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Remarks at Republican Party of Florida Majority Dinner
Universal Studios Portofino Hotel
Orlando, Florida
June 21, 2002
6:44 P.M. EDT

Gosh, thanks for that warm welcome. It's an honor to be back here in the great state of Florida. I want to -- I appreciate all of you who have come tonight. I'm here to help support the Republican Party of this state and make sure your unbelievably great Governor gets reelected. (Applause.)

It was a real treat for me to be able to see mi cunada, my sister-in-law, Columba. Jeb and I both married above ourselves. (Laughter.) I know you're proud of the job that Columba's doing as the First Lady of Florida. (Applause.) And I'm really proud of the job Laura's doing as the First Lady of America. (Applause.)

I'm pleased to report that our Mother is still telling both of us what to do. (Laughter.) And we're both listening -- most of the time. But it's great to be here with my family. As you know, we love our -- we've got a great family; we love each other a lot. And anything I can do to help Jeb stay in the Governor's Office I'll do. (Applause.) Even if that means keeping Brogan as the Lt. Governor. (Laughter and applause.) I appreciate you, Frank. Frank Brogan is a very good man, and you're doing a great job, Frank. I appreciate you. (Applause.)

I want to thank an Orlando product, who traveled with me today, for his service to the country. Mel Martinez is doing a great job in my Cabinet. (Applause.) I want to thank former Senator Connie Mack for staying involved with the Republican Party and for helping a lot. (Applause.) I appreciate so very much Congressman Ric Keller, who's doing a fine job in the United States Congress. Ric, thank you very much. (Applause.) Mike Bilirakis is here, and Mike is a great Congressman from up the coast. I appreciate you being here, Mike. (Applause.)

They tell me Congressmen Miller and Foley and Weldon may be here. If you're not here, I can understand -- I'm going to give a long speech. (Laughter.) If you are here, thank you for your service to the state of Florida and to the country. (Applause.)

And finally, they've been a little lax on the immigration laws here in Florida; you let a man from Georgia come in. He's a great Congressman from south Georgia, Charlie Norwood. Congressman Norwood. (Applause.)

I appreciate members of the elected -- who have been elected statewide here in Florida -- Charlie Bronson, Charlie Crist, and Tom Gallagher. I'm honored you all are here. (Applause.) I want to thank the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Al Cardenas, for his hard work and noble efforts for this party. (Applause.) And I want to thank Al Hoffman and Al Austin for their loyal friendship and longtime support for both Jeb and me. I want to thank you for your hard work. (Applause.) I want to thank the Mayor of this fine city, and the Mayor of Sarasota, as well, for coming -- both Carolyn Mason and Glenda Hood. Thank you all for being here. (Applause.)

I appreciate so very much members of the Florida legislature, starting with the Speaker, Tom Feeney, and Senate Leader John McKay. Thank you both for being here, and all of you for coming. (Applause.)

But most of all, I want to thank you all for supporting a great cause and a great slate of candidates. I want to thank those of you who have contributed your money, and I want to thank those of you who contribute your time.

We understand -- at least Jeb and I understand how important it is to have a viable, vibrant grass-roots organization. And for those of you who spent hours dialing phones and putting up signs and passing out pamphlets, thanks for your hard work. Get a little rest over the next couple of weeks -- (laughter) -- and get ready. We need you this fall. (Applause.)

My attitude is when you find a man who brings integrity to office, you've got to send him back into that office. (Applause.) And that's Jeb Bush. He's a man with strong principles. He fights for what he believes in. He sets high standards. The thing I'm most proud about Jeb, he is the Governor of everybody in the state of Florida. (Applause.) He doesn't think about keeping people out, or doesn't think about special people in. When Jeb thinks and acts, he thinks about how best to improve the lives of everybody.

And I want the citizens of Florida to stay focused on his education agenda and his education vision. Jeb Bush understands and believes that every child in the state of Florida. He knows that if you set low standards, certain children aren't going to learn. He believes that he's got to set high standards to make sure that every child in this great state learns how to read and write and add and subtract. (Applause.)

He's a man of enormous principle who believes in holding people accountable. He understands that in order to make sure every child learns, you must measure. You see, there used to be a system in Florida that said -- it must have said certain kids can't learn, so the easy way out is just to move them through. And guess who got moved through -- inner-city African American kids. Let's just quit on them and move them through and hope nobody notices.

How about children whose parents don't speak English as a first language -- they're easy to quit on. But under the leadership of Governor Jeb Bush, because he set high standards and holds people accountable for results, his program and his vision will do more to make sure that every child -- I mean, every single child in this great state is going to get a good education. And no child will be left behind. I'm proud of you, brother. (Applause.)

It hasn't been easy times for governors around the country when it comes to managing the budget. But, fortunately, ou've got a governor who didn't run up the baselines of your budget when it seemed like time for plenty. You've got a fiscally sound governor. Somebody who understands that the people's money is their money, not the government's money. Somebody who's done a fabulous job on behalf of the taxpayers of the people of Florida. (Applause.)

I've enjoyed very much working with Jeb on a lot of key issues, and I know for the state of Florida there is no more key issue than making sure that the coastline of Florida didn't have a lot of oil and gas drilling. As a matter of fact, under our vision, it's not going to have any. And so we worked together on Destin Dome -- (applause.) We worked together on Destin Dome and the Collier property in the Everglades. And thanks to the leadership of this governor, thanks to the leadership of Jeb Bush he has been a strong environmental steward for the people of the state of Florida.

This guy is doing a great job for the people. And I'm confident with your help, you're going to send him back up to Tallahassee. (Applause.)

We've got work to do in Florida and we've got work to do in Washington. And I want to share some thoughts about how I think things are going. First, I know there's a lot of talk about statistics in Washington, D.C. They're always quoting this person's statistic, or this smart person's statistic. Here's my attitude: If somebody wants to work and can't find a job, we've got a problem. If somebody's looking for work and can't find that job, all of us involved in public policy must do everything we can to expand the job base. The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneur can flourish, in which the small business owner has a chance to realize his or her dreams.

And that's why I insisted last year that the United States Congress join me in cutting the taxes on the working people all around America. (Applause.)

I readily concede some people in Washington read a different economic textbook than I have. They believe that when the economy slows down, you've got to keep more of the money in Washington. I believe that if you let people have their own money, they'll spend it. And they'll demand a good and service, and when they demand a good or a service, somebody's going to produce that good and service. And when somebody produces that good and service, somebody's more likely to have a job.

It is essential in Washington, and in Tallahassee, that you have leaders understand the entrepreneurial potential of our country, and of the state of Florida. So whether it be on tax policy, or terrorism insurance -- and by the way, I want to thank the Senate and the House for passing me a terror insurance bill, so that we can make sure large-scale construction projects can go forward in the state of Florida. But they've got to make sure they send me a bill that doesn't enrich plaintiffs' attorneys, but instead encourages workers to be able to find work. (Applause.)

And you're going to see, there's going to be some budget struggles in Washington, D.C. The temptation is to spend, and I understand that. But they've given the President the veto for a reason. And one of the reasons is to make sure that there is fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. And I intend to use the veto to make sure we do not overspend in our nation's capital. (Applause.)

We're making progress on the economic security front. But I'm telling you, we've got a lot more to do, and we will. We will. And we're making progress on the defense of our homeland as well. As you probably have heard, I have asked Congress to help me in streamlining and making more effective the ability of all of us involved with homeland security to do our jobs. I readily concede that some are probably asking the question, why would he try to create more government? After all, I didn't run and say, vote for me, I promise to create bigger government.

The reason why I have asked Congress to join me is because I want to take the over 100 agencies involved with homeland defense and bring them under one agency, so that they can be more effective, so that we can be more accountable and doing the most important job we have to do, which is to keep the enemy from hurting innocent Americans.

I say "keep the enemy from hurting innocent Americans" because that's exactly what they want to do. We're dealing with cold-blooded killers, and that's all they are. These are people who hijack a great religion and kill in the name of that religion. These are people who send youngsters to their death, and they hide in caves. And so I just want you to know that my main focus, and the main focus of a lot of hard-working people, is to do everything we can to protect America. We're chasing down every single lead. (Applause.)

We're chasing down every single lead. If there is a hint that somebody might try to do something to America, we're on them. We are. I know there's been a lot of consternation in Washington -- and probably in your newspapers here -- about the FBI and the CIA. There's no question that the FBI needed to change its attitude after September the 11th. After all, prior to September the 11th, the main function of the FBI was to run criminals down here in America and arrest them and bring them to justice -- and that's still an important function. But now that we've realized that we've got a war on our hands, an enemy that wants to hurt us, the FBI's primary mission is now to prevent an attack.

And they're talking better than ever. With intelligence-gathering networks, we're getting pretty good at it, and we're communicating better. My point to you is that the defense of the homeland, although never perfect, is improving every single day thanks to a lot of hard-working Americans.

But the best way to secure the homeland, the best way to make sure that I do my job, is to hunt the killers down one by one and bring them to justice. And that is precisely what America is going to do. (Applause.)

I've submitted a significant increase in the defense spending of the United States. It's the largest increase since Ronald Reagan was the President of our country. (Applause.) I did so for two main reasons. One, any time any one of our troops goes into the battle or into harm's way, that person deserves the absolute best equipment, the best pay, the best training possible. (Applause.) And the second reason is it sends a clear signal to our country, the coalition we have put together, and the enemy, that the United States, when it comes to defending our freedom, will take however long it takes; that this is a long struggle -- this is going to be a struggle of -- it's going to last a long time.

And we're making progress, we really are. Some of it's very evident; we routed out this barbaric regime called the Taliban. We sent our incredibly brave troops into Afghanistan, and in pretty short order we liberated a country. We freed people from the clutches of people who wouldn't even let girls go to school, and now they do, thanks to the United States of America. (Applause.)

But a lot of what's happening you won't see. That's the nature of the new war. We're kind of chasing down shadowy networks, people that try to blend into big, crowded cities, or they hide in, as I said, caves. But you just need to know we're after them. We've got them on the run. And we're going to keep them on the run. And we're going to continue making sure we send a clear message: either you're with us or you're with the enemy.

We spend a lot of time talking to our friends and allies, and bolstering our coalition. Today, one of our coalition members, President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines, did the world a great service. There was a group of killers named Abu Sayyaf in her country. They kidnapped, they killed. And today, their leader met his Maker thanks to one of our coalition partners. (Applause.)

We've hauled in, one way or the other, 2.400 -- make it 2,401 -- people that have been a part of this shadowy army. But there's more to do. There's more to do. And you can bet the United States of America, so long as I'm the President, is going to do what needs to be done. (Applause.) Because after all, we defend our freedom.

And the decisions we make today, and our steadfast resolve, will help our children to live in a free world. And there's some tough, tough tasks ahead, no question about it. There will be some tough battles. There's a threat that faces our country, which I take very seriously, and that is the capacity of some of the world's worst regimes to develop and harbor weapons of mass destruction.

I'm a patient man. The United States has got a lot of tools at our disposal. And we'll use every tool at our disposal to make sure that the axis of evil doesn't hold us hostage, doesn't hold our friends hostage, and does not hurt the freedoms that we love so dearly. (Applause.)

I believe that out of the evil done to America will come some good. I believe that this country is so strong, and so powerful, and so good and decent, that out of the evil done on September the 11th can come some important, lasting contributions to the world, starting with peace.

You know, Laura always -- not always; sometimes -- gets on me for my rhetoric. (Laughter.) And if your children question, you know, why is the President talking this way or the other way? I ask you to look them in the eye and say, because he loves peace. Because he believes that the United States has been called into action. That history has given us a chance to seize the moment to use our position in the world to make the world more peaceful. Peaceful in America; peaceful in parts of the world where people cannot possibly dream of peace right now: peace in South Asia, peace in the Middle East. So long as I'm the President, I will drive public policy and foreign policy to achieving peace. (Applause.)

And at home, and at home, I believe that out of the evil is coming incredible good. People say, what can I do to help?

You can love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. You see, it's the million acts of kindness and decency that take place every day in America that will help us fight off evil.

As a result of people loving their neighbor, mentoring a child, helping a shut-in, our culture's changing in America. I gave a speech at Ohio State University a week ago today, and I was pleased to see that 70 percent of all the graduating class had at one time or another done some volunteer work. It's a great sign to realize that our young have heard the call, that life is more than just profit and loss; that life of service is an important part of being not a spectator, but a citizen of the United States of America.

The most compelling story, of course, in my judgment after 9/11 or during 9/11 was Flight 93, when brave souls heard that their airplane was a weapon. They called their loved ones, they said a prayer, and they took the airplane in the ground in the ultimate gesture of serving something greater than yourself. I believe that lesson has reverberated throughout our society. I believe millions of our fellow citizens now realize that in order to be a full-fledged American, it means you've got to help somebody in need.

There are pockets of despair and hopelessness in America that can be solved by love and compassion, by works of faith. And I believe that out of the evil, more and more Americans, as a result of our fellow Americans showing compassion and decency, will realize the American Dream extends to every neighborhood in this great land. (Applause.)

I believe that Americans understand that the culture of if it feels good do it, and you got a problem, blame somebody else, is a culture that must fade off into the sunset. It's being replaced by a culture of personal responsibility. Each of us are responsible for loving our children. If you happen to be a mom or a dad, your most important job is to love your children with all your heart and all your soul.

In order to be a good neighbor, you must love your neighbor. If you're running a business, a public company in America, you have the responsibility to have clean balance sheets, to be -- fully disclose your assets and your liabilities, and treat your shareholders and employees with the respect they deserve. (Applause.)

No, out of the evil done to America has come a new culture, a new sense of responsibility. The enemy thought they were hurting America, and they killed too many lives, no question about it. But they didn't realize who they were dealing with.

They were dealing with the greatest nation, the most decent nation, the most compassionate nation on the face of this Earth.

And it is my high honor to be the President of such a great place.

Thank you for coming. (Applause.) God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 7:10 P.M. EDT