George W. Bush photo

Remarks at a Reception for Senatorial Candidate Orrin G. Hatch in Salt Lake City

August 31, 2006

Thank you all very much. Thank you all. Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome. It's great to be here in Utah. Gosh, I landed at the airport last night—a couple of thousand people out there to say hello. I just had the honor of speaking to the American Legion; then come to a hall filled with great citizens concerned about the reelection of Orrin Hatch. I'm telling—here to tell you, this guy is doing a great job and you need to send him back to the United States Senate.

I'm proud to call him friend. And he's an effective person in Washington. I don't know if you can tell it this far away from Washington, but he's effective. He gets things done. People like to hear him; they listen to him; they trust him; they trust his judgment. And so do I. And every time I'm around Orrin Hatch, after he gets through talking about Utah, he finally gets to the country. [Laughter] In other words, he loves Utah, and he loves the citizens of Utah.

And he married well. We're proud to be here with Elaine and the Hatch family. Laura said to me, she said, "You get over to Utah, and you help our friends come back to Washington, DC." She sends her love. I married well, just like Orrin married well. It helps to have somebody you love stand by your side when you're in politics. There's nothing better than having a person that you care deeply about and—to share the experience. And that's the way the Hatchs have been, and they've served a great example for a lot of younger political families. And thank you for having the right priorities, faith and your family and your friends.

And so I've come to say as best as I can and in as plain English as I can possibly speak—which sometimes gets a little distorted—[laughter]—please send Orrin Hatch back to the United States Senate.

I want to thank the Governor and Mary Kaye for joining us. I appreciate you all taking time to come to support the senior Senator from the State of Utah. It's smart politics. [Laughter] You're doing a fine job, and the people of Utah are proud of you.

I want to thank the other Senator, Senator Bob Bennett, for his courageous leadership and friendship. I want to thank Congressman Rob Bishop and Congressman Chris Cannon for joining us today and for serving the country. Glad you all are here. Cannon's brother is the chairman of the Republican Party. I like to remind the chairman that he's the cuter Cannon. [Laughter] Is that okay? No. [Laughter]

I want to thank all the statehouse folks who've joined us today too. I appreciate John Valentine who is the senate president—leader, and Greg Curtis, the speaker. I want to thank all of you who are senators and representatives. I appreciate you serving your communities. I had—some of the greatest experiences I've ever had in politics—was working with our State senate and our house of representatives in the State of Texas. And I hope, Governor, you're having as much fun working with them as I had. And if not, just keep telling them what to do, and eventually they'll get the message. [Laughter] But thank you all for serving.

I appreciate all the local folks here. I particularly want to say thanks to former Senator Jake Garn, who is with us. Senator, good to see you. I appreciate you coming. And I see my friend Jim Hansen is with us today. Congressman, good to see you, thanks for being here. And I wish LaVar Christensen all the best in his run for the congressional seat here in Utah. Good luck to you. Appreciate you.

And most of all, thanks for helping Orrin. It takes a lot of work to get this many people in the room. And for those of you who organized this event, thank you. I know how hard you worked, and so does he. This is an incredibly successful fund-raiser, and he deserves it.

And for those of you involved in grass-roots politics, thanks a lot for your hard work. Thanks for making sure that Utah was solid in 2004, and thank you for making sure that Utah remains solid in 2006. I appreciate you putting up the signs. I appreciate you making the phone calls. I appreciate you knocking on the doors.

A lot of times, people kind of forget the efforts you make, but I don't, and I know Orrin doesn't. I know the Governor appreciates all the grassroots activists. So thanks for the good work you're doing here in the great State of Utah.

These are historic times in which we're living. This generation of ours is being challenged, and it's a tough challenge because we're facing an enemy that knows no bounds of decency, an enemy that uses tactics that are beyond our imagination to achieve certain objectives. The President has to make a lot of decisions. Mine is a decisionmaking experience. And I just want you to know that a lot of the decisions I have made were based upon the experiences of the attacks on September the 11th. See, I vowed that day that I would never forget our most important duty in Washington, DC, is to protect the American people.

And Orrin Hatch understands that. He is a strong supporter of our strategy to defend the country. That strategy starts with understanding this doctrine: One, you can't rationalize with these people; you cannot negotiate with these extremists, these terrorists, these people who are bound together by an ideology that is hateful. The only way to protect the American people is to stay on the offense and defeat them overseas so we do not have to face them here at home.

But it's important to understand the nature of this war. This is more than just a military conflict. This is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. Some would like to assign this war to something as simple as law enforcement. That shows a lack of understanding of the nature of the enemy. Law enforcement means we wouldn't use all assets at our disposal to protect the American people. This is an ideological struggle, and it's the struggle of the century. And it's the struggle in which we must prevail for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.

On the one side of this struggle are those who believe in freedom and moderation, the right of people to speak, the right of people to worship freely—one of the great privileges in America, isn't it? I'm proud as the President to be able to say you're equally American if you're Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic, atheist; we're all equally American. And one of the great treasured rights of our society is for people to be able to worship freely.

On this struggle are those who believe in the universality of liberty. I personally believe there's an Almighty, and I believe that one of the great gifts of that Almighty to every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth is the desire to live in freedom.

And on the other side of this ideological struggle are those who are driven by tyranny and extremism, the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views over the rest of us. And that's the struggle. And it's important that our fellow citizens understand that struggle.

We didn't ask for this war, but we will answer history's call with confidence. And it's important to have Members of the United States Senate who understand the call of history and are willing to stand strong in the face of an enemy who is relenting. That's the challenge of the 21st century.

As I told you, we'll stay on the offense. As well, I made it clear that if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists, and you're an enemy of the United States, and you will be held to account. In other words, this is a war in which nation-states aren't necessarily in the league, as previous wars, in, but they provide safe haven for. It's important when the President speaks, he means what he says. I spoke clearly to the world that if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorists. The Taliban didn't take our word seriously. And thanks to a fantastic United States military, along with allies, we removed the Taliban. We upheld doctrine, we freed 25 million Afghan citizens, and the world is better off.

A lesson of September the 11th is that when this Nation sees a threat, we must take it seriously, before it fully materializes. If there is a threat, we must recognize that threat and deal with it before it comes home to hurt us. You know, the tendency in any difficult situation is for some to want to forget the lessons, put the past behind and think about a more comforting future. And I can understand that. As a matter of fact, part of my job is to assure the American people that we understand the threat and that people should go on about their lives. Let us worry about it. That's why I've asked to make sure we have all the tools necessary to protect the American people, tools like the PATRIOT Act, which Orrin helped get passed, tools like the capacity to listen to an Al Qaida phone call. If they're calling into the United States, we want to know why so we can protect the American people.

I saw a threat in Iraq. As a matter of fact, members of both political parties in the United States Congress saw the same threat. Nations around the world saw the threat. And the threat was a tyrant who brutally murdered thousands of his own citizens; a tyrant who had invaded his neighbors; a tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction on his people; a tyrant who previous administrations had declared a state sponsor of terror; a tyrant who, when the world spoke through the United Nations, ignored the world. I think when the world speaks, it must mean what it says. And so we gave the tyrant one last chance to disclose and disarm, or face serious consequences. It was his choice to make. The world is safer, the Iraqi people are better, the cause for liberty is more advanced because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.

Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Usama bin Laden has made that clear. Zawahiri has made that clear; he's the number-two man in Al Qaida. Their mission is to drive us out of Iraq in order to achieve safe haven, safe haven from which to launch further attacks against moderate elements in the Middle East, safe haven from which to plan and plot attacks against the United States of America. They're not going to succeed.

There are powerful forces inside Iraq that to me—causes me to be optimistic, starting with the Iraqi people themselves. You know, last December seems like an eternity, particularly to those of us in political office. But that's not too long in the march of history, is it? Last December, 12 million Iraqis, in defiance of terrorists and killers and suicide bombers, said loud and clear, "We want to be free. We want a government of, by, and for the people."

And since then, under a constitution that is one of the most modern constitutions ever in the Middle East, a unity government has formed, a government desirous of responding to the people, a government working hard to reject the extremists who want to stop the advance of democracy and freedom. This is a tough war. It's a tough war because the enemy will use any tactic to cause the Iraqis to split apart or any tactic trying to drive the United States out of the Middle East. We must persevere. We must continue to work with this democratically elected Government of Iraq. We must continue to give their army the skills necessary to fight. And we must stay on the hunt for terrorist elements, which we are doing. We'll succeed in Iraq, and when we do, this country will be more secure.

I understand there's a debate, and, of course, there should be a debate. I mean, I welcome debates in our society. One of the great things about America is, people can go into the public square and express themselves openly without fear of the state. That's what we welcome. In these 2006 campaigns, there will be a lot of debate. There will be people—good people, decent people, patriotic people—who say, "Now is the time to leave Iraq," and they are wrong.

If we leave before Iraq can defend itself and govern itself and sustain itself, this will be a key defeat for the United States of America in this ideological struggle of the 21st century. If we leave before this young democracy has its roots firmly in place, so that an example of liberty flourishes in a region that's so desperate for something other than a society that's caused resentment and hopelessness, if we leave, it will embolden the enemy. The enemy has said this is the front in the war on terror. That's what they have proclaimed. They'll become even more bold. If we leave before the job is done, we'll help create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East that will have control of huge oil reserves. If we leave before the job is done, this country will have no credibility. People will look at our words as empty words. People will not trust the judgment and the leadership of the United States. Reformers will shrink from their deep desire to live in a free society. Moderates will wonder if their voice will ever be heard again. If we leave before the job will be done, those who sacrificed, those brave volunteers who sacrificed in our United States military will have died in vain. And as General Abizaid has said, if we leave before the job is done, if we leave the streets of Baghdad, the enemy will follow us to our own streets in America.

The stakes are high. I believe the only way we can lose is if we leave before the job is done. That's what I believe. I'm making my decisions based upon the recommendations of commanders on the ground. I want to assure you, polls and focus groups will not decide the Iraq policy in the global war on terror. And when we win and when we achieve our stated objective, it will be a major defeat for the terrorists in this global war on terror. It will strengthen the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Imagine what the example of a democratic Iraq, a country that has adopted a democracy based upon its history and its traditions, imagine the signal it will send to those reformers in Iran or those hopeful Palestinians that say, "Someday, we want a state to live in peace with our neighbor Israel." When we succeed in Iraq, we'll have created a valuable ally in the global war on terror.

I don't know if you remember this, but recently I had the honor of and privilege of taking my friend the Prime Minister of Japan to Graceland, Elvis's place. [Laughter] I've never been to Graceland. I thought it would be fun to go, but more importantly, he wanted to go. See, he was an Elvis buff. [Laughter] I also thought it would send an interesting message that I hope helps explain the stakes of this ideological struggle we're in. Can you imagine somebody after World War II saying, "I predict one day an American President will be going to a singer's home with the Prime Minister of Japan?" They'd have thought the guy was off his rocker. Isn't it interesting that a son of a Navy torpedo fighter who fought the Japanese with all his soul and all his might, like many of your relatives did, flew down on Air Force One with the Prime Minister of the former enemy? I think it is. And I think it's an historical lesson that we all can learn something about.

And by the way, when we were on the plane, guess what we talked about—how we can work together to keep the peace. We talked about North Korea. We talked about what it meant for Japan to send 1,000 troops into Iraq to help this young democracy fight off the ideologues of hate. We talked about our HIV/AIDS initiative in Africa. We talked about building roads in Afghanistan. I found it incredibly interesting that I was able to sit down with the Prime Minister of a former enemy and talk about the peace. Something happened between 41's time in the U.S. Navy and 43's time talking with the Prime Minister of Japan. Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy.

Liberty has the capacity to transform enemies into allies. One of these days, American Presidents will be sitting down with duly elected leaders of the Middle East, and they will be talking about keeping the peace. And this generation will be able to say, the world was safer for our children and grandchildren.

And this Senator understands the stakes, and I'm proud to serve with him. Both of us are honored to be able to say, we're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come.

He also understands this, that the more money you have in your pocket, the more you're going to save, invest, and spend, and the better our economy does. The classic debate in Washington, DC, really centers around this: Who best to spend your money, you or the Government? Senator Hatch and I believe you can spend it better than the Government, and therefore, we strongly believe—[applause]. And that's why, when things got tough, economically tough, we cut the taxes on everybody who paid taxes. And it worked. This economy of ours is strong. Progrowth economic policies work. And the way to make sure this economy remains strong is to make the tax relief we passed a permanent part of the Tax Code.

The unemployment rate is 4.8 percent. Since August of 2005, we've created more than 5.5 million new jobs. Productivity is high. The economy has grown now for 35 straight months. It has added jobs for 35 straight—your unemployment rate, Governor, congratulations, is 3.4 percent. People are working. Productivity is high. That's good; we're a productive society. We're constantly trying to improve. Entrepreneurship is strong. Minorities are owning businesses. Homeownership has been high. I mean, this is a productive period of time for the American people. It's because our philosophy works; cutting taxes, trusting people with their own money makes sense.

And you know what else happens? It increases revenues for the Treasury. You know, there's been a lot of talk about the deficits, and there should be. We're concerned about the deficit. As a matter of fact, I said to the Congress, join us in being fiscally responsible about how we spend the people's money, and we can cut that deficit. The deficit is going to be cut in half, not by 2009 but by 2008, because progrowth economic policies work. The best way—and by the way, in Washington, you'll hear them say, "Well, in order to balance the budget, we need to raise more revenues." But that's not the way it works in Washington. Yeah, they'll raise revenues; they'll increase your taxes; but they will figure out new ways to spend your money. The best way to balance the budget is to keep taxes low and be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers' money. And that's what we're doing.

Orrin said, "Keep it short." I obviously didn't listen very carefully. I want to work with him to make sure this country becomes less dependent on foreign sources of oil. It's in our economic interests that we become less dependent on foreign sources of oil, and it is in our national security interests. And so therefore, we will continue to spend money wisely on new technologies.

We're big believers in the nuclear power industry's capacity to make sure that we protect the environment with renewable sources of energy. I see automobiles being driven by batteries that can drive the first 40 miles on electricity. I know we got clean coal technologies that will eventually work. It's the calling of our time to make sure that we do smart things with your money to enable us to diversify away from oil from countries, particularly those countries that don't like us. I look forward to working with Orrin to make sure that we remain competitive by spending money, wisely spending money on research and development both at the Federal level and at the private level, which is why we need to make permanent the research and development tax credit.

I look forward to working with Orrin and other Members of the United States Senate to once and for all do something about junk lawsuits, particularly those that are running good doctors out of practice. People worry about the cost of health care. One way to deal with the cost of health care is to get rid of these junk lawsuits.

It's one thing, if you got a problem, to have your day in court. But these junk lawsuits—you see, when I first got to Washington, I said, "Well, the States can figure it out." Governor, you know, you all write your own laws. And then I realized the defensive practice of medicine costs you, the taxpayers, about $28 billion a year. Docs and providers providing unnecessary services in order to defend themselves against junk lawsuits cost the Federal Government—because of Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans health benefits—about 28 billion. I came to the conclusion, therefore, this is a Federal problem that requires a Federal solution.

Congress passed—the House passed a good piece of legislation. I'm going to continue to work with Senators Hatch and Bennett to get good legislation out of the United States Senate to make sure health care is available and affordable for folks all across the United States of America.

And speaking about health care, you did a fine job of training my Secretary for Health and Human Services, Leavitt. He's doing a great job. He really is. And he said he's down there—somebody said he was fishing with him recently. So when you see him again, tell him to get back to work. [Laughter]

Finally, I want to say something about the judiciary. I've had no stronger ally than Orrin Hatch in making sure that we appoint judges who know the difference between being a judge and a legislator. One of my most important responsibilities is to make sure we have people on the Federal bench who strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench from which to legislate. And I had the honor of naming two members of the Supreme Court—and I took my time, and I looked at a lot of good folks, and I came up with some fine names. And thanks to the support and leadership of Senator Orrin Hatch, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito now sit on the bench, and the United States is better off for it.

He just told me, if I didn't end, he's going to make me listen to one of his songs. [Laughter] Actually, the man has got some talent. [Laughter] And he's a great songwriter but not as good a Senator—as he is a Senator. And that's saying a lot. You've got a fine man in the United States Senate in Orrin Hatch. He's decent; he's honorable; he gets the job done. I thank you for supporting him. Send him back to Washington, and Utah and America will benefit—continue to benefit from his service.

I thank you for the warm welcome here. It's been such a joy to come back to your beautiful State. May God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11 a.m. at the Grand America Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., of Utah, and his wife, Mary Kaye; Joseph A. Cannon, chairman, Utah Republican Party; LaVar Christensen, candidate for Congress in Utah's Second Congressional District; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; Ayman Al-Zawahiri, founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and senior Al Qaida associate; Gen. John P. Abizaid, USA, commander, U.S. Central Command; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan.

George W. Bush, Remarks at a Reception for Senatorial Candidate Orrin G. Hatch in Salt Lake City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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