FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
August 3, 2004 • Dallas, TX
Thanks for the warm welcome. Welcome
to Texas. (Applause.) And thanks for inviting me so I can
come home. (Laughter.) I really appreciate the Knights
of Columbus. This strong organization believes in families
and faith, and compassion for those in need. And I'm honored
you'd invite me to the 122nd Convocation of this great
I appreciate Carl Anderson, and his leadership. I've gotten
to know Carl because, you see, he's more than just an introducer
of Presidents. (Laughter.) He's a person who works with
Presidents -- at least this President. And I'm proud to
have his help. (Applause.)
It's good to see my family friend, Virgil Dechant. Virgil,
it's good to see you, sir. Thank you for such a warm greeting
in the photo op line and reminding me of some great days
gone past. I'm proud to be here with Cardinal McCarrick.
It's good to see you, sir. He's a neighbor in my temporary
residence. (Laughter.) I appreciate Cardinal Egan. I appreciate
Cardinal Rigali, of the great city of Philadelphia; Cardinal
Francis George of Chicago; Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore,
Maryland. I'm honored you all are here. Thank you for your
I'm honored to be in the presence of Cardinal Macharski,
the Archbishop of Krakow, who succeeded the Holy Father
in that role. Welcome to the United States. Appreciate
you coming, sir.
I appreciate Bishop Wilton Gregory's leadership, of the
Conference of Catholic Bishops. I appreciate Your Eminences,
and Your Excellencies, Reverends, Monsignors, Fathers and
Deacons. Nuestros amigos de Mexico. I appreciate the officers
and directors, state deputies, board of directors, delegates,
ladies and gentlemen, Knights, and my fellow American.
Thanks for having me. (Applause.)
Two months ago, I had the privilege of visiting His Holy
Father Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. It was my third
meeting with His Holy Father since I took office, and for
those of you who have ever met him, you know I'm telling
you the truth when I tell you being in his presence is
an awesome experience. He is a true presence. On the occasion,
I had the special honor of presenting him with America's
highest civil award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It was my chance to express our nation's respect for a
devoted servant of God and a true hero of our time.
Pope John Paul II has been a unique and commanding voice
for the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the
outcast. He has challenged our nation, and the entire world,
to embrace the culture of life. He's called upon us to
uphold and affirm the dignity of every person, rich and
poor, able and disabled, born and unborn. He's called us
to love and serve our neighbors in need. Few organizations
have worked harder and done more and met this challenge
than the Knights of Columbus. (Applause.) I know you're
proud of your organization, and you should be.
The Knights were born in New Haven, Connecticut. Come
to think of it, so was I. (Laughter and applause.) From
your foundations in a small church basement, you have raised
up one of the great America organizations dedicated to
charity and mutual assistance and the fight for civil liberties.
I'm proud to say that my family has contributed to your
ranks. A few years ago, Governor Jeb -- (applause) -- became
a Knight. (Applause.) And he -- yes -- and he recently
took his Third Degree. (Applause.) I'll see him this weekend.
His son is getting married. I'll pass on the word, aim
for the Fourth. (Laughter and applause.) Jeb knows, as
I do, that your works of mercy are making our society more
compassionate, changing the lives of millions of citizens.
Compassionate work changes our society one heart and one
soul at a time.
Last year, the Knights raised and donated a record $130
million to charity. That's a phenomenal record. (Applause.)
You also volunteered for an unprecedented 61 million hours
of community service. (Applause.) You obviously have heard
I was pleased to hear this story about the Knights in
Corpus Christi, Texas, at the Mother Teresa Day Shelter.
They're a daily presence there -- they're mopping the floors,
collecting laundry soap, blankets, and food for 130 homeless
men and women. They're not giving the orders, they're serving
the people. Patricia Henry, the shelter director, put it
this way: "If I need help, I just give the Knights
a call." (Applause.) Such a powerful example. Americans
across this great land know that they can do the same,
that they can serve our country by helping someone in need.
We're grateful for your service to the men and women in
uniform and to our nation's veterans. You've sent hundreds
of thousands of prayer books to those working to make our
country more secure and to bring freedom in parts of the
world that are desperate for freedom. You bring comfort
and strength to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
I want to thank you for taking time to visit our wounded
and disabled veterans, for providing comfort to their families,
to give them a word of thanks.
See, you're -- the Knights are soldiers in the armies
of compassion. You're foot soldiers. You've heard the call.
You're helping this nation build a culture of life in which
the sick are comforted, the aged are honored, the immigrant
is welcomed, and the weak and vulnerable are never overlooked.
(Applause.) You have a friend in this administration. You
have somebody who wants to work with you to change America
for the better.
We have a responsibility in government to do things to
help overcome recession and corporate scandal. It's easier
to be a hopeful society when people are working. That's
why I put forth an economic stimulus plan to encourage
small business growth, a plan that will help get jobs moving,
so people can work and do their duty as a mom or a dad
and put food on the table. And we're making progress.
When I came to Washington, I was concerned about a school
system that simply shuffled children through grade after
grade, year after year, and hoped for the best. Oftentimes,
what we found out was kids with great hearts were graduating
from schools, but couldn't read. I challenged the soft
bigotry of low expectations by raising the bar, insisting
on high standards, by making sure the money we spent --
and we did spend more money -- went to help those who needed
extra help early, before it was too late. I believe you've
got to measure in order to know. If you believe a child
can read, you've got to measure to determine whether or
not that child is reading, and if not, get them help early,
before it's too late. (Applause.)
Because we measure, we know that now more minority children
are learning to read at grade level, and that's good for
America. I want to thank the Knights -- (applause) -- I
want to thank the Knights for their help in helping low-income
parents in Washington, D.C. escape from schools -- have
their children escape from schools that will not teach
and will not change. Because of the work of the Knights
of Columbus, and other concerned citizens in our Nation's
Capital, poor parents now have a choice. They'll have a
$7,500 scholarship so they can afford to send their school
-- their child to a private school or parochial school,
their choice to make. (Applause.)
You know, one of the great statistics of this modern era
is the fact that more people are owning their own home.
It seems like to me, an optimistic society is one that
encourages ownership, more people owning their own business,
people owning and managing their own health care account,
people being -- own a piece of their retirement policy
that they can pass on from one generation to the next,
and people owning their own home. I love a society in which
more and more people are able to say, welcome to my home;
come to my home. (Applause.)
This country has added more than 1.6 million minority
homeowners in the past two years. Today, the American homeownership
rate is the highest ever, and the highest ever for minorities.
When you own something you have a vital stake in the future
of your country. (Applause.)
I want to work with the Knights for reasonable and compassionate
immigration reform, to bring good, hardworking people out
of the shadows of American life, and to ensure that America
is always a welcoming nation. I recognize, like you recognize,
that amidst the great prosperity of America, amongst our
great wealth, there are pockets of despair in this country,
and we've got to do something about it. We must address
despair so America is hopeful for every single person.
See, we got fellow citizens who are trapped in the misery
of drugs and gang violence and the collapse of the family.
Our society and our government have a responsibility --
you have a responsibility, those of us honored to hold
high office have a responsibility. We're doing some practical
things. We've got a community-wide effort to help educate
kids to the dangers of using drugs. We believe in collaborative
efforts; people all throughout society must work to reduce
the demand for drugs. Listen, we'll do all we can to bust
the thugs, interdict the drugs coming in from foreign --
overseas. But we've got to work on demand. And teen use
of drugs is down by 11 percent from 2001 to 2003. That's
a hopeful sign. A hopeful America is where our children
are learning -- (applause.)
There's a lot of work to be done on health care, but one
place I know we can continue to work together on is health
care for the poorest of the poor. We've expanded and built
over 600 community health centers in America. I want to
double the number, so the 16 million poor Americans can
get primary health care without putting a strain on the
emergency rooms of our hospitals, whether they be public
We've got to pay for -- we've got to work on additional
welfare reforms to help people find a job, help them have
the skills necessary to work, so they realize the dignity
that comes from being independent from government, and
at the same time, strengthen marriage and the family as
part of welfare reforms. (Applause.)
But I believe one of the most effective ways our government
can help those in need is to help the charities and community
groups that are doing God's work every day. That's what
I believe government ought to do. I believe government
needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against
faith-based groups, when they come to saving lives. (Applause.)
Government can hand out money, and of course, there will
be arguments whether we're handing out enough or not. But
what government can never do is put love in a person's
heart, or a sense of purpose in a person's life. You see,
in order to heal -- help the lonely, it works every time
when a loving soul puts their arm around and says, what
can I do to help you; how can I help you in your life;
what can I do to make your life better. Many are called
by God to do so, and government must stand on the side
of those millions of acts of mercy and kindness that take
place on a daily basis.
And so the faith-based initiative that I've launched recognizes
the need there be separation of church and state -- the
state should never be the church, and the church certainly
should never be the state. But the state should never fear
the good works of the church. (Applause.) And the truth
of the matter is, there's a culture inside government which
resents and fears religious charities, and has discriminated
against them. We're changing that. I want to thank the
Knights for their help in changing that attitude in Washington,
Our goal is to end the unfair discrimination against faith-based
charities by the federal government. And we're making substantial
progress. In December 2002, I issued an executive order
-- I was hoping, frankly, that Congress would pass a law.
I got tired of waiting. (Laughter.) I got tired of the
process debate. See, I'm focused on results. I want there
to be positive results. I want lives to be saved, as best
as possible. The process bogged down. For those of you
who pay attention to Washington, you know what I'm talking
about when I say the process bogs down.
So I signed an executive order, mandating equal treatment
for faith-based charities in the federal grant-making process.
What that means is that faith-based groups ought to be
allowed to apply for federal grants just like everybody
else should be allowed to apply. (Applause.) Faith-based
groups will not be allowed to discriminate against who
they serve, and they won't use the federal money to proselytize.
But they're allowed to use the money to change hearts and
souls, to help save lives, to embetter the world we live
And so here's the principle we've established: Religious
charities that are effectively helping the poor should
have a fair and equal chance to compete for federal money.
That's the new -- those are the new rules. And this --
in 2003, discretionary grants to faith-based programs was
over a billion dollars. We're making progress. We're using
federal taxpayers' money for effective use in helping to
save lives. We're providing a social network of loving
-- helping loving souls interface with people so they can
realize a better tomorrow.
Three years ago I established the Compassion Capital Fund.
It's an innovative idea. It was a -- the fund gives money
to intermediary organizations that provide faith-based
and community organizations with training, technical assistance
-- what it is, is like a little incubator. If you want
to access federal money, here's how you do it. If you want
to start up a faith-based program, here's some of the lessons
learned. In other words, what we're trying to say is not
only are we going to allow those faith-based programs that
already exist to access federal money, we want to help
others spring up and understand the pitfalls to succeed.
The fund provides grants to faith-based and community
organizations, as well, to help them fund their programs
for the poor and the hungry and the homeless. We've awarded
$56 million under this program. Today I release another
$43 million to the compassionate federal grant program.
We're moving forward on another initiative which is mentoring
for the children of prisoners. I mean, if the job of government
is to try to set priorities, a priority is to help children
of prisoners find love. Imagine what a tough life it is
for a young boy or girl to go see his or her mom or dad
behind prison bars. These are children who need help. They're
vulnerable to gains and crime and despair. They're desperate
for responsible adults in their life who can give them
what many of them long for, which is love and tenderness.
The best way to do that is to encourage all groups, including
faith-based groups, to provide mentors. And it's happening
in America. For those of you who are mentoring the children
of prisoners, thank you for what you're doing to make America
a more welcoming place. (Applause.) We've awarded grants
-- today we've unleashed another $45.5 million of grants
to programs, all aimed at doing this.
I'll tell you another program that's important is to help
the addict, is to help the person so stuck on drugs that
they can't realize the great human potential that God has
given them, and they need desperate help. I believe that
some counseling programs work, no question about it. But
I also know programs that change the heart work. When a
person changes their heart, they change their habits. Government
is not good at changing hearts. The Almighty God is good
at changing hearts -- (applause) -- which happens to be
the cornerstone of effective faith-based programs. And
therefore, when it comes to spending federal money to help
addicts, I've asked the Congress, and the Congress has
agreed to allow us to use vouchers to go to the person
who is seeking help. That person can use that voucher at
any kind of program he or she chooses, including faith-based
programs to help heal hearts and save lives.
In other words, some of these are the ways that -- (applause)
-- what I'm telling you is, things are changing in the
Nation's Capital when it comes to invigorating the faith-based
initiative, and the Knights have helped a lot. I appreciate
your efforts to level the playing field when it comes to
grant-making. And because of your efforts, America is changing
for the better.
I needed someone to lead this program, so guess who I
turned to? The Knights. (Applause.) I found Towey. Jim
Towey is the Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based
and Community Initiatives. He's with me. You know what
his job is? His job is to help the faith community -- by
the way, all faiths, all faiths -- Christian, Jew, or Muslim
-- all faiths understand what is possible now. His job
is also to make sure the federal government is a hospitable
place for faith programs to work with. Let's be frank about
it. Many faith-based programs don't want to interface with
government. You know why? They're afraid of losing the
ability to practice their faith. How can you be a faith-based
program if you're not allowed to practice your faith?
Towey's job -- (applause) -- so Towey has got a big job,
it's to change a culture, a suspicious culture, and we're
making progress. A suspicious culture in Washington, a
suspicious culture in the grassroots. Here's Towey's story.
He goes to meet Mother Teresa for the first time. He shows
up at one of her homes for the dying in India, and the
sister who greeted him assumed he was there to work. (Laughter.)
That's what I assume every day that Towey shows up. (Laughter.)
So she gave Jim some cloth, and said, go clean the sores
of a dying man. He says it changed his life, that experience.
He went on to work full-time for the Missionaries of Charity.
Incredibly enough, Jim Towey, Director of the Office of
Faith-Based Initiatives in the White House, was Mother
Teresa's lawyer. I ask you, what kind of society is it
where Mother Teresa needs a lawyer? (Laughter and applause.)
It's a society that needs tort reform. (Laughter and applause.)
I appreciate your good work, friend. Thanks for coming
The Knights of Columbus are transferring lives with works
of compassion, and, just as importantly, you're defending
the values of faith and family that bind us as a nation.
I appreciate your fight to protect children from obscenity.
I appreciate your working to protect the Pledge of Allegiance,
to keep us "one nation under God." (Applause.)
I want to thank you -- I want to thank you for the defense
of the traditional family. That is a most fundamental institution
for our society. I appreciate the fact you're promoting
the culture of life. (Applause.)
We're making progress here in America. Last November,
I signed a law to end the brutal practice of partial-birth
abortion. (Applause.) This law is constitutional; this
law is compassionate; this law is urgently needed; and
my administration will vigorously defend it in the courts.
I was pleased to sign the Born Alive Infants Protection
Act. I want to thank the Knights on that piece of legislation.
(Applause.) I signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
Common sense and conscience tells us that when an expectant
mother is killed, two lives are ended, and the criminal
should answer for both crimes. (Applause.)
I was pleased to sign legislation supporting maternity
group homes. We'll continue to work to help crisis pregnancy
centers. We'll work together to strengthen incentives for
adoption and parental notification laws. The Knights have
been helpful -- (applause) -- the Knights have been helpful
and I appreciate your help.
My 2005 budget, I proposed to more than triple federal
funds for abstinence programs in schools and community-based
programs above 2001 levels. (Applause.) I'll continue to
work with Congress to pass a comprehensive and effective
ban on human cloning. (Applause.) Human life is a creation
of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with the Knights to defend the
sacred bond of marriage. (Applause.) A few activist judges
have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution
of marriage by court order. I support a constitutional
amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage by ensuring
it is always recognized as the union of a man and woman
as husband and wife. (Applause.) I appreciate the Knights'
stand on this issue.
I also appreciate the Knights' of Columbus stand on the
federal judiciary. I have a responsibility as President
to make sure the federal judicial system runs well. I have
nominated superb men and women for the federal -- for the
federal benches who will strictly and fully interpret the
law, not legislate from the bench. (Applause.)
In all these areas, caring for the poor, and protecting
the vulnerable, affirming life, and defending the family,
we're depending on the goodness and compassion of the American
people. And that's good, because the American people are
good and compassionate. See, the strength of this country
is not our military might, it's not the size of our wallet.
The strength of this country is the hearts and souls of
the American people. (Applause.) And it is an incredible
honor to be the President of such a nation, a President
of a nation of compassion and decency and honor, and such
powerful values that we're able to bring people from all
walks of life under the rubric of being an American.
I appreciate the prayers of the people of this country.
People I'll never get to say thanks to in person lift Laura
and me up in prayer. It's a remarkable aspect of the presidency.
More significantly, it's a remarkable aspect of the life
of the United States of America. I'm grateful for your
prayers; I'm grateful for your great service and the example
you set for our country.
Thanks for having me today. May God bless your organization,
and may God continue to bless our great country. Thank