Steve Largent for Governor and James Inhofe for Senate
Cox Convention Center
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
August 29, 2002
11:25 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. It's nice to be here in Oklahoma. Thanks. I appreciate
so very much the invitation to come and throw my support behind a fine United
States Senator, and a person this state is surely going to reelect, and that's
Jim Inhofe. (Applause.) And I'm also honored to be here with Governor Largent.
(Applause.) It's got a nice ring to it.
Thanks for inviting me. There's not much that differentiates Texas and Oklahoma
-- maybe the Red River. A little difference of opinion about football. (Laughter.)
But I'm thrilled to be here to see so many friends. I've always felt at home
in Oklahoma, and I want to thank you all for such wonderful hospitality. As
my friend said, he said, you got to remember when you're heading up there, civilization
ends at the Red River. And as my Oklahoma friends said, yeah, depends on which
side you're coming from. (Laughter.) But one thing is for certain -- people
on both sides of the Red River love America. (Applause.)
I want to appreciate Don Nickles. He is a leader in the United States Senate.
I spent a lot of quality time with him. There in the Cabinet Room, we're talking
about important issues and plotting strategy on how to get things through the
Senate that are positive for America. Don, he loves Oklahoma, of course, and
he always reminds me about the virtues of Oklahoma. But he clearly loves America,
too. He's providing important leadership for our country, and for that I am
grateful. And I, too, want to call you friend, and thanks for being here, Don.
I appreciate so very much Kay Inhofe for putting up with Jim, and for being
such a good mom. The Inhofes are -- got fantastic values, because they understand
good values, first and foremost, start at home. I'm honored to meet -- gosh,
I don't know how many grandkids I met -- eleven of them. Well, if they all get
out to vote it's going to be a landslide. (Laughter.) But I want to thank the
Inhofe family. I want to thank Kay. And I also want to thank the next First
Lady of Oklahoma, Terry Largent, in her support for her husband, Steve. (Applause.)
All of us up here on this stage married above ourselves. (Laughter.) I had the
privilege of saying good-bye for a brief period of time to our First Lady who's
down there in Crawford. She is -- (applause.) She was born and raised in West
Texas. That's kind of like western Oklahoma, not a lot of native trees and not
a lot of water. But a lot of really good people. She's down to earth, she's
capable. You know, when I married her, she was a public school librarian, and
the truth of the matter is she didn't particularly care about politicians or
politics. And here she is. And what a great comforting voice and what a great
wife, and what a wonderful First Lady we have. I am incredibly proud. (Applause.)
Anyway, she sends her love. She sends her love and she joins me in thanking
those of you who want to help these good candidates. Thank you for what you've
done, and what you're going to do, which is turn out the vote, which is to go
to your coffee shops and your churches and your community centers and tell the
people of Oklahoma you've got two good ones in these candidates. It makes sense
to send these people to their respective jobs -- not for the good of Republicans,
but for the good of all the people in the great state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
I want to thank the members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation. I am proud
to work with them on a regular basis. I'm proud we have worked together to accomplish
some things on behalf of the American people. I want to thank Congressman John
Sullivan, who is here. I want to thank Wes Watkins, and we're going to miss
you, friend. (Applause.) Ernest Istook is here; thank you for coming, Ernest.
(Applause.) Frank Lucas is here --I appreciate you, big Frank, for coming. (Applause.)
And finally, another man we're going to miss is J.C. Watts. I appreciate you,
J.C. (Applause.) I'm sure you'll be able to figure out how to get a hold of
me if you need me. (Laughter.) But thank you both for your service. And thank
all the congressional members for being here.
I was so pleased to see that my friend, Tom Cole, won a primary in a convincing
way. He beat a field of good people. But he's going to be the next congressman
replacing J.C. Watts. I thank you for coming, Tom. (Applause.)
I appreciate your Lt. Governor, Mary Fallin, for coming today. I appreciate
her long service to the great state of Oklahoma. I appreciate her working with
my friend, Frank Keating, who's done a fine job on behalf of the people of Oklahoma.
(Applause.) I want to thank the Mayor of Oklahoma City, Kirk Humphreys Kirk
has done a fine job for Oklahoma City. I'm proud to call him friend, and I know
the people of this city are proud to call him Mayor. (Applause.)
I thank Brenda Reneau, who is the head of your Department of Labor. I also want
to thank Chad Alexander, who's the Chairman of the Republican Party. And again,
I want to thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
Most of all I want to extol the virtues of your next governor. He's a solid
citizen. He doesn't need a poll to tell him what to think or what to believe.
(Applause.) It's clear when you get to know Steve that he's got his principles
indelibly etched on his heart. He's got his priorities straight. He has faith
foremost in his life, and his family are his two priorities. And then comes
government. But it's with -- those kind of priorities are important for a leader.
And that's what you're trying to figure out, who's the best leader for the people
of Oklahoma. Who has got a vision based upon principle, not based upon polls.
Who, will set the right priorities for the people of this state. And there's
no doubt in my mind that Steve Largent has the right priorities for the people
of this great state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
And his first priority -- his first priority is to make sure every child in
this state gets educated -- not just a few, not just some from the big fancy
school districts, but every child. That's his vision. See, he understands what
I know, that if you have low standards, you get low results. If you don't believe
every child can learn, then certain children won't learn. And that's inexcusable
to the state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
So Steve travels this state talking about setting the highest of high standards
with the belief that every child can learn. He also understands that if the
legislature micromanages the public schools, if they decide to set all kinds
of rules that require permission slips in order for there to be local control
of schools you won't get excellence for every child. So, like me, he is a strong
advocate of local control of schools. (Applause.)
But as well, he understands what I know, you've got to hold people accountable.
You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you're willing to say, let's
see. If you believe certain children can't learn, then you don't support accountability.
If you believe every child can learn, you're not afraid to measure, to determine
whether every child is learning.
You see, the accountability is so important to make sure no child gets left
behind. It's important also to make sure that you address problems, early before
it's too late. Steve knows what I know -- there are no second-class children
in the state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
I appreciate his attitude about the role of government and the entrepreneur.
The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government should
create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish. (Applause.) Which
means you've got to have wise tax policy. See, you use your tax code in order
to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. If you over-tax the entrepreneur, it
diminishes the capacity for the small business to grow and to create good, vibrant
jobs. He understands that.
And one of the big issues that he is going to take on is to reform the workers
compensation system here in the state of Oklahoma. (Applause.) He also knows
that by far the biggest engine of job creation is small business. That's where
most of the new jobs come from in America, and therefore, we've got to have
policy aimed at small business. And one thing we've got to do, in order to make
sure small business grows, is to understand the role of the lawsuit in our society.
You need to have yourself a governor who's willing to look at the plaintiff's
attorney straight in the eye and ask for, and get, tort reform in the state
of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
I appreciate his values. I appreciate his vision. I appreciate his background.
I appreciate the fact that he's a winner. And I appreciate that I'm on the stage
with the next governor of Oklahoma, Steve Largent. (Applause.)
And I appreciate being with a United States Senator who stands on principle,
who does what he thinks is right, and has lived up to his word. He's a fellow
that said, I'm going to Washington, I'm not going to change. And he didn't.
(Applause.) I think the thing that struck me most about Jim in our conversation
on Air Force One -- by the way, it's not a bad way to travel -- (laughter) --
was that when he described when his daughter was professor of the year. See,
he's from a family of teachers. His wife is a teacher, they raised some teachers.
Jim understands the importance of teaching. And for those of you who have got
family members who are teachers or you're teachers yourself, I want to thank
you from the bottom of our collective hearts up here for what you do.
But he's a man who understands the importance of teaching in our society. Teaching
not only lessons of reading and writing, but teaching right from wrong. (Applause.)
He understands the role of energy, the need for an energy policy. See, the people
of Oklahoma also understand that. We need an energy policy in America. We need
a policy that encourages conservation and renewables, but we need a wise policy
that makes sure we've got energy here at home. It's in our economic interests
that we promote jobs through good energy policy, and it's in our national security
interests that we become less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil. (Applause.)
We need to get us an energy bill. These two senators understand that. We need
to get that bill to my desk as soon as they get back from the August recess.
It's in our nation's interest that we do so.
Jim also was supportive of the tax relief plan that I campaigned on and got
through the Congress. And that was important. You see, you've got to remember
something about our economy. When we came in there, the economy was just beginning
to get into a recession. There had been slowdown, but the first three quarters
of my administration was in recession. That means the economy was going backwards.
Thankfully, the last three quarters have been going forward. But one of the
reasons why, I'm absolutely certain one of the reasons why, is because we let
the people keep their own money. (Applause.)
We read from the same textbook. It's the textbook that says, if you let the
people have their own money they will demand a good or service. And if they
demand a good or service, somebody will produce the good or service. And when
somebody produces that good or service, somebody is more likely to find jobs.
The tax cut which needs to be permanent, it needs to be permanent -- (applause)
-- came at the right time for the American economy. And I want to thank Jim
for his strong support.
See, he and I understand this -- when it comes time to spend the money in Washington,
we're not spending the government's money, we're spending the people's money.
I want to thank Jim for his support of making sure our seniors have got prescription
drugs and Medicare. It's time to modernize an important system. The system has
lagged behind reality. Medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't. And we need leadership
in the Senate to make sure the Medicare system meets the needs of our seniors,
not only in Oklahoma, but all around the country. And I want to thank you on
that, Jim, very much for your leadership. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to get him back up there so he'll support some judges that
I nominated. (Applause.) I found fine people to serve on our bench; good, honorable,
honest people. We named one, Pricilla Owen, recently. She's smart, she's capable,
one of the top students when she was in law school at Baylor. She got elected
twice -- I think twice, but I know she got elected at least twice statewide
in Texas, with overwhelming numbers. She's a very, very smart and capable woman.
But somehow, some of them up there don't like her. I guess maybe they don't
like the fact that I nominated her. But this isn't right for the judicial system,
for them to be playing politics with a fine, smart, capable woman. And we need
people like Jim Inhofe up there to defend my judicial nominees in Washington,
And I need him up there because he is a strong voice for the defense of this
nation. He's one of the leading advocates for national defense in Washington.
(Applause.) We both understand that history has now called us into action. History
has now said to America, you must defend freedom. And that's exactly what this
country is going to do.
I submitted the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was
the President. And I did so for two reasons: One, I want to make it absolutely
clear that any time we put one of our soldiers into harm's way, that person
must receive the best training, the best possible pay, the best equipment. We
owe it to our soldiers and we owe it to their families. (Applause.)
And I appreciate Jim Inhofe's strong, strong support for that defense budget.
He's one of the leaders on the floor of the Senate. He also understands that
we need to send that increase up there because we want to make it clear to our
friends and allies and foes that we're in this deal for the long pull. There
is no calendar on my desk that says, by such and such a date we're quitting.
See, when it comes to the defense of freedom, when it comes to the defense of
the values we hold dear, this United States will be relentless and tough, and
we will be victorious. (Applause.)
My most important job now is to defend innocent life in America. The enemy has
taken the battle to us, and they're still there. These are haters. They're nothing
but a bunch of cold-blooded killers. You need to tell your kids -- people say,
well, what do I tell my children -- you tell your children, because this nation
loves freedom, they hate us. Because this nation values each and every life
-- see, every life is important to America. Every life is noble. Every life
is worthwhile. That's the exact opposite of the enemy. They don't value life.
They're willing to take innocent life just like that. They've hijacked a fine,
fine, and important religion just to cover their murderous ways.
And remember, it's a different kind of enemy. You see, you used to be able to
measure the strength of an enemy by counting his tanks, or airplanes, or ships.
These are the kind that go to a cave and send youngsters to their suicidal death.
That's the kind of people we're fighting. But there's no cave deep enough for
America, or dark enough to hide. No matter how long it takes, one by one we're
going to hunt them down and bring them to justice. (Applause.)
And that's what that defense budget says. That's what that defense budget clearly
says. And that's why, as soon as the Congress gets back, they need to get the
defense bill to my desk and not play politics with the defense of the United
States of America. (Applause.)
No, that's the best way to defend the homeland, is to hunt them down. In the
meantime, I've got to have a department of homeland security that more enables
me to tell the American people we're doing everything we can to protect the
homeland. I mean, we need to know who's coming in the country, what they're
bringing in the country, and if they're leaving the country when they say they're
going to leave the country. We need to have the capacity to put the right people
in the right place at the right time to defend America.
I readily concede I didn't run on the platform, vote for me, I promise to make
your government bigger. I did say I'm going to try to make it work better. And
so when I got up there and realized there's over 100 agencies involved with
homeland security I knew it would be hard to hold people account with that many
agencies scattered all over Washington. So I made a proposal to the Congress.
I said, join together, and let's have a department that works.
The House responded, and I want to thank the House members here. These two senators
have responded. The problem is, is that there's other senators in Washington
who want to micromanage the process. See, they put their own turf ahead of the
security of the American people. They're more interested in special interest
in Washington than the interest of homeland security. I will not accept a homeland
security bill that ties the hands of this administration or future administrations
to defend the homeland against the enemy. (Applause.)
My point to you is Jim understands this. He doesn't need -- he doesn't need
a special meeting at the White House to understand this. See, he understands
it right off the bat. And that's why it's important that you reelect him. He
also understands that there's going to be some tough times ahead for America.
There just are. If you're in this for the long pull, if you're fighting an enemy
that hides in the shadows of the world, it's going to take a while.
We owe it to our children, however, that we keep going on. That's who we owe
it to. But not only to our children; we owe it to children all around the world.
We will enforce doctrine -- one doctrine says, you're with us or you're with
them. And we work hard to keep this coalition of nations together. It makes
it easier to share intelligence and to haul them in when we can find them. And
by the way, we've pulled in over -- a couple a thousand of them, a couple of
thousand al Qaeda types, and terrorist leaders are no longer circulating around.
By the way, about equal that number weren't as lucky.
We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of work to do to also enforce
that doctrine that says, if you harbor one of them, you're just as guilty. If
you harbor a terrorist you're as guilty as the terrorist. (Applause.)
So it's important to have senators and members of the House who understand the
need for this nation to be steady and resolved and determined, and honest about
the difference between good and evil. It also is important to have leadership
that understands that we must not allow the world's worst leaders to develop
and harbor the world's worst weapons.
I've got a lot of tools at my disposal, and I'm a patient man. And I'm a patient
man. But I understand that history gives us an opportunity to make the world
more peaceful. See, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible
good. And you need to tell your little ones that part of that good is a more
peaceful world; that there's going to be some steep hills to climb between now
and then, but by being tough and strong, patient, smart and wise about using
our assets and all the tools at our disposal, that we can make the world more
peaceful for generations to come.
By fighting terror where we find it, and by rallying people to join us, I believe
the evil done to America, out of that evil will come peace. I also know here
at home that we'll be a better America.
I don't know what went through the minds of the enemy when they attacked us.
They probably thought we were so materialistic, so selfish, so self-absorbed,
so greedy, that all we'd do after September 11th is maybe file a lawsuit or
two. They didn't understand the character of this nation. They didn't understand
that if you try to take away our freedoms, we're going to respond. See, we love
-- we love freedom. That's what they didn't understand. They hate things; we
love things. They act out of hatred; we don't seek revenge, we seek justice
out of love. (Applause.)
They also couldn't have possibly realized that the evil done to America would
waken a spirit of compassion in this country. See, people say to me, how can
I join the war on terror. I say, just love your neighbor like you'd like to
be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want to fight
evil, put your arms around a child and say, I love you, I'd like to mentor you,
I want to help you. You see, in this land of plenty, there are pockets of despair,
addiction and hopelessness. I understand full well government can hand out money,
but it cannot put hope in people's hearts. It can't provide a purpose for people's
lives. No, that is done when our fellow citizens take the time out of their
life to love somebody. That's when that happens.
See, America is changing, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. Because
our fellow Americans have now understood -- understand -- that being a patriot
is more than the Pledge Allegiance, pledging your allegiance to one nation under
God. A patriot is somebody who is willing to take responsibility for their lives;
willing to love a neighbor; willing to mentor a child; willing to go to a shut-in
and help somebody in need; willing to feed the hungry; willing to be a Boy Scout
leader -- willing to change America one soul, one conscience at a time. And
that's what's happening here in America. (Applause.)
America has understood that each of us can't do everything, but each of can
do something to make our country a better place. Perhaps that was best illustrated
on Flight 93. Citizens flying across the country; they realized their plane
was going to be a weapon. They told their loved ones they loved them. They said
a prayer -- a guy said, "Let's roll." They saved lives. They served
something greater than themselves.
No, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good: peace,
and a more compassionate, decent, hopeful America for everybody -- I mean everybody
-- who's lucky enough to call themselves "citizen" of this great country.
We're going to succeed; there's no question in my mind. On my wall there's a
painting of a West Texas scene by Tom Lee. He said, "Sarah and I live on
the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side.
It's the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that has gone."
I see a day that is coming that is fantastic for America, because we are the
greatest nation on the face of the Earth.