The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• George W. Bush
Remarks by the President-Elect on Departure from Texas for Washington, D.C.
January 17, 2001
BUSH: I want to thank all the folks who came out in this crowd. I also want to thank all the folks, who lined the road, when we came in from the airport for their wonderful hospitality. Laura and I are on a great journey.

(APPLAUSE)

It's hard to believe but 25 years ago I had gotten out of graduate school--a beast--and I wasn't sure where I was going to live but I was sure of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to start my own business. I knew I wanted to answer the entrepreneurial call I felt in my soul.

Fortunately, a friend of mine named Jimmy Allison – many of you may remember Jimmy, he was the publisher of the Midland Reporter Telegram – invited me to come here during my spring break, and when I came down I immediately knew the city where I grew up was a city where I wanted to work and where I wanted to live.

(APPLAUSE)

There was so much energy here, not only in the ground...

(LAUGHTER)

... but in the lives of the people of West Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

The spirit of possibility was as big as the West Texas sky. Twenty-five years later this is my last stop on the way to Washington.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm going to take a lot of Midland and a lot of Texas with me up there.

(APPLAUSE)

My many friendships will keep me strong and keep me humble. Won't they?

(LAUGHTER)

My experiences here have shaped the values and principles by which I will make decisions and my service as your governor will be a model by the way I conduct our nation's business.

(APPLAUSE)

Our deepest values in life often come from our earliest years. It is here in Midland and in West Texas where I learned to respect people from different backgrounds, to respect people from all walks of life. It is here where I learned what it means to be a good neighbor at backyard barbecues or just chatting across the fence. It is here in West Texas where I learned to trust in God.

(APPLAUSE)

There's so much optimism in this place, such a passion for the possible. You see it everywhere in Midland and you see it throughout West Texas and I certainly saw it in the home where I was raised. It seems improbable now but in that little house on Ohio Street, right down the road from here, it was hard to envision then the future of two presidents and a governor of Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

But it really is the American story: Our country's a place of limitless hopes and possibilities, and nowhere is that spirit more alive than in the great state of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

The most important things in my life happened here in Midland. Here I met my wife, Laura.

(APPLAUSE)

I fell in love with her grace and goodness and America will, too.

(APPLAUSE)

It was in Dallas that we welcomed our twins into this world, but right after they were born I remember putting them on O'Neill's airplane. They got back to Midland as quickly as possible.

(LAUGHTER)

This is where they spent their early years. It was right down the street from here where they went to Sunday school at the First Methodist Church.

(APPLAUSE)

Oh, Doc Dodson (ph) taught them a thing or two.

(LAUGHTER)

This place has shaped the values that will shape my service to our nation.

When our family moved into the governor's residence, I had some basic goals in mind. In the West Texas tradition, I had know intention of just marking time. I wanted it to be said of my service that promises made were promises kept. I take special pride in the progress that we have made in Texas. We have made progress in the public school system by raising standards, by insisting upon results, and as importantly, trusting the local folks to make the right decisions for the schools in their communities.

(APPLAUSE)

We reformed welfare by encouraging work, while making sure that those with the deepest need continue to get help. We changed juvenile justice laws to say to our children: We love you a lot, but we understand that love and discipline go hand in hand. And I'm proud that we were good stewards of the taxpayers money. With our surpluses, we set priorities. We met essential needs. And, as importantly, we remembered who paid the bills. We sent money back to the taxpayers of the state of Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

But what matters most is how we accomplished these goals: by working together, by respecting one another, and by putting the public interest first. Along with Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, followed by Rick Perry, and fellow West Texan, Speaker Pete Laney, we found ways to get things done. We built trust. I can assure you we disagreed, but when we did so, we did so in a respectful way. This, too, is a spirit that I will carry with me to Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

The respect among elected officials is an extension of the values and diversity of our state. When you talk about Texas today, you're talking about people from so many different backgrounds, different cultures, and different languages. Any conflicts that once divided us now belong to history. We're all Texans, and we're all Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

Our respect for each other is the greatest strength we have as a state and this is true of our nation as well. The spirit of respect and common purpose will guide me as your president.

(APPLAUSE)

I leave here really upbeat about getting some things done for the people, getting something accomplished for the people of this land. By putting aside all the partisan bickering and name calling and anger and talk about...

(APPLAUSE)

See, I've never been a cynic about public service. I've seen at close range the positive impact a leader can have. My dad taught me in the way he lived that life is more than personal gain, that service to others is a noble calling. I'll always be inspired by his integrity, his example and his good heart. And I'll always be thankful that he raised me in Midland, Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

I know the White House does not belong to its occupant. It is ours to look after for awhile. And I promise that my administration will never forget the dignity and duty the White House represents to millions of Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

In a way, Laura and I will never quite settle in Washington. Because while the honor is great, the work is temporary.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm leaving Texas, but not forever.

(APPLAUSE)

This is my home.

(APPLAUSE)

And when I'm not in Washington, there's a pretty good chance you'll find me on our place in Crawford, Texas. Serving as your governor was the highest honor I could have imagined. There is only one reason on earth that would cause me to leave, and that is the great privilege given me to the people of our country, to serve as your president.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm excited about the work. I'm thankful for the lessons and principles I learned here in Midland, Texas. I'm thankful for my friends. I'll come back to see you soon. God bless.

Citation: George W. Bush: "Remarks by the President-Elect on Departure from Texas for Washington, D.C.", January 17, 2001. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=84894.
 
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