Springfield-Branson Regional Airport
January 14, 2002
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. I appreciate it. Thanks for coming. I thought
the Senator -- I thought the Senator was going to offer me a pretzel. (Laughter.)
Not one of those ones that are hard to chew.
Now, I see a lot of the students who are here. (Applause.) This gives me a chance
to give you some good advice: always listen to your mother. (Laughter.) Mine
used to say, never swallow your pretzel until you've chewed it. (Laughter.)
I guess I wasn't listening.
But it's great to be back here in the great state of Missouri and Springfield.
(Applause.) I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event.
It gives me a chance to share some of my thoughts with our fellow citizens,
as I work my way down the heartland of America.
I started earlier in Moline, Illinois, at a factory that makes John Deere tractors.
I am here to talk to farmers. I'm on my way down to New Orleans, to remind people
that much of what we grow and produce in America is shipped overseas, out of
that port. I'm really here to remind people of the great values of our country,
lived in your everyday lives.
So I want to thank you all for coming. I'm grateful for a fine United States
Senator and a good friend of mine, Kit Bond, for being here. Thank you for coming,
Kit. (Applause.) I appreciate my Secretary of Commerce, as well as the Secretary
of Agriculture for joining me on this trip. Thank you both for coming. (Applause.)
I want to thank Kenny Hulshof and Todd Akin, of the United States Congress,
for being here today. I want to thank those two fine members of the House of
Representatives for coming. (Applause.)
I see my good friend, Jim Talent, is here. (Applause.) I appreciate you coming,
Jim; I'm looking forward to visiting with you on the way out to the next stop.
I want to thank so very much Roseann Blunt for being here, the wife of your
Congressman. (Applause.) The First Lady of your fine state met me at the airport
and I want to thank Lori Holden for coming out to say hello. (Applause.)
But most of all, I want to thank you all for taking time out of your day to
be here to greet me. It's been an unbelievable experience to be your President.
Thank you. (Applause.) I'm so proud to come and be able to share some thoughts
about how to make sure America remains strong and to make sure people who are
trying to find work are able to do so.
You know, my view about this is that the role of government is not to try to
create wealth. The role of government is to create an environment in which people
are willing to take risks, in which the entrepreneur is willing to expand through
The job of government is to create an environment in which people are willing
to create jobs so people who want work or can find work. And that starts with
making sure our nation is safe. In order to make sure -- in order to make sure
that there's confidence in our economy and that the environment is good for
My biggest job is to prevent the enemy from hitting us again, and that's exactly
what I'm going to do. (Applause.) We take homeland security very seriously in
America now. I put a good man in place, Tom Ridge, to make sure that any time
we get any hint that anybody would try to harm America again, we'll act and
we'll act strong. And if we get any scintilla of evidence that somebody may
try to harm America, we will bring them to justice. (Applause.)
I want to thank the law enforcement officers and officials who are on alert.
And we've got to remain on alert. You see something unusual happening in your
community, contact the local law enforcement. We're on the look. But the truth
of the matter is, the best way to protect America is find the enemy where they
hide and get 'em. (Applause.)
I am so proud -- I am so proud of those who wear our uniform. (Applause.) We
have given them a big task, and they're performing brilliantly. For those of
you who may have a son or a daughter in our military, I want to thank you from
the bottom of my heart. For those of you who have a husband or wife in the military,
or a mom or a dad, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our military
is doing us proud. (Applause.)
We have sent them on a difficult mission. It is getting more difficult as time
progresses. After all, we've got our troops now looking in caves, looking in
villages, scouring the countryside. When I first announced our mission, I told
the American people it may take a while, that we must show discipline and resolve
and we must be steadfast in our purpose. And that's exactly what the American
people -- that's how the American people are reacting, and for that I'm grateful.
And so are our troops.
We had objectives that our troops have accomplished. One, we said, if you harbor
a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as
guilty as the terrorist and the Taliban is paying a price. (Applause.) I hope
you're as proud as I am of the pictures of joy as our troops have liberated
the women of Afghanistan, the Taliban. (Applause.) We're not only fighting for
freedom, we're liberating people from the clutches of oppression.
And now we're after al Qaeda. They think they can run, they think they can hide
from the mighty United States. But we're patient, we're strong, we're resolved.
We're going to stay on the hunt until we bring them to justice. (Applause.)
In order to make sure people can find work, we better make sure everybody in
America is educated. I had an honor -- I had the high honor of traveling our
country last week with authors of a good education bill. It's one, by the way,
that says every child can learn -- every child can learn. We must teach children
the basics and, in return for help, you must show us, just like you say here
in Missouri, whether or not children can read and write and add and subtract.
And if they cannot, let's correct problems early, before it's too late.
It also says inherent in that bill, the people who care more about the children
in this part of the world are the moms and dads and teachers who live in this
part of the world. We believe in local control of schools. (Applause.)
I stood up in front of the American people there on this trip and I said, you
all may not believe this -- certainly the people in the Crawford, Texas coffee
shop may not believe it when I say it -- but Ted Kennedy did a fine job on this
bill. (Laughter.) I never thought I would hear myself say that. (Laughter.)
Of course, he never thought I would say it. (Laughter.) But I meant it. I meant
It goes to show what can happen when Republicans and Democrats set aside their
political differences and focus on what's right for America. Let me tell you
what we need in Washington. (Applause.) We need people to put party aside and
say, America is the most important thing in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
In order to make sure people can find work, this nation better -- better knock
down trade barriers. See, one of the things we're good at, really good at, is
growing food. We're the best in the world. And it makes sense that if we're
good at growing food, that we ought to be trying to sell it not only at home,
but when we have a little extra, overseas.
If you want to be -- if you're good at something and the best at something,
it makes sense to allow that product to be overseas. One of the things I'm fighting
for, and one of the things I think makes great sense is for this nation to be
a free trade nation -- not to be afraid to compete, but let us compete. And
when we can compete in a fair way, we can whip anybody when it comes to selling
The other thing we need to do is to make sure we have an energy policy. We're
a blessed nation because we can grow our own food and, therefore, we're secure.
A nation that can feed its people is a nation more secure. Now, if you're secure
when you feed the nation, it seems like one of the things we ought to try to
be more secure about, as well, is having an energy policy that makes us less
reliant on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
We can do a better job of conservation, and we will. We can do a better job
of distribution, and we must. We can use some innovative products to provide
energy, like ethanol. But one of the things we've got to do is to explore for
energy in our own lands in an environmentally sensitive way. (Applause.)
We had a trade bill bottled up in the Senate. I hope they move it when we get
back. We've got an energy bill bottled up in the Senate. I hope they move it
when we get back. It is in the nation's interests that we move those two bills.
And, finally, in order to make sure people can find work -- and I'm worried
about the fact that the evil ones hit us and it caused people to lose their
job -- in order to make sure they can find work, we've got to have good, solid
economic policy coming out of Washington, D.C.
And that starts with understanding how jobs are created. One way you can create
jobs is to lower people's taxes. (Applause.) If people have more money to spend,
it means somebody has got to produce more for them. And the producers then need
to hire people. It's economics 101. Except sometimes people in Washington haven't
taken the course. (Laughter.) We passed a meaningful tax cut. And now some of
them want to take it away from you, by delaying it.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I agree. The best way -- the worst thing to do is, in the
face of this recession, is to not let people have their tax break. It doesn't
make any economic sense. And that's why we're not going to let them -- that's
why we're not going to let them repeal this tax cut. (Applause.)
And not only that, we can help workers who got laid off. We need to extend the
unemployment benefits. And we need to help them with their health care. And
we can do that, if we make our mind up to put people's lives ahead of partisan
politics. But I'm going to remind the folks in Washington that what people don't
want is an unemployment check. What they want is a permanent paycheck. (Applause.)
And therefore we've got to put plans in place to stimulate our economy; that
creates jobs; that says to employers, if you buy equipment, you get a little
extra in order to help people find work.
No, we can do a better job in Washington, D.C., of addressing this economic
downturn. And I'm confident when the people's voice rises up, the good folks
up there elected to represent you all, and everybody else, will hear you loud
One of the things that the evil ones didn't figure out was how strong we are.
(Applause.) Oh, they knew we had a nice military, but they didn't think we'd
use it. They made a bad mistake. (Applause.) But what they also don't understand
is the character of our nation. They don't understand what I know: that the
great strength of this country really isn't in our airplanes or guns; it's not
in our stock market -- those are parts of our country that are strong. But the
great strength is in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens. (Applause.)
This is a nation of a lot of character. It's a strong nation because we're strong
people. It is a nation that is determined and patient. But it's also a nation
that's compassionate and decent.
The evil ones hit us and they caused a lot of loss of life and a lot of anguish,
a lot of fright and a lot of fear. But they also caused folks all across our
country to search their soul about life. They caused moms and dads to ask the
fundamental question of what was the most important thing for them. The good
news is about America, moms and dads all across America are now saying, my most
important job is to love my children with all my heart. (Applause.)
What the evil ones did is they reminded us that there are things important in
life, such as loving your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. People
ask me all the time, what can they do to help fight terror. And one thing you
can do is walk across the street and tell a neighbor in need you love them.
If you find somebody who's shut-in, just spend a little time. If you want to
fight evil, mentor a child who needs to learn how to read. Support your teachers;
get involved with public education. If you want to fight evil, make a contribution
to a local charity. Go to your church or synagogue and mosque, and figure out
how you can help a community become a better place.
That's what's happening all across America. You know, folks, we're going to
win the war, but we're also going to win because the goodness of America will
overshadow the evil of those who take innocent life. (Applause.)
It is such an honor to be moving around the country, to be with the good folks
who make the country strong. I want to thank you so very much for your hospitality.
I want to thank you for your prayer. May God bless America. (Applause.) Thank
you all. Thank you all very much, and God bless. Thank you. (Applause.)