Regarding Energy and the Economy
Charleston Regional Airport
Charleston, West Virginia
January 22, 2002
11:30 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. It's nice to be back. (Applause.) I appreciate
this West Virginia welcome. Thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for
giving me a chance to give you a little update on how we're doing as a nation.
But first, before I begin, I want to thank our friend, great friend to West
Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, for her leadership. (Applause.) I've learned
some things about Shelley Moore. One, she's very bright. Two, she doesn't always
do what the President says, she's got a little bit of an independent streak.
But, three, she loves West Virginia. She loves the state and she's working hard
to do what's right for the West Virginia people. And I'm proud to call her friend.
And I hope you're proud to call her Congresswoman. (Applause.)
It's been a pleasure to work with some of the distinguished members you have
sent to Washington, D.C., and there's no more distinguished than Senator Robert
Byrd. (Applause.) He loves his state, he loves the country. I have been spellbound
by his speeches. I've been interested to hear his points of view. I look forward
to working with him as Congress comes back to Washington, D.C. after the Christmas
break. West Virginia has got a fine friend in Senator Byrd. And so does America,
and I'm proud to call him friend. (Applause.)
And I appreciate your Governor being here today, Governor Wise. It's awfully
kind of him to come and say hello to the President. We're working closely together
on a subject that's dear to your heart and dear to my heart, and that's how
to make sure West Virginia, and all of America, remains safe, make sure we've
got a homeland that's secure. And the Governor is working closely on this issue
with us. (Applause.)
I appreciate so very much the former Governor, Cecil Underwood, and my friend,
for being here. (Applause.) I don't know if they put Cecil into Ripley's or
not -- (laughter) -- he was the youngest governor ever and the oldest governor
ever, and he's still looking pretty spry to me. (Applause.)
I appreciate the Speaker and the Senate President, as well as the minority leaders
in the Senate and the House for coming. Thank you all for being here to say
hello. And your Mayor showed up. Mr. Mayor, thanks for coming, as well. It's
an honor to be with my fellow citizens from West Virginia on such a beautiful
day. And it's a day for me to tell you, folks, we're winning. (Applause.)
Little did I realize the last time I was here that I would be coming back to
this very spot to thank the fine men and women of the West Virginia Guard for
helping us fight and win the war against terror. (Applause.) For all who wear
our uniform, I want to thank -- say thank you on behalf of all Americans. For
the moms and dads and wives and husbands and sons and daughters of those who
wear the uniform -- some of whom had been deployed out of West Virginia -- thanks
from the bottom of our hearts for your sacrifice. It is for a cause that is
noble and a cause that is just, and a cause that this great nation will win.
I appreciate the fact that our nation is now on alert, that we're ready; that
if you see something odd happening in your neighborhood, that you now know to
go and notify the local police -- something different is happening and we might
ought to take a look at it.
Every morning I wake up like I did this morning, I get to the Oval Office --
I'm an early morning man. Barney and Spot and I head out to the South Lawn.
(Laughter.) I head in to the Oval Office, and the first thing I look at is potential
threats to the United States. Every morning, I'm reminded that my most important
job in this day and age is to make sure our government, the federal government
and all governments at all levels, do everything we can to prevent a further
attack on the good people of this country. (Applause.)
I want to assure you, we're chasing down every lead, we're following every hint.
Our FBI is on full alert. Their primary task now is to prevent another attack.
We're working with states -- as I mentioned the Governor -- we're working with
local officers to better share information to disrupt and prevent. And I'm so
proud of the way our nation is responding. But the truth of the matter is, the
best way to secure the homeland of the United States is to find the enemy where
he hides and bring him to justice. (Applause.)
I know I'm like many moms -- many dads, and Laura is like many moms who yearn
for peace. We want nothing more than our children to be in a peaceful world.
But I understand that in order to defeat the evil ones, we must use the mighty
U.S. military to put -- after we have put them on notice, to rout them out of
their caves and to bring them to justice. And that's exactly what our nation
will do. (Applause.)
Our military has performed brilliantly. I gave them a task with clear objectives,
and they're accomplishing those tasks and those objectives. I said real clear
to the world that -- real clearly to the world -- to old West Texan in me slipping
out -- (laughter) -- clearly to the world, I said that either you are with us
or you are against us when it comes to finding terror. (Applause.) I'm proud
to report many, many, many nations have signed up to be with us.
But I want to assure you all that if I tire, they will go to sleep. And if we
blink, so will they. And therefore, it's so important for this nation to remain
steadfast and resolved and strong in our purpose to free the world of terror,
so our children can live peacefully. (Applause.)
I want to thank the people of West Virginia and the American people for their
patience. They understand that the task at hand may take a while. They understand
that this country is in this for the long pull; that in order to secure freedom
for generations to come, that we, this generation, must be willing to sacrifice,
must be patient, must be determined, and must be resolved. We have no other
choice, as far as I'm concerned. It's either allow terror to spread its wings
and terrorize others, or to stand tough. And this nation has made the decision
to stand tough. And I'm proud of her. (Applause.)
A fellow came the other day to the office, and said, well, are you worried about
Mr. bin Laden? I said, no, I'm not too worried about him. He's the guy that
needs to be worried. (Laughter.) But I want to assure you, the objective is
not bin Laden. Oh, we'll get bin Laden. (Applause.) There's only so many caves
he can hide in, if he's still hiding in caves. My attitude was, once we get
him running, it's just a matter of time before we bring him to justice.
But the mission is broader than just one person. The mission is to make sure
that terror, wherever it tries to settle in, is routed out. The mission is to
say to the governments that think that we're not watching, we're watching; and
if you try to harbor a terrorist, feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as
those who would commit murder on innocent citizens. (Applause.)
So I want to reiterate what I said to those who are making the sacrifice by
wearing the uniform, and particularly their families. I want to thank you. I
grieve and mourn and pray when we lose a life. And we will, when it comes to
the war on terror. But I told --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, sir!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Laughter.)
But I told the families that I've spoken to, by word and written letter, that
this nation is doing the right thing, that we're seeds in history; that we refuse
to be shaped by terror; that we will win the war on terror; and the cause of
sacrifice is noble and it is just.
What a great nation we have. (Applause.) A nation that is willing to sacrifice
for freedom and, at the same time, a nation that is liberating women and children
in Afghanistan from the evil repression of the Taliban. (Applause.) A nation
that not only stands on principle, but a nation that is a nation of liberators.
I'm so proud of our military and the American people, and the Afghan women and
children thank you from the bottom of our heart. (Applause.)
I know a lot of people are thinking overseas, and that's -- I can understand
that, but we've got a lot of work here to do at home, too. The evil ones, when
they hit us, affected our economy. And I've got to tell you something -- I'm
worried about people being able to find jobs. My economic plan is based upon
this word: jobs. I want to ask that question all around the country, what do
we do to create work? There's a lot of good people who want to work, and we've
got to help them find work. And so I'm asking Congress, when they come back,
to keep in mind one word: jobs. (Applause.)
Now, we've got to help people. We've got to help the good folks who have lost
their job as a result of 9/11. And that means extending unemployment benefits
-- we can do that. That means helping them with health care -- and we'll do
that. But the American people, they don't want just an unemployment check, they
want a permanent paycheck. And that's what we've got to be figuring out how
to do. (Applause.)
I remember when I was campaigning in West Virginia, I said, if you'd give me
a chance to become your President, one thing I'll fight for is to let the working
people keep more of their own money. And guess what? We got it done. (Applause.)
I mean, a real tax relief package that understands that by giving people their
own money, somebody is going to spend more. And if somebody spends more, somebody
is going to produce what their spending -- spend money to produce what their
spending on, which means they've got to hire people. Listen, tax relief equals
And thank goodness we did it when we did. (Applause.) This economy was slowing
down -- the evidence shows it -- in March of 2001. It was beginning to kind
of grind down. And tax relief happened at the right time. There's some weird
economics going on in Washington. There are some saying they don't want the
tax relief plan to go through, which is basically a tax increase. They want
to raise taxes, in the midst of a recession. I can't imagine what textbook they're
reading. (Laughter.) But raising taxes, or not allowing money in people's pockets
in the midst of the recession is the wrong prescription. If you want to create
jobs, let the American people have more of their own money, so they can spend
We've got to sell more products around the world. I've spent a lot of time talking
to American farmers. I said, look, our farmers are the best in the world. We're
the best at growing crops. So why don't we try to feed people who don't have
food? It seems like to me it makes sense for us to open markets for U.S. products.
We're good at what we do. We've got the best workers in the world. We're the
most productive people on the face of the Earth. We should not fear opening
markets; we ought to welcome opening markets, so we can sell more products.
If we sell more products overseas, it means more jobs for the working people
in America. (Applause.)
In order to grow our economy -- in order to grow our economy, we've got to have
an energy plan. Believe it or not, we're the first administration in a long
time that's developed a comprehensive energy plan. On the one hand, it says
we've got to do a good job of conservation. We've got to promote technologies
that will enable people to have the same lifestyle without burning as much energy.
We've got to figure out ways for our cars to burn less fuel, but be able to
be comfortable and be able to let families drive all throughout West Virginia.
We've got to conserve energy.
But conservation is only one half of the equation. In order to become less dependent
on foreign sources of energy, we've got to find and produce more energy at home,
including coal. (Applause.)
I don't view the world as zero sum. I believe that we can have coal production
and enhanced technologies in order to make sure the coal burns cleaner. I believe
we can have both. Now, I know there are some in Washington who don't want to
concede that. But they must not have much faith in the technology that's coming
on line. I don't believe we can be independent as a nation unless we've got
a constructive coal policy.
And so I asked Congress, once and for all, to pass a comprehensive energy plan,
including exploring for natural gas in the state of Alaska so we can be less
The other day -- some of the most interesting meetings are taking place in Washington.
The other day I was with Jimmy Hoffa. A lot of people say, well, he's a Republican,
obviously he doesn't care about the union. That's not true at all, for starters.
I care about working people. I don't care what label they put on them. I don't
care if their a Democrat, Republican, independent, union, non-union; I want
to find jobs for everybody. I'm the President of everybody, not just a few.
And so I sat down with Jimmy, and we talked about -- (applause) -- and I was
with the head of the Carpenters, and Seafarers, and construction people. And
we're talking about jobs.
And he reminded me one reason he was so strong for the energy plan was not only
because it was good for U.S. security -- he cares about U.S. security just like
I care about U.S. security -- but because when we explore for energy in America,
it means jobs for working people. This is just as much of a job program as it
is an energy -- as a national security program, folks. And it's about time Congress
skips all the politics and focuses on what's right for the American people.
Congress is coming back -- Congress is coming back tomorrow to Washington. And
my call to Congress is not let the year 2002 become a bitter, political year.
Now, I know a lot of them are running for office, and that's fine. And I've
got my favorites. (Laughter.) Like Shelley Moore. But anyway -- (applause.)
But there are some things that are more important than political party.
The national security is more important than political party. And I appreciate
the way Democrats and Republicans have worked together. Energy is more important
than political party. Jobs are more important than political party. And we showed
what's possible in Washington on the education bill. We passed a good piece
of legislation that says, public education is a cornerstone of job security.
It's a cornerstone of hope. And the federal government is going to take an active
role in promoting accountability, to make sure nobody gets left behind in America.
I trust the local people of West Virginia to make the choices for the children
of West Virginia. So we're going to pass power out of Washington, so the schools
are run locally. But there are some major initiatives inherent in that bill.
One of them is making sure every child reads. I mean every child. Not just a
few; not just only one kind of child -- every single child. If we want to have
an America that is hopeful and prosperous, if we want to have a job-oriented
country, we'd better make sure our schools teach every child how to read. And
if they don't, it's time for us to start blowing the whistle on failure, and
changing things early, before it's too late. (Applause.)
So there I was, a couple of weeks ago, traveling the country, saying, you know,
Ted Kennedy is a pretty good fellow. I know that sends a lot of shock waves
throughout American political scene. (Laughter.) It certainly shocked him. (Laughter.)
We worked together on the education bill. Instead of saying, well, I can't talk
to you because you're of this party, and you can't talk to me because I'm that
party, we said, why don't we do what's right for America when it comes to our
children? Why don't we set aside all the bickering? It's time for us to understand
in Washington that America is more important than our political parties, and
come together and do what's right for the American people. (Applause.)
We are a strong, strong nation, and I am so proud to be the President of such
an incredible land. You know, the enemy when they hit us on 9/11, really didn't
understand America. They thought we were soft. I guess they were watching too
much TV. (Laughter.) They didn't understand our character or our resolve. They
didn't understand that if you anger a mighty nation, that we will rise up with
one voice and bring justice. We're a nation not of revenge, but a nation of
justice. We're a nation that loves our freedom. We're a nation -- a nation based
upon some fundamental values and principles.
You know, after 9/11, a lot of mothers and dads sat down at their dinner tables
and reassessed their value systems. They said, we now understand our most important
job is to love our children. We may be working 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but loving
your children is forever. There's a lot of mothers and dads -- (applause) --
there's a lot of moms and dads saying, "I love you," on a daily basis,
and that's good. Out of evil can and has come good.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: How's Laura --
THE PRESIDENT: She's doing great. Thank you for mentioning her name. (Laughter.)
Laura is doing great. I got to tell you, what a fabulous, fabulous wife and
First Lady she is. (Applause.) It's clear I married above myself. (Laughter.)
But I want you all to know that many have asked, "What can I do to help
America?" And they're still asking that question. Well, the best way to
fight evil is with good. The best way to let the enemy know here at home that
they have not affected us is for parents to love their children more; is for
people in communities all across West Virginia to help a neighbor at need. If
you've got a shut-in across the street from you and want to be a soldier in
the war against terror, walk across the street on a daily basis and say, can
I help you. (Applause.)
If your church group or synagogue or mosque knows somebody who's lonely, why
don't you help set up a mentoring program so the child knows somebody in America
loves him or her. If you want to be a soldier in the war against terror, love
a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.
America is defined not by our government. America is defined by millions of
acts of kindness that take place every single day all across America, because
this nation is a nation of such strong values, of such strong faith, that nobody,
no evil one will ever be able to diminish the good inherent in the soul and
character of the American people.
It is my honor to be your President and to be the President of such a fabulous
land. Thank you for having me come. May God bless. God bless America. Thank
you all. (Applause.)