FROM THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
NEW YORK • AUGUST 30, 2004
Thank you. Welcome to the capital of the
New York was the first capital of our great nation. It was
here in 1789 in Lower Manhattan that George Washington took
the oath of office as the first president of the United States.
And it was here in 2001 in the same Lower Manhattan that
President George W. Bush stood amid the fallen towers of
the World Trade Center and he said to the barbaric terrorists
who attacked us, “They will hear from us.”
Well, they heard from us. They heard from us in Afghanistan
and we removed the Taliban. They heard from us in Iraq and
we ended Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror. And we put
him where he belongs, in jail. They heard from us in Libya
and without firing a shot Qaddafi abandoned his weapons of
mass destruction. They’re hearing from us in nations
that are now much more reluctant to sponsor terrorists or
So long as George Bush is our president, is there any doubt
they will continue to hear from us?
We owe that much and more to the loved ones and heroes that
we lost on Sept. 11. The families of some of those we lost
on Sept. 11 are here with us. To them, and to all those families
affected by Sept. 11, we recognize the sacrifices your loved
ones made. We recognize the sacrifices that you’re
making. You’re in our prayers and we are in your debt.
This is the first Republican Convention ever held here in
New York City. I’ve never seen so many Republicans
in New York City. It’s great, great. I finally feel
at home. And you know something, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor
Pataki, all of you that worked so hard in bringing this convention
to New York, our president and the party that decided they’d
have it here, above and beyond everything else, it’s
a statement, it’s a strong statement that New York
City and America are open for business and we are stronger
than ever. New York, New York, New York. This is getting
to be like a Yankee game. I don’t know, I’d better
watch out. You know, we’re just not going to let the
terrorists determine where we have political conventions,
where we go, how we travel. We’re Americans. The land
of the free and the home of the brave.
From the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, to
President George W. Bush our party’s great contribution
is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world.
And our party is at its best when we make certain that we
have a powerful national defense in a still very, very dangerous
I don’t believe we’re right about everything
and Democrats are wrong. They’re wrong about most things.
But — but — but, seriously, seriously, neither
party has a monopoly on virtue. We don’t have all the
right ideas. They don’t have all the wrong ideas.
But I do believe there are times in history when our ideas
are more necessary and more important and critical. And this
is one of those times when we are facing war and danger.
These are times — these are times when leadership is
the most important.
On Sept. 11, this city and our nation faced the worst attack
in our history. On that day, we had to confront reality.
For me, when I arrived there and I stood below the north
tower and I looked up and seeing the flames of hell emanating
from those buildings and realizing that what I was actually
seeing was a human being on the 101st, 102nd floor that was
jumping out of the building. I stood there, it probably took
five or six seconds. It seemed to me that it took 20 or 30
minutes. And I was stunned. And I realized in that moment
and that instant, I realized we were facing something that
we had never, ever faced before. We had never been confronted
with anything like this before. We had to concentrate all
of our energy and our faith and our hope to get through those
first hours and days. And we needed all the help that we
could get and all the support that we could get. And I’ll
always remember that moment as we escaped the building that
we were trapped in at 75 Barclay Street and I realized that
things outside might actually be worse than inside the building.
We did the best we could to communicate a message of calm
and hope, as we stood on the pavement watching a cloud come
through the cavernous streets of lower Manhattan. Our people
were so brave in their response. At the time, we believed
that we would be attacked many more times that day and in
the days that followed. Without really thinking, based on
just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police
Commissioner Bernard Kerik and I said to him, “Bernie,
thank God George Bush is our President.”
I say it again tonight, I say it again tonight: thank God
that George Bush is our President. And thank God that Dick
Cheney, a man with his experience and his knowledge and his
strength and his background is our vice president.
On Sept. 11, George Bush had been president less than eight
months. The new president, the vice president, the new administration
were faced with the worst crisis in our history virtually
at the beginning of their administration. President Bush’s
response in keeping us unified, in turning around the ship
of state from being solely on defense against terrorism to
being on offense as well and for his holding us together.
For that and then his determined effort to defeat global
terrorism, no matter what happens in this election, President
George W. Bush has already earned a place in history as a
great American president.
But you and I, we’re not going to wait for history
to present the correct view of our president. Let’s
write our own history. We need George Bush now more than
The horror, the shock and the devastation of those attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and over the skies
of Pennsylvania lifted a cloud from our eyes. We stood face
to face with those people and forces who hijacked not just
airplanes but a great religion and turned it into a creed
of terrorism dedicating to killing us and eradicating us
and our way of life.
Terrorism didn’t start on Sept. 11, 2001. It started
a long time ago and it had been festering for many years.
And the world had created a response to it that allowed it
The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was
in 1972. That’s a long time ago, that’s not yesterday.
And the pattern began early. The three surviving terrorists
were arrested and then within just three months the terrorists
who slaughtered the Israeli athletes were released by the
German government. Set free. Action like this became the
rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn time after
time that they could attack, that they could slaughter innocent
people and not face any consequences.
In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro and they
murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon
Klinghoffer. They marked him for murder solely because he
was Jewish. Some of those terrorist were released and some
of the remaining terrorists, they were allowed to escape
by the Italian government because of fear of reprisals from
So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community
and too often the response, particularly in Europe, would
be accommodation, appeasement and compromise. And worse,
and worse they also learned that their cause would be taken
more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the horror
of their attack.
Terrorist acts became like a ticket to the international
bargaining table. How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning
the Nobel Peace Prize while he was supporting a plague of
terrorism in the Middle East and undermining any chance of
Before Sept. 11, we were living with an unrealistic view
of our world much like observing Europe appease Hitler or
trying to accommodate the Soviet Union through the use of
mutually assured destruction.
President Bush decided that we could no longer just be on
defense against global terrorism we must also be on offense.
On Sept. 20, 2001, President Bush stood before a joint session
of Congress, a still grieving and shocked nation and a confused
world and he changed the direction of our ship of state.
He dedicated America under his leadership to destroying global
The president announced the Bush doctrine when he said: “Our
war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it doesn’t
end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of
global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. Either
you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
And since Sept. 11 President Bush has remained rock solid.
It doesn’t matter to him how he is demonized. It doesn’t
matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret
him or defeat him.
They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald
Reagan. But like President Bush, they were optimists; leaders
need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present
and it’s set on a future of real peace and security.
Some — some — call it stubbornness. I call it
principled leadership. President Bush — President Bush —has
the courage of his convictions.
In choosing a president, we really don’t choose just
a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. We
choose a leader. And in times of war and danger, as we’re
now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their
There are many qualities that make a great leader but having
strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular
and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic
of a great leader.
One — one of my heroes, Winston Churchill, saw the
dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as
a war-mongering gadfly. Another one of my heroes, Ronald
Reagan, saw and described the Soviet Union as “the
evil empire” while world opinion accepted it as inevitable
and even belittled Ronald Reagan’s intelligence. President
Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.
John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision.
This is not a personal criticism of John Kerry. I respect
him for his service to our nation. But it’s important
and critical to see the contrast in approach between these
two men: President Bush, a leader who’s willing to
stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts
and goes back and forth, and John Kerry, whose record in
elected office suggests a man who changes his position even
on important issues.
Now, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry
voted against the Persian Gulf War. But he must have heard
you booing because, because, because later he said he actually
supported the war. Then in 2002, as he was calculating his
run for the presidency, he voted for the war in Iraq. And
then just nine months later, he voted against an $87 billion
supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.
He even, at one point, declared himself as an antiwar candidate.
And now, he says he’s a pro-war candidate. At this
rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his
position four or five more times.
My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described
in his own words not mine. I quote John Kerry, ‘I actually
did vote for the 87 billion before I voted against it.’
Maybe this explains John Edwards’s need for two Americas — one
where John Kerry can vote for something and another one where
he can vote against exactly the same thing.
Yes, people in public office at times change their minds,
or they realize they’re wrong. I have, others have,
or circumstances change. But John Kerry has made it the rule
to change his position, rather than the exception. In October
of 2003, he told an Arab-American institute in Detroit that
a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian
territories was a “barrier to peace.” O.K. Then,
a few months later, he took exactly the opposite position.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post he said, “Israel’s
security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense.”
The contrasts — the contrasts are dramatic. The contrasts
are dramatic. They involve very different views of how to
deal with terrorism. President Bush will make certain that
we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores,
so we don’t have to confront it or we reduce the risk
of confronting it here in New York City or in Chicago or
in Los Angeles or in Miami or in the rural areas of America.
That’s what it means to play offense with terrorism
and not just defense.
John Kerry’s record — John Kerry’s record
of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us
no confidence that he’ll pursue such a determined,
President Bush will now allow — would not allow countries
that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed
for over 30 years to stand up to terrorists. He won’t
allow them to stop us from doing what’s necessary in
the defense of our country. He’s going to let them
set the agenda. Under President Bush, you can be certain
America will lead, not follow.
Remember — remember just a few months ago John Kerry
kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders
who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him. Well
to me that raises the risk that he might well accommodate
his position to their viewpoint. It would not be the first
time that John Kerry changed his mind about matters of war
I remember — I remember the days following Sept. 11
when we were no longer Republicans or Democrats, but we were
Americans. We were determined to everything, everything that
we could to help the victims, to rebuild our city and to
disable our enemies.
I remember President Bush coming here on Sept. 14, 2001
and lifting the morale of our rescue workers by talking with
them and embracing them and staying with them much longer
than was planned.
In fact, if you promise to keep this between us because
I could get in trouble for this — but I get in trouble
all the time; I was mayor of New York. It’s my opinion
that when President Bush came here on Sept. 14, 2001, the
Secret Service was not really happy about his remaining in
the area so long with buildings that were still unstable,
with fires raging below ground of 2,000 degrees or more.
There was good reason for their concern. Well the president
remained there and he talked to everyone, the firefighters,
the police officers, the health care workers, the clergy,
but the people that I believe, this is my opinion now from
observing it, the people who spent the most time with him
were our construction workers.
Now, New York construction workers are very special people.
I’m sure this is true all over America where you come
from, but I know the ones in New York really well. And they
were real heroes that day, like many others. But I’ve
got to tell you, they’re big, they’re really
big. They have arms that are bigger than my legs and they
have opinions that are bigger than their arms. So every time
the president would go up to one of they would hold his hand
a little bit longer and they would give him advice. I think
like his cabinet, Mr. Vice President gives him advice.
They would tell him in their own language exactly what he
should do with the terrorists. I can’t repeat — after
all, this is the Republican convention — I can’t
repeat what they said. But one of them really got the president’s
attention. The president rather bonded with him, they sort
of hit it off. And the guy is giving him this long explanation
of exactly what he should do. And when the man finished,
President Bush said in a rather loud voice, “I agree.” At
this point all of the people kind of looked at this guy,
all of his buddies. And can you imagine? You’re a construction
worker and all your buddies say, are looking, and the president
says, “I agree.” The guy went up in his own estimation
from his six feet to about 6 foot 10. He lost total control
of himself, forgot who he was dealing with, he leaned over,
he grabbed the president of the United States in this massive
bear hug and he started squeezing him.
And the Secret Service agent standing next to me, who wasn’t
happy about any of this, instead of running over and getting
the president out of this — this grip, puts his finger
in my face and he says to me, “If this guy hurts the
president, Giuliani you’re finished.” I didn’t
know — I didn’t know what to say. I was kind
of — a little shook when the — and I said, only
thing I could think of, and it’s the moral of the story,
I said, “but it would be out of love.”
I also — I also remember on that same day, as I’m
sure Governor Pataki does, the heart-wrenching visit President
Bush made to the families of our firefighters and our police
officers at the Javits Center. I’m sure some of you
remember. I remember receiving all of the help and the assistance
and support from the president and even more than we asked
for. For that and for his personal support of me I’m
eternally grateful to President Bush. He helped to get me
And I remember the support being bipartisan and actually
standing hand in hand, Republicans and Democrats, here in
New York and all over the nation. During a Boston Red Sox
game, in the seventh inning there was a sign that read, “Boston
Loves New York. “You’re not going to see it now
with a four and a half game, you know, spreading out between
the two teams. And then one of the most remarkable experiences
was I was driving along and I saw a Chicago police officer
directing traffic in the middle of Manhattan, sent here by
Mayor Daley of Chicago, who was a good friend of ours and
is. And that’s what I mean about no Democrats or Republicans.
Well the guy is directing traffic and I got out to thank
him, and I did. And then I went back in my car and all of
a sudden I had this thought: I wonder where he’s sending
these people. I think some of them are still driving around
the Bronx. But it was very reassuring to know that the support
we have, and I thank all of you for it because you all gave
us support — Republicans, Democrats, everyone.
And as we look — as we look beyond this election — you
know, as we look beyond this election and realize that elections
do accentuate our differences — you know, let’s
make sure that we rekindle that spirit that we had that we’re
one America, we’re united to end the threat of global
terrorism as one people.
Certainly President Bush will keep us focused on that goal.
When President Bush announced his commitment to ending global
terrorism, he understood — I understood, we all understood — that
it was critical to remove the pillars of support for the
global terrorist movement.
In any plan to destroy global terrorism, Saddam Hussein
needed to be removed. Frankly, I believed then and I believe
now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism,
slaughtered thousands and thousands of his own people, permitted
horrific acts of atrocities against women, and used weapons
of mass destruction, he was himself a weapon of mass destruction.
But the reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were based on
issues even broader than just the presence of weapons of
mass destruction. To liberate people, to give them a chance
for accountable, decent government and to rid the world of
a pillar of support for global terrorism is nothing to be
defensive about. It’s something for which all those
involved from President Bush to the brave men of our armed
forces should be proud. They did something wonderful. They
did something that history will give them great credit for.
President Bush has also focused us on the correct long-term
answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle
East. The hatred and the anger in the Middle East arises
from the lack of accountable governments. Rather than trying
to grant more freedom, or create more income, or improve
education and basic health care, these governments deflect
their own failures by pointing to America and to Israel and
to other external scapegoats.
But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of
a single person in the Arab world. It doesn’t relieve
the plight of even one woman in Iran. It doesn’t give
a decent living to a single soul in Syria. It doesn’t
stop the slaughter of African Christians in the Sudan.
The president understands that the changes necessary in
the Middle East involve encouraging accountable, lawful,
decent governments that can be role models and solve the
problems of their own people. This has been an very important
part of the Bush doctrine and the president’s vision
for the future.
Have — have — have faith in the power of freedom.
People who live in freedom always prevail over people who
live in oppression. That’s the — that’s
the story of the Old Testament. That’s the story of
World War II and the cold war. That’s the story of
the firefighters and police officers and rescue workers who
courageously saved thousands of lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
President Bush is the leader we need for the next four years
because he can see beyond just today and tomorrow. He can
see into the future. He has a vision of a peaceful Middle
East and a safer world. We — don’t, don’t
be discouraged. Don’t be cynical. We’ll see an
end to global terrorism. I can see it. I believe it. I know
it will happen.
You know, right now, right now it may seem very difficult
and a long way off. It may even seem idealistic to say that.
But it may not be as far away and as idealistic as it seems.
Look how quickly the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Iron
Curtain ripped open and the Soviet Union disintegrated because
of the power of the pent-up demand for freedom.
When it catches hold there is nothing more powerful than
freedom. Give it some hope and it will overwhelm dictators
and even defeat terrorists.
That’s, that is what we’ve done and must continue
to do in Iraq. That’s what the Republican Party, our
party, does best — when we’re at our best, we
extend freedom. And it’s our mission. It’s the
long-term answer to ending global terrorism. Governments
that are free and accountable. We have won many battles in
this war on terror — at home and abroad — but
as President Bush told us way back on September 20th of 2001,
it will take a long-term determined effort to prevail.
The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle.
There’ll be no dramatic surrender. There’ll be
no crumbling of a massive wall. But we’ll know it.
We’ll know it as accountable governments continue to
develop in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq.
We’ll know it as terrorist attacks throughout the world
decrease and then end and we save lives.
And then, God willing, we’ll all be able on a future
anniversary of September 11th to return to ground zero or
to the Pentagon or to Shanksville, Pa., and to say to our
fallen brothers and sisters, to our heroes of the worst attack
in our history and to our heroes who have sacrificed their
lives in the war on terror, we’ll be able to say to
them that we have done all that we could with our lives that
were spared to make your sacrifices build a world of real
peace and true freedom.
We’ll make certain, in the words of President Bush,
that they have heard from us. That they’ve heard from
us a message of peace through free, accountable, lawful and
decent governments giving people hope for a future for themselves
and their children.
God bless each one we have lost, every soul, every single
person here and abroad, and their families. God bless all
those who are currently at risk and in harm’s way defending
our freedom. And God bless America.
<<Back to the 2004 Republican
National Convention Page