Remarks at Iowa Republican Luncheon
The Marriott Hotel
Des Moines, Iowa
March 1, 2002
11:54 A.M. CST
Thank you very much. Please be seated.
It's an unbelievable honor for guy from Midland, Texas, to be back in Iowa.
(Laughter.) As I recall, it started here. And I want to thank you all. I want
to thank you for your support and I want to thank you for coming out to support
Tom Latham. And I want to thank you for your support for the Iowa Republican
Party. And I want to thank you for that warm welcome. It's an honor to be back
in your great state.
And I, too, want to extend our most heartfelt sympathies to Katie Roth. As you
know, Luke was -- ran my campaign here in the primaries. I remember him as a
joyous, fine, solid American. I talked to Katie the other day on the phone.
I assured her the prayers of Iowa and Luke's friends are with her, and I know
you join me, I hope, in praying for God's blessings on Katie and the family.
Somebody said to me the other day, do you plan on campaigning? You're the President
of all the people -- I said, sure I am. When I find somebody good, I'm going
to help them. And Tom Latham is a good, good United States congressman. (Applause.)
You bet I'm going to campaign. I'm going to campaign for a Party that holds
the values that I hold dear to my heart of heralding the individual and limiting
the size and scope of government, recognizing that all wisdom is not in Washington,
D.C., but is in local governments and individuals; recognizing that we must
have a strong national defense to secure freedom. I am, I'm going to campaign.
I want Denny Hastert to be the Speaker of the House, and I want Tom Latham returned
to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
And I want to thank you all for coming to help. And I appreciate your generosity.
I also want to thank Kathy Latham for her patience and her support of Tom. And
like me, Tom married above himself. (Laughter.) Thank you for being here, Kathy.
Speaking about marrying above myself, Laura is doing great. As you may remember,
she was a public school librarian when I married her. She really wasn't interested
in politics or politicians. And now she is a fabulous First Lady for the United
States of America. (Applause.) She sends her greetings. I'm going to see her
here in a while and I look forward to telling her that I saw a lot of our friends
in Iowa today at lunch.
I also want to thank Elaine Chao. You know, one of the ways you judge a President
is what kind of team does he put together. And as you've seen, I've put together
a fabulous national security team; a team of experienced hands and people who
are willing to express their opinion, willing to work for what's best for America.
And I've also put together a great domestic team, as well. And one of those
members is Elaine Chao, who is the Secretary of Labor, and I want to thank you
for coming, Elaine. (Applause.)
I see the Party Chairman. Chuck, thank you for coming here. I got to know Larson
on the campaign trail. Never did I realize he'd be elevated to such a high standing
in life. (Laughter.) But now that he is, I hear that he's doing a great job.
So Mr. Chairman, thank you for taking on a leadership role. (Applause.) I love
your enthusiasm and I love your zest for life.
I think Bob Ray is here, who set the standard for what it means to be a governor.
Terry Branstad, I understand was going to be here as well -- if so, thanks for
coming. Branstad, how are you? Hi, Bob. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.)
It's good to see you both again. I know Mary Kramer told me she was coming,
and I know the Speaker is here and others from the State House. Mary, how are
you? Again, thank you Speaker. (Applause.)
I want to thank you all for being here. I was back -- met some folks back there
and this tall giant walked through. He said, I used to mow down the Texas Rangers
on a regular basis. And I said, you're not Cal Eldred are you? He said, yes,
I am. I said, well, I'm sorry to see you again. (Laughter.) But I'm glad to
see him here. Where are you, Cal? There he is. Thanks for coming, Cal; I appreciate
your being here. (Applause.) I know you're sorry to be out of baseball, but
Ranger fans are glad you are. (Laughter.) At any rate, thank you all for coming.
Let me tell you a couple things about Tom Latham that it's important for those
who might be undecided to listen to. One, he's on the Appropriations Committee.
That's important to be on the Appropriations Committee. It requires somebody
who has got a little extra -- a little extra talent to be on that committee
in the House of Representatives. It makes no sense for people in the congressional
district in which he's seeking to replace somebody on the Appropriations Committee
with somebody who's not. The Appropriations Committee is one of the most important
committees there is in the United States Congress. And not only that, but he's
got some accomplishments that I want to tout.
One of them is -- and this is an important issue that faces the future of America
-- he is a strong battler of illegal drugs. Methamphetamine, for example, has
been a problem in the midwest, a problem here in Iowa, and this good United
States Congressman had the foresight and willingness to get a regional training
center to fight methamphetamines. And I appreciate that very much, Tom, and
so do the people of Iowa, and they've got to remember that when it gets ready
to go into the polls.
As you know, in Washington we've got a lot of talkers. And what you need to
do is herald the doers, the people who get things done. One of the interesting
issues, as you know, that obviously faces Iowans -- and I learned this firsthand,
of course -- is the agricultural economy here. The farm bill is working its
way through, and Tommy Latham understands a couple of points that are important.
One, we need a safety net. But we don't want to encourage over-production. We
want a wise farm policy. And part of that wise farm policy is to make sure that
we open up markets for trade.
The Iowa farmers are the best farmers in the world. (Applause.) And it makes
sense if you're the best farmer in the world -- if you're the best in the world,
you want to be able to sell more, not sell less.
And so when I was in China recently, I made it very clear to the Chinese officials
with whom I met that they need to honor obligations and open up their markets,
starting with soybeans from the United States of America. (Applause.) Those
protectionist voices in Washington must not understand the Iowa farm community.
The more product we sell, the better off it is for the Iowa farmer, and Tom
Latham understands that.
He also understands, and I understand, the importance of value-added processing
when it comes to agricultural products. I told the good people in Iowa when
I campaigned here I supported ethanol. I supposed ethanol as the nominee of
the party, I supported ethanol as a candidate, and I support ethanol as the
President of the United States. (Applause.)
But there are some other things we ought to do. We ought to do what Tom Latham
has suggested and has done, which is to encourage more research and development
between the Energy Department and the Ag Department, so that we can fully explore
the potential of biomass. One thing you'll hear me talk a lot about is we need
less dependency on foreign sources of energy. And there would be nothing better
than to be able to grow our way out of that dependency -- but it requires leadership,
and Tom Latham has provided that leadership for the good of Iowa, as well as
for the good for the nation.
And, finally, an issue that he spends a lot of time thinking about and working
on and talking to me about, is to make sure that there is equity for rural hospitals,
particularly when it comes to Medicare reimbursements. (Applause.)
My point to the people of Iowa is that this is an accomplished man and a smart
man who has got the interest of his district in his heart, and it makes a lot
of sense if you care about the future of Iowa -- forget political party, if
you care about the future of Iowa -- to send this good man back to Washington,
D.C. come November. (Applause.)
And one other thing I like about him is he understands that the budget I sent
up to Washington, D.C. -- up in Washington, that prioritizes our national defense
is the right priority for the country. We're defending freedom. And I sent a
budget up there that says we're going to set a priority for defending freedom.
And the Congress ought to pass that budget. It ought to recognize that the price
for defending freedom is high, but whatever it takes we ought to spend because
our freedom is precious and dear. (Applause.)
This nation has sent men and women who wear our uniform into battle to defend
freedom. And they have performed brilliantly. But if we send them into battle,
they deserve the best training, the best supplies, the best equipment. They
deserve another pay raise. And Congress needs to fully fund the military and
defense budget I sent up to both the Senate and the House. (Applause.)
Because we're in for a long struggle. You know, I told the American people that
this was a new kind of war. The enemy hit us. We've never been attacked like
that before on the continental 48. And we realized that we're in a new era.
And that it's going to require patience of the American people. Because we're
chasing down a kind of a faceless enemy; an enemy who sends young men to die
on suicide missions and they, themselves, try to hide in caves.
But you need to know how determined I am to defend America and our freedom.
It doesn't matter how deep the cave is. It doesn't matter where the cave is.
We're going to find them. We're going to slowly but surely hunt them down and
bring them to justice. (Applause.)
In the course of this war, I laid out some doctrines that are pretty darned
clear. One of them is, if you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if
you provide aid or comfort to a terrorist, you are just as guilty as the terrorist.
And the Taliban found out exactly what we meant.
Our military took on a tough mission, to uphold that doctrine, and it was a
dangerous mission, and they performed brilliantly. We're not conquerors, we
showed the world; we're liberators. We liberated people from the clutches of
one of the most barbaric regimes in the history of mankind. I cannot tell you
how proud I was to see the joy on the faces of women and little girls in Afghanistan
with the realization that this mighty nation has freed them to realize their
I also made it clear to the world that either you are with us or you're against
us. That either you're with the United States in defending freedom, or you're
not with the United States in defending freedom. And a lot of people have heard
that nation and they're proud to sign up with us. And we've got a vast coalition,
as we're hunting down the al Qaeda.
We've had over 1,000 arrests in places outside of Afghanistan. I mean, we're
slowly but surely doing what we need to do to protect the homeland. And the
coalition understands our determination, and they see our resolve.
I'm proud of the patience of the American people. The American people recognize
the new type of war we're in. They understand that sometimes they'll see the
action of the United States government and sometimes we won't. But they also
understand we must be strong and diligent as we defend freedom, because that's
what we defend.
I made it clear that this is a war beyond just a single individual. One guy
thinks he can hide, but he's not going to. We haven't heard much from him lately,
by the way. (Laughter.)
But we fight terror wherever it exists. And this is for the good of our children.
History has called us into action, and we must not and we will not blink. It's
a chance to define freedom for future generations.
I made it clear that a scenario which I will not let stand is one in which a
terrorist organization could team up with a nation that has had a history of
mistreating her people, a nontransparent nation perhaps, a nation that is known
to be developing weapons of mass destruction.
We cannot let, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, terrorist organizations
team up with nations that want to develop weapons that can be delivered from
long distances that will hurt ourselves, our friends and our allies. We're not
going to let the world's worst regimes develop the worst weapons and threaten
the United States of America. (Applause.)
We're doing everything at home to defend the homeland. We've got a good strategy
in place. It starts, by the way, with having the best intelligence possible,
gathering intelligence from all around the world, disseminating on a quick basis,
and following every lead and every hint.
If we get any kind of whiff that somebody is trying to do something to the American
people, we're moving. We've got thousands of FBI agents whose major task, primary
focus, is on preventing an attack. We're doing a much better job of coordinating
with state and local authorities. We've got a national strategy in place to
make our borders more secure, to make our nation more responsive to a potential
I mean, we're making good progress, and our budget reflects that. But the best
way to secure the homeland is to be relentless in our pursuit against terrorists,
and that's exactly what's going to happen, so long as I'm the President of the
United States. (Applause.)
You know, I remember campaigning in Chicago and somebody said, would you ever
spend a deficit? And I said, only if we're at war or we had a recession or there
was a national emergency. Little did I realize we'd get the trifecta. (Laughter.)
It's going to be important for Congress to fund the priorities. But in order
to make sure whatever deficit we have is short-lived, they better hold the line
on the rest of the budget. And that's why the President has the veto pen. It's
important for there to be fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., right now.
Our economy is, as you know, has been sputtering. And thankfully, the Congress,
working with me, did a smart thing. Last March, we cut the taxes on the people
who pay the bills in America. (Applause.) Actually, I think it took place a
little later than March. Last year, we cut the taxes. It happened at the exact
right time. You see, in order to stimulate economic vitality and growth. When
we give people their own money back, it enhances demand, which causes more production,
which creates job stability.
Now, there are some in Washington that have been mumbling beneath their breath
that maybe they think they want to prevent the rest of the tax relief package
from going through. I do not know what economic textbook they're reading.
One thing you don't do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession. In order
to stimulate growth, you trust the American people with their own money, and
that's what we did. I appreciate Latham's vote on that matter, and I'm going
to hold the line when it comes to tax relief. (Applause.)
And I can remember standing on farms in Iowa, standing by a generation of farmers,
saying one of the worst things that can happen to the Iowa agricultural economy
is the death tax. We need to get rid of the death tax, and I'm proud to report
the death tax is on its way to extinction. (Applause.)
I hope Congress gives me a trade bill so I can open up markets. I hope Congress
gives me an energy bill so we become less dependent on foreign sources of crude
oil and can conserve more energy. I hope Congress gives me a stimulus package
that not only takes care of workers who lost their jobs, but recognizes that
people want more than an unemployment check; they want a permanent paycheck.
And we need to stimulate economic activity by encouraging more plant and equipment,
more investment in plant and equipment.
The House has acted. The Senate has stalled. It's time to get some of these
important measures to my desk so we can make progress in the country. (Applause.)
I, like everybody else in America, was heartsick on 9/11. I can't tell you how
sad I was, just like you. And then I got a little angry. And then I realized
upon reflection that out of this evil was going to come some good, and it has.
Out of this terrible evil, we have a chance to keep the peace for a long time
coming, and we will. And out of this evil, this nation has shown the world what
a compassionate, kind place we are.
I always used to say that one of my hopes was that this nation's culture would
shift from one that said, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it, and if
you've got a problem go ahead and blame somebody else, to a culture which says
each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life. Unbeknownst to
the evildoers, I think they've helped accelerate that cultural change.
I know millions of Americans are asking the question, what can I do to fight
terror? What is it I can do to fight evil? And they're beginning to realize
what I know, that in order to fight evil, do something good. In order to stand
square in the face of evil, this good nation, through the millions of acts of
kindness that take place on a daily basis, stands opposite of evil. And as a
result of neighbors looking after neighbors, of people caring for somebody in
need, of somebody loving their neighbor like they'd like to be loved themselves,
people understand there's a new responsibility to be had.
Mothers and dads know that the most important job they will ever have is to
love their children, is to love their children. Churches and synagogues and
mosques who have these fantastic neighborhood healing programs need to be unleashed
in America through the faith-based initiative that I have proposed.
You see, government shouldn't fear faith. We ought to welcome faith and the
power of faith to change people's lives in a very positive way.
You know, I was working the rope line over there at the retirement plan ceremony
and I ran into a guy I met in Colfax, Iowa, from Teen Challenge. It was a fantastic
experience during the course of the caucuses because it gave me a chance to
explain to people what I meant when -- how faith changes life. But I'll never
forget the heroin addict from Chicago standing up and saying he was clean because
a power greater than himself entered into his heart.
These kinds of programs government can't create. But these kind of programs
exist in America because of the goodness of America. And this society is changing,
as we unleash this compassion, as people understand that part of being responsible
is not only responsible for your own family but responsible for loving a neighbor.
And it's taking place in the country and it's so powerful and positive, it leads
me to say that out of this evil is going to come a stronger, more decent, more
There's defining moments that take place in our history, and I think a defining
moment was Flight 93, when people on an airplane, on cell phones, told their
wives they loved them, said a prayer, and drove a plane into the ground to save
somebody's life, to serve something greater than yourself.
It's the ultimate testimony to the American character and the American spirit
which defines this nation for what it is, the greatest nation on the face of
the earth. And I am really proud to be its President. God bless. (Applause.)