George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Sanford in Charleston

July 29, 2002

The President. Well, thank you, "Governor." [Laughter] I want to thank you all for coming. I'm really glad to be back in South Carolina. I've got a lot of fond memories here, if you know what I mean. [Laughter] And we've got a lot of friends here, too. It's a great State. After all, it's the State where my mother went to high school.

But it's an honor to be here to work for the next Governor of the State of South Carolina. I want to thank you all very much for supporting Mark. You know that when you find a good one, you've got to help him, and you've found a good one in Mark Sanford.

I particularly thank those who are going to put up the signs and lick the envelopes and make all the phone calls, those tireless workers at the grassroots level who can decide the fate of an election. You've got a vibrant Republican Party here in South Carolina. You've got a lot of folks who never get thanked enough. And so not only do I want to thank those who have helped Mark financially, I want to thank those of you who are going to put some shoe leather out there to work hard to make sure that you turn out the vote next November. It's important for our country; it's important for this State that this good man become the next Governor of the State of South Carolina.

And I love a family man. They started coming through the photo op line; I never thought the Sanford kids were going to stop. [Laughter] But it was an honor to meet Marshall, Landon, Bolton, and Blake, but more importantly, the mom, Jenny Sanford, the great future first lady of the State of South Carolina.

We both married above ourselves. [Laughter] I'm sorry the First Lady is not here with me. She's hiking. But I can't tell you how proud I am of her. She's doing a fabulous job as the First Lady of the United States. Who would have thought a former public school librarian, who didn't like politics or politicians—[laughter]— would be where she is? Thank goodness. She's doing great.

A lot of you who I met earlier said they're praying for me and praying for my family. It's the kindest gift you can give a President and his family, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers.

I want to thank members of the fine South Carolina delegation who are here. That would be Congressman Henry Brown, right here from Charleston; Congressman Joe Wilson—I first met him one time when I was marching with him in the Okra Strut in Irmo; Congressman Jim DeMint, from up north—[laughter]—and the next United States Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham.

I appreciate some of the State folks showing up, too. There will be two former Governors here, Carroll Campbell and Jim Edwards. I want to thank them both for being here. And Mark, when you win, you need to ask their advice. They were great Governors for the great State of South Carolina. I also want to thank Iris for being here as well. Iris, it's great to see you again. And I want to thank Ann Edwards as well.

I also want to thank my friend the Lieutenant Governor, Bob Peeler, for being here as well. Thank you for coming, Bob. And I want to thank you and the attorney general, Charlie Condon, for working hard to unite the Republican Party.

And I know the speaker is here.

David H. Wilkins. Yes, sir.

The President. Mr. Speaker—oh, there you are. [Laughter] I appreciate you coming. It's great to see you again, friend, great to see your great wife. Tell those boys of yours hello for me.

I also want to thank Gresham Barrett, who's going to become the—who is the Republican candidate for the third congressional district. We're pulling for you, Gresham. We wish you all the best. Thank you for being here.

I think it's fairly important to have somebody who is going to be your Governor who is willing to change the tone if the tone is divisive. See, what we need is more people in public office who understand it's important to unite people to get things done. And there's nothing worse than old-style politics, the politics that wants to pit one group of people against another, the politics that says it's much better to call somebody names than to lead.

And when Mark says he wants to change the tone in the statehouse in South Carolina, I believe him. And I believe it will be important for the people of South Carolina to have a change of tone in the capital, so he can get some things done on behalf of all the people of this State. Not just the Republicans but all the people of South Carolina need a Governor who's willing to set big goals, a strong agenda, willing to bring people together to work toward those goals.

And there's nothing more important than to—making sure that every single child in this State gets a good, quality education. We passed some good legislation in Washington. And one of the things that legislation does is passes power out of Washington, so that the local folks can figure out the path to excellence for every child. And I'm confident in saying to the people of South Carolina, flexibility, with Mark as the Governor, will make it more likely that every child in this State will be educated.

It also means you better have somebody as the Governor who believes every child can learn. It means setting the highest of high standards. You see, I found out as the Governor of Texas, and I have learned as the President, if you set the bar low, if you don't believe everybody can learn, you're going to get bad results. If you have low standards for every child, if you believe, "Oh, there are some kids in my State who can't learn," guess what's going to happen. Certain of the children won't learn. And the people will be satisfied with just passing kids through the system, as if they don't matter.

No, I believe it's important to put people in office who set the highest of high standards, who believes every single child can learn, and who's willing to measure to determine they are. I think it's so important to have a Governor who believes in strong accountability, who wants to measure early whether or not children can read and write and add and subtract and, if they can't, do something about it early, before it's too late.

It is so fundamentally important that we view each child as a child of potential, and that we determine whether or not the child is learning. And if they are, praise the teachers. But if we find children trapped in schools that won't teach and in schools that won't change, you better have a Governor who's willing to blow the whistle on failure. Every child matters, and no child in South Carolina or no child in America should be left behind.

I appreciate having a man who understands the money he's spending as your Governor is not the government's money. It's the people's money. And he's a man who set a good example. I was impressed when I read that he held his office expenses down, maybe thought the Government was writing too big a check for the expenses there when he was a Congressman, saved a million and a half dollars of taxpayers' money and gave it back into the till, put it back in.

He understood that when he got a pay raise, that rather than accepting the raise, he'd give it to charity. He's a man who leads by example. And I think the people of South Carolina ought to pay attention to that example, because I know firsthand that there's always a budget crisis if you have a Governor who's saying, "Everything matters. We're not going to set priorities." It's important to have somebody who's fiscally sound with the people's money, who understands whose money it is and is willing to set priorities.

We need a little of that in Washington, DC. It seems like every program that comes along is something that needs a little extra money. In order to make sure that we hold the line in Washington or hold the line in South Carolina, that's why they give the chief executives the veto. And I'm confident this man will use his powers wisely to protect the taxpayers' money, for the good of all people who live in the State of South Carolina.

And so I'm proud to be here to support Mark. And I ask you to work hard. It's a tough run when you're running against somebody who has been there for a while. It's never easy. But I'm convinced he's going to win, and I want to thank you for helping him win.

We've got a big—we've got a lot to do in Washington. Before they run me out of here, I'd like to tell you how I think things are going in the Nation's Capital. First, I know there's a lot of concern about our economy. After all, if somebody wants to work and can't find a job, can't find work, that's a concern. It's a concern of mine to know that there are Americans who are still looking for a job and can't find one. And we need to do something about it. We need to make sure that the foundation that we've put in place for job creation remains strong. And I believe the foundation is strong for economic growth. After all, inflation is down, and interest rates are low. We've got wise monetary policy. I strongly believe the fiscal policy we put in place—which is giving people some of their own money back so they can spend it, as opposed to the Government—made eminent sense for economic vitality and job creation. And the Congress now needs to make those tax cuts permanent so people can plan.

The Senate, when they get moving, is going to get me a trade bill so we can open up markets, which will create jobs for workers all across the country. We need to get a terrorism insurance bill out that doesn't reward the trial lawyers but in fact encourages construction projects to go forward that can't get insurance.

And tomorrow I'm signing a good bill. It's a bill overwhelmingly embraced by Republicans and Democrats that says loud and clear to corporate America, we expect you to be responsible. We expect you to be responsible with the people's money. We expect you to be responsible for the shareholders and your employees. And if you're not, we're going to investigate you, arrest you, and prosecute you, if you don't uphold your responsibilities.

I'm optimistic about our economic future, and I'm optimistic about the security of our homeland as well. You need to know that we face an enemy that are—coldblooded killers, the best way I can describe them. These are people that hate freedom. They hate what we stand for, and they can't stand the fact that we are tolerant of each other, that we worship freely and speak our minds. They hate that. And therefore, so long as we're willing to defend our freedom, they'll come after us.

But they also didn't understand America. I just can imagine their meetings. They must have sat around saying, "Well, we attack them, they probably won't do anything. It's such a materialistic society. You know, Americans are so self-absorbed, so selfish, so worried about their own bottom line that they'll just—oh, they may file a lawsuit or two"—[laughter]—"but that's all they'll do." They didn't understand the nature of this country. They didn't understand that when somebody attacks our freedoms, when somebody tries to take away the values that we hold dear, we're plenty tough; we're plenty resolute; and we're plenty strong.

At home we're doing everything we can to protect the homeland by chasing down any kind of lead, any kind of hint, any kind of—any bit of evidence that somebody might be trying to do something to the American people. Our most important priority in Washington is to protect the innocent lives of the American people.

As you know, after a lot of thought and study, I decided to form what I call the Department of Homeland Security. And the reason I did is because there's hundreds—over 100 agencies all involved with securing the homeland in Washington. They're scattered all over the place up there. And when you've got so many agencies, it makes it awfully hard to hold people accountable. I believe in aligning authority and responsibility in order to get good results. And so I've asked Congress to join me in setting up a Department of Homeland Security so we can better coordinate the efforts to secure the homeland.

You see, we need to know who's coming in our country and why they're coming in and what they're bringing in and if they're leaving on time. So we need to reform the border security of the United States of America. We need to have an effective strategy dealing with the heroic first-responders in South Carolina and all across America—those would be your police officers and your firefighters and your EMS teams—so that if there's an emergency, there's an adequate response. We need to be able to better deal with the potential threat of weapons of mass destruction. And we need to be able to take all the intelligence gathered from different agencies and analyze them and address vulnerabilities to the United States of America. That's what we need.

We need somebody who I can hold accountable. We need to be able to say to the American people, "We understand our most important priority is to protect our country, and therefore we formed a Department of Homeland Security with a variety of agencies underneath the umbrella, all of which have got one responsibility, a primary responsibility. And that's to protect the homeland."

And I want to thank the House for moving, and I hope the Senate gets me a bill soon which will give me the ability to run the Department and give me the ability to be able to say to the American people, "We put politics aside and focused on securing our homeland as the most important priority in Washington, DC."

But the best way to protect our homeland is to hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice, and that's what our country is going to do. And we're making progress. This isn't one of those wars where, you know, you can watch everything on TV or a war where they will eventually study—they've had mass movements of infantry and artillery and squadrons of aircraft flying all over the place from one point to another. This is a war where we're literally chasing them down and treating them like they are, which is international criminals. That's all they are.

And we're making pretty good progress. We've—we, when I say "we," we've got a mighty coalition of freedom-loving countries who've joined us, and others who have heard the message, "Either you're with us, or you're with the other ones." And by the way, that doctrine still holds. Either you're with the United States, or you're not. Over a couple of thousand of them have been captured. And just about that many weren't as lucky. And our friends are still—still understand the stakes.

You know, I was a little worried about, the farther we got away from September the 11th, the more likely it is people would forget the horror. But the coalition is still strong. And the reason it's strong is because the American people are strong. The American people are united. The American people are resolved. The American people understand the stakes, that we're fighting for freedom itself, that we're fighting for civilization.

A good example of that came in the Philippines a while ago. The President of the Philippines asked for some help, would we help her—she asked if we'd help her train some of her troops, and I said, "You bet. Either you're with us, or you're with the other guys, and we're willing to help." And as a result of the bravery of the Philippine troops and the skill of our troops training them, they brought to justice, in the ultimate way, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf * group, which is an Al Qaida-related organization.

In other words, what I'm telling you is, is that we're denying them sanctuary. We routed them out of—we routed the Taliban. If you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. The Taliban found out what we meant. We got them on the run. Sometimes they light, and we figure out where they are, and the brave United States military will chase them down. Sometimes they're scrambling around. But wherever they try to go, we're going to get them, no matter how long it takes, because you see, history has called us into action. This is a defining moment. The 21st century will be decided as to how the United States responds. And so long as I'm the President, we're going to respond in a determined, focused, effective way—by defending freedom, no matter what the cost.

And that includes understanding we cannot let the world's worst leaders blackmail the United States or our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons. And so I want to share with you my thinking. My thinking is, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to do everything we can to disrupt known terrorist groups, to find folks that think they want to team up with terrorist groups, that we owe it to our future to use our standing and our might and our wealth to define the 21st century as one which will be peaceful and hopeful and, most importantly, free.

Out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. I truly believe that. I can say that with confidence. I believe that, when we remain strong and forceful and tough and resolved, that we can bring peace not only to the United States but into parts of the world which may never dream they'll have peace. I believe, by the United States taking a leading role and standing on principle and speaking clearly, that we can help achieve peace in the Middle East or in South Asia. You need to go home and tell your kids or your grandkids that the reason we fight the way we fight is because of peace. And this can happen, and I believe it will happen.

And here at home, you've got to understand—and I know you do—that in spite of our wealth, in spite of our prosperity, there are pockets of despair and pockets of hopelessness, pockets of addiction, pockets where people say, "America's not meant for me." But I believe out of the evil done to America, this good will happen: that our fellow citizens will understand that by loving a neighbor like they'd like to be loved themselves, they can help eradicate that despair; that by unleashing the great faith-based institutions which exist all across America, we can bring hope where there's darkness; by calling upon the best of America, the great character of the American citizens, the understanding that when one of us suffers, all of us suffers, that we can change this country one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.

You saw the great spirit of America recently in Pennsylvania. When their miners were trapped, people prayed for their deliverance. Americans spent hours trying to figure out how best to save those miners, came up with a plan, successfully got each and every one of them out. I want to thank God for the prayers of the American people for helping them, and thank God for their savior—their saving. That's the kind of country we live in. It's a country fundamentally strong and great.

I believe out of the evil done to America, the culture of our country is changing from one which has said, "If it feels good, go ahead and do it," to—"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."

You see, there's an understanding after September the 11th, after the evil people hit us, that serving something greater than yourself is a part of being a patriotic American. That came home most clearly to me, most vividly to me, when I heard the story of Flight 93, where average Americans were flying across the land. They found out their plane was going to be a weapon. They told their loved ones they loved them. They said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane in the ground to serve something greater than themselves in life. That example will shine brightly for a lot of Americans, including me, that in order to be an American, in order to understand and help people realize the full potential of our country, it's important to serve something greater than yourself. Now, out of the evil done to America is going to come incredible good, because this is such a good and compassionate and decent country.

Thank you all for coming to help Mark. May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. at the North Charleston Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Iris Campbell, wife of former Gov. Carroll Campbell of South Carolina; Ann Edwards, wife of former Gov. Jim Edwards of South Carolina; David H. Wilkins, speaker, South Carolina House of Representatives, and his wife, Margaret Susan Wilkins; Gov. Jim Hodges of South Carolina; and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines.

* White House correction.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Sanford in Charleston Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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