Remarks at a Reception for Congressional Candidate Geoffrey C. Davis in Florence, Kentucky
The President. Thank you all very much. Geoff, thanks very much for your kind introduction; thanks for your service. I'm here because there's no doubt in my mind, Geoff Davis is the right candidate for the Fourth Congressional District.
I've gotten to know him. I got to know the kind of person he is. And you know, when you find somebody who is full of integrity, somebody who prioritizes his faith and his family above all else is somebody you need to send back to Washington, DC. He came and campaigned hard here, and he told you what he was going to do, and he has done what he said he's going to do. Geoff Davis needs to be reelected to the United States Congress for the good of this district and for the good of the United States of America.
You know, one of the interesting things about Washington is we've got plenty of lawyers up there. [Laughter] I'm not one. [Laughter]
Congressman Davis. Me, neither.
The President. Neither is the Congressman. [Laughter] Seems like when you've got somebody who has got the kind of experience we need in Washington—I'm talking about experience outside of politics— that you ought to keep him up there. See, he's a fellow who's a small-business owner. This is a really vibrant part of our country, right here in northern Kentucky. It's a part of the world where the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. And it makes sense to have somebody in the United States Congress who has lived the life that many of our entrepreneurs have lived.
And we're a nation that is at war. And I need allies in the United States Congress, people who understand what the military is all about. This man wore the uniform of the United States of America. Send him back to the United States Congress.
Davis really wanted—he really wanted Laura. He said, "You stay at home, Mr. President." [Laughter]
Audience member. Next time.
The President. Yes, next time. Unfortunately, she was tied up. But she's a believer. She wants me to tell you all, thanks very much for supporting this good fellow. I bring a message from her, and I bring a message from myself: Any time when you find somebody who is willing to run, that's making a sacrifice, it means a lot to have the support of the people. And so thank you all for coming today. Thanks for contributing to this man's campaign.
And I want to remind you that money is one thing, but he's also going to need people out working those coffee shops, working the neighborhoods. And so I'm going to thank you not only for what you have done; I want to thank you for what you're going to do, which is turn out the vote to make sure he gets back to Washington, DC.
Anyway, Laura sends her best. And old Geoff is like me; he married well. [Laughter] All you've got to do is—if your six kids were 21, it would be a landslide. [Laughter]
But we flew down on Air Force One together. We talked about two things, I think, that will interest you. You can get to know a person pretty well when you're with them for a while and nobody else is around listening and there's not any—not any cameras and not any agenda papers. And so guess what he wanted to talk about? First, he wanted to talk about his children. I thought that was interesting. He could have talked about anything. He could have said bridges, or how about——
Congressman Davis. We did talk about— [laughter].
The President. How about this, Mr. President? Or why don't you tell them this, Mr. President? Presidents get a lot of advice. Some of it is solicited, and some of it is unsolicited. [Laughter] He wanted to talk about his family, how proud he was of his family. He wanted me to make sure I understood that he had six children and that one of them is going to NKU and one of them is 6. [Laughter] He wanted me to know how much he loved his wife and how much he respects her. I think that says something about the nature of the man. And I think the voters of this district ought to pay attention to the values of the candidates who are running for office. This is a man who's got strong values, the kind of values we need in the public arena.
Then he wanted to talk about the military. He wanted to share some thoughts. See, he went to West Point.
Audience member. Hey!
The President. Yes.
Congressman Davis. His son went to West Point.
The President. I'm glad somebody appreciates it. [Laughter] He wanted to share his experience with me as an officer, a West Point grad who—he's got friends out in the trenches still fighting for America. I think it's interesting to have a Congressman who feels comfortable enough to talk to the President about the command structure, the decisions we make that influence the troops in the field. See, we need people in Congress who understand that once you commit somebody into harm's way, they deserve all the support of the Federal Government. They not only deserve monetary support, they need strong moral support of our Government.
I'm proud also that Jim Bunning is with us today. He's a fine United States Senator, good man. That big right-hander is big enough to be able to see all way in the back. And his wife, Mary, is with him as well. Thank you, Mary. Thank you all for coming.
I want to thank State Senator Dan Kelly, the senate majority floor leader, for being here. Senator, thanks for coming. You make sure you turn out to help this guy turn out the vote.
You know, one of the interesting things about—one of the things I learned in Texas politics is the importance of the—we call them "county judges;" you call them "country judge executives"—"county judge-dash-executive." [Laughter] I remember campaigning for my dad in 1964. He was running against—yes, he's a good old boy. [Laughter] And he said, "Your job is to go tell them you'll pass out the literature in the courthouse." Then I got in the courthouse, and of course, it was completely empty. [Laughter] The courthouses were dominated in those days by the Democrat Party.
Good politics starts at the courthouse. You can tell whether a person is going to do well politically if he can get the courthouse crowd going for him, because that's—local politics always is the base of support. So I'm honored to welcome today Gary Moore, Ralph Drees, and Steve Pendery. These are the county judge executives of Boone County, Kenton County, and Campbell County. And we're glad you're here. Thanks for coming.
I want to thank the grassroots activists who are here. Somebody who is a grass-roots activist is somebody who gets on the telephone at the right time and says, "I know Geoff Davis, and it's in our interest, our mutual interest, for you to go vote for him." A grassroots activist is somebody who does the tedious tasks of stuffing envelopes full of mailers that say, here's a good man with a good record. A grassroots activist is somebody who goes to their place of worship and says, "Oh, by the way, we have a duty to vote, and we've got a good man running here; don't let him down." That's what a grassroots activist is. And for those of you who are grassroots activists, thanks very much for being involved in campaigns; thank you for turning out the vote.
Let me talk about a couple of issues that are important. You win elections based not only on your values but what you believe and what you do. See, there's an interesting debate in Washington right now. There's a lot of anger in Washington. But anger is not a philosophy. Anger is not a set of principles. Anger is—you can't win elections by being angry. You win elections by being optimistic and hopeful and leading. That's how you win elections.
And we're in the lead. And I want to thank Geoff for joining this Nation as we lead the world toward peace. Our biggest challenge in Washington is to protect the American people. That's the biggest calling we have. It's the most important responsibility. When somebody says, "Name your most important responsibility, Mr. President," it's easily, "To protect you." learned that lesson on September the 11th, 2001. It's a lesson I'll never forget as your President, that my most solemn duty is to protect the American people. And therefore, it's important to have allies like Geoff Davis who are willing to stand strong in observing and honoring that duty.
I learned some lessons on September the 11th, and one of them is we face an enemy that is full of hate, that adheres to an ideology that is backwards, an ideology that's the opposite of freedom. An ideology, nevertheless, is one that can bind people together. I learned that these are folks you can't negotiate with; you can't hope for the best. You, kind of, can't sit back and say, well, maybe they'll change their mind. The only way to protect the American people and do our duty is to stay on the offense and bring them to justice. And it's important to have people in the United States Congress who understand that. And Geoff understands that.
Another lesson I learned is that it's really important to make sure this enemy can't find safe haven, can't hide in places so they can plot and plan in order to attack us. See, they have stated their objectives clearly. They want to spread their ideology, and they want us to retreat from the world. They think we will. They think it's just a matter of time for the United States to lose our nerve and to be—and to withdraw.
But they don't understand me, and they don't understand people in the United States Congress, like Geoff Davis. We understand our duty. I said, "If you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist." Just as an aside, when the President says something, he better mean what he says. When a member of Congress says something, they better mean what they say, as well. I meant what I said, and the Taliban no longer is in power, and now 25 million people are free.
One of the interesting lessons of September the 11th, in this world in which we live, is that the United States cannot be complacent when we see a threat. If we see a threat, we must deal with that threat before it comes home to hit us. It used to be, we could see a threat, and we'd say, wait a minute, we're okay; we've got oceans protecting us—you know, we're fine, because we're pretty well insulated from those kind of threats.
That changed on September the 11th. And I saw a threat. Matter of fact, people in both political parties saw the same threat I saw. Countries from around the world saw the same threat I saw. And the threat was a dictator who had killed millions of his people—killed hundreds of thousands of his people, used weapons of mass destruction, had invaded his neighborhood, declared the United States an enemy, harbored terrorists.
The President must use diplomacy before he ever commits troops into harm's way. We—worked as hard as I could to solve the issue of Iraq peacefully. When we couldn't do so, Saddam Hussein had a choice to make: disclose and disarm, or face serious consequences. He made the choice. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.
And we have a plan for victory in Iraq. And a victory in Iraq is a country that can sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself, an ally in the war on terror, and someone who will deny that which the enemy has declared they want, which is a safe haven from which to launch further attacks. And we're on our way. And it's really important to have Members in the United States Congress who understand the power of freedom to transform societies, the ability of our fighting forces—if given the proper equipment—to be able to achieve an objective, and not cut and run before the mission is complete.
These are difficult times for the American people. War is tough, particularly when you face an enemy that is able to put bloodshed on our TV screens on a regular basis. See, these people have no conscience; they have no sense of justice; they will take innocent lives in order to drive us out. That's what they're trying to do. And I need allies in Congress who are willing to understand the stakes, who know that there is no option other than victory; that we're not going to retreat; that we're not going to allow the enemy to be able to have a safe haven in Iraq. And we will not abandon the 12 million people who defied car bombers and terrorists and said to the world, we want to be free.
We're going to succeed. We're going to succeed. You know, there are some interesting lessons in history—Geoff and I were talking about them as well. It's important for those of us in Washington to study history and to learn from history. One of the interesting lessons of history is the power of liberty to transform societies. It's happened. It's happened in recent times. World War I was a terrible war; World War II, also a terrible war. Both of them took place on the continent of Europe. And yet there are no wars on Europe today. Europe is free and whole, at peace because democracies don't war with each other. That's one of the lessons of history.
One of my better buddies in the world is Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. That's probably not much of interest, until you realize my dad—or think about the fact that my dad fought the Japanese. One of the really interesting things that I think about when I visit with Prime Minister Koizumi—and, by the way, when I'm visiting with him, we're talking about the peace; we're talking about how to help democracy in Iraq; we're talking about what to do about the man in North Korea; we're talking about how to work together as strong allies to lay the foundation of peace. I find it interesting, and I think the American people ought to listen carefully to that lesson of history, that because Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy, an enemy, a sworn enemy of the United States is today an ally in keeping the peace.
The same thing is going to happen in the broader Middle East. As democracy takes hold in the broader Middle East, we will have an ideology that defeats the ideology of terror in place, and someday an American President is going to be sitting down with a duly elected leader of Iraq saying, how do we keep the peace? We're laying the foundation for peace, and I need allies like Geoff Davis who understand the stakes.
Government doesn't create wealth; government creates the environment in which people are willing to take risk to realize their dreams. And there is a fundamental difference in Washington, DC, on how to run this economy. We believe that the best way to run the economy is to let the people run the economy by keeping more of their own money.
This economy of ours is strong: 3.5 percent GDP growth last year; 4.7 percent unemployment rate across the Nation; 5.2 million new jobs in 2 1/2 years. Productivity is on the rise; small businesses are flourishing; more people own a home today than ever before in our Nation's history. More minorities own a home today than ever before in our Nation's history. And the reason it's strong is because of the tax cuts we passed.
And I know what's going to happen if the other party runs the United States Congress; they're going to run up your taxes. Make no mistake about it; their view on how to grow this economy is to take more money out of your pocket. Our view on how to grow the economy is to let you keep more money. The tax cuts need to be made permanent.
Oh, you hear a lot of talk about the deficit in Washington, and the other side will say, well, here's how you solve the deficit—raise your taxes. See, it becomes a convenient excuse. That's not how it works in Washington. And Geoff understands that—that it doesn't work that way, to raise your taxes and balance the budget. No, what happens is, they're going to raise your taxes, and they're going to figure out new ways to spend your money. That's how Washington works.
The best way to balance the budget is to keep progrowth economic policies in place which generate more revenue for the Federal Treasury and hold down Federal spending. And that's why I need allies like Geoff Davis who are fiscally responsible with the people's money. We're on our way to cutting that deficit in half by 2009.
And by the way, if the United States Congress sees that supplemental I sent up there—that supplemental, by the way, aimed to make sure our troops have the combat equipment necessary to win this war on terror and to help the people down in Katrina—if they bust a 92.2 barrier I put on it, I'm going to veto the bill.
In order to make sure that we're a competitive—I just—by the way, I had a fantastic experience at NKU. I really enjoyed myself there. And it's a wonderful institute here. And I was talking about how to keep America competitive. That's one of the things we need. We need forward-thinking people in Washington, DC, who don't fear the future, because we intend to shape the future. We intend to make sure that we put policies in place that keep us the most competitive nation in the world.
And one thing we need to do in order to be the most competitive nation in the world is to get off our addiction to oil. In order to make sure America has the economic security for the future and the national security that we need, is we've got to do something about oil, and we've got to diversify away from it.
Here's some ideas: one, clean coal technology. We're going to spend research and development money to make sure we can use the coal—250 years worth of coal and burn it in an environmentally friendly way. We can do that. We'll be able to do that.
Secondly, we need to use coal to help get liquid fuels, see. And one of the things about Davis, he understands that. And he put, in the defense bill, $5 million to help us make sure we can extract liquids from coal. In other words, it's a different way to make us less dependent on foreign sources of oil.
We need to change how we drive our cars. I want Kentucky farmers growing the fuel for the future. I'm a big believer in ethanol. We've got battery technology going on that would mean that you can drive your first 40 miles on electricity and your thing doesn't have to look like a golf cart. [Laughter]
We're working on new solar technologies. We're working on wind technologies. We're investing in hydrogen so the little fellow here will be driving his car, not driven by gasoline but powered by hydrogen. I need——
Audience member. Good——
The President. I was about to say, this man is a nuclear power guy, and so am I. [Laughter] The best way to protect the environment and to have renewable sources of energy is through nuclear power.
And so I need allies in the United States Congress who understand that we have got to diversify away from oil. It's in our national interest and our economic interest that we develop a broad-based energy strategy that will get the job done.
Finally, I do want to talk about the importance of people in Congress who understand that values are important. One of the areas where we're making progress is promoting the culture of life. I think it's really important for our society to be a welcoming society, a society that recognizes everybody has worth, born and unborn.
Geoff Davis is an ally in promoting a culture of life. He's an ally—look, he didn't get to vote on these deals. He's in the House. But I can assure you, he supports my nominees for the Supreme Court and for the circuit court. These are people who will not legislate from the bench, people who are solid constructionists, strict constructionists.
It's really important to have people in Washington who understand that government can hand out money, but government can't put hope in a person's heart. That's done when a loving soul says, "I love you, brother. What can I do to help you?" Some of the most intractable problems in our country cannot be solved by money.
One of the things that we've initiated in Washington is the Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiative, which says to people of faith, you can apply for Federal grant money so that you can help heal broken hearts, and you don't have to lose the core of your mission. And we ought to have people in the United States Congress who understand that in order to solve problems, problems of the heart, that requires a higher power than the United States Government sometimes to do so. Geoff Davis understands that.
You know, de Tocqueville came to America in the 1830s. He came to America and observed that America was such a unique place because of the voluntary associations all across our country, where people would show up to help a neighbor in need. That spirit is still alive in America today, by the way. We've got people doing millions of acts of kindness on a daily basis, and there hasn't been one law that says you've got to do it, except for a higher calling. And the power of government must not stand in the way of those trying to practice their faith to heal open hearts, but to stand side by side with them, and Geoff Davis understands that.
So I've come to northern Kentucky to support this good man and to ask you to continue to support him. He's making a difference in the United States Congress. He understands the challenges of the world in which we face, and he shares the same sense of optimism that I share, that this great country of ours can solve any problem when we put our mind to it. Send him back to the United States Congress and you'll be better off for it.
Thank you, and God bless.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:34 p.m. at the Hilton Greater Cincinnati Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Pat Davis, wife of Representative Davis; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan; and Chairman Kim Jong Il of North Korea.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Reception for Congressional Candidate Geoffrey C. Davis in Florence, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/217140