at Massachusetts Victory 2002 Reception
The Seaport Hotel
October 4, 2002
12:48 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you all. Glad I came. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We are, too.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Governor, thanks for those kind, kind remarks.
I'm proud to be -- (applause). I strongly stand with Mitt Romney because I believe
he is the best person for the job of Governor of Massachusetts. (Applause.)
I say that I know that because I know his values. He's got his priorities straight:
his faith, his family, and his state. And he's not going to waver from those
priorities; they're etched in his heart. (Applause.)
He's got a record. He's done things in life. He started his own businesses,
he's an entrepreneur. He knows how to create jobs at a time when you need somebody
in Massachusetts who knows job creation. (Applause.)
He knows how to take a struggling organization and turn it around. (Applause.)
He's done that recently. He's not one of these talkers that you find in the
political arena; he's a doer. (Applause.) Just ask the folks -- just ask the
folks who were wondering whether or not the Olympics were going to go bankrupt.
Ask them what happened when Mitt Romney showed up and brought some managerial
skills and some vision, and the ability to set priorities and the know-how how
to set budgets, and turned that organization around and made sure the Olympics
in Salt Lake City were not only successful, but profitable. It's the same kind
of attitude you need here in your state budget in Massachusetts. (Applause.)
No, you've got the right man for the job here. You've got the right person for
the job. And I want to thank you for backing him.
And I'm real proud of his wife, Ann. (Applause.) She'll be a great First Lady
for Massachusetts. She's a dedicated mom, she's looking forward to working hard
with Mitt to do everything they can to help everybody in the state of Massachusetts,
to help people get ahead in this state.
Mitt and I -- Mitt and I married above ourselves. (Laughter and applause.) In
my case, by a long shot. (Laughter.) Yes, I know. Laura sends her best to the
Romneys, sends her love to our friends here. She is I can't tell you how proud
I am of her. (Applause.) You know, when I married her, she was a public school
librarian in Texas. The truth of the matter is, she didn't like politics. (Laughter.)
Nor did she like politicians. (Laughter.) Now she's stuck with me. (Laughter.)
But the American people have gotten to see why I asked her to marry me. She
is steady, she's calm, she's in my judgment, and I must confess it's not very
objective she's a class act. (Applause.) A lot of her buddies in Texas are wondering
why she said yes to my proposal. (Laughter.) But she sends her best.
I'm also honored to be here with the next lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey.
(Applause.) I'm impressed by Kerry's know-how, her knowledge. She's a smart,
smart lady, and she's going to make a great lieutenant governor. (Applause.)
You all have got a great team here, a great team to represent you. And so I
want to thank you for coming. I want to thank those of you who are involved
with grassroots politics here in Massachusetts for what you have done and, more
importantly, what you're going to do. See, you can't win a race unless you've
got citizens willing to go to the coffee shops and the community centers, the
churches and synagogues and mosques, and talk up good people when you find them.
You've got two good ones here. And you owe it to them, in my judgment, for the
sake of the future of your state, to do everything you can between now and Election
Day to turn out the vote. The votes are there; they need your help in turning
them out. (Applause.)
I appreciate the agenda of the next governor and lieutenant governor. It starts
with jobs. You've got to have you somebody in the Governor's office who can
recruit, who knows the language of the entrepreneur, who understands how small
businesses are created and function, in order to make sure that not only is
the landscape here good for attracting jobs -- but he can recruit jobs.
See, you need somebody who knows what they're talking about when it comes to
making sure the people of this important state can find work. And there's no
question in my mind Mitt Romney knows what he's talking about. He knows -- he
knows capital. He knows entrepreneurship. He understands small business creation.
The role of government is not to create wealth -- that's what other people might
think. The role of government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneur
can flourish, in which the small business can grow to be big businesses. (Applause.)
That's why he also is focusing on infrastructure, to make sure your transportation
system is efficient, cost-effective -- works well. (Laughter.) It's an important
part of making sure the environment for attracting jobs is competitive, and
Mitt understands that.
But what I like best about him is they understand, Mitt and Kerry understand
the number one priority of any state is the education of the children of the
state. (Applause.) See, I used to say I used to put it this way: Education is
to a state what national defense is to the federal government. It's the most
important priority. And this team has got education as a priority.
We share a philosophy. It's a philosophy incorporated in the No Child Left Behind
bill that I had the honor of signing. It starts with the belief that every child
can learn, a belief that there ought to be high standards and high expectations
in our society. (Applause.) You've got to have a governor who is willing to
challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. (Applause.)
If you lower the bar, see, if you believe certain children can't learn inner
city kids, kids whose parents may not speak English as a first language if you
believe that, the systems will reflect that. They'll just shuffle the kids through.
That's unacceptable anywhere in the United States of America.
Part of what this next team, the governor and lieutenant governor believe is
you've got to decentralize power, you've got to trust local people to manage
the path to excellence. If you have high standards and local control of schools,
you're more likely to achieve educational excellence. But finally, the cornerstone
of the new bill and a cornerstone of any good education policy is this: If you
take money, taxpayers' money, you need to show society whether or not the children
are learning to read and write and add and subtract. (Applause.)
You see, if you believe every child can learn, if you believe every child can
learn, then you want to know if every child is learning, and therefore you measure.
If you have no accountability, then how do you know? If you have no accountability,
you're more likely just to shuffle the kids through and, at the end of the process,
you say, oops, they forgot to learn to read, and that's unacceptable.
You need to have a governor and a lieutenant governor who are willing to hold
people accountable, and are willing to praise success, but willing to blow the
whistle on failure when you find kids trapped in schools which will not teach
and will not change. (Applause.)
Now, they've got a good, positive agenda. They've got a good, positive agenda.
When they get in there, they're going to represent everybody, not just those
who voted for them, not just the fifty-percent-plus that voted for them. (Laughter.)
They're going to represent all the people. They believe in uniting people, not
They believe in rejecting old-style politics. This team is going to be a breath
of fresh air for the citizens of Massachusetts. (Applause.)
I'm confident -- I'm confident they'll make this state a safer, stronger, and
better place. And that's what I want to do for our country. (Applause.) A stronger
country is one in which our citizens can find work. That's a stronger country.
A country in which the job base is expanding. A country in which somebody who
wants to put food on the table is able to do so. Too many of our citizens can't
find work -- although we got some good news today, an indication that the economy
has got the foundation for growth. The unemployment rate dropped, which was
good news. (Applause.)
But that's not good enough. It's not good enough; there are still too many people
who wonder whether or not they're going to be able to find employment. My job
is to continue to insist upon growth, urge Congress to pass the necessary legislation
to create the environment for growth.
And we've got a good chance to do that before they go home to campaign, and
that is to pass a terrorism insurance bill. Here's the problem we face in America:
over $15 billion worth of construction projects have been put on hold or cancelled
because of the lack of terrorism insurance. See, after the enemy hit us on September
the 11th, it distorted market. You can't find insurance, you can't go forward
with a project.
And therefore, I think it's a useful tool of the federal government to provide
-- to mitigate some of that risk. Congress has been talking about this, now,
for a long time. The House of Representatives passed a bill, the Senate passed
a bill; they're still talking about it.
I'm convinced when they pass a good terrorism insurance bill that rewards hard-hats
and not trial lawyers, 300,000 additional Americans will find work. (Applause.)
They get a bill to my desk -- they get a bill to my desk before they go home,
it would help this economy. There's a lot of plumbers and bricklayers, ironworkers
-- good solid Americans -- who are going to more likely find work, 300,000 of
them, if they can get these projects back. If Congress is worried about the
economy like I am, they need to join us.
They also need to make sure the tax cuts are permanent. Let me tell you my thoughts
about tax relief. (Applause.) When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's
important to let people have more of their own money. (Applause.) Here's the
page out of the textbook that I believe is important. I know Romney feels the
same way. If you let somebody keep more of their own money, they're likely to
demand a good or a service. And when they demand a good or a service in this
system, somebody is likely to produce that good or a service. And when somebody
produces that good or a service, somebody is more likely to be able to find
For the sake of job creation, for the sake of helping people put food on the
table, the tax relief plan we passed came at the exact right time. (Applause.)
And in that tax relief plan, we cut rates, which is good for small business
creation. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships or limited partnerships.
They pay their taxes at the income tax rate, the personal income tax level.
And so when you cut taxes, really what you're doing is you're stimulating small
Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small businesses. The
tax cut was good for the small business owners. (Applause.)
We slashed the marriage penalty. We want the tax code to encourage marriage
and families, not discourage marriage. (Applause.)
We did something really important for the entrepreneurs and new startups and
farmers and ranchers. We put the death tax on its way to extinction. (Applause.)
The death tax is bad. It's a bad tax. It's an unfair tax.
But the reason I'm still having to talk about this issue is because of a quirk
in the law, how the rules in the Senate -- that tax cut really doesn't go, it
doesn't stay permanent. It's like the Senate giveth with one hand and taketh
away with the other. (Laughter.) See, in ten years' time, we revert back to
where we were when the tax relief plan was passed. I know it doesn't make any
sense, but that's just the way they operate over there. (Laughter.)
For the sake of job creation, for the sake of encouraging the entrepreneur to
be able to plan, for the sake of making sure that our economy is strong and
the foundation of growth is solid, the United States Congress needs to make
the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
And they've got to do one other thing before they go out of town. They've got
to remember whose money they're spending. (Applause.) Yes, it's not the government's
money. It's the people's money. (Applause.) And I'm sad to report -- I'm sad
to report that the United States Senate could not pass a budget. That's a pretty
scary thought; see, if you don't have a budget, if you don't have constraints
in Washington, you're liable to get a little overspending. Because, see, every
idea sounds like a great idea there. (Laughter.) Every idea is just fantastic.
(Laughter.) The problem is they all come with billions of dollars worth of price
If we overspend, it'll serve as a drag on economic growth and vitality. I submitted
a budget that leads us toward getting back into balance. It sets priorities.
For the sake of economic growth and jobs, the United States Congress must be
fiscally responsible, must not overspend, must spend only on priorities and
not that which they think will get them easily reelected. For the sake of job
creation, we need fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
I am optimistic about our economy, but we've got more work to do. And I want
you to know that I will spend a lot of time working to strengthen this economy
in any way I can.
Having said that, my number one priority is to make America a safer place, because
I understand there's still an enemy out there which hates America. And I want
to tell you why they hate us, at least my opinion about why they hate us. They
hate us for what we love. They hate us because we love freedom. (Applause.)
They hate us because we love the idea that people can worship an Almighty God
any way he or she sees fit. (Applause.) They hate us because we love political
discourse and a free society. They hate us because of our free press. They hate
everything about us, because of our freedom.
And there's another there are a lot of distinguishing features, but one of the
most clear ones to me is this. We value life in America. We say everybody is
precious, everybody counts, every life has worth, every life has dignity. They
don't value life. They're willing to hijack a great religion and take innocent
life in the name of that religion. (Applause.)
And they're still out there. And so long as they're out there, the number one
job of your government is to protect innocent life, is to protect the enemy
from hitting us again. You need to know there are a lot of good people working
long hours to do everything in their power to disrupt, to find, to hunt down,
to -- anything we can do, within the United States Constitution, to protect
the American people.
We're doing a better job of talking to each other. We're doing a better job
of sharing information. We are on alert; we understand they're out there. There's
a lot of fine folks at the federal level, a lot of great police officers at
the state and local level, a lot of people in the sheriff's department, a lot
of emergency responders -- a lot of people working hard.
But in order to make sure we do the job better, I have asked Congress to create
what they call the Department of Homeland Security. And let me tell you why
I asked them to do that. (Applause.) I asked them to do it because there's over
a hundred agencies in Washington involved with homeland security. And they're
scattered everywhere, and it seemed like to me, in order to make sure that we
align authority and responsibility, they ought to be under one boss. At least
the functions for the homeland ought to be coordinated. If the number one priority
of the government is to protect you, we ought to have the ability to make sure
that culture changes within agencies so it becomes the number one priority.
And I asked Congress to join me. And the House passed a bill, and they still
can't get it out of the Senate. They're fixing to go home, and they're still
arguing over homeland security. And I'll tell you why: there are some up there
who believe that they ought to micromanage the process.
And I'll give you an example. They want these work rules to make it difficult
for the Secretary and the President, and future Secretaries and President, to
be able to move people to the right place at the right time in order to respond
to an enemy. For example, if you're working for Customs, we thought it was a
wise idea to have people wear radiation-detection devices in order to be able
to determine whether somebody is trying to smuggle weapons of mass destruction
into America. The union wanted to take that to collective bargaining. It would
have taken over a year to determine whether or not people could carry detection
devices. That doesn't make any sense for me.
We've got a border. We need to know who's coming in our country, what they're
bringing in the country, why they're bringing what they're bringing into their
We've got three different agencies on the border, fine people, really good people
working hard. I'm proud that I'm a federal federal employee with them. But we've
got the Border Patrol and the INS and the Customs. They wear different uniforms.
In some sectors, they may have different strategies. They need to be able to
be knitted up. They need to be able to work in concert. They need to be able
to do everything they can to make sure that we understand our borders are functioning
See, and I need the flexibility. We cannot leave a legacy behind of micro-management
and unnecessary work rules and inflexible inflexible rules on managers. I'm
all for public employees being able to bargain collectively if that's what they
choose to do. But I'm also for making sure the President, in the name of national
security, has the capacity to put people at the right place at the right time
to protect America. (Applause.)
They need to get it done. They need to get something done up there. They need
to get it to my desk before they go home.
But the best way to protect our homeland, in the short run and in the long run,
is to hunt the killers down one person at a time and bring them to justice.
This is a different -- this is a different kind of war. I spent a lot of time
talking to our fellow citizens about this, and it's important for America to
understand. I think they do. This is a different kind of war. You don't measure
progress in this war based upon the number of ships sunk, or the numbers of
tanks dismantled, or the number of aircraft grounded.
You measure progress in this war by the number of killers brought to justice.
And that's why I say hunting them down one person at a time, which is precisely
the strategy we're employing.
It starts with upholding doctrine. The doctrine which says either you're with
us, or you're with the enemy, still stands. (Applause.)
We still got this coalition of freedom-loving nations we're working together
with. And we're hunting them down; the other day, one of them popped up, popped
his head up, named bin al-Shibh. He's no longer a problem. (Applause.) He would
have been a problem -- he would have been a problem. This is the fellow that
was bragging about the fact that had he gotten a visa, he would have been one
of the 20th he would have been the 20th killer that would have come to America
and killed innocent lives. That's what he bragged about.
Thanks to hardworking -- the hard work of our intelligence folks and our United
States military and our friends and allies (applause) this guy is not a problem
anymore, and neither are a couple of thousand of them just like him who have
been detained. And about that many weren't as lucky. (Applause.)
Slowly but surely, slowly but surely, we're dismantling the al Qaeda network.
Sometimes you'll see it on your TV screens, sometimes you won't. (Applause.)
I sent a significant increase in our defense spending, the largest since Ronald
Reagan was the President, to the Congress for two reasons, two reasons. One,
any time we put our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best
training, and the best possible equipment. (Applause.)
And, secondly, I sent a message to friend and foe alike that, when it comes
to the defense of our freedom, it comes to our desire to make the world more
peaceful, there's no artificial deadline for America. There's no time when,
all of a sudden, it says, well, we the calendar shows up and it's time to quit.
There's no quit in this country because we love freedom, we love our peace.
(Applause.) We love it to our children and to our children's children. (Applause.)
I asked Congress to get the defense bill to my desk. The House passed it, the
Senate passed it, but they haven't come to conclusion yet. They need to get
it to my desk before they go home. I hope they will. I know there's a lot of
good people from both parties working hard to get the bill done. But we're at
war and, at the very minimum, they ought to get the defense bill passed in time
of war, and get it to my desk before they go home. (Applause.)
I want to remind you all about what I said earlier. We value each life. Everybody
counts. That is not just for American life, that's every life, by the way. That's
what America thinks.
I want to remind you as well that when we upheld the doctrine that says, if
you harbor a terrorist and feed one of them, you're just as guilty as the terrorist.
And when we upheld that doctrine in Afghanistan, we went in not to conquer anybody,
we went in to liberate people from the clutches of a barbaric regime. (Applause.)
You need to tell your children, you need to tell children who wonder about this
war, about the nature of your country, that we love peace, that we're going
to secure our homeland. And that, thanks to the United States of America in
the first theater of the first war of the 21st century, many young girls now
go to school for the first time. (Applause.) That this country loves freedom,
and we value each and every life. We also must recognize threats when we see
them, and deal with them.
See, September 11th taught us a new lesson about our vulnerabilities. Prior
to that, it used to be that we could be protected by two oceans. And unrest
or what was going on in a different part of the world -- it might have been
okay sometimes, because we were protected. No longer is that the case; we're
now the battlefield, because of what we believe in and what we hold dear.
And since we're never going to relinquish those freedoms, or love for freedom,
since we're never going to back down from the things we hold dear, we'll continue
to be a battlefield until the world is more secure.
We've got a true threat facing us, a threat that faces our very homeland. And
that is Saddam Hussein. And I want to explain to you about Saddam Hussein, just
quickly, if I might.
This is a man who has used weapons of mass destruction. He used them on his
own people. He used them on his neighbors.
This is a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction. Yet he
does. This is a man who, eleven years ago, said he wouldn't harbor terrorists,
he wouldn't develop chemical or biological weapons. This is a man who said he
would free prisoners.
He has lied and deceived and denied for eleven long years.
This is a man who continues to torture people in his own country who disagree
with him. He's a cold-blooded killer. This is a man who I believe strongly thinks
he can use terrorist networks to foster his own ambitions. This is a man who,
when they went into Iraq the first time, it was discovered that he was a short
period away from developing a nuclear weapon.
This is a man who has invaded two countries. This is a man who is a threat --
he's a threat to the United States, he's a threat to Israel, he's a threat to
neighbors of his. He is a threat.
My job is to protect the American people. My job is to anticipate. And so I
went to the United Nations. I went to the United Nations because I want the
United Nations to be effective. I went to the United Nations and -- to remind
them that for eleven years, this man has defied 16 resolutions. Time and time
and time again, he has ignored the United Nations.
I basically said, you can be an effective body to help us keep the peace, or
you can be the League of Nations. (Applause.)
It's up to them. It's up to them. We will continue to work with our friends
in the United Nations for peace to deal with threats, to not ignore reality.
I want the United Nations to be effective, I want them to do their job of disarming
The choice is theirs and the choice is also Mr. Saddam Hussein's choice. There
are no negotiations; there's nothing to negotiate. He said he wouldn't have
weapons of mass destruction, and that's what those of us who love peace expect.
We expect him not to have weapons of mass destruction.
But I want to tell you all, for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of peace,
if the United Nations won't make the decision, if Saddam Hussein continues to
lie and deceive, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man
before he harms America and our friends. (Applause.)
The military's not my first choice. But peace is; peace is my first choice.
And we're not -- what I just told you is a sentiment that's becoming more and
more shared in Washington. I was honored this week to stand on the steps of
the Rose Garden with Speaker Hastert, Minority Leader Gephardt, Leader Lott,
Senator Lieberman, Senator McCain, Senator Bayh, just to name a few of both
Republicans and Democrats who are coming together to speak with one voice --
a voice out of concern for the future of our country and for the future of our
This country next week will be having a big debate on a really important, historic
resolution. I welcome the debate. This is not a political debate. It's a debate
about peace and security.
I also think it's about -- a debate about responsibility for those of us who've
been given high office. I believe we have a responsibility to speak clearly,
to defend that which we hold dear, to be determined. And by doing so, we can
achieve peace. We can achieve peace for America by speaking strongly against
terror, by holding our line the values we hold free -- of freedom.
We can achieve peace in the Middle East. We can achieve peace in South Asia.
I know the enemy hit us, but out of the evil done to America that day has a
chance to come a more peaceful world. They also hit us and out of the evil done
to America that day can come a better world for America, too.
You know, I don't know what was on their mind. They probably thought that, after
September the 11th, 2001, somebody might file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.)
They didn't know. They didn't know who they're dealing with. They're dealing
with a great country, a country which can be tough but a country which also
can be compassionate.
See, in our midst of plenty, there are people who hurt in America, people who
are addicted, people who are lost. When you say American Dream, they go, what
the heck are you talking about American Dream. They don't know.
And when one of us hurts, we all got to realize all of us hurt in this country.
We must do everything we can to eradicate those pockets of despair. And the
best way to do so in my judgment is to unleash the character of our country.
See, government can hand out money, and sometimes we do a pretty darn good job
of it. (Laughter.) But what government cannot do is put hope in people's hearts
or sense of purpose in people's lives. (Applause.)
That's done when a fellow American hears the universal call to love a neighbor
just like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you want to fight evil here in
America, do some good. You see, it's the millions of acts of kindness and compassion
that really define the true character of our country and will enable us to defy
the killers by making this country a more compassionate and decent place. Mentor
a child, help a shut-in, start a Boys' Club or a Girls' Club. Tell somebody
you love them.
These acts of kindness don't have to be huge, they've just got to be significant
enough to change America one person at a time. No, they hit us, they hit us
-- (applause) -- they didn't know what they were getting into. They had no idea
what they were getting into.
I truly believe that this country is going to be a stronger and better place,
because I understand the nature of America. See, a lot of us took a step back
after what happened to us that day, and realized there's something more important
in life than self, something more important in life than materialism. That being
a patriot is somebody more than just puts their hand over their heart; being
a patriot is somebody who does love a neighbor.
And that's going across all across this land. You know, I first got into politics
because I believed that I could make a difference in helping change a culture,
from one which said if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame
somebody else. See, I was hoping to help usher in a period of personal responsibility,
when each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life.
If you're responsible, if you're a mother or dad, your most important responsibility
is to love your child with all your heart and all your soul. (Applause.) If
you're living -- if you're living in Boston, Massachusetts, you're responsible
for helping people in need, not some faraway government. If you're running a
corporation, you're responsible for telling the truth to your employees and
your shareholders and the public. (Applause.)
It's happening. It's happening. Perhaps the most vivid example was Flight 93.
People flying across the country; they heard from their loved ones that the
plane was going to be used as a weapon.
They said goodbye. They used the word "love" a lot. They said a prayer.
A guy said, "Let's roll." They took the plane into the ground, to
serve something greater than themselves in life.
No, the enemy hit us. But see, they didn't know, they didn't know the character
of this great country.
They didn't realize that this country is a country which will fight for peace,
lead the world for peace. And this is a country which will make sure that everybody
who lives here understands that the great American experience, the great hope
of this country is available for everybody. There's no doubt in my mind we can
accomplish these objectives because America is the greatest country, full of
the finest people, on the face of the Earth.