Remarks at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Lynn C. Swann in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Thank you all for coming. Thanks for being here. The people of Pennsylvania know that when you draft Lynn Swann—[laughter]—you get a man who performs. I am proud to be here with the next Governor of the great State of Pennsylvania, Lynn Swann. I know something about being a Governor. Here's what you need. You need somebody who tells the truth, somebody who sets the people's agenda above political parties, somebody who makes decisions based upon principle, not based upon polls or focus groups, somebody who doesn't go around the State trying to become everybody's friend, but somebody who goes around the State to try to improve the lives of the people of the State. And there's no doubt in my mind that Lynn Swann has got the characteristics necessary to be a great Governor of this important State.
And I'm proud to be here with Lynn and Jim Matthews. You know, one of the interesting things I'll never forget, one time I was campaigning for my dad in the sixties in Texas. And I went to a county courthouse on his behalf, and it was empty. It turns out he was a Republican, and they were all Democrats. [Laughter] It was my first lesson of how important it is to stay in touch with the people who run the counties. You see, really good politicians and smart people understand that county politics is where you find the pulse of the people and where you're able to do your best work. And so it's a smart thing that Lynn Swann asked Jim Matthews, a man who understands the county structure in Pennsylvania, to run on his ticket. You've got vision and you've got experience side by side, which makes a powerful ticket for the people of Pennsylvania.
I just had my picture taken with some of you, and about every fourth person said, "Where's Laura?" [Laughter] What they're really saying, "How come you didn't send Laura and you stay at home?" [Laughter] Laura sends her love to the Swanns. She is very fond of Lynn and Charena. She respects them like I respect them. These are noble, decent people. They don't have to be running for politics, see. They can be sitting, doing a lot of other things— watching a football game, talking on TV— [laughter]—helping people help themselves. They're great, charitable people. They've got big hearts. But instead, they've decided to serve a State they love and a people they love. So Laura stands with me in saying to the people of Pennsylvania, you've got two really fine people in Lynn and Charena. Put them in office, and you'll be proud of the job they'll do for you.
It's good to meet Lynn's sons and Jim's sons. There's nothing better than having a family by your side when you're running for office. This is a big State you got here, and it takes a lot of work. And these candidates are going to do the work necessary to get elected. I know they'll work hard. There's nothing better to—coming home to somebody you care for after a hard day's work. And so when you're voting for a candidate, you're really voting for a family as well.
And I like people who put their families ahead of all else in life. I like people who prioritize. I think it's going to be good for this State to have a Governor who sets the right priorities. It starts with faith and family, and then you can get into politics.
I'm proud to be here with Congressman Joe Pitts. Joe, thank you for serving the district with distinction. I'm glad you're here. I appreciate you being here.
I just came from the district next door, where they put me on a Harley-Davidson. [Laughter] It was a static display—[laughter]—fortunately. [Laughter] But that district is also represented by a person of dignity and character, and that's Todd Platts. Congressman, thanks for coming.
The attorney general—you're going to need to have a good attorney general by your side, Governor, and you got one in Tom Corbett. Thanks for coming, General.
I want to thank Rob Gleason and Bob Asher and all who else are involved with party politics. I want to thank those of you who have given of your hard-earned money to help these folks. You can't run unless the people are willing to contribute. That's just the way it is. And the fact that Lynn and Jim have raised so much money tonight is a good sign. I want to thank you for those of you who have helped organize this event, and thank you for giving of your money. It really means a lot to them. I know. I speak with firsthand experience how much it means to have people willing to contribute.
And now you need to contribute your time. You need to go to your coffee shops and your community centers and your houses of worship, and you need to talk to your friends and neighbors and let them know the quality of the people that are seeking their vote. You need to let them know that these two good men will do a fine job for the people of Pennsylvania. Getting ready, coming down the stretch here pretty soon, going to need you to put up the signs and lick the envelopes and make the phone calls and knock on the doors. They need your help. They'll work hard, but they can't win alone. And so it's one thing to give of your money, and now I hope you give of your time when they're coming down the stretch, because they can win this race. And when they do, Pennsylvania will be better for it.
Not only do you have to have the character to serve in office, but you have to run for a reason. There's got to be a compelling reason why you seek the vote, and Lynn Swann has got compelling reasons why he'll be a good Governor for the State of Pennsylvania. It starts with his philosophy about the role of government in the economy. He understands that governments don't create wealth, that governments create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish or which the small-business owner can grow bigger or which a person can realize their dreams by creating their own company. That's the kind of Governor you want. You want a Governor who understands entrepreneurship; a Governor, when the small-business person looks out and says, "That person understands my needs, and he understands my concerns." And that means you have to have a Governor who is willing to cut the taxes on the people, creating the jobs and doing the work.
He said, "I know how to prioritize a budget." If you don't prioritize in State government or Federal Government, they'll figure out how to spend every single dime that they raise from you. But if you can get somebody to prioritize, that leaves money for you to stay in your pocket. See, that's how you end up cutting the taxes.You say, "Here's my priorities; here's what I think is essential," and then with the money left over—since I recognize it's your money, you get to keep it. It's amazing what happens to the economy when you cut the taxes on the people who work. I know him well enough to say to the people of Pennsylvania, when he says he's going to cut the taxes by a billion dollars, you can take it to the bank.
You know, one of the issues that hurts people a lot is property taxes. People struggle to own their own home. One of the things we stand for is ownership. We love it when somebody opens the door to the place they live and says, "Welcome to my home; this is my piece of property." We stand strong for the ownership society. It's harder to own a home when your property taxes are going up too high. It's good to have somebody running for Governor who says, "I hear the problems you have when it comes to owning your home, and I'll do everything I can to cut your property taxes as well."
I used to tell people this: Education is to a State what national defense is to the Federal Government. Education must be the number-one priority of your Governor. And it is the number-one priority for Lynn Swann. See, one of the reasons he's decided to run is because he's concerned about an education system that's not educating every child. Sure, it educates some children, but we want an education system to educate every child, and here's our vision of how it's done.
First, you must have leadership that sets high standards. It's amazing what happens when you have low standards. Guess what happens? You get low results. It's what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you don't have high standards, you get lousy results, particularly in some neighborhoods. And that's unacceptable to a person like Lynn Swann and me.
Secondly, you measure. You say to somebody, "Are you achieving the results I expect?" There's a justified role for that, as far as I'm concerned, in government. The Federal Government spends a lot of money, about 7 percent of the education budget, around the country. I've said, since we're spending 7 percent, we'd like to see the results for the money we spent. Lynn Swann says the same thing. He understands the primary driver of education in Pennsylvania is the State. Therefore, he has got a legitimate right to say to the educators, "We like what you do; we stand squarely with you, but please show us whether or not a child can read or write and add and subtract early, before it's too late."
There's a pitiful practice in some schools that say, "You're too hard to educate; we're just going to shuffle you through." It may be the color of somebody's skin or somebody's demographics that says to somebody, "We're just going to quit on you." That's not right. It's not good for Pennsylvania. It's not good for the United States. You need to have a Governor who'll set high standards and hold people to account. And when you find people learning to read, write, and add and subtract, you say, thank you for what you're doing. But when you don't, you challenge the status quo so no child is left behind in America.
I like his education plan. It's well-thought-out. It makes a lot of sense. But most importantly, it's going to deliver the results for the families of Pennsylvania. And it doesn't matter whether you're Republican or Democrat or independent; these are results that affect all children. And that's the kind of Governor you need.
One of the things I learned when I campaigned here was that you had a problem with your doctors, like, a real problem. As a matter of fact, I was deeply concerned when I sat down at these roundtables with ob-gyns to find out what it's like to try to practice medicine in the State of Pennsylvania. You can't have good quality of life if you can't find good docs. And the truth of the matter is, many of your doctors are leaving the State or quitting practice because of the junk and frivolous lawsuits.
Now, I understand something, that these trial lawyers are strong politically. They're tough, and that's why you need a tough Governor to stare them down and say, for the sake of good medical care, for the sake of availability and affordability of medicine, we've got to end these frivolous and junk lawsuits that are hurting the people of Pennsylvania.
Now, he's got the right platform. He's running on the right issues, and he's running for the right reason. He's a fellow that doesn't need to say, "I try to make myself feel better by being Governor." He's had plenty of accolades—[laughter]—just ask the Dallas Cowboy fans. [Laughter] See, he's not running for his ego. He's running because he wants to serve the people of this State, and he's got a platform that makes a lot of sense. And I'm proud to help him. I'm proud to help him. And I know you are as well.
You know, we're living in historic times. These are difficult times for the American people because we're in a war. We're in a war we did not ask for but in a war that we must wage and win for the sake of our future generation of children. Much of my thinking about the world changed on September the 11th. I recognized on that day that we face a threat and that the responsibility of the Federal Government, working with State government, is to do everything we can to secure the homeland to protect the people. That's my most important job now, and it's the most important job of a lot of other people too.
I learned that we face an enemy that knows no bounds of cruelty. I understand the nature of this enemy. This is an enemy that has an ideology. Some people say, well, this may be a law enforcement matter. No, these are people that are politically driven. They've got motives. They do not believe in freedom. They don't believe in freedom of religion; they don't believe in freedom of dissent; they don't believe in women's rights. They have a backward view of the world. And yet they want to impose their vision on other people. That's what they're trying to do. And the United States of America must never retreat and let them have their way.
This is a different kind of war. Veterans of World War II and Korea would tell you, we were able to measure progress based upon miles gained or based upon tanks destroyed, or however people measured war in those days. This is different. We're facing people with an ideology but without a nation-state. Sometimes they have people sponsor them and help them, but this is not a nation-state. It's a different kind of conflict. And it's hard on the American people, and I understand that. But we shouldn't let the difficulties of facing this war force us to retreat from the world. If your most important responsibility is to protect the American people, the best way to do so is to stay on the offense and bring these people to justice before they hurt us again.
A different kind of war requires a different kind of approach. It means we better have good intelligence in order to be able to figure out the designs of the enemy before they strike. Just last week, we had good intelligence in working with our partners in Great Britain to disrupt a plot. I know it's hard for Americans to believe this, but the enemy that attacked us before has got people that want to act like them, are maybe taking instruction from—I can't tell you whether this plot we disrupted was Al Qaida. I'm not going to say that unless I'm certain it was. But it's the kind of activities that Al Qaida has done in the past, and that is to place suiciders on airplanes to destroy innocent life, trying to shake the will of the United States, trying to send a political message.
And so we've got to use new tactics, new efforts, new assets to protect ourselves against an enemy that will strike us at any moment. This war on terror is more than just chasing down people hiding in caves or preventing people from getting on airplanes to blow them up; the war on terror is fought in many theaters, and the central front in the war on terror now is Iraq. I say it's the central front because that's what the enemy themselves have said, that they want to drive us from the region, that they view it as the central front as well. They've got objectives in Iraq. They want the United States to suffer a defeat in Iraq. They want us to retreat from Iraq. They want to create such havoc on our TV screens by killing innocent people that the American people finally say, we've had enough, leaving Iraq before the mission is complete.
And the mission is to have a country, a free country that can sustain itself and govern itself and defend itself and serve as an ally in the war on terror in the heart of the Middle East. That's the mission. And they want us to leave; they want us to cut and run. And there's some good people in our country who believe we should cut and run. They're not bad people when they say that; they're decent people. I just happen to believe they're wrong, and they're wrong for this reason: This would be a defeat for the United States in a key battleground in the global war on terror. It would create a—leaving before we complete our mission would create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, a country with huge oil reserves that the terrorist network would be willing to use to extract economic pain from those of us who believe in freedom.
If we were to leave before the mission is complete, it would hurt U.S. credibility. Who would want to stand with the United States of America if we didn't complete the mission, and a mission that can be completed and will be completed? If we cut and run, if we don't complete the mission, what would that say to those brave men and women who have volunteered to wear the uniform of the United States of America? If we leave before the mission is complete, if we withdraw, the enemy will follow us home.
By defeating the enemy in Iraq, jihadists who try to spread sectarian violence through brutal suicide bombings, jihadists who have declared openly that their mission is to convert that country into a safe haven for them to launch attacks, when we defeat them, there will be a major defeat for the terrorists. It will strengthen the spread of democracy in the Middle East.
Look, our strategy is this: We will stay on the offense. And we are. Any time we get a hint that somebody is going to hurt us, we respond. And we're keeping the pressure on the enemy. By the way, anybody who follows me should always understand, you must keep the pressure on the enemy; otherwise, they will put the pressure on us. They still exist. It's important to understand this is a global war on terror, not an isolated moment of law enforcement. This is the first war of the 21st century, and the United States of America must lead that war. And we must be firm, and we must be resolved.
We will stay on the offense so we don't have to face them here in the United States of America. The way to defeat this enemy in the long term is to defeat their hateful ideology with a hopeful ideology; is for the United States of America to understand the power of liberty to help transform people's lives to the better and the power of liberty to help spread the peace that we want for our children and our grandchildren.
You know, when you have resentment and anger, that breeds hatred; that breeds recruiting grounds for people to become a suicider. Imagine the mentality of somebody willing to kill for an ideology that just doesn't—is not hopeful, and yet I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that parts of the world breed resentment. And I believe that is due in part to the nature of the governments. I believe a system of government that encourages people to participate and a government that says, "We respond to your will," is the kind of government that ends up creating a hopeful alternative to resentment and hatred.
Our foreign policy in the past in the Middle East has been, let's just work for stability; let us not care what the form of government is; let's just make sure everything appears stable. The problem was, that foreign policy came home on September the 11th, 2001. It didn't work. What looked placid, what looked serene, what looked calm was not. Beneath the surface was this deep resentment brewing that caused people to come and kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens. The best way to defeat this enemy in the long run is to spread liberty, is to give people the hope of freedom.
Isn't it interesting today that the most violent parts of the world are where young democracies are trying to take root? Isn't it interesting that Hizballah would attack Israel, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, try to destabilize the Middle East so that Lebanon doesn't get to be a strong democracy, and starts to try to turn the world against Israel? Isn't it interesting that the young democracy of Iraq is the place where the enemy is trying to stop the progress? That should tell the American people the following things: One, we face an enemy that has an ideology that can't stand freedom; and secondly, as freedom progresses, it changes the world for the better. Otherwise, the enemy wouldn't be trying to stop it.
And so in the long term, the United States of America must take the lead in spreading liberty. And we've got to have great confidence that it will work. I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe in the heart and soul of everybody is the gift of freedom from that Almighty. I believe Muslim women, Hindu women, Christian women, Jewish women want their children to grow up in peace and hope. I believe there is the universality of freedom, and I know it works.
You might remember, I recently went down to Graceland—that's Elvis's place— with the Prime Minister of Japan. Wasn't that interesting? [Laughter] I thought it was. [Laughter] More importantly, my guest thought it was. He was an Elvis fan. I bet you, in 1949, 1950, if somebody had stood up and said, "You know, I bet one of these days an American President is going to take the Japanese Prime Minister to visit the heartland," they'd have said, "Man, you are nuts." [Laughter]
It's interesting, isn't it, that the Prime Minister of a country with which we had a mighty war, thousands lost their lives— as a matter of fact, it took us, I don't know how long, a decade or so to even get racial slurs out of our vocabulary because of the enmity that arose as a result of fighting the Japanese. We couldn't stand them, and they couldn't stand us. And yet 60 years after the end of World War II, George W. Bush flies on the airplane with Junichiro Koizumi to go to Elvis's place. [Laughter] And we didn't spend much time talking about Elvis's place on the way down; we talked about the peace. Isn't that interesting? A former enemy, the sworn enemy of the United States, the leader of that country now sat down with the President of the United States doing something that our forefathers could not have possibly imagined—that we talked about the peace.
Something happened between World War II and today, and what happened was, Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy. Something nobody would have thought as possible after World War II, except for Harry S. Truman and some other people that had great faith in the desire for people to live in freedom and in the capacity to change—for freedom to change an enemy into an ally.
Someday, an American President will be sitting down talking to a duly elected leader of Iraq, talking about how to keep the peace. And our children will be better off.
The stakes are high. But I clearly see where we need to go. And the stakes are high in Pennsylvania, and Lynn Swann clearly sees where the State needs to go. You can't lead unless you see the end result. You've got a man who has got the vision. He's got the skills necessary to lead toward that vision. He's the right man for the job. I'm honored to be with him.
I want to thank you all for supporting Lynn Swann and Jim Matthews. God bless you all, and God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:18 p.m. at the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center. In his remarks, he referred to James R. Matthews, candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania; Robert A. Gleason, Jr., chairman, Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania; Robert Asher, Pennsylvania national committeeman, Republican National Committee; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Lynn C. Swann in Lancaster, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211086