at Atlanta, Georgia Welcome
Cobb Galleria Centre
November 2, 2002
12:18 P.M. EST
Thank you all very much. Thank you, all. Glad I came. (Applause.) So you're
probably wondering what Sonny -- I mean, what Saxby said. He said, keep it short,
the Bull Dogs are playing. (Applause.)
Really what he was saying is, it's time to quit the sermons and start passing
the plate. That means it's time to turn out the vote. (Applause.) I'm here in
the great state of Georgia because I want all the citizens of this state to
understand that we have a responsibility as Americans in a land of freedom to
vote. See, we have a responsibility. If you believe in democracy, if you love
freedom, then you have a responsibility to go to the polls next Tuesday. (Applause.)
And I'm not talking about just a handful of Georgia citizens, I mean everybody
-- Republicans and Democrats and people who could care less about political
parties need to do their duty. But when you get inside that box, I've got some
For the good of Georgia and for the good of the country, Saxby Chambliss needs
to be the U.S. Senator. (Applause.) For the good of the 11th, Phil Gingrey needs
to be the U.S. Congressman. (Applause.) And for the good of the school children
of Georgia and the taxpayers of Georgia, Sonny Perdue ought to be the next Governor.
I appreciate Sonny, I appreciate him being straightforward, down to earth, tells
it like it is. That's why he's going to be a fine governor. I appreciate him
being straightforward, down to earth, tells it like it is. That's why he's going
to be a fine governor. And I appreciate the fact that he set education as a
priority. That's why he's going to be a fine governor. I appreciate the fact
that he has actually met a payroll before. (Laughter.) That's why he's going
to be a fine governor. (Applause.)
No, I appreciate Sonny being here. And I appreciate the members of the mighty
Georgia congressional delegation for being here as well: Mack Collins and Johnny
Isakson, John Linder and Bob Barr. I appreciate their friendship, and I appreciate
their service to our country. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the candidates who are here. I want to thank the grassroots
activists who have come. And I want to thank you for accepting the fact that
you drew the short straw today -- Laura is in another state. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I understand -- yes, she was here yesterday, he's right. You
got stuck with me. But I can't tell you how proud I am of her. She is a big
backer of Saxby and Sonny, everybody else running here in Georgia. She understands
good government. How you get good government is you put good people in place.
She sends her best, she sends her love. And I'm telling you, she's doing a great
job as the First Lady of America. (Applause.)
I want to thank the grassroots activists who have worked so hard in the past
for what you're about to do. Today and tomorrow and Monday and Tuesday, you
need to do everything you can to turn out the vote. You need to go to your coffee
shops and tell people they've got to vote, and talk up these good candidates.
You need to go to your houses of worship, remind people they have an obligation
And don't be afraid of taking this message to discerning democrats. They want
good government, they want the best candidates. And when they hear of the stories
of these three candidates up there, they're going to support them. And don't
be afraid of taking your message to independents. Take the message, work hard,
turn out the vote, and when you do, we'll realize victory on November the 5th.
And there are reasons why, and there are important reasons why these good candidates
need to win. We've got some hurdles to cross here in America. We've got some
big challenges ahead of us. One of the biggest challenges we have is the fact
that our economy is just kind of bumping along. It's not as strong as it should
There are people looking for work and they can't find a job -- which means we've
got a problem. People want to put food on the table and they're unable to find
work -- which means we've got to have people in the Senate and in the United
States Congress who understand the role of government is not to create wealth,
but to create an environment in which the small business can grow to be a big
Here's the page of the textbook we read from -- the economics textbook, that
is. We strongly believe that if you let a person keep more of their own money,
they're likely to demand a good or a service. (Applause.) And when they demand
a good or a service, somebody is likely to produce the good or a service. And
when somebody produces that good or a service, somebody in Georgia and around
America is more likely to find work.
The best way to make sure people can find work is to let people keep more of
their own money. And the best way to do that is to make the tax cuts permanent.
The thing I like about Saxby and about Phil is they understand up in Washington
we're not spending the government's money. We're not giving you back the government's
money -- it's the people's money. (Applause.)
No, there are some things we can do to work together to make the job base increase.
We need to have us a terrorism insurance bill. That bill says that terrorists
attack, we understand, we need the government to underwrite insurance so that
big construction projects can get going forward, so our hard-hats can get back
to work, so those hard-working Americans all across the country are able to
put food on the table.
I look forward to working with them and the Congress to get a good bill out
-- one, by the way, that rewards the hard-hats and not America's trial lawyers.
So long as this economy is bumping along and so long as people can't find work,
you've just got to know we're going to be doing everything we can to create
jobs. And I need people up in the United States Congress who will work with
me to do just that. And the two best people to do just that is Saxby Chambliss
for the Senate and Phil Gingrey for the United States House of Representatives.
We need people up there we can work together to make sure our education system
is strong. I want to thank Saxby for his strong support, unwavering support
for an education bill which is going to really help the schoolchildren of the
state of Georgia. (Applause.) He, along with the other members up here on the
stage, worked with me to get $1.2 billion of federal money for the schools of
Georgia. That's a good sum of money for the people of Georgia.
But for the first time, we've got a new frame of mind when it comes to children,
a frame of mind which shows that Saxby is an optimistic person about our future.
See, it says, every child can learn. That's what we believe, every child can
learn. We believe in high standards and high expectations. (Applause.) We believe
strongly in challenging what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. We
understand if you lower the bar, you're going to get lousy results.
In that bill we also understand that the people who care more about the children
in Georgia are Georgian citizens, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., so we
passed power out of Washington, we believe in local control of schools. (Applause.)
But also in this bill, we finally started asking the question, when we spend
that $1.2 billion here, are we getting our money's worth? If you believe every
child can learn, then you want to know if every child is learning. If you believe
every child can read, then you want to know.
And that's why for the first time in our nation's history, we're seeing a return
for this money. Why don't you show us, show us whether or not the children are
learning to read and write and add and subtract. And when we see they are, I
promise you, we'll praise the teachers. And for those of you who are teachers
out there, thank you for being involved in such a noble, important profession.
But it's also important to understand that if things aren't working, when we
find children trapped in schools which won't teach and won't change, it's important
to have people elected who are willing to challenge the status quo. No child,
not one single child should be left behind in the state of Georgia. (Applause.)
I appreciate Saxby's strong support for the education bill, and his clear vision
for how to improve education for every child, not just a few, but for every
single child who lives in the great state of Georgia. I also look forward to
working with Saxby and Phil on the health issue. We've got a problem in health.
One of the problems is, there's too many junk lawsuits, too many frivolous lawsuits
which make it hard -- (applause) -- which make it hard for people to have access
to the courts. If you've got junk lawsuits clogging up the courts, you can't
get access to the courts. But as importantly, these frivolous lawsuits are running
up the cost of medicine, and they're driving doctors out of the practice of
medicine, which makes it harder for people to be able to be able to find a professional
help they need. For the sake of good health care, for the sake of affordable
and accessible health care, we need medical liability reform at the federal
And we need a Medicare system which works. Medicine is modern, it's evolving.
Technology is changing medicine, new discoveries are changing medicine. But
Medicare is not changing. It's stuck in the past. For the sake of fulfilling
our promises to our seniors, we need a Medicare system which is modernized,
and that means prescription drugs for every senior in America. And Saxby Chambliss
and Phil Gingrey will help me deliver that promise to the seniors. (Applause.)
There's one other -- a lot of issues that are going to be important, and I need
an ally there in the Senate. Saxby is an ally. Make no mistake about it, in
this race, if you're interested in sending an ally to the President, that ally
is Saxby Chambliss. (Applause.) It doesn't matter what they're putting on the
TV screens. I know the definition of ally.
I need an ally in the Senate on judges. We've got a problem with our federal
judges. The Senate has done a lousy job in confirming my judges. (Applause.)
They have done such a lousy job that there are too many vacancies around the
country. Vacancies on the federal benches mean people are denied justice. And
that's not right. Part of the problem is, there's just too much bickering, too
much ugly politics. Part of the problem is, they don't like the nature of the
people I'm nominating.
See, the kind of people I've put up there are honest, honorable people, who
will not use the bench from which to legislate, but will use the bench from
which to strictly interpret the Constitution. (Applause.) If the people of Georgia
are interested in a sound judiciary, they need to send Saxby Chambliss to the
United States Senate. (Applause.)
There's a lot of issues we'll work on together, but no bigger issue than protecting
the American people from attack. That's still an issue because there's still
an enemy lurking around which hates America. And they hate us for what we love.
We love freedom, and we're not changing. (Applause.) We love the fact that people
can worship an Almighty God freely in America. (Applause.) We love every aspect
about freedom. And o long as we hold freedom dear, there's an enemy lurking
around out there which will try to cause further harm on the American people
-- that's just the way it is. That's the clear reality we face.
So we have an awesome responsibility to do everything we can to protect you.
You need to know there's a lot of really good people at the federal, state and
local level working hard to protect you -- running down every hint, every idea.
Any time we get a whisper that somebody is thinking about doing something or
talking about doing something to the American people, we're moving on it. We're
disrupting, we're denying. We understand the stakes.
But we can do a better job of protecting the American people. We can do a better
job by creating a Department of Homeland Security. (Applause.) One which needs
to be set up correctly so that it can function properly on behalf of the American
people. As I was beginning to set up the Department of Homeland Security I knew
one person I could turn to for good advice, somebody whose judgment I could
trust, somebody from the state of Georgia who has a good vision, somebody who
was put in a position as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism
and Homeland Security -- and that person I turned to for advice was Saxby Chambliss.
And we got a good bill out of the House of Representatives -- but they can't
get it out of the Senate. It's stuck in the Senate. Here we are with a threat
to the United States people and we can't get us a homeland security bill. And
the reason why is some in the Senate wanted to extract too high a price from
this President and future Presidents.
They asked me to give up a power Presidents have had for 40 years, since John
Kennedy was the President -- and that is the ability to suspend collective bargaining
rules in any department in the federal government when national security is
at stake. In other words, I need to be able to suspend rules that prevents us
from doing everything in our power to protect you. If some of the senators had
their way, these rules would apply to the Department of Agriculture, but not
to the homeland security department. These rules would be okay for a department
that deals with farmers, but not with a department dealing with your national
I need to have the ability to put the right people at the right place at the
right time to protect the American people, and Saxby Chambliss understands that.
(Applause.) I sure would like to have a Senator Chambliss, I wouldn't have to
be worried about his vote. (Applause.) I wouldn't have to be worried about him
being captured by special interest in Washington, D.C. The only interest he
has in mind is the interest I have in mind, which is the protection of the American
And the best way to protect the American people is to chase these killers down
one at a time and bring them to justice, which is what we're going to do. (Applause.)
Therapy isn't going to work on them. (Laughter.)
I asked the Congress to join me in passing the largest increase in defense spending
since Ronald Reagan was the President, and they did. And it sends two messages,
two messages I want to share with you today. One, any time we put our troops
into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training and the best possible
And, secondly, we're in this deal for the long haul. That increase in defense
spending should say to friend and foe alike, there's no quit in the American
people. When it comes to the defense of our freedom, there's no artificial time,
there's no calendar on my desk that says, well, time's up. Time isn't up until
the United States is secure and we have done our duty to future generations
of Americans by defeating the agents of terror. (Applause.)
This is a different kind of war. In the old days you used to say, well, you
destroyed so many tanks or airplanes -- we're making progress. That's not the
way this war is conducted. They don't have tanks. They've got caves and they've
got suiciders. And they're willing to send youngsters to their suicidal death.
These people hijacked a great religion to murder in the name of that religion.
So we've just got to hunt them down. There's no cave dark enough, deep enough;
there's no corner of the world shady enough for the long arm of justice of the
United States and our friends and allies. You've got to understand, the doctrine
that which says either you're with us or with the enemy, it still stands. (Applause.)
Slowly but surely, we're dismantling them. We've got them on the run and we're
going to keep them on the run. This is a different kind of world we live in.
September the 11th, 2001 changed the stakes, and it's important for all of us
in America to understand that. It's important for us to see the world the way
it is, not the way we hope it would be.
It used to be that oceans could protect us from threats, that two vast oceans
could protect the American people from a threat which was gathering abroad.
And we really had the luxury, if you think about it, for picking and choosing
if we were to be involved or not. September 11th changed that. All of a sudden,
the battlefield is here at home.
And, therefore, we must deal with each threat seriously. We must see threats
as they are. And that's why I brought up the cause to Congress and the American
people and the international community to fully debate the issue of Saddam Hussein.
He's a threat to America, he's a threat to our close friends and allies. He's
a man who has said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got
them. He's a man who at one time, we know for certain, was close to having a
nuclear weapon. We don't know how close he is today, because he shut down his
You know, not only does he have weapons of mass destruction, but, incredibly
enough, he has used weapons of mass destruction. And he's used weapons of mass
destruction not only against people in his neighborhood, but he's used them
against his own people. He hates America. He can't stand what we stand for.
He's had connections with shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda. He would
like nothing more than to use an al Qaeda type network, if not al Qaeda itself,
to be the advanced army to utilize his training and his arsenal of weapons of
mass destruction on his most hated enemy, the American people.
Therefore, I felt it was important for us to understand the nature of the threat,
to realize the changing circumstances of the American vulnerability requires
us to be steadfast and strong when it comes to dealing with potential threats
to the American people. It's my most important job.
I went to the United Nations because I wanted to make it clear to the United
Nations that, one, we want them to succeed, we want them to be an effective
organization in helping us keep the peace, we want them to have backbone. We
want them to have the capacity to say to somebody who 16 times has defied resolution
after resolution after resolution: enough is enough. (Applause.)
The message to that august body is: be effective; be the United Nations, not
the League of Nations. (Applause.) The Congress spoke with one voice, and here's
what we said to the world: if the United Nations does not have the backbone
to disarm Saddam Hussein like they said he should do, and if Saddam Hussein
will not disarm like he said he would, for the sake of peace, for the sake of
freedom, for the sake of a secure future, the United States will lead a coalition
to disarm Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
We have an obligation, all of us elected to office have an obligation to protect
the American people. But you know what I believe? I believe out of the evil
done to America is going to come some great good, because we're a great country.
I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the enemy when they hit
us. They probably assumed that materialism was the national religion; that we
were so materialistic, that we were self-absorbed and selfish, that after the
attacks America would take a step back and maybe file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.)
They don't understand a country like we do. I believe that by being steadfast
and strong, by remembering that this nation never conquers, but we liberate
-- by remembering that example of Afghanistan when our troops went in to liberate
people, that young girls for the first time went to school thanks to the United
States and our friends and allies -- (applause) -- by being diligent in our
pursuit of terror, the pursuit of the terrorists, and remembering that freedom
is not an American gift to the world, it is God-given, holding those values
dear, that we can achieve peace.
That we can achieve peace not only for America and Americans, but we can achieve
peace in parts of the world which have quit on peace. No, I believe out of the
evil done to America is going to come a peaceful world. And I know out of the
evil done here at home can come a better world for all Americans. Any time anybody
hurts, we all hurt. And we've got to remember, amongst the plenty, there are
pockets of despair and loneliness. Some communities, you say, American Dream,
and people go, what the heck are you talking about, American Dream, I don't
And, therefore, we must do everything we can at the government level to pass
laws necessary to help people help themselves, to make society work better.
I talked about some today, education and health. But we've got to remember that
government can pass out money, but it can't put hope in people's hearts. It
can't put a sense of purpose in people's lives. It can't heal the hurt that
we find in many of our neighborhoods. (Applause.)
A better America happens when we save souls, one person at a time. And that
happens when an American puts their arm around somebody who needs help, and
says, I love you, what can I do to help you? If you want to fight evil, love
your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself. (Applause.)
No, the spirit of America is strong, it's alive, and it's well. The spirit talks
about making sure that democracy flourishes by going to do your duty. It talks
about the willingness to defend freedom, no matter the cost. It also talks about
serving something greater than yourself to make America the greatest country
it can possibly be.
Today I met Frances Grove, of the Literacy Volunteers of America. She came out
to Air Force One to say hello, probably because she's part of my mother's army
to fight illiteracy. But, nevertheless, she's an example of what I'm talking
about. See, each of us can make a difference to make sure that the evil done
to America is -- doesn't stand. Each of us can help, by helping people in need.
It doesn't matter whether you work with Frances Grove or mentor a child or run
a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, it doesn't matter whether you feed the homeless
or make sure people who are -- people are -- people who have hurt find love.
That's what matters in life, and that's what's happening.
Perhaps the most vivid example of the strength of the American spirit, of what
I'm talking about, took place on Flight 93. You remember that horrible day,
when the people were flying across the country. They learned the plane they
were on was going to be used as a weapon. They told their loved ones goodbye.
History will show they said a prayer. One guy said, let's roll. They took the
plane into the ground to serve something greater than themselves. They represented
the absolute strength of the American spirit.
I'm going to tell you this: out of the evil done to America is going to come
some incredible good. I can say that with certainty. It's going to be a peaceful
world, a better world. (Applause.) I say it with certainty because I understand
the American spirit is alive and well. And I also understand that this country
is the greatest country, full of the finest, most decent, compassionate people
on the face of the earth.
I want to thank you for being a part of this great country. Thank you for doing
your duty. May God bless you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)