FROM THE 2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
GEORGE W. BUSH
NEW YORK • SEPTEMBER 2, 2004
Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens,
I'm honored by your support, and I accept your nomination
for president of the United States.
When I said those words four years ago, none of us could
have envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart
of this great city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning.
We saw the bravery of rescuers grow with danger. We learned
of passengers on a doomed plane who died with a courage
that frightened their killers.
We have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet. And we
have seen Americans in uniform storming mountain strongholds
and charging through sandstorms and liberating millions
with acts of valor that would make the men of Normandy
Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and
found the strength to climb them.
Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see
the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges
with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and
greatness in our future.
We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America,
and nothing will hold us back.
In the work we have done and the work we will do, I am
fortunate to have a superb vice president.
I have counted on Dick Cheney's calm and steady judgment
in difficult days, and I'm honored to have him at my side.
I am grateful to share my walk in life with Laura Bush.
Americans have come to see the goodness and kindness and
strength I first saw 26 years ago, and we love our first
I'm a fortunate father of two spirited, intelligent and
lovely young women.
I'm blessed with a sister and brothers who are my closest
And I will always be the proud and grateful son of George
and Barbara Bush.
My father served eight years at the side of another great
American, Ronald Reagan.
His spirit of optimism and good will and decency are in
this hall and are in our hearts and will always define
Two months from today, voters will make a choice based
on the records we have built, the convictions we hold and
the vision that guides us forward.
A presidential election is a contest for the future. Tonight
I will tell you where I stand, what I believe, and where
I will lead this country in the next four years.
I believe every child can learn and every school must
teach, so we passed the most important federal education
reform in history. Because we acted, children are making
sustained progress in reading and math, America's schools
are getting better, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America's
seniors, so I brought Republicans and Democrats together
to strengthen Medicare. Now seniors are getting immediate
help buying medicine. Soon every senior will be able to
get prescription drug coverage, and nothing will hold us
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America's
workers, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers, so we unleashed
that energy with the largest tax relief in a generation.
Because we acted, our economy is growing again and creating
jobs, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe the most solemn duty of the American president
is to protect the American people.
If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade,
the world will drift toward tragedy.
This will not happen on my watch.
I am running for president with a clear and positive plan
to build a safer world and a more hopeful America. I am
running with a compassionate conservative philosophy: that
government should help people improve their lives, not
try to run their lives.
I believe this nation wants steady, consistent, principled
leadership. And that is why, with your help, we will win
The story of America is the story of expanding liberty,
an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further
and include more.
Our nation's founding commitment is still our deepest
commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend
the frontiers of freedom.
The times in which we work and live are changing dramatically.
The workers of our parents' generation typically had one
job, one skill, one career, often with one company that
provided health care and a pension. And most of those workers
Today, workers change jobs, even careers, many times during
their lives. And in one of the most dramatic shifts our
society has seen, two-thirds of all moms also work outside
This changed world can be a time of great opportunity
for all Americans to earn a better living, support your
family, and have a rewarding career. And government must
take your side.
Many of our most fundamental systems -- the tax code,
health coverage, pension plans, worker training -- were
created for the world of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will
transform these systems so that all citizens are equipped,
prepared, and thus truly free to make your own choices
and pursue your own dreams.
My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity
of a growing economy. We now compete in a global market
that provides new buyers for our goods, but new competition
for our workers. To create more jobs in America, America
must be the best place in the world to do business.
To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and
expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation
and making the tax relief permanent.
To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent
on foreign sources of energy.
To create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing
field to sell American goods and services across the globe.
And we must protect small-business owners and workers
from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten
jobs across our country.
Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which
is a complicated mess, filled with special interest loopholes,
saddling our people with more than 6 billion hours of paperwork
and headache every year. The American people deserve --
and our economic future demands -- a simpler, fairer, pro-growth
In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform
and simplify the federal tax code.
Another priority in a new term will be to help workers
take advantage of the expanding economy to find better
and higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, many workers
want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level
skills. So we will double the number of people served by
our principal job training program and increase funding
for community colleges.
I know that with the right skills, American workers can
compete with anyone, anywhere in the world.
In this time of change, opportunity in some communities
is more distant than in others. To stand with workers in
poor communities and those that have lost manufacturing,
textile, and other jobs, we will create American opportunity
In these areas, we'll provide tax relief and other incentives
to attract new business and improve housing and job training
to bring hope and work throughout all of America.
As I've traveled the country, I've met many workers and
small- business owners who have told me that they are worried
they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured
are small- business employees and their families.
In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together
to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big
We will offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses
and their employees to set up health savings accounts and
provide direct help for low-income Americans to purchase
them. These accounts give workers the security of insurance
against major illness, the opportunity to save tax-free
for routine health expenses, and the freedom of knowing
you can take your account with you whenever you change
We will provide low-income Americans with better access
to health care. In a new term, I will ensure every poor
county in America has a community or rural health center.
As I have traveled our country, I've met too many good
doctors, especially OB/GYNs, who are being forced out of
practice because of the high cost of lawsuits.
To make health care more affordable and accessible, we
must pass medical liability reform now.
And in all we do to improve health care in America, we
will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors
and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
In this time of change, government must take the side
of working families.
In a new term we will change outdated labor laws to offer
comp-time and flex-time. Our laws should never stand in
the way of a more family-friendly workplace.
Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership
society, because ownership brings security and dignity
Thanks to our policies, home ownership in America is at
an all- time high.
Tonight we set a new goal: 7 million more affordable homes
in the next 10 years, so more American families will be
able to open the door and say, "Welcome to my home."
In an ownership society, more people will own their health
plans and have the confidence of owning a piece of their
We'll always keep the promise of Social Security for our
With the huge baby boom generation approaching retirement,
many of our children and grandchildren understandably worry
whether Social Security will be there when they need it.
We must strengthen Social Security by allowing younger
workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account,
a nest egg you can call your own and government can never
In all these proposals, we seek to provide not just a
government program, but a path, a path to greater opportunity,
more freedom and more control over your own life.
And the path begins with our youngest Americans.
To build a more hopeful America, we must help our children
reach as far as their vision and character can take them.
Tonight, I remind every parent and every teacher, I say
to every child: No matter what your circumstance, no matter
where you live, your school will be the path to promise
We are transforming our schools by raising standards and
focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability,
empowering parents and teachers, and making sure that local
people are in charge of their schools.
By testing every child, we are identifying those who need
help, and we're providing a record level of funding to
get them that help.
In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is
mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor. And this year, 90
percent of its students passed state tests in reading and
The principal -- the principal expresses the philosophy
of his school this way: "We don't focus on what we
can't do at this school; we focus on what we can do. And
we do whatever it takes to get kids across the finish line."
See, this principal is challenging the soft bigotry of
And that is the spirit of our education reform and the
commitment of our country: No dejaremos a ningun nino atras.
We will leave no child behind.
We are making progress. We are making progress. And there
is more to do.
In this time of change, most new jobs are filled by people
with at least two years of college, yet only about one
in four students gets there. In our high schools, we will
fund early intervention programs to help students at risk.
We will place a new focus on math and science.
As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before
graduation. By raising performance in our high schools
and expanding Pell Grants for low and middle income families,
we will help more Americans start their career with a college
America's children must also have a healthy start in life.
In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll
millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed
up for the government's health insurance programs. We will
not allow a lack of attention or information to stand between
these children and the health care they need.
Anyone who wants more details on my agenda can find them
online. The web address is not very imaginative, but it's
easy to remember: georgewbush.com.
These changing times can be exciting times of expanded
And here, you face a choice. My opponent's policies are
dramatically different from ours.
Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and health savings
accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he now
wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability
reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed
doubling the child credit, opposed lowering income taxes
for all who pay them.
BUSH: Wait a minute, wait a minute.
To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for.
He's proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending
so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.
And to pay for that spending, he is running on a platform
of increasing taxes. And that's the kind of promise a politician
His policies of tax and spend, of expanding government
rather than expanding opportunity, are the politics of
the past. We are on the path to the future, and we're not
In this world of change, some things do not change: the
values we try to live by, the institutions that give our
lives meaning and purpose. Our society rests on a foundation
of responsibility and character and family commitment.
Because family and work are sources of stability and dignity,
I support welfare reform that strengthens family and requires
Because a caring society will value its weakest members,
we must make a place for the unborn child.
Because religious charities provide a safety net of mercy
and compassion, our government must never discriminate
Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored
place in our society, I support the protection of marriage
against activist judges.
And I will continue to appoint federal judges who know
the difference between personal opinion and the strict
interpretation of the law.
My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate
of "conservative values," which must have come
as a surprise to a lot of his supporters.
Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say
the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I'm
afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values.
If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage
Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate
of conservative values.
If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the
Reagan presidency eight years of "moral darkness," then
you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative
values is not one of them.
This election will also determine how America responds
to the continuing danger of terrorism, and you know where
Three days after September the 11th, I stood where Americans
died, in the ruins of the twin towers.
Workers in hard hats were shouting to me, "Whatever
it takes." A fellow grabbed me by the arm, and he
said, "Do not let me down." 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.
So 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 have tripled funding for homeland
security and trained half a million first responders because
we are determined to protect our homeland.
We are transforming our military and reforming and strengthening
our intelligence services. We are staying on the offensive,
striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them
here at home.
And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle
East, because freedom will bring a future of hope and the
peace we all want. And we will prevail.
Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan
was the home base of Al Qaida.
Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups. Saudi
Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fund-raising. Libya
was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering
threat. And Al Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned
Today, the government of a free Afghanistan is fighting
terror. 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 Qaida's
key members and associates have been detained or killed.
We have led, many have joined, and America and the world
This progress involved careful diplomacy, clear moral
purpose and some tough decisions.
And the toughest came on Iraq. We knew Saddam Hussein's
record of aggression and support for terror. We knew his
long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction.
And we know that September the 11th requires our country
to think differently. We must, and we will, confront threats
to America before it is too late.
In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat. Members of both political
Members of both political parties, including my opponent
and his running mate, saw the threat, and voted to authorize
the use of force. We went to the United Nations Security
Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding
the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders
in the Middle East urged him to comply.
After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam
Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities
to the civilized world. He again refused.
And I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the
Oval Office, a decision no president would ask for, but
must be prepared to make: Do I forget the lessons of September
11th and take the word of a madman...
BUSH: ... or do I take action to defend our country?
Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.
Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous
regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history,
more than 50 million people have been liberated, and democracy
is coming to the broader Middle East.
In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can
to intimidate people, yet more than 10 million citizens
have registered to vote in the October presidential election,
a resounding endorsement for democracy.
Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong
prime minister, a national council, and national elections
are scheduled for January.
Our nation is standing with the people of Afghanistan
and Iraq, because when America gives its word, America
must keep its word.
As importantly, we are serving a vital and historic cause
that will make our country safer. 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 terrorists instead of harboring
And that helps us keep the peace.
So our mission in Afghanistan and Iraq is clear. We will
help new leaders to train their armies, and move toward
elections, and get on the path of stability and democracy
as quickly as possible. And then our troops will return
home with the honor they have earned.
Our troops know the historic importance of our work. One
Army specialist wrote home, "We are transforming a
once-sick society into a hopeful place. The various terrorist
enemies we are facing in Iraq," he continued, "are
really aiming at you back in the United States. This is
a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are
doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil
That young man is right. Our men and women in uniform
are doing a superb job for America.
Tonight I want to speak to all of them and to their families:
You are involved in a struggle of historic proportion.
Because of your service and sacrifice, we are defeating
the terrorists where they live and plan, and you're making
Because of you, women in Afghanistan are no longer shot
in a sports stadium. Because of you, the people of Iraq
no longer fear being executed and left in mass graves.
Because of you, the world is more just and will be more
We owe you our thanks. And we owe you something more.
We will give you all the resources, all the tools, and
all the support you need for victory.
Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I
proposed, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed, $87 billion
in funding needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan
and Iraq. My opponent and his running mate voted against
this money for bullets and fuel and vehicles and body armor.
When asked to explain his vote, the senator said, "I
actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against
Then he said he was "proud" of his vote. Then,
when pressed, he said it was a "complicated" matter.
There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops
Our allies also know the historic importance of our work.
About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some
30 in Iraq. I deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel
of leaders like Prime Minister Howard, President Kwasniewski,
Prime Minister Berlusconi and, of course, Prime Minister
Again, my opponent takes a different approach. In the
midst of war, he has called American allies, quote, a "coalition
of the coerced and the bribed."
That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland, Italy,
Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia,
... allies that deserve the respect of all Americans,
not the scorn of a politician.
I respect every soldier, from every country, who serves
beside us in the hard work of history. America is grateful,
and America will not forget.
The people we have freed won't forget either. Not long
ago, seven Iraqi men came to see me in the Oval Office.
They had Xs branded into their foreheads and their right
hands had been cut off by Saddam Hussein's secret police,
the sadistic punishment for imaginary crimes.
During our emotional visit one of the Iraqi men used his
new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a prayer
for God to bless America.
I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed
and the greatest force for good on this Earth.
Others understand the historic importance of our work.
The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful
democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit
their radical ideology of hate.
They know that men and women with hope and purpose and
dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the
The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning
and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear. And
they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. The
wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom.
As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment,
their example will send a message of hope throughout a
Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and
reform are within their reach and so is peace with our
good friend, Israel.
Young women across the Middle East will hear the message
that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young
men will hear the message that national progress and dignity
are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror.
Reformers and political prisoners and exiles will hear
the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied
forever. And as freedom advances, heart by heart, and nation
by nation, America will be more secure and the world more
America has done this kind of work before, and there have
always been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall
of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New
York Times wrote this: "Germany is a land in an acute
stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European
capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters,
one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal
with the consequences of the occupation policy that they
admit has failed," end quote.
Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials.
Fortunately, we had a resolute president named Truman
who, with the American people, persevered, knowing that
a new democracy at the center of Europe would lead to stability
and peace. And because that generation of Americans held
firm in the cause of liberty, we live in a better and safer
The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the
broader Middle East will not come easily or all at once.
Yet Americans, of all people, should never be surprised
by the power of liberty to transform lives and nations.
That power brought settlers on perilous journeys, inspired
colonies to rebellion, ended the sin of slavery, and set
our nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century.
We were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany
and Japan, Nicaragua and Central Europe and the Baltics,
and that noble story goes on.
I believe that America is called to lead the cause of
freedom in a new century. I believe that millions in the
Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I believe
that given the chance, they 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; it is the almighty God's gift to every
man and woman in this world.
This moment in the life of our country will be remembered.
Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our
word. Generations will know if we seized this moment and
used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom
of many and the future security of our nation now depend
And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with
In the last four years -- in the last four years, you
and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't
agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand.
You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes
have to correct my English.
I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started
Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which
in Texas is called "walking."
Now and then I come across as a little too blunt, and
for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting
right up there.
One thing I have learned about the presidency is that
whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice
them; and whatever strengths you have, you're going to
These four years have brought moments I could not foresee
and will not forget. I've tried to comfort Americans who
lost the most on September the 11th: people who showed
me a picture or told me a story so I would know how much
was taken from them.
I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into
battle is the hardest decision even when it is right. I
have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with
a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their
job. I've held the children of the fallen who are told
their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have
their dad or mom.
I've met with parents and wives and husbands who have
received a folded flag and said a final goodbye to a soldier
they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings
to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement
Where does that strength like that come from? How can
people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It
is because they know their loved one was last seen doing
good because they know that liberty was precious to the
one they lost.
And And in those military families, I have seen the character
of a great nation: decent and idealistic and strong.
The world saw that spirit three miles from here, when
the people of this city faced peril together and lifted
a flag over the ruins and defied the enemy with their courage.
My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands,
people will look to the resurrection of New York City and
they will say: Here buildings fell, and here a nation rose.
We see America's character in our military, which finds
a way or makes one. We see it in our veterans, who are
supporting military families in their days of worry. We
see it in our young people, who have found heroes once
We see that character in workers and entrepreneurs, who
are renewing our economy with their effort and optimism.
And all of this has confirmed one belief beyond doubt:
Having come this far, our tested and confident nation can
To everything we know there is a season -- a time for
sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding.
And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century
will be liberty's century.
By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world.
By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful
Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond
the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting
dream of America. And tonight, in this place, that dream
Now we go forward, grateful for our freedom, faithful
to our cause, and confident in the future of the greatest
nation on Earth.
May God bless you, and may God continue to bless our great
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