George W. Bush photo

Remarks in Austin Following the "Super Tuesday II" Primaries

March 14, 2000

I am grateful tonight for the overwhelming support of voters in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. I am honored by all these victories. And it's especially great to win at home. Thank you Texas. When I filed for president, I pledged I'd come home to Texas with the nomination of my party. Tonight we can say: Mission accomplished.

With this victory comes a sacred duty. Americans want a leader who will raise our sights. Americans want a president who will keep his oath and his honor. And this is a charge that I will keep. I have brought dignity and honor to the office of Governor of Texas, and I will restore dignity and honor to the office of President of the United States.

We have the opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to reform the institutions of American government and so renew the promise of our democracy. To do this, our compassionate conservative philosophy must offer opportunity, not just for the few and the favored, but for everyone,

Too many American children are caught in schools where fear is common and learning is rare. We will earn the public trust by reforming and renewing America's public schools.

Immigrants new to our country are looking for a party that welcomes and respects them And we must be that party.

Many Americans, in the shadow of our prosperity, are still struggling, waiting for their chance, and we must take their side.

We are halfway - but only halfway -- to ending the Clinton/Gore era in Washington, D.C. To get there, we must face one more Clinton/Gore campaign - The last week has been a preview. The Gore campaign will say anything and try to win at any cost.

We will confront their tactics one more time, and this time, we will prevail and they will fail,

They will fail, because Americans have caught on. Al Gore can't solve campaign finance problems when he symbolizes them. He can't talk of rebuilding the military when his administration has dismantled our military. And he can't distance himself from the president when, for eight years, he's served as the cheerleader-in--chief

The differences between me and Vice President Gore are many. And nowhere is the contrast more clear than when it comes to the need to reform our public schools.

Improving public education has been the passion of my time as governor. It will be the priority of my time as president. I believe that literacy is liberation. I have outlined an agenda of persistent, aggressive reform. I have a mission of change, and a message, of hope.

I have a plan that says to failing schools: Improve, or we will rescue the children. We will give you time to improve. By restoring local control, we will give you freedom to improve. But we Will not force a single child to remain in a school that does not teach and will Dot change.

Al Gore has gone into low performing schools and claimed my plan would undermine them.

Think a moment about what that means. Al Gore has visited schools and told them, in essence, "You are hopeless-We won't set high standards for you, because you win never achieve them." This is not a defense of public education, it is a surrender to despair. This is the soft bigotry of low expectations, and I will fight it everywhere it exists in any classroom in America.

I believe that every student, of every background, can learn to read. And every school, in every neighborhood, should be required to teach.

This is a bright and dividing line in this campaign.

I want to solve our education problems; Al Gore wants to subsidize them.

I believe that failing schools are unacceptable; Al Gore believes they are inevitable.

I will work for children and their parents. He will work for the entrenched interests that fund his campaign. I will challenge the status quo; Al Gore is the status quo. His approach and mine have both been tried - and the results are clear.

There is an education gap in America, and the Clinton/Gore administration has failed to close it. Poor and minority children do not do as well as the rest of America's children, and I will not rest until that changes. Sixty-eight percent of fourth graders in the highest poverty schools cannot read and understand a simple children's book.

But we are closing the education gap in Texas. We are making progress faster than anywhere else in this country. The changes we fought for - high standards and accountability and discipline and local control - are improving the lives of children. And that is the test of true reform.

In this campaign, education will be a defining issue, For many Americans it Will 'be a deciding issue. Every child must have a quality education - not just in islands of excellence. Because we are a single nation with a shared future. Because, as Lincoln said, we are "brothers of a common country." On this great night, I have so many people to thank.

George W. Bush, Remarks in Austin Following the "Super Tuesday II" Primaries Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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