Remarks at a Reception for Senatorial Candidate George Allen in Richmond, Virginia
Thank you all. Thank you for coming. Thanks for the warm welcome, and thank you for supporting George Allen to be reelected United States Senator of the great State of Virginia.
I'm proud to be here with him. He's a man who has earned the confidence of the people of this State as a delegate, as the Governor—and a very successful Governor—as a United States Senator. He's the kind of fellow who says he's going to— what he tells you on the campaign trail, he does in office. He doesn't need a poll or a focus group to tell him what to think or what to say. George Allen is a man of strong principle; he is a leader; he is the right man to be the United States Senator from the State of Virginia.
And he married well, and so did I. See, we got something in common. We're both named George, and we both married smart, beautiful women. Laura is very fond of the Allens. She understands that they are honorable, decent people—honest, good folks. We're proud to call them friends, and I know the people of Virginia are proud to call George Allen United States Senator.
I appreciate the Lieutenant Governor— Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and his wife, Jean Ann, and the family are with us today. Governor, thanks for coming. Speaker Bill Howell is with us. Appreciate you being here, Mr. Speaker.
I had the honor of meeting an interesting fellow at the airport today—as a matter of fact, he was at the steps there when I got off of Air Force One, and we traveled throughout his senatorial district a little bit because we went and bought some pumpkins. [Laughter] His name is State Senator Benny Lambert. See, the Allen campaign understands that you reach across party line. He did that as the Governor of the State of Virginia; he has done that as the United States Senator. There's no doubt in my mind this good man will win by getting the votes of Republicans, discerning Democrats, and wise independents.
I really want to thank you all for coming. I appreciate you contributing to his campaign, and I want to thank the grassroots activists who are here for what you're fixing to do. See, we're getting close to voting time. We're coming down the stretch. And for those of you who are going to be putting up the signs and making the phone calls and going to your houses of worship or community centers urging people to do their duty as an American citizen and voting for George Allen, I want to thank you. A lot of times the grassroots folks don't get the thanks that you deserve. I'm here giving you thanks; I know the Senator gives you thanks. Work hard. We need him in the United States Senate, for the good of the United States of America.
I'm looking forward to continue to working with Senator Allen to diversify our energy. I'm looking forward to promoting ethanol and new technologies so that we can change our habits and become less dependent on foreign sources of oil. For the economic security of the United States and for the national security of the United States, we need to get off oil.
I'm looking forward to continue to work with Senator Allen to make sure that patients and doctors make the decisions for health care, not for people in Washington, DC. Now, there's a lot of domestic issues that I look forward to working with Senator Allen on, but there's no bigger issue than what we do with the people's money—no bigger issue.
There's a lot of rhetoric in these campaigns, a lot of needless noise in a campaign. A lot of time it's to obscure the fundamental issues facing the people of Virginia and the people all across our Nation. And the two biggest issues in this campaign, in any campaign across the country, is which party will take the steps necessary to protect the American people and win the war on terror, and which party is going to keep your taxes low to keep this economy growing.
George Allen and I have made our position very plain. Nobody has to guess where we stand. We got a clear record on taxes, and our philosophy is easy to understand. It says: We trust the people. See, we understand it's your money, not the government's money. We think the best people to spend the hard-earned dollars that you make is you. We understand the economy grows when you have more money in your pocket to save, spend, or invest.
And therefore, we worked together to deliver the greatest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. We said, if you're going to have tax relief, then everybody who pays taxes ought to get relief. So we reduced the marriage penalty as well. We doubled the child tax credit. We understand that an economy grows when the small-business owners are growing. And so we cut taxes on small businesses; we cut taxes on capital gains and dividends to promote investment and jobs. And to reward family businesses and farmers right here in the great State of Virginia for a lifetime of hard work and savings, we put the death tax on the road to extinction.
Our record on cutting taxes is clear, and the Democrats in Washington, DC, have a record of their own. The trouble is, they don't want you to know about it. [Laughter] It's interesting that recently the top Democrat leader in the House of Representatives made an interesting declaration. She said, "We love tax cuts." Given her record, she must be a secret admirer. [Laughter] It's just not the so-called "tax cuts for the rich" she opposes.
When we cut taxes for everybody who pays income taxes, she voted against it. When we reduced the marriage penalty, she voted against it. When we cut taxes on small businesses, she voted against it. When we put the death tax on the road to extinction, she voted against it. Time and time again, she and her party voted against tax cuts. Time and time again, when she had an opportunity to show her love for tax cuts, she voted no. If this is the Democrats' idea of love—[laughter]—I wouldn't want to see what hate looks like. [Laughter]
But, by the way, this view of taxes extends beyond the House of Representatives. Democrats in the United States Senate had the same point of view. I remember when we cut the taxes in 2003. See, we were coming out of a recession, and we were dealing with the effects of a terrorist attack, and we were dealing with the effects of corporate scandal. And we knew that in order to recover, we had to let the people have more of their own money.
And one Democrat in the Senate said these tax cuts would do nothing to create jobs. One of his colleagues called the tax cuts the wrong prescription for our economy. Those were the predictions, and here are the results: The tax cuts we passed have put more than a trillion dollars in the hands of American workers and families and small businesses, including millions of families living right here in Virginia. And the amazing thing is, the people did a much better job with your money than the Government did or could have done.
Since August 2003, our economy has had 37 straight months of job growth. Since August of 2003, we added 6.6 million new jobs. Small businesses are flourishing. Homeownership is up. This economy is strong, and we intend to keep it that way.
You know, I'm sure you've heard the line that the Democrats are just going to raise taxes on the rich. They say it every time. But I want the people here in Virginia who are listening to the debate on taxes to remember what happened back in 1992, after the Democrats campaigned on cutting the taxes for the middle class. Well, they won, and they came to power, and the middle class tax cut they promised turned out to be one of the largest tax increases in American history.
We just have a different view of the world when it comes to taxes. We believe you can spend your money well. The Democrats want the Government to spend your money. No, the best way to make sure that this economy stays strong is to make the tax cuts we passed permanent. And the best thing the Virginia citizens can do to make sure taxes stay low is to send George Allen back to the United States Senate.
It's interesting, if you look at the history of tax cuts, the Democrat Party always— didn't always feel the way they feel today. Back in the sixties, the Democrats understood that our economy grows when Americans keep more of what they earn, when Americans make their own decisions about how to save, spend, or invest. You might remember, when President John F. Kennedy became President, he proposed across-the-board tax cuts for American families and small businesses, including tax cuts on capital gains.
In his message to the Congress in 1963, he explained that cutting taxes across the board, in his words, "would help strengthen every segment of the American economy and bring us closer to every basic objective of American economic policy." John F. Kennedy was right in 1963, and George Allen and I are right in 2006.
Next month, the people of this State and people all across the United States have a basic choice to make: Do we keep taxes low so we can keep the economy growing, or do we let the Democrats in Washington raise taxes, which will hurt our economic growth? And I'm convinced, when people sift through all the noise and listen carefully to the debate, the people of this State and the people across the United States will choose low taxes and strong economy policy and growth, and that means reelecting George Allen to the United States Senate.
The biggest issue we face is protecting the American people. It's the most important job of government. I learned that lesson on September the 11th, 2001, and so did George Allen and a lot of other good folks. And we learned that fateful day that our most important responsibility is to protect you, and this is a fundamental issue in this campaign: What candidate or what party has got the right policies to protect the American people from further attack?
We face a brutal enemy, an enemy that uses murder to achieve political objectives. You can't negotiate with these people. There's no such thing as a peace treaty with these kind of killers. The best way to protect the American people is to stay on the offense and bring them to justice before they hurt America again.
And the best way to protect America is to give our professionals the tools they need to protect you from attack. We recently had a debate—a series of debates in the House and the Senate that clarified the two political parties' position on the war on terror on how best to protect the American people.
I believe strongly that our CIA professionals should have authorization to question people we pick up on the battlefield, to determine whether or not they have information that is necessary to protect you. We're at war with a group of killers. We pick people up off the battlefield, and I believe that it's necessary to learn what they know so that we can anticipate attacks before they occur.
This bill came up before the—in front of the United States Senate, and one of the strongest advocates for making sure our professionals had the tools necessary to protect you was Senator George Allen of the State of Virginia.
The same cannot be said for his Democratic Senate colleagues. More than 70 percent of the United States Senators from the Democrat Party voted to take away this vital tool in the war on terror. We just have a different point of view, a different look at the world.
You know, another clear example of the difference of opinion came when we voted for and reauthorized what we call the PATRIOT Act. There was a wall that existed between law enforcement and intelligence gathering in the United States. I know that's hard to conceive, but it's true. In other words, intelligence officers could not speak with law enforcement officers. In this new war on terror against these extremists, we have to have good intelligence. And that good intelligence must be shared with professionals all throughout government, in order to be able to protect you.
Right after September the 11th, when people were deeply concerned about attacks and future attacks, George Allen voted yes on the PATRIOT Act, as did 97 of his colleagues in the Senate. And yet the bill needed to be reauthorized years later. And so I called upon the Senate. I said, "There's still a threat; we still face a threat." And yet Senate Democrats filibustered the bill, the reauthorization of a bill that would tear down the walls between intelligence and law enforcement. Filibuster means they don't want it to pass, so they talk a lot. [Laughter] It happens quite a bit in Washington. [Laughter] The Senate Democratic leader bragged, "We have killed the PATRIOT Act." Think about that. The main Democrat in the United States Senate said, "We killed the PATRIOT Act." He was asked later by a reporter whether killing the PATRIOT Act was really something to celebrate, and he answered, "Of course it is."
There's a fundamental difference of opinion between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. They voted for it right after 9/11; they tried to kill it 5 years later. Kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it? [Laughter] They voted for it right before they voted against it. [Laughter] You don't have to worry about George Allen being steadfast and making sure our folks have the tools necessary to protect you. A fundamental issue in this campaign is—who best to protect the United States of America. Our record is clear, and you need to send George Allen back to the United States Senate so we can do our duty, so we can assume the responsibilities of this era and protect you from further attack.
A big issue in this campaign, of course, is Iraq. Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Iraq is a part of defeating an enemy that would like to hurt us again. Oh, I know, I've heard all the rhetoric; I'm sure you've heard it too, that people say Iraq is just a distraction from the war on terror. That's what a lot of Democrats believe. Well, if you're out there listening and you're worried about who to vote for and worried about which party has the clearest vision about how to protect the American people, don't take my word for whether Iraq is part of the war on terror, listen to Usama bin Laden—or Mr. Zawahiri, he's the number-two man in Al Qaida.
These two killers have made it clear that Iraq is an important part of their campaign to establish a totalitarian form of government across the Middle East. They have made it clear in their words that they believe America is weak, that it's just a matter of time; if they murder enough people, that we will withdraw.
And they want us to withdraw. They want us to withdraw so that they can establish safe haven from which to launch attacks. They want us to withdraw so they can topple moderate governments. They want us to withdraw because they got designs on energy. They would like nothing more than to blackmail the free world with the fear of running up the price of energy; blackmail the free world to abandon our alliance with Israel; blackmail the free world to continue to force the West to cater to their needs and their dark vision of the world.
When you couple all that with the possibility of Iran having a nuclear weapon, you begin to understand the stakes in the war on terror. You begin to think about how important it is that when we confront the enemy, we defeat the enemy.
I fully understand—[applause]—we have a fundamental disagreement in Washington, DC, on this central front in the war on terror. Most Democrats—most leading Democrats argue we should pull our troops out of Iraq—some, "right away"; others, "in just a few months," even if the terrorists have not been defeated. Others recommend moving our troops to an island 5,000 miles away. Nineteen House Democrats introduced legislation that would cut off funds for our troops in Iraq. All these programs have one thing in common: They would have our country quit in Iraq before the job is done. That's why they are the party of cut-and-run.
The United States of America will support our allies in Iraq. We will stand with the 12 million people who demanded freedom at the ballot box. Our goal of Iraq that can defend itself and govern itself and sustain itself and an ally in the war on terror is an important goal. We will give our commanders the flexibility they need to continue to change the tactics to achieve that goal. We will fight, we will stay, and we will win in Iraq.
And I want to thank Senator Allen's stand. This is tough; this is a tough fight. It's a tough fight when we see carnage on our television screens. It's a tough fight when somebody you know has volunteered to serve the United States and doesn't come home. It's tough, but it's tough for a reason: Because the enemy understands the stakes in Iraq. They have ambitions. And it's up to this generation to stand with our troops, to put forth a strategy for victory, to not abandon those voices in the Middle East, the millions of people who simply want to live in peace. This is the calling of our time.
You know, the Democrat Party made a clear statement about the nature of their party when it came to how they dealt with Senator Joe Lieberman. He's a three-term Democrat from Connecticut who supports completing the mission in Iraq. He took a strong, principled stand, and he was purged from the Democrat Party. Think about what it means. Six years ago, the Democrats thought that Joe Lieberman was a good enough man and a good enough politician to run as the Vice Presidential candidate. Now, because he supports victory in Iraq for the sake of security in the United States, they don't think he's fit to be in their party. There's only one position in the Democratic Party that everybody seems to agree on: If you want to be a Democrat these days, you can be for almost anything, but victory in Iraq is not an option.
These are serious times. It requires steadfast leadership, strong determination. People like George Allen need to be reelected, to stand strongly with our troops, the voices that desire peace. We'll stay on the offense; we will keep the enemy on the run. We will do the hard fight now so a generation of Americans can grow up in peace. We've got fantastic assets on our side. We've got a military that will get all the support and training they need to defend the American people.
We also have the power of liberty. Freedom is a powerful force. You know, I like to tell people about an interesting experience I had. That's when I went to Elvis's place—[laughter]—with the then sitting Prime Minister of Japan. I went down there. I'd never been to Elvis's place. I thought it would be interesting to go there. [Laughter] Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to go to Elvis's place because he loves Elvis. [Laughter]
But I wanted to tell a story, and I'm going to tell it to you right quick, the reason I went. You might remember, my dad, and I know some of your relatives, fought the Japanese as a sworn enemy. There was a lot of kids in the early forties that signed up to fight the Japanese. They had attacked us, and this country was going to defend ourselves.
I find it amazing, and I hope you do too, that the son of Navy pilot George H.W. Bush, the sitting President of the United States, is on Air Force One, flying down with the Prime Minister of the former enemy talking about the peace. We're talking about North Korea and how we can work together to convince the leader in North Korea to give up his nuclear weapons ambitions. We're talking about the fact that Japan had 1,000 troops in Iraq because Prime Minister Koizumi and I know that freedom is how you defeat an ideology of hatred; that we understand that when you encourage liberty to flourish where it hadn't flourished, it provides hope; it helps defeat those who prey on hopelessness.
It's an amazing conversation—I've had several with him. But every time I have sat down with him, I find it interesting fact of history that my dad fought the Japanese, and today, his son is working to keep the peace. Something happened. Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy. It's— the example is, liberty has the capacity to change an enemy into an ally. Liberty has the capacity to turn a region of hate into a region of compassion. Someday, an American President will be sitting down talking about the peace with duly elected leaders from the Middle East, and a generation of Americans will be better off.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:33 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia. In his remarks, he referred to Susan Allen, wife of Sen. George Allen; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan; and Chairman Kim Jong Il of North Korea.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Reception for Senatorial Candidate George Allen in Richmond, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269947