Remarks at a Missouri Victory 2006 Rally in Springfield, Missouri
The President. Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Thank you for the warm welcome. It's good to be back here in southwest Missouri. This isn't my first time here. It's not going to be my last time here, either. The reason why is, I like the people from this part of the world. Good, down-to-earth, commonsense people live in southwest Missouri. And that's the kind of Senator you need in Washington, DC, from this State— good and decent, down-to-earth and talented.
I appreciate you coming, giving me a chance to share with you some of my thoughts about Jim Talent. I've gotten to know him. He's effective. He's a leader. He does not need to take a political opinion poll to tell him where to stand. I want to thank you for supporting him, and I urge you to turn out the vote for Jim Talent. Jim's election will be good for Missouri, and it will be good for the United States of America.
I not only feel that way in my family; so does Laura. She sends her love to our friends here in Missouri. She sends her support to the Talents, and she, like me, urges you to get out and vote on November the 7th.
I'm proud to be here with Brenda Talent and their daughter, Chrissy. I don't know if you know much about the Talent family, but this man puts his family first. He just doesn't talk family values; he lives family values. And that's the kind of Senator you need from the State of Missouri.
I'm proud to be here with the Governor, this boy's son—that boy's son. Where is the Governor? Blunt—how you doing, Blunt? Governor Matt Blunt. It looks like it's—[applause]. People from this part of the world know how to find and elect and nourish good public servants. You not only nourished one Blunt; you nourished another Blunt. I'm proud to be up here with the majority whip of the United States Congress, Congressman Roy Blunt.
I want to thank an effective Senator for joining us today. He's the senior Senator from Missouri. He doesn't like me to emphasize the senior part. He is—[laughter]— he likes—he, like Jim Talent, every time I'm around him, talk about one thing, what's good for Missouri—and that's Senator Kit Bond.
I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor, Peter Kinder, for joining us. I appreciate all the elected officials. I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. Grassroots activists are those who put up the signs, those who make the phone calls, those who turn out the vote. When Jim Talent wins, it's going to be because he's a man of character, because he's got good ideas, and because you're going to help turn out the vote to get him elected on November the 7th.
We're going to sprint to the finish line. We got 4 days to go. What's interesting, however, is in Washington, DC, the pundits have already decided who's going to win.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. They forgot the people of Missouri hadn't voted yet. Oh, that's not the first time they've been forecasting elections. You might remember, in 2004, some of the folks in Washington listened to the prognosticators, and they started picking out their offices in the West Wing. And then it turned out the people went to the polls, and the movers weren't needed.
With your hard work for the next 4 days, you'll elect Jim Talent to the United States Senate. We'll keep control of the House, and we'll keep control of the Senate. And the reason why I believe we're going to win around this country is because Republicans understand the values and the priorities of the American people. We're going to win this election because we got a record to run on. We've done some things that have made this country a better place.
Let me start off with Jim Talent's record. He and I have worked closely to achieve a great national objective, and that is to become less dependent on foreign oil. He has delivered for Missouri farmers. Let me say, if the farm economy is good, the national economy is good. The farmers and ranchers in Missouri need to send this man back to the United States Senate. But we're working on new technologies so that the automobiles you drive will be powered by crops grown right here in Missouri. And Jim Talent is the leader in this effort. If you want to become less dependent on foreign oil, you need to send him back to the United States Senate.
Jim Talent is a friend of the small-business owner. You see, small businesses are important to our economic vitality. Small businesses are important to a hopeful America. And he understands that insurance costs are making it difficult for small-business owners. And so that's why he has proposed and passed, when he was in the House of Representatives, what's called association health plans. These plans enable small businesses to bind together so they can buy insurance at the same discount that big businesses get to buy insurance. If you're a small-business owner in the State of Missouri, Jim Talent is the right man to represent you in the Senate.
If you're somebody who is worried about methamphetamines in your State, Jim Talent is the right man to represent you. He's introduced and passed tough anti-meth legislation that gives law enforcement new tools to defeat this deadly drug and to shut down meth labs not only here in Missouri but around the country. He's a leader. He's getting the job done.
And I want to talk about one other vital issue, and that is the nature of our judiciary. See, my job is to pick judges who will strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench. And so when people go to the polls here in Missouri, you're not only voting for the United States Senator; you're voting to determine what kind of judges will sit on the bench. And here's why. If the Democrats were to control the Senate—which they're not—but they would prevent judges like Sam Alito and John Roberts from ever making it to the Supreme Court of the United States.
I want to thank Jim Talent for being a strong voice for judicial restraint, a strong voice for talented judges, and a strong advocate for Judge Roberts and Judge Alito. This country is better off by having those two men on the Supreme Court.
There's a lot of issues where there are differences between how we think and how the Democrats think. But there's no two more clear issues than what's going to happen to your taxes and whether or not this country will do everything in our power to protect you.
First, let me start with taxes. We have a clear philosophy: We believe you can spend your money better than the Federal Government can. And the Democrats want to raise your taxes because they think they can spend your money better than you can.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. We believe that when you have more of your own money in your pocket to save, invest, or spend, the economy benefits. Over the past 5 years, we have done more than just philosophize. You don't want philosophers representing you; you want doers representing you. And so we passed the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. We did more than just talk; we acted. We cut the taxes on every American who pays income taxes. We doubled the child tax credit. We reduced taxes on small businesses. We reduced the marriage—the tax on the marriage penalty. We cut taxes on capital gains and dividends. And to reward family businesses and farmers here in the State of Missouri, we put the death tax on the road to extinction.
Oh, you might remember the debate that took place in Washington. The Democrats predicted the tax cuts would not create jobs, they predicted the tax cuts would not increase wages, and they predicted that the tax cuts would cause the deficit to explode. Well, the facts are in. The tax cuts have led to a strong and growing economy, and this morning we got more proof of that. The national unemployment rate has dropped to 4.4 percent. That is the lowest rate in 51⁄2 years. Our economy added 92,000 jobs in the month of October, and over the past 3 months, America has added 470,000 new jobs. Real wages rose 2.4 percent over the past year, which means an extra $1,327 for the typical family of four with two wage earners. And finally, thanks to our growing economy and fiscal restraint, we cut the deficit in half 3 years ahead of schedule.
All those forecasts by the Democrats turned out to be wrong. And now they're forecasting they're going to win the elections. Well, if their election forecasts are as good as their economic forecasts, we're going to have a great day on November the 7th.
The Democrats don't want you to know where they stand on taxes. You know, it's interesting, the top Democrat leader in the House made this declaration: She said, "We love tax cuts." Well, given her record, she must be a secret admirer. [Laughter] See, when you all round up the vote, I want you to remind undecided citizens in this State that she and her party voted against reducing the marriage penalty, voted against cutting taxes on small businesses, voted against lowering the taxes for family with children, voted against reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends, and voting against cutting the death tax. That's their record. Time and time again, when she and the Democrats had a chance to show their love for tax cuts, they voted no. If that's their definition of love, I'd sure hate to see what hate looks like.
You see, their plan is to let the tax cuts we passed expire. If we don't make the tax cuts permanent or extend the tax cuts, you get a tax increase. And they've asked leading Democrats, do they have any plans to keep the tax cuts in place? And they don't, because they want to raise your taxes. A big issue in this campaign is whether or not we're going to have low taxes or higher taxes.
If those tax cuts expire—just like the man who aspires to be the head of the Ways and Means Committee in the House has said is going to happen—I want you to think about this: If you've got a child and those tax cuts expire, your taxes just went up by $500. The child tax credit is 1,000. If the tax cuts are not extended or made permanent, the child tax credit drops to $500 a child. So when you're at dinner this evening, you count the number of children you've got around the table. [Laughter] And then you multiply it by $500 per child. So if you're a family—have got four children, just go, one, two, three, four times 500—that's $2,000. That's a $2,000 tax increase if the Democrats take over. That may not seem like a lot to the Democrats in Washington, DC, but it seems like a lot to me, and it seems like a lot to Roy, and it seems like a lot to Senator Talent. Therefore, send him to the Senate, and we'll keep your taxes low.
This election is taking place in an historic time for our country. And when our children and grandchildren look back at this period, one question will overwhelm all the rest: Did we do everything in our power to fight and win the war on terror? That is the fundamental question facing this generation. I wish I could report to you that we were not at war, but we are. We face an enemy that is brutal, an enemy that is determined to inflict damage on America because of what we stand for.
See, they have an ideology. Their ideology is the opposite of our ideology. They don't believe in basic freedoms. They don't believe in the freedom to worship; we do. They don't believe in the freedom of dissent, the freedom of speech. They don't believe in the basic freedoms that have helped define the societies of those of us who embrace liberty. And they want to impose their view on the world. They believe that they should establish a caliphate, a governing body, a governing organization, based upon their ideology of hate that extends, initially, from Indonesia to Spain. That is their declared intentions.
The best way to protect you from these enemies is to stay on the offense and to bring them to justice before they can hurt you again. Part of our strategy is to do just that, and we're doing that. The other part of our strategy is to protect this homeland. The enemy has to be right one time in order to attack us; we've got to be right 100 percent of the time in order to protect you. And that is why I made sure, as did these two gentlemen, that our professionals on the frontline of protecting you have the tools necessary to do so.
For example, there were walls that prevented our intelligence services from sharing information with our law enforcement. Now, I understand that—you probably say, "Well, how did that happen?" Well, it just happened. You cannot fight and win this war and protect the American people unless our intelligence folks can share the information they have gotten with those who are responsible for protecting you. And that's why we designed the PATRIOT Act, to make sure our professionals have the tools, and at the same time, protect civil liberties.
When it came time to renew the PATRIOT Act, the Senate Democrats voted against it. As a matter of fact, the Senate minority leader, the Democrat leader in the Senate, bragged, "Well, we killed the PATRIOT Act." Fortunately, we had Senators like Jim Talent who understand our most important responsibility is to protect you in this new war.
This is a different kind of war that requires a strategy that says we're going to find out what the enemy is thinking in order to protect you. And that's why I authorized a program that said if Al Qaida or an Al Qaida affiliate is making a phone call into the United States of America, we want to know why. We want to understand their intentions. When this bill came for a vote in the House of Representatives, the overwhelming number of House Democrats voted against giving our professionals the tools necessary to protect you.
See, there's a different mindset in Washington. There's an attitude that says, "It's okay to wait," and, "We'll respond after we're attacked." Our attitude is, we're going to prevent the attacks from happening in the first place.
When we pick an enemy up on the battlefield, we need to be able to question that person. So I authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to question people we have picked up on the battlefield. Let me explain why. We picked up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; our intelligence folks thinks he was the person that masterminded the September the 11th attacks. So you can imagine why I wanted to know what he knew. If he knew one attack, he might know another attack. If my job is to protect you, we better give the professionals the tools necessary to do so. And yet, when this program came up on the floor of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, the overwhelming number of Democrats voted against it.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. We need people in the Congress who understand the stakes of this war. We need people in the Senate and the Congress who understand our most important job is to protect you. We need to make sure our professionals have the tools necessary to do so. That's why you've got to send Jim Talent to the United States Senate.
We're on the offense. Every day, this country is on the offense against those who would do you harm. You cannot plot and plan if you're on the run. It is hard to organize a strike on America if you're hiding. So you just got to know, there's a lot of really brave people on the hunt.
One of the lessons of September the 11th is that when we see a threat, we have got to take that threat seriously before it materializes. It's an essential lesson in this new war. I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein; Members of the United States Congress, both political parties, saw the same threat; the United Nations saw the threat. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it.
We're in a global war against these terrorists, and we're fighting on a variety of fronts. The most important front is Iraq. I've heard all the language out of Washington—I'm sure you have as well—that said, Iraq is a distraction in the war on terror. That's what the Democrats say. I believe Iraq is central to the war on terror. But don't take my word for it. Don't take my word for it; listen to Usama bin Laden. He has called Iraq—the fight in Iraq the third world war. He understands the stakes. He says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever. That's what the enemy says.
Now I want you to listen to the words of a leading senior Democrat in Washington, DC, about Iraq. She said, "The President says fighting them there makes it less likely we will have to fight them here." That's what I have said, and that's what I'm going to continue to say, because it's the truth. [Applause] Hold on for a minute. She went on to say, "The opposite is true: Because we are fighting them there, it may become more likely we'll have to fight them here."
Audience members. Noo!
The President. Iraq is not the reason why the terrorists are at war against us. When you're out rounding up the vote, you remind people that we were not in Iraq when they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they blew up our Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq when they blew up the USS Cole. And we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, when they killed nearly 3,000 of our citizens. You do not create terrorists by fighting the terrorists. The best way to protect you is to stay on the offense and defeat them overseas so we do not have to face them here at home.
Our goal in Iraq is victory. Victory in Iraq will mean a country which can sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself and serve as an ally in the war on terror. And there's no question, the fighting is tough, because the enemy understands the stakes of what a free society will mean to their ambitions to spread their dark vision throughout the Middle East and then the world. See, they understand the stakes, and we must understand the stakes. The enemy kills innocent people in order to shake the will of the Iraqis, in order to create concern amongst the American people. They have got a weapon, and that is their willingness to take innocent life. Americans value life. We appreciate life. But I want the enemy to understand this country. We will not run in the face of thugs and assassins.
We have a plan for victory that gives our commanders all the flexibility they need to stay ahead of the enemy. And we've got some unbelievably brave and courageous people wearing the uniform of the United States of America. Our troops understand the stakes in Iraq. They understand this is a central front in the war on terror. And that is why I am pleased to tell you that there's no doubt in my mind, when it comes time to making sure our troops have all that is necessary to do the jobs I have asked them to do, Senator Talent is strong for the military.
Something else we've got going for us to achieve our goal, and those are the Iraqis. They've suffered unspeakable violence. Yet, you might remember, nearly 12 million of them said, "We want to be free." I was pleased, but not surprised, that people said, "We want to be free." I believe a gift from the Almighty to every soul on the face of the Earth is the desire to be free. I believe in the universality of freedom, and I believe it is in our interest that we help people who desire to be free to be so.
And therefore, we'll help this young Government politically. We will help them economically, to realize their vast potential. We will continue to train their military so they get to take the fight, so they're the ones who win, so they're the ones who defeat the extremists. And I believe that one day, Iraq will be a government of and by and for the people, unless we leave before the job is done. The only way we can lose is if we leave before the job is done. And that's a central part of the debate in this campaign.
You listen to the debate, and try to listen carefully for the Democrat plan for success. Don't listen too long because they don't have one. They don't have a plan to win this important front in the war on terror. Oh, some of the leading Democrats in Washington argue we should pull out right now. Then you got other voices saying we should withdraw on a specific date, even though the job hasn't been completed. You actually had a Member of the House recommend moving troops to an island 5,000 miles away, as part of their plan. Nineteen House Democrats introduced legislation that would cut off funds for our troops in Iraq.
One of Jim Talent's colleagues, a Democrat Senator, explained her party's position this way: "We haven't coalesced around a single plan, but we're in general agreement on the basic principles." Well, she's right. They're in agreement about one thing: They will leave before the job is done. I'm not saying these people are unpatriotic; I'm just saying they're wrong.
On this vital issue, on the issue that will determine the security of this country, the Democrats have taken a calculated gamble. They believe that the only way they can win this election is to criticize us and offer no specific plan of their own. Here's how one Democrat senior describes their strategy: "The election is about them," this person said. So far, the Democrats have refused to tell us their plan on how they're going to secure the United States. There's still 4 days left before the election, and there's still time for the Democrats to tell the American people their plan to prevail in this war on terror.
So if you happen to bump into a Democrat candidate, you might want to ask this simple question: What's your plan? If they say they want to protect the homeland but oppose the PATRIOT Act, ask them this question: What's your plan? [Laughter] If they say they want to uncover terrorist plots but oppose listening in on terrorist conversations, ask them this question: What's your plan? If they say they want to stop new attacks on our country but oppose letting the CIA detain and question the terrorists who might know what those plots are, ask them this question: What's your plan? If they say they want to win the war on terror but call for America to pull out from what Al Qaida says is the central front in this war, ask them this question: What's your plan?
Audience members. What's your plan?
The President. The truth is, the Democrats can't answer that question. Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory. Second-guessing is not a strategy. We have a plan for victory. We have a plan to secure this country, and part of our plan is to send Jim Talent back to the United States Senate.
Victory is vital for the future of this country. Retreat from Iraq before the job is done would embolden the enemy. It would make our country more vulnerable to attacks.
This is a different kind of war. I know I keep saying that, but it's important for you to understand how different it is. Unlike other wars, if we were to leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here. Victory—defeat in Iraq, leaving before the job is done, would give the enemy a new safe haven, just like they had in Afghanistan, from which to plan and plot further attacks. It would enable the enemy to recruit. It would strengthen the hand of the radicals and extremists. It would dash the hopes of millions of people in the Middle East who want to live in peace. And it would dishonor the sacrifice of the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.
The consequences of retreat would be felt for generations. I see a lot of young folks here today. My job is to think not only how to protect you today but how to create the conditions for peace in the long run. Retreating from the Middle East because of the unspeakable violence that the enemy inflicts on others as well as their own troops would create a dangerous world for you to grow up in. You see, the enemy has made it clear that they expect us to lose our nerve. They have made it clear that they don't believe America has what it takes to defend ourselves. They want to topple moderate governments. They want to be able to use energy as a tool to blackmail the United States.
Imagine the radicals and extremists taking over a country, and they were able to pull millions of barrels of oil off the market, driving the price up to 3 or $400 a barrel, whatever it would be, and saying, "Okay, we'll reduce the price, all you've got to do is surrender. All you've got to do is abandon your alliance with Israel, and we'll lower the price. All you've got to do is retreat." And couple that with a country which doesn't like us, with a nuclear weapon, and a generation of Americans will say, "What happened to them in 2006? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? What was it that clouded their vision?"
Well, I want to assure you, I clearly see the threats facing a generation of Americans. I see the problems we face, and that is why we will stay in Iraq. And that is why we will fight in Iraq. And that is why we will win in Iraq. Victory will be a blow to the terrorists, a blow to the plans of the extremists and radicals. Victory will help moderates—moderate people, people who want to bring their children up in a peaceful world, to have the boldness to help us marginalize those radicals. Victory will say to reformers and women who long for freedom, America will not abandon you. Victory will say to those who believe they can impose their tyrannical vision on others, liberty is powerful.
I want to share a story with you about the power of liberty. You might remember, recently Laura and I took Prime Minister Koizumi, who was then sitting as the Prime Minister of Japan, to Elvis's place. It was in Memphis, Tennessee. You been there probably. See, I had never been there. Laura said, "It's about time we took a family vacation; take me down to Elvis's place." [Laughter] We also went because Prime Minister Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan, loved Elvis. [Laughter] But I also wanted to tell a story, and I want you all to listen to this story, because it's a powerful story about liberty.
See, after Japan attacked America— where, by the way, we lost fewer people in Pearl Harbor than we did on September the 11th—a lot of young Americans volunteered to defend our Nation, one of whom was my dad, and I'm certain some of your relatives did the same thing. Thousands of Americans volunteered to fight the enemy in a bloody war in which thousands and thousands of citizens on both sides of this war lost their lives.
And here I am, on Air Force One, flying down to Elvis's place with the Prime Minister of the former enemy, talking about the peace, talking about working together to secure peace. Isn't that interesting? Something happened between World War II and 2006, when I'm on the airplane talking about how we can work together to send a clear message to the leader in North Korea, no nuclear weapons; or how we can work together to fight the scourge and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa; or how we can work together to feed the hungry.
I thanked him for the 1,000 Japanese troops in Iraq, because he understands what I know: In this ideological struggle, when we find young democracies that are willing to stand strong against the extremists and radicals, those of us who live in liberty have a duty to help these young democracies succeed for the sake of peace. Isn't it interesting? My dad fought the Japanese, and his son is talking about keeping the peace. Something happened: Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy.
The lesson for all to hear is that liberty has got the capacity to transform an enemy into an ally. Liberty has got the capacity to transform a region of frustration and resentment into a region of hope. Someday American leaders will be sitting down with duly elected leaders from the Middle East talking about keeping the peace, and a generation of Americans will be better off for it.
And so these are the stakes in this election. These are historic times, and you can make a significant difference in how our country responds. When you leave the hall, go find your fellow Republicans, discerning Democrats—[laughter]—and openminded independents, and remind them of the stark differences in this campaign. And the message is this: If you want low taxes and a correspondingly strong economy, vote Republican and send Jim Talent back to the United States Senate. If you want this country of ours to give the professionals they need—the tools they need to protect you and if you want the United States of America doing everything we can to defeat an enemy and lay the foundation for peace, vote Republican and send Jim Talent back to the United States Senate.
I am honored you're here. I'm grateful for your time. I appreciate your enthusiasm. God bless you, and God bless the United States.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:16 a.m. at the Springfield Exposition Center. In his remarks, he referred to former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and Chairman Kim Jong Il of North Korea.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Missouri Victory 2006 Rally in Springfield, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/271192