FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
July 14, 2004 • Waukesha, WI
Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
It's good to be back here in Waukesha. What a beautiful
day. Listen, I was talking to Tommy and I said, you know,
I need to get back to Wisconsin. He said, you sure do.
I said, do you know your way around there? (Laughter.)
So he and I have gotten on this modest little bus here.
(Laughter.) And we're going to travel your beautiful state.
I'm here asking for the vote. (Applause.) I've come back
to this important state to say to the people of Wisconsin,
I know what I need to do to lead this country. I know what
I need to do to make the world more peaceful, America more
hopeful. I know what I want to do to make America safer,
stronger, and better. I'm here to ask for your help for
four more years. (Applause.)
And I couldn't have come with a better escort. You educated
him well. (Laughter.) I picked a good man when I asked
him to come to Washington to lead a very important agency.
He is a superb leader. He's a great organizer. He's got
a clear vision. He cares deeply about the people of Wisconsin
and the United States of America. Tommy Thompson is doing
a fabulous job on behalf of the American people. (Applause.)
My only regret, and I'm sure it's yours, as well, is that
Laura is not traveling with me. No, I know, most people
are wise enough to say, why don't you just go ahead and
stay at home and let her carry the burden. (Laughter.)
I was a lucky man when she said yes. She's a great lady
and a fabulous First Lady for America. (Applause.) She's
campaigning somewhere else, but today I am fortunate that
one of our college graduates, one of our daughters is traveling
with me. I'm really proud to introduce Barbara Bush. (Applause.)
Made it out of college in four years. (Laughter.)
I know Sue Ann Thompson is with us, and so is Tommy --
Tommy's daughter. I appreciate the Thompson family, as
well, for enabling Tommy to serve the country so well.
Listen, being in public life isn't easy on the families,
and Tommy has got a great family. And I appreciate their
supporting him so well. (Applause.)
I appreciate Cheryl Sensenbrenner representing her husband,
Jim. The Chairman is doing a fine job. He's a good congressman.
(Applause.) I enjoy working with him. I know you're going
to send him back, and I know you're going to send me back,
so we'll be working together for four more years. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend, state Senator Mary Panzer,
the Majority Leader of the statehouse, the state Senate,
for being here today. Thanks for coming, Mary. Mary Lazich,
as well, who's the state Senator. Thanks for the members
of the Senate and the House and all the local officials
who are here to say hello. Turn out the vote. (Applause.)
Thanks for serving. But join these grassroots activists
in finding people to register and tell them they've got
a duty as an American to show up and vote on election day.
And when you get them steered toward the polls, give them
a little nudge in our direction. (Laughter.) They're going
to like the message; it's hopeful, it's optimistic, it's
positive about the future of this great country. (Applause.)
I appreciate Jim Klauser and Mary Buestrin, all the people
who have dedicated themselves to being involved in the
political process. By the way, if you're interested in
volunteering, we've gone high-tech -- georgewbush.com.
It's an easy one to remember. (Laughter.) Why don't you
just go ahead and log on and it will show you how you can
help in the campaign. I'm serious. It's a -- I can't win
this without you. I can't win -- and when you're talking
to the voters, remind them that over the last three years,
we have faced serious challenges, and this administration
has given serious answers. (Applause.)
You might remind the voters that when we came to office,
the stock market was in decline and the economy was headed
into recession. We acted. We delivered historic tax relief.
And over the past three years, America has had the fastest
growing economy of any major industrialized nation. (Applause.)
When we arrived in Washington, D.C., when the great Vice
President Dick Cheney and I arrived in Washington, D.C.
-- (applause) -- the military was underfunded, and it was
underappreciated. You might remember back to those times.
So we gave our Armed Forces the resources and respect they
deserve. And today, no one can question the skill and the
strength and the spirit of the United States military.
We saw war and grief arrive on a quiet September morning.
We pursued the terrorist enemy across the world. We've
captured or killed many of the key leaders of the al Qaeda
network. We will stay on the hunt until justice is served
and America is safe. (Applause.) We confronted the dangers
of state-sponsored terror and the spread of weapons of
mass destruction. We acted against two of the most violent
and dangerous regimes on Earth. We liberated over 50 million
people. Once again, America is proud to lead the armies
of liberation. (Applause.)
These accomplishments are important to the security and
prosperity of America. They should say to the American
people, I understand it is my job to confront problems,
not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations.
(Applause.) It's the President's job to make the tough
decisions and to keep his commitments. And that is how
I will continue to lead this country for four more years.
I'm working hard because this is going to be a tough campaign
-- I know it -- and you know it. We take nothing for granted.
We got a lot of work to do. I've got to take my message
out to the people. I've got to rally the volunteers, such
as yourselves, to go to work. I'm looking forward to it.
My opponent is a -- is a highly experienced United States
Senator. He's been in Washington --
THE PRESIDENT: He's been in Washington a lot longer than
I've been in Washington. He's been there so long, he's
taken about both sides of just about every issue. (Applause.)
He voted for Patriot Act, he voted for NAFTA, he voted
for the No Child Left Behind Act, and he voted for the
use of force in Iraq. Now -- (laughter) -- he opposes the
Patriot Act, and NAFTA, and the No Child Left Behind Act,
and the liberation of Iraq. If you disagree with John Kerry
on most any issue, you may just have caught him on the
wrong day. (Laughter and applause.)
He came out here to -- to the Midwest, and he said he
was the candidate with the conservative values.
THE PRESIDENT: I know, I know, I know. (Laughter.) I'm
just quoting what he said. (Laughter.) It's hard to square
that when he said, I'm liberal and proud of it. Now he
has a running mate. Senator Kerry is rated as the most
liberal member of the United States Senate. And he chose
a fellow lawyer who is the fourth most liberal member of
the United States Senate. Now, in Massachusetts, that's
what they call balancing the ticket. (Laughter and applause.)
Great events will turn on this election. The person who
sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war
on terror, and set the course, the direction of our economy.
I'm here to ask for the vote because I have a clear vision
and a strategy to win the war on terror and to extend peace
and freedom throughout the world. I'm here asking for your
vote -- (applause.) I'm here in this vital state asking
for the vote because I have a plan to continue to create
jobs, and therefore, opportunity throughout our entire
country. I'm here to ask for the vote because I have a
plan to rally -- to continue to rally the compassionate
spirit of the American people so every single citizen has
a chance to realize the great promise of our country. When
you give me four more years, America will be safer, America
will be stronger, and America will be a better country.
A big issue for every family, and a big issue in this
campaign, is the federal tax burden -- it's a big issue.
By providing the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan
was the President, we have left more money in the hands
that earned it. By spending and investing and to helping
create jobs, the American people have used their money
far better than the government could have. (Applause.)
Today I met Scott and Shelly Mueller and their children.
They're from New Berlin. They've got four kids. The tax
relief that we passed -- and we raised the child credit
and reduced the marriage penalty and created a 10-percent
bracket, and reduced all rates -- our view is if anybody
pays taxes, all people ought to -- if we have tax relief,
everybody ought to get tax relief. That's what we thought.
That's the fair way to do things. (Applause.) Well, the
Muellers saved $2,700 on their taxes in '03. They'll save
the same this year. And the reason I bring them up is oftentimes
in Washington, they speak in terms of billions of this,
and billions of that, and we tend to forget what tax relief
means for the families of America, what it means for the
individuals. The $2,700 for the Muellers means a lot.
Here's what Shelly said. She said, "We used that
money for home improvement projects." See, it's their
home and they're trying to improve their home. That's a
positive development. She said, "We just couldn't
afford these investment projects on our monthly budget.
This is something we're counting on."
Tax relief matters to the people of this country. Oh,
some of the sophisticates will say that $2,700 doesn't
matter to the Muellers, it doesn't sound like a lot to
me. It's a lot to them. That's what counts. And when they
have more money in their pocket, the economy benefits.
When people fully understand what they did, they'll understand
a big component of the tax relief was to encourage the
growth of our small businesses in America. See, 70 percent
of new jobs are created by small businesses. Therefore,
the tax relief must address the needs of the small business
owners. Today I met Kyle Stoehr. He's got a manufacturing
company. His business is strong -- at least that's what
he told me, and I take him for his word for it. He said
he hired seven new workers. See, that's what's happening
all across the country. Small business after small business
after small business is gaining confidence about the future,
and they're putting people on the payroll. He's planning
to invest $400,000 in software and machinery. Because of
the tax relief, he's going to save $65,000 this year. See,
that tax relief matters to small business owners. (Applause.)
It's helping the small businesses of the United States
of America. (Applause.)
Steve Ziegler, he's the President of the InPro Corporation.
He's a small business owner. He makes architectural projects
-- products. He hired eight workers this year. He's planning
on investing money; the tax relief has encouraged him to
invest money. The reason I bring up these small business
owners is because it's not government that create wealth;
it's the small business owners that are expanding, that
are creating the opportunity for Americans from all walks
of life. (Applause.)
I don't know if you know this or not, but there are thousands
of small businesses which pay tax at the individual income
tax rate level. See, if you're a sub-chapter S corporation,
or a sole proprietorship, like most small businesses, you
pay tax at the individual income tax levels. And so when
you hear them talking in Washington about running up those
taxes, kind of taxing the rich, really what you need to
be hearing is they're going to tax small business owners.
And that would be bad for this economy. Now is not the
time to be raising taxes on small businesses or on working
people in America. Now is the time to make sure we got
permanency in the tax code. Now is the time to make sure
we don't ruin this economic growth by running up the taxes
on the American people. (Applause.)
Tax relief is working. It's working. Since last summer
our economy has been growing at its fastest rate in nearly
20 years. (Applause.) As Tommy said, since last August
we've added 1.5 million new jobs. People are going back
to work. Here in Wisconsin, the unemployment rate has dropped
to 5.1 percent. (Applause.) Homeownership rate is at an
all-time high. That's a fantastic statistic, isn't it?
We want more people owning their own home. When you own
something you have a vital stake in the future of the United
States of America.
Interest rates are low; business investment is growing;
consumer confidence is at a two-year high; personal incomes
are up. The economic stimulus plan that we worked with
Congress on is paying off. This economy is strong and it
is getting stronger. (Applause.)
And there's a different view, of course. That's what campaigns
are all about. My opponents looked at this progress and
somehow concluded the sky is falling. It doesn't matter
whether the message is delivered with a frown or a smile,
it's the same old pessimism, same old pessimism. And they're
going to cheer us up with higher taxes -- (laughter) --
more federal spending, and economic isolationism. The good
news is, we're not going to let them do that. (Applause.)
We're going to keep taxes low to make sure people can find
work and people to be able to realize their dream.
We're going to continue to bring fiscal discipline to
Washington, D.C. See, it starts with understanding that
we're not spending the government's money, we're spending
your money. And we must be good stewards with your money
in the Nation's Capital. (Applause.)
I hear it all the time that small business owners are
very worried about some things, and so am I. We got to
solve these problems to make sure people can find work.
I want this economy not only to be strong today, I want
it to be strong 10 years from now. I want this to be the
best place in the world to do business so people can find
good, high-paying jobs.
We've got to do something about these frivolous lawsuits.
You cannot be pro-small business and pro-trial lawyer at
the same time. (Applause.) You have to choose. My opponent
has made his choice, and he put him on the ticket. (Laughter.)
I made my choice; I will continue to push Congress to reform
the laws of America to end these frivolous and junk lawsuits
that make it hard for small businesses to grow their businesses.
Tommy mentioned we've got a plan for better and affordable
health care for the American people and for the small business
owners of America -- that includes association health plans
and tax-free health savings accounts. Now, I agree with
Tommy. In order to make sure you got good doctors here
in Wisconsin practicing their healing, in order to make
sure health care is affordable, we need medical liability
reform. We need the federal government to make sure that
people can have their day in court, but we've got to stop
these lawsuits that are driving docs out of business. (Applause.)
It's in your interest. It's in the people's interest that
we get this done.
Listen, in order to make sure this economy is a place
where people can find work, we need an energy plan. I submitted
one to the United States Congress. They need to pass that
to my desk. It calls for modernizing the electricity system.
It calls for the use of alternative sources of energy.
It encourages conservation. But we can explore for energy
in environmentally friendly ways. For the sake of economic
security, for the sake of national security, we must be
less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
I know we've got some farmers here. Listen, our farm economy
is strong, and I intend to keep it that way. That's a good
sign for states like Wisconsin. The farming families of
this state are making a good living, and one of the reasons
why is because they're selling Wisconsin products overseas.
If you're good at something, we want people buying it.
We're real good at growing things, we're very good at making
things. I'm a person who believes that we ought to be opening
up markets, not closing markets. Just listen, my view is,
give our workers and farmers and entrepreneurs a chance
to compete, and we can compete with anybody, anywhere,
any time. (Applause.)
There's a clear difference in this campaign on how to
make sure -- how to make sure this is a good place for
people to find work. If you reelect me, I'll continue to
pursue a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer, pro-small
business agenda, and America will be better off for it.
Our future also depends on our willingness to lead in
this world. The momentum of freedom in our time is strong.
But we still face serious dangers. Al Qaeda is wounded,
but not broken. Terrorists continue to attack in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Regimes in North Korea and Iran are challenging
the peace. If America shows weakness and uncertainty in
this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This
will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: After the attacks of September the 11th,
I resolved, and this nation resolved, to bring justice
to the terrorists, no matter where they dwell. We resolved
to hold regimes that hide and sponsor terrorists to account.
We made that resolution. And when you say something, you
better mean it. In order for the world to be peaceful,
when you say something, you better mean it. And I meant
what we said. Afghanistan was a terrorist state. It was
a training camp for al Qaeda killers. Because we acted,
Afghanistan is a rising democracy; Afghanistan is an ally
in the war on terror; and many young girls now go to school
for the first time. (Applause.)
Iraq, only last year, was controlled by a dictator who
threatened the civilized world. It's important for our
fellow citizens to remember he used weapons of mass destruction
against his own people. For decades, he has tormented and
tortured the people of his country. Because we acted, Iraq
today is a free and sovereign nation. Because we acted,
its dictator now sits in a prison cell and will receive
the justice he denied to so many for so long. (Applause.)
September the 11th, 2001 taught us a lesson we must never
forget. It's a lesson I'll never forget. And it's this:
America must confront threats before they fully materialize,
before it's too late. That's the lesson that we must never
forget as a nation. And so, remembering that, and remembering
the past of the dictator, we looked at the intelligence
and we saw a threat. Now, the United States Congress, including
members of both political parties, looked at the same intelligence
and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council
looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat.
I went to the United Nations and said, for years, you've
passed resolutions, and for years the dictator in Iraq
has ignored the resolutions. I said, why don't we work
together to pass a resolution, and this time, mean what
we say. See, they had seen the threat. So, on a 15-nothing
vote, the U.N. Security Council demanded a full accounting
of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, or face serious consequences.
And as he had for over a decade, the dictator deceived
the world. The dictator chose defiance. It was his choice
to make. He refused to comply. So I had a choice to make:
Ignore the lessons of September the 11th and hope for the
best, trust the word of a madman, or defend America. Given
that choice, I will defend our country every time. (Applause.)
Although we haven't found the stockpiles of weapons of
mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq, and America
is safer today because we did. We removed -- (applause)
-- we removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability
of producing weapons of mass destruction. He had that capability.
And he could have passed that capability to terrorists
bent on acquiring them. After September the 11th, that
was a risk we could not afford to take.
And we've got hard work to do there, and important work
to do there. Our immediate task around the world and in
Iraq and Afghanistan is to bring those terrorists to justice.
See, you can't talk sense to them. You can't negotiate
with terrorists. You can't sit back and hope that somehow
therapy will work and they will change their ways. (Laughter.)
That's just not the way it is. We must engage the enemies
in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world so we do not
have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
We know these terrorists want to strike us again because
they want to disrupt our way of life and spread fear. That's
what they want to do. So we're doing everything we can
to protect the homeland. You just need to know there are
a lot of really decent, hardworking people that are spending
hours on our mutual behalf to do everything we can to disrupt
a potential attack. We're sharing intelligence like never
before. We're running down every lead. And I know I speak
for everybody when I thank the police and the firefighters
and the emergency teams from the great state of Wisconsin
who are serving as great first responders. (Applause.)
We will stay on the offense. We'll protect our homeland.
Yet, in the long run, our safety requires something more.
We must work to change the conditions that give rise to
terror in the Middle East: the poverty and the hopelessness
and the resentment that the terrorists can exploit. Life
in that region is going to be far more hopeful and more
peaceful when men and women choose their own leaders. It
will be a much better place, a much more hopeful place
when the people get to decide their own fate.
You see, by serving the ideal of liberty, we are bringing
hope to others, and that makes America more secure. By
serving the ideal of liberty, we serve the deepest ideals
of our own country -- because, you see, we understand that
freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is
the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this
The world is changing for the better because of American
leadership. Three years ago, Afghanistan was the home base
of al Qaeda. Now, the terror camps are closed, democracy
is rising, and the American people are safer. Three years
ago, Pakistan was a safe transit point for terrorists on
missions of murder. Now, we're working with the Pakistani
government to find those killers in remote regions of that
country, and America is safer. Three years ago, Saudi --
in Saudi Arabia, terrorists were -- were not challenged
by that government. Today we're working with the Saudi
government, and the Saudi government is running down al
Qaeda leadership, and America is safer. (Applause.) Three
years ago, three years ago, Libya was spending millions
of dollars to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Now,
thousands of Libyan chemical munitions have been destroyed.
Libya has given up its nuclear processing equipment, and
America is safer. (Applause.)
No, the world is changing for the better. Three years
ago, the dictator in Iraq was a threat. He was a threat
to us, he was a threat to the free world, he was a threat
to the people in the neighborhood, and he was a threat
to his own people. That dictator is no longer a threat,
and the American people are safer. (Applause.)
I need four more years to complete the work. There's more
to do to make America a safer place. There's more work
to do to make the world a more peaceful place. We will
finish the work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Applause.)
Listen, the good leaders have stepped up there, people
who believe in the aspirations of their people. And we
will support them. And the good people in those countries
are taking more responsibility for their own security.
They want to live in freedom. Their moms and dads want
their children to be able to grow up in a peaceful and
free society. They can count on us. That's what they need
to hear. They need to hear from America they can count
on the American people. You see, when we give our word,
we keep our word. (Applause.)
I see people who proudly wear our uniform here, and I
want to thank you for your service. (Applause.) At bases
across our country and the world, I've had the privilege
of meeting with those who defend our country and sacrifice
for our country. I had the high honor of meeting those
family members whose son or daughter paid the ultimate
sacrifice. The best way to honor their bravery is to complete
the mission and make sure America is safer and the world
is more free. (Applause.)
Anytime we put our troops in harm's way, they deserve
the best training, the best pay, the best possible support.
That's why, last September, I proposed what we call a supplemental
funding request to support our military in its mission.
That's more money for the troops, money that would help
pay for body armor, or vital equipment, or hazard pay,
or health benefits, ammunition, fuel, spare parts. It was
money to support them.
In the Senate, only a small, out-of-mainstream minority
voted against the legislation. Two of those 12 senators
are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, when Senator Kerry tried to explain
his vote, here's what he said. He said, "I actually
did vote for the $87 billion -- before I voted against
it." (Laughter.) End quote. It sure doesn't clear
it up, does it? (Laughter.) Now he's offering a different
explanation. Earlier this week, he said he is proud he
and his running mate voted against the funding for our
THE PRESIDENT: No, he's entitled to his view, but here's
mine: Members of Congress should not vote to send troops
into battle and then vote against funding them. (Applause.)
As the Commander-in-Chief of this great military, I will
see to it they have what is needed to complete their mission.
We are leading the world with confidence and moral clarity.
And we're calling on other nations to help us. There are
over 60 nations involved in the Proliferation Security
Initiative, nearly 40 nations in Afghanistan, over 30 nations
in Iraq -- countries committed to the same thing we're
committed to, our own security through spreading democracy,
and peace, and freedom. Over the next four years, I will
continue to build coalitions to make the world a peaceful
place. But I will never turn over America's national security
decisions to leaders of other foreign countries. (Applause.)
This nation is prosperous and strong, yet, we need to
remember that our greatest strength is in the character
of our citizens. The true strength of America lies in the
hearts and souls of our fellow citizens. The other day
my opponent said that a bunch of entertainers from Hollywood
conveyed the heart and soul of America.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I believe the heart and soul of America
is found in places in Wisconsin. (Applause.) In places
just like Waukesha. (Applause.) Our nation is strong because
of the values we try to live by: courage, compassion, reference
and integrity. We're strong because of the institutions
that help give us direction and purpose: our families,
our schools, our religious congregations. (Applause.) These
values and institutions are fundamental to our lives, and
they deserve the respect of our government.
We stand for high standards in our public schools. We
stand for local control of our public schools. We stand
for accountability in our public schools, so no child is
left behind in America. (Applause.) We stand for welfare
reforms that require work and strengthen marriage, which
have helped millions of Americans find independence and
dignity in their lives. We stand for institutions like
marriage and family, which are the foundations of society.
(Applause.) We stand for a culture of life in which every
person matters. We stand for judges who strictly and faithfully
interpret the law, instead of legislating from the bench.
(Applause.) We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based
groups so they can receive federal support for their works
of compassion and healing. (Applause.)
We stand for a culture of responsibility. The culture
of this country is changing from one that has said, if
it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame
somebody else -- to a culture in which each of us understands
we're responsible for the decisions we make in life. If
you are fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, you're
responsible for loving your child with all your heart and
all your soul. (Applause.) If you're worried about the
quality of the education in the community in which you
live, you're responsible for doing something about it.
If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible
for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees.
(Applause.) And in a responsibility society, each of us
is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we'd like
to be loved ourself. (Applause.)
For all Americans, these years in our history will always
stand apart. There are quiet times in a life of a nation
when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one
of those times. You and I are living in a period where
the stakes are high, the challenges are difficult, a time
when firm resolve is needed.
None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended
and another began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood
in the ruins of the Twin Towers. I'm never going to forget
that moment. There were workers in hard-hats yelling at
me, "Whatever it takes." I remember looking in
the eyes of either a policeman or firefighter, and he said, "Do
not let me down."
Like -- as we all did that day -- (applause) -- as we
all did that day, these men and women searching through
the rubble took it personally. I took it personally. I
have a responsibility that goes on. I will never relent
in bringing justice to our enemies. I will defend the security
of the American people, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
I've also been witness to the great character of this
country. I've seen the unselfish courage of our troops.
I've seen the heroism of Americans in the face of danger.
I've seen the spirit of service and compassion renewed
in our country. And we've all seen our nation unite in
common purpose when it mattered most. We will need all
these qualities for the work ahead. We have a war to win,
and the world is counting on us to lead the cause of freedom
and peace. We have a duty to spread opportunity to every
part of America. This is the work that history has set
before us. We welcome it. And we know that for our blessed
country, the best days lie ahead.
Thanks for coming. God bless. May God bless you all. Thank
you all. (Applause.)