at Columbia, South Carolina Welcome
Jimmy Doolittle Flight Facility Hangar
Columbia, South Carolina
October 24, 2002
12:18 P.M EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Well, thanks for coming out today.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love Bush! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And I love South Carolina. (Laughter and applause.)
We've got a lot of friends here. I want to thank you all for coming today. I
want to talk about a couple of things. I want to talk about some of the challenges
facing our country. We've got some steep hills to climb, but there's no doubt
in my mind we can climb them -- after all, we're the finest nation on the face
of the Earth. (Applause.)
I want to talk a little politics with you. You see, there's no question in my
mind that if you're interested in the state of the South Carolina, and if you're
interested in the future of this state, you need to have Mark Sanford as the
next governor. (Applause.) And there's also no question in my mind, one, that
you've been really well represented by the great Strom Thurmond. (Applause.)
I'm really proud to be able to serve with the Senator. As a matter of fact,
he came by the other day, we were talking about an important issue, and he reminded
me that early December is his 100th birthday. (Laughter.) I couldn't tell if
he was hinting or not, so I took the bait and invited him over to the White
House for his 100th birthday party. (Laughter.) So he's coming. (Applause.)
So you've got to make sure you replace this good man with somebody who can do
the job, somebody who will do what's right for South Carolina, and somebody
who will make the strong stands for America. No question in my mind, the right
man to take the place of Strom Thurmond is soon to be United States Senator
Lindsey Graham. (Applause.)
I appreciate Jenny Sanford being here, your next first lady. (Applause.) She
brought those four Sanford boys with her. (Laughter.) Speaking about first ladies,
you drew the short straw. See, if Graham and Sanford were smart, they'd have
asked First Lady Laura Bush to come instead of me. (Applause.) But I -- he said
he did. (Laughter.) The reason she couldn't come, well, it rained in Crawford.
(Laughter.) And that's where she is, and she's sweeping the porch because the
President of China is coming tomorrow. (Laughter.)
But she sends her love. You know, when I asked Laura to marry me, she was a
public school librarian. (Applause.) That always gets one cheer. (Laughter.)
But you know what I'm talking about; that's a job that requires a good heart
and deep care about our children. Anyway, when I asked her to marry me she was
that and she didn't particularly like politics -- (laughter) -- and she didn't
like politicians. (Laughter.) And now here she is, as a fabulous First Lady
for America. (Applause.)
I appreciate so very much members of the United States Congress who joined us
here. That would be Congressman Henry Brown and Congressman Joe Wilson. (Applause.)
Some of the Statehouse folks are here, and they're doing a fine job on behalf
of the South Carolinians. That would be Bob Peeler, David Wilkins and Charlie
Condon and Jim Miles. I'm honored that they're here. (Applause.) You've got
a great slate of candidates running with -- running with Mark.
Let me tell you why I'm here. I want you all to understand it's important to
do your duties as Americans. It's important that you vote. It's important that
you find good candidates. I've obviously got a few suggestions for you here.
(Laughter.) It's important that you go to your coffee shops and houses of worship
and your community centers, and remind your fellow South Carolinians they have
a duty, they've got a duty to this country, they've got a duty to democracy
to participate. It doesn't matter whether they're Republican, Democrat, could
care less about parties -- they have a duty. And so you need to go out there
and round up the vote.
I want to thank you for what you have done in the political process. But, as
importantly now, I want to thank you for what you're going to do -- which is
to turn out that vote and make sure this good slate of candidates win on November
the 5th. (Applause.)
And there's a reason, there's a reason here in South Carolina. You need a governor
who's willing to change the tone of this state. You know, there's just too much
partisan bickering that goes on in the Statehouse. You need somebody who is
going to rise above it all, somebody who doesn't need a poll or a focus group
to tell him how to think, somebody who stands on principle. (Applause.) Somebody
that's going to be the governor of everybody when he wins. And that person is
Mark Sanford. (Applause.)
I appreciate his commitment to education. When I was the governor of Texas,
I used to tell them that education is to a state what national defense is to
the federal government. It's by far the most important priority of any governor.
That is, educating every child. Mark and I share a philosophy. It's a philosophy
that's going to be good for South Carolina when he wins. It's a philosophy that
starts with this concept: Every child can learn.
You see -- and I mean every child. Not just those who live in nice, suburban
districts -- every child. If you believe that, it's historic for educational
excellence for every single child. We've got to have you a governor who's willing
to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you lower the bar, if
you believe certain children can't learn, that's what's going to happen.
And so you've got to start with a governor who's optimistic and bold in his
vision about every child being able to learn. That's how Mark thinks. But you've
also got to have a governor who's willing to challenge the bureaucracy and trust
the local people to chart the path to excellence for every child.
We believe in local control of schools. (Applause.) This year, we're going to
be sending $600 million of federal money to help South Carolina run its schools.
But, for the first time, thanks to the work of Lindsey Graham in the United
States Congress, and the other Congressmen here, Henry and Joe, we're starting
to ask this question: What are the results? See, if you believe every child
can learn, then you want to know whether every child is learning. If you believe
every child can learn to read, then it seems to make sense to ask the question,
is it happening? Are the schools in South Carolina meeting the objective to
teach every single child, not just a few -- every child how to read? So you're
asking the question for the first time.
You've got to have a governor who's willing to hold people to account, who's
willing not to be captured by special interest. The only interest Mark cares
about is the children. That's his special interest. You've got to be willing
to have high standards, local control of schools, and you've got to know --
you've got to know whether or not children are learning to read and write and
add and subtract. (Applause.) And then once you know, you must have a governor
who's willing to praise those hardworking teachers for being successful. And
for those of you who teach, thanks for what you're doing. (Applause.)
But if you believe every child can learn, and you find children trapped in schools
which will not teach and will not change, for the good of South Carolina, you
better have a governor who's willing to challenge the status quo -- and that
governor is going to be Mark Sanford. (Applause.)
And I look forward to working with Mark when we continue to work on welfare
reform. Welfare reform is an important issue. Because if a person gets trapped
in the government's cycle, they won't be able to realize their human worth.
People can find dignity through work. So one of the things I'm going to do when
I'm the President if they reauthorize welfare is to work with Mark Sanford,
to make sure that there's training programs available, so a man or a woman can
find work, can be able to see the dignity of work. He understands that. He understands
that if you're trapped in government, it will sap your soul and drain your spirit.
Everybody counts in the state of South Carolina. And so when we work on important
issues that deal with the human condition, we've got to work in a way that understands
human dignity is found by empowering each and every person. Mark Sanford understands
No, he's going to make you a good governor. I urge you to -- as they're coming
down the pike, to support this good candidate and his family with your vote,
with your energy, with your enthusiasm and, sure enough, on election day, you
will have Mark Sanford as your governor. (Applause.)
And I'm looking forward to working with Lindsey Graham. And I don't need a senator
from South Carolina where I've got to worry about where he lights on any issue.
(Laughter.) You don't need a senator from your state that kind of is for one
thing one day and the heat gets on and changes his position the next day. That's
not going to serve your state well. It's certainly going to make it harder to
get an agenda through that will make America safer, stronger and better. And,
after all, that's what we need to do, to work together to make America a safer
country and a stronger country and a better country.
When it comes to making America a stronger country, that starts with making
sure our economy continues to expand. My attitude is, any time somebody who
wants to work and can't find a job -- says we've got a problem. My attitude
is, is that we want to help people put food on the table. If people are struggling
to get ahead, we've got to do everything we can in Washington, D.C. to expand
the job base.
And it starts with understanding how our economy works. The page of the textbook
that we have read says this: If you let a person keep more of their own money,
they're likely to demand a good or a service. And in the marketplace, when somebody
demands a good or a service, somebody is going to produce the good or a service.
And when somebody produces the good or a service, somebody is more likely to
find work. The tax relief plan that Lindsey Graham supported came at the right
time in American economic history. (Applause.)
Over the next 10 years, that tax relief plan will put about $14.9 billion in
the pockets of South Carolinian citizens. That's your money to begin with, by
the way. Listen carefully to the rhetoric of these candidates when they start
saying, oh, we're going to spend the government's money. They seem to forget
whose money they're spending in Washington, D.C. You listen carefully to the
rhetoric of the candidates. You want you a candidate who understands whose money
we've got in Washington, D.C. And when you have more of your own money -- not
the government's money, but your money -- in your pocket, it means it's more
likely somebody is South Carolina is going to find work.
But we've got a problem. See, the Senate, on the one hand, giveth, and on the
other hand, taketh away. And the tax relief we plan -- passed is not permanent,
it's temporary. Which means some in Washington, D.C. want that $15 billion,
more or less, of tax relief, of your money, to go to the government coffers.
And that would be bad for the economy. And that would be bad for South Carolina.
The death tax is bad. The marriage penalty is bad. The child credit is good.
Reducing income tax rates helps small business. For the sake of economic vitality,
you need to have a United States senator who will make the tax cuts permanent.
(Applause.) And that's Lindsey Graham.
He also understands the quality of life for our seniors is important. Medicine
has changed; Medicare hadn't. Medicine is modern, and Medicare is stuck. For
the sake of our seniors, elect a senator who will work with me to make sure
Medicare is modern and our seniors have got a prescription drug plan. (Applause.)
A stronger America is an America who's got a good federal bench. One of my jobs
is to nominate good, solid citizens, good lawyers, good jurists to our benches.
It's a solemn obligation of the President. Yet, the way this Senate is structured,
they have done a lousy job. (Applause.)
The percentage of our judges which have been approved is the lowest in a long
time. And when my judges have made it to the floor, they have been -- their
records have been distorted because of petty politics, special interest politics
in Washington, D.C.
I named a good man named Dennis Shedd to represent the 4th Circuit Court. (Applause.)
He's a good jurist. For 17 months, he's still waiting for a vote. The two senators
from South Carolina supported him; both Republican and Democrat senators supported
him. For 17 months, he's been able to get -- unable to get his hearing in the
Senate, and we've got a vacancy problem. We've got a vacancy problem because
the Senate is playing too much politics. We've got a vacancy problem because
they don't like it that I'm nominating good people who are going to strictly
interpret the Constitution and not use the bench from which to legislate. (Applause.)
We've got a vacancy problem on the federal court, and one way to solve that
is to put Lindsey Graham into the United States Senate. (Applause.)
We've got problems with our economy -- it's not growing as robust. And I can
promise you I'm going to work with Senator Graham to do everything to make sure
people find work; and work with Senator Graham to make sure the people have
got a good health care system; work with Senator Graham to make sure the judiciary
is strong. And I intend to work with Senator Graham on the most pressing problem
facing us, and that's our security of our homeland.
You've just got to understand there's an enemy out there that hates America
because of what we love. We love freedom. We love the fact that people can worship
freely in America. We love our free press. We love every aspect of our freedom,
and we're not changing. We're not backing down, and the enemy can't stand that.
The more we love, the more they hate. So our most important job is to protect
the American people from further harm, from further attack. And they're out
there. People in Australia, many of them grieve now because they're just not
-- cold-blooded killers hit them in Bali. You may remember that. That's all
part of this campaign to terrorize the free world, to try to get us to retreat,
forget what we're made out of. They don't understand America. They just don't
They must have thought after September the 11th, 2001, we'd file a lawsuit or
two. (Laughter.) That's not us. See, when it comes to the defense of our freedom,
when it comes to the defense of our people, when it comes to protecting innocent
life, we value innocent life. Every life matters in America. To these killers,
no life matters. (Applause.)
When it comes to protecting this country, we'll be plenty tough. When it comes
to protecting this country, we've also got to be realistic about the new --
the new world we're in. Prior to September the 11th, 2001, we used to think
two oceans could protect us from harm. I remember thinking about conflicts and
realizing our country could pick and choose whether or not we wanted to participate
in the conflict, but never really worried about whether or not the conflict
would hurt us here at home. For a long time, our country felt like oceans could
keep us immune from personal attack, and people wouldn't suffer here at home.
We learned a horrible lesson, that in the new wars of the 21st century, we're
the battleground -- we're one of the battlegrounds.
And that's why I've asked our country to think seriously about Saddam Hussein
in Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction
-- he made that promise to the world. He's hiding, he's deceiving, he's lying
about whether he has them or not. Not only does he have them, he used them.
He used them against people in his neighborhood. He used them against his own
people. This is a man who has lied about whether or not he possesses weapons
of mass destruction, a man who uses them, a man who hates America, a man who
hates our friends. He's a threat to peace.
The United Nations decided they were going to deal with Saddam a while ago.
Sixteen resolutions have been passed in the United Nations, resolution after
resolution after resolution, calling him to account. And he's ignored them.
So I made a decision on behalf of our country that I would go to that body and,
for the sake of peace, remind them they have an obligation to honor those resolutions,
to do something about them. I made the case that you have a choice, United Nations,
to keep the peace by showing some backbone -- you can be the United Nations
or the League of Nations, it's your choice. (Applause.)
And my message to Saddam Hussein is clear, as well: You've said you would disarm.
For the sake of peace, you said you would get rid of the weapons of mass destruction.
It's your choice to make. And so we're working with the international community,
reminding Saddam Hussein of his obligations. But I want you all to know, for
the sake of peace, for the sake of the security of the United States and our
friends and allies, if the United Nations won't deal with him, if he refuses
to hear the call for peace, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm
Saddam Hussein. (Applause.)
As we're clear-eyed about the threats we face overseas, we must be clear-eyed
about the threats at home, as well. There's a lot of good people working hard
to protect you. We're now on alert. We understand the new reality. There's people
at the federal level and the state level and the local level working a lot of
long hours to chase down any lead, any hint. Any time we think somebody is thinking
about doing something to America we're responding. We're disrupting, we're denying,
we're making sure we fulfill our solemn obligations to protect you.
But there's more we can do. And so that's why I went to the United States Congress
and asked them to pass a department of homeland security. You see, there's over
100 agencies involved with securing our homeland. They're kind of scattered
around up there in Washington. It seemed to make sense to me to put them under
one umbrella organization, so that the priority can be set, and if need be,
cultures can be changed, so we can get people focused on doing the most important
job they've got. And we're making progress.
Part of the progress was made because the House of Representatives -- Lindsey
Graham was strong on this, and Joe and Henry voted with us -- was to create
a department of homeland security that would give an administration the capacity
to manage the department, to be able to protect you. It's stuck in the Senate.
It's stuck in the Senate because the Senate wants to extract a price from the
administration. Every President since John Kennedy has had the ability to act
in a national security interest. He had the ability to suspend work rules if
they got in the way of protecting the homeland, or got in the way of national
security. But the Senate wants to take that away.
Here we are at war, and all of a sudden, they decide I shouldn't have the same
authority as every President since John F. Kennedy. I'd have that authority
for the Department of Agriculture. (Laughter.) But not for the department of
Secondly, I need to be able to put the right people at the right place at the
right time. We've got a border control issue. We need to know who's coming into
our country. (Applause.) We need to know who's coming in and who's going out.
We don't know what they're bringing in. Yet, on the border we've got good, hardworking
people, fine people, working in three different agencies -- Border Patrol, INS,
and Customs. Some sectors of the border they've got different strategies, they
wear different uniforms. But yet, the work rules prevent us from coordinating
them. For the sake of the national security, I need a senator who will join
me in making sure that we can structure the agency so it works. (Applause.)
But the best way to secure the homeland is to chase these killers down, one
person at a time, and bring them to justice. (Applause.) And that's what we're
going to do. That's what we're -- yesterday I signed a defense bill, right there
in the Rose Garden. It's the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald
Reagan was the President. The reason why -- (applause) -- the reason why was
because any time we put our troops into harm's way, we owe it to our troops
and we owe it to the loved ones of the troops to make sure they've got the best
training, the best possible pay, and the best equipment. (Applause.)
And our troops are good. They're really good. (Applause.) And the other message
was, to our friend and foe, it doesn't matter how long it takes. It doesn't
matter how long it takes to win this war on terror. There's no calendar on my
desk, right there in the great Oval Office. There's not a calendar that says,
you know, by such and such a date, we're hauling them home; by such and such
a date, we're going to forget our obligations to our future; by such and such
a date that we say, fine, let them sit out there. That's not the way America
It doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter how long it takes, this
great country will defend our freedoms and defend our people. (Applause.) And
we're making some pretty good progress. Remember the doctrine that said, either
you're with us or you're with them, it still stands. And so we've got a lot
of people working together to haul them in.
See, this isn't the kind of war that some of the old vets here are used to --
you destroy a bunch of tanks, and you make progress. That's not the kind of
war this is. See, we fight these killers who hide in caves and send youngsters
to their suicidal deaths. It's a new kind of army. That's why we've got to do
a better job of cutting off their money, of sharing intelligence, of finding
where they hide, of finding these kind of -- putting the sunlight on these dark
corners of the world where they kind of slither around. That's what we got to
But we're making progress. And sometimes you'll see it, and sometimes you're
just not going to see it. The other day one of them popped his head up -- bin
al-Shebh -- he's no longer a problem. (Laughter and applause.) Slowly but surely,
we're doing our duty to our country. Slowly but surely, we're hunting these
killers down, one at a time.
And that's what we've got to do. But you know how I feel about this, that by
being tough and strong and clear, by remembering that freedom is not American-blessed,
it is God-given, it's universal, remembering that freedom is a part of what
we think about -- (applause) -- we remember those values that make us a great
nation, we will keep the peace. That the mission of this administration is to
make the world more peaceful. That the reason we do what we do is because we
believe in freedom and we believe in peace.
And it's going to happen. See, the enemy hit us; they didn't know who they were
hitting. They hit the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. They gave us
a chance, a chance we will seize, to not only protect America and keep America
peaceful, but because we value all life, everybody counts, that we want there
to be peace in parts of the world where people have quit on peace.
We have a chance to achieve the peace in the Middle East. We have a chance to
achieve the peace in South Asia. By being strong and determined, and resolute
in our mission, we can make the peace. (Applause.)
And here at home, we can make America a better place, too. See, out of the evil
done to America can come some incredible good, incredible good. You just got
to know -- and I know you know -- that there are pockets of despair and loneliness
in our country. There are people who are hurt, people who are addicted, people
who wonder when you say, American Dream -- they don't understand what that means.
My attitude is, so long as one of us hurts, we all hurt. It's an opportunity,
though, however, for us to deal with these pockets of despair. Government can
help -- we will; we'll worry about education, we'll worry about making sure
the welfare system works. We have a faith-based initiative to encourage people
of faith to love their neighbor. But government is limited in its capacity.
It can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people's hearts, or a sense
of purpose in people's lives.
That is done when a fellow American has heard the universal call to love a neighbor
just like you'd like to be loved yourself; find somebody who hurts, puts their
arm around him and says, I love you, what can I do to help make your day. (Applause.)
Each of us -- each of us can help change America, one heart, one conscience,
one soul at a time. Each of us can make a difference in making sure that the
enemy hit us, but out of that evil and harm and hurt and tears can come a more
compassionate and decent society. There's no question in my mind, no question
in my mind, that this great country will lead the world to peace. And there's
no question in my mind that this great country, the hope of this great country,
the great promise of America can have -- can shine in every neighborhood and
And do you know why? Because we're the greatest nation, full of the finest people
on the face of this Earth. Thank you for coming. May God bless you all, and
may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)