at 2002 Unity Luncheon
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel
October 17, 2002
12:15 P.M. EDT
Thank you all for coming. I'm glad you all are here. Thanks for coming, and
thanks for such a generous Georgia welcome.
You know, coming down on the airplane today, we were visiting about the politics
here in Georgia and a couple of the citizens from this great state told me my
picture seems to be on the TV screen a lot. (Laughter.) That a lot of people
are using my image during the campaign. Well, I'm here to clarify a few things.
(Applause.) The voters shouldn't be confused. For the sake of Georgia, for the
sake of the United States, Saxby Chambliss needs to be the next United States
No, the voters shouldn't be confused. For the sake of Georgia, and for the sake
of a great public school system, Sonny Perdue needs to be the next governor
of Georgia. (Applause.)
I appreciate you all coming. I want to thank you for what you're going to do.
First, I want to thank you for what you have done, which is come today. (Laughter.)
And what you need to do is go to your coffee shops, your places of worship,
the community centers, and let good people of Georgia understand that when you
find two good ones, two good candidates like these two, they've got to work
and vote on their behalf. Grassroots politics is going to win this election.
And there's another secret weapon in the case of these two men's campaign. That's
their wives. (Applause.) They both married well. Like me, they married above
themselves. (Laughter.) I'm so proud that Julianne Chambliss is with -- standing
by Saxby's side. She's a great mom. She's going to be a fabulous Senate wife.
And I've got to tell you, I'm real proud of Mary, as well. Mom and grandmom
-- she's going to be a great first lady for Georgia. (Applause.)
You drew the short straw; Laura's in Mobile, Alabama. (Laughter.) But she sends
her very best. She's doing great, by the way. You know, I like to remind people
that when I married her, she was a public school librarian in Texas. She didn't
like politics, she didn't care for politicians. (Laughter.) Now she's the First
Lady of the United States, and doing a magnificent job. (Applause.)
I appreciate members of the congressional delegation. All but one decided they
wanted to fly on Air Force One, so I had coffee with them this morning. (Laughter.)
But it's a fine group of individuals representing Georgia in the United States
Congress: Congressman Jack Kingston, Matt Collins, Johnny Isakson, Bob Barr,
Nathan Deal, Charlie Norwood and John Linder. I'm proud of that -- (Applause.)
I'm proud of that delegation, and I hope -- and I feel -- like the good folks
around Georgia will be wise to add to the delegation, starting with Phil Gingrey
from the 11th congressional district. (Applause.) Clay Cox is running for Congress.
We need to get Clay in there. (Applause.) I'm real proud of the chairman of
the Georgia Republican Party, my longtime friend, Ralph Reed. I want to thank
Ralph for his leadership. (Applause.) Alec Poitevint is the national committeeman.
He also is a longtime friend. My friend Fred Cooper, and Eric Tanenblatt all
work hard to make sure our party is vibrant and alive and well; make sure our
party not only is organized at the grassroots level, but make sure our party
sends out a message that all are welcomed, all who believe in the philosophy
of personal responsibility, local control of your schools, limited government,
compassionate government are welcome into our party. All are welcome to vote
for these good candidates who are running. We don't care what party you have.
We don't care whether you're a Republican, Democrat, or independent. What we
care is you support these good candidates because they're the right people at
the right time for the state of Georgia. (Applause.)
Sonny knows what I'm talking about. Sonny knows what I'm talking about. After
all, he used to call himself a Democrat. (Laughter.) And that's okay. I'm used
to Texas politics. We had a lot of folks who called themselves one party label,
but they -- we all felt the same about things. Sonny represents Georgian values.
He is a down-to-earth fellow; he's a plain speaker. When he says something,
he means it. (Applause.) He might not be the prettiest fellow to look at --
(laughter) -- but he can get the job done for all the people in Georgia. (Applause.)
And that means having a school system that leaves no children behind. (Applause.)
Sonny's got a good education plan. It's one that makes sense. It's one that's
going to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. It's going to set high
standards. Sonny is going to support the teachers of Georgia. (Applause.) Sonny
isn't going to try to micromanage the process from centralized government. He
believes in local control of schools. (Applause.)
And Sonny is the kind of no-nonsense fellow who will hold people to account.
You see, he'll be willing to -- he'll be willing to measure to determine whether
or not each child is learning in Georgia. And when he finds children trapped
in schools which won't teach and won't change, he won't be bound by special
interests. The only interest he cares about is the children of the state of
He knows what I know; the role of government is not to create wealth, but an
environment in which the entrepreneur or small business owner can flourish.
(Applause.) Seventy percent of new jobs in America are created by small businesses.
And it seems like if you're worried about your job base, that you want to have
somebody who's been a small business person running your government, somebody
who's actually done what a lot of others talk about. I think the fact that Sonny
started his own business in the field of agriculture is one of the strongest
reasons why the folks of Georgia ought to send him up to the capital. (Applause.)
He also understands how important it is to have good roads and an efficient
infrastructure. He's a practical man; he's a down-to-earth fellow who has asked
the questions, how do you get the job done. He doesn't wait for a focus group.
(Laughter.) That's not his style. That's not how they raised them in south Georgia.
(Applause.) If you're worried about your infrastructure, it seems like to me
you want somebody who's licensed to fly a plane, who can drive a bus, or knows
how to operate a truck. And that man is Sonny Perdue. (Applause.)
And I'm proud to be here. I'm proud to say as loud and clear as I can, I'm for
Sonny Perdue because he'll make a great governor. (Applause.)
And there's no doubt in my mind you've got to make sure that Saxby Chambliss
is your United States senator. (Applause.) Saxby is a leader. He's a leader,
he can make things happen. I've watched him -- I've watched him closely. I worked
with him on the education bill, a fine piece of education reform. He brings
a deep compassion for education. He and I understand the role of the federal
government is limited, but the role of the federal government must be active.
It says this: When we spend federal money we expect there to be good results.
If you believe every child can learn like we do, if you want to challenge the
soft bigotry of low expectations, that finally we've begun to ask the question,
what's happening -- with all that money we're spending, what's happening? Why
don't you show us whether or not our children can read and write and add and
subtract? Why don't you show us whether or not our children have got a bright
future? And if so, I promise you, we'll praise the teachers. But if not, we
expect a return on behalf of the taxpayers' dollars.
This piece of reform was substantial reform. And Saxby Chambliss was one of
the leaders in the House of Representatives to make sure this bill got passed.
He understands what I know; medicine has changed, but Medicare hadn't. Medicine
is modern; Medicare is old and needs to be reformed. Saxby Chambliss is one
of the leaders in the United States Congress to make sure that Medicare changes
with medicine, and that seniors have got prescription drug benefits. (Applause.)
I'm for Saxby because he will help me make sure that the judges I nominate get
a fair hearing and get confirmed. (Applause.) My job is to -- my job is to put
good, honorable, hardworking, intelligent, capable people on the federal bench;
people who will not use the bench to serve as a legislator, but people who will
sit on the bench to strictly interpret the United States Constitution.
And the record of this Senate is a lousy record. (Applause.) If you look --
if you look at the record, the percentage of my nominees who have been approved
and look at the reason why they haven't, you'll find that they're playing too
much politics in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) They're slow playing the process.
And when some of my really good nominees got a hearing, they distorted their
records. They listened to the small groups of special interests in Washington,
D.C. For the sake of a good, sound federal judiciary, I need a United States
senator who will stand strong for my nominees, and that is Saxby Chambliss.
We've got some challenges ahead of us. No question one of the challenges is
to make sure people can find work in America, that we can build on the foundation
of economic growth. I'm optimistic about our economy's future because I know
when interest rates are low and inflation is low and the productivity of our
great work force is high, we can grow our economy. I believe strongly that the
future is a bright future. But we've got a lot of work to do -- together, we've
got a lot of work to do.
And there are some clear-cut things that the Congress can do. And one of them
is to understand the significance of tax relief when it comes to economic vitality.
Saxby and I read the page out of this economic textbook, that says if you let
a person keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a
service. And when somebody demands a good or a service in the marketplace, somebody
is likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that
good or a service, somebody is more likely to be able to find work.
And so we passed tax relief. Some people were enthusiastic about it, some weren't
quite so sure. And we got it passed. But the reason the issue is still alive
is because there's a quirk in the Senate rules. This is a tough one for me to
explain to you. It's like the Senate giveth and the Senate taketh away. (Laughter.)
You see, after 10 years, the tax relief plan reverts back to where it was when
we started relieving the taxes. So that creates uncertainty. It's hard if you're
a small business person to plan, with uncertainty. It's hard for an economy
to be steady if there's an uncertain tax code.
One of the big issues in this campaign is who understands what I've just described,
and who's willing to join the President in making sure the tax relief plan is
permanent. And that person is Saxby Chambliss. (Applause.)
No, I will continue to work on our economy, helping to make sure our workers
can find work. There's a lot of things we can do. We need an energy bill; we
need a terrorism insurance bill; we need to make sure Congress doesn't overspend.
Listen, every idea sounds like a genius idea in Washington. (Laughter.) The
problem is they all cost billions. I've got to make sure I've got members of
the House and members of the Senate who understand we need to set priorities
and make sure we don't overspend. For the sake of economic vitality, there needs
to be fiscal restraint and fiscal sanity, which means you better have a United
States senator who understands that when we're spending money in Washington,
we're not spending the government's money, we're spending the people's money.
Economic issue is a big issue. There's no bigger issue, however, than protecting
the homeland. (Applause.) I say that because there's an enemy that still lurks
out there, a enemy which hates America. And they hate us because of what we
love. They hate us because we love freedom. They hate us because we hold dear
and deeply love the idea that anybody can worship an almighty God any way he
or she sees fit. They hate the idea of a free press, free political discourse.
That's what they hate. And so long as we love our freedoms, they will try to
harm our country.
We've got a new task ahead for America, and that is to do everything we can
to protect the American people. It used to be that oceans could protect us.
We used to be able to sit back here in America and feel safe and confident,
because there's two vast oceans to protect us from potential enemies. But that
has changed, after September the 11th, 2001. And that's why it's essential for
our country not only to deal with the threats we see today, but to deal with
threats we may see in the immediate tomorrow.
That's why I called upon the United Nations and our United States Congress to
deal with Iraq before it becomes a -- before we get hurt. Oceans no longer protect
us. The threat is real. The threat's alive.
I want to thank Saxby and other members of the United States Congress for joining
me in passing a strong resolution so that the United States speaks with one
voice. It's not up for Mr. Saddam Hussein to do what he said he would do, to
disarm. It's now up for the free nations of the world to show some courage and
backbone, and disarm him. (Applause.)
There are real threats that we face, and therefore, my most important job is
to do everything we can to protect the homeland. A lot of people are working
hard to do just that; they really are. We've got a lot of good agents at the
CIA and FBI, and state police and local police, first responders, all of them
working hard to do everything we can to protect the American people. When we
get a hint, any bit of evidence, we're moving, we're disrupting, we're denying.
We're aware of the threat. And so we're on -- we're on full game all the time.
That's our job. We take it seriously.
But I need the tools necessary to do the job better. And that's why I went to
the United States Congress to work with my to develop a office of homeland security,
so that we could better coordinate amongst the many agencies involved with securing
the homeland; so we could set clear priorities amongst the agencies involved
with protecting the homeland; so if need be, we could change cultures so that
some point in time I'm more able to say, and future Presidents are more able
to say, we're doing everything in our power at the federal level to protect
America. It's our most important and solemn duty.
I laid the initiative out, and thanks to the strong leadership of Saxby -- he
understands this issue really well -- thanks to his leadership amongst, with
others in the House of Representatives, the House responded quickly and passed
a significant piece of legislation, an historic piece of legislation.
The Senate hadn't acted yet, because in order to pass the department of homeland
security there's got to be a price for it. And that price will be to roll back
important authority that every President since John F. Kennedy has had to act
in the interests of national security. For 40 years, Presidents have had the
ability to suspend labor rules in every department in the federal government
when our national security is at stake. Now the Senate leadership wants to roll
back that authority in a time of war for one department, whose job it is, will
be to protect the American people during that war.
If the Senate had its way, I would have the authority to suspend the work rules
in the Department of Agriculture, but not in the office of homeland security.
The Senate Democrat leaders want to tie the hands of this department as we determine
who to hire, who to fire, and whether or not people can be moved. Any President
must have the capacity to put the right people at the right time at the right
place, in order to respond to threats to our homeland. (Applause.)
The Senate debate revolves around whether or not there ought to be a thick book
of rules micromanaging the process. I'll give you an example. Right after September
the 11th the Customs Service wanted to quickly assign its best, more qualified
inspectors to the northern border. The union leaders objected. They said we
had to bargain over these assignments. We had to take time to hash it out, rather
than moving our best to where we thought we needed to move them, immediately.
No, I'm not going to accept a bill which will tie the hands of this President
and future Presidents to be able to carry out one of our most solemn duties,
which is to protect the homeland. (Applause.) There's no question in my mind,
if Saxby Chambliss were in the Senate, I would not have to worry about his leadership
or his vote on this important matter. (Applause.)
The best way to secure the homeland, however, is to hunt the killers down, one
person at a time, which is exactly what the United States of America is going
to do. (Applause.) The war on terror is a different kind of war. The old World
War II vets who are here -- and I want to thank you for your service -- will
remember the days when we could measure progress based upon tanks destroyed
or battleships sunk, or aircraft shot down. This is a different kind of war.
We're fighting cold-blooded killers who hide in caves and send youngsters to
their suicidal deaths. And they're willing to kill innocent people anywhere.
See, there's a huge difference between us and them. We value life, we say everybody
counts, everybody is precious. They've hijacked a great religion and are willing
to murder in the name of that religion. That's the way they are. And there's
only one way to deal with it. Therapy isn't going to work. (Applause.) And that's
to find them, that's to find them. That's why this coalition of freedom-loving
nations is incredibly important. That's why it's absolutely essential that we
continue to remind people, either you're with us or you're with the enemy. That's
why it's essential that we continue to make sure that when we say something,
we mean it and the world knows we mean it. (Applause.)
Next week, I'm going to be signing a defense appropriations bill. I want to
thank the members of Congress, I want to thank Saxby and others for getting
this bill to my desk before they go home. It's important for us to send a message
that we're going to make sure our troops have got the best pay, the best equipment,
the best possible training. Any time we put somebody in harm's way, we owe it
to them and we owe it to their loved ones to support them. And that's exactly
what this defense bill does. (Applause.)
And the second message we're going to send when I sign that bill is to friend
and foe alike, it doesn't matter how long it takes, we're staying the course.
When it comes to the defense of our freedom, there is no timetable, there is
no calendar. When it comes to making sure our children can grow up in a free
society, in a free country, this great land will do whatever it takes to secure
our freedoms. (Applause.)
No, we're making progress. We're hauling them in one at a time. We've got over
a couple thousand of them, and maybe that like number wasn't quite so lucky.
Sometimes you'll see us making progress and sometimes you won't. Sometimes those
people who chatter on the cables will be talking about it, sometimes you're
just not going to hear. It's a manhunt, one at a time. And at the same time,
we're going to deny them sanctuary. If we find them lighting somewhere, we're
going to ask the host country to move them on. Either you're with us, or you're
with them. (Applause.)
We're making good progress. I'm working hard to make sure America is a stronger
place and a safer place, but we've all got to work together to make sure America
is a better place, too. And there's some things government can do: Make sure
every child is educated; make sure our health care systems work; make sure people
are treated with respect and dignity; to make sure we change the tone in our
National Capital and our state capital, get rid of all this needless politics,
bring people together, achieve big objectives.
But a lot of what is going to make America continue to be the greatest country
in the world depends upon you. If you want to fight evil, love your neighbor
just like you'd like to be loved yourself. If you're interested in doing some
good, if you're interested in joining me and Sonny and Saxby in making sure
that those pockets of despair and loneliness and hopelessness get eradicated,
the surest way to do so is to put your arm around somebody in need, and say,
I love you, I love you.
Government can hand out money, but government cannot put hope in people's hearts,
or a sense of purpose in people's lives. (Applause.) That's why I'm such a strong
believer in the faith-based initiative, an initiative which will empower people
of all faiths in America to do what they've been called to do, to help a neighbor
in need, to love somebody.
See, it doesn't take much to help change America, it really doesn't. Helping
somebody who's hungry, mentoring a child, going to a shut-in's house and saying,
what can I do to help, running a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, it all adds
up. It's those millions of acts of kindness and generosity that take place on
a daily basis in America which truly defines the hopefulness of our country.
See, the enemy hit us. They didn't know who they were hitting. Oh, they probably
thought we'd file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) But, instead, they hit a country
which is strong and tough; a country, by remaining strong and tough and always
remembers what we love, and that is freedom, that we can achieve peace.
I believe America will lead the world to peace. (Applause.) And at the same
time, here at home -- same time here at home, we can make sure, by following
our hearts, by being the compassionate country we are, to make sure this American
experience shines brightly for every single citizen who lives in our country.
No, they hit us. But out of the evil is going to come some incredible good,
because this is the greatest nation, full of the finest people on the face of
the Earth. May God bless you and may God bless America. (Applause.)