Remarks at a Rally for Congressional Candidate Rick Renzi in Flagstaff, Arizona
The President. Thank you all for coming. It's such an honor to be here. Well, we're working on the drought. [Laughter] I love the rain. Thanks for standing out here. It's such an honor to be here. I appreciate you all enduring the weather.
It is my honor to be here for the next Congressman from this district, Rick Renzi. He's a good fellow. He's a good man. He believes in family values. After all, he's got 12 kids. I want to thank Roberta for standing by him as he takes his message to the people, that he works hard to let the people know what's in his heart. And he's a good-hearted man. He cares deeply about the people of this district. I'm here to endorse his candidacy because I think he'll be the right thing for Arizona, and I know he'll do the right thing for America.
I appreciate very much also being here with the next Governor of the State of Arizona, Matt Salmon. Matt is a commonsense fellow. One thing he understands, that when it comes to spending money at the State level, he's not spending the Government's money, see; he's spending the people's money. He's from the people. And I look forward to working with Matt when he becomes the Governor of this great State.
I'm also honored to be traveling with Senator Jon Kyl. He's a stand-up kind of guy. He is rock-solid. He's strong on the defense of our country. And I look forward to continuing to work with him to make sure the judicial nominees I send up to the United States Senate get a fair hearing.
I named the other day a great lady from Texas to the bench, named Priscilla Owen. But they played politics with her nomination. She got the highest ranking of the ABA. She was one of the top in her law school classes. But they didn't give her a fair hearing. They distorted her record. See, they want judges that use the bench from which to legislate. We want judges to strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.
I appreciate so very much working with Senator John McCain from the State of Arizona. John's a true patriot, a true patriot who's standing strong as we try to keep the peace here in the world. I appreciate very much being with my friend Jane Dee Hull. I used to be a Governor, and I got to know her as a Governor of Texas. I'm proud to call her friend. I'm proud of the job she's done for the State of Arizona. Thank you, Jane Dee, for being here.
I want to thank all of you all who care about your community and all of you all who are in what we call grassroots politics: the people who turn out the vote, the people who make the phone calls, the people who go to the coffee shops and tell people the truth about the candidates running for office. I want to thank you for your supporting this good ticket. And I want to thank you for loving your country.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. I look forward to working with Rick on some important issues that matter. One important issue that matters— we've got to make sure we keep our people working. As we work hard to secure the homeland, we've also got to remember, a secure America is an America where people can find work. So long as somebody who is looking for a job can't find a job, I think we have a problem. And so we've always got to keep working to expand the job base. We want people being able to put food on the table here in America. We want people being able to make a living. And that starts with fighting off this slowdown with letting people keep more of their own money.
See, here's the debate that takes place in Washington. The debate is, is that either you let people have more of their own money, or you don't. If the economy is slow and you let a person keep more of their own money, they're likely to spend it. And when they spend it, it means they're demanding something. They're demanding a good or a service. And when that demand is there, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces a good or service, guess what's more likely to happen. Somebody is going to be able to find a job. The tax cuts were important for the American economy. They're important for small business. They're important for the entrepreneurs. They're important for job creation. We need to make the tax cuts permanent.
You've got to remember that money we're spending up there in Washington isn't the Government's money; like I said, it's the people's money. It's your money. We need to make sure we don't overspend. Listen, they don't have a budget in the United States Senate—no fault of Senator Kyl. They don't have a budget. If you don't have a budget, guess what's likely to happen. Every idea sounds like a good idea up there. [Laughter] Those ideas run into the billions. If you don't have a budget, it's hard to hold people to account. We need fiscally responsible people in Washington, like Rick. We need people who will set priorities and make sure we don't overspend your money. A deficit will hurt economic vitality. I submitted a budget that shows how we can reduce the deficit, how we can get to surplus, but it's going to require fiscal sanity in Washington, DC.
We need a commonsense policy in Washington. And the forest policy of the United States is not commonsensical. It doesn't make any sense to allow—to not thin our forests. It doesn't make any sense to fight off the beetles. It doesn't make any sense not to thin them out. It doesn't make any sense to allow kindling to pile up underneath good wood. It doesn't make any sense. For the sake of a commonsense environmental policy, for the sake of making sure our forests remain healthy in the long term, let's get some people like Rick in Washington, DC, with whom I can work, to get good forest policy in America.
I also appreciate being here on behalf of Matt Salmon. Matt's a good, solid man. He's a guy who keeps his word. See, he's one of these fellows that said, "I'm going to run for Congress. I'm only going to serve three terms." And then when his term came up, he said, "I'm going home." That doesn't happen a lot in politics. It should happen more, by the way, where people do what they say they're going to do, that when they look at the people, they're going to do what they say. That's why you can trust him as your Governor. When he says he's not going to raise your taxes, he means he's not going to raise your taxes.
I also look forward to working with Matt to make sure that we help people who need help. We've got people on welfare in the State of Arizona who need help to learn how to work. See, we're getting ready to reauthorize the welfare law. And I urge Congress to make sure that as we do so, that we keep work as the cornerstone of good welfare policy. Helping a man learn to work, helping a lady find a job, helping people have the skills necessary to be able to provide for their family is a part of making sure somebody has got dignity in their life. And I look forward to working with Governor Matt Salmon to make sure that the welfare policy of Arizona is a compassionate yet conservative welfare policy.
I want you to know that I am constantly thinking about our economy and trying to work with Congress to improve the job base. But my most important job is to protect America from another attack. That's my most important job, because there's still an enemy out there which hates America. And they hate us because of what we love. We love freedom. We love the idea that people can worship an almighty God any way they choose in America. We good— we value the idea that people are free to express their opinions, that we have a free press. We love freedom in America. And so long as we love our freedoms, the enemy will hate us.
But guess what: We're never going to forget our freedoms. We're always going to hold those freedoms dear. And so long as we do, the enemy will be there. And so we've got to hunt them down, and we've got to protect the homeland. There's a lot of good people, a lot of good people working hard on your behalf to protect the homeland. Anytime we're getting a hint, anytime we get an idea, anytime we get a scintilla of evidence that somebody might be thinking about doing something to America we're moving on it. And I say, "We're moving on it"—it's at the Federal level and the State level and the local level. Our biggest responsibility is to prevent the killers from coming to hurt America again.
And that's why I went to Congress and asked them to join me in setting up what they call the Department of Homeland Security. Listen, there's over 100 agencies in Washington, DC, that have got something to do with protecting the homeland. That's 100 agencies full of good, hard-working people. But they're scattered everywhere. It seemed to make sense to me to put them under one umbrella, so that the— we could set priorities, so that we could change cultures, if necessary, within the agencies, to make the number one priority your protection.
And we're making progress up there. The House of Representatives voted a good bill out, but it seems to be stuck in the Senate, because the Senate wants to micromanage the executive branch of Government. The Senate wants a thick book of rules on how to defend the homeland.
And let me just give you some examples. The Customs Service, for example, wanted to require its inspectors at our Nation's 301 ports of entry to wear radiation detecting devices. See, that made sense. You wear a radiation detection device to make sure nobody is trying to bring a weapons of mass destruction into America. Yet, the union that represents the Customs workers objected. They sought to invoke collective bargaining, which would have taken at least a year to solve. See, we don't need those kind of rules that bind the executive branch from doing what you want us to do, which is to protect the homeland.
Let me give you another example. Let me give you another example of what we're trying to cut out of the new Department— this kind of stuff that doesn't make any sense. I know it doesn't make any sense to the people of Flagstaff. I can assure you it doesn't make any sense to the people of Crawford, Texas, either. [Laughter] In order to locate employees in cases of emergency, the Customs Service sought to have employees provide their home addresses and telephone numbers to the Customs Service. In other words, if we had an emergency, we want to know where to call. The union objected and said such a request would violate the privacy rights of the workers. Now, that doesn't make any sense.
Listen, I strongly believe workers ought to be able to join a union if that's what they want to do. They ought to be able to have collective bargaining rights, if that's what they choose. But for the sake of our national security, this President and future Presidents needs the flexibility necessary to put the right people at the right place at the right time, to protect the American people.
But the best way to defend the homeland is to hunt the killers down, one at a time, and bring them to justice. That's the best way to defend this homeland. It's a different kind of war we fight. It's important you know that it still goes on, though. It's a different kind of war. In the past, people would say, "Well, we're making progress. We destroyed the enemy's tanks," or, "We're making progress if he no longer has any ships." These people don't have tanks. They don't have ships. They've got hate. These leaders are the ones that hide in caves or the dark recesses of some cities, and they send youngsters to their suicidal death. These are the folks who hijacked a great religion and take innocent life without any hesitation. See, they don't value life like we do. In America, everybody counts. Every life has worth. Every life is precious. That's not the way the enemy thinks. The enemy doesn't care. They've got these designs on America, because we love freedom.
And so we're going to look at every cave we can find. It don't matter how long it takes, my fellow Americans. It doesn't matter how long it takes; we're going to hunt them down, one by one. We owe it to our children, and we owe it to our children's children.
And we're making progress. The doctrine that says, "Either you're with us, or you're with the enemy," still stands. And there's a lot of good folks around the world who are working with us, working with us to hunt these killers down before they hit us again. We've hauled in over a couple thousand of them. As a matter of fact, one of them the other day who wanted to have been the 20th hijacker popped his head up, and he's no longer a threat to the United States of America or our friends and allies.
There's a lot of good folks in a lot of nations around the world working with us to find these and to bring them to justice. We don't seek revenge. We seek justice. About like number hadn't been quite as lucky as the ones who have been detained or arrested. So we're making progress, slowly but surely—slowly, surely, and methodically. This great Nation is doing everything we can to protect our people.
That's why I've asked Congress for the largest increase in defense spending since President Reagan was the President. I did so for two reasons: One, anytime we put our youngsters into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment; and secondly, I wanted to send a message to friend and foe alike that we're in this deal for the long haul, that when it comes to talking about something we hold dear, our freedom, we're not going to quit until we succeed.
When it comes to defending the homeland, this great Nation—the will of this Nation has been aroused by an enemy which inflicted serious, serious damage on our people. No, they—when they hit us, they thought we might file a lawsuit or two. [Laughter] But they realized they hit a mighty nation and a good nation and a decent nation and a nation that loves the values that we hold dear. It's going to be some rough sledding ahead at times—it really is—in order to defend ourselves. We're fighting a resourceful group of people. We're fighting people who know no fear.
We've also got some other tasks, because there are some madmen in the world who have got weapons of mass destruction. We've got people who torture their own people. If there's dissent, they kill them. They've gassed their own people with weapons of mass destruction. The man in Iraq has attacked two countries. He lied to the world. He's deceived us.
I went to the United Nations, and I said as clearly as I could: "In order for you to be an effective organization, you must deal with him. If you don't, we will lead a coalition which will." We cannot allow the world's worst leaders—[applause]. There's no negotiation. There's no discussion. This man must disarm like he said he would do. After 11 years of deceit, this man must disarm.
For the sake of peace, for the sake of peace not only in our—in his neighborhood but in ours, he must disarm. And if he does not, it's his choice to make. It's his and the United Nations choice to make. Our last choice is to commit our troops to harm's way. But if we have to, to defend our freedoms, if we have to, the United States will lead a coalition and do so.
And there are a lot of good people, a lot of good people on both sides of the political aisle who understand the task ahead, a lot of good people who are working with the administration to come up with a common resolution to send a strong message to the world that this great Nation, this great Nation will not stand by and allow the world's worst leaders to threaten us with the world's worst weapons.
I want you all to understand that as we work to peace—as we work for peace— and that's my goal—we must also work to make America a better place, a better place for all of us, a better place for each person which lives in this country. That starts with making sure that every child is educated and not one child is left behind. I want you to know that it's important for all of us to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, to understand that when you set the bar low, when you have such low standards, you're going to get lousy results, and children will be left behind. That's no longer acceptable in America.
I'm told—Rick was telling me—Rick and the Governor-to-be were telling me you've got a great school district here in Flagstaff. That's because the citizens care about the schools. I want to thank the teachers who are here for being teachers. I want to thank the principals who are here. I want to thank the parents who are here who demand on high standards for every single child.
A better America means we've got to have a health care system that's modern. Listen, Medicare is an incredibly important program. Medicine has changed; Medicare hasn't. [Laughter] Medicine has changed because of technology and innovation. Medicare is the same program it was a while ago. In order to make sure Medicare works like we want it to for our seniors and for America to be a better place, our seniors need prescription drug coverage.
And you know what else we need to do? We need to end the frivolous and junk lawsuits which drive up the cost of medicine, which makes it harder for folks to find health care.
We've also got to make sure that we unleash the true strength of the country, and that is the hearts and souls of the American people. I believe strongly that we must have a Faith-Based Initiative in America, an initiative which recognizes that in our churches and synagogues and mosques we find universal love. See, people have asked me, "What can I do to help on the war against terror?" What you can do is, you can love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good in America.
No, the enemy hit us. The enemy hit us, but they didn't realize who they were hitting. They hit a nation which will fight for our security and freedom. But they also aroused a new spirit in the country, a spirit which says, it's more than a patriot who puts his hand on a heart; it's a patriot who helps a neighbor in need. It's a patriot who understands that there are some pockets of despair and loneliness in America and that, while Government can hand out money, what Government cannot do is put hope in a person's heart or a sense of purpose in a person's life. That's done when somebody puts their arm around a neighbor in need and says, "I love you. What can I do to help you?" It's done when somebody mentors a child. It's done when somebody goes and feeds the hungry, provides shelter for those who don't have shelter. That's what it means. And that's happening in America.
All across our country, people are understanding there is a new culture of responsibility emerging. See, out of the evil done to America is going to come some really incredible good, in my judgment, because I believe so strongly in the purpose of this great country.
I'm reminded all the time, as I travel our country, about what happened on Flight 93. Flight 93 was a historic moment in our country. It's a sad, sad moment, but it was a time when average citizens were flying across the land. They knew the plane was going to be used as a weapon. They were on their phones, and they told their loved ones goodbye. They used the word "love." They said a prayer. One guy said, "Let's roll," and they drove the plane into the ground to save somebody else's life.
It's a powerful—it is the most profound, profound example of the great American values—that we understand in order to be the country of promise and hope that we're meant to be, that we've got to live our lives beyond just ourself, that we've got to serve something greater than ourself in life.
There's no doubt in my mind, no doubt in my mind that we can achieve peace in the world if we remain strong and diligent and focused and tough when we need to. And there's no doubt in my mind we can be a more compassionate and decent and hopeful nation. And you know why? Because this, my fellow Americans, is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, full of the most decent and loving and kind people.
Thank you for coming. May God bless you all, and may God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 2:02 p.m. at the Coconino County Fairgrounds. In his remarks, he referred to Roberta Renzi, wife of candidate Rick Renzi; Arizona gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon; Gov. Jane Dee Hull of Arizona; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an Al Qaida operative suspected of helping to plan the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who was captured in Karachi, Pakistan; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Rick Renzi was a candidate for Arizona's First Congressional District.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Rally for Congressional Candidate Rick Renzi in Flagstaff, Arizona Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/215898