Remarks in Roundtable with Small Business Owners and Employees
Albers Manufacturing Company
March 18, 2002
2:30 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so very much Rolf, for your invitation to come. Rolf
is a classic example of what makes America unique and strong. He had an idea,
and a dream. He built his own business. He employs good, hardworking people
here in Missouri. He's got a vibrant business.
And I explained to these folks that one of my jobs is to create an environment
in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes, in which small business owners
are able to keep making a living and keep people employed. I talked about making
the death tax* permanent, so that Rolf can pass his assets to a family member,
if he so chooses. I talked about some expensing items, some items to make sure
the small business owner has got an incentive to invest more, which means more
jobs. Tomorrow I'll be talking about regulatory relief.
I'm also talking about ways so that a small business owner such as Rolf can
better afford health care for his employees, so that they're able to work here,
and at the same time enjoy health benefits like those from -- large companies
We had a good discussion. And it's important to the American people to understand
the role of small business in our society. Most new jobs created are created
by small businesses. And more people are able to realize the American Dream
by starting their own business.
And so one of things we've all got to work toward is an environment in which
the small business flourishes. Rolf, thank you for letting me come. I want to
thank you all for a great discussion. I'll answer a couple of questions.
(* should read "death tax repeal")
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you have any sense of who carried out the attack
yesterday in Pakistan at the church; why they did it? Do you think they're trying
to undermine Musharraf and his support for the war on terrorism?
THE PRESIDENT: Very interesting question. I talked to President Musharraf this
morning, first thing. He is very sympathetic, obviously. He was deeply concerned
about the American loss of life, and he wanted to share that with me. And I
appreciated his phone call. We both talked about the need to continue fighting
people that would kill for political reasons. And it goes to show that there
is still some -- that that part of the world is a dangerous place at times.
And the tougher President Musharraf is, and the more steadfast the United States
is, the stronger we stand against terrorist activity, the more lives we'll ultimately
QUESTION: Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: He doesn't know who it is -- excuse me for a minute. He doesn't
know who it is yet. And when we find him, we'll bring him to justice.
QUESTION: Sir? Thank you. Vice President Cheney is in the Middle East. Should
he meet with Chairman Arafat? Would you like to see that happen? And if no,
THE PRESIDENT: I talked to the Vice President today. And he's had a very good
visit in the Middle East. He is -- matter of fact, he was 15 minutes away from
going in to see Prime Minister Sharon. He had General Zinni with him. General
Zinni is optimistic that we're making some progress in the Middle East.
And the answer to who the Vice President ought to meet with or not meet with
depends upon General Zinni's recommendations. He's the man on the ground. He's
in charge of trying to foster an environment such that we can get into Tenet,
and then eventually get into the Mitchell peace plan. Our government has laid
out a pathway to a peaceful resolution of a very difficult set of problems.
And Zinni's over there working hard to get us into that process.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Operation Anaconda, we've been told, is successful,
THE PRESIDENT: Operation?
QUESTION: Operation Anaconda we're being told is successful, and it's over.
Do you feel the war in Afghanistan -- that part of the war is now over?
THE PRESIDENT: John, I don't. I feel like we've got a lot more fighting to do
in Afghanistan. First of all, we were successful in Operation Anaconda. I want
to thank our troops, our brave troops, for fighting in incredibly tough terrain,
and against difficult circumstances. And the difficult circumstances were not
only the terrain, it was the fact that we were fighting against an enemy that
refuses to surrender. These are people that are there to die. And we accommodated
And it's a -- but there are more al Qaeda killers in Afghanistan, perhaps in
Pakistan, willing to come back into Afghanistan. The reason -- AND I know for
a fact that they were trying to -- in the midst of this battle, in the midst
of the United States Military and our coalition forces being very successful,
they were trying to reinforce. And these are people that are -- they were willing
to reinforce in the midst of the Shar-i-Kot Mountain range, where they were
getting wiped out, they were willing to come back into Afghanistan to continue
to try to hurt us. These are killers. They hate America, they hate America's
freedom, they hate what America stands for. And they are relentless.
But so are we, and we will be more relentless than they are. That's why I've
urged the American people to be patient, and the American people are patient.
And that's why I've urged Congress to fund the U.S. military. And I hope Congress
does fund the U.S. military to the fullest, because we've got a lot more fighting
to do in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Many Mideast leaders are saying that the U.S. should be focusing more
on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and less on Iraq. Can you give a reaction
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate their advice, but we will not allow one of the world's
most dangerous leaders to have the world's most dangerous weapons, and hold
the United States and our friends and allies hostage. That's just not going
to happen. And so I appreciate their advice. But we will continue working with
them. We will continue dialogue. I have told people that we're a deliberate
nation. We'll talk to our friends and allies. But what I said about the axis
of evil is what I mean. I can't be any more plain about it.