at Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception
July 19, 2003
5:55 P.M. CDT
Thank you all very much. It's such an honor to be here. Laura and I are glad
to be home. (Applause.) First, let me say it's great to see so many familiar
faces. A couple of them scolded me when I was a kid -- I see old -- (laughter.)
A lot of the people in this room worked hard to see to it that I became the
governor, and I want to thank you all for your continued friendship and your
support, I want to thank you for your loyalty to our country, I want to thank
you for coming tonight.
This is the first time we've been back to Texas since our trip to Africa.
You may recall, we went to a park in Botswana -- (laughter) -- it's where
I learned a lot about our Party's mascot. (Laughter.)
I want to thank you for all your help. You see, you're laying the groundwork
for what is going to be a great national victory in November of 2004. (Applause.)
And we're going to need your help. We're going to need your help at the grass-roots
level. We're going to need you to talk to your neighbors and send out the
flyers and put up the signs and turn out the vote, and remind people that
this message -- the message of this administration is hopeful for every single
person who lives in this country. (Applause.) And I'm getting ready. (Laughter.)
And I'm loosening up. (Laughter.)
But the truth of the matter is, there's plenty of time for politics. Right
now, I'm focused on the people's business in Washington, D.C. We have a lot
on the agenda. We will continue to work hard to earn the confidence of all
Americans by keeping this nation secure, and strong, and prosperous, and
And I'm glad Laura is here tonight. (Applause.) In my book, she's a fabulous
First Lady. (Applause.) And I love her a lot and I hope she loves me a lot
for dragging her out of Texas. (Applause.)
I'm also honored to be introduced by Rick Perry. He is the right guy to
be governor of Texas. (Applause.) They had a good session, because he watched
the people's money very closely. He's a good governor, and I'm proud to call
him "friend." And I appreciate you, Rick. (Applause.)
I want to thank Fred Meyer, the Texas State Finance chairman; and Jeanne
Johnson Phillips, and Nancy Kinder for putting on this party tonight. You
all did a fantastic job. (Applause.)
I want to thank all who helped. This is a fantastic turnout, and I know
it requires a lot of effort to get people to come -- particularly on a Saturday
night. (Laughter.) So I want to thank all those who worked hard, and I really
appreciate your support.
I want to thank my friend, Tom DeLay, for being here. Congressman DeLay
is a leader in the House of Representatives. (Applause.) I'm pleased that
our Lieutenant Governor, David Dewhurst, is here. Thank you, David, for your
leadership. (Applause.) And the Speaker of the House, from Midland, Texas,
Tommy Craddick. Thanks, Tom. (Applause.)
And I know we've got two state senators with us, Teel Bivins and Kyle Janek,
and state representative Joe Nixon. I appreciate you all coming. (Applause.)
And, finally, I want to thank the Houston Children's Chorus for lending
their beautiful voices to this event. (Applause.)
In the last two-and-a-half years, our nation has acted decisively to confront
great challenges. I came to this office to solve problems, not to pass them
on to future Presidents and future generations. (Applause.) I came to seize
opportunities, instead of letting them slip away. We are meeting the tests
of our time. (Applause.)
Terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what
they got. We have captured or killed many key leaders of al Qaeda, and the
rest of them know we're on their trail. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, we gave
ultimatums to terror regimes. Those regimes chose defiance, and those regimes
are no more. (Applause.)
Fifty million people in those two countries once lived under tyranny; today,
they live in freedom. (Applause.)
Two-and-a-half years ago, our military was not receiving the resources it
needed, and morale was beginning to suffer. We increased the defense budget
to prepare for the threats of a new era. And today, no one in the world can
question the skill, and the strength, and the spirit of the United States
Two-and-a-half years ago, we inherited an economy in recession. And then
the attacks on our country, and scandals in corporate America, and war affected
the people's confidence. But we acted. We passed tough new laws to hold corporate
criminals to account. And to get the economy going again, we have twice led
the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the American people.
We know that when Americans have more take-home pay to spend, to save, or
to invest, the whole economy grows, and people are more likely to find a
job. We understand whose money we spend in Washington, D.C. It is not the
government's money. It is the people's money. (Applause.)
We are returning more money to the people to help them raise their families.
We are reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment.
We're giving small businesses incentives to expand and hire new people. With
all these actions, we are laying the foundation for greater prosperity and
more jobs across America so that every single person in this country can
realize the American Dream. (Applause.)
Two-and-a-half years ago, there was a lot of talk about education reform.
But there wasn't much action. So I called for and Congress passed the No
Child Left Behind Act. With a solid bipartisan majority, we delivered the
most dramatic education reforms in a generation. We're bringing high standards
and strong accountability measures to every single public school in America.
We believe that every child can learn the basics of reading and math, and
we expect every school to teach the basics of reading and math. (Applause.)
We are challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. The days of excuse-making
are over. We expect results in every classroom, so that not one single child
in America is left behind. (Applause.)
We reorganized the government and created a Department of Homeland Security
to safeguard our borders and ports, and to better protect the American people.
We passed trade promotion authority to open new markets for America's entrepreneurs
and farmers and ranchers. We passed a budget agreement that is helping to
maintain spending discipline in Washington, D.C. On issue after issue, this
administration has acted on principle, has kept its word and has made progress
for the American people. (Applause.)
The United States Congress has shared in these great achievements, and I
appreciate the hard work of the members of the Congress. I appreciate being
able to work with Speaker Hastert and Leader DeLay and Senator Frist. And
we will continue to work together to change the tone in Washington, D.C.,
by focusing on the people's business and by focusing on results.
And that's the nature of the men and women I have asked to serve in my administration.
I have put together a really fine administration on behalf of the American
people. Our country has had no finer Vice President than Dick Cheney. (Applause.)
Mother may have a different thought. (Laughter.)
In two-and-a-half years we have come far, but our work is only beginning.
We have great goals worthy of this nation. First, America is committed to
extending the realm of freedom and peace for our own security, and for the
benefit of the world. And, second, in our own country, we must work for a
society of prosperity and compassion, so that every citizen has a chance
to work and succeed and realize the great promise of our country.
It is clear that the future of freedom and peace depend on the actions of
America. This nation is freedom's home and freedom's defender. We welcome
this charge of history, and we are keeping it.
Our war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither
are we. This country will not rest, we will not tire, and we will not stop
until this danger to civilization is removed. (Applause.)
Yet, our national interest involves more than eliminating aggressive threats
to our security. Our greatest security comes from the advance of human liberty,
because free nations do not support terror. Free nations do not attack their
neighbors. Free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror.
Americans believe that freedom is the deepest need and hope of every human
heart. And we believe that freedom is the right of every person and the future
of every nation. (Applause.)
America also understands that unprecedented influence brings tremendous
responsibilities. We have duties in the world. And when we see disease and
starvation and hopeless poverty, we will not turn away. On the continent
of Africa, America is now bringing the healing power of medicine to millions
of men, and women, and children now suffering with AIDS. This great land
is leading the world in this incredibly important work of human rescue.
We face challenges at home, as well. And our actions will prove that we
are equal to those challenges. I will continue to work on our economy until
everybody who wants to work and who cannot find a job today is able to do
We have a duty to keep our commitment to America's seniors by strengthening
and modernizing Medicare. Recently, the Congress took historic action to
improve the lives of older Americans. For the first time since the creation
of Medicare, the House and the Senate have passed reforms to increase choices
for our seniors and to provide coverage for prescription drugs. The next
step is for both Houses to work out their differences and to get a good bill
to my desk as soon as possible. (Applause.)
For the sake of our health care system, we need to cut down on the frivolous
lawsuits which increase the cost of medicine. (Applause.) I appreciate the
very fine work of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker
for passing real, meaningful medical liability reform here in the state of
Texas. (Applause.) The State Representative Nixon, who is here with us today,
was the author of that bill, and I appreciate your hard work, Joe. (Applause.)
Look, we understand a person who has been harmed by a bad doctor deserves
his or her day in court. Yet, the system should not reward lawyers who are
fishing for rich settlements. Because frivolous lawsuits drive up the cost
of health care, they affect the federal budget. Therefore, medical liability
reform is a national issue that requires a national solution. The House of
Representatives has passed a fine bill. It is stuck in the United States
Senate. The Senate must act on behalf of the American citizens. (Applause.)
I have a responsibility as President to make sure the judicial system runs
well. And I have met that duty. I have nominated superb men and women, like
Priscilla Owen, to the federal courts. (Applause.) People who will interpret
the law, not legislate from the bench.
Some members of the Senate are trying to keep my nominees off the bench
by locking up or down votes. Every judicial nominee deserves a fair hearing
and an up or down vote in the Senate floor. It is time for some of those
members in the Senate to stop playing politics with American justice. (Applause.)
The Congress needs to pass a comprehensive energy plan. Our nation must
promote energy efficiency and conservation, and continue to develop technology
so we can explore in a more environmentally friendly way. But for the sake
of our economic security, and for the sake of our national security, we must
be less dependant on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
Our strong and prosperous nation must also be a compassionate nation. I
will continue to advance our agenda of compassionate conservatism, applying
the best and most innovative ideas to the task of helping our fellow citizens
in need. There are still millions of men and women who want to end their
dependence on government and become independent through hard work. We must
build on the success of welfare reform to bring work and dignity into the
lives of more of our fellow citizens.
Congress should complete the Citizen Service Act to encourage more Americans
to serve their communities and their country. And both Houses should reach
agreement on my faith-based initiative to support the armies of compassion
that are mentoring our children, and caring for the homeless, and offering
hope to the addicted. (Applause.)
A compassionate society must promote opportunity for all, including the
independence and dignity that come from ownership. My administration will
constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We want more
people owning their own home. We want our fellow citizens to own and manage
their own health care plan, and to own and manage their own retirement accounts.
We want more of our citizens, our entrepreneurs to own their own small business.
We understand that when a person owns something, he or she has a vital stake
in the future of our country. (Applause.)
In a compassionate society, people respect one another, and take responsibilities
for the decisions they make. We're changing the culture of America from one
that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame
somebody else, to one in which each of us understands we are responsible
for the decisions we make in life.
If you are a mom or a dad, if you're fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad,
it is you who is responsible for loving your child. If you're concerned about
the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you are
responsible for doing something about it. If you're a CEO in America, you
have the responsibility to tell the truth to your shareholders and your employees.
And in this new responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving
a neighbor just like we'd like to be loved ourselves. We can see the culture
of service and responsibility growing around us. I started the USA Freedom
Corps to encourage Americans to extend a compassionate hand to neighbors
in need, and the response has been fantastic.
As I travel our country, I also see the vibrancy of many of the faith-based
organizations, the neighborhood healers that are concerned about saving lives.
I also know that policemen and fire fighters and people who wear our nation's
uniform are reminding us, once again, what it means to sacrifice for something
greater than ourselves. Our children believe in heros because they see them
In these challenging times, the world has seen the resolve and the courage
of America. And I've been privileged to see the compassion and character
of the American people. All the tests of the last two-and-a-half years have
come to the right nation.
We are a strong country, and we use that strength to defend the peace. We're
an optimistic country, confident in ourselves and in ideals bigger than ourselves.
Abroad, we seek to lift whole nations by spreading freedom. At home, we seek
to lift up lives by spreading opportunity to every corner of America. This
is the work that history has set before us. We welcome it. And we know that
for our country, and for our cause, the best days lie ahead.