Remarks at George Ryan for Governor Luncheon
Sheraton Chicago Hotel
May 13, 2002
12:11 P.M. CDT
Well, thank you for that warm Chicago welcome. I appreciate your kind remarks,
Governor. (Laughter and applause.) I want to thank you all for coming. Pat,
thanks for your leadership. And I want to thank you all for supporting this
good, honorable man to be become the next governor of the state of Illinois.
I want to thank all the grass-roots advocates who are here, those who man the
phones and stuff the envelopes and get out the vote. I want to thank you for
what you've done in the past. And I want to thank you for what you're fixing
to do. I can just see the headlines: Ryan replaces Ryan. (Laughter.) Durkin
defeats Durbin. (Applause.)
And I want to thank Marie. We had our picture taken with the Ryan family. I
thought it was never going to end. That's a good sign. (Laughter.) If all the
Ryans vote, it's a landslide. (Laughter.) But I want to thank Marie -- Mother's
Day must have been a heck of a day for you, with all those kids. And I want
to thank the sons and daughter who are here. Maria has got four sons and a daughter.
It reminds me of another name in American politics -- Barbara has got four sons
and a daughter. The difference is, is that your sons must be treating you better.
You don't have any white hair. (Laughter.)
But I want to thank you for being a great wife, and soon to be a great First
Lady of the state of Illinois. (Applause.) And to you boys out there, you listen
to your mother. (Laughter.) I'm still listening to mine. (Laughter.)
Speaking about great First Ladies, I'm sorry that Laura can't be with us today.
She is off to Europe. And she's going to represent our country in the Czech
Republic and Hungary and France. And then I'm going to team up with her there
in about nine days. I bring her up just to -- you know, when I married Laura,
she was a public school librarian. She wasn't really interested in politics.
And if the truth be known, she really didn't care for politicians. (Laughter.)
But thankfully, she agreed to marry me, and now the American people are beginning
to see why. She is calm and she is steady. She's got great values and a huge
heart. A lot of people are still wondering why she said, yes. But she sends
her love, and wishes you all the best. (Applause.)
And I appreciate Senator Hawkinson being here, the next Lt. Governor for the
state of Illinois. Thank you for coming, Senator. (Applause.) Members from the
Illinois delegation are here -- some of them looking for a ride back to D.C.,
I suspect. (Laughter.) Just depends on how you vote. (Laughter and applause.)
But I appreciate Senator Peter Fitzgerald for coming tonight -- today. Peter,
where are you? Thank you, Peter. (Applause.)
I think Chairman Henry Hyde thought I was teasing him. I told him today I was
announcing the fact that Russia and United States agreed to a treaty to substantially
reduce our offensive nuclear weapons. It is a treaty that will change the relationship
between Russia and the United States for the better, for world peace. Mr. Chairman,
I'm serious about talking to you about this treaty when we fly back to Washington.
Henry Hyde, thank you for coming. (Applause.) He's what we call a solid citizen.
And so are the other members of the congressional delegation who are here --
Mark Kirk, Jerry Weller, Judy Biggert, as well as Ray LaHood. I appreciate you
all coming, as well. (Applause.) I mentioned the fact that Durkin is going to
beat Durbin. I want to thank Jim Durkin for being here and for running for the
United States Senate. (Applause.) I appreciate the Lt. Governor, Corinne Wood,
for being here. Thank you for coming, Corinne. (Applause.) And the State Treasurer
-- and the old State Treasurer, Judy Baar. (Applause.) Where is she? Thank you,
Judy. Yes, just kidding -- well. (Laughter.)
And finally -- well, not quite finally -- I'm glad to see my old friend, Pate
Philip. Pate, thank you for coming. I appreciate you being here. I remember
going to your great county more than once to learn the lessons of good politics
at the foot of a master. Mr. Senator, thank you for being here. (Applause.)
And I appreciate Lee Daniels being here, as well. Lee, thank you for your leadership
and your strong, strong support for the next governor. Thank you, Lee. (Applause.)
Now I'm getting to the finally. I had the honor of knowing two great governors
-- past governors -- who are here with us today -- big Jim Thompson, and Jim
Edgar. Thank you all for coming. (Applause.) I appreciate you, Edgar. (Applause.)
I'm proud to support Jim Ryan. I appreciate, first of all, his heart and his
philosophy. I call him a compassionate conservative, somebody who believes like
I believe that if you embrace a conservative philosophy and you have a heart,
you can help people. And that's what government is all about, is to help people
help themselves. To understand the limitations of government, to apply government
where it needs to be applied, but always remember the idea is to make sure the
American experience and the American Dream reaches every corner of our country.
And that's the way Jim thinks. And that's an important attitude for the people
of -- for the governor to have, for all the people. We're running as proud Republicans.
We serve as a proud American.
I appreciate his strong stand on law enforcement. He's been given the job as
the Attorney General of this state to hold the law, to bring people to justice,
to blow the whistle where a whistle needs to be blown. And he's done just that.
If the people get beyond the rhetoric in this campaign and look at the record,
a record of accomplishment, the people of Illinois will put this man in the
statehouse with the big numbers, because he has got a record of accomplishment
as the Attorney General. The truth in sentencing law; supports the First Child
Advocacy Center to deal with child abuse, he believes strongly in school safety.
I mean, he's got a record.
And he's got a vision, as well. See, he understands that the number-one priority
of any state has got to be to make sure every child, every single child is educated.
You know, we passed a really good education reform law in Washington. And it
relates to this campaign. And I'll tell you how in a second. But first, it's
amazing what can happen when you put your country, or your state, ahead of petty
I was -- and I must confess, it did confuse some of the folks at the Crawford,
Texas coffee shop, when I was traveling around the country with Theodore Kennedy,
Ted Kennedy, thanking him for working on this bill. But we put it all aside,
all the typical Washington, D.C. bickering and name-calling, and decided to
do something right for the children, and passed a great piece of education reform.
And it starts with setting high standards. It starts with saying every child
can learn in America -- not a few, not just certain kind of children, but every
child. It believes that every child can learn. That's the way that Jim Ryan
Secondly, it says that in order to understand whether every child is learning,
we must measure. We must hold people to account as to whether or not children
are learning to read and write and add and subtract. I've heard all the talk
about school accountability. Let me put it on the line. It is racist and it
is wrong not to determine whether or not children are learning to read and write
and add and subtract. It is a mistake not to measure. (Applause.)
And a system that does not measure -- a system that does not measure is a system
that has low expectations. A system that won't hold people to account as to
whether or not our children are learning is a system that's more likely just
to shuffle kids through, as if they don't matter. Every child matters in America.
And in order to receive federal money, after I signed this bill, the people
of Illinois and Texas and every state must determine whether children are learning
to read and write and add and subtract. And if they are, we'll praise the teachers,
and they need to be praised. But if not, here's your chance to change.
If we find children trapped in schools that won't teach and won't change, you
need to change. You need to have a governor who's willing to blow the whistle
on failure. Every child matters. Every child counts. That's why I'm for Jim
Ryan. He's willing to take on the status quo when he finds children in schools
that will not teach. (Applause.)
And finally, the bill I signed says that the people who care more about the
children in the state of Illinois are the people of Illinois. It has a strong
component of local control. We're passing power out of Washington. We're giving
maximum flexibility at the local level, so the local folks can chart the path
to excellence. Listen, one size doesn't fit all. One size doesn't fit all when
it comes to the education of the children of the state of Illinois. And you'd
better have you a governor who understands that, and who won't stand for excuses,
and who's willing to innovate when innovation is needed. The number one priority
of any governor in any state has got to be the education of the children of
the state. And Jim Ryan understands that. (Applause.)
I just came from Big Brown, UPS, where the Mayor, thankfully, was there to greet
me. I appreciate the Mayor a lot. As I said publicly, I learned one thing --
it's better to have him for you than against you. (Laughter.) But I appreciate
his leadership for this great city. It's a fabulous city you live in. And we
were talking about welfare to work, and the fact that millions of people have
moved from welfare to work for the betterment of our country. It's helped our
country. It's also helped each individual person when they realize the dignity
And we were talking about the need to make sure that corporate Illinois, or
corporate America, does its part about helping people go from welfare to work.
Big Brown has hired 52,000 from the welfare rolls. We had two young ladies,
young moms talk about what it means to go from welfare to work. It's just a
compelling story and a great morning for me.
The reason I bring it up is we're in the midst of reauthorization of the welfare
reform. And it's important for states to continue to strive for high standards
when it comes to deploying resources to help people find work. It's essential
you have a governor who feels compassionate about each individual and who works
hard and tirelessly to provide the job training necessary and the education
necessary so that Americans can have the dignity of a job.
And so when I talked about advocating maximum flexibility for states in the
welfare to work -- I mean, the welfare reauthorization bill, it gave me great
comfort to know that Jim Ryan is going to be the next governor of the state
of Illinois, because he's cares about people and he's willing to bring people
together to achieve the common objective.
I'm confident that when you have a man of good values, who knows what he thinks,
who doesn't need to take a poll or focus group to figure out his direction that
he's going to head in life, he's going to make a good leader for your state.
And I'm proud to support him. (Applause.)
I also look forward to working with your Governor to make sure that the state
of Illinois is prepared to respond should the enemy hit us again. And they want
to. I know that every morning when I go in the Oval Office and read a threat
-- a threat assessment to our country, they're interested in hitting us again.
Kids say, why, why would they want to do that to America? Because they hate
us. And the reason they hate us is we love freedom. We cherish our freedoms.
We love the idea that people can worship freely in America; that's something
we strongly believe in. They don't like that. And we can speak our minds freely,
and we can come to political gatherings, make our decisions in freedom. We have
free press. We're an open society. That bothers the enemy a lot.
And they're still out there. And you need to know that we're doing everything
we can, everything in our power, to make the United States safe. My most important
job is to protect innocent Americans. Our law enforcement agencies are talking
like they've never talked before. Anytime we get a hint of anything, we're sharing
information across jurisdictional boundaries, we're running down every possible
We operate -- proudly operate within the confines of the United States Constitution.
But there is no hint, no lead that is insignificant, as far as we're concerned.
But you need to know that the most, the best way to secure the homeland is to
chase these killers down, one by one, and bring them to justice. That's precisely
what the United States of America is going to do. (Applause.)
There's been some interesting lessons. First of all, I always kind of felt that
the farther we got away from September the 11th -- my worry was the farther
we got away, that the more likely it is America will say, maybe it's not worth
it. I'm proud to report that's not the case. In my travels around our country,
I have seen what must make the enemy feel terrible -- a united, resolved, strong
nation, which says that we'll do whatever it takes to defend the values that
we hold dear. And that's comforting to me, and it's not so comforting to them.
You know, I can't imagine what was going through their mind when they attacked.
They must have looked at America and said that this nation is so self-absorbed,
so shallow in its materialism, that all America would likely do is maybe file
a couple of lawsuits. They were wrong. They found out that we are plenty tough.
And we're going to remain tough.
I unleashed a military that should make every one of you proud. (Applause.)
You will read about the budgets I submitted. By the way, right here in Chicago,
I was asked when I was campaigning here, they said, hey, Mr. President, would
you ever have a deficit. I said, only if there was a war, or a recession, or
a national emergency. (Laughter.) Yeah, we've got one right now. But it's worth
it because we're fighting for freedom. And when we bring some fiscal discipline
to Washington, it's going to help make the deficit short-term.
And I submitted a big budget, no question about it, for defense. And I did it
for a reason. One, anytime we commit our troops into harm's way, they deserve
the best pay, the best training, the best equipment possible. That's what we
owe our military. (Applause.) And secondly, it is important to show the world
that we're in this for the long run, and that while there may not be dramatic
action on your TV screens on a daily basis, we're making progress. And it's
going to take a while.
This is a new kind of war. This isn't a war of known fronts and carrier movements
and battle stations being manned on a regular basis. We're facing a shadowy
enemy. Look, these are the guys that send youngsters to their suicide death,
and they, themselves, try to hide in caves.
It's a new form of warfare, and it's going to require incredible patience. And
the American people have got to understand, we're in it for the long run. Our
coalition must understand that we're in it for the long run. They do; I tell
them all the time, see. I say, this is freedom we're fighting for. This is --
this is -- this is the most important value that we believe in in America. Either
you're with us, or you're against us, and I expect you to be with us. We're
in it for the long pull, and that's what that budget says. (Applause.)
We've been successful, we've been successful. We enforced the doctrine that
said, if you harbor one -- one being a killer -- you're just as guilty as the
killer. And the Taliban found out exactly what we meant. But in enforcing that
doctrine, we showed another side of America, as well. We showed not only are
we tough, not only are we wise with the military strategy, not only were we
able to win a guerrilla war using interesting new technologies, we liberated
I want the young of America to understand that we went into a country and freed
people. We didn't conquer people, we freed people from the clutches of a barbaric
regime that would not even let young girls go to school. And today, they do
in Afghanistan, thanks to the United States of America. (Applause.)
No, it's going to take a while, but we're making progress. You just need to
know, we really are. We're doing a better job of cutting off their money, and
that's important. We're getting the kind of -- sometimes we're getting a hint
where somebody might be trying to hide out, and we're kind of rallying people
to get them. There's countries that look like they were potential safe havens,
a nice place for maybe the terrorists to train. They're no longer safe havens
for the terrorists.
We're just taking our time, and doing our job. And that's what the American
people want. That's what the coalition is seeing. There's a lot of people who
are out there, saying, probably, gosh, we kind of hope the United States would
grow tired of all this. It would make our life a lot easier at home. Forget
it. (Laughter.) We're not growing tired of it. My most important job is to protect
the security of the American people, and I take that seriously. I also understand,
history has called us into action, and our country will not blink in the face
of evil. (Applause.)
I also believe that by leading a coalition, and by being firm and resolute and
strong, that out of the evil that has been done to America will come incredible
good, starting with peace. I believe if we're patient and strong and deliberate,
we'll be able to achieve peace. And that's important to me, and I know it's
important to you, as well. (Applause.) We don't seek revenge as a nation. We
seek justice, and we seek peace.
I also believe that out of the evil can come some incredible good at home. I
believe that. I'm asked all the time by people that say, what can I do to help
on the war against terror. My answer is, love a neighbor like you'd like to
be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil, do some good. If you want to show
the world what we're made out of, that we're stronger than just military might,
why don't you mentor a child. Teach a child to read. Why don't you go to your
church, or your synagogue, or your mosque, and start an initiative to help folks
who live in pockets of deep despair.
That's how you fight the war against terror, and that's how we can make an enormous
difference in our own country. I truly believe that America -- the great strength
of America is our hearts and souls. And out of this evil can come some great
good. I see it all the time. I see it in small acts of generosity and kindness
that will astound you.
Today at the Meigs Field, I met two folks who have fostered 90 children here
in Chicago -- 90 children -- it's unbelievable to think about that. Two good
-- it didn't require a government act, or a government edict. They just decided
to do that. And it happens all the time in our community. If you really want
to fight evil, find out a way to contribute your time and efforts and money
and talent to making one person's life brighter. That's how we change America.
I like to say, each of us can't do everything, but each of us can do one thing.
See, America changes one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
Out of this evil is going to come good. There's a new attitude in America about
serving something greater than yourself. It was highlighted to me, and I'm sure
most of the country -- and history should record this moment -- about Flight
93, when you had people on an airplane. They're flying from one place, one part
of our country to another. They find out the plane is going to be used as a
weapon. They tell their loved ones on the cell phones they love them, they say
a prayer -- and they drive the plane into the ground, to save somebody's life,
to serve something greater than themselves.
I truly believe that out of the evil done to America can come a sense of serving
something greater than a materialistic society. And, therefore, America is going
to be a more hopeful place for all. The true strength of America is our people.
That's the strength of our country. And I can't tell you how proud I am to be
the President of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
Thank you for coming to help Jim. May God bless you, and God bless America.