at the National Republican Senatorial Committee Annual Dinner
National Building Museum
September 25, 2002
6:59 P.M. EDT
Thank you all very much. Well, thanks for coming tonight. I appreciate so many
of our fellow Americans being here. I'm here because I want to urge you to do
everything you can to make sure that the United States Senate is a Republican
In order to make real progress for America, I believe we need to have a change
of leadership in the United States Senate. (Applause.) And together, together
-- we can work together to make America a stronger place, a safer place, and
a better place for everybody who is fortunate enough to live in this country.
I want to thank Bill Frist, who's Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial
Committee. I want to thank you for your kind words. I want to thank you for
your leadership. I want to thank Karen Frist for being a patient woman, standing
by this guy. Frist and I married above ourselves. We both married Texas women.
Laura is not here. I wish she were. She's on her way down to do a little diplomatic
work in Mexico. She sends her best, she sends her love. And I can't tell you
how proud I am of the job she's doing on behalf of America. (Applause.)
They tell me this is a successful dinner. And I'm not surprised. After all,
the Chairman of the dinner is from Texas. A fine United States Senator, a close
friend, Kay Bailey Hutchison. (Applause.) Kay, I want to thank you for your
dedication and for your hard work.
I also am honored to be in the presence of the next Majority Leader of the United
States Senate, Trent Lott. (Applause.) I want to thank all the senators who
are here tonight. I appreciate your friendship. I appreciate the opportunity
to work with you.
One senator not here tonight is Senator Strom Thurmond. Today he gave what is
likely his farewell speech on the floor of a body he loves a lot. I join his
colleagues and join you all in expressing our appreciation and deep admiration
for Senator Strom Thurmond and his 48 years of service in the United States
I also want to thank my friend, Michael W. Smith, and Debbie Smith for being
here. You're in for a real treat when you hear him sing. He is one of the great
voices in America. I love his spirit. I love his soul. I'm proud to call him
friend. I wish I could stay for the songs, Michael, but my dinner might get
I want to work with all of us here in Washington to make America a stronger
place. And that starts with making sure we do everything in our power to make
our economy grow. See, if anybody who wants to work can't find a job, we've
got a problem. And so we've got to continue to focus on economic growth and
economic vitality. And we made great progress when we controlled the Senate
by cutting the taxes on the American people. (Applause.)
Well, I know -- I know some up here in Washington have read a different textbook
from most of us. But here's a page we remember. It says, if you let a person
keep more of their own money, they're likely to demand a good or a service.
And if they demand a good or a service, somebody in America is likely to produce
that good or a service. And when somebody produces a good or a service, somebody
is more likely to find work.
The tax cuts came as our economy was slowing down. The tax cuts came at the
right time in American history, and we need a Senate who makes the tax cuts
Working together, we promoted a trade bill, which is good for American jobs.
If you're a confident nation, like we must be, if you believe in the productivity
of the American worker, if you believe in the strength of the American entrepreneur,
you open up markets around the world. And thanks to the Senate, and thanks to
many senators here, I have now got trade promotion authority, which I will use
for the good of the American worker. (Applause.)
We began to lose some confidence in our system because some of our fellow Americans
thought it was okay to fudge the books, to hide numbers. And so we came together,
thanks to many in this room, and passed the most comprehensive corporate reform
since Franklin Roosevelt was the President. We believe that those who run corporations
in America have a responsibility. They have a responsibility to the shareholder,
they have a responsibility to the employee. And if we catch somebody fudging
the numbers, there's not going to be any more easy money in America; there's
just going to be hard time. (Applause.)
And there's more we can do, and these senators here in this audience understand
it. We need an energy bill. We need an energy bill for the sake of job security,
and we need an energy bill for the sake of national security. (Applause.)
We need terrorism insurance. We want to put our hard-hats back to work. We need
a bill that helps get construction projects moving again. But we want a bill
that rewards the hard-working hard-hats of America, not the trial lawyers of
And as the Congress heads to home it's very important to remember that to make
sure job creation continues, and to make sure our economy strengthens, we must
not over-spend in Washington, D.C. It's very important that members of the Congress
understand whose money we're spending. See, it's not the government's money.
We're spending the people's money. And we've got to be wise about how we spend
the people's money. (Applause.)
Every idea up here sounds like a good idea. Except in Washington, when you start
totaling up the bill, it runs into the billions. And so, for the sake of job
creation, the Congress must not use a continuing resolution for pet projects.
For the sake of fiscal sanity, we must fund our priorities and hold the line
elsewhere in the budget. And I appreciate the senators leading the charge in
this audience, understanding the need for fiscal -- that fiscal responsibility
equals jobs for the American people. (Applause.)
And for a stronger America, we need good judges. We need people who will not
write the law from the benches, but people who strictly interpret the Constitution.
I have been appalled at what has taken place in the United States Senate recently.
I named two good judges, one from Mississippi and one from my home state of
Texas -- Charles Pickering, Pricilla Owen. Their records were distorted. I don't
think they were given a fair hearing. Special interests got a hold of the committee.
It is not right that these two fine, fine people were denied the bench.
Soon the Senate will take up the nomination of Miguel Estrada. Miguel Estrada
is an excellent lawyer. He's a fine man. He's an American success story. The
Senate should not play politics with this nomination, for he will be an outstanding
judge. One of the reasons to change the United States Senate is to make sure
the good judges I nominate get a fair hearing, a swift vote, and approval. (Applause.)
And as we work hard to make sure our economy grows so people can find work,
we've also got to remember our number one priority, and that is to protect our
homeland from further attack. There's an enemy which hates America lurking around.
They hate us because we love freedom. They hate everything our country stands
for. They can't stand the thought that in this great country, we worship an
almighty God any way we see fit. They can't stand the thought that we have good,
honest political discourse. They hate a free press. They hate everything we
And there's something else which distinguishes us from the enemy. We value life
in America. We say everybody has worth. Everybody is precious. They take innocent
life, as they've hijacked a great religion. And because the enemy lurks, and
because we refuse to yield on our love for freedom, we must prepare the homeland
for future attack.
I asked the Congress to join me in creating a Department of Homeland Security.
I did so because we must better coordinate our defenses. If homeland security
is the number one priority of the government, it ought to be the number one
priority of every agency in Washington, D.C. If protecting the homeland is the
number one priority, we ought to be in a position where we can move people to
protect our homeland. This President, and future Presidents, must have the ability
to put the right people in the right place at the right time in order to protect
Unfortunately, some senators -- not all senators, but some senators -- believe
it is best to try to micromanage the process, believe the best way to secure
the homeland is to have a thick book of regulations which will hamstring this
administration and future administrations from dealing with an enemy that could
care less about thick books of regulations. Unfortunately, some in the Senate
-- not all in the Senate -- want to take away the power that all Presidents
have had since Jimmy Carter. And I'm not going to stand for it.
The Senate must hear this, because the American people understand it: They should
not respond to special interests in Washington, D.C. They ought to respond to
this interest -- protecting the American people from future attack. (Applause.)
I see Senator Gramm from Texas here. I want to thank Senator Gramm, Republican,
Senator Zell Miller, Democrat from Georgia, for proposing a good piece of legislation.
I urge the Senate to support this legislation. It is right for America. You
see, we have a chance to leave a legacy behind. And that legacy could be found
in the Gramm-Miller bill. I support it strongly. I urge all the Senate to support
this good piece of legislation. (Applause.)
The best way to secure the homeland of America, however, is to hunt the killers
down, one person at a time, and bring them to justice, which America will do.
It's a different kind of war. It used to be you could count progress against
an enemy by the number of tanks he had, or the number of airplanes he had, or
the number of ships he was able to float. We're fighting against people who
hide in caves, people who kind of find dark corners and lurk around them, and
at the same time, boldly send youngsters to their own suicidal death. Those
are the kind of people we fight. They don't require much money. But if they're
trying to get money, we're cutting it off.
What it requires is a United States that is firm in our resolve, determined
in our efforts; a United States who is willing -- which is willing to uphold
doctrine. One doctrine is you're either with us, or the enemy. And that doctrine
still stands today. (Applause.) The other doctrine is if you harbor a terrorist,
if you feed a terrorist, if you hide a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the
terrorists who murdered thousands of Americans. (Applause.)
And we're making progress. We're making progress in this first war of the 21st
century. Just ask the Taliban. (Laughter.) I want you all to remind your children
about the great strength and heart of this country. Not only do we do what we
say we're going to do, but we went into Afghanistan not to conquer anybody,
but to liberate a nation from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes
in the history of mankind. Thanks to the United States and our friends and allies,
young girls now go to school for the first time in Afghanistan. (Applause.)
And we're not leaving. There's more work to do. There are al Qaeda killers lurking
around the neighborhood. But they must understand there is no cave deep enough,
there is no corner dark enough for the long arm of justice of the United States
and our friends and allies. We've arrested over a couple of thousand of them.
Got one the other day, one of the ones kind of bragging about he thought he
was going to be the 20th -- 20th killer on September the 11th. He poked his
head up, and we found him. He's no longer a threat to freedom. And there's a
lot of them like him. Slowly, but surely, we're hunting them down. (Applause.)
And we've got a lot of work to do. There's a lot more effort that's going to
go into securing America and our friends and defending our freedom. And that's
why I asked the Congress to pass the largest increase in defense appropriations
since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did so because I firmly and strongly
believe that any time we send one of our youngsters into harm's way, they deserve
the best pay, the best training, and the best possible equipment. We owe it
to them and we owe it to their loved ones. (Applause.)
It also will send a message -- this defense appropriation increase will send
a message to friend and foe alike that the United States is not going to quit
when it comes to our freedom; that, no matter how long it takes, no matter how
tough the task, this nation will defend our freedoms. History has put the spotlight
on us. And the world must understand that we're not going to blink, we're not
going to tire. We will do whatever it takes to make the homeland secure and
to make freedom reign across the world. (Applause.)
And so my call to Congress is to get the defense appropriations bill to my desk
before you go home. For the sake of the national security, for the sake of sending
the right messages around the world, we need to get the defense bill complete.
Not only will we pursue al Qaeda one person at a time, not only will we resist
terror wherever it lurks, we will also deal with madmen who harbor and develop
and want to use weapons of mass destruction.
I made a decision to call upon the international community to join us in holding
Saddam Hussein to account. I did so at the United Nations because I want the
United Nations to be an effective body. I remember what happened with the League
of Nations. For the sake of security, for the sake of peace, the United Nations
must not become the League of Nations. The United Nations must have backbone.
The United Nations must be willing to uphold resolution. The United Nations
must be strong enough to hold Saddam Hussein to account. (Applause.)
After all, he's defied the United Nations for 11 years; he's thumbed his nose
at the world. He must be laughing when he hears about the United Nations and
its resolutions, and that's not good for the health of the world. He's a man
who poisoned his own people. He's a man who invaded two countries twice -- two
countries, once each time. He's a man who has got weapons of mass destruction,
yet lies to the world. He's a man -- he's a man who needs to be brought to justice.
And the choice is his to make; and the choice is the United Nations' to make.
He must destroy his weapons of mass destruction. He must stop his deceit. He
must stop his lying. He must stop torturing his own citizens. And the United
Nations must uphold its resolutions. The choice is theirs. But if they choose
not to, for the sake of our future, for the sake of our freedom, we will not
let the world's worst leader threaten us, blackmail us, or hurt us with the
world's worst weapons. (Applause.)
And I want to thank members of Congress of both political parties for coming
together to send a clear message to the world -- (drop in feed from site) --
that when we see a problem we will deal with it. We owe it to our children.
We owe it to our children's children to defend freedom, to free people from
the clutches of barbarism. We owe it to civilization itself to remain strong,
and focused, and diligent.
And as we work to make America a stronger and safer place, we've also got to
remember to make it a better place, too, a better place for all our citizens.
Many senators here joined me in working on an education bill. It was the most
constructive piece of education reform in a long time. See, we believe every
child in America can learn. We're willing to challenge the soft bigotry of low
expectations. We also trust the local people to chart the path to excellence
in our public schools in America.
And for the first time, thanks to Senator Gregg and others, we're starting to
ask the question in America, can our children read and write and add and subtract?
You see, if you believe every child can learn, it's a legitimate question to
ask. And we find our children trapped in schools which will not teach and will
not change -- we will demand, we will demand something else happens. No child
in America should be left behind. (Applause.)
For a better America, Congress must remember that those on welfare want to work.
Work ought to be the cornerstone of the welfare reauthorization. In work, people
find dignity. In work, people find hope for the future. As we debate a welfare
reauthorization bill, let us not forget the successes of the past, and let's
make sure work is the cornerstone of a responsible tomorrow for every citizen
in our country. (Applause.)
A better tomorrow means a modern health care system for all, but particularly
for our seniors. Medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't. For the sake of a better
tomorrow, we must have a prescription drug benefit and a modern Medicare system.
And finally, a better tomorrow understands that in our faith-based and charitable
institutions, we find great compassion and hope and love. Washington, D.C.,
should not fear faith-based programs. We ought to welcome them in the lives
of citizens who hurt. (Applause.)
I say a better tomorrow depends upon programs that emanate from our churches
and synagogues and mosques, as well as charitable organizations, because I understand
the true strength of the country. And the true strength of the country lies
in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens.
Right after September the 11th, after we shed our tears and mourned, I was absolutely
convinced that out of the evil done to America can come great good. And I still
believe it today. I believe that if our country is steadfast and strong, we
can achieve peace.
You need to tell your youngsters that behind the rhetoric of war is a strong
desire for a peaceful world. That I long for peace, not just for Americans,
but because our country values each life, everybody has importance. I long for
peace around the world. I believe by being tough and strong and determined,
that we can achieve peace in places in the world where people have quit on peace.
I firmly believe peace is possible in the Middle East. I believe peace is possible
in South Asia. No, out of the evil done to America can come incredible good,
if we stay the course and if we remain strong.
And here at home, the evil done to America can yield some great good, as well.
We must remember there are pockets of despair and hopelessness and loneliness
in America. The government can hand out money, and we do a pretty good job of
it here in Washington. But what government cannot do is put hope in people's
hearts. It can't put a sense of purpose in people's lives.
Government can't say to a lonely child, I love you. That happens when a fellow
American chooses to be more than just a citizen -- a self-serving citizen. It
happens when people understand that the definition of a patriot today in America
is somebody who's willing to serve something greater than yourself in life.
That example came home most vividly on Flight 93. It's a story that I hope will
remain etched in the minds of our fellow Americans and written in the history
books of our country. I think it was a turning point of a culture which used
to say, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody
else. These citizens showed the strongest sense of personal responsibility you
could possibly imagine. After all, they were on an airplane thinking they were
flying across the country. They heard reports about what was taking place on
the ground. They told their loved ones goodbye. They told them they loved them.
History will record that they said a prayer. They asked for guidance. One guy
said, "Let's roll." They took the plane in the ground to serve something
greater than self in life.
It's a vivid example of what America must realize in order to fight evil. In
order to fight evil, do some good. Love your neighbor like you'd like to be
loved yourself. Mentor a child. Start a Boys or a Girls Club. Be involved with
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Feed the hungry. Find shelter for the homeless.
And that's what's happening in this country. No, the enemy thought that we might
file a lawsuit or two. But instead, they found a determined nation, a nation
which longs for peace, and a nation which is willing to work to save America
one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
There is no question in my mind -- (applause). And there is no question in my
mind that we will succeed as a country. After all, we're the greatest nation,
the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, full of the most loving, hardworking,
Thank you all for coming tonight. May God bless you all, and may God bless America.