Remarks at Taft for Governor Luncheon
Hyatt Regency Hotel
May 10, 2002
12:15 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Gosh, it's a great Ohio welcome. I'm honored to be back.
It's good to be back near the family plot. (Laughter.) As you may recall, Prescott
S. Bush, my grandfather, was raised right here in Columbus, Ohio. (Applause.)
Last time I did that, my mother was watching on C-SPAN. She said, what about
my father? (Laughter.) I said, oh. yes, he was raised in Dayton, Ohio. (Laughter
and applause.) So, Mother, I mentioned him. (Laughter.)
But it's great to be back in this great state. I'm here to talk about welfare
reform, but I'm also here to make sure that the good people of Ohio send this
good man back to the Governor's Mansion. (Applause.) There was a lot of reasons
to send him back, but none greater than the fact that he married well. (Laughter.)
Hope is doing a great job as the First Lady of the state of Ohio. (Applause.)
When we were walking in, Bob was telling me how proud he is of Hope and the
job she does, particularly to promote literacy. And I told him, I'm real proud
of my wife, too. I can't tell you what a great job Laura is doing. (Applause.)
She has brought a lot of calm, and a steady hand. (Applause.) You know, when
I asked her to marry me, she was a public school librarian who didn't like politics,
and really didn't like politicians. (Laughter.) A lot of people are now beginning
to realize why I asked her to marry me. She's got a lot of class. A lot of people,
however, are wondering why she said, yes. (Laughter.) But I wish she were here.
She loves the Tafts. She really appreciates Hope and Bob. And she sends her
best to you all.
I'm also traveling with some pretty good company today. I had the honor of flying
down on Air Force One with a fabulous United States senator, George Voinovich.
(Applause.) I like George, he's the kind of fellow that tells you what's on
his mind. (Laughter.) There's no doubt what he believes in. One of the things
he believes in is Ohio. He loves the state of Ohio. (Applause.)
I'm also honored to be traveling today with members of a great congressional
delegation, Deborah Pryce, Dave Hobson, Pat Tiberi, Bob Ney, and Rob Portman.
(Applause.) These people not only represent Ohio well, they're friends, and
they're people with whom it's a real pleasure to work. They bring a lot of class
to the United States Congress.
And earlier today, I had the honor of meeting a fellow named Mike Turner who
won a primary in Dayton, Ohio, who a lot of people think, when he continues
to work hard, he's going to be the next congressman from Dayton. Welcome, Mike.
I also want to thank Jennette Bradley for willingness to run and join the ticket.
I appreciate you, Jennette. It's going to be a historic moment when you become
the lieutenant governor of the state of Ohio. (Applause.)
It seems like ever since I was been coming to Ohio to campaign for one Bush
or another, Bennett has been around. It's great to see you, Mr. Chairman. I
appreciate it. (Applause.)
I want to thank Tim and all the folks who organized this event. And I want to
thank you all for coming to help to help Bob. You know, when you find a good,
honest, decent, honorable person in politics, you need to back him, and this
guy is just that. (Applause.)
Plus, he's got a great record. He has his priorities straight. His most fundamental
priority is to make sure that every child in the state of Ohio gets a good education.
(Applause.) And the record is impressive. The record is impressive. Not only
has he focused on making the Ohio schools a funding priority, he's focused on
insisting that there be excellence in every single schoolroom in Ohio. I appreciate
your -- Bob, I appreciate your leadership. The people of Ohio have got to understand
that he has led on this issue.
And not only that, he and Hope understand that if a child cannot read, a child
cannot learn. And it's important to have a governor set a priority. Not only
is public schools a priority, public education a priority, but teaching every
child to read is the first priority of making sure there's excellence in every
public school in the state of Ohio. (Applause.)
We have just passed historic reform in Washington, D.C., education reform. It
may be hard for you to believe, but there are, at moments, when Republicans
and Democrats come together for the good of the nation. And this is one of the
cases. People from both parties came together and worked on education reform,
which says that we believe every child can learn in America -- not some, not
a few, but every child. We set the highest of high standards.
We also say that in return for federal money -- we're going to spend money,
Washington is good about spending money -- and in return for federal money,
we expect there to be results. In return for federal money, you, the local folks,
must show us whether or not children are learning to read and write and add
and subtract. And if they are, we will sing your praises, as a society. But
if not, we expect there to be change. It is not right for there to be children
trapped in schools that will not teach, and will not change. (Applause.)
High standards, strict accountability, coupled with local control of schools;
I believe that the people who care more about the children of Ohio are the citizens
of Ohio. And we passed power and flexibility out of Washington, D.C., so that
good governors like Bob Taft can chart the path of excellence for every single
child who lives in your great state.
Earlier today I had the opportunity to talk about welfare reform. We're getting
ready to reauthorize the welfare bill. First of all, it is important for Americans
to understand that the welfare reforms of 1996 have been a huge success. A success
because the welfare roles are down dramatically. But, more importantly, a success
because more and more citizens as a result of finding a job now have dignity
in their lives. (Applause.)
Knowing that there are governors like Bob Taft, I can safely say, the best way
to make sure we continue with welfare reform, is to trust governors and local
authorities to match up programs and needs with people. In other words, the
federal government must get out of the way, must provide maximum flexibility
at the local level, which is precisely what I intend to do.
It is good to know that you have a governor who is willing to rally the social
entrepreneurs all across the state of Ohio to make sure that people are able
to get the help we want them to get. Ohio is on the leading edge of welfare
reform, thanks to Governor Voinovich and now thanks to Governor Taft. (Applause.)
And I appreciate Bob Taft's understanding the role of government is not to create
wealth. That's not the role of government. The role of government is to create
an environment in which small business owners and entrepreneurs have a chance
to flourish. His initiative of the third frontier project for the state of Ohio
understands that jobs and job creation best take place in the private sector.
Governor, you're right on track, and I appreciate your vision for economic vitality.
And, thankfully to the United States Congress, our economy is better on track.
You may remember when I came to the state of Ohio to campaign, I said if you
give me a chance to be the President, I'm going to make sure that people get
to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. And, thankfully, we passed tax relief
right at the right time. (Applause.)
Here's what Bob and I know. That if you let people keep their own money and,
by the way, it's not the government's money. I love to read these stories about,
well, the government's money, we can't send the government's money back. It's
not the government's money; it's the people's money. It's the taxpayers' money.
When they have more of their own money, they demand goods and services. And
when they demand goods and services, somebody will produce the goods and services.
And when somebody produces the goods and services to meet demand, somebody is
going to be able to find work. The best way to stimulate our economy was to
let the American people keep their own money, so they get to decide what to
do with it. (Applause.)
George Voinovich has been a leader in Congress, as have the other members from
the congressional delegation, about joining me and the Vice President to make
sure this nation finally wakes up and has a balanced energy policy. You know,
we import over 50 percent of our energy. And sometimes the people we import
from don't like us. (Laughter.) For the sake of economic security and for the
sake of national security, this nation needs a comprehensive energy plan that
encourages conservation, promotes new technologies that will save energy and
enhance renewable sources of energy, but at the same time, an energy plan that
has the wisdom to promote clean coal technology, so that we're less dependent
on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
Oh, there's a lot of issues we face. And, you know, we've got issues related
to trade. I'm pleased that the Senate looks like they've got an agreement on
a trade bill. This nation ought to be confident. We ought to be opening up markets
all around the world to trade. It'll be good for our Ohio farmers to trade,
it's good for Ohio small business people to trade. I hope Congress finally gets
a trade promotion authority bill to my desk. Confident nations open up markets,
they don't build walls around themselves. I'm confident that we're the best
producers and innovators in many products, and therefore we ought to be selling
our products around the world.
I'm also working on issues like terrorism insurance, to encourage construction
projects. I know the Senate will join me on that. We've just got to make sure
that when we do so, we don't provide a gravy train for personal injury lawyers
in America. (Applause.)
Obviously, we've got budget matters. You know, when I was running for President,
in Chicago, somebody said, would you ever have deficit spending? I said, only
if we were at war, or only if we had a recession, or only if we had a national
emergency. Never did I dream we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.) But that's what
we got. And we're going to deal with it. And we're going to deal with it in
a way that understands that each individual American matters, in a way that
promotes jobs not government, and we're going to deal with it in a way that
makes a priority the defense of the United States of America. (Applause.)
I've got a routine that I really enjoy there at the White House. It starts off
early in the morning where, like I did at the Governor's Mansion in Texas, I
bring Laura her coffee. (Laughter.) My next job is to take Spot and Barney out
for a walk on the South Lawn. Spot was born there at the White House when Mother
and Dad were there, so she's used to the accommodations and understands the
decorum necessary to go into the Oval Office. (Laughter.) Barney, on the other
hand, is only a year-and-a-half. In that we've got a brand new rug, he's not
allowed in. (Laughter.) So Barney goes off with the gardener and I go in the
Oval Office with the dog, Spot, and sit.
First thing there, sit behind a fantastic desk that many of you may have seen.
It's a desk used by Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy,
Ronald Reagan, some of the great names that have preceded me to the Presidency.
And the first thing I do is I open up a threat assessment. I read about the
fact that the cold-blooded killers are still after us. And, by the way, that's
all they are. They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. And they
still want to hurt America.
It's hard for a lot of young to understand why they would want to do so. And
the answer is, because we believe in freedom and they don't. We're a beacon
for freedom, and they can't stand that. They cannot stand the thought that America
worships freely; that we welcome people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish,
Muslim, Hindu, you name it, we welcome it. We understand a lot of Americans
have no faith at all, and that's okay, they're proud Americans, we know that.
They can't stand the thought that there's free and open discourse in America.
They hate the thought of a free press. No, they hate our freedoms and, therefore,
they're going to continue to try to strike us.
We're doing everything we can. You need to know that our law enforcement officials
are communicating a lot better than ever before between the federal and state
and local governments. Any time we get any kind of hint, we're moving. And we're
sharing intelligence all around the world. Our coalition is more than just a
coalition of military; it's a coalition of our respective treasuries to shut
down money. It's a coalition of our intelligence gathering to share information.
I mean, we are we're on full alert in Washington, D.C., about anything that
But the best way to make sure that we protect the homeland, the best way for
me to do my job is to hunt them down, one by one, and bring them to justice,
and that's precisely what the United States of America is going to do. (Applause.)
I have submitted a significant increase in our defense budget, for two basic
reasons. One, any time we commit our troops into action, they deserve the best
equipment and the best training, best possible pay. And by the way, for those
of you who have got relatives in the United States military, you can tell them,
this Commander-in-Chief is incredibly proud of how they've conducted themselves.
And the second reason why is because we're in this for the long run. There are
no calendars, no dates certain as to when this is going to be over, because
we're defending freedom. That's what we're defending. No matter how long it
takes, we will defend our freedoms, and civilization, itself.
Oh, I know there are some saying, well, it's got to end by such and such, or
what happened here, what happened there. That's what the enemy wants. What makes
them really nervous is when they hear the fact that our nation is united and
focused, and disciplined, and patient.
I've traveled the country a lot and I'm proud to report that's exactly the way
Americans think. You see, I'm amazed of what -- I try to speculate what went
on in the minds of these people when they attacked us. They must have thought
we were weak. You know, they must have thought that -- this kind of false image
of materialism affected their thinking. They thought we were so materialistic
we wouldn't react. They probably thought all we were going to do is maybe file
a couple of lawsuits. (Laughter.) They were watching the wrong TV show. (Laughter.)
They found out that this nation, when it comes to the defense of our freedom,
is plenty tough.
When it comes to the values we hold dear, we will be strong, and we'll be steadfast.
And when it comes to enforcing doctrine, when I said, either you're with us
or against us, they understand. And when I said, if you're going to harbor one
of those terrorists, you're just as guilty as the terrorists -- thanks to the
United States military, thanks to our coalition, the world now knows what we
The Taliban government now knows what we mean. We have totally destroyed their
training camps, we've disrupted their chain of command. We've got them on the
run. And once you get them on the run, the key is to make sure that there's
no place to run to. And so our second strategy is to make sure there is no safe
haven for these killers. There is no place for them to light. Either you're
with us, or you're against us.
And there's going to be a lot of action left. I mean, when you're hunting them
down one by one or in small bunches, it's going to take a while. It's just going
to take a while. And that's the resolve of my government and our government.
It doesn't matter how long it takes. See, that's the thing that people have
got to understand about America. It just doesn't matter how long it takes, because
we love our freedom.
It also matters that there are potential threats that we recognize. This threat
bothers me, the idea of a terrorist organization teaming up with a nation that
develops and harbors weapons of mass destruction. It bothers me. We cannot let
the world's most dangerous regimes threaten us with the world's most dangerous
weapons -- for the good of our children, for the good of freedom, for the good
of civilization itself, this nation will be deliberate, will be patient. But
we're not going to allow the world's most dangerous regimes to hold the United
States blackmail with the world's most dangerous weapons. (Applause.)
I believe that by being firm and tough and strong, we can achieve peace. It's
very important for the moms and dads to tell their children that your government
is interested in peace and freedom. If there's any doubt in your children's
mind about what we're doing, remind them that when we sent our troops into Afghanistan,
we liberated a country. And, for the first time in a long time, young girls
got to go to school. (Applause.)
While we're chasing down the killers, we're also helping the nation rebuild
herself, with medical care and food. This is a compassionate nation, a nation
that longs for peace. And I believe by being firm and strong and leading the
world, we can achieve peace.
I was pleased to see today that the standoff at the Church of the Nativity in
Bethlehem was resolved peacefully. That's positive news in a troubled region.
But you need to know in that region and around the world, I visualize a peace
so people can live side by side in peace. And our country will continue to work
in that direction.
Out of the evil will come good. Out of the evil will come good, not only around
the world but here at home as well. People ask me, they say, well, Mr. President,
what can I do to help in the war against terror? And my answer is, if you're
interested in fighting evil, do some good by loving your neighbor like you'd
like to be loved yourself.
If you want to help this country, go across the street to a shut-in's house
and say, what can I do to help you? If you want to be a part of a movement in
America that's taking place, mentor a child. Go into your church or your synagogue
or mosque and rally the good people that show up to worship to help people in
There are pockets of despair in America, there are pockets of hopelessness,
which can and will be overcome because loving citizens have decided to do something
about it. The great strength of this country is really not our military. It's
not the fact that we're, you know, great and rich. It's the fact that our nation
is full of people with decent hearts and loving souls, people who are willing
to take time out of their day to help a neighbor in need.
I believe that as a result of the evil done to America, many are taking a hard
look at the values in their life. Moms and dads recognize that their most important
job is to love their children with all their hearts and all their souls. Many
citizens around our country are realizing that, while it's important to make
a living, it's also important to serve something greater than yourself, your
community. And it's happening. That's why I'm so optimistic that not only will
we achieve peace, but we'll show the world the true face of America, a decent
face, a hopeful face, a compassionate face.
It is an unimaginable honor to be the President of the greatest country on the
face of the earth. I'm the man with that honor.
Thank you for coming and God bless you all. (Applause.)