George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Luncheon for Governor Scott McCallum of Wisconsin in Milwaukee

August 14, 2002

Thank you very much. And you know what I think? I think the voters of Wisconsin are going to say yes to Scott McCallum as the Governor. I am here to help this good man because I believe in him. And I believe he's going to win. And I want to thank you all for helping him. I want to thank you for being here today. I especially want to thank you for what you're fixing to do, which is to man the phones, go to the coffee shops, and turn out the vote. You've got a good one in Scott, a good, honest, decent, honorable man who is willing to make tough decisions. And you need to send him back to the statehouse for 4 more years.

And I appreciate so very much the first lady of the State of Wisconsin, Laurie. It is good to see her again, and their children. I want to thank those boys and the girl for supporting their dad in his run for the Governor's race.

I bring greetings from the First Lady of the United States. She is actually campaigning today in Texas for a friend of ours who is running for the United States Senate in Texas. You drew the short straw. [Laughter] But she is doing great. I don't know if you remember the story about Laura and me, but when I married her, she was a public school librarian. And the truth of the matter is, she didn't particularly care about politics or politicians. And now here she is, the First Lady of the United States. And she's doing a fabulous job. I'm really proud of her. We're working out of Crawford this month. It's a nice temperature differential. [Laughter] But she sends her regards and sends all her best to Scott and Laurie and the family during this really important quest to be your Governor.

I want to thank very much the Lieutenant Governor, Margaret Farrow, for being here as well. I find it very interesting that Governor Farrow is breaking the glass ceiling. She is the first female Lieutenant Governor in Wisconsin history.

I want to thank leaders of the statehouse who are here, Mary Panzer and Scott Jensen, who is the speaker of the house. Thank you both for coming. I want to thank other members of the legislature who are here. It is in your interest that this good man win.

I want to thank Scott Walker. I call him "cousin." After all, I'm George Walker Bush. [Laughter] At least I call him "cousin" so long as he's doing a good job. [Laughter] And they tell me he's doing a fine job. Scott, thank you for taking on a very important assignment as the Milwaukee county executive. And we wish you all the best.

I had the privilege of meeting the next attorney general of the State of Wisconsin, Vince Biskupic, and I want to thank Vince for being here as well.

I want to thank Rick Graber, who is the chairman of the Republican Party, a fellow I've gotten to know quite well and trust and appreciate his leadership. I want to thank Mary Buestrin, who is the national committeewoman. And I want to thank Craig Leipold, who is the finance chair for this fine event. Thank you all for coming.

I particularly want to thank the—those of you involved in grassroots politics. Oftentimes we come to these events and we never thank those who have manned the phones to even get the event going in the first place. I understand politics well. I know you cannot win without people energized at the grassroots. And for those of you who have worked tirelessly for Scott and for my behalf as well, thanks from the bottom of our hearts. And I hope this dinner serves as a way to continue—to get you to continue working, because you're vital to the success of any candidate running for public office. So thanks for coming today. It's great to see you.

I like a man who does what he says he's going to do, and that's what Scott did. Scott said he was going to deal with the budget in an upfront way, but he was going to do so without raising your taxes. A lot of folks in politics try to find the easy way out, but Scott stuck to his word. He said, "We've got a budget problem. I intend to work with people from both parties to solve the problem, but we're not going to solve the problem by raising the taxes in a State whose taxes are already too high." And he stuck to his word, and Wisconsin is going to be better off for having a Governor who sticks to his word.

I appreciate the fact that he is working to hold down spending. That's what I'm going to do in Washington. And yesterday I sent a pretty clear signal, I intend to bring some fiscal discipline to Washington, DC. We've got a process called the supplemental budget process. It's an opportunity for the Congress to fund emergency needs. And we needed extra funding for our military, and we needed funding for homeland security, and we needed extra funding to fulfill the commitment to the citizens of New York. But Congress, in its willingness to spend your money, added 5 billion extra dollars. And what made that interesting was that in order to spend any of the extra 5 billion, I had to spend it all. In other words, "You either spend all the 5 billion, Mr. President, or you don't spend a dime." They made their position clear. I made mine yesterday clear: We're not spending a dime.

It is important for those of us who have—in charge of the people's money to be fiscally sound and responsible. It's important to set priorities and make sure the appropriators stick to those priorities. And that's what Scott's done here in the State of Wisconsin. It's an important signal to send. During tough times, you've got to have somebody who's willing to make tough decisions. And that's what a leader does.

A leader is also somebody who understands that every child must be educated. I used to say that education is to a State what national defense is to the Federal Government. The most important priority of a Governor is to insist that there be quality education.

We passed a good piece of legislation out of Washington—which passes power out of Washington, DC, because I believe in local control of schools. But it also says, we're going to set the highest of high standards for every child. Scott knows what I know, that if you set low standards for children, you're going to get low results. If you expect mediocrity, you'll have mediocre students. We believe every child can learn and therefore are willing to insist upon high standards for every child.

And as importantly, I insist, and so does Scott, that we measure, that we hold people to account. See, if you believe children can't learn, you don't measure. But if you believe they can learn, you measure to see whether or not they are learning. And if they are, there ought to be praise for the teachers. But when we find children trapped in schools that won't teach and schools that won't change, it is essential you have leadership that demands something other than the status quo.

I appreciate Scott's vision of public education, and I believe under his leadership, the public education system here in Wisconsin will demand excellence. And by demanding excellence, our children will start to learn. No child in this country ought to be left behind.

I also appreciate Scott's integrity and his decency. He's a down-to-earth fellow. As we say down in Crawford, Texas, he doesn't have a bunch of fancy airs. What you see is what you get. And that's important. That's important for people in politics, to say what they mean and do what they say. You know, we've got a lot of good talkers in the political process, a lot of people who spin fancy promises. What the State needs here and what I believe we need in Washington are people who just say what they believe, work hard with people of both political parties to achieve it—in other words, be willing to be judged on accomplishment. And when people in Wisconsin judge this man on his accomplishments, they're going to put him back in the Governor's chair.

I appreciate Scott's understanding the role of Government is not to create wealth; the role of Government is to create an environment in which the producer and the entrepreneur can flourish. And that's an important distinction between he and how some of the others think. The other people think that Government is there to create wealth, that Government is the answer. Scott knows what I know, that you've got to trust the people. You trust the people with their own money. You trust the people with their own ambitions. You create an environment in which people, no matter where they're from or what they're like, can achieve their dreams. That means good regulatory policy; that means good tax policy; that means good fiscal policy. And that's the kind of Governor he has been, and that's the kind of Governor he will be.

Not only do I appreciate the chance to come and talk about Scott, I appreciate the chance to come and briefly talk about the hurdles our country faces, the challenges we face. Yesterday we had a fantastic event in Waco, at Baylor University. As I needled the crowd that came down there, I said, "I appreciate welcoming you to the middle of Texas in the middle of August." [Laughter] That's a heck of a commitment. [Laughter] We had people from all walks of life. We didn't ask their party registration. We just said, "Would you like to come and discuss your concerns about the economy?" We had laboring people and union heads and entrepreneurs and small-business people and farmers and ranchers, grandmothers. We had all kinds of people. It was a very interesting session because it showed that there is a concern. But it also showed me that we've got great strength in this country to deal with the economic challenges we face.

I heard over and over again that even though the statistics look pretty good these days, that people's confidence had been somewhat shaken. Nevertheless, they were confident in the long term of the American system. They're confident that so long as we have the right policies out of Washington, the entrepreneurial spirit would flourish. They were confident, if we make right choices when it comes to tax and fiscal policy, the economic growth will continue. I mean, after all, when we first got into office, we endured three quarters of economic negative growth. And then the last three quarters have been positive. So the trend is in the right direction. And interest rates are low. Inflation is low. Productivity is up. Consumer spending is strong. I mean, the ingredients for economic vitality are there.

But there are some more things we need to do, we need to make sure that not only is Congress fiscally responsible, we need to make sure that the tax cuts we passed become permanent. Now, we cut taxes at the right time. You see, Scott and I understand that if you let a person keep more of their own money, the person is going to demand a good or a service. If they demand a good or a service, somebody is going to produce the good and service. And when somebody produces the good and service, somebody is likely to find work. That's how the economy works.

In Washington, and I suspect here in Wisconsin, there are some who say, "Let's don't trust the people with their own money. Let's raise the taxes. Let's prevent tax reductions from going forward." There would be nothing worse for our economy than to take money away from the people who make the economy grow. We need to make the tax relief plan passed permanent. I say you need to make it permanent because under a quirk in the Senate law, all the work we did ends 10 years from the time I signed the bill. That's kind of an odd piece of legislation. It's one where you reduce something, and then 10 years later, it pops back up. That's why we need to make it permanent.

And we also need to make the repeal of the death tax permanent. The death tax is terrible on entrepreneurs, terrible on Wisconsin farmers, terrible on small-business owners. It's a terrible tax when you tax a person's assets twice.

No, I believe our economy is going to make good progress. I particularly believe, if Congress does the right thing, that we can make substantial progress. They did the right thing on trade, by the way. For the first time in a long time, I now have what's called trade promotion authority. And I understand good trade policy will yield good jobs. If you're confident about something, you try to promote it. I'm confident about the American people's ability to outproduce anybody in the world. I'm confident that Wisconsin farmers are the best in the world. I'm confident that our high-tech entrepreneurs are the best in the world. I'm confident that we can compete with a level playing field. I intend to use trade promotion authority to sell U.S. products abroad, which will be good for high-paying jobs here in America.

I believe in terrorism insurance. There are over $8 billion of construction projects which have been delayed because people can't get terrorism insurance. For the sake of hard-working Americans, for the sake of visionaries who want to build, Congress must have a terrorism insurance bill on my desk as soon as possible, a bill which rewards hard work, not trial lawyers.

We need an energy policy that promotes renewable energy, that uses technology to conserve more, but we need an energy policy that encourages environmentally friendly exploration at home. It is not only important for our economic security that we have an energy policy, it is important for our national security that we're less reliant on foreign sources of crude oil.

No, I believe we can make great progress and we'll continue to work with people of both political parties to create the environment necessary for our entrepreneurs to flourish.

And one thing is certain and one thing now people understand, that if you cook the books, you're going to be held to account. If you do not tell the truth to the American people, there is going to be a consequence. I signed, as Scott mentioned, the most comprehensive corporate reform since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. It should send a chilling effect on those who want to fine-print the American people. It should send a chilling effect to those who believe they can use fancy accounting footwork in order to achieve some kind of short-term objective. I've got a Corporate Fraud Task Force that's going to find those who have committed fraud, arrest those who have committed fraud, prosecute those who have committed fraud.

The American people have got to trust the books of corporate America. I trust by far the vast majority of people who run corporate America. I proudly wear a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes every day. [Laughter] I know my friend who runs Harley Davidson is here. These are great corporations; they're corporations because the CEO has decided to set the right kind of example by not only treating employees with respect but by understanding they've got an obligation to shareholder as well. I signed a good piece of legislation. We'll enforce the law. And Americans can be confident—can be confident that if somebody cheats them, there's going to be a consequence. And they need to be confident that by far the vast majority of our corporate leaders are honest and decent and honorable people.

We're making progress on the economic security of the American people. We're making progress on the homeland security for the American people. My most important job is to do everything we can to protect the homeland, is to prevent the enemy from hitting us again. And I sent up a pretty significant proposal to do just that. There's over 100 agencies in Washington, DC, that have got some part of the responsibility of protecting the homeland. It kind of makes it hard to hold people to account when there is 100 agencies scattered around. And so for the sake of setting priorities and for the sake of changing agencies' cultures so that they focus on homeland security, I proposed to Congress that we have a Cabinet office, a Cabinet agency involved with protecting our homeland— we move key agencies within an umbrella organization.

And we're making progress there. We're making progress because the House of Representatives passed a pretty good piece of legislation which will allow me and my Cabinet Secretary to put the right person at the right place at the right time in order to protect the homeland.

And now the Senate must act. But the problem is, the first blush of the Senate legislation shows that some Senators are more concerned about protecting their turf than they are protecting the American people. Some Senators are more worried about special interests than the interests of protecting the homeland. I'm not going to accept a piece of legislation which gives us a book this thick of bureaucratic rules, thereby hamstringing the capacity of this administration to protect the American people.

There's a lot of people—there are a lot of people working hard to protect us. There really are. They're working overtime. Anytime we get a hint or a piece of evidence, we're running it down. We take everything seriously here in America about—as to whether or not somebody might be trying to come and hurt American citizens. But the best way to protect the homeland is to chase the enemy down one by one and bring them to justice. That's the best way to protect the homeland, and that's what we're going to do.

It's a different kind of war than what we are used to. I guess the best way to describe it, it's like we're on an international manhunt for coldblooded killers. These are people that hide in a cave and send youngsters to their death. They don't require a lot of equipment. They don't have tanks going across a field or formations of aircraft flying around. These are people that don't value life and hate freedom. They don't care whether innocent people die, and they hate the fact that we value life here in America. They can't stand the fact that we worship freely, that we welcome all kinds of religions, that our Government is not a Government that promotes a religion. Our Government promotes freedom of religion. It irritates them.

And so long as we hold those values of freedom dear to our hearts, we're a target. But we're not going to change our values because some international killers don't like us. As a matter of fact, we're going to do something different. We're going to chase them down. We're going to unleash a great military. We're going to call upon a vast coalition. And no matter how long it takes—no matter how long it takes—we'll hunt them down one by one to protect our country and to secure our freedoms.

And we're making good progress. We're making good progress. In a little less than a year, we routed the Taliban. We upheld the doctrine, "If you harbor or feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists." And the Taliban found out what we meant. I want you all to tell your children, we went into Afghanistan not as conquerors but as liberators. And thanks to the United States and our coalition, young girls—many young girls now go to school for the first time.

And we didn't leave. We're helping that country build a democracy. We're helping that country rebuild herself so that she has a chance to be a prosperous nation at peace in her neighborhood. But there is still Al Qaida there in remote regions, and we've got brave troops who are hunting them down. And sometimes you'll read about it, and sometimes you won't. We have hauled in over 2,000 of them. One by one, we're finding them. It's not only the United States, but the Philippines or Spain, all kinds of countries are acting in concert. And a like number weren't as lucky.

But there's more work to do. There's more work to do. And I just want to assure you that I haven't forgotten September the 11th. I understand that history has called us into action. I'm never going to forget the love of freedom that the American States holds dear. I believe in our values. And so long as anybody is out there trying to bunch up or individually come and hurt us, my job is to act and act decisively. And that's exactly what our Government is going to do.

And so when you read about the defense budget I've submitted, I hope I'm giving you a flavor as to why I did ask for the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I believe anytime you put your troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment.

And I know it's important to send a signal to our friends and our enemies alike that the United States is in this for the long haul, that there isn't a calendar on my desk that says, oh, by such-and-such a date, we're going to quit; we're just going to stop. That's not what America is about. We love freedom. We understand we have an obligation to defend our freedoms.

But you need to know how I feel. I feel that by leading this coalition and by remaining strong and determined and patient, that we can achieve peace, peace in parts of the world that have given up on peace. I think we can have peace in the Middle East—I really do—by being strong and determined, by fighting terror and— on the one hand, and promoting democracy on the other. I believe we can achieve peace in South Asia. I believe we can achieve peace here at home. And that's my goal, and that's my dream.

See, I believe out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. At home I'm already beginning to see the signs of the good that's coming. See, people understand that—and people have asked the question, what can they do to help in the war against terror? And my answer was, love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want to be a part of a war on terror, love somebody in need. It's the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and decency which show the world the true character of America.

People have said, "What can I do to help?" And my answer is, serve something greater than yourself. Serve something greater than your own personal satisfaction, your own personal bottom line. Being a patriot in America, in my judgment, understands that when one of us suffers, all of us suffers. But I also understand Government can't do everything. We can write checks, but we can't put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. That requires neighbor loving neighbor; that requires faith-based programs flourishing throughout Milwaukee. You've got some fabulous faith-based programs here in Milwaukee. I know; I've seen them first hand. I've seen the power of faith work magic in people's lives right here in your neighborhood.

And so my call to you is, if you want to be a patriotic American, help a neighbor in need. It doesn't take a lot. Mentor a child. And I don't mean mentor a child on a kind of a haphazard basis. I mean, take a child and mentor that child for a while, until that child becomes literate. Or go into a shut-in's house and say, "I love you," on a daily basis or a regular basis. Feed somebody who needs some food. Help somebody find some shelter.

America is going to change, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. Many in your community understand one person can't do everything, but one person can do something to be a part of a cultural change which welcomes a new era, one different from the old times when it said, "If it feels good, go ahead and do it," and "If you've got a problem, blame somebody else," to a new era in which it says, "We're all responsible for the decisions we make in life." We're responsible for loving our children. We're responsible for helping a neighbor in need. We're responsible for the quality of the community in which we live.

Flight 93 was a defining moment in many ways. It was a time when people heard that the airplane was going to be used as a weapon. They made a conscious decision to serve something greater than themselves, to save life. History will note that they said a prayer, told their loved ones goodbye. A guy said, "Let's roll," and they took the plane into the ground. It's a symbol of what is happening in America, that people understand to be a patriotic America is to serve something greater than yourself. No, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good, a more compassionate, a more decent, a more hopeful America.

I want to thank you all for coming to help this good man. May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. in the sports and entertainment arena at the Bradley Center. In his remarks, he referred to Laurie McCallum, wife of Gov. McCallum, and their children, Zachary, Rory, and Cara; Wisconsin State senator Mary E. Panzer; and Craig Leipold, financial chairman, McCallum for Governor, 2002.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Luncheon for Governor Scott McCallum of Wisconsin in Milwaukee Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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