Remarks at a Breakfast for Congressional Candidate Richard G. Renzi in Scottsdale, Arizona
Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Please be seated. I'm honored to be here. Thanks for a warm Arizona welcome. You know, there's nothing like waking up in Arizona with a fantastic sunrise. What a great way to brighten the spirit. And thank you for coming. It brightens my spirits, as well, to know that there are a lot of good folks from northern Arizona and other parts of this State who are willing to stand up and support a good man, Rick Renzi, in his quest to be reelected to the United States Congress. So thank you for coming. Both of us are really glad you're here. I remember campaigning for Rick in Flagstaff in a rain storm. That didn't dampen our spirits, nor did it dampen my enthusiasm in saying as clearly as I could, I'm confident he will make a great Congressman. And he has proven me right. He deserves to be reelected to the United States Congress, and I thank you for helping him.
I say he deserves it because he's got a record. And I'm going to talk a little bit about what we have done together to make Arizona and the country a better place. But one thing about Renzi, he stands strong on principle. He's got his priorities straight. He prioritizes his faith. He loves his family, all of them. [Laughter] Three of his boys are here, Rob, Ron, and Rick. Listen, when you got 12 kids, it's good to have their names start with the same letter; that way you don't forget them. [Laughter] But I want to thank the Renzi boys for being here. Thanks for supporting your dad.
I'm sorry mama is not here; Roberta is taking care of the kids. I understand that. But one of the good things about Rick is his family stands squarely with him, and it's important when you're in public service, when you're serving the people, that your family is with you. And that ought to give people in northern Arizona comfort, to know that they got a Congressman who not only works hard on their behalf in Washington and when he's back in the district, but he's got good priorities. I'm proud to support Rick Renzi in his reelection effort, and I thank you for coming.
I've got somebody else here who is running for reelection, and he's a man who has brought a lot of dignity to the office of United States Senator. He's solid; he is strong; he is influential, and that is Senator Jon Kyl. And I appreciate you coming, Senator—he brought Caryll along.
I appreciate Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who's up for reelection, and I urge you to vote for J.D. Thanks for coming, J.D. J.D. has got him a race, and I hope the people of his district are wise enough to send him back to Washington, DC.
I'm proud to be here with another Congressman, and that would be U.S. Congressman Trent Franks, who brought his wife, Josie, with him. Trent, thanks for coming—and sweet Josie.
Last night when I got here at the airport, I was greeted by a young person running for Governor, an attractive man—[laughter]—a family man, an honest man, and that's Len Munsil. I appreciate you coming, Governor. I'm glad you're here, and I wish you all the very best.
I know Renzi well enough to know that he can be a plain-spoken fellow, and he said to me, "I want you to know, you weren't my first choice for this breakfast." [Laughter] I said, "Well, thanks for having me fly all the way out here," you know. [Laughter] I said, "Who might that have been?" He said, "Well, I really wanted Laura to come." [Laughter] Another reason to put him back in Congress is because he's got good judgment. [Laughter]
Laura sends her best. She's proud of your service. She says hello to all our friends here in the great State of Arizona. I'm a lucky man that Laura Bush said yes when I asked her to marry me.
We're getting ready for—we're coming down the stretch in these campaigns. I'm looking forward to traveling the country, making it clear, there are substantial differences in the philosophy we adhere to and the philosophy advocated by the Democrats. I like campaigns. It's a good opportunity to explain to the American people why we make the decisions we make. It's a good chance to explain the philosophy of the two different parties.
I'd like to start with talking about our economic philosophy. Rick and I believe that the way to grow an economy is to let you keep more of your own money so you can save, spend, or invest. We strongly believe that the more money you have in your pocket, the more likely it is somebody is going to be able to find work. That is not only our philosophy; that is a practice that we adhere to.
See, you might remember—and when you're out there campaigning—I know Rick says, look what we have been through. In other words, we're not just talkers; we're doers. We've been through a recession. We had corporate scandals. We had a significant stock market correction. We had to suffer a terrorist attack on the United States of America, which hurt our economy. I made the decision to defend this country, and we have been in two theaters in this war on terror with troops. We had hurricanes, high energy prices, and yet the American economy is the envy of the industrialized world.
It's one thing to go out and advocate a philosophy; it's another thing to put it into effect. Progrowth economic policies work. We cut the taxes on people who were paying taxes. Small businesses are growing. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. Productivity is up. Our farmers and ranchers are doing well. The progrowth economic policies of the Republican Party have made a significant difference to the working people in the United States.
And if the other bunch gets elected, they're going to raise your taxes. Make no mistake about it, we have a different philosophy. See, they think they can spend your money better than you can. They want more of your money to enhance their vision of bigger government. Oh, I know that words get couched in different ways or— the reason we campaign is, we help clarify Washington-speak. You'll hear people say, "Well, all we're going to do is just let the tax cuts expire"—those would be tax cuts on people who have got children, small businesses, those who are married—"Oh, we'll just let them expire." What that means is, they're going to raise your taxes. See, if those tax cuts expire, your taxes are going up. It's like an employer saying to somebody, I'm going to give you a raise, and a couple of weeks later, I'm going to take it away, but I hope you still think you got the raise. [Laughter]
Rick and I strongly believe that the best way to keep this economy growing, the best way to keep America to be entrepreneurial heaven is to make the tax cuts we passed permanent. Oh, you'll hear them say in Washington, "Oh, we just need to raise some of the people's taxes in order to balance the budget." You know, I've been there long enough to tell you, that's not how it works. Yeah, they'll raise your taxes, all right, but they will figure out new ways to spend your money. The best way to balance the budget is to keep taxes low so we grow the economy and to prioritize how we spend your money. You know, I said we can cut the deficit in half by 2009; because of progrowth economic policies and strong fiscal policy out of the House of Representatives, because of votes like Rick Renzi, this deficit is going to be cut in half by 2008. The worst way to treat the budget is to run up your taxes, slow down economic growth, and expand Federal Government. And we're not going to let them do it. We're going to win the election because we're progrowth and wise about the money.
It's really important that Congress prioritize, set priorities. If you try to be all things to all people, we're going to spend foolishly. And I've set some priorities. And I want the people of Arizona to understand that the number-one priority for this Government is to defend this country and to make sure our troops have all that is necessary to do their job for the sake of security. And I thank Congressman Renzi and the other Congressmen here in this audience and Senator Kyl for standing strong for those brave men and women who put on the uniform of the United States of America. What an honor it is to be the Commander in Chief of such a fine group of people.
I appreciate the fact that Rick joins me in what I call cooperative conservation. That means we're going to work with local folks, local stakeholders, and States to conserve our environment. You know, there is a mindset in Washington that says, we'll tell the folks in Arizona how to do it. That's not my view. See, I'm from Texas; I believe that Texans can manage the environment in Texas plenty fine. And I believe the same thing in Arizona.
I worked with Rick to pass what's called the Healthy Forest Initiative. See, his district has got a lot of important forests. It means that we can work together with local folks to thin out those forests so they're not full of combustionable fuel, to be able to help deal with the catastrophic fires that have plagued this State and other States. It is a wise use of government resources to plan and affect good environmental policy by working with the local folks. Rick understands that. People in northern Arizona must feel confident that their Representative, Rick Renzi, trusts their judgment and is willing to work on behalf of them in Washington, DC, in a cooperative way.
Rick and I firmly believe that it's really important that we diversify away from foreign sources of oil. Look, we're all applauding the fact that gasoline prices are going down. I'm sure it pleases you if you drive a car. I know it helps our small-business owners and our families who are concerned about whether or not they'll have enough money to save for their child's education, for example. Declining gasoline prices are good for the economy, but they should not cause us to forget that dependence upon foreign oil is a national security problem. It's a national security concern. And therefore, I look forward to continuing to work with the Arizona delegation and Congressman Renzi to provide research and development money to enable us to fuel our automobiles in different ways.
I can't wait for the day when we can continue to say, "Corn is up, and therefore, dependence upon oil is down." I can't wait that we develop new ways to develop ethanol, like from wood chips, so that people in northern Arizona become significant producers of energy that will enable this country to diversify away from reliance on foreign crude oil. One day we'll have hybrid vehicles with new batteries, plug-in hybrids, and you'll be able to drive the first 40 miles on electricity, and your car won't have to look like a golf cart. [Laughter] When these kids are learning to drive, they'll be having hydrogen-powered automobiles at their disposal. In other words, we're on a massive effort to diversify away from foreign sources of oil.
And in the meantime, we need to be exploring for natural gas and oil in our own hemisphere in environmentally friendly ways. We've got a comprehensive plan to help this Nation's national security and economic security by having a comprehensive energy bill, and I want to thank Congressman Renzi for working on that.
Oh, there's going to be a lot of domestic issues we'll work on, but there's no issue more important than protecting the American people. It's the calling of the 21st century. The most important job for the Federal Government is to protect you. After 9/11, I vowed that we would do everything in our power to prevent a further attack. We're at war with an enemy that would like to hurt us again. I know some would hope that the President wouldn't say that, but that's the reality of the world in which live. I live it every day. I think about the importance of defending this country every single day of my Presidency.
It's important to have Members of Congress who see the world the way it is and who understand the nature of the enemy. These are evil people who have taken the tenets of a great religion and used it to their ends to achieve objectives. These are ideologues. These are people bound by an ideology of hate. Their ideology is opposite of what we believe. We believe that anybody can worship any way they want and be an equal citizen of the United States of America. We believe Jew, Muslim, Christian, atheist, agnostic are all equally American. We believe in the great right of an individual to choose how to worship as they see fit. The enemy says, "If you don't worship the way we worship, you're guilty."
We believe in dissent in the public square. Oh, sometimes it gets a little loud, but nevertheless, we welcome dissent. We welcome the fact that in our country, people can express themselves any way they want. If you express dissent with these ideologues, they will hold you to account. They have a dark vision of the world. It stands in stark contrast with those of us who believe in liberty, who love freedom. And they'll do anything they can to drive us out of parts of the world so they can achieve their ambitions. They will murder innocent lives in the hopes that the United States of America will lose its will to confront them.
After 9/11, I vowed that in order to protect the United States of America, we must stay on the offense. We must defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them here. We must bring them to justice before they hurt Americans again. And that's what we're doing. We're on the offense every single day. It's hard to plot, plan, and kill when you're running or when you're hiding in a cave. We've got fantastic people working on your behalf, unbelievably brave men and women in our intelligence services or in the United States military who are pressing this enemy every single day.
And now we're involved in a great conflict in the war on terror in Iraq. And there's a debate in Washington, DC, and the debate is whether or not Iraq is a part of the war on terror. You'll hear the Democrats say, "Well, it's a distraction on the war on terror." I strongly disagree. I fully understand the nature of this enemy. I fully understand their intent is to drive us out of the Middle East so they can topple moderate governments and get a hold of oil resources, develop weapons of mass destruction and safe havens from which to attack the United States again.
If you don't believe me, listen to the words of Usama bin Laden and the number two of Al Qaida, Zawahiri. They have made their intentions clear. They have made it clear that Iraq is a central front in this war on terror. They have made their intentions known, out loud—well, they probably didn't want us to hear it, but nevertheless, we did—that they want to drive us out of Iraq. It's just a matter of time, in their mind. They believe that the lessons of Somalia will apply to Iraq. They think that with enough carnage and bloodshed and death and the murder of the innocent, the United States will let them have their way.
They're wrong. The United States understands that the security of the United States of America, for our children, depends upon victory in Iraq. We will stand with the 12 million brave citizens who demanded their freedom. We will help the new unity Government succeed. We will train Iraqis so they can take the fight to the enemy. In the meantime, we will stay in the battlefield and achieve the victory for a generation of Americans to come.
Right after 9/11, I said to the American people, we'll make sure that those on the frontline of defending this country have the tools necessary to do so. The reason I said that is because I understand the nature of this war. See, it's a different kind of battle. The old World War II vets here—and I thank you for your service—will remember—or the Korean war vets—will remember the days that you could measure success against an enemy based upon the number of ships sunk or aircraft shot out of the air. This is a different kind of war. It's a war that depends upon our capacity to find individuals and bring them to justice before they strike again. And therefore, it requires intelligence and tools that we didn't need in other wars.
And so I vowed—and the reason I know this is because, you see, we've got to be right 100 percent of the time to protect you. And the enemy has got to be right one time. And therefore, I worked with people like Rick Renzi and other Members of Congress to make sure those on the frontline of terror had what it needed— had what they needed to defend you.
That's why I proposed and worked hard to pass the PATRIOT Act. See, the PATRIOT Act—prior to the PATRIOT Act, intelligence and law enforcement could not communicate. I know that's hard for you to believe, but matter—somebody whose job it is to collect intelligence on what might be happening in the United States, and because of walls that had grown up over the years, it was impossible for them to share that intelligence with law enforcement. You cannot protect the United States if our—those responsible for protecting you cannot communicate.
And so I said to Congress, "This is ridiculous. Let's tear down the walls that prevented good people from talking." And they agreed. The House passed a bill; right after 2001, the Senate did, 98 to 1. But I want you all to remember, when the bill came up again for renewal in 2005, Democrat Senators filibustered the bill. Evidently, their attitude changed. Filibuster is Washington-speak for, like, try to talk it to death. I promise I'm not going to filibuster you here today. [Laughter] As a matter of fact, during that period—I think it is illustrative for people to hear the words of the Senator minority leader. He bragged, "We killed the PATRIOT Act." That's what he said. And then when pressed by the press, he said—they said, "Are you sure this is the right thing to do, to celebrate killing the PATRIOT"—he said, "Of course it is."
See, we just have a different attitude about the war on terror. My attitude is, we've got to give people the tools necessary to protect you and not wait for another attack. You know, they filibustered the PATRIOT Act and then—after they had voted for it—kind of sounds familiar. [Laughter] That old refrain from 2004—[laughter]— appears to be coming back to—coming back into the political dialog.
The reason I bring this up is, in an election year, I want the American people and the people of Arizona to understand, there is a clear difference of opinion about how to protect this country. Oh, they can talk good talk. But when it came time to vote, the American people can see exactly where the Democrat Party stands in protecting this country.
You might remember that I instituted a program through the National Security Agency to establish what's called the terrorist surveillance program. I felt it was very important for those of us whose job it is to protect you to understand the nature of the enemy. And if somebody from Al Qaida is calling into the United States, in order to protect you, we need to know why and what they're planning and what they're thinking. See, this is a different kind of war, and we need to know the intention of the enemy now in order to protect you from attack.
This bill came up—the idea of providing additional authority for the terrorist surveillance program came to the House floor recently. And there was a vote, and people got to stand up and declare whether or not this program was important: 177 Democrats voted against listening in on terrorist communications; 177 of the opposition party said, "You know, we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists."
If the people of Arizona, if the people of the United States don't think we ought to be listening in on the conversations of people who could do harm to the United States, then go ahead and vote for the Democrats. If you want to make sure those on the frontline of protecting you have the tools necessary to do so, you vote Republican, for the safety of the United States of America.
After the 9/11 attacks, I established a CIA program to detain and question key terrorist operatives and leaders who we captured on the battlefield. I did so because I believed that those who were responsible—we think were responsible for planning attacks, such as the 9/11 attack, might be able to tell us some information about how the enemy operates, where they operate, and what they intend. I understand this is a different kind of war and our most solemn duty is to protect you. And I felt— I know it's vital to get this kind of information. For 5 years, really fine professional people at the CIA have worked tirelessly to get information from these captured terrorists.
It's important for people of Arizona and the Nation to understand what this program has meant to our security. Information from the terrorists questioned by the CIA helped break up a cell of Southeast Asian extremists and terrorist operatives who had been groomed for attacks inside the United States of America. The program helped stop an Al Qaida cell from developing anthrax for attacks against the United States. Information that we gained helped to stop a planned strike on a Marine base in Djibouti and helped prevent an attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi and helped foil a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into Heathrow and London's Canary Wharf.
The reason I bring—I declassified this information because I wanted the American people to understand the stakes of the debate on the detainee program, and I wanted them to understand with clarity that this program is essential to help get information to protect you. Were it not for information gained from the terrorists questioned by the CIA, our intelligence community believes that Al Qaida and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the United States of America. And these are the facts.
And the Congress held a vote on the future of this CIA program, and the choice between every Member of Congress was clear: Should this program continue or not? Congress, fortunately, continued the program. I'm going to sign it into law, and I thank them for their leadership.
But I want you to understand what happened during this vote. In the House of Representatives, 160 Democrats, including the entire Democrat leadership, voted against continuing the program. I want you to understand that I would never question a person's patriotism; I don't. They just have a different point of view about the war on terror, and it's a point of view that the American people must understand.
Think about that vote. Think about what it says between different philosophies. Think about the difference of how we view the world. Eighty percent of the House Democrats—nearly 80 percent want to stop the program that has provided invaluable intelligence that saved lives, that saved lives of the United States of America. In the Senate, 32 Democrats, including every member of their Senate leadership save one, voted to kill the vital program. This means that nearly three-quarters of the Democrats in the United States Senate voted to stop the men and women of the CIA from continuing a program to get information from extremists and terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about planned attacks on the United States of America.
We just think differently. And it's important, during a campaign, for the American people to understand the facts. There is a difference between rhetoric and action in Washington, DC. And the votes of the Democrats to deny the tools necessary to protect you speak loud and clear about their vision of the world in which we live.
We've got a clear record. We believe strongly that we must take action to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. They view this election—they view the threats we face like law enforcement, and that is, we respond after we're attacked. And it's a fundamental difference, and I will travel this country for the next 5 weeks making it clear the difference of opinion.
You know, the House Democrat leader summed up her party's approach to the midterm elections this way. She said, "This election should not be about national security." I strongly disagree. There's an enemy that wants to hurt the American people. The most solemn responsibility of the President and those of us who have been honored to serve you is to do what is necessary to protect the American people, and we will continue to do so.
I'm optimistic we will prevail in the great ideological struggle of the 21st century. You are witnessing historic times, and this is an historic election. You're witnessing a struggle between moderation and extremists, tyranny and freedom. You're witnessing a struggle between those who would impose their dark vision on others and people who just want to live in peace. These are historic times, and it's going to require strong U.S. leadership to help win this ideological struggle.
But I have got great faith. I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe all souls want to be free, and if given a chance, they will help us yield the peace we want. I believe the hard work that we're doing to protect you is also laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. I want it to be said when people look back at this moment of history that the United States of America had confidence in the values that caused our founding to begin in the first place; that we believed strongly in an obligation to help others realize the blessings and benefits of liberty. We did our duty; we did what we were called to do. And that's going to happen.
I want to thank you for your interest. I thank you for supporting good, solid people who share my vision of peace. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the United States.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:32 a.m. at the Camelback Inn. In his remarks, he referred to Caryll Kyl, wife of Sen. Jon Kyl; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, senior Al Qaida leader responsible for planning the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who was captured in Pakistan on March 1, 2003.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Breakfast for Congressional Candidate Richard G. Renzi in Scottsdale, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269060