FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
in Las Vegas
October 14, 2004 • Las Vegas, NV
I appreciate it, thank you. (Applause.)
Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) I appreciate you
all being here. With only 19 days to the election, the
finish line is in sight. (Applause.) And Nevada will be
a part of a great nationwide victory in November, the 2nd.
I'm proud to be on stage with so many of the governors,
the nation's governors. I'm a member of the ex-governors
club. (Applause.) They'll be a member of that club one
day soon. (Laughter.) I know these folks really well --
they're hardworking, they bring people together to get
the job done in their states. They focus on results, and
that's what I've done as your President, and that's what
I'll do for four more years. (Applause.)
I want to thank our host, Governor Kenny Guinn, for his
hospitality. (Applause.) It wasn't very hard to get the
governors to come to Vegas -- (laughter) -- to begin a
road trip. The next two days they're going to travel our
country to tell people that leadership matters. (Applause.)
They're going to tell the people that the best way to make
sure America has strong and steady and principled leadership
is to put Dick Cheney and me back into office. (Applause.)
It's great to be in the home of the Running Rebels. (Applause.)
And that's what I'm doing -- I'm running and I'm not going
to stop until election day. (Applause.) Look, my only regret
is that Laura is not here to see this crowd. (Applause.)
She's right around the corner at the AARP convention. (Applause.)
So the convention said, send your best speaker. (Laughter
and applause.) When I married Laura, she said, fine, I'll
marry you, so long as I never have to give a speech. (Laughter.)
I said, okay, you got a deal. Fortunately, she didn't hold
me to that deal. (Applause.) When the people see her speak
they see a compassionate, strong, great First Lady. (Applause.)
I'm proud of my running mate, Dick Cheney. (Applause.)
He did a really good job in his debate. (Applause.) I admit
it, he doesn't have the -- he didn't have the waviest hair
there on the set. (Laughter.) I didn't pick him because
of his hairdo. (Laughter.) I picked him because of his
experience, his judgment, his ability to get the job done
for the American people. (Applause.)
After this we're going to Reno, and then we're going up
to Oregon, and I'm proud to be traveling with a great American
in John McCain. (Applause.) I like traveling with John.
We have a lot of fun. We laugh, we enjoy each other's company,
and we share something in common: We both love our nation.
I want to thank Senator John Ensign, the great Senator
from Nevada, for being here today. (Applause.) And Congressman
John Porter, make sure you put him back into office. (Applause.)
Congressman Jim Gibbons, from the northern part of this
state, is with us today, as well. Congressman, thanks for
coming. (Applause.) I want to thank all the state and local
officials who are here. I want to thank my friend, Lee
Greenwood, for entertaining the folks. (Applause.)
I particularly want to thank the grassroots activists
who are here, the people who are going to put up the signs
and make the phone calls. (Applause.) I'm here to thank
you in advance for what you're going to do over the course
of the next 19 days. (Applause.) You're going to tell people
they have a duty in our democracy to vote. Get them headed
to the polls. But don't overlook discerning Democrats,
people like Zell Miller. (Applause.) And when you get them
headed to the polls, tell them if they want a safer America,
a stronger America and a better America, to put me and
Dick Cheney back into office. (Applause.)
We had a great debate last night. (Applause.) Those debates,
all three debates clarified the differences in our records,
our approaches and our plans for the future. I'm proud
of my record. (Applause.) My opponent seemed to want to
avoid talking about his. My record is one of lowering taxes,
reforming education, providing prescription drugs to seniors,
improving our homeland protection and waging an aggressive
war against the terrorists. (Applause.)
The Senator's record is 20 years of out-of-the-mainstream
votes, without many significant reforms or results.
THE PRESIDENT: Our very different records are a window
into what we believe and what we'll do in the next four
years. The Senator believes in a bigger government; I believe
in more freedom and choices for our citizens. (Applause.)
The Senator believes government should dictate; I believe
you should make the decisions. (Applause.)
Sometimes it's a little hard to tell exactly what he believes
-- (laughter) -- because he tries to obscure his votes.
Take health care. Once again, last night, with a straight
face -- (laughter) -- the Senator tried to say his health
care plan is not a government plan. (Laughter.) Yet, 22
million new people will be enrolled in a government program
under his plan, the largest expansion of government health
care ever. Eighty percent of the newly-insured on his plan
would be placed on a government program like Medicaid.
The Senator claimed his plan would help small businesses
-- yet, a study conducted by small business groups this
week concluded Senator Kerry's plan is an over-priced albatross.
(Applause.) I have a different view. I want to make health
care more available and affordable by helping small businesses,
not saddling them with a bunch of government rules. (Applause.)
And once again, with a straight face, the Senator, shall
we say, refined his answer on the proposed global test
he would administer before acting to defend America.
THE PRESIDENT: After trying to say it wasn't really a
test at all, last night he once again defended his approach,
saying, I think it makes sense. (Laughter.) The Senator
now says we have to pass some international truth standard.
Those are his words. The truth is, we should never turn
over America's national security decisions to international
bodies or leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
In the last few years, the American people have gotten
to know me. They know my blunt way of speaking. (Applause.)
I get that from Mom. (Applause.) They know I sometimes
mangle the English language. (Laughter.) I get that from
Dad. (Laughter.) Americans also know that I tell you exactly
what I'm going to do and I keep my word. (Applause.)
When I came into office, the stock market had been in
serious decline for six months. The American economy was
sliding into a recession. To help families, and get this
economy growing again, I pledged to reduce taxes. I kept
my word, and the results are clear. (Applause.) The recession
was one of the shallowest in American history. Over the
last three years, our economy has grown at the fastest
rate of any major industrialized nation. (Applause.) In
the past 13 months, we've added 1.9 million new jobs. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate in America is at 5.4 percent, lower
than the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate in Nevada is 4 percent. (Applause.)
The mining sector is strong. Farm and ranch income is up.
More people are owning their own home.
We're moving forward, and there is much more to do. (Applause.)
To make sure quality jobs are created in America and to
make sure people can find work, America must be the best
place in the world to do business. (Applause.) That means
we need to reduce the regulations on our job creators.
We must end junk lawsuits, which are threatening the small
businesses which create most new jobs. (Applause.)
To keep jobs here, Congress needs to pass my energy plan.
My plan encourages conservation, encourages the use of
renewables like ethanol and biodiesel. It encourages new
technologies. It encourages clean coal technology. It increases
domestic production. To keep jobs here, our nation must
become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
To protect jobs and communities in the West, we need to
reduce the risk of devastating wildfires. That's why I
was proud to sign the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. (Applause.)
Under this good law, we are cleaning the underbrush that
serves as fuel for fires. Because we acted, our forests
are healthier, residents and small businesses are safer,
and people across the West are better off. (Applause.)
To create jobs, we need to reject economic isolationism
and open up markets around the world for U.S. product.
Americans can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere,
so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.) To create jobs,
we need to be wise about how we spend your money and keep
your taxes low. (Applause.)
My opponent has his own history on the economy.
THE PRESIDENT: In 20 years as a Senator from Massachusetts,
he's built up quite a record -- of a Senator from Massachusetts.
(Laughter.) He's voted to raise taxes 98 times.
THE PRESIDENT: That is a vote for a tax increase about
five times every year.
THE PRESIDENT: I think that qualifies as a pattern. (Laughter.)
He can run from his record, but he cannot hide. (Applause.)
Now he's promising not to raise taxes for anyone who earns
less than $200,000 a year. The problem is, to keep that
promise, he would have to break almost all of his other
ones. (Laughter.) His plan to raise taxes in the top two
income brackets would raise about $600 billion. But his
spending promises will cost about four times that much,
more than $2.2 trillion. That's with a "T." (Laughter.)
That's a lot even for somebody from Massachusetts. (Laughter.)
See, you can't have it both ways. To pay for all the big
spending promises he made, he'll have to raise your taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: The choice in this election is clear. (Applause.)
My opponent has a history of voting for higher taxes, and
he promised to raise them in this campaign. And that's
the kind of promise a Washington politician usually keeps.
(Laughter.) I believe our families and our economy are
better off when Americans keep more of what they earn.
We will keep your taxes low. (Applause.)
When I came into office, the public schools had been waiting
for decades for hopeful reform. Too many of our children
were shuffled through school without learning the basics.
I pledged to restore accountability to the schools and
end the soft bigotry of low expectations, and I kept my
word. (Applause.) Seeing the results -- our children are
making sustained gains in reading and math. We're closing
the achievement gap for minority students. We're making
progress for our families. We will leave no child behind.
To build a more hopeful America, we must have the best-prepared
and most highly-skilled work force in the world. Most new
jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college
education; yet only about one in four of our students gets
there. So we'll fund early intervention programs in our
high schools to help at-risk students. We'll place a new
focus on math and science. Over time, we'll require a rigorous
examination before graduation from high school. By raising
performance in our high schools, and by expanding Pell
grants for low- and middle-income families, we'll help
more Americans start their career with a college diploma.
My opponent has a history on education issues -- a history
of doing almost nothing. (Laughter.) The Senator has pledged
to weaken the No Child Left Behind Act.
THE PRESIDENT: He has proposed diluting the accountability
standards and looking at measures like teacher attendance
to judge whether students are learning.
THE PRESIDENT: His proposals would undermine the high
standards and accountability we worked hard to pass. We're
moving beyond the old days of failure and mediocrity and
low standards, and we're not going to go back. (Applause.)
When I came to office, we had a problem in Medicare --
medicine was changing, but Medicare wasn't. For example,
Medicare would pay tens of thousands of dollars for heart
surgery, but wouldn't pay a dime for the prescription drugs
that could prevent the heart surgery from being needed
in the first place. It didn't make any sense for our seniors,
and it didn't make any sense for out taxpayers. I pledged
to bring Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen
and modernize Medicare for our seniors, and I kept my word.
(Applause.) The results are clear. Seniors are already
getting discounts on medicines, and beginning in 2006,
all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage
under Medicare. (Applause.)
We're moving forward on health care, and there's much
more to do. We need to make health care more affordable
and more available for all our people. We need a safety
net for those with the greatest needs. I believe in community
health centers, places where the poor and the indigent
can get care. In a new term, we'll make sure every poor
county in America has a community health center. (Applause.)
We need to do more to make sure more children are fully
subscribed in our programs for low-income families. We
must do more to make sure health care is affordable. You
know, most of the uninsured are employees of small businesses.
Small businesses have trouble affording health care. To
help more workers get health care we should allow small
businesses to join together, so they can buy insurance
at the same discounts that big companies do. (Applause.)
To make sure health care is affordable, we have got to
expand health savings accounts, so workers in small businesses
are able to pay lower premiums and people can save tax-free
in a health care account they call their own. (Applause.)
To make sure health care is available and affordable, we
have got to do something about the junk lawsuits that are
running up the costs of your health care. (Applause.) All
the lawsuits force doctors to practice defensive medicine,
which costs our government about $28 billion a year. They
cost our nation's economy anywhere from $60 billion to
$100 billion. The lawsuits drive up insurance premiums,
which drive good doctors out of practice.
Today I met Dr. James Barber. Three years ago Dr. Barber
paid $27,000 in insurance premiums as an OB/GYN in Henderson.
Last year's premiums would have been more than $100,000.
He had to stop delivering babies in Nevada. He's now practicing
in California, where they have reasonable medical liability
laws. His premiums in California are $33,000, 70 percent
of what they would cost in Nevada.
I also met one of his former patients, Nicole Byrne. She
said Dr. Barber saved her life during a previous pregnancy.
Now she's pregnant again, and she is devastated that Dr.
Barber won't be able to deliver her babies. Nicole and
Dr. Barber understand that you cannot be pro-patient and
pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. (Applause.)
You have to choose. My opponent made his choice, and he
put a trial lawyer on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice. I'm standing with the
docs and patients. I am for medical liability reform now.
The choice in this election is clear. My opponent wants
to move in the direction of government-run health care.
I believe health decisions ought to be made by doctors
and patients, not by officials in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
I've set out policies that move America toward a positive
and optimistic vision. I believe our country can, and must,
be an ownership society. There's a saying that no one ever
washes a rental car. (Laughter.) There's a lot of wisdom
in that statement. (Laughter.) When you own something,
you care about it, and you have a vital stake in the future
of our country.
So we're encouraging entrepreneurship, because every time
a small business is started, someone is achieving the American
Dream. (Applause.) We're encouraging health savings accounts,
so people have the security of owning their own health
care plan. We're promoting home ownership. More and more
Americans own a home today. I love it when somebody opens
the door of the place they live and says, welcome to my
home; welcome to my piece of property. (Applause.)
In a new term, I will take the next great step to build
an ownership society by strengthening Social Security.
(Applause.) Our Social Security system needs fixing. First,
we'll make sure we keep the promise to those who are on
Social Security today. I remember in the 2000 campaign,
those ads saying, if George W. gets elected, they're going
to take away your check. Our seniors got their checks.
(Applause.) Nobody is going to take away our seniors' checks.
(Applause.) Baby boomers like me are going to be just fine
when it comes to Social Security. But our children and
our grandchildren are understandably worried about whether
Social Security will be around when they need it, and we
need to be concerned about them.
For their sake, we must strengthen Social Security by
allowing younger workers to save some of their payroll
taxes in a personal account that Washington politicians
can never take away. (Applause.) My opponent wants to maintain
the status quo when it comes to Social Security.
THE PRESIDENT: That is unacceptable. He's against Social
Security -- these Social Security reforms. And he's just
about against just about every other reform that gives
more authority and control to individuals. On issue after
issue, from Medicare without choices to schools with less
accountability to higher taxes, he takes the side of more
centralized control and more bureaucracy. There's a word
for that attitude -- it's called liberalism. (Applause.)
Now, he dismisses that as a label. Must have seen it differently
when he said to a newspaper, I'm a liberal and proud of
Others have noticed. The nonpartisan National Journal
Magazine did a study and named him the most liberal member
of the United States Senate. And that's saying something.
(Laughter.) Another group known as the Americans for Democratic
Action have given Senator Kerry a higher lifetime liberal
rating than Senator Ted Kennedy. And that's an accomplishment.
THE PRESIDENT: See, I have a different record and a different
philosophy. I don't believe in big government and I don't
believe in indifferent government. I am a compassionate
conservative; I believe in policies that empower people
to improve their lives, not try to run their lives. (Applause.)
In this time of change, some things do not change -- those
are the values we try to live by, courage and compassion,
reverence and integrity. In changing times, we will support
the institutions that give our lives direction and purpose
-- our families, our schools, our religious congregations.
We stand for a culture of life in which every person matters
and every being counts. (Applause.) We stand for marriage
and family, which are the foundations of our society. (Applause.)
We stand for the appointment of federal judges who know
the difference between personal opinion and the strict
interpretation of the law. (Applause.)
My opponent's words on these issues are a little muddy,
but his record is plenty clear. (Laughter.) He says he
supports the institution of marriage, but he voted against
the Defense of Marriage Act, which a bipartisan Congress
overwhelmingly passed, and my predecessor signed into law.
He voted against the ban on the brutal practice of partial
THE PRESIDENT: He called himself the candidate of conservative
values, but he has described the Reagan years as a time
of moral darkness.
THE PRESIDENT: There is a mainstream in American politics,
and my opponent sits on the left bank. (Applause.) He can
run, but he cannot hide. (Applause.)
This election will also determine how America responds
to the continuing danger of terrorism. I believe the most
solemn duty of the American President is to protect the
American people. (Applause.) If America shows uncertainty
or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward
tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. (Applause.)
Since that terrible morning, since that terrible morning
of September the 11th, 2001, we have fought the terrorists
across the Earth -- not for pride, not for power, but because
the lives of our citizens are at stake. (Applause.) Our
strategy is clear. We will defend the homeland; we'll strengthen
our intelligence services; we'll transform the all-volunteer
army -- and we'll keep it an all-volunteer army. (Applause.)
We will stay on the offensive. We will strike the terrorists
abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
We will continue to spread freedom and liberty. And we
will prevail. (Applause.)
Our strategy is succeeding. Think about the world as it
was three-and-a-half years ago. Afghanistan was the home
base of al Qaeda. Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist
groups. Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising.
Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Iraq was a
dangerous place and a gathering threat. And al Qaeda was
largely unchallenged as it planned attacks.
Because we acted, Afghanistan is a free nation, fighting
terror. And last Saturday, the people of Afghanistan voted
for a President. (Applause.) Pakistan is capturing terrorist
leaders; Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests; Libya
is dismantling its weapons programs; the army of a free
Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters
of al Qaeda's leaders and associates have been brought
to justice. (Applause.)
We've got an aggressive strategy to keep us safe. And
we'll stand with the people of a free Afghanistan and Iraq.
Think about what happened in Afghanistan. It wasn't all
that long ago that the Taliban ran that country. Young
girls couldn't even go to school. They were not only harboring
terrorists, they had this dark ideology of hate. And people
showed up in droves to vote. Freedom is powerful. People
have gone from darkness to light, because of liberty. (Applause.)
The first voter in the Afghan presidential election was
a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.)
Iraq is headed toward elections. See, free societies in
the Middle East will be hopeful societies, which no longer
feed resentments and breed violence for export. Free governments
in the Middle East will fight the terrorists, instead of
harboring them. And that helps us keep the peace. Our mission
is clear: We'll help the countries train their armies and
their police, so they can do the hard work of defending
democracy. (Applause.) We'll help them get on the path
to stability and democracy as quickly as possible, then
our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.
We have got a great United States military. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the veterans who are here for having
set such a great example for those who wear today's uniform.
(Applause.) I want to thank the military families who are
with us today for their sacrifices. (Applause.) And I want
to assure the families, we'll keep the commitment I made
to our troops -- we will make sure they have all the resources
they need to complete their missions.
And that's why I went to the United States Congress in
September of 2003 and asked for an $87 billion supplemental
request, money necessary to support those troops in Afghanistan
and Iraq. We received great bipartisan support. As a matter
of fact, only 12 United States senators voted against the
supplemental request, the funding, two of whom are my opponent
and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: When you're out gathering the vote, remind
your fellow citizens that only four United States senators
voted to authorize the use of force and then against sending
the money to support them in harm's way. Two of whom --
two of those four are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: You might remember my opponent's famous
quote, when asked about that vote. He said, I actually
did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, he's given a lot of explanations since
that one. One of the most interesting ones is when he finally
said, well, the whole thing is a complicated matter. (Laughter.)
There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops
in combat. (Applause.)
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I
believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence
for their freedom. I believe women want to grow up in a
free society and raise their children in a free society.
(Applause.) I believe that if given a chance, the people
of the Middle East will embrace the most honorable form
of government ever devised by man. I believe all these
things because freedom is not America's gift to the world,
freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman
in this world. (Applause.)
For all Americans, these years in our history will always
stand apart. You know, there are quiet times in the life
of a nation when little is expected of its leaders. This
isn't one of those times. It's a time that requires firm
resolve and clear vision, and a deep faith in the values
that makes us a great nation.
None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended
and another began. September the 14th, 2001, I stood in
the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget.
There were workers in hard hats yelling at me at the top
of their lungs, "Whatever it takes." (Applause.)
Governor Pataki was with me. (Applause.) He knows -- he
remembers those workers and those police and firefighters
coming out of the rubble, bloodshot eyes. A guy grabbed
me by the arm, and he said, "Do not let me down." Ever
since that day, I wake up every morning trying to figure
out how best to defend this country. I will never relent
in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
Four years ago, when I traveled your state, asking for
the vote, I made this pledge: If you gave me a chance to
serve, I would uphold the honor and the dignity of the
office to which I had been elected. With your help, I will
do so for four more years. (Applause.)
God bless. Thanks for coming. Thank you all. (Applause.)