George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Reception in Greenville, South Carolina

November 10, 2003

Thank you all for coming. I'm honored to be here. Please be seated.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for those warm remarks. South Carolina will always have a big part of my political career. I'm proud of all the people here. I want to thank you for your friendship. I remember 2000 very well. Today we're laying the foundation for what will be a South Carolina and a national victory in 2004.

I'm proud to have your support. I'm loosening up. [Laughter] I'm getting ready. But politics will come in its own time. See, I've got a job to do. And when you go to your coffee shops and your farm implementation dealers or your places of worship, you tell them that George W. Bush is working hard for everybody, working hard to make sure this country remains strong and secure and prosperous and free.

I appreciate my friend David Wilkins. He's the kind of friend that is with you when times are good and when times are bad. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your leadership on this event—made an enormous difference tonight for this very successful fundraiser. I also want to thank your dear wife, Susan. You and I both married very well.

Speaking about marrying well, I am sorry that Laura is not here, and I'm sure you are as well. [Laughter] You drew the short straw. [Laughter] She is a fabulous wife, a great mother, and she's doing a wonderful job as our country's First Lady.

I'm honored that the Governor is here, Governor Mark Sanford. I appreciate his leadership and his friendship, and I also appreciate the great service that Jenny, the wonderful first lady of South Carolina, is providing to your State. Thank you for coming, Governor.

I see you don't really care who you sit next to. [Laughter] You've chosen to sit next to the Senator from the great State of South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham, strong ally and good friend. I appreciate you coming.

South Carolina has sent some fantastic people to Congress, good allies, good friends. Henry Brown and Joe Wilson and Gresham Barrett and Jim DeMint are people you can be proud of that represent you. I know this is DeMint's district. He's doing a fine job as a United States Congressman. But I'm proud of all of them that are representing your great State there in Washington.

I know the Lieutenant Governor is with us today, Lieutenant Governor Bauer. I know the attorney general is with us, Henry McMaster. I know there's other State officials who are here. I want to thank you all for coming tonight.

Some of my club members are with us. I'm a member of the ex-Governors club, and so is Beasley, Campbell, and Edwards. I appreciate all three of those distinguished South Carolinian citizens for joining us tonight.

Speaking about ex-members, Charlie Condon, who is a former attorney general of this great State, is with us, and a friend of mine as well. I appreciate Charlie coming.

Most of all, I'm glad you're here. I want to thank you for working hard to get this event on. My friend Mercer Reynolds is the national finance chairman for Bush-Cheney '04. He's a fellow from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was educated up the road in Chapel Hill. He still came anyway. [Laughter]

I appreciate Dr. Eddie Floyd and John Rainey and Barry Wynn, all of them personal friends. All of them have worked hard to make this a tremendously successful event.

I want to thank the grassroots activists who are here, the people who are going to put up the signs and mail the mailers and get on the telephone to turn out the vote. I cannot win without your help. I want to thank you for what you've done in the past. I want to thank you for what you're fixing to do when we come down the pike next year. I appreciate Sarah Reese. I appreciate Todd Graham leading the pledge. And I want to thank the Governor's School Choir for joining us as well.

In the last 2 1/2 years, this Nation has acted decisively to confront great challenges. I came to this office to solve problems, not to pass 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 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 in those two 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 can question the skill, the strength, and the spirit of the United States military.

Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession. And then our country was attacked, and we had scandals in corporate America, and we marched to war for our own security and for the peace of the world, all of which affected the people's confidence. But I 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 understand 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, reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We're providing small businesses with 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 person in this country has a chance to 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 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 are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. We've increased Federal funding, but in return for additional Federal dollars, we expect results in every classroom so that not one single child is left behind.

We created the Department of Homeland Security to better safeguard our ports and borders and better protect the American people. We passed trade promotion authority to open up new markets for South Carolina entrepreneurs and manufacturers and farmers. We passed 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. And the Congress gets a lot of credit for the success we have had. I've enjoyed my work with the South Carolina delegation. I enjoy working with Speaker Denny Hastert, Majority Leader Bill Frist, two fine Americans.

We're working hard to change the tone in Washington, DC. There's too much needless politics in the Nation's Capital. We're doing the people's business by focusing on results, and we're achieving good results for the people. Those are the kind of people I've attracted in my administration. I want people who are results-oriented people, can-do people, people from all walks of life. I have put together a fantastic administration for the American people. Our country has had no finer Vice President than Dick Cheney. Mother may have a second opinion. [Laughter]

We've done a lot in 2 1/2 years. We've 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 has a chance to work and to succeed and to realize the promise of our country.

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 are not 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 Iraq into chaos by attacking coalition forces and aid workers and innocent Iraqis. They know that the advance of freedom in Iraq would be a major defeat for the cause of terror. This collection of killers is trying to shake the will of the United States and the civilized world. America will not be intimidated.

We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there so we do not have to face them in our own country. We're calling on other nations to help Iraq to build a free country, which will make us all more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more of their own defense and move toward self-government. These aren't easy tasks, but they're essential tasks. We will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror.

Yet, 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 of medicine to millions of men and women and children suffering with AIDS. This great, strong, compassionate land is leading the world in this incredibly important work of human rescue.

We've got challenges here at home as well. We will prove equal to those challenges. Anytime one of our citizens who wants to work can't find a job, it says to me that we must continue to strive to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit of America. We've had some good numbers recently. We're making progress. But enough of our—not enough of our citizens are working.

I spent some quality time today at the BMW plant talking about jobs and job creation and job training. So long as people are looking for work, this President and this administration will work for a progrowth policy so our people can find work.

We have a duty to keep our commitment to America's seniors by strengthening and modernizing Medicare. The Congress has taken historic action to improve the lives of older citizens. For the first time since the creation of Medicare, the House and the Senate have passed reforms to increase the choices for our seniors and to provide coverage for prescription drugs. It is now time for the House and the Senate to iron out their differences and to get a good bill on my desk so we keep the promise to America's seniors to have a modern health care system.

For the sake of health care, we also need to cut down on the frivolous lawsuits which increase the cost of medicine. People who have been harmed by a bad doc 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. The House of Representatives passed a good bill. The bill is stuck in the Senate. Some Senators must recognize that no one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. We need medical liability reform.

I have a responsibility as President to make sure the judicial system runs well, and I have met that duty. I have nominated superb men and women to the Federal courts, people who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. Some members of the Senate are trying to keep my nominees off the bench by blocking up-or-down votes. Every judicial nominee deserves a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. It is time for Members of this U.S. Senate to stop playing politics with American justice.

The Congress needs to complete work on a comprehensive energy plan. This Nation must promote energy efficiency and conservation, no doubt about it. But we must use our technologies to be able to use the resources we have at hand in environmentally friendly ways. We need clean coal technology. We need more natural gas exploration. We need safe nuclear energy. For the sake of economic security and for the sake of national security, we must become less reliant on foreign sources of energy.

Our prosperous and compassionate— prosperous and strong Nation must be a compassionate nation. I will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, which says we'll apply the most innovative and effective ways and ideas to help 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 welfare reform to bring work and dignity into the lives of more of our fellow citizens.

Congress should complete the "Citizen Service Act" so that more Americans can serve their communities and their country. Both Houses should reach agreement on my Faith-Based Initiative to support the armies of compassion that are mentoring our children and caring for the homeless and offering hope to the addicted. People of all faiths in America hear a universal call. People of all faiths can do things Government cannot do, which is to heal broken hearts. Our Government must not fear the influence of faith in helping people who hurt in our society.

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 to own their own home. Today in America, we have a homeownership gap, a minority homeownership gap. I proposed plans to the United States Congress to close that gap. We want more people to own and manage their own retirement accounts. We want people to own and manage their own health care plans. We want more people owning their own small business. This administration understands that when a person owns something, he or she has a vital stake in the future of America.

In a compassionate society, people respect one another and 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 "If you've 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 mother or a father, you are responsible for loving your child with all your heart. If you're concerned about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, 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 responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving a neighbor just like we would like to be loved ourself.

The culture of service and responsibility is growing here in America. I started what's called the USA Freedom Corps to encourage Americans to extend a compassionate hand to a neighbor in need, and the response has been strong. People are signing up to help. Faith-based programs and charities are vibrant here in America. Firemen and policemen and people who wear our Nation's uniform are reminding us what it means to sacrifice for something greater than yourself. Our children again believe in heroes, because they see them every day.

In these changing times, the world has seen the resolve and the courage of America. And I've 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. Thank you very much for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:12 p.m. at the Palmetto Expo Center. In his remarks, he referred to David H. Wilkins, speaker, South Carolina State House of Representatives, and his wife, Margaret Susan; Lt. Gov. R. Andre Bauer and former Governors David M. Beasley, Carroll A. Campbell, and James B. Edwards of South Carolina; Eddie Floyd, John Rainey, and Barry Wynn, South Carolina State finance cochairmen, Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.; opera singer Sarah Reese; and former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Reception in Greenville, South Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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