at Tennessee Welcome
Tri-Cities Regional Tn/Va Airport
November 2, 2002
9:50 A.M. EST
Thank you all. Thanks for coming. I'm honored to be here in East Tennessee.
I've got a fond spot in my heart for Tennessee, if you know what I mean. (Applause.)
I've got a good feeling about the people in this state, and I want to thank
you for coming. I'm -- your congressman, Bill Jenkins, is doing a fine job,
by the way. He said, you know, it's time to quit sermonizing and it's time to
pass the plate. (Laughter.) I think what he meant was, it's close to voting
time, and it's time for you all to go out and vote for the next governor of
Tennessee, Van Hilleary. (Applause.)
See, we have a duty in this country to support our freedoms. And one of the
ways we support freedom is to vote. We have an obligation as American citizens
to vote. So as we're approaching election day, I'm traveling the country reminding
Republicans and Democrats and people who don't give a hoot about politics to
do their duty and go to the polls. But I've got some suggestions once they get
in the box. (Laughter and applause.)
For the good of Tennessee, for the good of the taxpayers of Tennessee, for the
good of the schoolchildren in Tennessee, vote Van Hilleary as your governor.
(Applause.) And for the sake of making sure the United States Senate and its
important seats stays in the hands of a good, honest capable senator, vote for
Lamar Alexandar. (Applause.)
I appreciate Meredith Hilleary working so hard with her husband. She's going
to be a great First Lady on behalf of the people of Tennessee. (Applause.) I'm
pretty good about understanding great First Ladies. (Applause.) The American
people are beginning to see why I asked Laura to marry me. She's calm and steady
under fire; she's got great, great vision about making sure every child gets
educated; she's got a wonderful heart. A lot of people are wondering why she
said yes. (Laughter.) But she sends her best to the Hillearys and the Alexanders
and the good people of Tennessee. She's doing a fabulous job as our First Lady,
and I'm really proud of her. (Applause.)
I'm proud to be up here with two fine United States senators. First, we're going
to miss Fred Thompson. (Applause.) He's been a good friend, solid senator. But
we're not going to miss him nearly half enough when -- half as much when Lamar
Alexander takes his place. (Applause.) I know you join me in sending our best
to Fred and expressing our deep appreciation for his great service to the country.
And you sent another good one up there, too, and that's Frist. He's a good man.
(Applause.) A good, solid citizen. Both of these men are allies; both of them
are doing a great job for all the people of Tennessee. Bill Jenkins is doing
a great job for this congressional district, too. He's a reliable voice who
cares deeply about the people of East Tennessee. You ought to be proud of his
service to you, as well. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the grassroots activists who are here. I want to thank you
for what you have done and I want to thank you for what you're going to do,
what you're going to do for candidates such as Janice Bowling, who's going to
get elected in the congressional district right next door to here. (Applause.)
I appreciate Janice. She's a strong voice; she's a solid soul; she'll make a
I also want to thank my friend, Darrell Waltrip. (Applause.) There he is. (Laughter.)
I've known him for quite a while. He's looking younger and I'm looking older.
(Laughter.) Keeps asking me whether or not he can drive the presidential limousine.
(Laughter.) No. (Laughter.) He's a good, solid man. One of the reasons Hilleary
is going to win is because he's going to win the Nascar vote. (Applause.)
I also appreciate Law and Grace and the Singing Sheriffs group for being here.
I'm sorry I didn't get here in time to hear you. Just leave your CD at the door.
But I really want to thank you all and remind you that not only do you have
a duty to vote, but if you care about the quality of government in Nashville
and in Washington, turn out to vote. (Applause.) Go to your houses of worship,
go to your coffee shops, when you get there Monday morning, instead of sitting
around worrying about the weather, worry about who the next governor is going
to be. Worry about who the next senator is going to be. Talk it up with people
who may not pay attention to the politics as much as we do. And don't be afraid
to talk up the story of Lamar and Van to Democrats. There's some discerning
Democrats out there. They want good government, just like we do. They don't
want higher taxes, just like we do. Find those independents that are open-minded
and convince them that when you've got good ones, like Van and Lamar, we have
a duty in America to support these good people.
We're going to win this election, come Tuesday, because of good, hardworking
folks such as yourself, and I'm here to thank you for what you're going to do.
No, there's some reasons -- you know, old Van, he's not what we call a show
horse, he's a work horse. He can get the job done. He's a plainspoken fellow.
The good thing about him is he doesn't need a poll or a focus group to tell
him what to think. (Applause.) He's well-grounded in East Tennessee. He has
those values of faith and family. The kind of man you can count on. He's not
going to be swayed by the special interests, he's going to do what he thinks
is right for all the people of Tennessee. And that's important.
We share a vision about the children of Tennessee, too. It says that every child
can learn. You've got to have you a governor who believes every child can learn;
somebody who's willing to set high standards and high expectations; somebody
who is willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. See, when
you have you a governor who believes in not setting high standards you're going
to get lousy results. Van Hilleary worked with me and members of the United
States Congress to make sure that the federal bill we passed did two things
-- provided plenty of money for Tennessee. There's $760 million in federal education
money coming your way, thanks to the hard work of your Senators and Van Hilleary.
But that bill that he worked on said two other things: One, we trust the people
of Tennessee to chart the path for excellence for every child. We believe in
local control of schools, and that's the way he'll be as your governor. (Applause.)
And secondly, in return for the money spent, we expect results, don't we. You
see, we believe every child can learn; therefore, we expect every child to learn.
And therefore, we're going to use accountability to make sure your money is
being spent wisely. We use accountability to praise those schools that are meeting
expectations so we can thank our teachers. We will use accountability, though,
to make sure that no child, not one single child gets trapped in a school which
will not teach and will not change. Van Hilleary will work with us to make sure
no child is left behind in the state of Tennessee. (Applause.)
Our economy is bumping along, it's not doing as well as it should. After all,
we're coming out of a recession, then the enemy hit us. That created a problem
which we're overcoming. Then we had another problem -- some of our citizens
thought they could fudge the numbers, thought it's okay if they're in positions
of responsibility to not tell the truth. I want to thank the Senators, I want
to thank Van Hilleary, I want to thank Bill Jenkins for joining me to pass the
most comprehensive reform law since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. See,
our message today -- my message today is, those who aren't responsible to shareholder
and employee, no easy money in America, just hard time.
I want to thank these members for understanding that confidence in our economy
depends upon us holding people to account if they're not honest with the people.
(Applause.) That's the kind of leadership you need in Nashville, and that's
the kind of leadership you've got in Washington.
But we need to do more work on our economy. We need to understand if somebody
is looking for work and they can't find a job we've got a problem. Anybody is
looking for work and wants to put food on the table, and they can't find work,
we need to make sure we've got people in the federal office and the state office
who understand job creation. The role of government is not to create wealth;
the role of government is to create an environment in which the small business
person can grow to be a big business person. (Applause.)
That's why it's important you have somebody in Nashville who understands the
role of the small business owner. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are
created by small businesses, the entrepreneur. And you better get you somebody
as the governor who understands that, who understands policy ought to be to
encourage the growth of small business. And one way to do that is to let small
business owners and taxpayers keep more of your own money. (Applause.)
That tax relief bill we passed is going to give Tennessee people $27 billion
over the next 10 years. That's your money to begin with, by the way. That's
not the government's money, it's your money. And when you've got it in your
pocket, you're going to demand a good or a service. If you demand a good or
a service, somebody is going to produce that good or a service. And when somebody
produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to find work.
You see, if you listen to that other bunch, they're going to say we need to
revisit the tax relief. That's Washington, D.C. code for we're going to get
back in your pocket. (Laughter.) Tax relief was good for our economy, it's going
to be good for our economy; it's going to be good for the working people. And
we need to make tax relief permanent. (Applause.)
No, I look forward to working with Van to do a lot of things to help Tennessee
-- make sure that welfare system works. Part of the welfare reform that worked
and something that needs to go forward is to have a governor work with the Congress
to help people find work. See, when you work you find dignity. If you want to
help people get off welfare, if you want to help them help themselves, you help
them have the skills necessary to work. Work needs to be the central core of
any good welfare policy. (Applause.)
And Van Hilleary understands that. No, when you put Van Hilleary in office,
you're going to be putting a good man in office, a man who's going to work hard
to represent all the people of Tennessee; a man who will make you proud as governor;
a man with whom I can work; and a man who will represent that office, that high
office, with class and dignity. I'm here to urge the good people of East Tennessee
to turn out to vote next Tuesday and put Van Hilleary in as governor of the
great state. (Applause.)
And I need Lamar up there in Washington, too, and so do you. He's got a great
record for Tennessee. People know that he is what we call a class act. When
given the responsibilities, he handled his business well. More importantly,
he cares deeply about the all the citizens to this state. Lamar is going to
make a great United States senator, and there's a lot of things we can work
together on. Whether it be education -- of course, he's an expert on that subject
-- or whether it be making sure our economy grows, I know we'll have a strong
ally, and the people will have a strong ally in Lamar Alexander.
Oh, there's some things we need to work on like making sure the health care
system works. We need his vote up there to make sure that you've got affordable
and accessible health care. We need his vote up there to make sure the Medicare
system works. There are too many lawsuits these days which are driving up the
cost of medicine and driving doctors out of the practice of medicine. (Applause.)
We want the system to work. We want our people to have access to the courts,
of course, but these frivolous and junk lawsuits are running these docs out
of business, running up your price of medicine. We need to have medical liability
reform at the federal level, and Lamar Alexander will vote that way. (Applause.)
And we've got to make sure Medicare works. Medicine is becoming modern, technology
is changing medicine, new discoveries have changed medicine. But Medicare isn't
modern, it's stuck in the past. Just ask the seniors. We need Lamar Alexander
in the United States Senate to work to modernize Medicare, which means prescription
drug benefits for our senior citizens. (Applause.)
And I need him up there, along with Senator Frist, to make sure that our judiciary
works properly. (Applause.) We can't get our judges through the United States
Senate. There is a vacancy problem in our federal courts. Too many of our benches
have got vacancies, which means you can't get access to the courts. They're
playing politics with the judges in Washington, D.C. They don't like the fact
that I'm naming good, honorable, decent people who will not use the bench from
which to legislate, but from which to interpret the United States Constitution.
No, there's a lot of issues we can work on to make America better for everybody.
The biggest issue we'll work together on is to secure our homeland, is to prevent
the American people from coming under attack again by a bunch of cold-blooded
killers. (Applause.) These people hate us because of what we love. And we love
freedom, and we're not going to change. (Applause.)
I asked Congress to join me in a creation of a department of homeland security.
I did so because I want all the agencies involved with protecting you to be
under -- to have as their priority protection of the American people, and if
need be, change cultures so people get it in their head that there's still an
enemy out there which lurks around, so we can coordinate better. The House of
Representatives, thanks to Van and Jenkins, supported me on a good bill. The
bill is stuck in the Senate. This bill is stuck in the Senate, in spite of the
good efforts of Fred Thompson and Bill Frist. And the reason it is was because
the Senate wants me to give up a power that Presidents since John Kennedy has
had, which is the capacity to suspend certain work rules, certain collective
bargaining rules in the name of national security.
I won't accept a lousy bill out of the Senate. I need a bill to put the right
people at the right place at the right time to protect the American people.
(Applause.) Under some senators' vision, I would have the capacity to make national
security decisions in Agriculture Department, but not in the department of homeland
security. That don't make any sense to me, and I know it doesn't make any sense
to you. We need Lamar Alexander and we need to change the United States Senate.
But the best way to secure the homeland is to chase the killers down, one at
a time, and bring them to justice, what America is going to do. (Applause.)
We've got them on the run, and we're going to keep them on the run. And one
of the reasons we've got them on the run is we've got a fantastic military.
I signed a good defense bill, thanks to the Senators and thanks to Van and Bill
Jenkins, a good defense bill that pays our people, equips our people and trains
our people the way you want them. We've got to get them the best pay, the best
training and the best possible equipment. (Applause.) We owe that to the loved
ones. We owe that to our troops. But we're also sending a clear signal to friend
and foe that we're in this deal for the long haul. We love freedom. It doesn't
matter how long it takes to defend America and to protect our freedoms, we're
going after them, one at a time. (Applause.)
And we're making progress. Sometimes you'll read about it, and sometimes you
won't. Sometimes you'll see the fact that somebody got hauled in, and sometimes
it's just not going to make it on to your radar screen. But make no mistake
about it, there's no cave deep enough, no corner of the world dark enough to
prevent the long arm of justice from the United States to reach them around
the world. (Applause.)
And the reason I feel so strong about it is that I recognize we're living in
a different world today than we were last -- prior to September the 11th. It's
a different world because no longer can we be content with the fact that two
oceans protect us from danger. It used to be that we don't have to worry about
some potential threat overseas because oceans protected us. It used to be we
could pick or choose whether or not we wanted to be involved. But at home we
were confident we were okay because of oceans, because of our geography. And
that changed on that fateful day. Therefore, it's very important for you to
elect people to office who are clear-eyed realists, people who see the world
the way it is, not the way we would hope it to be.
And that's the reason why I started the debate in our Congress and amongst the
American people, in fact, in the world community, about the threat to America
and threat to our friends and allies from Mr. Saddam Hussein. He's a dangerous
man. He told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction -- 11 years
ago he said that. He's got them. We found out a while ago that he was close
to having a nuclear weapon. We dismantled that when he used to let inspectors
in. We don't know where he stands today, but we know what's in his mind. We
know the implications of him having a nuclear weapon.
We know that this is a man who has chemical weapons, and we know he's used them.
See, he's used them. He hasn't stockpiled them, he's used them in his neighborhood,
and he's used them on his own people. We know he can't stand America. We know
he can't some of our closest friends. We know that he has had contacts with
terrorist networks like al Qaeda. And we know, clearly, that one of the dangers
we face is him serving as a training ground and an arsenal for one of these
shadowy terrorist networks, which could come home, come home here. And so he's
I went to the United Nations because I want that body to be effective to help
us keep the peace. I said to the United Nations, this man has defied you 16
times. How long is it going to take for you to show some backbone so we can
work together to keep the peace? (Applause.) You have a choice to be the United
Nations, which is an effective body to keep the peace, or the League of Nations.
That's your choice to make.
And Saddam Hussein has a choice. He can disarm like he said. He can get rid
of his weapons of mass destruction. But if the United Nations won't act, and
if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, this country, in the name of peace and in the
name of freedom, will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
I say that as a man who longs for peace. I say that as a man who knows the stakes.
I say that as a man who's not going to forget September the 11th, 2001, or the
attack on a French vessel recently, or the attack in Bali, Indonesia. I say
this as a man who is briefed on a daily basis about the threats we face in America.
I say this as a man who is absolutely confident that out of the evil done to
America can come some good, because I understand the nature of this country.
I believe if we remain the course and stay strong and diligent and focused,
and remember that freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift
to the world, that we can achieve peace. (Applause.) That we can have a peaceful
I believe out of the evil done to America we can achieve peace if we're strong
and diligent and focused, not only here at home, but, because we value each
life, everybody counts, in parts of the world which have quit on peace. I believe
peace is possible if we're tough and strong in the Middle East. I believe peace
is possible in South Asia. And I know at home, out of the evil done to America
can come a more compassionate and better country.
See, government can help, and we will -- we'll all work on laws to make things
better. But what government cannot do is put love in people's hearts, or a sense
of purpose in people's lives. And amongst our plenty we've got to remember there
are some who hurt, some who are lonely, some who are addicted, some who are
wondering whether the American Dream is meant for them. I'm optimistic that
out of the evil done to this country can come a better day where everybody understands
the great promise of this country, because I know the strength of America, and
the strength of America is in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens. If
you want to fight evil, if you want to be a patriot, love a neighbor just like
you'd like to be loved yourselves. (Applause.)
Today I met Kathy Henderson. She's an active volunteer at Central Heights Elementary
School. She decided she wanted to be part of the army of compassion, she wanted
to make a difference in somebody's life. So she's helping young children learn
to read. There's all kinds of ways where we can change America for the better
-- whether it be Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts, or Boys and Girls Clubs, or mentoring
like Kathy. She asked me to say she needs volunteers, by the way, on the Read
Along With Me program. You can do it by just telling somebody you love them,
a shut-in, that you love them. You can help feed the hungry, you can house the
homeless. There's all kinds of ways we can help.
No, the enemy had no idea who they were hitting. Oh, they probably thought we'd
file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) They didn't realize America like we know.
The spirit of America is alive and well. It's the spirit which says, when it
comes to the defense of our country, we'll be plenty tough. But the spirit also
says that a patriot is somebody who is willing to serve something greater than
themselves. A patriot is willing to help somebody who hurts.
No, I boldly predict to you that out of the evil done to America is going to
come a more peaceful world. And out of the evil done to America will become
a more hopeful America. Because this is the greatest country, full of the finest
people on the face of the Earth.
Thank you for coming today. May God bless, and God bless America. (Applause.)