FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
October 21, 2004 • Hershey, PA
Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all
for coming. (Applause.) So he said, a couple of hundred
people might show up if you came. (Applause.) I came; thousands
are here; and I'm grateful. (Applause.) You know what this
tells me -- with your help, we will carry Pennsylvania
on November the 2nd. (Applause.)
Listen, we have a duty in our country to vote. And I'm
asking you to turn to your friends and neighbors, go to
your coffee shops, your houses of worship, your community
centers, and tell people that we have a duty. And as you
get people going to the polls, don't overlook discerning
Democrats, people like Senator Zell Miller from Georgia.
(Applause.) Our message is for everybody: If you want a
safer America, a stronger America, and a better America,
put me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. I am so grateful
so many came. It means a lot. My only regret is that Laura
is not here to see this crowd. (Applause.) She was a public
school librarian when I met her for the second time. See,
we went to the 7th grade together, San Jacinto Junior High
in Midland, Texas. When I met her the second time, and
I finally asked her to marry me, she said, fine, just 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 promise. She's giving a lot of speeches, and when
she does, the American people see a compassionate, strong,
great First Lady. (Applause.) She is not with me today,
but one of our twin daughters, Barbara, has come. (Applause.)
Thank you for coming, baby. There's nothing better than
campaigning for a President with a daughter you love. (Applause.)
I'm proud of my Vice President, Dick Cheney. (Applause.)
Now, look, I admit it, he does not have the waviest hair
in the race. (Laughter.) I did not pick him because of
his hairdo. (Laughter.) I picked him because of his experience,
his judgment. I picked him because he can get the job done.
I am proud to have been introduced to this great crowd
by Major Dick Winters. (Applause.) An American hero who
commanded Easy Company in World War II. (Applause.) I want
to thank Congressman Todd Platts for joining us today.
I'm proud you're here, Congressman. I want to thank the
folks who are here from the statehouse and local office.
I'm here to say as clearly as I can that Scott Paterno
needs to be the next congressman from the 17th congressional
district. (Applause.) I appreciate Tom Corbett, who is
going to be the next attorney general; and Jean Craige
Pepper, who's running for treasurer. (Applause.)
But most of all, I want to thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
It's getting close to voting time. (Applause.) It's time
to crank up the phones. It's time to put up the signs.
(Applause.) It is time to carry Pennsylvania. (Applause.)
In the last few years, the people have come to know me.
They know my blunt way of speaking -- I get that from my
mother. They know I mangle the English language sometimes
-- I get that from my dad. (Laughter.) Americans also know
I tell you exactly what I'm going to do, and I keep my
When I came into office, the stock market had been in
serious decline for six months, and the American economy
was sliding into a recession. To help families and to get
this economy growing again, I pledged to reduce taxes.
I kept my word. (Applause.) The results are clear. The
recession was one of the shallowest in American history.
Over the last three years our economy has grown at rates
as fast as any in nearly 20 years. The home ownership rate
in America is at an all-time high. (Applause.) The past
13 months, we've added 1.9 million new jobs. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate across our country is 5.4 percent
-- lower than the average rates of the 1970s, 1980s, and
the 1990s. (Applause.) Farm income is up. This economy
is moving forward, and we're not going to go back to the
days of tax and spend. (Applause.)
To make sure jobs are here in America, to make sure people
can find work, America must be the best place in the world
to do business. That means less regulations on our job
creators. That means we got to do something about these
frivolous lawsuits that are plaguing small business owners.
(Applause.) To keep jobs here in America, Congress needs
to pass my energy plan. (Applause.) It's a plan that encourages
conservation, and encourages renewables. It's a plan that
encourages clean coal technology. It is a plan that recognizes,
to keep jobs in America, we must be less dependent on foreign
sources of energy. (Applause.) To keep jobs here in America,
we must open up markets for U.S. products. Listen, we can
compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere so long as the
rules are fair. (Applause.)
To make sure this economy continues to grow, we got to
be wise about how we spend your money and keep the taxes
low. (Applause.) Taxes are an issue in this campaign. Now,
my opponent has his own history on the economy.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. In 20 years as a senator from Massachusetts,
he's built a record -- of a senator from Massachusetts.
(Applause.) He's voted -- he has voted to raise taxes 98
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. He voted to tax Social Security benefits.
THE PRESIDENT: Ninety-eight times in 20 years, that's
about five times a year -- I would call that a predictable
pattern. See, he can run from his record, but he cannot
Now, he's promising not to raise taxes for anyone who
earns less than $200,000 a year. He said that with a straight
face. (Laughter.) The problem is to keep that promise,
he'd have to break all his other promises. He has promised
$2.2 trillion in new federal spending -- that's trillion
with a "T." And so, they said, how are you going
to pay for it, and he said, fine, he's just going to raise
taxes on the rich. Now, you've heard that before. When
he tries to raise taxes on the rich, that raises between
$600 billion and $800 billion. There's a gap between what
he's promised and how he says he's going to pay for it.
And guess who usually gets to fill the gap. AUDIENCE: Booo!
THE PRESIDENT: There's something else wrong with the tax
the rich slogan. The rich hire lawyers and accountants
for a reason -- to slip the bill and pass it to you. We
are not going to let him tax you. We will carry Pennsylvania
and win on November the 2nd. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: When I came into office our public schools
had been waiting decades for hopeful reform. Too many of
our children were being shuffled through school without
learning the basics. I pledged to restore accountability
in the school and to challenge the soft bigotry of low
expectations. I kept my word. (Applause.) We passed the
No Child Left Behind Act and we're seeing results. Our
children are making sustained gains in reading and math.
We're closing achievement gaps all around this country,
and we're not going to go back the days of low standards
and accepted mediocrity. (Applause.)
When I came into office we had a problem in Medicare.
Medicine was changing, but Medicare was not. For example,
we'd pay hundreds -- tens of thousands of dollars for heart
surgery, but not one dime for the prescription drugs that
could prevent the heart surgery from being needed in the
first place. That did not make any sense to our seniors.
It wasn't right. I pledged to bring Republicans and Democrats
together to strengthen and modernize Medicare; I kept my
word. (Applause.) Seniors are getting discounts on medicine.
And beginning in 2006, all seniors will be able to get
prescription drug coverage under Medicare. (Applause.)
We got more to do on health care. We got to make sure
health care is available and affordable. We'll have a safety
net for those with the greatest needs. That's why I believe
in community health centers for the poor and the indigent.
We'll do more to make sure poor children are fully subscribed
in our programs for low-income families. Most of the uninsured
in America work for small businesses. Small businesses
are having trouble affording health care. To enable small
businesses to afford health care we must allow them to
pool together so they can buy insurance at the same discount
big businesses get to do. (Applause.)
We will expand health savings accounts so workers and
small businesses are able to pay lower premiums and people
can save, tax-free, in an health care account they manage
and call their own. (Applause.) To make sure health care
is available and affordable, we have to do something about
the frivolous lawsuits that are running up the cost of
medicine and running good doctors out of practice. (Applause.)
You have a problem here in the state of Pennsylvania because
of these junk lawsuits. You're losing too many good docs.
Too many OB/GYNs are leaving the practice. Too many pregnant
women are wondering whether or not they're going to get
the health care they need in order to bring their child
into this world. The system is broken. You cannot be pro-doctor,
pro-patient and pro-personal injury lawyer at the same
time. (Applause.) You have to make a choice. My opponent
put a personal injury lawyer on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: He voted against medical liability reform
ten times. I'm standing with the doctors. I'm standing
with the patients. I'm standing with the people of Pennsylvania.
I'm for medical liability reform now. (Applause.)
I laid out a health care plan that's sensible and reasonable.
Now, my opponent has got his health care plan of his own.
And it's a plan for bigger government.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, the other day in the debate, he looked
right in the camera again and he said this about his health
care plan -- "The government has nothing to do with
it." I remember him saying that. I was standing right
there. (Laughter.) I could barely contain myself. (Applause.)
The government has got a lot to do with his health care
plan. Eight out of ten Americans would end up on a government
health insurance program. Eight million Americans would
lose their private health insurance at work, and most would
go on a government plan. He says his plan helps small businesses.
That's what -- that's not what small business groups think.
They called it an overpriced albatross that would saddle
small businesses with 225 new mandates.
I have a different view. We've got to help small businesses
afford insurance, not saddle them with a bunch of rules
of regulations from Washington, D.C. (Applause.) In all
we do to reform health care, I believe the health decisions
need to be made by doctors and patients, not by officials
in our Nation's Capital. (Applause.)
I'll continue to set out policies for an optimistic and
hopeful America. I believe this country should be an ownership
society. There's a saying -- there's a saying, no one ever
washes a rental car. (Laughter.) There's a lot of wisdom
in that statement. When you own something, you care about
it. When you own something in America, you care about the
future of our country. (Applause.) That's why -- that's
why we promote entrepreneurship in this administration.
Every time a small business is started in America, somebody
is achieving the American Dream. (Applause.)
We're encouraging health savings accounts so people have
the security of owning and managing their own health care
account. We're encouraging home ownership. Listen, more
and more people are able to open the door where they live
and say, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece of property
-- and America is better off for it. (Applause.)
In a new term, we'll take the next step to build an ownership
society by strengthening Social Security. Now, let me speak
to the seniors who are here. You remember the 2000 campaign
when they were running the TV ads that said if George W.
gets elected, the seniors will not get their checks. That's
old-style scare politics. I want you to remind your friends
and neighbors, they got their checks. They'll continue
to get their checks. And baby boomers like me are in pretty
good shape when it comes to the Social Security trust fund.
But we need to worry about our children and our grandchildren.
See, we need to worry about whether or not the Social Security
trust will be solvent when they need help in retirement.
I think younger workers ought to be allowed to take some
of their payroll taxes and set up a personal savings account
that earns a better rate of return, an account they call
their own, an account the government cannot take away.
When it comes to Social Security, as you heard the other
night in the debates, my opponent wants to maintain the
THE PRESIDENT: The job of a President is to confront problems,
not pass them on to future generations or future Presidents.
(Applause.) He's against the Social Security reforms I
laid out, and he's against about every other reform that
gives more authority and control to the individual. On
issue after issue, from Medicare without choices to schools
with less accountability to raising taxes, he takes the
side of more centralized control and more government. There
is a word for that attitude. There is a word for that philosophy.
It is called liberalism. (Applause.)
Now, he dismisses that word as a label. He must have seen
it differently when he said, I'm a liberal and proud of
it. (Laughter.) The others have noticed, as well. There's
a nonpartisan National Journal magazine that did a study
and named him the most liberal member of the United States
Senate. That takes a lot of hard work in that bunch. (Laughter.)
Can you imagine being more liberal than Ted Kennedy?
THE PRESIDENT: He can run -- he can even run in camo --
but he cannot hide. (Applause.)
I have a different record. I have a different philosophy.
I do not believe in big government and I do not believe
government should be indifferent. I'm what I call a compassionate
conservative. I believe in policies that empower people
to improve their lives, not try to run their lives. We'll
continue to help men and women all across this country
find the skills and tools they need to prosper in a time
of change -- skills and tools necessary to realize the
great promise of our country. That's how I have led, and
that's how I will continue to lead for four more years.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: 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. (Applause.) 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 Second Amendment
which protects every Americans individual right to bear
arms. (Applause.) We stand for the appointment of federal
judges who know the difference between personal opinion
and the strict interpretation of the law.
My opponent's words on these issues are a little muddy,
but his record is plenty clear. He says he supports the
institution of marriage, but voted against the Defense
of Marriage Act. AUDIENCE: Booo!
THE PRESIDENT: He voted against the ban on the brutal
practice of partial birth abortion.
THE PRESIDENT: He called the Reagan years as a period
of moral darkness.
THE PRESIDENT: There is a mainstream in American politics,
and my opponent sits on the far left bank. (Applause.)
During this campaign, 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 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. Our strategy is clear. We are defending the
homeland. I thank the first responders who are here with
us today. (Applause.) We're strengthening our intelligence.
We're transforming our military. We will not have a draft.
The all-volunteer army will remain an all-volunteer army.
(Applause.) We are staying on the offensive. We will strike
the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here
at home. (Applause.) We will spread freedom and liberty,
and we will prevail.
Our strategy is succeeding. Think about the world, the
way it was some three-and-a-half years ago -- think about
this. 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 horrific attacks.
Because the United States of America led, Afghanistan
is an ally in the war on terror and is now a free nation
-- (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 its country's freedom; and more than three-quarters
of al Qaeda's associates and members have been brought
to justice. (Applause.)
We are standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
I want the youngsters here to understand what has taken
place -- (applause) -- what has taken place during a brief
period of your life. It wasn't all that long ago that young
girls couldn't go to school in Afghanistan. It wasn't all
that long ago that their mothers were taken into the public
square and whipped because they wouldn't toe the line of
these ideologues of hate called the Taliban. It wasn't
all that long ago that the people of that country lived
in darkness. Because we acted in our own self-interest,
because we acted to destroy the al Qaeda terrorists training
camps, because we worked to secure ourselves, 25 million
people live in freedom. They had presidential elections
a couple of weekends ago in Afghanistan. (Applause.) The
first voter in Afghanistan was a 19-year-old girl. (Applause.)
Freedom is on the march, and the people of Afghanistan
have gone from darkness to light. (Applause.)
The people of Iraq will be voting for a President in January.
Think how far that society has come from the day of torture
chambers and mass graves. It's in our interest that we
spread freedom. Free societies 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. Freedom will
help us keep the peace we all want. Freedom is on the move,
and America is more secure for it. (Applause.)
So our mission is clear. Our mission is clear. We will
help these countries train armies and police forces and
security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq so they can do
the hard work of defending their freedom, so they can stand
up and fight these terrorists who are trying to stop the
advance of freedom. We'll help the countries get on the
path of stability and democracy as quickly as possible,
and then our troops will come home with the honor they
have earned. (Applause.)
We have a great United States military, because those
who wear the uniform are people of such great character
and service and duty and honor. (Applause.) And I want
to thank the veterans who are here today for having set
such a great example for those who wear the uniform. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the military families who are here
for the sacrifices you have made. (Applause.) And I assure
you, we'll keep the commitment we have made to the troops
and their families. They will have the resources they need
to complete their missions.
That's why I went to the Congress in September of 2003
and asked for $87 billion of supplemental funding to support
our troops in harm's way. I received great bipartisan support.
Your Senators Senator Specter and Santorum, voted with
me on that bill. (Applause.) It was an important piece
of legislation. Most people up in Congress understood how
important it was. As a matter of fact, only 12 members
of the United States Senate voted against funding for our
troops -- two of who were my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I want to tell you another startling
statistic. When you're out gathering the vote, I want to
tell you another startling statistic, a true fact. There
were only four members of the United States Senate, four
out of a hundred, that had voted to authorize the use of
force and then voted against the funding to support our
troops in harm's way -- two of whom are my opponent and
his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: So they asked him how he could have made
that vote. They asked him how he could have made that vote.
And you might remember perhaps the most famous quote of
the 2004 campaign. Here is what he said -- "I actually
did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
THE PRESIDENT: They kept asking him and he kept answering
-- he must have given five or six different explanations.
One of the most interesting ones of all is he finally said
the whole thing was a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's
nothing complicated about supporting our troops in harm's
All elections come down to a choice, and in this, America's
first presidential election since September the 11th, the
security of our country as at risk in many ways different
than we have ever faced before. We're in the midst of a
global war against a well-trained, highly motivated enemy,
an enemy that has no conscience. An enemy that hates Americans
because of the very freedoms we love. The next commander-in-chief
must lead us to victory in this war. Yet, you cannot win
a war when you do not believe you are fighting one. (Applause.)
Senator Kerry was recently asked how September the 11th
had changed him. And he replied this: "It did not
change me much at all." End quote.
THE PRESIDENT: His unchanged world becomes obvious when
he calls the war against terror primarily an intelligence
and law enforcement operation, rather than a war which
requires the full use of American strength. Senator Kerry's
top foreign policy advisor questioned this is even a war
at all. And here's what he said: "We're not in a war
on terror in a literal sense. It's like saying 'the war
on poverty' -- it's just a metaphor." End quote. It's
a different mind-set, a different attitude. Confusing food
programs with terrorist killings reveals a fundamental
misunderstanding of the world we live in, of the world
we face. And this is very dangerous thinking.
Senator Kerry also misunderstands our battle against insurgents
and terrorists in Iraq. He called Iraq a diversion from
the war on terror. Let me talk about the case of one terrorist
to show you how wrong this thinking is. The terrorist leader
we face today in Iraq, the one responsible for car bombings
and beheadings of Americans, is a man named Zarqawi. Zarqawi
ran a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan until our
military arrived. He then went to Iraq. He received medical
care in Iraq. He plotted and planned in Iraq. To confirm
where he's coming from, just the other day Zarqawi announced
his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. If Zarqawi and his associates
were not busy fighting American forces in Iraq, does my
opponent think they would be living peaceful and productive
lives? Course not. That's why Iraq is not a diversion,
but a central commitment in the war on terror. (Applause.)
The Senator the other day talked about the need for America
to pass a global test when it comes to committing our troops.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not making that up. He was standing
right there when he said it. No, we'll work with our friends
and allies. I'll continue to build alliances and strong
coalitions. But I will never turn over America's national
security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: I believe -- I believe in the transformational
power of liberty. That's what I believe. I believe liberty
can transform nations. One of our friends, Laura and my
friends is Prime Minister of Japan. He's a friend. I saw
at the United Nations in New York. I said, listen, I'm
going to be talking about you on the campaign trail, do
you mind? He said, no, go ahead and talk about me. I said,
okay. What he didn't -- I didn't ask him permission to
tell you that Elvis is his favorite singer. (Laughter.)
We've gotten to know him quite well. It probably doesn't
sound much to folks out there that I would call him my
friend. But remember, 60 years ago, we were at war with
Japan. They were the sworn enemy of the United States of
America. My dad, like many of his generation, like many
of the Band of Brothers, fought against the Japanese --
people of that generation served. And your dads and granddads
did the same, I'm confident.
After we won the war, Harry S. Truman, President of the
United States, believed that liberty could transform an
enemy into an ally. That's what he believed. There was
a lot of skepticism about that, a lot of doubt. There was
a lot of anger because of the war, and you can understand
why. Families' lives have been turned upside down because
of death during the war. A lot of people would said, well,
the enemy can't possibly become a democracy. But our predecessors
stayed with it. And as a result of that belief, I sit down
at the table today talking about how to keep the peace
with Prime Minister Koizumi. Some day, an American President
will be sitting down with a duly-elected leader of Iraq,
talking about peace in the Middle East. And our children
and our grandchildren will be better off for it. (Applause.)
I believe -- I believe that millions in the Middle East
plead in silence for their liberty. I believe women in
the Middle East want to live in a free society. I believe
mothers and fathers in the Middle East want to raise their
children in a free and peaceful world. 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. There are quiet times in the life of a nation
when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one
of those times. This is a time that requires firm resolve,
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. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood
in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It is a day I will never
forget. I will never forget the voices of those in hard
hats yelling at me at the top of their lungs, "Whatever
it takes." I will never forget the police or firefighter
coming out of the rubble who grabbed me by the arm and
he looked me square in the eye, and he said, "Do not
let me down." Ever since that day -- ever since that
day, I wake up every morning thinking about how to better
protect our country. I will never relent in defending America,
whatever it takes. (Applause.)
Four years ago -- four years ago, when I traveled your
great state asking for the vote, I made a pledge that if
you gave me a chance to serve, I would uphold the honor
and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected.
With your help, with your hard work, I will do so for four
God bless. Thanks for coming. Thank you all. (Applause.)