The President on the Campaign Trail
Nebraska Victory 2006 Rally
Grand Island, Nebraska
November 5, 2006
Thank you all very much. Thanks for coming. Thanks for inviting me. (Applause.) So Laura says, what do you think we ought to do on our 29th wedding anniversary? (Applause.) I said, why don't I go to Grand Island, Nebraska -- (applause) -- because there are some people I want to thank in advance of what you're going to do on November 7th. (Applause.)
I want to thank you for working hard, I want to thank you for voting, I want to thank you for sending Adrian Smith and Pete Ricketts to Washington, D.C. (Applause.) You'd be happy to hear she agrees. (Laughter.) She said, you go ahead on; you go tell them, I agree with you. (Applause.) So she sends her love, and on this, our 29th anniversary, I'm proud to say, I love her dearly. (Applause.)
Seems like to me, when you want somebody to represent you in the Congress, you need somebody who has lived here their whole life, and who understands Nebraska values. (Applause.) Seems like to me, if you're from this part of the world, you'd better have you somebody who understands what it means to be a farmer and a rancher representing you in the United States Congress. (Applause.) And that person is Adrian Smith. (Applause.)
I also appreciate you coming out to support Pete Ricketts. (Applause.) He's a small businessman; he's a successful small businessman. Let me tell you, we've got too many lawyers in Washington. (Applause.) Send somebody to Washington who has met a payroll. (Applause.) And that person is Pete Ricketts for the United States Senate. (Applause.) I appreciate Susanne Ricketts for standing with Pete and working just as hard as he is.
I want to thank your governor, Governor Dave Heineman and his wife, Sally, for being with us today. (Applause.) One of these days he and I are going to be members of the ex-governors club. (Laughter.) But I know you're proud of the job he's doing. He's setting high standards and working hard to accomplish that which he said he would do on the campaign trail.
I appreciate very much being here with a fine United States Senator -- a man I call a friend and a person I know you call friend, Chuck Hagel. (Applause.)
From the 1st congressional district, Jeff Fortenberry and his wife Celeste is with us. (Applause.) And from the 2nd congressional district, Lee Terry and his wife Robyn have joined us. (Applause.) It's a good sign when the Congressmen from neighboring districts are coming in. See, they smell a winner. They understand what's about to happen on Election Day. (Applause.)
Proud to be here with your Lieutenant Governor Sheehy, your Attorney General Bruning, and your Secretary of State Gale. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
I had an opportunity to say hello to his honor, your mayor. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here. I appreciate you coming. I'm honored you're here. My only advice is, pave the potholes. (Laughter and applause.) Although Mr. Mayor, if you please, I didn't feel any on the way in.
I want to thank you all. I really do want to thank the grassroots activists, the people who worked hard to get these candidates to where they are. And I just urge you to keep working for the next 48 hours. (Applause.)
I know -- I'm sure you've heard the same predictions I've heard. The prognosticators have already decided the outcome of this election before the good people of Nebraska have voted. (Applause.) But don't worry about it, the same thing happened in 2004. (Applause.) Some of them up in Washington had already picked out their new offices in the West Wing. (Laughter.) They listened to the prognosticators. Then the people showed up to the polls, and the movers were not needed. (Applause.)
And the same thing is going to happen on November the 7th. You're going to elect Adrian Smith; you're going to elect Pete Ricketts. We're going to hold the House and hold the Senate. (Applause.)
And there's a reason, because Republicans understand the values and the priorities of the American people. And by the way, we don't shift our values, and we don't shift our priorities based upon the latest opinion polls. (Applause.) We're running on a record. We've raised standards for our public schools. No child is going to be left behind in America, because of our reforms. (Applause.)
Adrian Smith and I understand if the farm economy is doing well in Nebraska, the entire economy of the United States does well. (Applause.) Adrian, Pete and I understand that we've got a problem, because we're too dependent on foreign oil. And so we passed comprehensive energy legislation that encourages new technologies that will enable us to drive our cars as a result of crops grown right here in the great state of Nebraska. (Applause.)
We're taking the lead. I remember when I was campaigning with you, I said, vote for me, I will put judges on the bench who strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench. (Applause.) We've got a record to run on. I want to thank Senator Chuck Hagel for strongly supporting my nominees to the federal bench, particularly Sam Alito and John Roberts. (Applause.) When you go in to vote for your United States senator, just remember you're not only voting for an individual, you're voting for the style of judiciary we have. (Applause.)
And if the Democrats were to control the United States Senate, judges like Alito and Roberts would never have been seated on the Supreme Court. (Applause.)
No, we've got a record to run on, and we've got stands we take that are totally different from the Democrats. The two big issues in this campaign, as far as I'm concerned, is how many -- how much tax are you going to pay, and whether or not this government is going to do everything in our power to protect you. (Applause.)
Let me start with taxes. See, our philosophy is this: you can spend your money far better than the federal government can. (Applause.) I don't care what they're telling you in the races here, but the Democrats believe they can spend their [sic] money better than you can.
THE PRESIDENT: Our philosophy says that if you've got more of your own money in your pocket to save, spend or invest, the economy benefits. (Applause.)
We just didn't go to Washington to be philosophers. We went to Washington to act. I signed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. (Applause.) We cut the taxes for everybody who pays income taxes. We doubled the child tax credit. We reduced the marriage penalty. We cut the taxes on the small businesses. We cut taxes on capital gains and dividends to encourage investment. And for the sake of our small-business owners and for the sake of our ranchers, and for the sake of our farmers, we put the death tax on the road to extinction. (Applause.)
I don't know if you can remember that far back about the debate on taxes, but I can. Democrats in Washington predicted the tax cuts would not create jobs, they predicted the tax cuts would not increase wages, and they predicted that tax cuts would cause the federal deficit to explode. That's what they predicted.
Now the facts are in. The tax cuts we passed have led to a strong and growing economy. Last Friday, we had more good news about our economy. The national unemployment rate is down to 4.4 percent. (Applause.) Real wages rose 2.4 percent over the past year, and we cut the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule. The tax cuts we passed are working. (Applause.)
And the Democrats are going to raise your taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, they're not going to tell you that. They won't admit it quite that bluntly. As a matter of fact, they really don't want you to know what they think. They asked the Democrat leader in the House recently about tax cuts and she said, speaking about the Democrats: "We love tax cuts." Well, given her record, she must be a secret admirer. (Laughter and applause.)
She and her party voted against reducing the marriage penalty, voted against cutting taxes on small businesses, voted against lowering taxes for families with children, voted against putting the death tax on the road to extinction. If this is their definition of love, I'd sure hate to see hate. (Applause.)
See, here's the way the tax cuts work: if they are not extended or made permanent, your taxes are going up. See, if the Congress doesn't act to say we're going to extend the tax cuts or we're just going to make the tax cuts permanent, then you get to pay an increased tax. They asked the man who aspires to be the head of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives -- that's the tax writing committee -- they said, can you think of any of the tax cuts that were passed that you would extend? He said, I can't think of a one. In other words, that's the Democrats' view of extending your tax cuts. This election is important because it determines the size of your taxes.
I'm going to give you an example of what I'm talking about. Right now the child tax credit is up to $1,000. But if those tax cuts are not expired [sic], it goes down to $500 a child. So when you're sitting around the dinner table tonight, count heads. (Laughter.) Any of you got four children? (Applause.)
Right here, here you go, okay. I'm going to use you all as an example. So you're at dinner, number one child, two children, three, four. Multiply by $500 means that if the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, you get yourself a $2,000 tax increase.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, that may not sound like a lot to people in Washington, but it sounds like a lot to me, it sounds like a lot to Adrian Smith, and it sounds like a lot to Pete Ricketts. That's why we're going to keep your taxes low. (Applause.)
On these issues, the Democrat party has adopted a clear strategy of opposition and obstruction. Recently the House Democrat leader explained the advice she's been following since I was reelected in 2004. She said, you must take him down. That him would be me. One newspaper described her approach as
scorched earth strategy for refusing to negotiate with the GOP. Now I want you to think about that. Think about that kind of vision. It's a sad commentary on the Democrat party that its leaders have resorted to knee-jerk opposition as their guiding principle.
You know if you're wondering what -- where the Democrats stand on a major issue, there's an easy formula to figure it out: No matter what the issue, if the Republicans are for it, they're against it. (Laughter.)
When we proposed tax relief for everybody who pays income taxes, the Democrats opposed it. When Republicans proposed an energy policy, an energy bill to make our nation less dependent on foreign oil, the Democrats opposed it. When Republicans proposed association health plans to help small businesses get coverage, insurance coverage at the same discounts big companies get, Democrats opposed it. When Republicans proposed medical liability reform so our docs aren't run out of practice and your costs aren't run up, the Democrats opposed it.
And here's the way I see it: If the Democrats are so good about being the party of the opposition, let's just keep them in the opposition. (Applause.) And the best way is to send Adrian Smith to the United States Congress and Pete Ricketts to the Senate. (Applause.)
This election is taking place in an historic time for our country. And when our children and grandchildren look back on this period, one question will overwhelm all the rest: Did we do everything in our power to fight and win the war on terror? (Applause.) We face an enemy -- I wish I could report to you we weren't at war. Nobody wants to be at war. But the truth is, we face a brutal enemy that still desires to harm America. Many of our citizens say, why is that?
Well, this enemy has an ideology. They believe the exact opposite of what we believe. We believe in basic, universal freedoms. We believe people ought to worship the way they see fit. We believe people ought to be able to express themselves. We believe in public dissent, they don't. They also have a vision to spread their ideology as far corners -- to the far corners of the world, and we stand in their way. (Applause.)
You can't negotiate with them. You can't hope for the best with them. Our most important job is to protect you, and the best way to do so is to stay on the offense and bring them to justice before they hurt us again. (Applause.)
The strategy is to stay on the offense, and the strategy is to protect you here at home. We have to be right 100 percent of the time, and the enemy has to be right one time. And therefore, I reviewed all the procedures to make sure our professionals have what it takes to protect you. There is a wall -- there was a wall that prevented our intelligence folks from sharing vital information with our law enforcement folks. I can't tell you why that happened, it just did, and it didn't make any sense in this new kind of war. If our job is to protect you, we better make sure the intelligence our people gathers is passed on to the people whose job it is to prevent the attacks here in the homeland.
And so I asked the Congress to pass the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is a vital piece of legislation that has helped us break up terror cells around the United States. It's a piece of legislation that guarded your civil liberties. When that important piece of legislation came up for renewal, the vast majority of Senate Democrats and House Democrats voted against it. Now they must have a different attitude about this war on terror.
See, my attitude is, you can't respond after we're attacked, you must respond before we're attacked. (Applause.) In this new kind of war, we'd better understand what the enemy is thinking. And so I talked to the -- our phone boys, and I said, if they're calling in, if al Qaeda is making a phone call from outside the United States to inside, or if somebody affiliated with the enemy is making a phone call from outside to inside, we better understand why. We need to know what they're thinking and what they're planning in order to protect you.
When the Terrorist Surveillance Program came up for votes in the United States House of Representatives, by far the vast majority of Democrats voted against that legislation. They just see the world differently. When you're getting ready to go into the ballot box, remember the attitudes of the folks in Washington, D.C. about what it takes to protect you. We're picking up people off the battlefield, and we better know what they're thinking.
I'm going to give you a short story here. We found a man named Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Our intelligence people think he was the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks. So I authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to find out what he knew. See, if he knew about one attack, he might know something about another attack. Our job is to protect you. When the authority for these CIA interrogators to continue their program came up in front of the House and the Senate, the vast majority of Democrats in both bodies voted against that legislation.
We need people like Adrian Smith and Pete Ricketts in the House and the Senate who understand our professionals need to be given the tools necessary to protect you. (Applause.)
We are on the offense, and we're going to stay on the offense. It is hard to plot and plan against America when you're on the run. It is hard to plot and plan America [sic] when you're hiding.
I want you to know -- let me share a lesson about September the 11th. That's important. When we see a threat overseas, we've got to take the threat seriously. It's important for our fellow citizens never to forget that lesson. The days are gone when you see a threat and just hope for the best. When we see threats, we must deal with them.
Saddam Hussein was a threat. I saw him as a threat. Members of both political parties saw the threat. The United Nations saw the threat. My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it. (Applause.)
And today we witnessed a landmark event in the history of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal. (Applause.) Saddam Hussein trial is a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law, and it's a major achievement for this young democracy. America congratulates the Iraqi people, and we give our thanks to the men and women of America's Armed Forces, who have -- (applause.) Without their courage and skill, today's verdict never would have happened. And we are grateful for their sacrifice and service. (Applause.)
We are in a global war, and it's a war being fought on a variety of fronts. And the central front is Iraq. Oh, I've heard all the talk out of Washington. You probably have too: Iraq is a distraction in the war on terror, they say. Well, I don't believe that. Our troops don't believe that. And Osama bin Laden doesn't believe that. Listen to his words: He calls Iraq the third world war. He says victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever.
Now I want you to listen to the words of a senior member of the House of Representatives from the Democrat party. The reason I'm talking about this is the people of this district have got to understand, there is a different mentality in Washington than what you're used to. She said, "The President says that fighting them there makes it less likely we will have to fight them here." That's exactly what I say, and it's exactly what I believe. She went on to say, "The opposite is true. Because we are fighting them there, it may become more likely we will have to fight them here."
Iraq is not the reason why these extremists and terrorists are at war with us. We were not in Iraq when they bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they bombed the embassies in Tanzania and in Kenya. We were not in Iraq when they attacked the USS Cole, and we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. (Applause.) You don't create terrorists by fighting the terrorists. The best way to protect you is to stay on the offense and defeat them overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.)
And we got one goal in Iraq, and that is victory. (Applause.) There's a country that -- we're working for a country that can sustain itself, and govern itself, and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror -- to be an ally in this struggle against extremists who want to defy the hopes of reasonable people around the Middle East, these extremists who want to come and attack America again. And it's a tough fight; no question about it. I understand how tough it is, and so do our troops, and so do the families of our troops.
It's tough because we face an enemy that is willing to kill innocent life to achieve their objectives. They have no conscience, and they understand that these violent acts will end up on our television screens. And they believe the United States does not have the stomach for the long fight. But what they don't understand about this administration and a huge number of Americans -- we're not going to run from thugs and assassins. (Applause.)
Our goal is solid. Our tactics constantly change. I'm in touch with our commanders all the time. I tell them, whatever you need to win, you'll have. We give them the flexibility necessary to continue to adjust their tactics to meet the changes the enemy are doing on the ground. And we got a lot going for us. We got a strategy for victory that will work, and we got a fantastic group of young men and women who have volunteered to defend you in the United States military. (Applause.)
And whether my fellow citizens agree with my decisions or not, one thing they owe is they owe those who wear the uniform the utmost respect. (Applause.) And those of us at the federal government owe them all they need, all the support to make sure they can do the jobs that I've asked them to do. (Applause.)
And I thank Senator Hagel for his strong support. I thank the members of Congress who are here for their strong support of the United States military, and there's no doubt in my mind Pete Ricketts and Adrian Smith will be strong supporters of the men and women in the United States military. (Applause.)
We have something else going for us, and those are brave Iraqis. Iraqi citizens have suffered unspeakable violence, yet they are committed to a government of, and by, and for the people. Our strategy is to help their politics move forward. Our strategy is to help their economy improve. And our strategy is to train Iraqis so they can take the fight to the few who want to dash the hopes of the many.
You know when nearly 12 million Iraqis voted, I was pleased, but I was not surprised, and I'll tell you why I wasn't surprised. I believe there is an Almighty. I believe a great gift of the Almighty to every man, woman, and child on Earth is the desire to be free. And so when the Iraqis said we want to be free, it is part of my belief in the universality of freedom. (Applause.)
We have a strategy for victory and the only way we won't achieve it is if we leave before the job is done. If you listen to this debate on Iraq, if you think about the Democrats' plans for success, there isn't one. This is a vital issue facing our country. This is a central front in the war on terror, and yet they have no plan for victory.
Oh, some of them are saying we ought to pull out now. Others are saying we ought to pull out at a fixed date before the job is done. Actually, one of the members of the House of Representatives, a distinguished member, said the best way to handle the situation is to remove our troops to an island 5,000 miles away. I'm not kidding you. That's not a plan for victory. Nineteen House members introduced legislation that would cut off the funds for our troops. One Democrat Senator, one of Chuck's colleagues, she said, "We haven't coalesced around a single plan, but we're in general agreement on basic principles." Think about that. Yes, they're in agreement on principles: Get out before the job is done.
They've taken a calculated risk. By the way, I'm not saying these folks are unpatriotic; I'm saying they're wrong. (Applause.) You can't win a war and protect the homeland if you're unwilling to fight the war. You know, the Democrats have taken a calculated gamble in this campaign. They think the only way they can win is to criticize and not offer a plan of their own. You know, let me say this to you: Anger is not a plan; criticism is not a plan; pessimism is not a plan. This country needs people who understand the stakes and are willing to support the fight to protect you. (Applause.)
Retreat from Iraq before the job is done would embolden the enemy and would make this country less secure. It's very important for our fellow citizens to understand this is a different kind of war, and if the United States were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here. Leaving before the job was done would make it easier for these extremists to recruit. Leaving before the job was done would dash the hopes of the millions upon millions of people who want to live a peaceful life in the Middle East. And leaving before the job is done would dishonor the sacrifice of the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States. (Applause.)
And leaving before the job is done would be felt for generations to come. And let me explain to you why: The enemy has made it clear, they expect us to leave when the fighting stays tough because, one, they want a safe haven from which to launch further attacks on the United States, a safe haven similar to the safe haven they had in Afghanistan where they trained thousands of people and where they planned and plotted to launch their attacks that killed nearly 3,000 of our citizens.
They have said that they want to establish a caliphate -- a governing organization based upon their ideology -- and it starts with toppling modern governments. They would like to get a hold of oil resources so they could then say to the West, abandon your alliance with Israel or withdraw from the Middle East; otherwise you're going to be facing high priced oil, and we'll bring your economy down. And when you put all in the mix a country which doesn't like us with a nuclear weapon, 30 years from now people are going to look back at this period in our history and say, what happened to them in 2006; could they not see the impending danger; were they unable to see the threats to a generation of Americans?
Well, let me assure you, I see the danger. I clearly see the stakes. That is why we will support our troops. That is why we will fight in Iraq, and that is why we'll win in Iraq. (Applause.)
I would like to share a story with you. I share this story all around the country, so if you've heard it, I apologize. It's a story about the power of liberty. It's a story about then-sitting Prime Minister of Japan, Koizumi, and me, and Laura heading down to Elvis's place in Memphis, Tennessee. They said, why did you go down there? Well, I hadn't been down there. I thought it would be fun to go.
Koizumi, Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to go because he loved Elvis. He was a fan of Elvis Presley. But also I wanted to tell a story. It's the story about -- I'm sure your relatives, just like my relative, my dad, volunteered to fight the Japanese after the attacks at Pearl Harbor. That's when the story begins. They attacked us. Thousands of our fellow citizens said, I want to go, and I want to fight for our freedoms against an enemy which has attacked us. By the way, it's the same spirit today, around, where people have said, I want to volunteer to defend America.
My dad went. Your relatives went. They fought like mad. Japan was the sworn enemy of the United States. I'm now on the airplane, Air Force One, flying down to Elvis' place, and I was talking about keeping the peace with the Prime Minister of Japan. We talked about how we got to work together to convince the North Korean to give up his nuclear weapons ambitions. We talked about the fact that Iraq has 1,000 troops -- I mean Japan had 1,000 troops in Iraq. He understands what I know: In this ideological struggle of extremists versus rational, reasonable people who want to live in peace, when we find young democracies, we must support them for the sake of peace. We talked about how to whom much is given much is required, and that we'll continue to take the lead in trying to eradicate the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in places like Africa. We talked about our responsibilities as friends and allies.
I find it amazing that my dad and your relatives fought the Japanese, and today -- then his son was talking about keeping the peace. Something happened, and what happened was Japan adopted a Japanese-style democracy. The lesson for all to hear is liberty has got the capacity to transform an enemy into an ally. Liberty has got the capacity to transform a region of hate and resentment into a region of hope.
Someday, American Presidents will be sitting down with duly elected leaders in the Middle East talking about keeping the peace, and a generation of Americans will be better off for it. (Applause.)
In 48 hours, you're going to be walking into the booth, and so will millions of citizens around our country, and people will be given a choice between two political parties with different philosophies. If you think your healthcare decisions should remain in the hands of bureaucrats, then you ought to vote for the Democrats. If you think that you and your doctors should control your healthcare decisions, vote Republican. If you think that trial lawyers should be allowed to continue driving good doctors out of practice and running up your costs of medicine, you go ahead and vote Democrat. But if you believe that we should trade in the trial lawyers and protect our physicians from frivolous lawsuits, vote Republican. (Applause.)
You think activist judges should be allowed to redefine our country and issue new laws from the bench, you go vote Democrat. If you believe the role of the judge is to strictly interpret our Constitution and laws and leave legislating to legislators, vote Republican. (Applause.)
If you think Medicare was serving our seniors just fine and didn't need to be reformed, vote Democrat. If you believe we were right to expand choices for our seniors and provide better access for affordable prescription drugs, vote Republican. (Applause.) If you think our farmers and ranchers ought to pay taxes while they're alive and then pay taxes after they're dead, you vote Democrat. If you think that the death tax is punitive, and we need to get rid of it, you vote Republican. (Applause.)
If you think you can afford more taxes, vote Democrat. But if you want our taxes low, and if you want people who believe you can spend your money better than the government can, you vote Republican. (Applause.)
And if you think the way to protect this country and win the war on terror is to criticize your opponents and offer no plan for victory, you vote for the Democrats. But if you believe the way to win this war is to stay on the offense and use every element of national power to protect you, and lay the foundation of peace for a generation, vote Republican. (Applause.)
So I appreciate your coming. Thanks for giving me a chance to share something that's on my mind. I'm now asking you when you go forth to find fellow Republicans and say you've got a responsibility to vote, but while you're doing it, don't overlook discerning Democrats and open-minded independents. Tell them to go to the polls. Tell them to vote for Adrian Smith and Pete Ricketts, and the United States will be better off for it.
God Bless, and God bless America. (Applause.)
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