on International Trade
The Port of New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
January 15, 2002
9:23 A.M. CST
Thank you all very much. It's great to be back in what they call the Big Easy.
(Applause.) As you might remember, I grew up in Texas, and spent some quality
time here in New Orleans. (Applause.) I forgot how good the food is. I'm going
to have to spend about a week working off that baked Alaska that I had at Antoine's.
I didn't have any pretzels last night for dinner. (Laughter.) I learned my lesson
-- always listen to your mother, who told me, chew your pretzels before you
But thank you all for coming. It is a beautiful day in a great city and an important
part of our economy, and that is the Port of New Orleans. I want to thank Gary
LeGrange who is the Executive Director of this facility. I want to thank the
Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, who is traveling with me. I want to thank the
Chairman of the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners. I want to thank
Dave Wagner. I want to thank Jim Campbell, who is the President of the International
Longshoremen Association Number 3,000. I want to thank all the hardworking longshoremen
who are here to help make America grow.
I want to thank my friend, the Governor of the great state of Louisiana. What
a piece of work that guy is. (Applause.) That's why they love you, Mike. (Laughter.)
He knows how to tell the truth, he speaks plainly, and he's doing a heck of
a good job for the people of Louisiana. (Applause.)
I want to thank Congressman David Vitter who's here today. (Applause.) I want
to thank Congressman John Cooksy who is without us, as well. Thank you both
for coming. (Applause.)
And I want to thank you all for coming out to say hello. It's a great way to
end my trip throughout America's heartland. I started yesterday in Moline, Illinois,
at a factory that makes harvesting equipment for John Deere. I told them I was
coming down to New Orleans, and I said, I'm going to come to the place where
much of the equipment you manufacture is shipped out when you sell overseas.
And then I went to see some farmers in Missouri. And I told them that I was
coming down to New Orleans in Louisiana, which ships out a lot of the product
that they grow. The reason I'm here is because I want America to understand
how our economy works. We're worried about jobs in our country. We want everybody
who wants to find work to be able to have work. Everybody who wants a job should
be able to provide for their family. I'm worried about the loss of jobs.
Our economy is interconnected. What happens in Moline, Illinois and in Missouri
affects the people who work here in New Orleans, in the port. And, therefore,
good public policy recognizes that. And good public policy asks the questions:
How do we make sure that what affects one affects the other in a positive way?
How do we make sure people can find jobs as we head into the year 2000?
The best way to make sure that our economy recovers from the attack -- I think
one of the most important things I can do is to make sure that they don't hit
us again. (Applause.) We suffered a lot on September the 11th, and one of the
things that we suffered was the lack of confidence in the future. But as every
day goes by, the American people are getting more and more confident in our
ability to protect ourselves and the ability for our government to respond in
a positive way to make sure that families are safe in America.
I fully understand the enemy still lurks out there and the enemy still would
like to hit us. But America has changed since September the 11th. We're now
more alert. We've got a Coast Guard that's now actively patrolling our coasts,
trying to make sure nobody comes in to hurt us. We've got an FBI -- major function
now is to prevent further attack. We've got better intelligence-sharing around
the world to make sure that we find people before they come to our country.
We're on full alert. I'm so proud of the law enforcement officials all across
America who are working endlessly -- (applause) -- who are working endlessly
to make sure that we're safe.
This is a strong country. It's an alert country. And it's a patient country
when it comes to achieving the ultimate objective, which is keeping America
safe by finding terrorists where they live and bringing them to justice. (Applause.)
And that's exactly what's happening in the first theater in the war against
terror. I have unleashed a mighty military, and the mighty military of America
-- (applause) -- is making us proud. (Applause.)
For those of you who where our uniform, I want to thank you. For those of you
who have got families -- family members of those who wear the uniform -- (applause)
-- I hope you're as proud of them as I am.
We set a clear objective -- several clear objectives. One of them was is that
if you harbor a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist,
you're guilty. (Applause.) That's the doctrine. The objective was to make sure
that the Taliban no longer harbored al Qaeda. The Taliban no longer rules in
Afghanistan. (Applause.) We met that objective. And in so doing, we liberated
a group of people that had been terrorized. We liberated women and children.
I'm so proud of the United States military. (Applause.)
It brings me such joy -- such joy -- to know that not only are we pursuing the
objective, and that is to bring the murderers to justice, but this great nation
is liberating people and feeding people. We're not only a tough nation, but
we're a compassionate nation. And the world has seen the greatness of America
as we pursue our objective.
We're making some progress against al Qaeda. We're hunting them down, one man
at a time. (Applause.) I just want to tell you that I'm patient and our military
is patient; that I don't care how long it takes, I don't care where they hide,
we're after them. (Applause.) And we're after them, and will remain after them
until they're brought to justice.
Oh, I know there are some who are saying, gosh, I wish this ended yesterday.
But that's not how this is going to work. You see, we've got people who send
youngsters to suicide missions and they, themselves, hide in caves. Those are
the kind of people we're dealing with. But there's not going to be enough caves
in the world to hide them. (Applause.)
Some may tire, some in our coalition may get tired of this effort, or some in
our country may tire. But I can assure you, I'm not. Because I view this as
a moment, a defining moment in history, a moment when we must defend freedom,
a moment when we must defend civilization itself, a moment when this great nation
-- in which this great nation must lead the world -- must lead the world --
to make sure our children and grandchildren can grow up in a peaceful and secure
In order to make sure people can find work, we better make sure we educate the
people of our country. I had the real privilege last week of traveling the country,
touting a good education bill, a bill that is going to make sure every child
gets educated and no children get left behind.
One of the things that I really, really appreciate about Governor Foster is
that he understands that we better hold people accountable in education; otherwise,
some are going to get left behind. I'm real proud of the education reforms that
Mike Foster has put in place. (Applause.)
I believe strongly, every child in America can learn. I believe that. And I
believe our public school systems can teach every child in America how to read
and write and add and subtract.
And I took that message up to Washington and worked with both Republicans and
Democrats to get a good bill out that sets high standards; that says, if you
take money, you need to show us whether or not children can read and write and
add and subtract; a good bill that focuses on making sure every child is literate;
a bill that helps teachers teach reading using a curriculum that works; and
a bill that says the good folks of Louisiana can run their schools better than
bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And one of my traveling mates was Ted Kennedy, the Senator from Massachusetts.
I've said good things about him. (Laughter.) He nearly fell out. (Laughter.)
So did the boys at the Crawford Coffee Shop. (Laughter.) But I said it because
he worked hard to get a good bill; he worked with a Republican administration
to get a good piece of education reform. We showed what can happen in Washington
when you put your political parties aside and focus on what's best for the United
States of America. (Applause.)
And that's what's got to happen on this issue of trade. One of the reasons I'm
traveling down the spine of America and on the mighty Mississippi is because
I want to remind our fellow citizens how important trade is. It's important
to these workers that we trade. The people who are loading these ships load
them because we're trading around the world. The farmers who are selling product
can sell more if we trade. And if the farmers sell more of their product, we
can sell more of the machines made in Moline, Illinois, so the good folks up
there, the UAW workers, can work.
I'm worried about jobs. And I believe if you trade more, there are more jobs
available for hardworking Americans. (Applause.) There are some who play politics
with the trade issue. They want to shut down trade. I like to remind people,
those who shut down trade aren't confident. They're not confident in the American
worker; they're not confident in the American entrepreneur; they're not confident
in American products.
I'm just the opposite. I know we've got the best workers in the world; I know
we can make the best products in the world. And therefore, we ought to have
free and fair trade around the world. (Applause.) I'm not the only one that
feels that way. Some of the longshoremen that I met coming in said, we need
trade so I can keep working. I got a nice letter from your Mayor. He said, you
know, he's sorry he couldn't see me because he's on a trade mission to Mexico
City. However, I want you to know that I fully support your efforts to pass
legislation giving your administration fast track authority to negotiate trade
This isn't a Republican issue, this isn't a Democrat issue. Trade is a jobs
issue. And the United States Senate needs to hear the voices of the working
people and get me a bill I can sign. (Applause.)
And you know what else the United States Senate needs to do? They need to pass
an energy bill. (Applause.) One of the great things about our agriculture sector
is we grow enough food to feed America. And, therefore, we're secure when it
comes to food. Gosh, I would hate to be the President of a country that has
to import a lot of food. It would mean you're beholden to somebody else's farmers
to feed your people.
We grow a lot of food. We can feed our people. We grow enough that we can put
it on the ships here and send it around the world, and we ought to be feeding
the world, as well. But that's not the case for energy. We receive a lot of
our energy, over 50 percent of it, from other parts of the world. Sometimes
they like us, sometimes they don't. (Laughter.) And it's those times when they
don't like us that makes me nervous as the President of the country. (Laughter.)
It's in our national interest to have a national energy plan. It's in Louisiana's
interest to have a national energy plan; it's in America's interest to have
a national energy plan. (Applause.)
A national energy plan will help us conserve more and produce more. It will
make us less reliant upon foreign sources of energy. And it will help us create
more jobs. The people of Louisiana understand that energy equals jobs. So do
a lot of other people in America. This bill is bottled up in the United States
Senate. It's about time they focused on creating jobs in America and get me
a trade bill and an energy bill for the good of the American people. (Applause.)
The good news is, I think we've got a United States Senator -- I know we've
got one from Louisiana -- who understands that -- John Breaux understands. (Applause.)
He understands jobs. And I appreciated him supporting me on the tax cut.
And that's another good piece of legislation that passed out of Washington,
and it came just at the right time, just at the right time. You see, our economy
started slowing down significantly in March of 2001. And when the economy begins
to slow down, one of the best remedies is to let people keep more of their own
money; is to take less of the money from the working people. (Applause.)
When a longshoreman is able to keep more of his own money, his family has more
money to spend. And as they spend that money, somebody obviously has to produce
the product for them to buy. And as they produce the product, it creates jobs.
And in order to stimulate the economy, one of the good ways to do so is to have
tax relief. We passed meaningful, real tax relief that says finally our government
trusts people with more of their own money so that people can make the right
decisions for their families.
You know, there are some in Washington, however, who seem to be indicating that
in order to come out of a recession, you should raise taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know what economic textbook they've been reading -- (laughter)
-- but it's not the one that most Americans have read. They understand tax relief
is the best way to encourage an economic recovery in America. (Applause.)
Now, we can help, and should help, those workers who lost their jobs as a result
of the September the 11th tax. We should work together to extend unemployment
-- insurance employment benefits. We ought to help pay for health care for workers
that have been laid off; that's something we ought to do. But most Americans
don't want an unemployment check, they want a paycheck. And we ought to figure
out ways to increase jobs.
An energy plan will help create jobs, a trade bill will create jobs. And we
need a stimulus plan that says, let's be smart, let's encourage entrepreneurs
and people who buy equipment, and let's accelerate the tax relief so that this
economy will grow, so that people who want to work can find work. There is no
reason why we can't work together to get a good bill done for the American people.
I like my job a lot. It's a huge honor to live in the White House. And I want
to report that Laura is doing a fabulous job. What a great, great First Lady.
(Applause.) She's happy, and that's really important. (Laughter.) And it's an
honor to represent you in Washington. But I really enjoy traveling our country,
as well. I like to get out. I like to move around, because it is, one, it reminds
me of the true strength of America.
And the true strength of our country is not in our capital. We've got a great
system; no question about it. We've got a fantastic Constitution. But the true
strength of America really are the American people -- is the American people.
That's the true strength. The true strength is the American citizens, people
of good heart. (Applause.)
The enemy didn't understand our country. You know, they thought we were so materialistic
that we were soft. They thought we cared more about ourselves than we cared
about something greater than ourselves. But they were wrong. They didn't understand
the character of America. They don't know how tough we can be -- they didn't
realize how tough we could be if we decided to be tough. They thought we would
be impatient, and they're wrong. They thought we'd get tired early. They don't
A lot of people say, well, what can I do to help fight the war on terror. Well,
one, be alert. If you see something happening that's unusual, report to the
local law enforcement. Let them know. But the other thing is, is that in order
to fight evil, I think one way you do it is to fight it with good, acts of kindness
and decency. In order to fight the evil ones and not let their way of life stand,
one thing Americans can do is to love a neighbor. (Applause.)
I want to not only unleash our military and the might of our military, I also
want to help unleash the compassion of the American people. A soldier in the
war on terror is somebody who mentors a child. Or somebody who walks across
the street to a shut-in neighbor and says, how can I brighten your day, what
can I do to love you?
A soldier in the war on terror is a mom or a dad who surrounds -- who hugs their
children on a daily basis and says to the child, I love you more than anything
in life. Somebody who wants to fight evil with goodness is somebody who wants
to get involved in their school system and praises the teacher, or helps the
education. Somebody who goes to a church or a synagogue or mosques and says,
how can we form a faith-based program to help change people's lives by changing
The enemy has awakened a mighty nation. They made us angry, but they've also
made us hopeful -- because we fully understand the true strength of our country
lies in the hearts and souls of a wonderful, fantastic group of people.
It is my honor to be your President. It's my honor to be here in New Orleans.
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Thank you all.