FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
George W. Bush
October 2, 2004 • Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Thank you all for coming.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. The sun is shining on Ohio.
(Applause.) I'm thrilled to be here. I am the first sitting
President ever to come to this fine city. (Applause.) The
rest of them missed a great place. (Applause.)
I'm so proud you all came out today. I'm so honored to
be standing up here with Chuck Canterbury to receive the
endorsement of the Fraternal Order of the Police. It means
a lot to get the endorsement from those who serve our country
on a daily basis to make it safe. (Applause.)
I'm proud of that endorsement. I want to thank Jim Pasco
and Nick DiMarco, as well as all the Fraternal Order of
Police folks standing behind me.
I want to thank you all for coming. I'm here to ask for
your vote. (Applause.) We're getting closer and closer
to election day, and I'm here to ask for your help, as
well. (Applause.) Go out and register your friends and
your neighbors. Tell them they have a duty in America to
vote. In a free society, we have an obligation to go to
the polls. Make sure you don't overlook those discerning
Democrats, either. (Laughter.) Like Zell Miller. (Applause.)
Or my friend, the mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, George McKelvey.
(Applause.) I'm proud you're here, Mr. Mayor. I'm proud
to call you "friend" and I'm proud to call you "supporter." Thanks
for coming. (Applause.)
Then after you get them registered to vote, get them headed
to the polls. And remind them that if they want a safer
America, a stronger America, and a better America, to put
me and Dick Cheney back in office. (Applause.)
Listen, I have one regret, and that is that Laura isn't
here with me.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I know, I hear it all the time --
why didn't you send Laura, and you stay at home? (Laughter.)
True story. She said, fine, I'll marry you, when I asked
her, but she said, I don't ever want to have to give a
speech. (Laughter.) I said, you got a deal. (Laughter.)
Fortunately, she didn't hold me to my word. The country
got to see Laura speaking in New York City at that convention.
They got to see a strong, decent, fine woman. Laura is
a great First Lady. (Applause.) I'm really proud of her.
I'm going to give you some reasons to put me back in, but
perhaps the most important one of all is so that Laura
is the First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)
And I'm proud of my Vice President, Dick Cheney. (Applause.)
He's warming up. (Laughter.) He'll be right around the
corner pretty soon. He's not going to have the waviest
hair on the set. (Laughter.) I didn't pick him for his
hair. (Laughter.) I picked him because of his judgment
and his sound experience. Dick Cheney is getting the job
done for the American people. (Applause.)
I'm proud of your United States Senator Mike DeWine. Thanks
for coming, Mike. (Applause.) I'm honored you're here.
Speaking about senators, you've got another good one in
George Voinovich. You need to put him back in. He's doing
Ohio good work. He's a good, solid man, a good, decent
I want to thank Congressman Ralph Regula for being with
us today, too. Thank you, Chairman. I'm glad you're here.
Lieutenant Governor Jennette Bradley is with us. Today
is her birthday. Yes. What a great way to celebrate your
I want to thank the Mayor, Don Robart, who is here. Mr.
Mayor, my only advice, my only advice -- I know you didn't
ask for any -- but my only advice is, fill the potholes.
(Laughter and applause.)
I want to thank the high school band that's here. Appreciate
you coming. (Applause.) But most of all, thank you all.
I want to thank those who work at the grassroots level
for putting up the signs and making the phone calls. (Applause.)
I appreciate you. I want to thank you for what you have
done and what you're going to do coming down the stretch.
With your help, there is no doubt in my mind we will carry
Ohio again and win a great victory in November. (Applause.)
And I'm looking forward to this campaign. I love coming
to your state -- I've been spending some quality time here.
(Laughter.) I like to come because I want to tell people
where I stand, what I believe, and where I'm going to lead
I believe every child can learn and every school can teach.
I went to Washington to challenge what I call the soft
bigotry of low expectations. That's a system that, in some
cases, passes children through grade after grade, year
after year without learning the basics. It's not right.
It's not right for our country. We've raised the standards.
We're now measuring early, so we can solve problems before
they're too late. I believe in local control of schools.
We're closing an achievement gap in America and we're not
going to go back to the old days. (Applause.)
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor our
seniors with good health care. I went to Washington to
solve problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents
and future generations. I saw a problem in Medicare. Medicine
had changed, but Medicare hadn't. You know, we pay $100,000
or so for a heart surgery for a Medicare patient, but not
one dime for the prescription drugs to prevent the heart
surgery from being needed in the first place. That doesn't
make any sense for our seniors. It doesn't make any sense
for the tax-payers. I brought Republicans and Democrats
together. I signed a bill that modernizes Medicare. Seniors
will get prescription drugs in 2006 and we're not going
to go back to the old days. (Applause.)
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of our workers,
our small business owners, our farmers, our ranchers, and
that's why we unleashed that energy with the largest tax
relief in a generation. (Applause.)
When you're out gathering up the vote, remind your friends
and neighbors about what this economy has been through.
The stock market started to decline before Dick Cheney
and I got to Washington. Then we had a recession. Then
we had some citizens forget what it means to be a responsible
American. They didn't tell the truth. We passed tough laws.
It is abundantly clear now in America: We will not tolerate
dishonesty in the boardrooms of our country. (Applause.)
And then the enemy hit us. And that hurt us. That hurt
our economy. You know it hurt the economy. But this economy
is strong, and it is getting stronger. We've been growing
at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. It's growing
because of the spirit of the people. It's growing because
of those tax cuts. (Applause.)
We've added 1.7 million new jobs last year. We've added
107,000 manufacturing jobs since January. The national
unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, which is lower than the
average of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. (Applause.)
There's still work to do in parts of Ohio, I understand
that. That's why I support opportunity zones, places like
Summit County, to give companies relief and incentives
so that they can expand to places where the manufacturing
sector has been hurt. No, there are things we're going
to do, but this economy is strong and it's growing stronger.
We're not going to go back to the old days of tax and spend.
I believe the most solemn duty of the 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.
I'm 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. (Applause.) I believe this nation
wants steady, consistent, principled leadership, and that
is why with your help we're going to win a great victory
in November. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
THE PRESIDENT: The world in which we live and work is
changing. I understand that. The generation of our dads
and granddads, a man generally had one job and one career,
and the company he worked for paid for the pension plan
and health care. This world we're living in is different.
The workforce is changing. Women are working inside the
house and now outside the house. And many workers change
careers and jobs over their lifetime.
And, yet, the most fundamental of our systems -- the tax
code, health coverage, pension plans and worker training
-- were created for yesterday, not tomorrow. I am running
to change those systems so all citizens are equipped, prepared
and, thus, truly free to make your own choices, so you
can pursue your own dreams. (Applause.)
Now, I understand that a hopeful society is one that has
got a growing economy. If we want to keep jobs here in
America and expand the job base, America must be the best
place in the world to do business. (Applause.) That means
less regulations on our business owners. (Applause.) That
means we got to do something about these frivolous lawsuits
that plague our small businesses. (Applause.)
If we want to keep jobs here, if we want to -- Congress
needs to pass my energy plan. (Applause.) It is a plan
that encourages conservation. It is a plan that encourages
the use of renewables, like ethanol and biodiesel. It is
a plan that says we'll explore technologies to make sure
we consume energy in different ways. It is a plan that
encourages clean coal technology. It is a plan that allows
us to explore for natural gas in environmentally friendly
ways. It is a plan that recognizes to keep jobs here in
America, we must be less dependent on foreign sources of
To keep jobs in this country, we've got to reject economic
isolationism. See, we've opened up our markets -- just
not me, other Presidents, as well, from both parties have
opened up our markets because it's good for you, the consumer.
See, if you've got more products to choose from, you're
likely to get that which you want at a better price and
higher quality. That's how the market works. And so what
I'm saying to places like China, you treat us the way we
treat you. Opening up markets is good for our workers.
It's good for our farmers. See, we can compete with anybody,
anywhere, anytime, so long as the rules are fair. (Applause.)
To make sure we keep jobs here we've got to be wise about
how we spend your money in Washington. And we've got to
keep your taxes low. (Applause.) Taxes are an issue in
this campaign. I'll tell you why. The fellow I'm running
against has so far proposed $2.2 trillion in new spending.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I know. That's a lot -- even for a
senator from Massachusetts. So they asked him how he's
going to pay for it and he said, well, we're just going
to tax the rich. We've heard that before, haven't we? Let
me tell you a couple things wrong with this "tax the
First of all, you can't raise enough money by taxing the
rich to pay for $2.2 trillion. You raise about $680 billion
-- therefore, there is a tax gap. Guess who always gets
to fill the tax gap? Yes, you do. "Tax the rich," yes,
we've heard it. The rich hire lawyers and accountants for
a reason, because they want to stick you with the bill.
We're not going to let John Kerry tax you. We're going
to win in November. (Applause.)
Now that we're on taxes, let me say something about the
tax code. It's a complicated mess. It's a million pages
long. It takes six billion hours a year to fill out the
tax forms in this country. In a new term, I'm going to
bring Republicans and Democrats together to simplify this
tax code so it's more fair for you. (Applause.)
In a changing world, the skills that are required for
the jobs of the 21st century change. We have a skills gap
in America in some communities. Some jobs are gone, new
jobs arrive. In order to help our workers, I'm a big believer
in the community college system, to make the systems available
so people can gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs
of the 21st century. As well, in a changing world, most
new jobs filled by people -- are filled by people with
at least two years of college, yet, one in four of our
students gets there. That's why I believe in early intervention
programs in high school to help our at-risk students. That's
why I know we've got to place a new focus on math and science.
Over time, we'll require a rigorous exam before graduation.
See, by raising the performance in our high schools and
by expanding Pell grants for low- and middle-income families,
more Americans will start their career with a college diploma.
In this time of change, we've got to do something about
the health care system. There's a big difference in this
campaign on health care. You listen carefully to what my
opponent's laying out, and it says one thing. The federal
government's going to run it.
THE PRESIDENT: I want you to run it. (Applause.) I want
you to be the decision-maker. So here's some practical
ways to help. First of all, we'll take care of the poor
and the needy by expanding community health centers all
around the country. We have a duty and an obligation to
do so. It makes sense that those folks get good health
care in these centers and not in the emergency rooms of
our hospitals. (Applause.)
Secondly, we'll continue to expand the children's health
care program for low-income Americans. In order to make
sure health care is available and affordable, we're going
to help our small business owners. One-half of the uninsured,
currently uninsured, work for small businesses. There's
a reason why small businesses can't afford health care.
They ought to be allowed to pool together their risk so
they can buy insurance at the same discount big businesses
can. (Applause.) That makes sense. That's a commonsense
way to make sure the control of health care is in your
hands. My opponent opposes that.
I'll tell you another thing we need to do to make sure
health care is available and affordable. We've got to do
something about these junk lawsuits that are running up
the cost of medicine and running good doctors out of practice.
(Applause.) You cannot be pro-doctor, pro-patient, pro-hospital,
and pro-trial lawyer a the same time. See, I think you
have to make a choice. My opponent made his choice, and
he put a trial lawyer on the ticket.
THE PRESIDENT: I made my choice: I'm standing with the
docs and patients; I'm for medical liability reform now.
(Applause.) In all we do, we'll make sure the medical decisions
are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in
In a changing society, it helps bring stability in people's
life if they own something. The home ownership rate under
my administration is the highest it's ever been in America.
(Applause.) Over the next four years, we'll continue to
expand the home ownership policies to every corner of America.
I love the idea of somebody opening up the door where they
live and saying, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece
of property. (Applause.)
As well, we've got to think different about our retirement
systems. You might remember the 2000 campaign, when people
said, well, if George W. gets in, they're going to take
away your Social Security check. You still got your check,
didn't you? So here's my message to our seniors: Don't
worry about what they tell you in the campaign, the Social
Security obligation will be fulfilled. And for us baby
boomers, there's enough money in the system to take care
of us. But because there's a lot of baby boomers getting
ready to retire, we need to worry about our children and
our grandchildren when it comes to Social Security. I believe
younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their
own tax money and set up a personal savings account that
they can call their own that the government cannot take
In this world of change, there are some things that do
not change, the values we try to live by: courage and compassion,
reverence and integrity. In changing times, we'll support
the institutions that give our lives direction and purpose:
our families, our schools, our religious congregations.
We believe in 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 appointment of federal judges who know
the difference between personal opinion and the strict
interpretation of the law. (Applause.)
This election will also determine how America responds
to the continuing danger of terrorism. Since the terrible
morning of September the 11th, 2001, we've 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're defending the homeland. We're reforming and
strengthening our intelligence services. We're strengthening
our all-volunteer army -- which will remain an all-volunteer
army. (Applause.) We are staying on the offensive. We are
striking the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face
them here at home. (Applause.)
We will continue to spread freedom and liberty in the
broader Middle East and around the world, and we will prevail.
(Applause.) Our strategy is -- see, you think about the
world the way it was a while back: 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 gathering danger; and al Qaeda was largely unchallenged
as it planned attacks.
Because we acted, a free Afghanistan is fighting terror;
Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders; Saudi Arabia is
making arrests; Libya is dismantling its weapons programs;
the army of a free Iraq is fighting for freedom; and more
than three-quarters of al Qaeda have been brought to justice.
We've led, many have joined, and America and the world
are safer. This progress involved careful diplomacy, clear
moral purpose, and some tough decisions. And the toughest
came on Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a threat. We knew his
record of aggression, support for terrorist organizations.
Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction. He fired
missiles at our pilots which were enforcing the world sanctions.
He slaughtered his own people. Saddam Hussein was a threat.
And after September the 11th, we must always remember we
must take threats seriously, before the fully materialize.
That is the reality of the world in which we live. I recognized
that reality, and I went to the Congress. Congress debated
the issue. They voted overwhelmingly to authorize the use
of force. They had looked at the same intelligence I did,
remembered the same history I did, and voted overwhelmingly
for force. My opponent looked at the same intelligence
I did, and when the vote came to authorize force, he voted, "yes." I
guess now it depends on what the meaning of "yes" is
in his mind. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE PRESIDENT: Before the Commander-in-Chief commits our
troops into harm's way, he must try every other alternative.
And so I went to the United Nations hoping that diplomacy
would work. The United Nations debated the issue, and voted
15 to nothing, the U.N. Security Council, to say to Saddam
Hussein: disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences.
I believe when an international body speaks, it must mean
what it says. (Applause.)
As he had for 16 other resolutions, Saddam Hussein ignored
the United Nations. The other night, my opponent suggested
we probably should have passed the 18th resolution. (Laughter.)
What good would a resolution do after he ignored the first
17? As he had for a decade, he wasn't about to listen to
the demands of the free world. As a matter of fact, when
they sent inspectors in, it is now a fact that Saddam Hussein
was systematically deceiving the inspectors. Part of my
opponent's plan, as articulated in Miami, said, well, we
should have let the inspectors work. They weren't working.
He was deceiving them. He was hoping the world would turn
away. So I had a choice to make at this point in time:
Do I take the word of a madman, forget the lessons of September
the 11th, or take action to defend this country? Given
that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
We didn't find the stockpiles we all thought were there.
But, remember, Saddam Hussein had the capability of making
weapons of mass destruction. He could have passed that
capability onto a terrorist enemy, and that was a risk
we could not afford to take after September the 11th. Knowing
what I know today, I would have made the same decision.
America and the world are better off with Saddam in a prison
Because we acted to defend our country, 50 million people
now live in freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Applause.)
I want you to remind your friends and neighbors about the
Afghan story. You realize, almost three-and-a-half years
ago, the Taliban, these ideologues of hate, would not yet
-- let many young girls go to school. Imagine a society
in which young girls weren't allowed to go to school. When
their mothers didn't toe the line on their ideology, they'd
take them in the public square and whip them. Sometimes,
they shot them in the sports stadium. It was a dismal,
Today, 10 million Afghan citizens have registered to vote,
41 percent of whom are women, and they're having a presidential
election later on this month. (Applause.) Think about that.
Freedom is powerful. Freedom has converted a society that
was dark and gloomy to one of hope and light.
In Iraq, there's a brave Prime Minister named Prime Minister
Allawi. They're going to have elections in January. It's
hard work there. I know it's hard work. But you can be
realistic and optimistic at the same time. We got a good
plan. We're training the Iraqis so they can do the hard
work. A hundred-thousand of them are trained. They're taking
action today against some of those terrorist thugs. Slowly
but surely, their forces are getting up, and some point
in time, they'll be ready to defend themselves. We're helping
to rebuild that country. Other nations are involved. They're
having conferences here and conferences there. I'll tell
you one thing, a summit isn't how you solve the problem.
(Applause.) I've been to a lot of summits -- I've never
seen one that brought a terrorist to justice.
No, we've got a plan and it's working. Mr. Zarqawi's got
one -- he's got one weapon, and that is to shake our will,
because we've got good conscience, because we care about
human life and human dignity. Every life is precious. That's
his one weapon. But when America gives its word, America
will keep its word for the Iraqi and Afghan citizens. (Applause.)
We'll help these people move toward elections, we'll get
them on the path to stability and democracy as quickly
as possible, and then our troops will come home with the
honor they have earned. (Applause.)
We've got a great military. Proud of our military. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the veterans who are here for having
set such a great example for those who wear the uniform.
(Applause.) I also want to thank the military families
who are here today. (Applause.) We appreciate your sacrifice.
And I made a commitment to our families and to those who
wear the uniform that you'll have all the resources you
need to complete your missions.
That's why I went to the Congress, September of 2003 and
asked them for $87 billion of important funding, funding
to support our troops in harm's way. We got great support
there. Matter of fact, the support was overwhelming for
the $87 billion. All but 12 United States senators voted
for the funding, two of whom were my opponent and his running
mate. I want you to remind your friends and neighbors this:
there was only four members of the Senate that voted to
authorize the use of force and didn't vote to fund our
troops, two of whom would be my opponent and his running
THE PRESIDENT: So they actually asked him, they said,
why did you do that? He said, in one of the famous quotes
of the 2004 campaign -- (laughter) -- I actually did vote
for the $87 billion, right before I voted against it.
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE PRESIDENT: They kept pressing him. He said he was
proud of the vote. Finally, he said it was a complicated
matter, and, yet, incredibly enough, he came up with a
new reason. Last week, he described his vote against funding
the troops as a protest vote. He said it on national TV.
THE PRESIDENT: When American troops are in harm's way
and defending our country, they deserve better than to
have a candidate for President use them as a protest vote.
(Applause.) Oh, I forgot, I forgot. There's yet another
explanation since then, and it happened at the debate.
He said he made a mistake in how he talked about that vote.
The mistake wasn't what Senator Kerry said, the mistake
is what Senator Kerry did. (Applause.) In the debate --
in the debate my opponent also said something revealing
when he laid out the Kerry doctrine. (Laughter.) He said
this, that America has to pass a global test --
THE PRESIDENT: -- before we can use troops to defend ourselves.
Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign
governments veto power over national security decisions.
THE PRESIDENT: I have a different view. (Applause.) When
our country is in danger, the President's job is not to
take an international poll. The President's job is to defend
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. The
heart of my conviction is that liberty can help change
societies for the better. You know, I spend time with the
Prime Minister of Japan. He's a good friend. I was with
New York -- I was in New York with him at the U.N. I said,
by the way, I'm talking about you on the campaign trail.
Do you mind? And he said, no, not at all. I didn't tell
him I was going to tell you that he likes Elvis. (Laughter.)
Nevertheless, here's why I like to bring him up. Wasn't
all that long ago that our country was at war with Japan.
My dad fought him, your dads and granddads fought him,
as well. They were the sworn enemy. And after World War
II, Harry Truman and other Americans believed that liberty
can transform an enemy into an ally, and worked with Japan
to promote democracy. Now, a lot of people then, I'm confident,
were skeptical about that being able to happen. You understand
why. We had just fought them. A lot of lives had been lost.
But because Harry Truman stuck to those values, today I
sit down at the table with the head of a former enemy,
talking about the peace we all want, talking about how
to work together to keep the peace. (Applause.)
Liberty is powerful. It is powerful. I am confident that
someday, an American President will be sitting down with
a duly elected leader of Iraq talking about how to keep
the peace in the greater Middle East, and our country will
be better off for it, and our children and grandchildren
will be able to grow up in a more peaceful world. (Applause.)
I believe -- I believe that the women in the Middle East
want to live in freedom. (Applause.) I believe that everybody
wants their child to grow up in a free and peaceful society.
I believe if given the chance, the people in that part
of the world will embrace the most honorable form of government
ever devised by man. And I'll tell you why I believe these
things: Freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom
is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this
This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting
freedom at home and abroad, we'll build a safer world and
a more hopeful America. By reforming our systems of government,
we'll help more Americans realize their dreams. We'll work
to spread ownership and opportunity to every corner of
our country. We'll pass the enduring values of our country
on to a young generation. We'll continue to work for peace
and freedom around the world.
You know, 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. It's a time that requires firm
resolve, clear vision, and a deep faith in the values that
makes this a great nation. (Applause.)
None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended
and another began. September the 14th, 2001, I stood in
the ruins of the Twin Towers. I'll never forget it. There
were workers in hard hats there yelling at me at the top
of their lungs: Whatever it takes. I remember trying to
console some people coming out of that rubble. A guy grabbed
me by the arm, he looked me straight in the eye, and he
said: You don't let me down. Waking up every morning since
then, trying to figure out how best to protect America.
I will defend the security of the people of this country,
whatever it takes. (Applause.)
Four years ago -- four years ago, as I traveled your great
state asking for the vote, I made this pledge. I said,
if I was honored to be able to hold a office of the presidency,
I would uphold the honor and the dignity of that office.
With your help and with your hard work, I will do so again
for four more years.
Thanks for coming. God bless you all. Thanks for being
here. Thank you all. (Applause.)