FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
in Grand Rapids
July 30, 2004 • Grand Rapids, MI
Thank you, all. I appreciate
you coming. Sit down if you've got a chair. (Applause.)
I'm proud you're here; thanks for inviting me. (Applause.)
You can't come to Grand Rapids and not think about a great
President, Gerald Ford. (Applause.) What a decent man.
What an honorable citizen. And what a great example for
I appreciate you coming out for our Heart and Soul of
America tour. This is going to be a great campaign; I'm
looking forward to it. And there is going to be big differences.
We'll have differences over taxes, how to keep the peace.
And there seems to be a difference over the heart and soul
of America. My opponents think you can find it in Hollywood.
I think you find it right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I'm excited about traveling the country. I was in Springfield,
Missouri earlier. I'm going to Cleveland, Ohio; Canton,
Ohio; on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania tomorrow. I like traveling.
I like being with people. The crowds are big. The enthusiasm
is high. And with your help, Dick Cheney and I will serve
this nation for four more years. (Applause.)
Speaking about my friend, Dick Cheney, I admit, he's not
the prettiest face in the race. (Laughter.) But I picked
him because he's steady and strong and reliable. He's got
good judgment. Dick Cheney is a great Vice President. (Applause.)
And speaking about really fine people, I am sorry that
Laura is not here.
THE AUDIENCE: Awww!
THE PRESIDENT: I know. (Laughter.) Most people feel that
way. They wish she were speaking and I stayed at home.
(Laughter.) But I'm really proud of her. She is a great
lady, a fantastic First Lady. (Applause.) I'm going to
give you some reasons why I think you need to put me back
in office, but perhaps the most important reason of all
is so that Laura will be First Lady for four more years.
I want to thank Juan Olivariz, for his leadership of this
very important institution. I appreciate a fellow Tejano
serving the community of Grand Rapids -- that means a fellow
Texan. (Laughter.) I appreciate his warm words of introduction.
Gracias, amigo. (Applause.)
I appreciate Hoekstra -- Peter Hoekstra for his service
in the United States Congress. I'm proud to call him friend.
(Applause.) And I appreciate my friend Vern Ehlers' service
to the people of Michigan in the United States Congress,
as well. (Applause.) I'm honored that Terri Lynn Land,
and Mike Cox, and Ken Sikkema are with us today. I've gotten
to know these good souls during my trips here in Michigan.
And they represent the state well. I appreciate Speaker
Rick Johnson joining us, as well; State Senator Bill Hardiman.
I'm honored that these good citizens have decided to serve
the people of the communities in the great state of Michigan.
I thank them for the hard work they have done and are going
to do to make sure we carry the state of Michigan this
I want to thank my friend Betsy DeVos, and Chuck Yob,
and Holly Hughes, and the ambassador, Peter Secchia. (Applause.)
I want to -- does it strike anybody funny, Ambassador Secchia?
No? (Laughter.) We love him in our family.
I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here.
I appreciate your willingness to work in the political
process. I encourage you to get people to register to vote.
Make sure people go to vote on Election Day. We have a
duty in our society -- in our democratic system, we have
a duty to participate. And I want to thank you for getting
people to participate. And when you get them headed into
the polls, give them a little nudge our way. (Laughter
Every incumbent who asks for the vote has got to answer
one central question, and that's: Why. Why should the American
people give me the privilege -- the high privilege of serving
as your President -- for four more years. In the past few
years we've been through a lot together, and we have accomplished
a great deal. (Applause.) But there's only one reason to
look backward at the record, and that is to determine who
will lead the nation forward, who can do the job for the
American people. I'm asking for your vote because so much
is at stake. We have much more to do to move this country
I want to be your President for four more years to make
our country safer, to make our economy stronger, to make
the future better and brighter for every single citizen
who lives in this ct. (Applause.) From creating jobs to
improving schools, from fighting terror to protecting our
homeland, we've made much progress, and I'm here to tell
you, we have got more to do. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make America's public schools the
centers of excellence we know they can be so that no child
is left behind in this country. When we came to office
three-and-a- half years ago, too many children were being
shuffled from grade to grade, year after year, without
learning the basics. So we've challenged the soft bigotry
of low expectations. We're setting high standards. We're
focusing on results. We're insisting on accountability.
We're empowering parents. And we're making sure local folks
are in charge of their own public schools. And today, children
across America are showing real progress in reading and
math. When it comes to improving America's public schools,
we are turning the corner and we are not turning back.
We have more to do. This world of ours is changing. Jobs
of the future will require greater knowledge and higher
skill levels. We must reform our high schools to make sure
a high school diploma means something. (Applause.) We will
expand math and science education so young people can compete
in a high-tech world. We will expand the use of the Internet
to bring high-level training into classrooms. With four
more years, we will help a rising generation gain the skills
and confidence to achieve the American Dream. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make quality health care available
and affordable. When we came to office, too many older
Americans could not afford prescription drugs, and Medicare
didn't pay for them. Leaders in both political parties
had promised prescription drug coverage for years. We got
it done. (Applause.) Already, more than 4 million seniors
have signed up for drug discount cards that provide real
savings. And beginning in 2006, all seniors on Medicare
will be able to choose a plan that suits their needs and
gives them coverage for prescription drugs.
We've expanded community health centers for low income
Americans. We've created health savings accounts so families
can save tax-free for their own health care needs. (Applause.)
When it comes to giving Americans more choices about their
own health care and making health care more affordable,
we are turning the corner and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
Most Americans get their health coverage through their
work. But today's new jobs are created by small businesses,
which too often cannot afford to provide health coverage.
To help more American families get health insurance, we
must allow small employers to join together to purchase
insurance at the discounts available to big corporations.
To improve health care, we must limit the frivolous lawsuits
that raise health care costs and drive doctors out of medicine.
(Applause.) We will do more to harness technology to reduce
costs and prevent health care mistakes. We will do more
to expand research and seek new cures for terrible diseases.
And in all we do to improve health care in America, we
will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors
and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
We have more to do to make America's economy stronger.
We've come through a lot together. We've come through a
recession and terrorist attacks and corporate scandals.
We overcame these obstacles, because the hard work of the
American people, because the entrepreneurial spirit is
strong, because people like our farmers and ranchers refuse
to buckle. We overcame these obstacles, as well, because
of two well-timed tax cuts. (Applause.) We didn't -- when
we provided tax relief, we didn't try to pick winners or
losers. We didn't play politics. We did it the fair way.
We provided tax relief to every American who pays taxes.
(Applause.) For families with children, for married couples,
for small businesses -- and this time, the check was really
in the mail. (Applause.)
Because we acted, our economy since last summer has grown
at a rate as fast as any in nearly 20 years. (Applause.)
Because we acted, America has added more than 1.5 million
new jobs since last August. (Applause.) We still face serious
challenges -- especially in places like western Michigan,
where the slow-down hit hard. I understand that. That's
why I'm going to keep working to help all sectors of our
economy recover. We will not rest until every American
who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.)
The cornerstone of our tax relief plan was help for small
businesses. Most new jobs in America are created by entrepreneurs
in small businesses. Today, I met Bob Roth again. He runs
a manufacturing company. He told me that business in this
part of the country is turning around, that people are
beginning to add jobs. As a matter of fact, his small business
hired nine workers in the past year. He tells me the reason
why is because he is confident about what tax relief means.
He says, we'll take fair advantage of any relief that is
possible; it helps us feel more confident about investing.
The small business sector of the country is leading the
growth for new jobs in America. (Applause.)
We can do more to make America more job friendly and America's
workplaces more family friendly. To keep American jobs
in America, regulations must be minimal, reasonable and
fair. To keep American jobs here, we must lessen our dependence
on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To keep American
jobs here, we must end the junk lawsuits that hurt small
businesses. (Applause.) To keep American jobs in America,
we will not overspend your money, and we will keep your
taxes low. (Applause.)
I met Audra and Brian van Haren. They're here today. These
good folks saved about $2,500 on their taxes in 2003 and
they're going to save another $2,500 on their taxes in
2004. That's what the tax relief provided. It's their own
money to begin with, by the way. (Applause.) It's not like
-- we're not passing the government's out. (Applause.)
These people worked hard for that money. They can spend
it better than the government can spend their money. (Applause.)
Some of the tax relief is set to expire, which means they'll
have to pay $1,100 more in taxes next year. Now is not
the time to be raising taxes on the working people of this
Over the next four years, we'll offer American workers
a lifetime of learning and help them get training for the
jobs of the future at places like our community colleges.
(Applause.) The education and training community colleges
offer can be the bridge between people's lives as they
are, and people's lives as they want them to be.
Today, I met Sarah Soles. She used to work as a part-time
receptionist at a doc's office. She went back to a community
college program. She's now a nurse. She makes more money
at steady employment because she found time to get more
training, and to get a new degree. The community college
system of America is vital in making sure America is a
competitive place in the world. (Applause.)
To make sure we continue to grow our economy and people
can find work, we will insist on a level playing field
when it comes to trade. This country can compete with anybody,
any time, anywhere with free and fair trade. (Applause.)
And we will help American families keep more of something
they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play
with the kids, time to go to the little league game, time
to take care of their parents, or to go to class to improve
themselves. I believe that Congress must enact comp-time
and flex-time to help America's families better juggle
the demands of work and home. (Applause.)
After four more years, our nation will have more small
businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit will be strong.
There will be greater opportunity, and better and higher
wages for the American workers. (Applause.)
We have more to do to wage and win the war against terror.
America's future depends on our willingness to lead in
the world. If America shows uncertainty and weakness 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: The world changed on a terrible September
morning. And since that day, we have changed the world.
Before September the 11th, Afghanistan served as the home
base of al Qaeda, which trained and deployed thousands
of killers to set up terrorist cells in dozens of countries,
including our own. Today, Afghanistan is a rising democracy,
an ally in the war on terror, a place where many young
girls now go to school for the first time, and America
and the world are safer. (Applause.)
Before September the 11th, Pakistan was a safe transit
point for terrorists. Today, Pakistani forces are aggressively
helping to round up the terrorists. They're an ally in
the war on terror, and America and the world are safer.
Before September the 11th, in Saudi Arabia, terrorists
were raising money and recruiting and operating with little
opposition. Today, the Saudi government has taken the fight
to al Qaeda, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.)
Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions
to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Today, because
America and our allies have sent a strong and clear message,
the leader of Libya has abandoned his pursuit of weapons
of mass destruction and America and the world are safer
for it. (Applause.)
Before September the 11th, the rule of Iraq was a sworn
enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing
weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's
sanctions. He had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction
against his own people. He harbored terrorists. He invaded
his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers.
He murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was
a source of great instability in the world's most volatile
region. He was a threat.
After September the 11th, we had to look at threats in
a new light. The lesson of September the 11th was we must
take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.)
The September the 11th Commission concluded that our institutions
of government had failed to imagine the horror of that
day. After September the 11th, we could not fail to imagine
that a brutal tyrant who hated America, had ties to terror,
had used weapons of mass destruction might use those weapons
or share his deadly capabilities with the terrorists. We
saw a threat. We looked at the intelligence and saw a threat.
The United States Congress, members of both political parties
-- including my opponent -- looked at the intelligence
and they saw a threat. (Applause.)
The United Nations looked at the intelligence and it saw
a threat and unanimously demanded a full accounting of
Saddam Hussein's weapons programs or he will face serious
consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he again refused
to comply. When he continued to deceive the weapons inspectors,
I had a decision to make: forget the lessons of September
the 11th and trust a madman, or defend the United States
of America. Given that choice, I will defend our country
every time. (Applause.)
Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. America and the
world are safer. (Applause.)
When it comes to fighting the threats of our world and
spreading peace, we're turning the corner and we're not
turning back. (Applause.) We have more to do. We will continue
to work with friends and allies around the world to aggressively
pursue the terrorist enemy and the foreign fighters in
Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. See, you can't talk
sense to them. You cannot negotiate with the terrorists.
They're cold-blooded killers. We must engage the enemy
so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
We will continue to lead the world with confidence and
moral clarity. We put together a strong coalition to help
us defeat terror. There are nearly 40 nations involved
in Afghanistan, some 30 nations involved in Iraq. I'll
continue to build alliances and work with our friends for
the cause of security and peace, but I will never turn
America's national security decisions over to leaders of
other nations. (Applause.)
We will keep our commitments to help Afghanistan and Iraq
become peaceful democratic societies. These two nations
are now governed by strong leaders, people committed to
freedom. People in Afghanistan and Iraq are stepping up
for their own security. They're willing to step up and
to fight those who want to stop the advance of a free society.
You know why? Because they want their children to grow
up in a peaceful world. (Applause.) Moms and dads in Iraq
and Afghanistan have great hopes for their children. They
want them to be educated. They want them to realize their
dreams. The people of those countries, the freedom-lovers
in those two countries can count on continued help from
America and our coalition.
You see, when we acted to protect our own security, we
promised to help deliver them from tyranny, to restore
their sovereignty, and to set them on the path to liberty.
And when America gives its word, America keeps its word.
In these crucial times, America's commitments are kept
by the men and women of our military. At bases across the
country and the world, I've had the privilege of meeting
with those who defend our country and sacrifice for our
security. I've seen their great decency and their unselfish
courage. Ladies and gentlemen, the cause of freedom is
in really good hands. (Applause.)
And we must make sure they have the full support of the
federal government. And that's why last September while
our troops were in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, I proposed
supplemental funding to support our military in their missions.
The legislation provided funding for body armor, and vital
equipment, for hazard pay, for health benefits, ammunition,
fuel, and spare parts. In the Senate, only a very small
-- what I would call out of the mainstream minority of
12 Senators voted against the legislation. Two of those
12 senators are my opponent and his running mate. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry tried to explain his vote
by saying this, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion,
before I voted against it." (Laughter.) End quote.
(Laughter.) He's had different explanations since then.
He said that he was proud that he and his running mate
voted against the funding, then he further said: the whole
thing is a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's nothing "complicated" about
supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
In the long run, our security is not guaranteed by force,
alone. We will work to change the conditions that give
rise to terror: poverty and hopelessness and resentment.
A free and peaceful Iraq, a free and peaceful Afghanistan
will be powerful examples in a neighborhood that is desperate
for freedom. (Applause.) Free countries do not export terror.
Free countries are peaceful countries. Free countries do
not stifle the dreams of their citizens by serving the
ideal of liberty. We're bringing hope to others and that
makes America more secure. By serving the ideal of liberty,
we're living out the ideals of this country. America knows
that freedom is not our gift to the world, freedom is the
Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.
We are turning the corner toward a more peaceful world
that we long for, and we're not turning back. (Applause.)
We have more to do to protect our country. Enemies who
hate us are still plotting to harm us; this is still a
dangerous time. I agree with the conclusion of the September
the 11th Commission, our homeland is safer, but we're not
yet safe. We've started the hard process of reform. We've
transformed our defenses, we're creating a new Department
-- we have created a new Department of Homeland Security.
We passed the Patriot Act, to give law enforcement tools
needed to track and bring terrorists to justice. (Applause.)
The mission of the FBI is now focused on preventing terrorism.
We've integrated intelligence and law enforcement better
than we ever have before. When it comes to better protecting
America, we're turning the corner, and we're not turning
There's more to do to better secure our ports and borders,
to train first responders to dramatically improve our intelligence
gathering capabilities. Reform won't be easy; it never
is in Washington. See, achieving it requires taking on
the entrenched interests in challenging the status quo.
It's not enough to advocate reform -- you have to be able
to get it done --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: -- because when it comes to reforming schools
to provide an excellent education for all our children,
results matter. When it comes to health care reforms to
give families more access and more choices, results matter.
When it comes to improving our economy and creating quality
jobs, results matter. When it comes to better securing
the homeland and fighting the forces of terror, results
matter. When it comes to choosing a President, results
This week, members of the other political party gathered
in Boston. There was a lot of clever speeches, and some
big promises. Listen, my opponent has got good intentions,
but intentions don't always translate to results. After
19 years in the U.S. Senate, my opponent has thousands
of votes, but few signature achievements. During eight
years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he voted to
cut the intelligence budget. Yet, he had no record of reforming
America's intelligence gathering capability. He's had no
significant record for reforming education or health care.
In fact, he and his running mate consistently opposed reforms
that limit the power of Washington, reforms that would
leave more power in the hands of the people.
My opponent has spent 20 years in the federal government,
and it appears he's concluded it's not big enough. (Laughter.)
He's proposed more than $2 trillion of additional spending,
and we're just getting started. The problem is, he hasn't
told us how he plans to pay for it. But you know how. You
can I can guess. It's an educated guess. After all, he's
had a history of voting to raise taxes. But we're going
to make it clear to him that raising taxes to fulfill all
his big promises will be the wrong medicine for America's
improving economy. (Applause.)
We have a difference of opinion. They share the old Washington
mind set: They will give the orders, and you will pay the
bills. But we're turned a corner, and we're not turning
This is a time of amazing change. It's an exciting period
of time. In our parents' generation moms usually stayed
at home while fathers worked for one company until retirement.
The company provided health care and training and a pension.
Many of our government programs and most basic systems
-- from health care, to Social Security, to the tax code
-- were set up based on those old assumptions.
Yet, our world today is different. Workers change jobs
and careers frequently. Oftentimes, both parents work.
Many times there's a single mom struggling to get ahead.
Most new jobs are created by the small businesses that
cannot afford to provide health care, or pension or training.
It is time to make the government work for America's families.
America's workers need their own health accounts that they
can carry with them from job to job. (Applause.) American
workers need pensions and retirement plans that they own,
that they control, that they can pass from one generation
to the next. (Applause.)
These reforms that make sure Americans stand on the side
of families and workers are based on this basic conviction:
The role of government is not to control or dominate the
lives of our citizens; the role of government is to help
our citizens gain the time and tools to make their own
choices and improve their own lives. (Applause.)
And that's why I'm working to usher in a new era of ownership
and opportunity in America. We want more people owning
their own homes. We want more people owning their own small
business. We want more people owning a piece of their retirement
plans. We want people owning and managing their own health
care accounts. When people own something, they have a vital
stake in the future of this great land. (Applause.)
Our belief in liberty and opportunity and the non-negotiable
demands of human dignity are things that will never change
in a rapidly changing world. In this changing world there
are just some things that will not change: The values we
try to live by -- courage and compassion and reverence
and integrity; the institutions that give us direction
and purpose -- our families, and our schools, and our religious
congregations. These values and institutions are fundamental
to our lives and to our future. And they deserve the respect
of government. (Applause.)
We stand for institutions like marriage and family, which
are the foundations of our society. (Applause.) We stand
for a culture of life in which every person matters, and
every person counts. (Applause.) We stand for judges who
faithfully interpret the law, instead of legislating from
the bench. (Applause.)
We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. Our
culture is changing from one that has said, if it feels
good do it, and, if you 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. (Applause.) If you're
a mom or a dad, 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. (Applause.) 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 ourselves. (Applause.)
The strength of this country is not our government. The
strength of this country is the heart and souls of the
American people. That's the true strength of America. (Applause.)
Today, I had the honor of saying hello to Dr. Peggy Curry.
She's the executive director of Grand Rapids Reach. The
reason I bring her up is one of the most important initiatives
over the next four years will be continue to expand the
faith-based program, to have government stand on the side
of faith programs, not against faith programs. (Applause.)
Dr. Curry's program distributes food to senior citizens.
It mentors. There's after-school programs. There's Christian
outreach. See, it's a program that understands that when
you help a person change their heart, you can help change
their lives. (Applause.) For those of you who are soldiers
in the army of compassion here in Grand Rapids and western
Michigan, thank you for your service. Thank you for helping
change America one heart, one soul at a time. (Applause.)
For all Americans, these years in our history will stand
apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation when
little is expected of its leaders. These aren't one of
those times. This is a period where we need resolve, firm
resolve and clear vision. 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.
It's a day that I will never forget. There were workers
in hard hats yelling at me, "Whatever it takes." I
remember a guy grabbing my arm, a firefighter or policeman,
I don't know which one, he had tears in his eyes and he
looked at me and said, "Do not let me down." (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 wake up every morning
thinking about how to better protect our country. I will
never relent in bringing justice to our enemies, whatever
it takes. (Applause.)
We have come through much together. We've done a lot of
hard work together. We're turning the corner. We're moving
America forward by extending freedom and peace around the
world, and we're moving our country forward by expanding
opportunity to every corner of this great land.
During the next four years, we will spread ownership and
opportunity so every single citizen has a shot at realizing
the great dream of this fantastic country. (Applause.)
We will pass the enduring values of our country to another
generation. We will prevail. With your support and your
prayers, I will be a leader America can count on in a time
of great change. (Applause.)
Four years ago, as I traveled this great country and came
to places like Grand Rapids, Michigan, asking for the vote,
I made a pledge to my fellow Americans, that if you honored
me with this great responsibility, I would uphold the dignity
and the honor of the office to which I had been elected,
so help me, God. (Applause.) And with your help, I will
do so for four more years.
Thank you all. God bless you all. Thank you all. (Applause.)