Remarks at a Texas Victory 2006 Rally in Sugar Land, Texas
The President. Thank you all very much. Thank you. I always feel better when I'm in Texas. Thanks for coming out. I'm honored you are here. I appreciate you taking time out of your day.
I thank you for joining me and saying loud and clear to the people of the 22d Congressional District: Shelley Sekula Gibbs is the right person to serve you in the United States Congress. She served in public office before, you might remember, she was a member of the Houston City Council, where she helped pass tax cuts. She's a doctor. She's a doctor, where she's helped heal broken bodies. She is going— she's a mother who understands the importance of family values. She's the right person to send to Washington, DC.
If you'll give me a chance maybe to, kind of, serve as the secretary of state for Texas for a second—[laughter]—for those folks who haven't been paying attention to this election yet—want good government, you get to vote twice for Shelley. You get to check her name in the special election portion of the ballot, and then you get to write her name in. See, if you want to send Shelley to the United States Congress, you're going to have to take a pencil into the ballot box.
Now, you can bring a piece of paper with you that's got her name on it, so you can copy it down on the ballot. So remember, when you show up to vote on November the 7th, bring your pencil, bring your paper, and write Shelley's name in for good government.
Laura sends her love. As President, I make a lot of decisions, but the best decision I have made as a person is asking Laura to marry me. Some of her friends are still wondering whether the best decision she ever made was to say yes. [Laughter] But I'm real proud of her. She's a fantastic wife, a great mom, and a great First Lady for the United States.
Speaking about great ladies, this State is fortunate to have Kay Bailey Hutchison as the United States Senator. She is effective; she is capable; she's all Texan. And it's important for this State to send her back to the United States Senate with a strong, strong vote. I appreciate Kevin Brady joining us. He's the Congressman from over there. [Laughter] I know him well. He's a good one.
And I want to thank my friend Commissioner Michael Williams, who's joined us today. I want to thank all the statehouse folks; they're sitting behind me. I remember serving with them when I was their Governor—a little different here in Texas than it is in Washington. [Laughter] These are good people, and I appreciate them joining us.
I want to thank the mayor, Mayor David Williams [Wallace], * right here from Sugar Land, Texas, for joining us. I thank all the grassroots activists who've joined us. I want to thank you for the job you're going to do, and that is, turn out your neighbors on November the 7th with a pencil and a piece of paper, and tell them to write in Shelley Sekula Gibbs to be the next United States Congresswoman.
I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to sprinting to the finish line. I'm looking forward to this campaign. I like campaigning. I like getting out and about the people. I like telling them what's on my mind. You know, what's interesting in Washington, some of the folks over there are already picking out their new offices.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. That's not the first time it's happened since I've been in Washington. You might remember in 2004, some of them were measuring the drapes in the West Wing. [Laughter] They had their office suites all picked out. Except their problem was, the movers weren't needed. [Laughter] And the same thing is going to happen this year. We're going to elect Shelley, and we're going to control the House and the United States Senate.
We've got a record to run on. We've done some things that are positive for the United States of America. For decades, the public schools failed too many children. And so we passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which demanded results in return for Federal money. And now test scores are rising, the achievement gap is beginning to close, and we're bringing closer to the day when every single child in America gets their quality education.
For decades, we've been growing too dependent on foreign oil. So we passed a good energy bill that encourages conservation, additional production for oil and gas in the United States. We're doing something else that's smart too: We're spending money on technology so that our automobiles will be able to be running on crops grown right here in the State of Texas. We want to be less dependent on foreign sources of oil.
For decades, Medicare was outdated, so we did something about it. We passed landmark legislation that modernized the Medicare system. Today, 33 million seniors have more choices and more access to affordable drugs, and because of our action, poor seniors no longer have to choose between food and medicine.
For decades, we hadn't had complete control over our southern border. Illegal immigration has been on the rise. So we acted. I sent the National Guard down there to help the Border Patrol do their job. We're adding thousands of new Border Patrol agents. We're modernizing this border. We will reform our immigration system, and this country of ours will enforce our immigration laws.
For decades, activist judges have tried to redefine America by court order. I don't know if you've been following what happened in New Jersey recently. Another activist court issued a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage. We believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman and should be defended. And I believe I must continue to appoint judges who will strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.
No, we got a strong record to run on. This country is better off because John Roberts and Sam Alito are serving on the Supreme Court of the United States. And I want to thank Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison for her strong support helping get those nominees on the floor of the Senate and getting them confirmed as Supreme Court Justices.
Now, there are big differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. Perhaps the two biggest differences can be seen in these two issues: One, which party is going to keep your taxes low to keep this economy growing? And which party is going to take the necessary steps to protect the United States of America?
Let me start with taxes. Shelley and I have a clear philosophy: We believe that you know how to spend your money far better than the Federal Government can. We believe that when you have more money in your pocket to save, invest, or spend, the economy benefits.
The Democrats want more of your money because they think they can spend it better than you can.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. Over the past 5 years, we've acted on our philosophy. In other words, we just didn't go to Washington to talk. We went to Washington to get a job done on your behalf. We passed the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States.
When you're out there rounding up votes, remind them of this record: We cut taxes on everyone who pays income taxes; we doubled the child tax credit; we reduced the marriage penalty; we substantially cut taxes on small businesses; we cut taxes on capital gains and dividends to encourage investment and jobs; and to reward family businesses and farmers and ranchers for a lifetime of work, we put the death tax on the road to extinction.
I know Senator Hutchison and Congressman Brady remember the debate in Washington. They remember those Democrats predicting that the tax cuts would not create jobs, would not increase wages, and would increase the Federal deficit. Well, the facts are in. The truth is, the tax cuts have led to a growing economy that has added 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003. Real wages are on the rise, and we cut the deficit in half 3 years ahead of schedule.
Around this country, a lot of people don't understand the Democrats' position on taxes. So part of my job is to clarify matters, is to make it clear their intentions. Part of the confusion comes about because the leading lady in the Congress proclaimed this—you're not going to believe what she said, but she actually said this on TV the other—she said, about the Democrats: "We love tax cuts." The problem is, given her record, she must be a secret admirer. [Laughter]
She and her party voted against reducing the marriage penalty, voted against cutting taxes on small businesses, voted against taxes—lowering taxes for families with children, voted against reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends, voted against eliminating the death tax. That's their record. Time and time again, when she had a chance to show her love for tax cuts, she voted no. My attitude is, if this is the Democrats' idea of love, I don't want to see what hate looks like. [Laughter]
Here's what happens: If we do not make the tax cuts we passed permanent or extend the tax cuts, you'll get a tax increase. That's just the way it is. You know, it's interesting; they asked the man who would be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee—the Democrat who will be the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, if the Democrats were to take over the House—which they're not—[applause]. And here's what he said—it's important for Americans to know the facts. Here's what he said. He said, when asked about extending the tax cuts or making them permanent, he said he couldn't think of one of the tax cuts he would extend. In other words, what they're telling you is, they're going to raise your taxes.
I want you to think about this. I want you to think about this: If the child tax credit were to expire, your taxes will go up by $500 per child. See, in other words, we increased the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000 per child. For those of you with children, you know what I'm talking about. If that tax cut were to expire—just like the man who wants to be the head of the tax committee said—your taxes per child go up $500. So when you're eating dinner tonight and you're looking around the table, you can take the number of children around your table and multiply it by $500, and that's going to be part of the tax increase you have to pay.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. You take a family working hard to get ahead, and they got four children; they're looking at a $2,000 tax increase. That may not seem like a lot to Democrats in Washington, DC, but it seems like a lot to me. And I know it's a lot for you. And the best way to make sure it doesn't happen is to send Shelley to the United States Congress.
So when they're out there campaigning and somebody comes up and says, "Shel, tell me the difference between what the Republicans are going to do and the Democrats," it's real easy. We're going to keep your taxes low, and they're going to raise your taxes. And a tax increase would not only be bad for your wallet; a tax increase would be bad for the economy of the United States of America.
We're meeting in historic times. This election is happening during historic times. And when our children and grandchildren look back at this period, one question is going to overwhelm all the rest: Did we do everything in our power to fight and win the war on terror?
We face an enemy that is brutal. They have an ideology. It's the opposite of our ideology. We love freedom. They hate freedom. They will kill innocent people to achieve their objectives. You cannot negotiate with these radicals and extremists. You can't hope for the best with these radicals and extremists. The only way to protect America, which is our most important job, is to stay on the offense and bring them to justice before they can hurt us again.
Our most important job is to protect you. I wish I didn't have to report that there's an enemy still out there, but there is. And they want to attack again. We have to be right 100 percent of the time to protect the American people, and they have to be right one time in order to achieve their objectives. And that's why I put some tools in the hands of our professionals, so they could better do their job.
You know, when I—right after 9/11 when we analyzed part of the problem, there was a wall that existed between our intelligence gathering people and our law enforcement, and they couldn't share information. I know that's hard for you to believe, but that's the way it was. So I asked Congress to pass the PATRIOT Act, and thanks to Senators like Kay Bailey Hutchison and Congressmen like Kevin Brady, we passed the PATRIOT Act.
In this different kind of war, we must understand what the enemy is thinking, in order to be able to protect you. And so therefore, when we found Al Qaida or Al Qaida affiliates making phone calls into the United States, I thought it was important to understand why, in order to protect you. We are picking up the enemy on the battlefield. And when we pick people who understand what the plans are about attacks, we need to know what they're thinking.
See, this is a different kind of war. It requires pinpoint intelligence, advanced knowledge in order for us to do our job. And so we picked up people off the battlefield, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. You might have heard of him. He was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks; at least that's what our intelligence people think. In other words, he was the—they think he was the person that organized and ordered the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on one day. I thought it was important to have the CIA be in a position to question him to find out what he knew, in order to protect America.
If anybody has any doubts about the differences of opinion in Washington, DC, between Republicans and Democrats, I want them to analyze the recent votes that took place on these important programs. When it came time to renew the PATRIOT Act, more than 75 percent of the House Democrats voted against it.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. When it came time to vote on whether or not to allow the CIA to continue its program to detain and question captured terrorists, more than 80 percent of House Democrats voted against it.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. When it came time to vote on whether the National Security Agency should continue to monitor communications that we think would be—contain information that would protect you, more than 90 percent of the House Democrats voted against it.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. In all these vital measures for fighting a war on terror, the Democrats in Washington follow a simple philosophy: Just say no. [Laughter] When it comes to listening in on the terrorists, what's the
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. Just say no. When it comes to detaining terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. When it comes to questioning terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. When it comes to trying terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?
Audience members. Just say no!
The President. And so when the Democrats ask for your vote on November 7th, what's your answer?
Audience members. Noo!
The President. No doubt in my mind, I can count on Shelley Sekula Gibbs to make sure that our professionals have the tools necessary to protect you in this dangerous world. But the best way to protect you, the best way to make sure that an enemy is unable to do us harm, is to stay on the offense and keep the enemy on the run. It is hard to plot, plan, and attack when you're on the run. And that's precisely what we're doing.
I can't tell you how honored I am to be a Commander in Chief of a military full of decent and honorable Americans who have volunteered to protect this country. And one of the things that I make a pledge to the families of those who wear our uniform is that we'll continue to make sure our troops have all that is necessary to be able to do the job that I have asked them to do. And I know that Congresswoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs will be a strong and steady vote for the men and women of the United States military.
One of the lessons of September the 11th is that this Nation must take threats seriously before they come home to hurt us. We must take every threat we see overseas very seriously. Otherwise, if we don't, there's an enemy that lurks and intends to hit us again. I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. Members of both political parties saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. The United Nations saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. I made the right decision to get Saddam Hussein out of power.
We're in a global struggle against these killers. And the war is fought on many fronts, but right now, the central front in this war on terror is Iraq. Oh, I hear them in Washington say, "Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror." Well, they shouldn't take my word for it; they should take the word of Usama bin Laden, who has said that the fight in Iraq is the third world war. He said victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever. That is what the enemy has said. It's important for all Americans to listen carefully to the words of the people who would do us harm.
Now I want you to listen to the words of a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, one of the leaders. She said, "The President says that fighting them there"—she's talking about Iraq—"makes it less likely we will have to fight them here." This is exactly what I've said. She went on to say, "The opposite is true; because we're fighting them there, it may become more likely we will have to fight them here."
Here's what the person doesn't understand: Iraq is not the reason the terrorists are in the war against us. I would remind the House Democrat, our troops were not in Iraq when the terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our Embassies in Kenya or Tanzania, or blew up the USS Cole. And we were not in Iraq when they killed nearly 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001. We do not create terrorists by fighting the terrorists. The best way to protect you is to stay on the offense and bring the terrorists to justice wherever we find them.
Our goal in Iraq is clear: It's victory. We want to help this young democracy grow so it can sustain itself and govern itself and defend itself and become an ally in the war on terror. And the fighting is tough. I know it's tough, and you know it's tough. It's tough because we fight an enemy that has no conscience. We fight an enemy that can't stand the thought of a free society. We fight an enemy whose ideology is the opposite of our ideology.
The enemy kills innocent men, women, and children. They film the atrocities, and they broadcast them for the world to see. Our enemies hope these violent images will cause us to lose our nerve and pull out before the job is done. They don't understand the United States of America. We will not run from thugs and assassins.
I'll make sure our commanders have what they need to complete this job. If they want more troops, they get more troops. If they want less troops, they get less troops. They are flexible. We're constantly adjusting our tactics to meet the tactics of the enemy.
We got another asset going for us beside our military, and these are brave Iraqis. They have suffered unspeakable violence, yet they're committed to a free society. They're committed to reject the extremists and radicals who try to overturn their will. They voted—nearly 12 million people—to say, "We want to be free." It's in the United States interest to help them succeed. It's in our interest to defeat the radicals. It's in our interest to defeat the extremists. The only way we won't succeed in Iraq is by leaving before the job is done.
You listen to the debate about Iraq, the Democrat plan for success, well, they don't have a plan for success. [Laughter] It's a serious political party in the midst of a war, and they have no plan for success. They don't even have a plan for victory. [Laughter] Last week, one Democrat Senator described her party's position: "We haven't coalesced around a single plan, but we're in general agreement on the basic principles." She's right; the only principle about which they can agree is, get out before the job is done.
You know, they put it different ways. Some say, immediate redeployment. Some say they wouldn't spend another dime on our troops in Iraq. Some say that the idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that, unfortunately, is just plain wrong. Well, however they put it, their approach comes down to this: The terrorists win, and America loses.
Audience members. Boo!
The President. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq.
I'm not saying that these Democrats are unpatriotic, I'm just saying they're wrong. You can't win a war unless you're willing to fight the war. Retreat from Iraq before the job was done would embolden an enemy and make this country more vulnerable to attack, would allow the terrorists to gain a new safe haven, which is precisely what they said is part of their plan, in Iraq. And why do they want a safe haven? They want a safe haven like they had in Afghanistan so they can launch further attacks.
Retreat from Iraq would strengthen the hands of these radicals and extremists and enable them to recruit better. Retreat from Iraq before the job was done would dishonor the sacrifice of the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States of America in Iraq to protect us. The consequences of failure in Iraq would be felt for generations.
You see, the enemy has clearly stated they want us to retreat. They want to topple moderate governments. They want their extremism to become the philosophy of a governing structure that stretches from Indonesia to Spain. It's called a caliphate. That's what they've said. Imagine a Middle East in which violent forms of extremists compete for power, moderate governments are overturned, oil-rich states are controlled by the radicals who will use the energy to create blackmail for the United States, and in the midst, a country with a nuclear weapon that can't stand us. Thirty years from now, if that were to happen, people will look back and they'll say, "What happened to that generation in 2006? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? How come they couldn't see the threat?"
I want you to know, I see the threat. That is why we will support our troops, we will fight, and we will win in Iraq.
We've got another powerful tool at our disposal, and it's called freedom. I would like to share a story with you about a recent experience I had. Well, it's when I went down to Elvis's place. [Laughter]
You might remember, my guest was the then-sitting Prime Minister of Japan. Laura said, "Why you going down there?" I said, because I never been. [Laughter] By the way, she decided to come too. Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to go because he loved Elvis.
But I wanted to tell a story to the American people about the power of liberty, and I want to share it with you right quick. You see, after the Japanese attacked America, where more people—by the way, more people died on September the 11th than the attack of Pearl Harbor. When they attacked, a lot of brave Americans, including one George H.W. Bush, volunteered to defend America.
I bet you a lot of folks out here had relatives who did the same thing. They said, "I volunteer to protect this country against a mortal enemy." I'm flying down on Air Force One with the Prime Minister of the sworn—the country that used to be our sworn enemy talking about keeping the peace. I was talking to him about the fact that Iraq had 1,000 troops—I mean, Japan had 1,000 troops in Iraq because he knows what I know: In this ideological struggle, when we find young democracies, which will serve as a major defeat for ideologues who hate, that we've got to support them. We talked about convincing the leader of North Korea to give up his nuclear weapon for the sake of peace.
In other words, we were talking about peace. Isn't it interesting? My dad fought the Japanese as a sworn enemy; his son is sitting down with the leader of that country talking about peace. Let me tell you something: Liberty has got the capacity to change an enemy into an ally. And liberty has got the capacity to change a region of the world that is so desperate for freedom into a place of peace. Someday an American President will be sitting down with duly elected leaders from the Middle East talking about the peace, and a generation of Americans will be better off.
So these are the stakes in this election, and I thank you for giving me a chance to come out and urge you on, to urge you to go to the polls and to take your friends. Find Republicans, discerning Democrats, discerning independents, and remind them, if you want more money in your pocket, vote Republican, and if you want a party who will take the steps necessary to protect you today and to protect a generation of Americans coming up, vote for Shelley and vote for Republicans.
God bless. God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:04 p.m. at the Sugar Land Regional Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Michael L. Williams, commissioner, Texas Railroad Commission; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; 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.
* White House correction.
George W. Bush, Remarks at a Texas Victory 2006 Rally in Sugar Land, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/270894