George W. Bush photo

Remarks in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania

November 01, 2004

The President. Thank you all. Thank you all for coming. Thanks for being here. I am so honored so many came out to say hello. I'm here to ask for your vote and ask for your help. It is close to voting time, and I'm out here to ask you to get our fellow Republicans and wise independents and discerning Democrats here in western Pennsylvania to do our duty and go to the polls tomorrow. And remind your friends and neighbors, if they want a safer America and a stronger America and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back into office.

Perhaps the most important reason to put me back in is so that Laura will be the First Lady for 4 more years. I regret that she's not here. We started——

Audience members. Aw-w-w!

The President. I understand. [Laughter] We were campaigning together yesterday. * She's off on her own for a while, which is wise use of her time. [Laughter] A lot of people have come to know her like I know her. She is a warm, compassionate, great First Lady.

I'm proud of my runningmate, Dick Cheney. I really don't intend to insult anybody who's follically challenged—[laughter]—but I readily concede that the Vice President does not have the waviest hair in the race. [Laughter] The people of western Pennsylvania will be pleased to know I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. [Laughter] I picked him because of his judgment and his experience. He's getting the job done.

I want to thank Curt and Shonda Schilling for taking time out of a busy life to come and endorse my candidacy for President. We all know him as a great baseball player. I know him as a great dad, a wonderful husband, a man of enormous character and value. I'm proud to have his support. And Santorum talks about Shonda lobbying the Congress; she's pretty effective about lobbying the President too. [Laughter] I want to thank them for their concern, their care, and their compassion. Thank you all for coming.

I want to thank my friend the Senator from Pennsylvania, Ricky Santorum. I wish Senator Arlen Specter all the best. When you put me in, put him in too. I appreciate Congressman Tim Murphy, his dedication and service in the United States Congress. I want to thank Congresswoman Melissa Hart for her service. I want to thank all the candidates who are here, those running statewide and those running locally. I want to thank my friend Lynn Swann for his friendship and leadership.

I want to thank Mark Wills and Daron Norwood for being here today. Both of them are fine singers.

I want to thank the Wingmen for Bush. They are a coalition of guys I served with. I am honored they're here. I appreciate your friendship. Thank you all for taking time to come.

Most of all, I want to thank the grass-roots activists for being here. I want to thank you for putting up the signs. I want to thank you for making the phone calls. I want to thank you for what you have done and what you're going to do over the next 24 hours. By turning out the vote, by finding people who are concerned about the future of this country, we are going to carry Pennsylvania and win a great victory on Tuesday.

Tomorrow the people of this good State and the people of our Nation will be heading to the polls. And I'm excited about election day, and I'm optimistic about the future of this country. You know, one of my favorite sayings comes from a fellow Texan who said this: He said, "Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that is gone." During the course of this campaign, my opponent has spent a lot of time talking about the day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that's coming.

I see a great day coming for America. I see a day where prosperity reaches every corner of this country. I see a day where every child is able to read and write and add and subtract. I see a day in which this world becomes more peaceful so our children and our grandchildren can grow up in the peace we all want. I see a day that's better for every American. And tomorrow, the American people have a chance to bring that better day by voting for Bush-Cheney.

The American President must lead with clarity and purpose. The role of the President is not to follow the path of the latest polls. The President must lead based on principle and conviction and conscience.

During these 4 years, I've learned that whatever your strengths are, you're going to need them, and whatever your weaknesses are, people will notice them. Sometimes I'm a little too blunt. I get that from my mother. Sometimes I mangle the English language. [Laughter] I get that from my dad. [Laughter] But all the time, whether you agree with me or not, you know where I stand, what I believe, and where I'm going to lead.

This election——

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. This election comes down to clear choices on five vital issues facing our families. And the first clear choice concerns your family's budget. When I ran for President 4 years ago, I pledged to lower taxes for American families. And I kept my word. We doubled the child credit to help moms and dads. We reduced the marriage penalty. We believe the Tax Code ought to encourage, not penalize marriage. We lowered taxes on everybody who pays taxes.

As a result of these policies, our economy is growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. Real after-tax income—the money in your pocket—is up by 10 percent since I've been your President. Homeownership rate is an alltime high in America, and more minority families own a home today than ever before in our history.

Pennsylvania's farmers are making a living. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. Small businesses are flourishing all across the State. We've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. Let me put that in perspective for you: That's lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. And the unemployment rate here in Pennsylvania is 5.3 percent. This economy is strong, and it is getting stronger.

People in western Pennsylvania need to hear this message. I know this State depends on a healthy steel and coal economy. And we will keep taxes low. We will insist on free and fair trade, and we will make those industries strong so the Pennsylvania recovery keeps on creating jobs for the Pennsylvania people.

My opponent has an economic plan.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. Let me remind you of his history. He's been in the United States Senate 20 years. He's voted to raise taxes 98 times.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. That's five times for every year he's been in the Senate. I would call that a predictable pattern, a leading indicator. [Laughter] And when you couple that with the fact that he's promised 2.2 trillion in new spending——

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. ——you begin to get a sense of his economic plan. That's 2.2 trillion with a "T." That is a lot even for a Senator from Massachusetts. They asked him how he was going to pay for it. He said he'll tax the rich. You have heard that before. You can't raise enough money to pay for 2.2 trillion. There is a tax gap. There is a gap between what he has promised and what he can deliver, and given his record, guess who is going to get to fill that tax gap?

Audience member. We are!

The President. Hard-working people of western Pennsylvania. We are not going to let him tax you; we're going to carry Pennsylvania and win on November the 2d.

The second clear choice involves the quality of life for your families. I ran for President to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations by reforming our public schools. And I have kept my word. We passed education reforms to bring high standards to our classrooms. Math and reading scores are now on the rise. We're closing the achievement gap by helping minority children. My vision for a new term is to build on these reforms and extend them to our high schools so that no child is left behind in America.

We'll continue to improve life for our families by making health care more affordable and available. We will expand health savings accounts. We will allow small businesses to join together so they can buy insurance at the same discount that big companies are able to do.

We will help our families in need, and we will do something about these junk lawsuits that are making it hard to find good doctors in Pennsylvania. We have a difference of opinion on these lawsuits. My opponent has voted against medical liability reform not once, twice, three times but 10 times as a Member of the United States Senate.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. He put a personal-injury trial lawyer on the ticket.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. I understand the problem you face here in Pennsylvania. I've talked to too many ob-gyns in this State that are having problems staying in practice. I've talked to too many expectant moms that are worried about their health care. I'm standing with the doctors of Pennsylvania. I'm standing with the patients of Pennsylvania. I am for medical liability reform— now. In all we do to improve health care, we will make sure the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in Washington, DC.

My opponent takes a different approach. He voted for the education reforms but now wants to weaken the accountability standards.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. He's proposed a big-Government health care plan. I remember that debate when he looked square in the camera and he said the Government didn't have anything to do with it, when he was talking about his health care plan. I could barely contain myself. The Government has got a lot to do with it. Eighty percent of the people end up on a Government-run plan. The wrong prescription for American families is to federalize your health care. He can run from his record, but he cannot hide.

The third clear choice involves your retirement. Our Nation has made a solemn commitment to America's seniors on Social Security and Medicare. When I ran for President 4 years ago, I promised to keep that commitment and improve Medicare by adding prescription drug coverage. I have kept my word. Seniors are already getting discounts on medicine with drug discount cards. And beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage under Medicare.

My opponent has a record. He voted against the Medicare bill that included prescription drug coverage.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. And his campaign is trying to scare our seniors when it comes to Social Security. But he forgets to mention that he is the one who voted to increase taxes on Social Security benefits eight times.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. I have kept the promise of Social Security, and we will always keep the promise of Social Security for our seniors. And baby boomers like me and some others out there I see are in good shape when it comes to the Social Security trust.

But we need to to worry about our children and our grandchildren. That's why I believe younger workers ought to be able to take some of their payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account, an account they call their own. In a new term, I will bring people together to strengthen Social Security for generations to come.

The fourth clear choice in this election is on the values that are so crucial to keeping our families strong. I want the Democrats and Republicans, independents of western Pennsylvania to understand this: I stand for marriage and family, which are the foundation of our society. I stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every being counts. I proudly signed the ban on partial-birth abortions. I stand for the appointment of Federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.

On issue after—on these issues, my opponent and I are miles apart. He voted against the ban on partial-birth abortion.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. There is a mainstream in American politics, and John Kerry sits on the far left bank. He can run from his record, but he cannot hide.

The final choice——

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. The final choice in this election is the most important of all because it concerns the security of your family. All progress in every other issue depends on the safety of our citizens. The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the American people. If this country shows uncertainty or weakness during these troubled times, the world will drift toward tragedy. This is not going to happen on my watch.

Our strategy is clear. We are protecting our homeland. Tom Ridge, the former Governor of this great State, is doing a wonderful job. We're reforming and strengthening our intelligence capabilities. We are transforming our All-Volunteer Army. There will be no draft. We are determined. We are relentless. We are steadfast. We're staying on the offensive. We are fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.

We're succeeding. Afghanistan is free and an ally in the war on terror. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are making raids and capturing terrorist leaders. Libya is dismantling its weapons program. The army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom. Al Qaida no longer controls Afghanistan. We've shut down its camps there. We are systematically destroying the Al Qaida network.

We are making progress on protecting the American people because we've got a great military. We will keep it a great military. And I want to thank those who wear our Nation's uniform for your service. I want to thank the military families who are here for your sacrifice for our country. I want to thank the veterans who are here for having set such a great example to those who wear the uniform. And I assure you, we'll make sure our troops have that which they need to complete their missions.

That's why, in September of 2003, I went to the United States Congress and asked for $87 billion to support our troops in combat. It was a very important funding request. My opponent said on national TV that it would be irresponsible to vote against the funding for our troops. And then, because the political polls changed, he changed his position, and he did the irresponsible thing, and he voted against funding for our troops.

Audience members. Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

The President. And then he entered the flip-flop hall of fame by saying this—upon his entry, here is what he said: "I actually did vote for the 87 billion, right before I voted against it."

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. I doubt many people in western Pennsylvania talk that way. [Laughter] He's given a lot of explanations since that vote, but I think the most revealing is this. He said, "The whole thing was a complicated matter." [Laughter] My fellow citizens, there is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat.

Senator Kerry's record on national security has far deeper problems than election-year reversals. For 20 years, on the largest national security issues, he has been consistently wrong. During the cold war—I want the citizens of this—of western Pennsylvania to hear the truth here—during the cold war, Senator Kerry voted against critical weapons systems and opposed President Ronald Reagan's policy of peace through strength.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and President Ronald Reagan was right.

When former President Bush assembled an international coalition to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, Senator Kerry voted against the use of force to liberate Kuwait.

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. History has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong and former President Bush was right.

One year after——

[At this point, there was a disruption in the audience.]

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. One year after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the Senator proposed massive cuts in America's intelligence budget, so massive——

[The disruption in the audience continued.]

Audience members. Boo-o-o!

The President. So massive that his colleague Ted Kennedy opposed them. Well, history has shown that Senator Kerry was wrong—and we got to be fair—Senator Kennedy was right. [Laughter]

We have a difference of opinion. And as you gather up the vote, remind people about this difference of opinion as to how to better secure our Nation's families——

[The disruption in the audience continued.]

The President. My opponent suggested America must pass a "global test" before we defend ourselves.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. I will always work with our friends and allies, but I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries.

Senator Kerry says September the 11th didn't change him much at all. It changed me. It changed my outlook about how to better defend this country. I remember going to the ruins of the Twin Towers on September the 14th, 2001. It's a day I'll never forget. There were workers in hard-hats there yelling at me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." I remember the man who came out of the rubble, and he grabbed me by the arm. He looked me in the eye, and he said, "Do not let me down." Ever since that day, I get up every morning trying to figure out how to better protect our country. I will never relent in defending this country, whatever it takes.

Over the next 4 years, we will defend this country. We will use every asset at our disposal, and one of the most powerful assets we have is freedom. I believe in the power of liberty to transform societies.

I want the youngsters here to realize what has happened in a short period of time in Afghanistan. It wasn't all that long ago that young girls could not go to school, and their mothers were taken into the public squares and whipped and sometimes shot in a sports stadium, because the ideologues of hate, the Taliban, had such a dim view of the world.

Because we acted to defend ourselves, because we upheld the doctrine that said, "If you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist," millions of citizens went to the polls to vote for their President. The first voter was a 19-year-old woman. Freedom is on the march. And free societies help us keep the peace we all want.

Iraq is still dangerous. That's because that country is headed toward democracy. There will be elections in Iraq in January. Think how far that country has come from the days of torture chambers and mass graves.

I believe every person wants to live in a free society. I believe mothers and dads want to raise their children in a free and peaceful world. I believe this not because freedom is America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. We are living in historic times, and a lot is at stake in this election. The future safety and prosperity of America are on the ballot. The truth of the matter is, this election comes down to who do you trust—who do you trust to make this country secure? Who do you trust to offer leadership and results in a time of challenge to America?

If you believe that taxes should stay low so families can pay the bills and small businesses can expand and create jobs, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you believe in high standards for public schools, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you believe that patients and doctors should be in charge of health care, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you believe this Nation must honor the commitments of Medicare and strengthen Social Security for generations to come, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you believe that this Nation should honor marriage and family and make a place for the weak and the vulnerable, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you believe America should fight the war on terror with all our might and lead with unwavering confidence in our ideals, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you are a Democrat who believes your party has turned too far to the left this year, I ask you to come stand with me.

If you are a minority citizen and believe in free enterprise and good schools and the enduring values of family and faith, and if you are tired of your vote being taken for granted, I ask you to come stand with me.

And if you are a voter who believes that the President of the United States should say what he means and do what he says and keep his word, I ask you to come stand with me.

When I traveled your great State 4 years ago, I made a pledge that if elected, I would uphold the honor and the dignity of the office. With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for 4 more years.

Thanks for coming. Thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:38 a.m. in the Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake. In his remarks, he referred to Curt Schilling, pitcher, Major League Baseball Boston Red Sox, and his wife, Shonda; entertainers Mark Wills and Daron Norwood; Lynn C. Swann, chairman, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; and former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

* White House correction.

George W. Bush, Remarks in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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