George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senatorial Candidate James M. Talent in St. Louis, Missouri

March 18, 2002

Thank you very much. Be seated, please. Gosh, thanks for such a warm welcome. It's always good to have a good introducer. [Laughter] Bucky is my favorite uncle when I'm in St. Louis. [Laughter] He's my favorite uncle all the time; he's a fabulous man. Thanks, Buck. And I like to call Sam Fox "Foxy." Foxy, I didn't realize you were so eloquent. [Laughter] But I thank you for the leadership, and I want to thank you all for coming tonight. This is a magnificent crowd here to support the next United States Senator from Missouri, Jim Talent.

I appreciate Jim, and I appreciate the fact that he's a family man. Like me, he married above himself—[laughter]—so I appreciate Brenda. It's an honor to meet the three children today, and it's an honor to meet your mother, Brenda. I got a report from my homefront as well—I married really well. [Laughter] Laura is doing great, and I'm so proud of her. She's made a great First Lady for the country.

I want to thank the members of the Missouri delegation who are here, starting with the senior Senator, Kit Bond. Thank you for coming, Kit. I appreciate his leadership on a lot of important issues. Take election reform—he's making sure that we encourage people to vote, but he's working hard to make it tougher to cheat. Half of the Senators understand what he's trying to do. It seems like one out of the two Senators from Missouri understand that.

I want to thank the members from the congressional delegation here as well, Todd Akin, Roy Blunt, Jo Ann Emerson, Sam Graves, Kenny Hulshof. These are fine, fine Members of the United States Congress, and I'm proud to serve with them.

I want to thank all the members of the Republican Party who are here. I particularly want to thank the grassroots activists who man the phones and sign all the letters and get out the vote. I want to thank you for your hard work in 2000. I want to thank you for your hard work that you're fixing to do in 2002.

I'm here to support as strongly as I possibly can this good man to become the Senator—the next Senator from Missouri. And I do so for a reason, and it starts with the quality of the individual. He is a quality person who's got the right values. He is a steady man, and he is an experienced person who will bring good judgment to the United States Senate. And let me cite some of his qualifications.

First, he has been in Washington before. He was there for 8 years in the House of Representatives, where he made a mark of accomplishment. You know, in that town, we've got some good talkers, and then we've got the doers. We've got some people up there who like to hear themselves talk and others who actually get something done. And that's the way Jim Talent is; he knows how to get things done—things done not only for the good of Missouri, to get things done for—the things of Missouri, but to get things done positively in a positive way for the country.

I want the people of Missouri to remember he served on the Armed Services Committee, and he stood up for a strong national defense when he was there. And obviously, that was before we entered this war. And thank goodness he did stand up for a strong national defense when he was there, because it enabled us to have a military capable of accomplishing the first mission we sent them out to do, which was to destroy the Taliban.

He worked on historic welfare reform. He worked to change a culture of dependency to one that recognized if you get a job, if you find work, you can be independent from Government. This welfare reform law is an unqualified success, and I want to thank you for your work on that, Jim.

We share a philosophy about the role of Government. The role of Government is not to create wealth but an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish, an environment in which the small-business person can dream big and take risks and realize his or her dreams of owning your own company in America. Jim understands small business.

Today I was on the outskirts of the great city of St. Louis, where we had a chance to meet some small-business entrepreneurs, where I laid out a way to make the tax structure more conducive to entrepreneurial development. Jim Talent understands that, and it's important for Missouri to have a voice for the small-business person in the Halls of the United States Senate.

He also understands good tax policy. If you give people their own money to spend, that increases demand. And when there's more demand, somebody meets that demand through more production, and production means jobs. We cut the taxes on the American people at the exact right time, and Jim Talent understands that. Some in Washington seem to forget whose money we're spending. They think it's the Government's money. What Talent understands, like I understand, it's the people's money.

And one of the things we can't afford to do is to have people in Washington who don't like the tax cut because it diminishes the role of the Federal Government. I've heard some rumblings—and you might have heard them, too—that people say, "Well, gosh, we're in a recession; we probably ought to not go through with the tax cuts," which in effect is a tax raise. They're reading the wrong economics textbook. You don't raise taxes when the economy is slow; you trust the people with their own money when the economy is slow. And that's exactly what we did in Washington, DC. And that's exactly the attitude Jim Talent will take when you send him up to represent Missouri in the United States Senate.

And we need to do more when it comes to tax relief, starting with making sure that the death tax is permanent, that we say to the American people, you have the right to pass on your farm or your small business to whoever you want to pass them on to, without getting taxed twice by the Federal Government. Talent understands that, and we need that kind of thinking in the United States Senate.

He also understands that this Nation needs an energy policy—an energy policy on the one hand that encourages conservation, that uses our technologies to make sure we remain productive but consume less, but on the other hand, that we better find sources of energy at home in order to make us less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil. It is in our national security interests that we have a balanced energy policy. And my, do we need his vote in the United States right now when it comes to making sure we have a balanced energy policy.

And so these are some of the reasons why you need to send him to the United States Senate: He's accomplished; he's a serious man; he's a can-do fellow who's got the experience to back it up; and I can't wait to work with him when he gets elected this fall.

And not only do we have a big job at home, we've obviously got a big job abroad as well. We're fighting a war, and I want to share with you all some of my thoughts about this war that we fight.

First of all, you've got to know that we're fighting against a determined group of killers. These are people who would rather die than surrender. These are people who hate America. They hate our freedom. They hate our freedom to worship. They hate our freedom to vote. They hate our freedom of the press. They hate our freedom to say what you want to say. They can't stand what we stand for. And therefore, we have no choice but to hunt them down one by one to defend the very freedom we hold dear in America. And that is exactly what we're going to do.

The enemy must have thought they were hitting a society that was so soft, so self-absorbed, so materialistic that we would sue them. [Laughter] They didn't understand America. They didn't understand our fiber. They don't understand our core. They don't know what we're made out of. At least, they didn't. Now they do.

I made it absolutely clear when we first got going that if a country harbored a terrorist or fed a terrorist or hid a terrorist, they were just as guilty as the murderers who hit us on September the 11th. And now the Taliban knows exactly what I meant. Thanks to a magnificent United States military and a vast coalition, we have routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. I'm proud of our military, and I'm proud of our country. We went into Afghanistan not to seek revenge but justice, and we went into that country not as conquerors but as liberators. We have freed Afghan people from the clutches of one of the most barbaric, backward regimes history has ever known.

Later on this week, schools will reopen in Afghanistan, and incredibly enough, for the first time, young girls get to go to school, thanks to the United States and our coalition. And so the other day, in Washington, I declared that the first phase in our war against terror had ended. We upheld the doctrine of a nation harboring a terrorist and the consequences we made clear.

But I want to tell you all, there is more to do. You see, there are still thousands of Al-Qaida-trained killers on the loose, and we will treat them the way they are, which is like international fugitives. We will deny them sanctuary. We will keep them on the run. We'll disrupt their finances. No matter how long it takes, we're going to get them and bring them to justice. There is no cave deep enough for the justice of the United States of America.

And therefore, I have submitted to the United States Congress a budget which makes our national security the number one priority. I've asked for the largest defense increase—spending on defense since 20 years ago. And I expect Congress to pass this budget, because they've got to understand, if we're putting our young soldiers in harm's way, they deserve the best equipment, the best training, the best pay possible. The price of freedom is high, but as far as I'm concerned, it is never too high.

And so not only do I expect Congress to support our military and pass this budget; I expect them to do it early, rather than late. The history of the United States Congress is such that they hold back the defense appropriations bill to the last minute. That's bad policy. It's bad policy in times of peace, and it's terrible policy in times of war. I expect and hope the first appropriation bill to my desk is to fund the United States military.

There's more to the war on terror than one single individual or one single network. The nightmare scenario is for our Nation to tire and weary and allow an Al Qaida organization or an Al-Qaida-type organization to mate up with a nation which has developed weapons of mass destruction, a nation which has got a history of treating her people poorly, a dictatorial nation. We cannot—we cannot—allow the world's worst regimes to develop the world's worst weapons and therefore hold the United States and our allies hostage. We owe it to our children and our children's children to be firm and to be tough and to say to those bullies and dictators, "We will not let you stand and get away with blackmailing the world."

Here's the way I view it: History has called us into action. History demands that this Nation honor our commitment to freedom and our love for freedom. We not only owe it to the citizens who live in the United States today to make sure that our homeland is as secure as possible—and make no mistake, we're doing everything we can to secure the homeland—but the best way to secure the homeland is to bring the killers to justice, no matter where they hide. We not only owe it to people who live in America today; we owe it to future generations of Americans. We owe it to children and our children's children, so they can grow up in a society that knows the freedom that we have loved, the freedom so dear to our heart. The world is looking at the United States of America to see whether or not we will blink. I want to assure you all that we won't blink, that we're going to remain diligent and firm in our love, in our quest and our drive to rid the world of terror.

And I believe—and I firmly believe that when the United States leads, we have a chance to achieve long-lasting peace. I believe out of this evil will come some incredible good. I believe that by leading this coalition in a firm way, that we will be able to achieve peace in parts of the world that never dreamt they would ever see peace. I believe that.

And not only that, I believe that out of this evil will come some incredible good at home. I believe that the evil ones have unleashed the great compassion of America at home. I'm oftentimes asked, "How do I help in the war against terror?" People all the time are asking here in America, "What can I do?" And my answer is this: If you want to fight terror, love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to stand up to terror and evil, be a part of the great compassion of America. Reach out to a fellow citizen in need; mentor a child; walk across the street and say to a shut-in, "I love you. What can I do to help?" You see, it is the momentum, the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and decency which will allow this great Nation to stand squarely in the face of evil, and there's no doubt in my mind that we can achieve that.

The great strength of America is not in our military—although that's pretty good, pretty strong these days. [Laughter] It is not in the Government. It is in the hearts and souls of the American people.

And so I call upon you all here in St. Louis, in the great State of Missouri, to make an extra effort to help somebody in need. I'm passionate about the understanding that we must unleash faith in our society, not a particular faith but faith to help change hearts. And so one of the initiatives that I'm looking forward to working with Jim on, and others here, is a faith-based initiative that understands out of our churches and synagogues and mosques come that compassionate help that will define the face of America. And our Government—we must not fear faith; we must welcome faith as we deal with the intangible problems that confront every neighborhood in the country of America, the problems of hopelessness—the problems of addiction and hopelessness.

When we fight abroad, we must also fight at home to make sure the American promise extends its reach throughout every neighborhood in our society. And in this country, we can achieve that. We've got to understand, it's not vast programs that save people's lives; it is saving people's lives one soul at a time that makes a difference in each of us. Each of us in America can make that difference.

I also believe, out of this incredible evil, that our culture is beginning to change from one that has said, "If it feels good, just go ahead and do it," and "If you've got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture which says, "Each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life."

That culture begins with moms and dads loving their children with all their heart and all their soul. That culture begins by understanding that materialism is shallow and empty and that to have a full life, you've got to love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. That's a culture that extends to corporate America as well. Corporate America has a responsibility to its citizens and a responsibility to make sure all the assets and liabilities are completely disclosed on one's balance sheet.

Now, we have a chance—we have a chance, through the acts of kindness in our country, through the deep compassion that exists in our hearts, to change the culture of America.

For me, probably the most defining event since September the 11th was on September the 11th, Flight 93. When United States citizens on this flight talked to their loved ones on the ground and realized what was taking place in the Nation's Capital, they said a prayer, they told their wives they loved them, they said, "Let's roll," and they sacrificed for something greater than themselves. Americans from all walks of life got to see the noble cause of serving something greater than yourself in life. To me, the spirit on that airplane defined the possibilities of our country, and man, what a great country it is.

Not only will we win the war on terror to secure the peace in the world; we will show the world that a diverse nation from all walks of life and all religions can be compassionate and kind and hopeful for everyone who's lucky enough to be an American citizen.

I want to thank you all for coming and for supporting Jim Talent. I'm confident he can win with your help. And I want to thank you all for coming tonight. It gives me a chance to tell you how honored I am to be the President of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.

May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:28 p.m. in the America's Ballroom at America's Center. In his remarks, he referred to William H.T. "Bucky" Bush and Sam Fox, cochairs of the event, "A Missouri Salute to President George W. Bush"; Jim Talent's wife, Brenda; their children Michael, Kate, and Chrissy; and Brenda Talent's mother, Katie Lyons.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senatorial Candidate James M. Talent in St. Louis, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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