George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraiser for Senatorial Candidate Greg Ganske in Cedar Rapids

April 15, 2002

Thank you all very much. Thank you all. Please be seated. Well, Greg, thank you very much for that warm introduction. I want to thank you all for the warm welcome. I'm here because I want Greg Ganske to become the next United States Senator from Iowa.

I'll never forget that I ended up where I am because of the good folks in Iowa. It all started here. And I want to thank many of you who—I want to thank you all so very much for making this, Greg tells me, the largest fundraiser in Iowa history. I want to thank you all very much for supporting Laura and me. I want to thank those of you involved in the grassroots politics in Iowa for all your hard work, for the phones you dial and for the envelopes that you stuff. I want to thank you all for working hard to make our country as great a country as it can possibly be.

It is an honor to be back in Iowa. I'm only sorry that First Lady Laura Bush didn't come with me. Like Ganske, we both married above ourselves. [Laughter] I appreciate Corrine Ganske. I appreciate her patience. I appreciate her willingness to work with Greg to ensure that he becomes the next United States Senator from Iowa. I was most impressed that Ganske's mother-in-law came. [Laughter] That's a good sign. [Laughter]

I want you to know that I am incredibly proud of Laura, just as proud of Laura as Greg is of Corrine. She has brought a lot of calm and steadiness to our country. You know, when I asked her to marry me, she was a public school librarian. She didn't particularly care for politics. She wasn't all that thrilled to be around politicians. But people in America are now beginning to realize why I asked her to marry me. A lot of folks are still somewhat concerned as to why she said yes. [Laughter] But I want you to know that she is doing a fabulous job, and I'm really proud of her.

I want to thank Greg's colleague Jim Leach for being here tonight. Jim Leach is one of the true class acts of the United States Congress. He still reminds me that he was a fine wrestler in high school and college but not nearly as good as Dan Gable, and I want to thank Dan Gable for being here as well tonight, too. I know Greg is proud to call you friend and supporter, and I know Iowa is proud to call you son. And they're also proud of Cael Sanderson and his incredible accomplishments as one of the finest college athletes ever. Cael, thank you for being here tonight as well.

I know that two former Governors are here, friends of mine, people who distinguished themselves when they held the high honor of being Governor of Iowa, and that's Terry Branstad and Bob Ray. I want to thank you all for coming.

I know that Ron Corbett is here, and I appreciate Ron helping Greg, and I appreciate him being the president of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce. And Chuck Larson, the chairman of the Republican Party, he's doing a fantastic job on behalf of the Republicans in Iowa.

But most of all, I want to thank Greg for his willingness to run for the Senate.You know, Washington, DC, needs people like Greg who care more about getting things done than trying to be as shrill as they possibly can be. Washington, DC, needs people of accomplishment, people who are not interested in needless partisan fighting but who put America—and Iowa, in this case—foremost in their agenda. And that is Greg Ganske.

I was here today at General Mills, and I want to thank that fine company for their hospitality and remind people that April 15th, today, can actually be called tax relief day. [Laughter] I came to Iowa, and I laid out a tax relief plan in Des Moines, Iowa— it's the first place that I talked about it. And I said, "If you give me a chance to be the President, I look forward to taking your message to Washington, DC." And that is, first of all, that the money we're dealing with is not the Government's money; it's the people's money.

I said as plainly as I could, "If you give me a chance to be the President, I'm going to work with whoever will listen, to make sure people have got plenty of money, their own money in their pockets, so they get to make the decisions as what to do with their own money." And thanks to people like Greg Ganske, we delivered on that promise. Tax relief was incredibly important not only to working families in America; tax relief came at the right time. Our economy was beginning to grind down. Our economy was slowing down too much.

And people in Washington, people like Ganske and Leach and others, understand that when you let people keep their own money, they will spend. And when they spend on goods and services, somebody is going to produce those goods and services. And when somebody produces those goods and services, it means jobs for the working people. Thank goodness we cut the taxes on the American people when we did.

And part of that tax relief not only deals with the marriage penalty—because Greg and I and others, believe we ought to promote families and promote marriage—part of it recognizes the—many in Iowa are struggling to raise children. Single moms is—the toughest job in our country is being a single mom. And we increased the child credit.

But the other thing we did which was important for Iowa is that we put the death tax on its way to extinction. It is important for Iowa farmers—repealing that death tax is important for people who own the land. It makes no sense to have a Tax Code that taxes people's assets twice.

Now, what's curious about how the United States Senate works is that the repeal of the death tax is not permanent. In 2011, it can come back to haunt small-business owners and farmers and ranchers and people who work all their life to leave their assets to their children. And what we need is to make all tax relief permanent, and Greg Ganske is willing to make that tough vote, and I appreciate that very much.

There's a practical reason to elect Ganske, because he's going to be part of the change of leadership in the United States Senate. And when we change the leadership in the United States Senate, thanks to his election, Senator Chuck Grassley will become chairman of the Finance Committee, and that's going to be good for Iowa. And that's not only good for Iowa, that's good for America. I appreciate Chuck. I appreciate his hard work. He, like Greg, is a fine, solid—solid—citizen who represents your State with a lot of class and a lot of distinction in Washington, DC. We need a majority because I want my judges to be given a fair hearing.

I want to tell you I appreciate Greg's understanding of the importance of trade. Jim Leach reminded me that here in Cedar Rapids—this is a town that relies upon trade—more dollars per capita generated through trade than almost any other city in the United States. Of any city in the Nation that understands the importance of trade, it's right here.

And the President needs what's called trade promotion authority. I need the ability to negotiate trade agreements all around the world. There are some in Washington, DC, who want to build walls and protection around America, but a confident nation is one that tears those walls down. We are the best farmers in the world, and we ought to be selling Iowa products all across the world.

I appreciate very much Greg's understanding of the need for a comprehensive energy policy. I submitted a plan to the House that Greg sponsored and supported, that is a balanced plan. It says on the one hand we've got to do a better job of conserving energy in America, and we've got to use our technologies to lead the way to not only cleaner air but to better conservation. I believe that one of these days we're going to have brand new types of cars that are going to make us less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil, and we'll be more better at cleaning our air. And that's coming down the road. And part of the bill that we worked together on has got those incentives for technological development, and it's going to happen. It's going to happen in our lifetime.

But I want you to know that in the meantime, for the sake of economic security and for the sake of national security, we need to be finding more energy at home. We import more than 50 percent of our energy from around the world. And some of those countries from which we import, they don't like America. And I don't like to be in a position of having to rely upon energy from countries that don't like us.

I've heard the rhetoric like you. I just want you to know, I've got all the confidence in the world that we'll be able to explore at home and protect the environment. Technology has developed so that we can have a exploration program that doesn't permanently scar the environment, that understands the importance of environmental policy. And as we're working on sound, comprehensive energy policy, we must also work on renewables—renewables such as ethanol.

All of these elements are a part of an energy bill that Greg helped get out of the House, that is stalled in the United States Senate. I repeat: For the sake of economic security of those who work for a living and for the sake of national security, we need Senators in Washington, DC, who will promote and work for sound energy policy. It's good for the country.

I appreciate Greg's big heart. He's a fellow who's always served his fellow citizen. He's used his God-given talents as a surgeon to help those in need, and that's important, to have people with big hearts in Washington, DC. I appreciate his deep concern about the Medicare funding formulas that so affect rural Iowa. He gave me an earful on Air Force One, I want you to know. [Laughter] I appreciate so very much his concern about the doctor-patient relationship and making sure that's intact.

But most of all, the thing I appreciate him is, he's a good thinker and a hard worker who cares deeply about the citizens of this State. Greg Ganske is going to make a United—a fine United States Senator, and there's no doubt in my mind he's going to win next November. And I look forward to working with him in the Senate on a lot of issues other than those I've discussed.

I want to talk about three issues facing America. First, our homeland security. My most important job is to make sure the enemy doesn't hit us again. My most important job is to protect innocent Americans.

You need to know that the nature of the people we're dealing with, they're coldblooded killers. They hate us, and you know why they hate us? They hate us because we love freedom. They hate us because we love the fact and honor the fact that we worship freely in America. They can't stand the thought of free elections, free press. And they're out there.

But I also want you to know, we're doing everything in our power to protect the homeland. We've got a homeland security strategy that is preparing our noble and brave first-responders, should something happen—that would be the police and the fire and the EMS folks. We've got an initiative on bioterrorism that's smart and wise. We're increasing our security at our borders. We want an INS—that's the folks who're supposed to know who's coming in and coming out—to be modern. We want to know who's coming in our country and why they're coming in and if they're leaving when they're supposed to be leaving.

And I also want to assure you that anytime we get any lead, any hint that somebody might try to do something to an American citizen or an American city, we're responding. We're chasing down every single lead there is. We're on alert. Our law enforcement officials are communicating much better than ever before.

But the best way to secure the homeland is to run down the killers one by one and bring them to justice, and that's exactly what we're going to do. History has called us into action. And we're not going to tire, because when it comes to the defense of our freedoms, when it comes to civilization itself, this Nation is going to stand tall.

You know, I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the Al Qaida killers. I guess they just thought they were going to hit us, and because we were so materialistic, in their minds, so self-absorbed, so incredibly selfish, that all we were going to do was file a lawsuit. [Laughter] They were wrong. Anytime anybody— anytime it comes to defending that which we hold dear, this Nation will be strong and resolute and determined.

I'm sure you've read about the budget priorities that I—the budget I submitted, with its priorities. And by far the biggest priority is a increase in the spending for our national security and the defense budget. And I want to explain why.

First, anytime we commit a troop into action, that person must have the best equipment, the best training, the best possible—the best pay possible. You see, I've heard the debates in Washington about how high the budget is. The price of freedom is high, but as far as I'm concerned, it's never too high.

I've also submitted a budget that's increased because we're in this thing for the long haul. There is no calendar on my desk that says, by such-and-such a date we're going to quit. I don't feel any constraints of time. I'm a patient man. And fortunately, so is the United States of America, much to the chagrin of our enemy.

Our first task was to uphold the doctrine that said, "If you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists." And the Taliban understood—understands now exactly what the United States of America meant.

But I want to assure you that this great Nation does not seek revenge. We seek justice. We don't have revenge in our heart. We're going to defend freedom by holding people accountable. The Taliban, the hosts to the parasites, was one of the most backward and barbaric governments that modern man has ever seen. And thanks to a vast coalition and the United States military, we routed them out.

And as a result, we were liberators of a country. It's so important for you all to remind the young, your children or your neighbors, that this great, mighty Nation freed people. We gave people a chance— young girls a chance to go to school for the first time in their life. Not only are we protecting the homeland, we're also protecting the human dignity of people around the world.

There's a lot of work to be done. Afghanistan is still a dangerous place. A couple of weeks ago they bunched up, and we got them. I don't know if they're going to bunch up again. [Laughter] But if they do, we're going to rout them out. We denied sanctuary for them. We've ruined their training bases. We're disrupting their finances. We got them on the run. We're treating them exactly the way they are, international criminals. And the only way to treat an international criminal is to hunt them down and bring them to justice. For the good of the world, this country is going to do exactly that.

And I meant what I said when I talked about making sure that our Nation or our friends are never threatened or blackmailed by some of the world's worst leaders, harboring and developing the world's worst weapons. We cannot allow nations that— run by people who have gassed their own citizens, nations who want to destroy our friends and allies, nations who hate America, to develop and deploy weapons of mass destruction. You need to know I'm patient. I'll consult with our allies and friends. I'm steady when it comes to the mission, but they're not going to get away with it. For the good of our future, they're not going to get away with it.

And so our Nation has got to keep its resolution. But that's easy, because this is such a fabulous land. We know what's at stake. I want you to know that out of this evil is going to come some good, and I firmly believe that. If we remain steadfast and strong and determined to rout out terror, we can achieve peace in the world. That's my dream, and that's my hope. Oh, I know talking about military budgets and getting them and all that stuff is part of my—the way I talk. But you just need to know, in my heart is the drive and desire to achieve lasting peace.

And we're willing to work for peace in regions of the world where some may say peace never has a chance. I am very proud of the hard work and the diligent effort of Secretary of State Colin Powell, working to lay the foundations for peace in the Middle East.

And I also believe that out of this evil will come incredible good at home. People say, they say, "Well, gosh, I want to try to contribute in the war against terror."And there's an easy way to do that: It's to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good: Mentor a child; start a program in your church or your synagogue or a mosque that feeds the hungry; understand that in our Nation there are pockets of hopelessness and despair, but those pockets of hopelessness and despair can be changed as a result of loving Americans working hard to save our country one heart and one soul, one conscience at a time.

No, the enemy hit us, but they have given us a good chance to work for peace and to show the world the true compassion of America. If there's a young one out there looking for something to do, we've got what's called the USA Freedom Corps. Go to the Peace Corps and help spread American values. Become a teacher and teach a child not only how to read and write and add and subtract, but teach them the important values that make our country unique.

I always have said that I believe our Nation can work together to change a culture which has said, "If it feels good, just go ahead and do it," and "If you've got a problem, blame somebody else." I believe—I believe we're in the process of ushering in a new type of culture, one which says, "We're all responsible for the decisions we make in life"; that if you're a mom or dad, that if you happen to be fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, it's your responsibility to love that child with all your heart and all your soul; if you're fortunate enough to be an American—responsibility to love your neighbor; that if you run in—if you're in corporate America, you have a responsibility to your workers and your shareholders to fully disclose assets and liabilities.

And this great country is responding. The gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness truly defines our Nation. The notion of sacrificing for something greater than yourself has become a part of our national conscience. Sacrifice, again I repeat, is to help somebody in need.

That sacrifice came very clear to me and Americans on Flight 93, when people, passengers, people going to work or wherever they were going to, were on cell phones and realized America was under attack and realized the plane they were on was going to be used as a weapon. And they told their loved ones they loved them, said a prayer, and sacrificed their lives so others could live.

To me, that defines the American spirit and what is possible, in all kinds of ways, across the country. The evil ones hit us, but this great Nation is not going to allow the evil ones to have its day. This great Nation will rise up, with its goodness and kindness and compassion, and show the world not only our strength, not only our determination, but show the world we understand the true meaning of love.

I want to thank you all for coming tonight. It is my honor—it is my incredible honor to be the President of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:23 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. In his remarks, he referred to Dan Gable, former head coach, men's wrestling, University of Iowa; and Cael Sanderson, wrestler, Iowa State University.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Fundraiser for Senatorial Candidate Greg Ganske in Cedar Rapids Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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