[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2004, Book II)]
[September 24, 2004]
[Pages 2200-2212]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in a Discussion on Education in Janesville, Wisconsin
September 24, 2004

    The President. Thank you all for coming. Thanks for coming. I'm 
proud you're here. I appreciate you coming. Please be seated. Please be 
seated. We've got a little work to do. I'm here to tell you why I'm 
running for President again. First, I'm here to tell you I'm asking for 
your vote and your support.
    I'm really pleased to be back in the State of Wisconsin. It's a 
fabulous place you got here. What a wonderful State. The people are kind 
and generous and hardworking. It's--Laura and I 
love coming. Speaking about Laura, I wish she were here with me. No, I 
know, she's out campaigning. A lot of times they say, ``Well, I'd rather 
you stay home, President, and let Mrs. Bush come.'' [Laughter] But I can 
understand the logic.
    It's a true story--when I said, ``Laura, will 
you marry me,'' she said, ``Fine, just so long as I never have to give 
any speeches.'' [Laughter] I said, ``Okay.'' Fortunately, she didn't 
hold me to the promise. People in the country got to see her speak in 
New York a while ago. They saw a compassionate, strong, decent woman in 
Laura Bush. I love her dearly, and I'm really proud of her. I like to 
tell people, I'm going to give you some reasons to put me back in for 4 
more years, but perhaps the most important one of all, so that Laura 
will be First Lady for 4 more years.
    I'm proud of my runningmate, Dick Cheney. 
He's working hard. I tell people he doesn't have the curliest hair in 
the race. [Laughter] I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. [Laughter] 
I picked him because of his experience and judgment. I picked him 
because he can get the job done for the American people.
    I'm proud of Paul Ryan. I'm proud of working 
with your Congressman. He's a good, solid man, I'm telling you. He's 
smart, capable. He's a good thinker. He married well in Janna. [Laughter] He keeps bugging me to come to his 
congressional district as often as possible, and now I know why. It's a 
beautiful part of the world.

[[Page 2201]]

    I know Dave Magnum is with us. I wish him 
best in his run for the United States Congress in the Second 
Congressional District. Good luck. Tim Michels 
was with us. I think he spoke and left to go campaign.
    Listen, I want to thank all the local officials who are here and all 
the grassroots activists. I want to thank you face to face for what 
you're going to do, which is put up the signs and make the phone calls 
and head the people to the polls and register people to vote. And let me 
tell you something, when you're registering people to vote, don't forget 
discerning Democrats like Zell Miller. There's a 
lot of Democrats out there, a lot of independents out there who want 
this country to be safer and stronger and better, and they know that 
Dick Cheney and I can get the job done.
    Today when we landed, I met Tami Doetch. 
Where are you, Tami? Somewhere--oh, there she is. Good. Thanks for 
coming. She was at the base of Air Force One, right there at the steps. 
I'll tell you why she was out there. She is a teacher at Wilson 
Elementary School, right here in Janesville, Wisconsin. She won the 
Department of Education's American Stars of Teaching award. Let me tell 
you, that's a long--those are long--that's a long phrase for saying, 
she's a really good teacher. She's an excellent teacher. She embodies 
the spirit of the education reform we passed. She's willing to challenge 
the soft bigotry of low expectations. She understands, if you have low 
expectations for the children, you'll achieve lousy results. If you 
raise the standard, if you raise the sights, if you have excellence as 
your goal and you believe in using curriculum that works and you're 
willing to measure to determine that which you're using is working, you 
can achieve excellence in the classroom. And that's why Tami Doetch is 
here. I want to thank you for your compassion. I want to thank you for 
    We're closing an achievement gap here in America. See, we measured 
and determined that some kids weren't learning, and it just wasn't 
right, when you think about it. Think about a system that just shuffled 
kids through. That's a system that's not hopeful, as far as I was 
concerned. And so we're measuring early; we're solving problems before 
they're too late. And an achievement gap is closing in America, and 
we're not going to turn back to the old days. We're not going to turn 
back to the old days of not expecting the best for every single child in 
America. We're making great progress toward excellence.
    As you can see, I've been joined by some of the citizens from this 
fine community. We're going to talk about education. But before we do 
that, I want to talk about a couple of other things. First, I want you 
to understand, I know that we live in a changing world. And it's 
important for Government systems to change with that changing world. 
When I say ``changing world,'' listen, there are a lot of women who now 
work inside the home and outside the home. But the labor laws were 
designed for yesterday. See, I believe we ought to change labor laws so 
that women and moms can have flex-time and comp-time, so they can 
balance family time with work time and do their job--be able to do both 
    In the old days, a person would have one job and one career for 
their entire lifetime. Today, people change jobs often and careers 
often. And yet, the worker training programs don't reflect the changing 
times. We're going to talk about worker training here in a minute. The 
pension plans, for example, were designed for yesterday. Now, look, if 
you're on Social Security, nothing is going to change. I don't care what 
they tell you in the course of this campaign. You're going to get your 
check. You know how it goes every time campaign season comes around. You 
might remember what happened in this State 4 years ago during that 
campaign time. People were--said, ``If Bush gets elected, you're not 
going to get your Social Security check.'' It didn't happen, did it?

[[Page 2202]]

    Audience members. No-o-o!
    The President. Yes, you're getting your check, and you're going to 
continue to get your check. Now, baby boomers, we're probably going to 
get our checks too. It's the younger kids we've got to worry about. It's 
the children and the grandchildren. We need to be thinking about 
tomorrow, not yesterday. I believe younger workers ought to be able to 
take some of their own money and set up a personal savings account to 
make sure the Social Security system fulfills its promise to a younger 
generation of Americans.
    The health care system needs to change. People are changing jobs. If 
they're changing jobs, the system ought to help them design insurance 
programs they can take job to job and call their own. That's why I'm for 
health savings accounts. Health savings accounts is a tax-free way for 
workers to set aside money, or workers' employee--employers to set aside 
money that they can count--they call their own. So they're the 
    There's catastrophic care in there for the worker, as well as a 
savings account. And if they don't spend that money on routine health 
costs, it's theirs. They can carry it from year to year, and generation 
to generation. It makes sense. It's a commonsensical plan, particularly 
if you think the Federal Government should not be running health care.
    And that's where we have a difference in this campaign. It's a big 
difference in this campaign. The fellow I'm 
running against believes that the Federal Government ought to be making 
your decisions. That's what he believes. We just have an honest 
difference of opinion. Everything we're going to do is to make sure the 
decisionmaking is between patients and doctors, not by bureaucrats in 
Washington, DC.
    Several other points I want to make on health care right quick. One, 
we're going to take care of the poor in this country. I believe we have 
an obligation to do so. That's why I'm for community health centers. 
Community health centers are where the poor and indigent can get 
preventative care and primary care, as opposed to emergency rooms in 
local hospitals. We need to have community health centers in every poor 
county in America.
    We're going to make sure our States access the children's health 
care programs for low-income families. We're going to make sure 
technology helps wring out some of the costs in health care. But do you 
realize 50 percent of the working uninsured work for small businesses? 
Now, think about that--50 percent of the working uninsured are employed 
by a small business, which means small businesses are obviously having a 
problem affording health care.
    What I think ought to happen is small businesses ought to be allowed 
to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries so they can buy health 
care at the same discounts that big companies can buy health care. That 
means the decisionmakers are the health care--the decisionmakers are the 
small-business owners and the employees. My opponent has a different view. He thinks we ought to be expanding 
Government programs. I just fundamentally disagree. We've got a 
practical, commonsense way to deal with health care cost and 
availability. And one practical, commonsense way is to get rid of these 
frivolous lawsuits that are running good docs out of business.
    You can't be pro-doctor, pro-patient, pro-hospital, and pro-trial-
lawyer at the same time. [Laughter] I think you have to choose. My 
opponent made his choice, and he put a trial 
lawyer on the ticket. I made my choice. I am 
for medical liability reform--now.
    At the heart of many of my programs is the concept of owning 
something. I think you can get a--you know, younger workers can own 
their own part of the Social Security system, an account they call their 
own; people can own their own health care plan they can take from job to 
job. One of the most hopeful statistics in a changing world is the fact 
that more and more people own

[[Page 2203]]

their own home. Think about that. The homeownership rate is at an 
alltime high under my administration. I love the idea that more and more 
people are opening up their front door where they live, saying, 
``Welcome to my home. Come in to my piece of property.'' A part of a 
hopeful society is to encourage ownership, and we will continue to do so 
over the next 4 years.
    Part of a hopeful society is also--is to making sure the economy 
grows. Now, when you're out rounding up the vote, remind people what we 
have been through, and we've been through a lot. First of all, the stock 
market started to go down prior to my arrival in Washington, DC. It was 
the beginning of signs to come, because right after Dick Cheney and I got sworn in, we headed into a recession, three 
quarters of negative growth. And those were tough times for people. I 
know they were tough times. I know it's a tough time for small-business 
owners and workers. It's tough times when people are wondering whether 
or not there's stability in their lives.
    We started to get--we really started to get our feet back on the 
ground, and then we ran into another problem. Some of the CEOs in 
America forgot what it meant to be a responsible American. See, a 
responsibility society says, you'll tell the truth. They didn't tell the 
truth. We passed tough laws. It's now abundantly clear, we're not going 
to tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America.
    And then we got hit. Then we got attacked. And those attacks cost us 
jobs. It hurt. It hurt in a lot of ways. I'm going to talk about what 
the attacks meant a little later on in terms of keeping the peace, too, 
and defending ourselves. But they hurt, and we're overcoming those 
obstacles. Our economy is strong. It's getting stronger. It's strong and 
getting stronger because we've got great workers in America. We've got 
fantastic entrepreneurs and small-business owners. We've got great 
farmers, many of whom live right here in the great State of Wisconsin. 
We created 1.7 million new jobs since August of '03. Things are getting 
better. We're overcoming the obstacles. The national unemployment rate 
is 5.4 percent. That's lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 
1990s. The unemployment rate in your State is 4.8 percent. People are 
working, and that's a good sign.
    So the fundamental question is, how do we keep this prosperity 
going? We've recovered. We've recovered not only because we're good 
workers, good, hard people--good hard-working people, and we've got 
great entrepreneurial spirit, we've recovered, as well, because of tax 
cuts. Those tax cuts helped.
    And so here's how we keep the prosperity going: One, we reduce the 
regulations and the cost of lawsuits on the people of this country that 
are employing people. The more lawsuits there are, the harder it is for 
people to be able to find a job. That's just the way it is. The more 
regulations there are, meaningless regulations, the harder it is for 
people to find work in America.
    In order to make sure jobs stay right here in this country and 
people can find work, we need an energy policy that encourages 
conservation; that renews--uses renewable sources of energy like corn 
through ethanol, and biodiesel as a result of soybeans; that uses 
technology to use coal in an environmentally friendly way; that allows 
us to explore for environmentally friendly ways for natural gas by use 
of technology. What I'm telling you is this: I've submitted a plan to 
the United States Congress--it is stuck--that will make us less 
dependent on foreign sources of energy and, in return, means people will 
be able to find work here at home.
    There's another way to keep jobs here, is to encourage trade, is to 
reject economic isolationism. I know it sounds easy to say, well, jobs 
will stay here if we just wall ourself off from the rest of the world. I 
disagree. I strongly disagree. See, I think what we ought to be doing is 
opening up

[[Page 2204]]

markets for U.S. products. We open up our markets for other people, and 
that's good for you as a consumer. See, if you've got more products to 
choose from, you're likely to get that which you want at a better price 
and higher quality. That's how the marketplace works. That's why 
Presidents of both political parties said, we're going to open up our 
markets for the sake of consumers. What I'm saying to places like China 
is that you treat us the way we treat you. You open up your markets so 
that we have a chance to compete. Because the American farmer, worker, 
entrepreneur can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere, if the rules 
are fair.
    Finally, one other point I want to make is that if you expect jobs 
to stay here at home, we've got to be wise about how we spend your money 
in Washington, DC. We got to be fiscally sound about using your money, 
and we've got to keep your taxes low. Running up your taxes right now 
will hurt this economic recovery, make no mistake about it.
    We have a difference of opinion on taxes in this campaign, and I 
want you to remind your friends and neighbors about the difference. It 
starts with this: My opponent has promised over $2.2 trillion in new 
Federal spending--so far. [Laughter] And that's a lot of money for a 
fellow from Massachusetts. [Laughter] So they 
said, how are you going to pay for it? And his answer is this: He said, 
``We're going to tax the rich.'' Now, you've heard that before, haven't 
    We're about to talk to the so-called rich here in a minute, because 
about a million small businesses will have their taxes raised because 
they're Subchapter S and limited partnership. See, many small businesses 
pay tax at the individual income-tax levels. As a matter of fact, 90 
percent of all small businesses pay tax at the individual income-tax 
level. So when you talk about running up the taxes on individuals, 
you're running up the tax on job creators, because 70 percent of the new 
jobs in America are created by small businesses. That's bad economic 
policy to tax the job creators, real bad.
    Secondly, you can't raise the top two brackets and raise enough to 
pay for $2.2 trillion worth of new spending. Now, maybe this is the 
first campaign in the history where a campaign promise is broken before 
the election. [Laughter] Or there's a tax gap. There's a tax gap. Given 
my opponent's record, I suspect he wants to spend 
the money. And there's a tax gap. And guess who always gets to fill the 
tax gap? You do.
    Finally, you've heard the rhetoric before, as well, and you know 
that the so-called rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason--
that's to stick you with the bill. That's what happens every single 
time, isn't it? We're not going to let him tax 
you. We're going to carry Wisconsin, and we're going to carry this 
country next November. [Applause]
    Okay, no, no, we got work to do here. Hold on. I'm still telling you 
why I'm running. [Laughter] See, I think you've got to tell the people 
what you're going to do. I think you've got to come to the people and 
say, here's my vision, here's what I intend to do for the country. You 
can't decide to run for the sake of holding the office. You've got to 
tell the people what you intend to do. That's what I did the last time I 
ran. I did what I said I was going to do, and now I'm telling you what 
I'm going to do the next 4 years. [Applause]
    Hold on for a minute, please, please, please. Thanks. Everybody 
likes to be cheered, but wait a minute; I got something to tell you. 
[Laughter] A changing world means that the nature of the job--the jobs 
change. That's what we're talking about here. Think about that. Jobs 
change in a changing world, and therefore, one of the fundamental 
challenges we have is to make sure that people have the skills necessary 
to fill the jobs of the 21st century.
    One idea of what I'm talking about is this: In North Carolina there 
was a healthy

[[Page 2205]]

textile industry for years. The textile industry became uneconomic. 
There was better competition. They got beat, and jobs started to get 
lost. At the same time, however, the health care industry started to 
grow; that was strong and viable. And there was a lot of health care 
jobs available, really good-paying health care jobs. As a matter of 
fact, better paying jobs in the health care field than there were in 
the--in some of the earlier North Carolina industries. And yet, there 
was a skills gap. And what we're here to talk about today is how to make 
sure people have access to good education and good worker training 
programs so people can match their desire to work with the skills 
necessary to hold the jobs of the 21st century.
    So here are some ideas. Here are some ideas. First, we're going to 
double the number of workers who are trained through the Worker 
Investment Act. We've got a great--a wonderful concept coming out of 
Washington, but we're not training enough workers with the money we 
spend. Therefore, we need to consolidate programs, strip away 
bureaucratic rules, get more money to States and community colleges.
    Secondly, we're going to utilize our community colleges to make sure 
people have the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. 
I've laid out a quarter-billion-dollar initiative for my '05 budget to 
help good community colleges develop the curriculum and recruit the 
students necessary so people can find work.
    Third, we're going to talk about dual-enrollment programs here 
today. I think we ought to spend money at Washington, DC, to encourage 
high school students to go to both community college and high school at 
the same time. It's good for the student. It's good for the workforce. 
Third, I think we need to expand Pell grants. We've done so, so long as 
I've been the President. We've expanded Pell grants by a million 
students, since I've been the President of the United States, from 4.3 
million to 5.3 million students. We upped the grant level of Pell 
    But here's two new ideas. One is to reward students who take 
vigorous high school courses, with an extra $1,000 on their Pell grant. 
We ought to say, look, if you qualify for Pell grants, go ahead and take 
tougher courses in high school, math and sciences, which will be needed 
to fill the jobs of the 21st century, and we'll pay you extra money. It 
seems to make sense to me. I don't know if you know this, but Pell 
grants aren't for year-round schooling. That doesn't make any sense. If 
a student wants to go year round to school, the Pell grant ought to stay 
with the student. We ought to fund year-round schooling for Pell grant 
students. So there's some ideas to help people be able to go to college.
    New loans--we ought to provide loans for workers for short-term 
training. You can't get loans, student loans today unless you meet 
certain criteria, and the criteria prevents short-term worker training. 
I think we ought to provide loans for people who want to go back to 
school to get retrained. And I know we need to increase access to higher 
education in rural and urban areas by eliminating financial aid rules 
that discourage distance learning.
    What I'm telling you is this: Listen, the world we live in is 
changing. Jobs are changing. People are learning more over the Internet. 
We've got to be wise about how we spend your money, to reflect the 
changing times. The workforce rules ought to reflect tomorrow, not 
yesterday. Our community college systems ought to be supportive because 
they're good for helping the students get the skills for the jobs of 
today, not yesterday. What I'm telling you is that I've got a vision 
that recognizes we're living in a changing world and we're going to use 
our assets in wise ways to make sure America is a hopeful place for 
    So here's who--our first guest, Dr. Eric Larson. Welcome.

[[Page 2206]]

    Eric A. Larson. Thank you, Mr. President.
    The President. Yes. So, what do you do?
    Dr. Larson.  I'm the president of 
Blackhawk Technical College here in Rock County and also in Green 
    The President. Good. Everybody heard about it? [Applause] It's a 
good sign, everybody's heard about it. [Laughter]
    Dr. Larson.  They have. We know that one 
in nine people in our counties has had a contact from our college.
    The President. Oh, good. That's good. So, tell us--listen, you've 
got some great programs. Tell them what the programs are.

[At this point, Dr. Larson made brief remarks.]

    The President. Yes, listen. Let me--just listen real quick. This is 
why I'm such a big believer in community colleges. Some places of higher 
education have a little trouble changing their curriculum. [Laughter] 
Not to say their curriculum is bad, it's just they don't change. 
Eric just said that, our curriculum changes 
with demand. If a business needs help training workers for a job 
expansion program, they design the curriculum along with the business, 
as I understand it.
    Dr. Larson.  That's correct. We work with 
the business. They will sit at the table with us as we develop that 
    The President. It's pretty good for the community, by the way, to be 
able to say, we've got a community college. If you've got a--if you're 
bringing jobs here and you're worried about your workers being trained, 
bring them here, because our community college is a great place to have 
your workers trained. We're adjustable. We're flexible. We're 
affordable, and we are available when it comes to community college 
    What else? Give me some other--give us some other things. You've got 
dual enrollment?
    Dr. Larson.  We do. We have a dual-
enrollment program where we have high school students coming to us from 
the Janesville public schools, and Blackhawk Technical College is 
offering the instruction. And one of our major health care operators 
here in town offers a facility for them. Obviously, this isn't a health 
care area. We train certified nurse assistants while they're in high 
school. When they graduate from high school, they have their college 
certificate to take a job as a CNA.
    The President. Right, they've got an opportunity to find a job 
immediately or an opportunity to move on to a more advanced degree. But 
it happens while they're in high school. It seems to make a lot of sense 
to me, doesn't it? I mean, you ought to be giving everybody ample 
opportunity to be able to take advantage of education as it exists. And 
that's what's happening here at Blackhawk.
    Jessica Palmer is with us.
    Jessica Palmer.  Hi. [Laughter]
    The President. You ready to go?
    Ms. Palmer.  Yes.
    The President. Okay, so you are how old?
    Ms. Palmer.  I am 19 years old.
    The President. Good. Went to high school where?
    Ms. Palmer.  Craig High School in 
    The President. You also went to----
    Ms. Palmer.  Blackhawk Technical College.
    The President. When? [Laughter]
    Ms. Palmer.  In my senior year of high 
    The President. How about it? Amazing, isn't it? First, you've got to 
understand, you can't pass a law in Washington that says, 
Jessica, you will be an ambitious person--
[laughter]--or you will take advantage of opportunities available to 
you. The role of Government is to make opportunity available, not to 
dictate to people, not to tell them how to live their lives, but to say, 
here's your chance so you can realize your dream. That's the fundamental 
difference of philosophy we have, by the way.

[[Page 2207]]

    Okay, so you went to Blackhawk at the same time you're going to high 
school. Now, what was that like?
    Ms. Palmer.  It was pretty hard, but the 
school district let me get out of school early in order to do my 
schedule. I went to school at Blackhawk three nights a week.
    The President. Three nights a week. Good. Less TV, more study. 
That's good. [Laughter] So you were studying to be what?
    Ms. Palmer. Ultimately, a registered 
    The President. Ultimately, a registered nurse. Listen, there's great 
opportunities in the health care field, I'm telling you. Remember I told 
you about the North Carolina story? You know, we wept for the textile 
workers down there, and then we were joyous when we saw them get jobs in 
the health care field. The health care field is expanding, and it 
requires a certain skill set. And Jessica is 
learning the skill set early.
    So what were you--so what did you get? What did you get? What kind 
of degree did you get out of the community college here?
    Ms. Palmer.  I have a certified nursing 
assistant certificate.
    The President. And that means you can show up at the hospital and 
get after it.
    Ms. Palmer. Yes. [Laughter]
    The President. Take my pulse? No. [Laughter] Never mind, okay. So 
you are--so what are you doing now? You're working, going back to 
school? Tell us.
    Ms. Palmer. Yes, I'm a full-time student 
at Blackhawk, and I work in a local health facility here in Janesville.
    The President. So you're headed to be a registered nurse.
    Ms. Palmer. Yes.
    The President. And how much longer will that take, do you know?
    Ms. Palmer. My clinical starts in the 
year 2006, and it's 2 years after that.
    The President. Right. And the local hospital is helping you, as I 
understand, with the training.
    Ms. Palmer.  Yes, while I was in high school, they helped me out.
    The President. With the curriculum, right. Explain it, will you. 
    Dr. Larson.  Let me try to help her.
    The President. Help me and her, will you? [Laughter]

[Dr. Larson made further remarks.]

    The President. It is. We ought to expand these around the country. 
That's what I'm here to talk about, is to how to make sure job training 
opportunities are available for older workers and younger workers.
    Steve Scaccia is with us, president of 
Freedom Plastics. Let me, first, before we get into job training and how 
compassionate this guy is and how wonderful their company is, is to tell 
you something about taxes. He runs a Subchapter S corporation. That 
means they pay tax at the individual income-tax rate. When you hear the 
talk about taxing the rich or raising the top two brackets, he gets 
taxed. That's what we're talking about in terms of taxing the rich. It 
doesn't make any sense the tax job creators like Steve. You listen to 
what he is doing for his workers, and you ask yourself, does it make 
sense to leave money inside his coffers or to send it up to Washington, 
DC. After hearing his story, I'd rather he'd spend the money, not the 
    And so you tell us what you're doing with those workers in there.

[Stephen D. Scaccia, president, Freedom Plastics, Inc., made brief 

    The President. It's an amazing story, isn't it? See, I hear stories 
like this--I hear entrepreneurial stories like this all over the 
country. It's why I believe that the role of Government is to create an 
environment for the entrepreneur to flourish, not to try to create 
wealth, not to tell people how to run their lives, it's to provide 

[[Page 2208]]

so people can not only realize dreams, but people can help others 
realize their dreams.
    I love the small-business sector of this country. The 
entrepreneurial spirit is strong, thanks to people like Steve. And here's an interesting way to make sure the 
community college system is useful. Employers can use the community 
college system to make themselves more productive and, therefore, 
increase the wages of their employees. And young people coming up can 
use the community college system to realize their dreams.
    So I want to thank you three for coming. You did a 
great job.
    A couple of other things I want to talk about. First of all, in 
changing times, things don't change--the values we try to live by, 
courage and compassion, reverence and integrity; institutions we hold 
dear, our families, our schools, our religious congregations. I stand 
for a culture of life in which every person matters and every being 
counts. We stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of 
our society. I stand for judges who know the difference between personal 
opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. And I stand for 
encouraging a responsibility society in America, where each of us 
understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life.
    I also know that--I also know my most important duty is to protect 
the American people. We show uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the 
world will drift toward tragedy. This isn't going to happen on my watch.
    Let me tell you some of the lessons I learned as your President, 
some of the lessons I learned about September the 11th. Lesson one is 
that we face an enemy that's coldblooded, and they are haters. They 
believe in an ideology of hate. They stand for the exact opposite we 
stand for in America. We believe in freedom of religion. We believe you 
should worship any way you want. If you choose to worship, or not 
worship, you're equally an American. If you choose to worship and you're 
a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, you're equally an American. That's what we 
believe. These people believe the exact opposite of that.
    We believe you can speak your mind in America. We believe the press 
should be allowed to flourish. We believe in a lot of freedoms, and they 
don't. And they're willing to use terror as a tool. Therefore, lesson 
one is, you can never negotiate with these people; you can never hope 
for the best; you can't hope that somehow showing weakness will end up 
currying favor with them. The best way to protect the homeland is to 
stay on the offense, is to find these people and bring them to justice 
before they hurt America again.
    Second lesson--this is a different kind of war. First of all, you've 
got to understand, one, I never dreamt I'd be talking about war as your 
President when I ran for President. And, two, I wish I wasn't talking 
about it. I wish this hadn't happened to our country, but it did. And 
therefore, we must deal with it in a way that leads to a more peaceful 
America, in a way in which we can look back over time and say our 
children and grandchildren have a better chance to grow up in a peaceful 
world--which means we've got to be realistic.
    And in a different kind of war, we've got to send signals--say 
things and mean them, let me put it to you that way. If you say 
something as the President, you better mean what you say. In order to 
make this world a more--[applause]. In recognizing this is a different 
kind of war, I said to the Taliban, ``Get rid of Al Qaida in 
Afghanistan.'' I meant what I said. And they didn't, and so the United 
States military did get rid of Al Qaida as well as Taliban in 
    In other words, the Taliban was providing safe haven for these 
people, and we got rid of the Taliban as a government in Afghanistan 
and, therefore, denied Al Qaida the chance to train. Al Qaida still 
exists. About 75 percent of their known leaders

[[Page 2209]]

have been brought to justice. They're still there, but they no longer 
have safe haven. And we're safer for it. See, the way these people think 
is--they're parasitical. They want to be a parasite, and they kind of 
burrow into weak societies in hopes that they can have--be able to plot 
and plan. It's the nature of the world we live in. It's different from 
the past, but nevertheless, it's one that requires clear sight and 
strong will. And so by removing the Taliban, we're safer. By putting Al 
Qaida on the run out of Afghanistan, we're safer. We're also safer 
because Afghanistan is becoming free.
    Let me remind you about what life was like there about 3\1/2\ short 
years ago. Young girls couldn't go to school in Afghanistan. Think about 
that. It's hard for anybody in this country to imagine a group of 
barbarians that wouldn't let young girls go to school. But that's the 
way it was. When I'm telling you the ideology of hate, that's what I 
mean. That's a hateful society, isn't it, where young girls aren't 
allowed to realize their dreams. Their moms would be pulled out in the 
public square and whipped if they didn't toe the line. That's the way 
the Taliban felt.
    Today--today, as a result of these people being free, as a result of 
America acting in its self-interest and freeing the people from the 
Taliban, 10 million citizens, 41 percent of whom are women, have 
registered to vote in the upcoming Presidential elections. Powerful 
statistic, isn't it? It's such an uplifting statistic. The society is 
going from darkness to light because of freedom. And we're better off 
for it. We now have an ally in the war on terror. We now have a free 
society in a part of the world where there needs to be free societies.
    These are historic times, and the world is changing. The third 
lesson is that when we see a threat, we must take it seriously before it 
fully materializes. You know, prior to September the 11th, we could see 
a threat overseas and say, well, we could deal with it if we felt like 
it, or maybe we're not going to deal with it because it can't possibly 
come to hurt us. Sure enough, there was a large-scale attack on the 
United States of America on September the 11th, 2001, that has caused me 
and many in our country to change our attitude about threats overseas.
    Audience member. We're praying for you, George!
    The President. Thank you, sir. And it's really important--it's 
important we never forget the lesson. In Iraq, I saw a threat. Saddam 
Hussein was a threat. He was a threat because 
he was a sworn enemy of the United States of America. He was a threat 
because there was terrorist organizations in his country. Abu Nidal, Abu 
Abbas, Zarqawi--they were in his 
country. He was a threat because he had used weapons of mass 
destruction; is a threat because he had created instability in a 
volatile part of the world; is a threat because he was firing at our 
pilots who were enforcing sanctions. He was a threat.
    And so I went to the Congress and I said, ``I see a threat. My 
administration sees a threat.'' And they looked at the same intelligence 
I did and came to the same conclusion. I know some of them are trying to 
rewrite history, but they looked at the same intelligence, and they 
voted the authorization of force to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
    The last option of the President is to use force. It's the last 
option. So I went to the United Nations in the hopes that diplomacy 
would work. I was hoping that the free world would convince Saddam 
Hussein to give up his weapons programs or 
weapons. And whatever the intelligence said, we wanted him to get rid of 
it. And so they passed a resolution 15 to nothing, after some 
deliberation, that said, ``Disclose, disarm, or face serious 
consequences.'' If you're an international organization and you want to 
be effective, you better mean what you say. So they said ``serious 

[[Page 2210]]

    Now, Saddam Hussein, as he had done for 
over a decade, ignored the demands of the free world. That's just the 
way it was. He was hoping we would look the other way again. He had no 
intention of disclosing or disarming because he didn't believe the free 
world would impose serious consequences. As a matter of fact, when they 
sent inspectors in, he deceived the inspectors. I have a choice to make 
at this point. Do I take his word as a madman, do I forget the lessons 
of September the 11th, or take action to defend our country? Given that 
choice, I will defend America every time. [Applause]
    Thank you all. Thank you all. A couple of other things--thanks. 
Thank you all.
    Audience member. We love you, George!
    The President. Thanks. [Laughter] Thank you--hold on for a minute. 
[Laughter] I've got something else to tell you. A couple of other points 
before people start dropping out because of the heat. [Laughter]
    The lesson is, is that when you put our troops in harm's way, you 
give them all the support they need. That's why I went to Congress last 
September, a year ago, and said, we need $87 billion to support our 
troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's important funding, really important 
funding. It provided for fuel and ammunition, spare parts, body armor, 
hazard pay, health benefits. That's important. Fortunately, most Members 
of the United States Senate and the United States House of 
Representatives knew how important it was. As a matter of fact, so--the 
funding was so important, only 12 Senators voted against it--that's 12 
out of 100--2 of whom are my opponent and his 
    When you're out rounding the vote--when you're out asking for the 
vote, remind people of this fact, this fact, that only four United 
States Senators voted to authorize the use of force and then didn't 
fund--did not vote yes to fund our troops. Four voted to authorize force 
and then voted no when it came to the supplemental funding. Two of those 
four were my opponent and his 
    So they asked him. They said, ``Why?'' And he 
said, ``Well, I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted 
against it.'' [Laughter] Then they went on and pressed him. He said, 
he's proud of his vote. And finally, he said, ``It was just a 
complicated matter.'' [Laughter] There's nothing complicated about 
supporting our troops in combat.
    We've got hard work to do in Iraq. The enemy in Iraq cannot beat our 
military, cannot defeat our military. The main tool they've got is the 
ability to shake our conscience, to affect our will. You know, we weep 
when we see a person be beheaded on our TV screens, and we weep for his 
families. That's what we do, because we've got a conscience in America. 
We care deeply about every human life. We value human dignity in our 
society, and the enemy knows that. They know that they can shake our 
will and break our confidence in the mission. That's why it's very 
important for us to not send mixed signals to the world, not embolden 
these people, but remind them that when America gives its word, America 
will keep its word, that we will stand with the people of Iraq.
    I met with the Prime Minister of Iraq 
yesterday. He's willing to do the hard work too. He came to our country 
to thank the American people. He came to our country to thank the moms 
and dads and husbands and wives of those who have sacrificed for his 
freedom and America's security. That's what he came to do. He gave a 
strong speech. He's a strong man. The fellow--he woke up one night in 
London, England--he'd been in exile. And there was two people by his bed 
with axes, sent by Saddam Hussein--
seriously--to chop him up. And he survived. And now he's the Prime 
Minister of that country. He is going to lead this country--no matter 
how hard it gets--he will lead this country to a better day. He believes 
in the people of Iraq.

[[Page 2211]]

    He spoke to the Congress. He gave a great 
speech to the Congress. He talked about his strategy of defeating the 
insurgents, of holding the elections in January. This country is going 
to have elections in January. Afghanistan is going to have them in 
October, and they'll be held in January. And my opponent chose to 
criticize the Prime Minister of Iraq. This great man came to our country 
to talk about how he's risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps 
America, and Senator Kerry held a press 
conference and questioned Prime Minister Allawi's credibility. You can't 
lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his 
credibility. The message ought to be to the Iraqi people, we support 
you. The message ought to be loud and clear: We'll stand with you if you 
do the hard work.
    Earlier this week, my opponent said he would 
prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to 
the situation in Iraq today. You know, I just strongly disagree. It's 
tough work, no question about it. We've done tough work before. But if 
Saddam Hussein were in power, our security would be threatened. If 
Saddam Hussein--in power, there'd still would be mass graves and torture 
chambers in Iraq. If Saddam Hussein were in power, the world would be 
better off, not--the world would be worse off, not better off. And so I 
strongly disagree with the assessment of my opponent. I believe in 
liberty, and I believe in freedom, and I believe liberty can change 
    Two other points I want to make now that you got me going. 
[Laughter] We've got great alliances. I talked to Prime Minister Tony 
Blair this morning, had a great talk with him. 
He's a good, strong leader. He sees what's happening around the world. 
He knows, like I know, that Iraq is a central front in the war on 
terror. We must whip the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to face 
them here at home. That's exactly what we're seeing.
    Prime Minister Allawi says that; Tony 
Blair says that; I say that because I understand 
the stakes for America. And Tony understands the stakes for Great 
Britain and the free world. We're challenged--being challenged now, and 
we will rise to the challenge. I will continue to work with allies and 
friends. You know, I, again, disagree with my opponent who called our alliance the alliance of the coerced and 
the bribed. You can't build alliances if you criticize the efforts of 
those who are working side by side with you. So we'll build alliances. 
But I assure you, I will never turn over America's national security 
decision to leaders of other countries. [Applause]
    Okay, one more--a couple more points. First, I want to thank all the 
veterans who are here. I see we've got some great vets. I want to thank 
the VFW. Thank you all for your service. Thanks for setting a great 
    So here's one of the things I tell the people that I firmly believe: 
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. See, I believe 
liberty can change societies. I believe everybody wants to be free too--
10 million people showed up to register to vote after having been 
brutalized by the Taliban. It's a strong statement. This, by the way, in 
the face of violence. Those voters are saying, ``You're not going to 
stop me from exercising my right as a free individual.''
    I visit with Prime Minister Koizumi a 
lot. I did recently in New York, as a matter of fact, at the U.N. 
General Assembly. I said, ``Do you mind if I talk about you?'' He said, 
``Fine, tell people about me.'' I said, ``Okay.'' His favorite singer is 
Elvis. [Laughter] Not exactly what I want to tell you about. [Laughter] 
He was--he's the head of Japan, and we were at war with Japan 60 years 
ago. They were our sworn enemy. My dad 
fought against the Japanese. I guarantee you, your dads and granddads, 
husbands, fathers fought against the Japanese as well. And it was a 
tough war. It was a brutal war.
    And after we won, a lot of people were wondering whether or not we 
should even

[[Page 2212]]

care about what Japan looked like. Harry S. Truman--the last guy to 
visit Janesville, Wisconsin--said yes, we should care. Let's work for a 
democracy in Japan. You can imagine the skepticism that abounded as a 
result of trying to work with an enemy. Families' lives have been turned 
upside down as a result of the brutal war, the tough war. And here was 
the President of the United States enforcing--a lot of fellow Americans 
saying no--we're going to help them become a democracy. And as a result 
of believing that liberty can transform societies, that liberty can take 
an enemy to a friend, I now sit down at the table with Prime Minister 
Koizumi, talking about how to keep the 
peace that we all want. Think about that. Think about the power of 
    And that's what's going to happen when we get it right in Iraq. 
We're going to help the Iraqis have their elections. We'll help them 
self-govern. We'll help them as much as we can to become a stable nation 
by training their folks so they can do the hard work of defending 
themselves against the few--and I say, the few; there are 25 million 
people in that country, the vast majority of whom want to be free--to 
defend themselves against those who would stop the march of freedom. And 
we'll succeed if we do not lose our will, if we do not wilt in the face 
of hard times. And when we succeed, a duly elected leader of Iraq will 
be sitting down with the American President, talking about how to keep 
the peace. And our children and our grandchildren will be better off for 
    I've come to Janesville to tell you I want your vote, I want your 
help. I know exactly where I want to lead this country. I have the 
energy and drive to do so. And with your help, we'll carry this great 
State of Wisconsin and win a great victory in November.
    Thank you for coming. May God bless. Thanks for coming.

Note: The President spoke at 12:42 p.m. at the Janesville Conference 
Center. In his remarks, he referred to Janna Ryan, wife of 
Representative Ryan; Dave Magnum, candidate for Wisconsin's Second 
Congressional District; Tim Michels, senatorial candidate in Wisconsin; 
senior Al Qaida associate Abu Musab Al Zarqawi; Prime Minister Ayad 
Allawi of the Iraqi Interim Government; and Prime Minister Junichiro 
Koizumi of Japan.