George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

November 07, 2003

Thanks for your warm welcome. Thank you for coming. I appreciate you. Thanks. Thank you all. Please be seated. Listen, it is great to be back in Winston-Salem. It's a incredibly beautiful part of our country, but more beautiful are the people who live here. And I want to thank you for your friendship. I want to thank you for your support. I want to thank you for coming today. What we're doing is laying the foundation for what will be a great national victory in November of 2004.

We had a good run in 2000, thanks to you all. And the Vice President and I expressed our deepest appreciation for the hard work you all put in in the year 2000. We'll do even better in 2004 here in North Carolina. I want to thank you for—[applause]. I'm loosening up. [Laughter] I'm getting ready, but I've got a job to do. I've got to work on the people's business in Washington, DC. We've got a lot on the agenda, and so when you go to your coffee shops, your houses of worship, or your community centers, please tell them, Republican, Democrat, or independent alike, that the President is focused on the people's business and he will keep this Nation secure and strong and prosperous and free.

I regret that Laura isn't with me today. You drew the short straw. [Laughter] She's a fabulous wife, a great mother, a wonderful First Lady. I'm really proud of the job she has done. She sends our very best to our friends here in North Carolina—her very best to our friends here in North Carolina. We've got a great friend in the Culbertsons. I'm so proud to know the Culbertsons. I want to thank them for their friendship and their leadership.

I appreciate so very much traveling today with Congressman Richard Burr. He flew down on Air Force One. There isn't much air rage on Air Force One. [Laughter] He is going to make a great United States Senator for North Carolina. It's good to see Brooke Burr. I appreciate so very much that David Burr was here, his dad, who gave the invocation.

I'm sorry that Senator Elizabeth Dole is not here, who, by the way, is doing a really good job for the people of North Carolina. I appreciate the Senator whose place she took, a man who stood strong, a man who stood on principle, Jesse Helms. Speaking about former Senators, I know Jim Broyhill is here. I appreciate you coming, Senator. I will pass your best on to your good friend my—I will pass your best on to your good friend number 41—[laughter]—if you know who I'm talking about there—[laughter]— who, by the way, is going to jump out of an airplane on his 80th birthday. I know it—[laughter]—Mother had the same reaction. [Laughter]

I want to thank very much my friend the mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory, who is here with us today. Mayor, thank you for coming. Good to see you. I know there's a lot of statehouse folks here and local government officials. I want to thank you all for being here. I appreciate your service to your great State and to your communities.

I've asked a North Carolina graduate to serve as the national finance chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign of '04. Mercer Reynolds is doing a fantastic job of working hard on our behalf, and I want to thank Mercer for his dedication and his friendship. I also want to appreciate—appreciate Dr. Aldona Wos, the State chairman for Bush-Cheney. Thank you very much for your hard work.

We've got a lot of grassroots activists who are here, people who are actually going to get on the phone and put up the signs and lick the envelopes, all necessary to make sure that we run a vibrant campaign. I want to thank Ferrell Blount for his leadership here in North Carolina. I want to thank all the grassroots activists for what you're fixing to do when we're coming down the stretch in 2004.

Chief Linda Davis is here. I'm honored the chief is with us. I appreciate the fine job she is doing. It's not the first time I have seen the chief. I know you're proud of the job she does here in Winston-Salem. I want to thank her for coming.

But most of all, thank you all once again. It's a great turnout. It makes a fellow feel good to see so many people supporting him.

The last 2 1/2 years, our Nation has acted decisively to confront great challenges. I came to this office to solve problems instead of passing them on to future Presidents and future generations. I came to seize opportunities instead of letting them slip away. My administration is meeting the tests of our time.

Terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got. We've captured or killed many of the key leaders of the Al Qaida network, and the rest of them know we're on their trail. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, we gave ultimatums to terror regimes. Those regimes chose defiance, and those regimes are no more. Fifty million people—50 million people in those countries once lived under tyranny, and today, they live in freedom.

Two-and-a-half years ago, our military was not receiving the resources it needed, and morale was beginning to suffer. So we increased the defense budgets to prepare for the threats of a new era. And today, no one in the world can doubt or question the skill or the strength or the spirit of the United States military.

Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession, and then our Nation was attacked. And then we had some scandals in corporate America, and then we marched to war, war in Afghanistan and Iraq, all of which affected the people's confidence. That's tough hurdles to cross, when it came to our economy. Yet, this administration acted. We passed tough new laws to hold corporate criminals to account. And to get the economy going again, I have twice led the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the American people.

I know that when Americans have more take-home pay to spend, to save, or invest, the whole economy grows and people are more likely to find a job. So we're returning more money to the people to help them raise their families. We're reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We're giving small businesses incentives so they can hire new people. With all these actions, this administration has laid the foundation for greater prosperity and more jobs across America so every single citizen can realize the American Dream.

Two-and-a-half years ago, there was a lot of talk about education reform, but there wasn't much action. So I acted; I called for and Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act. With a solid bipartisan majority, we delivered the most dramatic education reforms in a generation. We believe every child can learn to read and write and add and subtract. We expect every child to learn to read and write and add and subtract. This administration is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.

We dramatically increased Title I funding. For the first time, the Federal Government is now asking the question, "Are you succeeding?" We're asking the question of every single public school: whether or not we're meeting the high standards that we expect. The days of excuse-making are over. This country will stay focused on the basics to make sure every child learns to read and write and add and subtract so not one single child is left behind.

We reorganized the Government and created the Department of Homeland Security to better safeguard our ports and borders and to better protect the American people. We passed trade promotion authority to open up markets for North Carolina's farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs. But I understand that trade is a two-way street, that if we have trade with other neighbors and countries, we expect there to be fair trade coming the other way. We passed much needed budget agreements to help maintain spending discipline in Washington, DC.

On issue after issue, this administration has acted on principle, has kept its word, and has made progress for the American people. A lot of the credit goes to the Congress, people like Congressman Burr, people with whom we've—people like Speaker Denny Hastert, Majority Leader Bill Frist.

We're working hard to focus the town on results, not on senseless politics. There's too much politics in Washington, DC. The leadership in the administration—we're trying to set a better standard. See, the people want us there to do the business. People there want us to do what's right for the country. That's what we're working hard to do, to change that culture in Washington.

And those are the kind of people I've asked to serve in our Government. I put together a fantastic team of people from all walks of life to serve the American people. Our country has had no finer Vice President than Dick Cheney. Mother may have a second opinion. [Laughter]

In 2 1/2 years, we've done a lot. We have come far, but our work is only beginning. I've set great goals worthy of a great nation. First, America is committed to expanding the realm of freedom and peace for our own security and for the benefit of the world. And second, in our own country, we must work for a society of prosperity and compassion so that every citizen, every single citizen has a chance to work and to succeed and to realize the great promise of America.

It is clear that the future of freedom and peace depend on the actions of America. This Nation is freedom's home and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are keeping it. The war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom aren't idle, and neither are we. This country will not rest; we will not tire; we will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed.

We are confronting that danger in Iraq, where Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists are desperately trying to throw that country into chaos by attacking coalition forces, by attacking the people who are there to provide aid to the long-suffering Iraqi citizens, and by attacking Iraqi citizens themselves. See, they know that the advance of freedom in Iraq would be a major defeat in the cause of terror. This collection of killers is trying to shake the will of America and the civilized world, and this country will not be intimidated.

Impressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there so we will not have to face them in our own country, we're calling on other nations to help. But you see, a free Iraq, a peaceful Iraq, a peaceful Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will make the entire world more secure.

We're standing with the Iraqi people, the very capable, competent Iraqi people, as they assume more of their own defense and as they move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, but they are essential tasks. And we will finish what we have begun. We will win this essential victory in the war on terror.

Our greatest security comes from the advance of human liberty, because free nations do not support terror, free nations do not attack their neighbors, free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror. Americans believe that freedom is the deepest need and hope of every human heart. And I believe that freedom is the right of every person, and I believe that freedom is the future of every nation.

America also understands that unprecedented influence brings tremendous responsibilities. We have duties in this world. And when we see disease and starvation and hopeless poverty, we will not turn away. On the continent of Africa, America is now committed to bringing the healing power, the healing power of medicine to millions of men and women and children now suffering with AIDS. This great, powerful, strong, compassionate land is leading the world in this incredibly important work of human rescue.

We face challenges here at home as well, and our actions will prove equal to those challenges. So long as any of our citizens who want to work can't find a job, it says to me we've got a problem. I will continue to try to create an environment of job creation and job growth by enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit of America. We've had some good news recently about our economy. But we won't rest until everybody who wants to work can find a job.

I'm going to talk today at one of your fine community colleges about the need for us to make sure there is adequate worker training programs to train—to help train the good citizens of North Carolina for the jobs which actually exist in the State of North Carolina.

We have a duty to keep our commitment to America's seniors by strengthening and modernizing Medicare. A few weeks ago, Congress took historic action to improve the lives of older Americans. For the first time since the creation of Medicare, the House and the Senate have passed reforms, reforms which will increase the choices for our seniors, reforms which will provide coverage for prescription drugs.

The next step is for both Houses to reconcile their differences and to get a good bill to my desk. We must handle our responsibilities in Washington by making sure the Medicare system is vibrant and viable and real, not only for seniors today but for those of us who are fixing to be seniors tomorrow.

For the sake of our health care system, we need to cut down on the frivolous lawsuits which increase the cost of medicine. People who have been harmed by a bad doctor deserve their day in court. Yet the system should not reward lawyers who are simply fishing for a rich settlement. Frivolous lawsuits drive up the cost of health care, and they therefore affect the Federal budget. Medical liability reform is a national issue which requires a national solution. I put forth a good piece of legislation which passed the House of Representatives. It is stuck in the United States Senate. It is time for some of the Senators to understand that no one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. We need medical liability reform—today.

I have a responsibility as the President to make sure the judicial system runs well, and I have met that duty. I have nominated superb men and women to serve on the Federal courts, people who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. Here in Carolina, I nominated Judge Terry Boyle for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. I nominated this good man, this man of integrity, more than 2 years ago. We're still waiting for his vote in the United States Senate because a small group of Senators is willfully obstructing the process. Too many nominees like Judge Boyle are being denied an up-or-down vote. These needless delays in the system are harming the administration of justice. They're deeply unfair to the nominees and their families themselves. It is time for some of the Members of the United States Senate to stop playing politics with American justice.

The Congress needs to complete work on a comprehensive energy plan. Our Nation must promote better energy efficiency, better conservation. We must develop clean technology to help us explore in environmentally friendly ways. But for the sake of economic security, for the sake of national security, this Nation must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

A prosperous nation must also be a compassionate nation. I will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, which says we will apply the most innovative ideas, the most effective ideas to the task of helping our fellow citizens who hurt.

There are still millions of men and women who want to end their dependence on Government and become independent through hard work. We must build on the success of the welfare reform by bringing work and dignity into the lives of more of our fellow citizens. Congress should complete the "Citizen Service Act" so more Americans can serve their communities and their country.

And both Houses should reach agreement on my Faith-Based Initiative to support the armies of compassion that are mentoring our children, caring for the homeless, and offering hope to the addicted. Oftentimes, many of the problems that our citizens face are problems of the heart. And Government can hand out money, but it can't put hope in people's hearts or sense of purpose in people's lives. That's done when people from any faith put their arms around a brother and sister in need and says, "I love you." Our Government should not fear the work of our faith-based programs. We ought to welcome faith-based programs and the healing of citizens who hurt.

A compassionate society must promote opportunity for all, including the independence and dignity that come from ownership. This administration will constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We want more people owning their own home. Today in America, we have a minority homeownership gap. I've submitted a plan to the United States Congress to close that gap. We want more people owning and managing their own retirement accounts. We want them owning and managing their own health care accounts. We want more people owning their own small business in America. We understand that when a person owns something, he or she has a vital stake in the future of our country.

In a compassionate society, people respect each other and people take responsibility for the decisions they make. The culture of America is changing from one that has said, "If it feels good, do it," and "You got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.

If you're fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad, you're responsible for loving your child with all your heart. If you're worried about the quality of the education in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, you're responsible for doing something about it. If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees.

And in the new responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we would like to be loved ourself. The culture of service and the culture of responsibility is growing around us here in America. I started what's called the USA Freedom Corps in order to encourage Americans to extend a compassionate hand to a citizen in need, and the response has been fantastic. People from all walks of life are willing to help, willing to stand up, willing to make a difference in their communities. Our faith-based programs are strong and vibrant and growing. The social entrepreneurship in American is an integral part of the fabric of our society.

You've got policemen and firefighters and people who wear our Nation's uniform remind us what it means to sacrifice for something greater than yourself. Once again, the children of America believe in heroes, because they see them every day. In these challenging times, the world has seen the resolve and the courage of America. And I have been privileged to see the compassion and the character of the American people.

All the tests of the last 2 1/2 years have come to the right nation. We're a strong country, and we use that strength to defend the peace. We're an optimistic country, confident in ourselves and in ideals bigger than ourselves. Abroad, we seek to lift whole nations by spreading freedom. At home, we seek to lift up lives by spreading opportunity to every corner of America. This is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it, and we know that for our country, the best days lie ahead.

May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at noon in the M.C. Benton, Jr. Convention and Civic Center. In his remarks, he referred to Jim Culbertson, North Carolina State finance chair, Bush-Cheney '04, Inc., and his wife, Germaine; Brooke Burr, wife of Representative Richard Burr; Ferrell Blount, chairman, North Carolina Republican Party; and Linda Davis, chief, Winston-Salem Police Department.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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