Remarks at a Nevada Victory 2006 Rally in Elko, Nevada
The President. Thanks for coming. I appreciate the warm welcome. It is nice to be in a part of the country where the cowboy hats outnumber the ties. I can't thank you enough for coming out to say hello.
And I'm proud to be here with three people who I know you're going to make sure win elections, starting with a fine United States Senator in John Ensign. His family settled in Nevada 100 years ago, so it's safe to say he's got Nevada in his blood. I'm proud to be here with the next Congressman from this congressional district, Dean Heller. And finally, I'm pleased to be up here with the current Governor, my friend Kenny Guinn, and the future Governor, Congressman Jim Gibbons.
Laura sends her best. I wish she were here in Elko with me. We were both raised in a part of the world that's kind of like this, except the land was flat. [Laughter] But the people were warm. Down-to-earth, commonsense people live right here. And that's the kind of people we need in Washington, DC. We've got plenty of highfliers over there; what we need is down-to-earth, commonsense people like John Ensign and Dean Heller.
I want to thank State Senator Bill Raggio for joining us today. I appreciate your mayor, Mayor Mike Franzoia. Thank you, Mac. Good to see you again. I go over to Reno to do an event, and I get off Air Force One, and guess who's at the foot of Air Force One, your mayor. He welcomed me in Reno, and he's welcomed me here to Elko. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much. I appreciate you and Anita being here today. I'm proud to be with you.
I want to thank the Elko High School Band. Let me ask you something. You're not skipping school, are you? [Laughter] You are? Well, I'm glad to provide a convenient excuse. [Laughter] If you're 18, just remember who got you out of school today—[laughter]—and vote for who I ask you to vote for. If not, get a substitute for you in the polls—[laughter]—like mom or dad, brother or neighbor. Because see, we're here talking about an election that is 5 days away.
By the way, in Washington, some of them are already measuring the drapes in their new offices. [Laughter]
Audience members. Boo!
The President. The pundits have already got it figured out what's going to happen on election day, even before the people of Nevada vote.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. Oh, I'm used to that kind of stuff. I know you are. You might remember 2004. They were already picking out their offices in the West Wing. [Laughter] Except things turned a little differently, and they didn't need the movers. And the same thing is going to happen this November 7th. When you turn out the vote, we're going to hold the House and hold the Senate, and America is going to be better off for it.
We're going to win these elections because Republicans understand the values and the priorities of the American people. The other thing about Republicans is, our values and our priorities do not shift because of the latest poll or focus group. We got a record to run on. See, we've done a lot to raise standards and accountability in public schools so no child is left behind. We're working to reduce this country's dependence on foreign oil. We're working to make sure Americans have quality health care and that our seniors have got affordable prescription drugs. We're providing compassionate care for America's veterans. You don't have to educate this political party about what it's like to be a rancher or a farmer or a hunter. With John Ensign in the Senate and Dean Heller in the House and Jim Gibbons in the Governor's office, the lives of your fellow citizens are going to improve.
And I want to thank you for coming out and giving me a chance to tell you what's on my mind. One of the biggest threats to the values we share is activist judges. John Ensign understands what I know, that a good judiciary is one in which we've got judges who strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.
So when you cast your ballot on Tuesday, your vote will determine more than who represents Nevada in the United States Senate. It will also determine what kind of judges sit on Federal benches around the United States. At this moment, there are about 50 vacancies on the Federal bench, and so it's vital to maintain a Republican Senate so we can confirm the men and women I have nominated.
Our record on judges is clear. With the support of Senators like John Ensign, we have confirmed good judges to the district courts, the circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. And this country is better off with John Roberts and Sam Alito as members of the United States Supreme Court.
A vote for a Democrat Senator in this State or in any State in which there's a senatorial election is a vote against highly qualified judges like these. All you have to do is look at the records. When the Democrats held the Senate, they denied hearings to one-third of my nominees to the court of appeals. See, they've got a record. You can rest assured what's going to happen if the Democrats take over the Senate. When they lost the majority in 2002, they changed their tactics. Instead of not giving them hearings, they just simply filibustered them. They tried the same tactics when Sam Alito's Supreme Court nomination came before the Senate. More than half of Senate Democrats voted to filibuster him. When he finally got his vote, 44 Democrats voted no. Thankfully, we had a Senator like John Ensign representing Nevada, who understands a good judge when he sees one.
The same thing happened to John Roberts. When I nominated him for the DC Circuit, it took—he had been denied a hearing when another President Bush named him. So he finally got his name up, he got in, and then the Senate finally confirmed him. I will just tell you this: If the Senate were controlled by Democrats, John Roberts would still be waiting for a hearing. There's a fundamental difference in this campaign. If you want good, sound, conservative judges who will not legislate from the bench, you send Republicans back to the United States Senate.
I want to talk about two other issues that divide us, two issues that clearly show the difference between how we think and how the other bunch thinks. And the first issue I want to talk about are taxes, and the second issue I'm going to talk to you about is who best to protect you from an enemy that wants to hurt us again.
First let me talk about taxes. Here's what those of us on this stage think. We think you can spend your money far better than the Federal Government can. Make no mistake about it, the Democrats in Washington think they can spend your money better than you can. And that's why if they get control of the House and Senate, they're going to run up your taxes.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. Over the past 5 years, we have done more than just talk philosophy. People of Elko, Nevada, want more than philosophers in Washington, DC. You want doers. When I campaigned in this State in 2000, I said, if you give me a chance to be your President, I'd work with the Congress to cut your taxes, and that's exactly what we've done. We delivered the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States.
We cut taxes on everybody who pays income taxes. We doubled the child tax credit. We reduced the marriage penalty. We cut taxes on small businesses. We cut taxes on capital gains and dividends. And we put the death tax on the road to extinction.
All you remember the debate where Democrats in Washington predicted the tax cuts wouldn't create jobs, wouldn't increase wages, and would cause the deficit to explode. Well, the facts are in. The truth is, the tax cuts have led to a growing economy that has added 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003. The people in this State are working, and real wages are on the rise, and we cut the deficit in half 3 years ahead of schedule.
Cutting taxes works. The amazing thing is, in spite of the record, the Democrats are going to raise your taxes. No, I know they don't want you to know it. As a matter of fact, the top Democrat in the House made an interesting declaration the other day. She said, "We love tax cuts." Well, given her record, she must be a secret admirer. [Laughter] She and her party voted against reducing the marriage penalty, against cutting taxes on small businesses, against lowering taxes for families with children, against reducing the taxes on capital gains and dividends, and against getting rid of the death tax. Time and time again, when she and the Democrat party had a chance to show their love—[laughter]— they voted no. [Laughter] If that's their idea of love, I sure would hate—I'd hate to see what hate looks like. [Laughter]
And by the way, this attitude doesn't extend just to the House. John Ensign will tell you that the Senate—46 Members of the 48 Members of the Democrat Senate voted against the tax cuts we passed. Now, let me tell you how it's going to work. If we don't have people in the Congress like Dean and John Ensign, who are willing to extend the tax cuts or make them permanent, your taxes are going up.
Audience member. Make them permanent.
The President. I agree. [Laughter] That man knows what he's talking about over there. [Laughter] He said, make it permanent. There way be won't any doubt about it. But, see, they asked the man who wants to be the top tax man in the Congress, the Democrat, "Would you extend any of the tax cuts?" He said, "Not a one." That's what's at stake in this election.
See, when you have the top tax man, the head of the Ways and Means Committee to be, say they're not going to extend any tax cuts, that's code for, your taxes are going to go up. That's exactly what's going to happen. That's why we've got to put Dean Heller in the United States Congress.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. You might remember, we raised the child tax credit from $500 a child to $1,000 a child. Those of you with children understand what I'm talking about, particularly when it came time to fill out your tax form. If those tax cuts are allowed to expire, just like the Democrats want, your taxes go up by $500 a child. So when you're sitting around the table this evening, count the number of children—[laughter]—and multiply by 500. So if you've got four children, your taxes are going to go up four times 500, which is 2,000. Now, that may not seem like a lot to Democrats in Washington, DC, but it seems like a lot to those of us on this stage. That's why you're going to get Dean Heller and John Ensign back to Washington, and we're going to keep your taxes low.
This election is taking place at an historic time for this country. When our children and grandchildren look back on 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's the fundamental question facing this country right now.
We face an enemy that's brutal. I wish I could tell you we weren't at war, but we are. I think about this every day. I understand there's an enemy that wants to attack us, and the most important responsibility I have and the most important responsibility people elected to Government in Washington have is to protect you. It is the fundamental responsibility of the Federal Government, and we face an enemy that's brutal. They have no conscience; they kill to achieve ideological goals.
They have an ideology. It's an ideology based upon hate. They do not believe in freedom. They don't believe in freedom to worship. They don't believe in freedom to speak. They don't believe in freedom of dissent. They don't believe in freedom for women. We believe in the exact opposite, and that's why they consider us their enemy. And because we're not going to change, they will continue to try to inflict damage on the American people.
Let me tell you, my most important job is to protect you at home. We got to be right 100 percent of the time to do so, and the enemy only has to be right one time, and that's the challenge. And so after 9/11, I decided to review all the tools available for our professionals, and if they didn't have them, let them have them so they can protect you. See, this is a different kind of war. In old times, you could measure progress based upon territories seized or the number of airplanes shot down or the number of ships sunk. In this kind of war, in order to protect you, we got to know what the enemy is thinking. We've got to know what's on their mind, and we've got to make sure our professionals have got the capacity to be able to protect you.
And so I saw walls that prevented the intelligence folks from sharing information with the law enforcement people. I know that it's hard for you to believe. But that's what had happened over time. And so you had a professional say, "I know something that the enemy is thinking," but you couldn't give it to law enforcement. And that's why I asked the Congress to pass the PATRIOT Act, which tore down the wall and, at the same time, protected your civil liberties.
Right after 9/11, the Senate voted 98 to 1 to put the law in place. However, when it came up for renewal in 2005, they filibustered. As a matter of fact, your Senator—not this one, but the other one— [laughter]—bragged, "We killed the PATRIOT Act."
Audience members. Boo!
The President. That's what he said, "We killed the PATRIOT Act." Well fortunately, they didn't kill the PATRIOT Act. I was able to sign it into law. Most of the House Democrats voted against the bill. And so you had a Senate bragging, we tried to kill it—a leading Democrat. You can get a sense that there's a difference of opinion.
When I found out that we had the capacity to listen to phone calls on Al Qaida and affiliates that they're making inside the country, I said, "Let's do that." In this new kind of war, if Al Qaida is making that phone call in the country, we want to know why, in order to be able to protect you. Ninety percent of the House Democrats voted against that bill.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. See, there's just a different mindset. The people in Elko, Nevada, have got to understand that the people—a lot of people in Washington, particularly the Democrats, don't share the same point of view we do when it comes time to protecting you.
We're picking a lot of these people up off the battlefield, and I think it's important for us to know what they know. See, we picked up a man named Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; the intelligence folks think he was the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks. And when we had him in our custody, I approved of a CIA program to question him. I tell you why I did it. If he had knowledge of the September the 11th attacks, we needed to know if he had knowledge of another attack.
Audience members. Yes!
The President. Our most important job is to protect you from attack. This capacity to detain these terrorists and question them came up in front of the House and the Senate. The vast majority of Democrats voted against giving us the tools necessary to protect you.
In all these vital measures for protecting you in this war on terror, the Democrats in Washington follow a simple philosophy: Just say no. [Laughter]
When it comes to listening on the terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer: Just say no.
When it comes to detaining terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. Yes, when it comes to questioning terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. When it comes to trying the terrorists, what the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. When it comes to trying the terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. So when the Democrats ask you for their vote on November the 7th, what's your answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. John Ensign and Dean Heller will make sure the professionals have the tools necessary to do their jobs to protect you. The best way to protect you, however, is to go on the offense and defeat the enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home.
One of the lessons of September the 11th is, when this Nation sees a threat, we must take it seriously, before it comes home to haunt us. When we see a threat, you just can't ignore it anymore. If you see something that's brewing out there, we're going to have to deal with it. I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein; members of both political parties saw the same threat in Saddam Hussein; the United Nations saw the threat in Saddam Hussein. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right decision.
And now Iraq is the central front in this war on terror. See, we're in a global conflict. If the goal is to defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them here, we confront the enemy where we find them. And the central front of this global war is Iraq. Oh, there's all kinds of opinions in Washington about this. The predominant opinion amongst the Democrats is, Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. They just couldn't be more wrong.
But don't take my word for it. Take the word of Usama bin Laden. He calls this fight the third world war. Usama bin Laden has said that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever.
Or listen to the words of leading Democrats in Washington. Here is what one woman said. She said, "The President says that fighting them there makes it less likely we'll have to fight them here"—that's exactly what I say. She said, "The opposite is true. Because we're fighting them there, it may become more likely that we have to fight them here."
Audience members. Boo!
The President. You do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. Iraq is not the reason the terrorists are at war with us. I would remind that Democrat that we were not in Iraq when the terrorists struck the World Trade Center in 1993; we were not in Iraq when they blew up the 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.
The best way to protect the American people is to stay on the offense and bring these terrorists to justice before they hurt us again. Our goal in Iraq is victory. If I didn't think we could win in Iraq, I wouldn't have our sons and daughters there.
The mothers and fathers of our troops have got to understand that the cause is noble and just, and the sacrifice is important. And if I didn't believe we could succeed the mission, I'd pull them out. But I know we can succeed, and success is a government that can defend itself and govern itself and sustain itself, a new democracy in Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East.
But this is a tough fight. This is a tough fight because the enemy understands the stakes. This is a tough fight because we face an enemy that kills innocent people in order to achieve their objective. This is a tough fight because the enemy knows when they get images of carnage on our television screens, it causes some Americans to wonder whether it's worth it. But they don't understand this administration, and the enemy doesn't understand our country. We will never run from thugs and assassins.
And we've got a plan to defeat them. Our commanders are constantly adjusting our tactics on the ground. We're staying ahead of the enemy. We're inflicting damage. And at the same time, we're helping this young Iraqi democracy succeed. We've got tremendous stuff going for us, starting with the finest United States military ever assembled.
And whether or not you agree with my decision to go into Iraq, all Americans owe a debt of gratitude for the men and women who wear the uniform of our military. And I know Dean and Ensign will join me in making sure they have all the equipment and all the support necessary to do the jobs that I have asked them to do.
We've got—also got something. We've got brave Iraqis who want to succeed. These people have suffered unspeakable violence. And yet they want a government of and by and for the people. Remember, it was 12 million people—nearly 12 million people defied the car bombers and assassins to make a declaration, they want to be free. I was pleased with the results, but I wasn't surprised. I'll tell you why. One, I believe in an Almighty. Two, I believe a great gift of the Almighty is freedom. Three, I believe freedom is universal.
So we'll help them on the political front. We'll help their economy grow, and we'll train Iraqi troops and Iraqi police so they can take the fight. And that's what's happening. Matter of fact, the only way we can lose is if we leave before the job is done.
Oh, I've heard the Democrats. I'm sure you have too. If you listen for their plan on Iraq, they don't have one. On this crucial issue facing the country, they don't have a plan for victory. And I want to remind our fellow citizens, harsh criticism and second-guessing is not a plan.
Oh, they've got some ideas. Some of their leaders say we ought to pull out right now. Others suggest we withdraw on a specific date, even though the job might not be done. One of the House leaders, Democrat House leaders said, why don't we move the troops to an island 5,000 miles away. [Laughter] Nineteen House Democrats said they're going to cut off the funds for our troops in Iraq. One of John Ensign's fellow Senators, a Democrat lady, she said, "We haven't coalesced around a single plan, but we're in general agreement on the basic principles." She's right; they're in general agreement about this: Get out of Iraq before the job is done, is what their message is. I'm not saying these people are unpatriotic; I'm saying they're wrong.
You can't win a war if you're unwilling to fight the war. Retreat from Iraq before the job is done would embolden the enemy and make this country more vulnerable. Unlike other wars we have fought, this one is different. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here. Leaving Iraq before the job is done would provide a tremendous propaganda boost for these killers, which would enable them to recruit more. Leaving before the job was done would dash the hopes of millions of people who simply want to live in peace, millions of people in the Middle East who hunger for something other than their extremist and radical agenda. And leaving before the job is done would dishonor the sacrifice of the men and women who wear our uniform. And that is why we'll win in Iraq.
I want to tell you something. If we leave before the job is done in Iraq, the consequences of that decision will be felt for generations. Our enemies have made it clear that they believe we don't have the stomach for the fight, and that it's just a matter of time before we abandon our commitments. And that's something they want us to do because they need to establish new safe haven from which to launch further attacks, a safe haven like that which they had in Afghanistan, where they trained thousands of killers and plot—and planned the attacks of September the 11th. They have made it clear they want to topple moderate governments in the Middle East. They've made it clear that they would like to use oil as an economic weapon against countries which stand against them.
Now you can imagine all that with a nation that doesn't like America with a nuclear weapon. And 20 or 30 years from now, people will look back at this period of time, and they'll ask, "What happened to those folks in 2006? How come they couldn't see the impending danger for a generation of Americans? What in the world clouded their vision to the threats that the free world would face?"
I'm going to tell you something: I see the threat. I understand the consequences of retreat. I understand what will happen if America tries to isolate ourselves off from the problems of the world, and that is why we will support our troops. We will stand, and we will fight in Iraq, and we will win.
And a victory will be a blow to these extremists and radicals. A victory will say to rational, moderate people, we hear your cries for a peaceful life. A victory will mean we'll have allies in the war on terror. A victory will prevent them from spreading their radical view across the Middle East.
You know, we've got a lot going for us. We got great courage. We've got a fantastic country and a great military. We got something else going for us, and that is the power of liberty. I want to share a quick story with you. It's the story about Prime Minister Koizumi, who was sitting Prime Minister at the time, and my trip to Elvis's place. [Laughter] See, I went down to Memphis with the Prime Minister of Japan. People say, "Why did you go to Elvis's place?" Well, Laura and I hadn't been on a trip for a while—[laughter]—and Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to go to Elvis's place. He liked Elvis. Like probably some of you, he thought Elvis was cool. [Laughter]
But I also wanted to tell a story. I wanted to tell a story to generations of Americans who really haven't thought much about the consequences of World War II. See, like your relatives, my dad joined the Navy after our country was attacked. That's what's happening today, by the way. Thousands of young Americans have joined the military; many have reenlisted; a lot are continuing to join, because they understand the Nation was under attack.
Same thing happened in the forties. And like your relatives and my dad, thousands fought—thousands died in a bloody conflict. I think it's—found it really interesting when I was flying on Air Force One to Memphis, talking to the Prime Minister of the former enemy about keeping the peace. See, we were talking about North Korea, how we can work together to make sure the Korean Peninsula is nuclear weapons-free. We were talking about the fact that Japan has 1,000 troops in Iraq. See, the Prime Minister knows what I know, that when you find a young democracy that's willing to reject extremists and radicals, it's in our interest, it's in our mutual interests as free societies to support societies based upon liberty. We talked about the scourge of HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa, and why our nations ought to be involved with helping to eradicate that pandemic. To whom much is given, much is required. See, that's what we were talking about, the peace.
Isn't it interesting? My dad fought the Japanese, and his son is talking about keeping the peace. Something happened. What happened was, Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy. The lesson is, liberty has got the capacity to transform enemies into allies. Liberty has got the capacity to transform a region of hopelessness and despair into a region of light and optimism. The best way to defeat this enemy in the long run is to deny them the recruiting tools and recruitments made possible by resentment and hatred. Liberty is a powerful force.
Someday elected officials in the United States will be sitting down with duly elected leaders in the Middle East talking about how to keep the peace, and a generation of Americans is going to be better off for it.
The stakes are high in the election. And I thank you for giving me a chance to come and visit with you and talk about the stakes. And I ask you to go—go from here and find fellow Republicans and discerning Democrats and wise independents, and tell them we have an obligation to vote, and make sure they clearly understand the stakes. If you want your taxes low, if you want more money in your pocket so you can save, spend, or invest, vote for John Ensign and Dean Heller.
Remind them that we're at war. And if you want your Government to do everything in our power to protect you and to stay on the offense and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come, you vote for Dean Heller and you vote for John Ensign.
I can't wait to tell Laura how much fun it was to come to Elko. You got beautiful country here, and you got great people. And it's my honor to be with you.
God bless you, and God bless the United States.
NOTE: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. at the Elko Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Michael J. Franzoia of Elko, NV, and his wife, Anita; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Nevada Victory 2006 Rally in Elko, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/271256