exact right time.
And in that tax relief plan, we cut rates, which is good for small-business creation. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships or limited partnerships. They pay their taxes at the income tax rate—the personal income tax level. And so when you cut taxes, really what you're doing is, you're stimulating small-business growth. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small businesses. The tax cut was good for the small-business owners.
We slashed the marriage penalty. We want the Tax Code to encourage marriage and families, not discourage marriage.
We did something really important for the entrepreneurs and new startups and farmers and ranchers. We put the death tax on its way to extinction. The death tax is bad—it's a bad tax; it's an unfair tax.
But the reason I'm still having to talk about this issue is, because of a quirk in the law, how the rules in the Senate, that tax cut really doesn't go—it doesn't stay permanent. It's like the Senate giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other. [Laughter] See, in 10 years' time, we revert back to where we were when the tax relief plan was passed. I know it doesn't make any sense, but that's just the way they operate over there. [Laughter] For the sake of job creation, for the sake of encouraging the entrepreneur to be able to plan, for the sake of making sure that our economy is strong and the foundation of growth is solid—the United States Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent.
And they've got to do one other thing before they go out of town. They've got to remember whose money they're spending. Yes, it's not the Government's money; it's the people's money. And I'm sad to report—and I'm sad to report that the United States Senate could not pass a budget. That's a pretty scary thought. See, if you don't have a budget, if you don't have constraints in Washington, you're liable to get a little overspending, because, see, every idea sounds like a great idea there. [Laughter] Every idea is just fantastic. [Laughter] The problem is, they all come with billions of dollars' worth of price tags.
If we overspend, it'll serve as a drag on economic growth and vitality. I submitted a budget that leads us toward getting back into balance. It sets priorities. For the sake of economic growth and jobs, the United States Congress must be fiscally responsible, must not overspend, must spend only on priorities and not that which they think will get them easily reelected. For the sake of job creation, we need fiscal sanity in Washington, DC.
I am optimistic about our economy, but we've got more work to do. And I want you to know that I will spend a lot of time working to strengthen this economy in any way I can.
Having said that, my number one priority is to make America a safer place, because I understand there's still an enemy out there which hates America. And I want to tell you why they hate us, at least my opinion about why they hate us. They hate us for what we love. They hate us because we love freedom. They hate us because we love the idea that people can worship an almighty God any way he or she sees fit. They hate us because we love political discourse in a free society. They hate us because of our free press. They hate everything about us because of our freedom.
And there's another—there are a lot of distinguishing features, but one of the most clear ones to me is this: We value life in America. We say everybody is precious. Everybody counts. Every life has worth. Every life has dignity. They don't value life. They're willing to hijack a great religion and take innocent life in the name of that religion.
And they're still out there. And so long as they're out there, the number one job of your Government is to protect innocent life, is to protect the enemy from hitting us again. You need to know there are a lot of good people working long hours to do everything in their power to disrupt, to find, to hunt down, to—anything we can do, within the United States Constitution, to protect the American people.
We're doing a better job of talking to each other. We're doing a better job of sharing information. We are on alert. We understand they're out there. There's a lot of fine folks at the Federal level, a lot of great police officers at the State and local level, a lot of people in the sheriff's department, a lot of emergency responders—a lot of people working hard.
But in order to make sure we do the job better, I have asked Congress to create what they call the Department of Homeland Security. And let me tell you why I asked them to do that. I asked them to do it because there's over a hundred agencies in Washington involved with homeland security. And they're scattered everywhere, and it seemed like to me, in order to make sure that we align authority and responsibility, they ought to be under one boss— at least the functions for the homeland ought to be coordinated. If the number one priority of the Government is to protect you, we ought to have the ability to make sure that culture changes within agencies so it becomes the number one priority.
And I asked Congress to join me. And the House passed a bill, and they still can't get it out of the Senate. They're fixing to go home, and they're still arguing over homeland security. And I'll tell you why: There are some up there who believe that they ought to micromanage the process.
And I'll give you an example. They want these work rules to make it difficult for the Secretary and the President and future Secretaries and Presidents to be able to move people to the right place at the right time in order to respond to an enemy. For example, if you're working for Customs, we thought it was a wise idea to have people wear radiation detection devices in order to be able to determine whether somebody is trying to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into America. The union wanted to take that to collective bargaining. It would have taken over a year to determine whether or not people could carry detection devices. That doesn't make any sense for me.
We've got a border. We need to know who's coming in our country, what they're bringing in the country, why they're bringing what they're bringing into their country. We've got three different agencies on the border—fine people, really good people working hard. I'm proud that I'm a Federal—Federal employee with them. But we've got the Border Patrol and the INS and the Customs. They wear different uniforms. In some sectors, they may have different strategies. They need to be able to be knitted up. They need to be able to work in concert. They need to be able to do everything they can to make sure that we understand our borders are functioning properly.
See, and I need the flexibility. We cannot leave a legacy behind of micromanagement and unnecessary work rules and inflexible— inflexible rules on managers. I'm all for public employees being able to bargain collectively if that's what they choose to do. But I'm also for making sure the President, in the name of national security, has the capacity to put people at the right place at the right time to protect America.
They need to get it done. They need to get something done up there. They need to get it to my desk before they go home.
But the best way to protect our homeland, in the short run and in the long run, is to hunt the killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice.
This is a different kind of war. I spent a lot of time talking to our fellow citizens about this, and it's important for America to understand. I think they do. This is a different kind of war. You don't measure progress in this war based upon the number of ships sunk or the numbers of tanks dismantled or the number of aircraft grounded. You measure progress in this war by the number of killers brought to justice, and that's why I say "hunting them down one person at a time," which is precisely the strategy we're employing.
It starts with upholding doctrine. The doctrine which says, "Either you're with us, or you're with the enemy," still stands. We still got this coalition of freedom-loving nations we're working together with. And we're hunting them down.
The other day, one of them popped up— popped his head up—named bin al-Shibh. He's no longer a problem. He would have been a problem—he would have been a problem. This is the fellow that was bragging about the fact that, had he gotten a visa, he would have been one of the 20th— he would have been the 20th killer that would have come to America and killed innocent lives. That's what he bragged about.
Thanks to hard-working—the hard work of our intelligence folks and our United States military and our friends and allies, this guy is not a problem anymore, and neither are a couple of thousand of them just like him who have been detained. And about that many weren't as lucky. Slowly but surely, slowly but surely, we're dismantling the Al Qaida network. Sometimes you'll see it on your TV screens; sometimes you won't.
Sometimes—I sent a significant increase in our defense spending, the largest since Ronald Reagan was the President, to the Congress for two reasons—two reasons: One, anytime we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment; and secondly, I sent a message to friend and foe alike that, when it comes to the defense of our freedom, it comes to our desire to make the world more peaceful, there's no artificial deadline for America. There's no time when, all of a sudden, it says, well, we—the calendar shows up, and it's time to quit. There's no quit in this country because we love freedom; we love our peace. We owe it to our children and our children's children.
I asked Congress to get the defense bill to my desk. The House passed it. The Senate passed it. But they haven't come to conclusion yet. They need to get it to my desk before they go home. I hope they will. I know there's a lot of good people from both parties working hard to get the bill done. But we're at war, and at the very minimum, they ought to get the defense bill passed in time of war and get it to my desk before they go home.
I want to remind you all about what I said earlier. We value each life. Everybody counts. That is not just for American life; that's every life, by the way. That's what America thinks.
I want to remind you as well that when we upheld the doctrine that says, "If you harbor a terrorist and feed one of them, you're just as guilty as the terrorist"—and when we upheld that doctrine in Afghanistan, we went in not to conquer anybody; we went in to liberate people from the clutches of a barbaric regime. You need to tell your children—you need to tell children who wonder about this war, about the nature of your country that we love peace, that we're going to secure our homeland, and that, thanks to the United States of America in the first theater of the first war of the 21st century, many young girls now go to school for the first time—that this country loves freedom, and we value each and every life.
We also must recognize threats when we see them, and deal with them. See, September 11th taught us a new lesson about our vulnerabilities. Prior to that, it used to be that we could be protected by two oceans. And unrest or what was going on in a different part of the world—it might have been okay sometimes, because we were protected. No longer is that the case. We're now the battlefield, because of what we believe in and what we hold dear. And since we're never going to relinquish those freedoms or love for freedom, since we're never going to back down from the things we hold dear, we'll continue to be a battlefield until the world is more secure.
We've got a true threat facing us, a threat that faces our very homeland. And that is Saddam Hussein. And I want to explain to you about Saddam Hussein, just quickly, if I might.
This is a man who has used weapons of mass destruction. He used them on his own people. He used them on his neighbors.
This is a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, yet he does. This is a man who, 11 years ago, said he wouldn't harbor terrorists; he wouldn't develop chemical or biological weapons. This is a man who said he would free prisoners. He has lied and deceived and denied for 11 long years.
This is a man who continues to torture people in his own country who disagree with him. He's a coldblooded killer. This is a man who I believe strongly thinks he can use terrorist networks to foster his own ambitions. This is a man who, when they went into Iraq the first time, it was discovered that he was a short period away from developing a nuclear weapon.
This is a man who has invaded two countries. This is a man who is a threat—he's a threat to the United States; he's a threat to Israel; he's a threat to neighbors of his. He is a threat.
My job is to protect the American people. My job is to anticipate. And so I went to the United Nations. I went to the United Nations because I want the United Nations to be effective. I went to the United Nations and—to remind them that for 11 years, this man has defied 16 resolutions. Time and time and time again, he has ignored the United Nations. I basically said, "You can be an effective body to help us keep the peace, or you can be the League of Nations."
It's up to them. It's up to them. We will continue to work with our friends in the United Nations for peace, to deal with threats, to not ignore reality. I want the United Nations to be effective. I want them to do their job of disarming Saddam Hussein.
The choice is theirs, and the choice is also Mr. Saddam Hussein's choice. There are no negotiations. There's nothing to negotiate. He said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, and that's what those of us who love peace expect. We expect him not to have weapons of mass destruction.
But I want to tell you all, for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of peace, if the United Nations won't make the decision, if Saddam Hussein continues to lie and deceive, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man before he harms America and our friends.
The military's not my first choice, but peace is; peace is my first choice. And we're not—what I just told you is a sentiment that's becoming more and more shared in Washington. I was honored this week to stand on the steps of the Rose Garden with Speaker Hastert, Minority Leader Gephardt, Leader Lott, Senator Lieberman, Senator McCain, Senator Bayh, just to name a few of both Republicans and Democrats who are coming together to speak with one voice, a voice out of concern for the future of our country and for the future of our friends.
This country next week will be having a big debate on a really important, historic resolution. I welcome the debate. This is not a political debate. It's a debate about peace and security. I also think it's about— a debate about responsibility for those of us who've been given high office. I believe we have a responsibility to speak clearly, to defend that which we hold dear, to be determined. And by doing so, we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace for America by speaking strongly against terror, by holding our line, the values we hold free—of freedom.
We can achieve peace in the Middle East. We can achieve peace in South Asia. I know the enemy hit us, but out of the evil done to America that day has a chance to come a more peaceful world. They also hit us, and out of the evil done to America that day can come a better world for America, too.
You know, I don't know what was on their mind. They probably thought that, after September the 11th, 2001, somebody might file a lawsuit or two. [Laughter] They didn't know. They didn't know who they're dealing with. They're dealing with a great country, a country which can be tough but a country which also can be compassionate.
See, in our midst of plenty, there are people who hurt in America, people who are addicted, people who are lost. When you say "American Dream," they go, "What the heck are you talking about—American Dream?" They don't know.
And when one of us hurts, we all got to realize all of us hurt in this country. We must do everything we can to eradicate those pockets of despair. And the best way to do so, in my judgment, is to unleash the character of our country. See, Government can hand out money, and sometimes we do a pretty darn good job of it. [Laughter] But what Government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts or sense of purpose in people's lives. That's done when a fellow American hears the universal call to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
If you want to fight evil here in America, do some good. You see, it's the millions of acts of kindness and compassion that really define the true character of our country and will enable us to defy the killers by making this country a more compassionate and decent place. Mentor a child. Help a shut-in. Start a Boys Club or a Girls Club. Tell somebody you love them. These acts of kindness don't have to be huge; they've just got to be significant enough to change America one person at a time. No, they hit us—they hit us—they didn't know what they were getting into. They had no idea what they were getting into.
I truly believe that this country is going to be a stronger and better place, because I understand the nature of America. See, a lot of us took a step back after what happened to us that day and realized there's something more important in life than self, something more important in life than materialism, that being a patriot is somebody more than just puts their hand over their heart; being a patriot is somebody who does love a neighbor.
And that's going across all across this land. You know, I first got into politics because I believed that I could make a difference in helping change a culture, from one which said, "If it feels good, do it," and "If you've got a problem, blame somebody else." See, I was hoping to help usher in a period of personal responsibility, when each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life.
If you're responsible—if you're a mother or dad, your most important responsibility is to love your child with all your heart and all your soul. If you're living—if you're living in Boston, Massachusetts, you're responsible for helping people in need, not some faraway government. If you're running a corporation, you're responsible for telling the truth to your employees and your shareholders and the public.
It's happening—it's happening. Perhaps the most vivid example was Flight 93, people flying across the country. They heard from their loved ones that the plane was going to be used as a weapon. They said goodbye. They used the word "love" a lot. They said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves in life.
No, the enemy hit us. But see, they didn't know—they didn't know the character of this great country. They didn't realize that this country is a country which will fight for peace, lead the world for peace. And this is a country which will make sure that everybody who lives here understands that the great American experience, the great hope of this country, is available for everybody. There's no doubt in my mind we can accomplish these objectives, because America is the greatest country, full of the finest people, on the face of the Earth.