Remarks in Charleston, West Virginia
The President. Thank you all very much.
Audience member. We love you, George!
The President. I'm glad I came. Thanks for your invitation, and thank you all for coming. Thanks for your interest in our great country.
I'm here to tell you that the American spirit is alive and well in West Virginia, and it's alive and well all across the country. It's a spirit which says that we've got the fortitude to defend our freedoms, that we've got the compassion to help a neighbor in need. It's a spirit which says we understand the stakes ahead of us and we will do whatever it takes to defend our freedom.
And part of the American spirit means that our citizens must do their duty. In a democracy, it depends upon the participation of our citizens. So I've come to this great State to urge all the citizens of West Virginia—Republicans and Democrats, people who don't give a hoot about a political party—to do your duty, to do your duty and to go to the polls next Tuesday.
And I've got a strong suggestion. I've got an idea about how to make sure West Virginia remains a strong State. I've got an idea on how to make sure that West Virginia sends the best to the United States Congress, and that is to send Shelley Moore Capito back to the Congress.
I want to thank all the candidates who are here. I want to thank the good folks who put their name on the ballot, who are working hard. I particularly want to pay homage to Jay Wolfe, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate.
I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. You're the good people who work hard to get these candidates elected. You're the good folks who helped me win, and you're the good folks who are going to help Shelley Moore go back to the United States Congress. She can't win without you. So over the next couple of days, when you're going to your coffee shops or your houses of worship or your community centers, tell your fellow citizens they have an obligation to go to the polls. Don't worry about talking to some of these Democrats. There's plenty of Democrats in this State who understand Shelley Moore Capito has done a great job. Round up the vote. Round up the vote and work hard. She needs your help.
And there's a good reason to send her back to the United States Congress. First of all, she's an independent person, representing an independent State. She's smart. She's capable. She brings class to the office. She loves her family.
Audience member. I love you, George!
The President. Thank you.
I appreciate so very much her husband, Charlie—his patience, his support of Shelley Moore. He is a really fine husband. She married well, and so did I. One of Laura's favorite Members of Congress is Shelley Moore Capito. She's got good judgment, Laura does—most of the time. [Laughter] Some of her friends questioned her judgment when there I was on bended knee—she said, "Yes, I'll marry you." [Laughter] Thank goodness she did say yes. She is a great First Lady for our country.
Now, there's a lot of reasons besides Shelley Moore's character that we need her in the United States Congress. She's an effective person. She can get things done. She's a breath of fresh air. She doesn't— her demeanor is such, she doesn't represent that stale, old, tired politics, where you get ahead by trashing somebody. See, she's got a vision. She knows what she wants to do, and she knows our great country has got some challenges. And I look forward to continuing to work with her to meet those challenges.
One of the biggest challenges we have is to make sure people can find work in America. We had good news today on the quarterly growth. But so long as somebody is looking for work and can't find a job, we've got to continue to stress job creation. We've got to do what's right. We've got to do what's right by our people to make sure they can find a job. I want people being able to put food on the table.
I'm optimistic. We've overcome some pretty steep hurdles already. After all, the economy has gone through a recession. We withstood some serious terrorist attacks. And yet we're still strong, and we're moving forward. But we won't rest. We won't rest until people can find work.
Shelley Moore Capito and I understand the role of small business in our society. It's important to have somebody in Congress who understands that. She serves on the Committee for Small Business. See, we understand most new jobs are created by entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Seventy percent of new job creation, it comes from the ingenuity and hard work of our small-business sector. And therefore, growth policy ought to be directed toward small businesses. One thing to make sure small businesses grow is to make sure they have more money in their pocket. That's why the tax relief plan we passed makes eminent sense for job creation.
That tax relief plan was good for small businesses and job creation, and it is good for West Virginia citizens as well. Over the next 10 years, that relief plan, if it stays intact, will provide you all $5.5 billion. Now, I want you to understand, Shelley and I understand, we're not talking about the Government's money. See, that's the difference of attitude with some of them in Washington. They say, "Oh, we're spending the Government's money, or we're giving the Government's money back to the people." It's your money to begin with.
That tax relief plan was important because when you have more money in your pocket, you're more than likely to demand an additional good or a service. And when you demand a good or a service in the marketplace, somebody is going to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that good or service, somebody in West Virginia or around America is more likely to find work. I need people in the United States Congress who understand this and are willing to make the tax cuts permanent. And make no mistake about it, that somebody in West Virginia is Shelley Moore Capito.
There are other things we can do in Congress to get people working. We need terrorism insurance. We want our hardhats working. We want the people who are wearing those hardhats building those buildings. And therefore, the Congress needs to work with the administration to make sure there's terrorism insurance to get billions of dollars of construction programs going again. And by the way, the bill must reward the hard-working Americans, the hardhats, and not America's trial lawyers.
I appreciate working with Shelley on a key issue for West Virginia and America, and that's an energy plan. It's about time this country had an energy plan. That's good for not only job security but national security. We need an energy plan which encourages conservation, works on renewables. We need an energy plan that's realistic. We need an energy plan that understands the importance of coal and clean coal technology. We need an energy plan that not only helps people find work, but an energy plan that makes us less reliant on foreign sources of crude oil.
No, there are some things that Congress can do, and there's something Congress has done to help the economy. Not only did the terrorists attack us, which hurt the economy; we had a slight problem—more than a slight problem, a significant problem with some of the people running corporate America. See, they thought they could lie, fudge the numbers, and get away with it.
We sure did—we passed the best corporate reform bill since Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President. Shelley Moore Capito was by my side passing that law, and there's a new signal we're sending: No more easy money in America, just hard time.
We've got the foundation for growth, and we'll continue to work together to make sure people can find work. We also got to work together to make sure our health care systems work. Medicare is a key issue. The Speaker found one of the best there is and put her on as the vice-chairman of the Speaker's prescription drug task force, and that's your Congresswoman. You see, medicine has changed. Medicine has changed because of technology and new discoveries. Medicare hasn't changed. Medicine is progressive. Medicare is stuck in the past. For the sake of a good future for our citizens, we must make sure Medicare is modern, and that means prescription drug benefits for our seniors. And Shelley Moore Capito led the way in the House of Representatives on this key issue.
And there's another key issue facing health care. We want our citizens to be able to have affordable health care. And there must be doctors available. One of my big concerns is the medical liability situation around the country. Listen, we want our people to be able to get to the courts if they've got a claim. Everybody ought to be able to go to the courts if they have a claim. But the problem is, frivolous and junk lawsuits are driving doctors out of business and are running the price of medicine up. And Shelley Moore Capito understands the need for medical liability reform for the good of West Virginia patients, so health care is affordable and health care is accessible.
And one other issue we worked on— I'm real proud of her work—and that is to make sure our schools are great. We passed one of the most meaningful education reform packages in a long, long time. Thanks to Shelley Moore's hard work, the West Virginia schools will receive $330 million of Federal money this year.
But we did something else. We passed power out of Washington because we believe in local control of schools. But we also were willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. We've set high standards and high expectations. We expect the best for every single child who lives in America. We'll praise success. But when we find children trapped in schools which will not teach and will not change, we will demand that the status quo changes. No child shall be left behind in America.
No, I appreciate working with Shelley Moore Capito on these key issues, and we'll continue working together for the good of the country and for the good of West Virginia. There's one big issue that we're going to work together on as well. Overriding all the concerns I've just outlined is one big issue, and that is to protect America. That's our most important job, is to protect you and your families from further attack. And there's still an enemy out there lurking around.
Audience members. Go get 'em!
The President. And they're motivated. They're motivated because they hate us, and they hate us because of what we love. We love freedom, and we're not going to change.
And so, in order to make sure we do a good job—and by the way, there's a lot of good people working on your behalf right now, at the Federal level and the State level and the local level. We got the message about this enemy. We're aware they're there. We're aware of their hatreds. We know that they're different from Americans because they don't value innocent life, and we say, "Every life is precious. Everybody counts. Everybody has worth."
So we understand, and anytime we get a hint that somebody is thinking about doing something to America, we're moving on it. Anytime we get any evidence that somebody is trying to do something to this great country, we're going to move; we're going to deny; we're going to disrupt—everything within our power and within the United States Constitution to do our solemn duty, which is to protect the American people.
And that's why I went to the United States Congress and asked them to join with me in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, so we can better protect the homeland, so we can get the agencies involved with homeland security to work together, to set as their priority your protection, and if need be, to work together to change cultures, so that the number one priority is in fact the protection of the homeland.
Shelley Moore Capito supported my version of the bill in the House. It got stuck in the United States Senate. And let me tell you why: Because the United States Senate wanted to take away a power every President has had since John F. Kennedy. Every President since Kennedy has had the capacity to suspend some work rules in order—for the sake of national security. Presidents have had the capacity to say, "Well, this is in our Nation's interest. Therefore, certain work rules must be scrapped for the good of the country."
Secondly, I need the flexibility and the ability to put the right people at the right time at the right—I don't need a book this thick of bureaucratic rules written by special interests in Washington. I appreciate Shelley's support on this key issue. But I want you all to know that the best way to protect America, the best homeland protection, is to chase the killers down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice. And that's what we're going to do.
I want to thank the Congress for sending a defense bill to my desk that was the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I asked for that increase for two reasons, and I want to share them with you. I believe strongly that anytime we put one of our youngsters into harm's way, anytime our military goes into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. We owe that to our soldiers, and we owe that to the loved ones of our soldiers.
And secondly, the message we sent with that defense bill is this—and it's important for you to hear this; it's important for our enemy to hear this and our friends to hear this—it doesn't matter how long it takes to defend America; we will defend our country. There's no calendar on my desk, in that great Oval Office—there is no calendar on my desk that says, by such-andsuch a date, we're hauling it in. That's just not the way I think, and I know it's not the way America thinks. We have a duty and an obligation to defend our freedoms. We have an obligation to the youngsters coming up to make sure our society is a free society. We have an obligation to defend the innocent. We have an obligation to bring justice to those who murder Americans. That's our obligation, and it's an obligation we will keep.
Shelley understands, like I know, this is a different kind of war. Some great veterans here with us today, they remember the days when you could judge progress against an enemy by the number of tanks that you destroyed or the number of airplanes you shot down or the number of ships you sunk. This enemy doesn't have tanks. They don't have ships. They hide in caves. They live in—they kind of ooch around—[laughter]—dark corners of the world and send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. They're fanatics. They're motivated out of hate. They only way to treat them is like they are, coldblooded killers, and run them down.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. It is important for our countrymen to understand, therapy won't work. [Laughter] And that's why we put together this coalition of freedom-loving countries, to disrupt them, to cut off their money, and to put the spotlight on them in these caves. The doctrine that says, "Either you're with us, or you're with the enemy" still stands.
And we're making good progress on this different kind of war. Sometimes you'll see it on your TV screens; sometimes you're just not going to know about it. But slowly but surely, we're rounding them up. We've hauled in over a couple of thousand of them; like number weren't as lucky. Either case, neither group is a threat.
One of them popped his head up the other day, the 20th hijacker. He's not a problem to America anymore, either.
It's important for us to be steady and determined to succeed, because, you see, the stakes have changed. I can see a lot of folks my age out there that remember the day when oceans protected us. If there was a conflict somewhere around the world, we felt pretty good at home, because the oceans were able to protect the homeland. But on September the 11th, on that tragic day, history changed. We now have got the battlefield here at home, and therefore, it's very important for us to be clear-eyed and realistic. We can't look at the world the way we hope the world would be. We must look at the world the way it is. We must see threats for what they are.
And there's a true threat to America and our friends and allies in Iraq. Saddam Hussein—Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world that he would have no weapons of mass destruction. He deceived the world. For 11 long years, he has deceived and denied the truth. This is a man who not only has weapons of mass destruction, a man who was close to having a nuclear weapon at one time, a man who has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people and in his neighborhood. This is a man who hates America and hates our friends. This is a man who has defied the United Nations 16 times. Sixteen times the United Nations has said, "Disarm like you said you were going to," and 16 times he thumbs his nose.
So I went to the United Nations. I said, "I want you to succeed as a body. It's important for you to succeed, it seems like to me, when we face new threats to freedom, new threats to countries such as America. We want you to succeed. We want you to be an effective body. We don't want you to be the League of Nations, an empty debating society." They have a choice to make as to whether or not they want the United Nations to be effective. We of course want them to be.
Saddam Hussein has a choice to make. We've made it clear that nobody likes war; nobody likes what could happen during war. But for the sake of peace, Mr. Hussein, get rid of your weapons. You said you wouldn't have them. Get rid of them.
The other day the United States Congress stood strong and spoke with one voice. And here's our message: If the United Nations is incapable of disarming Saddam Hussein and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm, then the United States, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, the United States will lead a coalition of nations and disarm Saddam Hussein.
We have a chance—we have a chance because of what the enemy did to us to lead the world to peace. See, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good, because this is a really strong nation. I don't know what went through their mind, what they were thinking about when they attacked America. They probably thought our national religion was materialism, that we were so self-absorbed and selfish that after September the 11th we might file a lawsuit or two. [Laughter] But they learned—they learned something about America, something you know and I know, that when it comes to the defense of our freedom, when it comes to fighting for things we hold dear, there's nothing stopping this great Nation.
No, we're not only a great nation militarily; we're a great nation, period. I want you to remind your youngsters that in the first theater of the first war of the 21st century, we went into an impoverished country, Afghanistan, not to conquer anybody but to liberate people. We believe every life counts; everybody is precious. We understand freedom is not American-given; it is God-given. And we believe in freedom for all people.
I believe out of the evil done to America is going to come some great good, starting with peace. Amidst all the talk of war, I have a vision for peace. I want America to be at peace. I want there to be peace in parts of the world that have given up on peace—peace in the Middle East and peace in South Asia.
No, if we remain strong, diligent, and focused as we rout out terror and deal with some of the world's dictators that want to harm us or our friends with weapons of mass destruction, we can achieve peace and lasting peace. And here at home, we can have a better America.
Here at home, we have a chance to take an assessment of what's important in life. A lot of people have done that. September the 11th was a shock to our systems. A lot of people took a step back and said, "What is life all about? What can I do to help? What can I do to help fight evil?" And my answer is, do some good. If you want to fight evil, love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
There are people who hurt in America. Amongst our plenty, there are people who hurt. There's addiction and loneliness and hopelessness. There are people, when you say "American Dream," they go, "I don't understand what you mean." So long as any of us hurt, we all hurt, as far as I'm concerned. But we've got to remember the limitations of Government.
We've talked about ways Government can improve people's lives. Government can hand out money, but Government can never put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That happens when a fellow citizen finds somebody who hurts, somebody in need, and puts their arm around them and says, "I love you, brother" or "I love you, sister." Part of the American spirit is not only to defend our freedoms, but part of the American spirit is to work to eradicate the problems that face our society, one heart, one soul, one person at a time.
And it's taking place here. Today I met John Wells, Jr., from right here from your—right here from West Virginia. For 30 years he's been active in youth organizations. He's been involved in Boy Scouts. He worked for the YMCA. You see, if you want to change America, it doesn't take much. Oh, you can mentor a child, which is a way to change America. You can help a shut-in. You can run a Girl Scout troop. You can do anything to help somebody realize their potential and that there's love and there's compassion in the world.
The American spirit calls upon each of us to serve something greater than ourself in life. Perhaps the most vivid example of that spirit and why it's alive and how it's alive today happened on Flight 93. I'm sure you remember. People were flying across the country. They were told that their plane was being used as a weapon. They were on their cell phones. They told their loved ones they loved them and goodbye. They said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll." They drove the plane into the ground to save life. They served something greater than themselves.
No, the American spirit is alive and well. It's strong, which allows me to boldly predict that out of the evil done to America is going to come a more peaceful world and a more hopeful America. And I say that with absolute certainty, because America is the greatest nation, full of the most decent people on the face of this Earth.
Thank you for coming tonight. May God bless you, and may God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 6:48 p.m. in the Coliseum at the Charleston Civic Center. In his remarks, he referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an Al Qaida operative suspected of helping to plan the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who was captured in Karachi, Pakistan.
George W. Bush, Remarks in Charleston, West Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/213179