Remarks in St. Louis, Missouri
The President. Thanks for coming. And Laura and I are sure glad we came. We're wandering our way back to Texas. See, tomorrow is election day, and we intend to vote. And we're not undecided. [Laughter] And I'm not undecided who ought to be the next United States Senator from Missouri, and that ought to be Jim Talent.
It's good to be here in St. Charles County, and to be with a lot of our friends from the St. Louis area. We appreciate you taking this election seriously. See, that's part of the American spirit. It's the spirit which is strong today. It's the spirit that says, no matter what the cost, we'll defend our freedoms. It's the spirit that says part of being a patriot is to serve something greater than yourself in life. It's the spirit that says, if you love freedom, then you have an obligation as a citizen of this country to participate in the elections. If you believe in freedom, then you have a responsibility to maintain that democratic system by doing your duty.
And so I'm here in the State of Missouri to urge all folks, Republicans and Democrats and independents, to go to the polls. And when you get in that box, I've got a suggestion: For the good of Missouri and for the good of the United States of America, Jim Talent is the man for Senate. Laura and I are really proud of the campaign he has run, and we're really proud of the fact that he and Brenda hold family values dear to their heart.
I'm also proud to be up here with a Senator who's done a fine job on behalf of all the citizens of Missouri, a man I'm proud to call friend, and that's Senator Kit Bond. I know we've got some Members of Congress here: Todd Akin and Jo Ann Emerson and Kenny Hulshof. They're fine members of the United States congressional delegation. I'm proud to call them friends. I'm proud to call them ally.
See, that's what I'm looking for, some allies, somebody who we can count on to do the right thing for America, somebody whose vote we can count on to do the right thing to make sure this country is strong and safe and a better place.
I want to thank John Lewis for running for the State senate. I wish John all the best. Particularly proud to have met Carole Buck, the wife of the great voice of the Cardinals, Jack Buck, a fine man and a fine American.
Thrilled to know that our family friend is here, the man who can really sing. I wish I'd have been here to hear him sing. I'm a country and western fan, and one of my favorites is Randy Travis. I'm proud that Randy is here, and Elizabeth is here— Randy is here, and Elizabeth, and a friend, Jay Shields, is with them. I'm honored they're here. I appreciate them coming to support this good man.
But most of all, I want to thank you all for coming, the grassroots activists. I want to thank you for what you have done in the past, but more importantly, I want to thank you for what you're going to do today and tomorrow, and that is to turn out the vote. This man has been working hard all over this State, putting out a positive message, and now he needs your help to gather up Republicans and discerning Democrats—[laughter]—like-minded independents and get them to the polls. Tell them they have an obligation. They have an obligation to vote, and they have the obligation to support the best candidate. And that best candidate, without a doubt, for the sake of the future of this country, is Jim Talent.
He's shown on this campaign that he can bring dignity to a process that needs dignity, that he's not going to fall prey to the same old, tired politics of tearing somebody down to get ahead. He's treated his opponent with respect because he believes strongly in what he stands for. He stands on solid ground with ideology and principle. And therefore, he doesn't need to resort to the old-style politics. He is a breath of fresh air, and believe me, we need some breaths of fresh air in Washington, DC.
And he's got a record. He's an accomplished man. He served in the Congress, and when he did, he was the leader about promoting small business. And we need people up there who understand how jobs are created. The role of Government is not to create wealth; it's to create an environment in which a small business can grow to be a big business, in which the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish. And Jim Talent understands that. He understands the importance of entrepreneurship in our society.
And we need that kind of understanding in Washington because we got some problems with our economy. It's not strong like it should be. I like to say it's just bumping along. And therefore, there are too many people looking for a job who can't find work. I need to have allies in the United States Senate who understand growth and job creation. And one way to help people find work is to let people keep more of their own money.
See, when you've got more of your own money in your pocket, you're likely to demand an additional good or a service. And when you demand a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces a good or a service, guess what happens? Somebody is more likely to find work. The best thing we did to help job creation was to cut your taxes. And we need to have a United States Senator from Missouri who will join Kit Bond in making the tax cuts permanent.
Jim's got a record on important legislation. He wrote the welfare reform bill, and that's an important piece of legislation. It's a great accomplishment because it helped a lot of people move from dependency upon Government to independence, moved people from being dependent upon the Government check to realizing their own worth because they were able to earn their own check. The core ingredient to successful welfare that he saw then—and I need his help to make sure we continue to see it in Washington—is to help people find work, is to train them for work, find work, and encourage them to work. And that's the best way to have welfare dependency reduced in America.
I look forward to working with Jim on some—a couple of other keys issues. On education—I have a passion for education, and he shares that passion. We've raised the standards in America. See, that's what we need to do. We've raised the bar because we want to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. We believe every child can learn in America. We understand that if you have low standards and lousy—low standards are going to get lousy results. If you have low expectations, that's what you're going to get. And so we passed an education reform bill that sets the highest of high standards.
Inherent in that bill is the great trust in the citizens of Missouri. See, we believe in local control of schools. The people who care more about the children of Missouri are the citizens of Missouri, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC. But what's important in this bill is that we're sending a lot of money back home, but we expect results for that money. For the first time we started asking the fundamental question, can our children read and write and add and subtract—finally asking that question. If we believe they can, then it would make sense to ask the question.
And when we find children in schools that are doing well, we're going to praise the teachers and the principals and the parents. But we need allies in Washington who are not so beholden to special interests that when we find children trapped in schools that won't teach and won't change, that we do not accept the status quo. No child should be left behind in the State of Missouri.
I look forward to working with Jim Talent and Kit Bond to make sure our health care system works better. We've got too many lawsuits, too many junk lawsuits that are clogging our courts, so that if you've got a legitimate claim, you can't get in front of a judge. But those junk lawsuits are also running up the cost of medicine for you, and they're driving good docs out of business. We need medical liability reform in Washington, DC.
We need to make sure Medicare works. We made a promise to our seniors, and we need to keep that promise. Medicine has changed. It's modern. Technologies have changed. There's new discoveries which have made medicine more effective. Yet Medicare is stuck in the past. It's been used as a political football. We need to get people in the Senate with whom I can work to modernize Medicare, which means prescription drugs for every senior in the State of Missouri.
And I'll tell you another big issue and another big difference in this campaign, and that has to do with our Federal judiciary. I have a responsibility to name good people to the bench. I've named a lot of really good people to the bench, but the bunch running the Senate has done a lousy job on my nominees. You need to know the facts. The facts are, we've got too many vacancies on our Federal bench because they're playing politics. And sometimes they're distorting the record of these good people I've named. We need to get rid of all that stuff, for the sake of our solid judiciary. I've been naming good, honorable, honest people, but they don't like the fact that the people I named will not use the bench from which to legislate; they will use the bench to strictly interpret the United States Constitution. And I know I'll be able the count on Senator Jim Talent's support for putting up judges that you'll be proud of, judges whose philosophy the vast majority of the people of this State of Missouri support.
But the biggest issue we'll be working on together is going to be to protect you from further attack. That's the biggest issue we face in America. And we face it because we haven't finished bringing the terrorists to justice. They're still out there, and they still hate. They hate because of what we love. They're motivated by hate. We're motivated by the love of freedom. We love our freedoms. We love the fact that people can worship freely in America. We love the fact that people can speak their mind freely. We love a free press. We love every aspect of freedom, and we're not going to change.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. So long as there's an active enemy out there, we've got to be on alert here at home. Listen, we got notified; they put us on notice. And so, therefore, there's a lot of good people working on your behalf to protect you—people at the Federal level, the State level, people at the local level—a lot of really fine, fine American people doing everything they can to run down any hint, any piece of evidence that somebody is thinking about doing something to America, we're moving on it. We're disrupting. We're denying. We're doing everything we can.
But I went to Congress because I think there's a better way to even further our ability to protect the homeland, and that is to set up a Department of Homeland Security. I went there because I understand in Washington there's over 100 agencies involved with your protection, the protection of America. I felt, since this is the number one priority of our Government, that they ought to be under one agency to help set priority and, if need be, to change culture so people get the message that we're still under threat and we have to do everything we can to help you.
The House of Representatives responded quickly with a really good piece of legislation, which I can tell you will enable this President and future Presidents to better do a job of protecting America. But the bill is stuck in the Senate. And I need Senators like Kit Bond and Jim Talent who will work with me to have a Department of Homeland Security which will meet your expectations.
The reason the bill is stuck in the Senate is because some of the Senators there want to take away power that every President has had for the last 40 years, which will allow a President to suspend certain collective bargaining rules in any Department of the Federal Government when our national security is at stake. In other words, if there are work rules that stand in the way of our capacity to deal with an enemy which is trying to hit us, then I ought to be able to suspend those work rules. I ought to be able to do what is necessary to protect the American people. Unfortunately, they— some in the Senate have been captured by special interests. The main interest I have in mind is the security of the American people. I am not going to accept a lousy bill from the United States Senate. And one way to make sure I don't get a lousy bill is to send a man up there who understands what I'm talking about, and that man is Jim Talent.
But the best way to protect America, short-term and long-term, is to find these killers, no matter where they hide, and bring them to justice. And that is what we're doing. And that's what—sometimes you'll see, and sometimes you won't. But you just got to know that the United States is on the hunt.
And we're on the hunt after an enemy which is a little different from any enemy we've ever faced. See, in the old days, you would get their tanks and their airplanes, and you knew you were making progress. These folks hide in caves. They hide in kind of the dark corners of cities around the world, and then they send youngsters to their suicidal deaths. There's a difference of attitude, of course, because in America we value every life. We say, "Everybody is precious. Every life counts." And the enemy we face, they've hijacked a great religion. And they don't care about life. They murder. And they're tough, but they're not as tough as the United States of America.
And I know I'll be able to count on Jim's support, just like I could count on Kit's and the Members' of Congress support, to make sure that our military has the best training, the best pay, and the best possible equipment. I signed the biggest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President for that reason. But there's another reason why. I wanted to send a message to friend and foe alike that we're in this deal for the long haul. There's not a calendar on my desk in the Oval Office that says, by suchand-such a date, you've got to quit. That's not the way we think in America. It doesn't matter how long it takes. When it comes to the defense of our freedoms, we will stay the course.
And we're working with other nations. The doctrine that says, "Either you're with us, or you're with the enemy," still stands. That doctrine still is relevant. And so there's a lot of folks joining in this hunt. And we got them on the run, and we're going to keep them on the run until we bring them to justice. That's what we owe this generation of Americans. That's what we owe future generations of Americans.
But as we're thinking about Al Qaida, we've also got to look at all threats. See, the world changed on September 11th this way. It used to be oceans could protect us, or at least we thought so—if we saw a gathering threat overseas, that we could pick and choose whether or not we wanted to deal with that threat because there was two oceans. By geography, America was safe, we assumed. The battlefields would be elsewhere. Sometimes we decided to deal with the threat to freedom and democracy; sometimes we didn't. But we were comfortable.
It's important, after September 11th, to realize that oceans no longer protect us. Therefore, every threat matters. And we've got to assess every threat. We've got to be cold-eyed realists about the world. We must have people in Congress and in Washington who see the world exactly the way it is, not the way we would hope it would be. If we're—if our number one priority is to protect you, then we've got to take every threat seriously.
And that's why I started the dialog on Saddam Hussein. He's a threat. He's a threat to our country because of his—the nature of his regime and the nature of the man, himself. He's a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's denied and deceived the world for 11 years. A while ago we discovered that he was close to having a nuclear weapon. We don't know how close he is today, but a Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon is a true threat to America and our friends and allies.
He said he wouldn't have chemical weapons. He's got them, but even more amazingly, he's used them. And he's used them not only on his neighbors, but he's used them on his own people. This is a person who is willing to gas his own citizens. This is a man who can't stand America and what we believe in. This is a man who hates some of our closest allies. This is a man who has had Al Qaida connections. I want you to think about a scenario in which he becomes the arsenal and the training grounds for shadowy terrorists so that he can attack somebody he hates and not leave any fingerprints behind. He is a threat. He's also a threat to whether or not an international body can perform its duty to keep the peace.
I went to the United Nations, and I said to the United Nations, "We want you to succeed. It will make it easier to keep the peace when nations are bound together. It will make it much easier for us to defend freedom if we need to, with the new threats we face in the 21st century. But for 16 resolutions, this man has defied you. Not one resolution, not five resolutions but resolution after resolution after resolution, he has defied you."
I said to the United Nations, and I'm saying it today, "You have a choice. You have a choice to show the world whether you have the capacity to work together to disarm Saddam Hussein for the sake of peace, whether you'll be an effective United Nations, or whether you'll be like one of your forerunners, the League of Nations, an empty debating society." It's their choice to make.
And Saddam Hussein has a choice to make: For the sake of peace, he must disarm like he said he would do. But my fellow Americans, just as the Congress spoke the other day about my attitude, I want to share it with you: For the sake of our freedoms, for the sake of doing our duty to address serious threats in a serious way, and for the sake of world peace— and I mean that—for the sake of world peace, if the United Nations will not act, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm, the United States will lead a coalition of nations to disarm him.
Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. I can't imagine what was going through the mind of the enemy when they hit us. They must have thought that materialism was our national religion, that people were so self-absorbed and selfish in America, that after 9/11/2001, we might file a lawsuit or two—[laughter]—but that's about all we had in us, that's all we—they don't understand us. They don't realize what I know, that out of the evil they have done to America is going to come some good. Out of the evil done to this great country is going to come some good. And one of the good things that's going to happen, if we stay the course, if we're strong, if we speak clearly, if we're decisive, if we understand that freedom is not America's gift to the world but is God's gift to the world—if we understand those values, if we stay true to our beliefs and true to our responsibilities, we can achieve peace. We can achieve peace not only for our country; we can achieve peace for parts of the world that have quit on peace. I believe that. I believe that history has given us a chance, and this great country is going to seize the moment.
And here at home, it's important to realize that we have a chance to make America a better place, that while we work to make America a safer and stronger place, we can work to make America a better place as well.
And Government can help. We can pass law or we can work to make the public school systems work better or the welfare laws work better, make sure the health care systems function. But there's a lot of people that that's not going to matter to because they're hopeless, they're addicted, they're lost. You say "American Dream," they have no idea what you're talking about. Amongst our plenty, there are pockets of loneliness and despair. And if any of us hurts, we all hurt, as far as I'm concerned.
And the best way to deal with those folks, the best way to help them is to remember that Government cannot put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. The best way to help them is to rally the true strength of America, the heart of America, and encourage people to put their arm around somebody who hurts and say, "I love you. What can I do to help you? How can I make your life a better life?" And that's part of the American spirit that is so strong and alive today, the fact that people all across this country understand that serving something greater than yourself is part of being an American patriot.
Today I met Tim Mosier from the USA Freedom Corps. He has been a law enforcement guy, been involved in emergency management. And he takes time now to volunteer, teaching citizens in Pettis County emergency response and preparedness skills. That's one way somebody can help, and we can help all kinds of ways. You can mentor a child, run a Boy Scout troop or a Girl Scout troop. You can feed the hungry. You can find shelter for the homeless. There's all kinds of ways to help change America, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
No, the spirit of America is alive and well in this country. People have taken a step back and have assessed their life, and they realize that service to a country, service to a cause, service to something greater than yourselves is part of that American experience.
I want the youngsters here to remember the story of Flight 93, one of most profound parts of this entire history—of the recent history we've been through, profound because it's a story of the American spirit. People flying across the country on an airplane, they learned that the plane was going to be used as a weapon. They were on the phones to their loved ones, said, "Goodbye. I love you." Somebody said a prayer. A guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane into the ground to save lives, to serve something greater than themselves.
No, the enemy hit us. When the enemy hit us, they had no idea—they had no idea who they were hitting. Out of the evil done to America is going to come a peaceful world. And I will boldly predict to you, out of the evil done to America will come a better country for all of us, because this is the greatest country, full of the finest people on the face of this Earth.
I'm honored you're here. Thanks for helping Jim. May God bless you, and may God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 12 p.m. at the Family Arena. In his remarks, he referred to senatorial candidate Jim Talent and his wife, Brenda; entertainer Randy Travis and his wife, Elizabeth; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
George W. Bush, Remarks in St. Louis, Missouri Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/215895